Magic Kingdom Rope Drop 1-Day Cheat Sheet Touring Plan in Practice – May 20 2015

Instead of inputting the various attractions we’re interested in experiencing through a computer algorithm that doesn’t work and pretending like that offers insight into why our crowd calendar is permanently broken, we’ll hit the pavement and see how the 1-day cheat sheet touring plan actually plays out on the ground.

It’s exactly 8:30am on Wednesday May 20th. According to the May Crowd Calendar, Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park with an overall crowd level of “6” for slightly above average as we head into Friday’s 24-hour day and the kickoff to the busy (and hot) summer season.

One of the more common questions people ask is, “When should we arrive?” It’s an easy question to answer. With a regular 9am open, 8:20am tends to be the sweet spot in between arriving too early to gain any additional advantage and arriving so late that you’re so far back in line for the tapstiles that you’ll encounter longer waits throughout the morning.

In practice, gauging what time to leave for an 8:20am Magic Kingdom arrival is a little more difficult with transportation uncertainties – you just never know when the bus is going to show up. If you’re staying at the Contemporary, you’re in business. Leave the resort around 8:10am and walk the ten minutes to the Park. From the Polynesian and Grand Floridian, you want to be at the monorail station around 8am. From other resorts, I recommend being at the bus stop by 7:45am. That gives you 20 minutes for the bus to arrive and depart, plus the 15 minutes it’s probably going to take to drive to MK. If you’re a little antsy about it, you could certainly plan to be at the bus stop by 7:30am.

The least forgiving rope drop for most people, by far, is Hollywood Studios, where signing up the kids for Jedi Training and racing to Toy Story Mania as fast as possible are paramount with such limited capacities. Animal Kingdom rope drop is the most forgiving – there are really only two priorities and Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest both have healthy capacities that move through a tremendous amount of people quickly. An 8:20am arrivial at Epcot is smart with either Soarin’ or Test Track in mind. Both get bogged down relatively quickly (Soarin’ in particular).

Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/840am.jpg

At Magic Kingdom, you’ll need to arrive by 8:35am or so to guarantee you can get through security and into the courtyard in front of the Mickey floral. Once the courtyard fills, cast members will keep additional guests outside the entrance tapstiles until the morning welcome concludes and the courtyard empties. So you’ll miss out on most of the view of Mickey and the gang’s arrival via train and be a few minutes behind the 1,000+ people that are holding here with an arrival if you arrive too late.

From now until the end of August, I’d expect the welcome show to begin at 8:40am with a regular 9am open. With an 8am open, the welcome show moves to 7:40am. On morning Extra Magic Hour days, there is only one welcome show prior to the start of the morning EMH.

At Magic Kingdom rope drop, you need to decide whether you want to prioritize your view of the welcome show or prioritize positioning yourself on one of the far sides of the train station near the actual entrances to the Park. Obviously if you’re in the middle of the courtyard for the best view of Mickey and Friends, you’ll be behind everyone that’s closer to the two entryways.

Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/morning.jpg

8:45am. This is what Magic Kingdom rope drop will look like virtually every day of the year – whether we’re talking about January 28th, March 6th, July 4th, September 18th, or December 27th.

This video shows the walk up Main Street at rope drop (direct video if it doesn’t embed correctly). It may be a little shaky as I had not had time to pull my second scotch out from my backpack.

At Magic Kingdom, there are basically two remaining ultra-high priorities where hurrying as quickly as possible is vital to securing a short wait – Anna/Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall and Mine Train. If you’re interested in visiting either in standby first thing in the morning, it’s absolutely imperative that you arrive early, position yourself on the far end of either entrance, and stay in front of everyone who is also jostling for position during the walk up Main Street. Just about any other attraction, including Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain, etc. will be more forgiving if you want to prioritize the welcome show instead, as many people do. My advice is to see the welcome show from the center of the Mickey Floral on your Frontierland/Adventureland day and position yourself near one of the entrances on your Fantasyland/Tomorrowland day, assuming you’re planning two days at the Park. The Frontierland priorities like Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain won’t see waits that exceed 10 minutes until after 10am, so arriving at 9:05am instead of 9am isn’t a big deal.

The Magic Kingdom cheat sheet boils all of this down for you into just a couple of paragraphs:

And the 1-day plan that we’ll be following:

The plan is necessarily aggressive – visiting eight of the most popular attractions in the Park before lunch. The 2-day plans benefit from much better compartmentalization. But if you want to ride the major attractions in each of the various lands over the course of a single day, we don’t have much choice other than to visit those lands when waits will be short.

We’ll discuss wait times intermittently throughout this post. But for now, check out how long you’d wait for each of the eight rides if you were to get in line at noon:

Assuming Big Thunder was operating with a 30 minute wait, that’s almost six hours of waiting for eight things. Add in the time it takes to experience the attractions themselves, and you’re looking at spending seven hours for what’s going to take us less than three in the morning.

Our day begins with Peter Pan’s Flight, arriving at 8:51am after the six-minute walk up Main Street.

The vast majority of people at rope drop will be heading to Mine Train and Anna/Elsa, which opens up Old Fantasyland considerably.

I was on my way five minutes later at 8:56am.

And back out front at 8:59am for a total experience time of eight minutes. The cheat sheet allows for ten minutes.

Before the Park even officially opens, the lines for both Cinderella/Rapunzel and Anna/Elsa have filled the interior queue and spilled outside. The wait for Cinderella/Rapunzel is still showing five minutes, though you’d wait closer to 30 if you got in line now. Anna/Elsa is posted at 45, but you’d be waiting at least 75.

The line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ends around the corner from the entrance in Storybook Circus somewhere. This is 9:02am and illustrates the importance of staying ahead of the pack coming in from the main entrance. The same group that arrived at 8:20am could wait five minutes if they hurry or 75 minutes if they waste 30 seconds taking a group picture in front of the Castle.

Those interested in learning about what kind of an advantage you can get from an 8am reservation at Be Our Guest Restaurant ought to read this post, which starts with breakfast and a ride on Mine Train before anyone from the main entrance could possibly hope to arrive. That advantage remains with current reservations and cast members will occasionally allow guests to ride Mine Train a second or even third time before the incoming main entrance crowds arrive. At a minimum, you’ll beat anyone from the main entrance to Mine Train or Anna/Elsa if you’re out in front of the entrance at least 20 minutes before official open.

Our second ride is The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, which actually sees slightly lower waits in the FP+ era. Still, its short duration, proximity across from Mine Train, and 45-minute peak waits make it a good choice here.

I arrived at 9:03am and was on board and blowing away three minutes later at 9:06am.

And was back out front at 9:10am, for a total experience time of seven minutes. The cheat sheet plan allots ten minutes. I had made a Seven Dwarfs Mine Train FP+ for 9:20am-10:20am at around 7:50am that morning. The FP+ grace period allows guests to enter the FP+ queue up to five minutes early and up to fifteen minutes late with no questions asked. The Mickey Reader should simply turn green. The grace period is not a 100% absolute thing. More like a 99.9% absolute thing. I don’t recommend planning to use the 15-minute grace period on the late side because that’s when you can actually run into problems with unexpected delays.

Since my goal was to run through the plan as written, I walked over to Dumbo to kill some time as I’m not supposed to use my Mine Train FP+ until 9:27am. I arrived two minutes later at 9:12am.

While the Dumbo or Die approach might have been valid when Dumbo sat squarely behind Cinderella Castle in Old Fantasyland, there is no rush over here in the morning.

I actually had the entire left Dumbo carousel to myself, which is 2% kind of cool and 98% very depressing.

I was back out front six minutes later at 9:18am. With the 10-minute posted wait, there was one child playing inside, and maybe a total of eight people on both carousels. They would let you ride a few more times if you wanted.

Barnstormer is another ride that you can fly through early in the morning, but will see 20 to 30 minute peak waits later in the day.

If you’d like to ride this one back to back to back early in the morning, request the second or third to last row.

Cast will fill the front rows first and if somebody is waiting to board, they’ll make you disembark and walk around to ride again. If nobody is waiting for your row, they’ll let you ride again if you so choose. Because they fill rows from the front and somebody will occasionally request the back row, you’ll be able to stay on longer if you’re in the second to last row.

There may or may not be anybody on this train.

I was back out front at 9:24am, for a total experience time of under five minutes.

A rare opportunity to prance through Casey Jr. without risking arrest.

You may or may not have time to add Dumbo or Barnstormer in the morning or you may want to stay ahead of the game and move on to Mine Train and then Big Thunder Mountain Railroad as early as possible. The times on the cheat sheet plan are purposefully padded for families to have an opportunity to park strollers and regroup and most people will find themselves a few minutes ahead for the duration of the morning. Magic Kingdom typically letting guests into the Park closer to 8:50am than 9am also helps.

Looking over my FP+:


The line for Mine Train still fills the queue and wraps around stroller parking outside.

The ride was not showing a posted wait, but actual waits would be around 70 minutes if you got in line now. That’s why we’re using FP+ here this early – it’s going to save us a ton of time, we won’t have to backtrack to ride later, and we’ll be able to get a 4th FP+ at a kiosk earlier.

I entered the FP+ entrance at 9:27am and was rolling through Diamond Pass five minutes later at 9:32am.

Pictures in here are a struggle. Like any dark ride, you want to turn the F-number on your camera down as much as possible and turn up the ISO. This is ISO 25,600 at F2.8 with a shutter speed of 1/100.

Weeeeee.

I was back out front at 9:35am for a total wait/ride experience time of eight minutes with FP+. The cheat sheet plan allots a full 15 minutes.

Back through Old Fantasyland at 9:38am. Peter Pan’s Flight is already posting a 50-minute wait. You may remember I waited about three minutes first thing.

it’s a small world is an easy FP+ to get later in the day and with lower peak waits than other priority attractions, in addition to a lengthy duration, is best skipped for now.

Haunted Mansion is a relatively high middle-tier priority these days, usually posting 45-minute peak waits. But again, with a relatively long duration with the pre-show etc. it’s best saved for later in the day with FP+ or in the last couple of hours of operation when wait times reliably drop.

Frontierland, with Big Thunder Mountain and Splash Mountain as two major priorities, is our next destination. The cheat sheet allots a full 15 minutes to walk from Mine Train to Big Thunder.

It takes me about eight minutes with intermittent picture stops.

Big Thunder is still posting a 5-minute wait at 9:45am.

None of the elaborate interactive queue was in use.

And I was ready to board ten minutes later at 9:55am.

Pulling back into the station three minutes later.

And back out front at 10am, for a total experience time of 15 minutes. The cheat sheet allots 20 minutes. So before 10am I made it through Peter Pan’s Flight, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Dumbo, Barnstormer, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

Splash is much longer in duration than Big Thunder, which is why I recommend riding Big Thunder first – you’ll be on your way earlier and fewer people will have an opportunity to make it in front of you. If you took 20 minutes to ride Splash first, you’d disembark the ride much later when there’s been more time for a wait to develop at Big Thunder. At 10:02am, the posted wait is 10 minutes.

It took eight minutes to reach the boarding area.

And I was zip-a-dee-doo-dah-ing away a minute later.

Weeeee.

Thanks.

Even with just an 8-minute initial wait, Splash took a total of 26 minutes and I was back out front at 10:28am to a 30-minute posted wait. If you’re running behind, this is the ride you probably want to ax in favor of moving on to Pirates. You can return fairly easily in the evening after the first Electrical Parade to short to nonexistent waits.

Pirates of the Caribbean was down, as it often is, when i passed by at 10:30am.

Since we’re not supposed to be at Pirates until 10:50am anyway, I went ahead and checked the wait time for Jungle Cruise, which is going to be our second FP+ opportunity. The wait is already up to 35 minutes.

I opted to ride Aladdin’s Magical Carpets first with a 10-minute posted wait. Remember that lines typically only get longer. So we’ll wait less at Aladdin if we get in line before using the FP+.

I got in line at 10:33am and was flying relatively high ten minutes later at 10:43am.

Carpets is actually more fun than you might be expecting with some terrific views of Adventureland below.

I returned to Pirates at 10:47am to the attraction operating with a 15-minute posted wait.

I was backed up just outside the inside queue.

And found myself face to face with Blackbeard 14 minutes later at 11:01am.

The ride is still scheduled to close June 8th for a refurbishment expected to continue until September 25th.

It needs a lot of work.

There’s a ton of new Pirates merchandise, which we’ll take a look at in the merchandise update.

Anyway, the cheat sheet allots 30 minutes for Pirates – from 10:50am to 11:20am. I got in line at 10:47am and reached the gift shop at 11:11am for a total experience time of 24 minutes.

If you’re wondering why our second FastPass+ is at Jungle Cruise, it’s because the posted wait is 60 minutes when we’re scheduled to ride. According to my watch it was 11:22am, but their clock above the FP+ entrance says 11:25am. I had no trouble using my FP+ that “expired” at 11:20am with the 15 minute grace period. I think I’ll revise the cheat sheet plan slightly to start the Jungle Cruise FP+ a little later so we aren’t worried about having to use an expired FP+.

This video shows the Jungle Cruise post-refurb (direct video if it doesn’t embed correctly).

Disney spruced it up nicely – particularly in the temple scene which starts at 5:50 in the video.

According to the cheat sheet, I should have arrived at 11:22am and been back out front at 11:45am. According my camera’s clock, I got in line at 11:22am and was back out front at 11:43am. Not bad.

The plan next calls for us to head over to Tomorrowland to ride Space Mountain, get a 4th FP+ for Buzz, and have lunch in Tomorrowland – most likely at Cosmic Ray’s. I instead scheduled my Space Mountain FP+ a little later in the day with plans to grab lunch at Tortuga Tavern. You may remember it debuted a new menu a couple of months ago:

Changes include no more Taco Salad, the introduction of the Beef and Vegetarian Rice Bowls, and the removal of the toppings bar.

Longtime readers may remember when the website was a beacon of condiment pictures. Unfortunately, FP+ happened and took our eyes away from the real prize. Hopefully we’ll be able to get back to what’s really important soon. Anyway, the most interesting thing at Tortuga these days is the hot sauce packets. Cheese is now provided in little tiny cups with burrito purchases.

The $11.49 Beef Rice Bowl is basically a deconstructed burrito.

The layer of pico de gallo on top is thinner than it might look in the picture and there’s a ton more food underneath – I was impressed by the quantity and the quality. The pulled beef was tender with some mild, lingering spice from the taco seasoning. The pico freshened up the flavors along with some cilantro in the rice and the black beans, which added some additional heft to the dish.

Plus you get a 1-ounce package of sour cream. #blessed

I went in quite hungry and had trouble finishing it off, which is not usually a problem now that I’ve spent more than four years on a diet consisting almost entirely of Disney World quick service. Note that Tortuga Tavern, located across from Pirates of the Caribbean in Adventureland, is usually just open for lunch from 11am-3pm:

This is the schedule for the first few days of this week and I’d expect a similar schedule to continue through the end of August.

I actually like Tortuga a lot and it’s a nice change of pace from what is largely chicken nuggets, chicken sandwiches, and hamburgers at the various other quick services.

After hanging out and cooling down for a few minutes, I checked Pirates, which was up to 45-minutes at 12:15pm.

Still 60 at Jungle Cruise.

Passing by Cinderella Castle on the way to Tomorrowland, we’ll come back to construction and various other points of interest at the end. THERE IS NO TIME NOW.

Merida continues pulling decent lines – if you got in line here you’d be in for about an hour.

Right at 12:30pm, Space Mountain has a 50-minute posted wait and the FP+ line is backed out a little ways outside of the entrance.

As I mentioned before, the cheat sheet plan has us riding Space before lunch – it’s a little easier on the tummy and will allow us to get a 4th FP+ at the kiosk outside Stitch earlier, which in turn means more FP+ availability. We can then enjoy lunch with Sonny Eclipse while our FP+ window opens.

But riding after lunch isn’t that big of a deal if you want to visit another location for lunch. Or if you’re like me, you’d probably prefer to skip Space entirely. The stupid thing is so uncomfortable. But here I am.

I arrived at 12:30pm, boarded my antiquated ride vehicle of probable death at 12:43pm, and arrived in the gift shop at 12:50pm for a total experience time of 20 minutes. The cheat sheet allots for exactly 20 minutes between 12pm and 12:20pm. It’s almost like I know what I’m talking about.

Tomorrowland movie show merchandise has arrived.

The old arcade area is still boarded up with little going on in the gift shop.

Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/mygifttoyou.jpg

By the time I emerged a few minutes later, Space’s FP+ line had backed out much further.

The website relinquishes all rights to this image and you are more than welcome to upload it to the photobucket account of your choice, in addition to being allowed to bastardize the point I’m trying to make, which is that these lines are not a big deal even when they do form. You are either waiting behind this many people for five minutes before the touch point or you are waiting behind this many people for five minutes after the touch point. It doesn’t really matter. Also, California, be sure to say hi to FP+ for me.

Buzz had a 25-minute posted wait at 12:55pm, which is nominal in the FP+ era.

The FP+ kiosk at Buzz Lightyear’s old FASTPASS machines is no longer an “official” location, but may be open to help with congestion at Stitch across the way. I visited the kiosk and selected Buzz with the first time available:

I then opened up the My Disney Experience app on my phone. While you have to visit the kiosk to select a 4th FP+ (and each subsequent FP+), you can change the experience or the time via the app on your phone. My usual advice is to select something at the kiosk as quickly as possible and then make modifications via the app. Most of the touchscreens at the kiosks are finicky (to put it politely) and aren’t particularly responsive. I know what you’re thinking…”Everything else about MyMagic+ works so well and they got the iPads wrong???”

So I have the app open and I’ll click on the Buzz FP+.

Then “Update this FastPass+” at the bottom.

Click today’s date.

Change a single FastPass on this day:

Click on Buzz.

I’d like to see if an earlier time is available, so I’ll click the applicable button.

Confirm who we’re talking about. If you have more people in your party, you can change the experience or the time for certain individuals if you’d like. Not everybody has to ride the same thing at the same time.

There we are! A time just ten minutes in the future. FastPass+ availability on your phone updates in real time, so there is an advantage to checking and re-checking.

You may have to swipe down on the screen to refresh the return time on the app. Mine still shows the old time.

And there we are. So instead of having to wait 30 minutes in line, I can use the FastPass+ line in just five minutes with the grace period.

I took the opportunity to hop on PeopleMover, which sees an extended queue almost every day in the FP+ era.

It’s so commonplace that Disney printed a sign for it.

Even with a “long” line, you’ll be on the attraction in a couple minutes. I got in line at 1:02pm and took this picture at 1:07pm.

A shot of the Buzz line we’ll be skipping momentarily.

And into the Buzz FP+ line a few minutes later.

I got in line at 1:17pm and was on the ride six minutes later at 1:23pm.

And back to the Buzz kiosk at 1:30pm to try for Haunted Mansion. Like I said a few thousand words ago, the touchscreens on the kiosk don’t work very well and as I was trying to scroll down, I accidentally clicked Big Thunder Mountain instead of Mansion. And after a few seconds couldn’t get the check mark unchecked, so I just clicked done at the bottom and planned to change it on my phone:

So we use the same process as before, only choosing to change the experience instead:

Haunted Mansion is available just seven minutes in the future.

Confirmed in My Disney Experience.

Because I was visiting alone, FastPass+ availability was a lot better than it would be for a larger party. Even adding a second person can significantly alter what My Disney Experience says is available.

Let’s say it’s 2:30pm and you’re trying to get a 4th FastPass+ for Splash Mountain for a party of four. Hypothetically, let’s say the following numbers of FastPass+ are available at the following times:

  • 1 for 3pm – 4pm
  • 1 for 3:15pm – 4:15pm
  • 2 for 3:20pm – 4:20pm
  • 3 for 3:45pm – 4:45pm
  • 2 for 5:10pm – 6:10pm
  • 4 for 6:15pm – 7:15pm
  • 3 for 6:30pm – 7:30pm
  • 4 for 7:10pm – 8:10pm
  • 2 for 7:30pm – 8:30pm

Disney is not going to split the difference with you and offer you any times before the 6:15pm slot because that’s the first slot where four FastPass+ are available. They don’t group the first four together and offer you 3:10pm to 4:10pm, for example. As a party of 1, I would see availability for each time slot.

So you can go two different ways on the additional FP+ thing. You could select a relatively high priority attraction for a 4th FP+ with a return time well in the future. For example, even with a party of one, the earliest Big Thunder Mountain Railroad FP+ available was after 5pm. If you were going on an afternoon break, which is smart in this heat with these crowds, picking something like that for after a break back at the resort would be smart. On the other hand, if you were planning on staying in the Park and picked Big Thunder for 7pm, you wouldn’t be able to select any additional FP+ until after you used the Big Thunder FP+ at 7pm. So there are some takeaways when selecting one of the high priority rides with a return time far in the future.

The other option is to select some of these middle-tier FP+ attractions that have return times much closer to when you select them at the kiosk. The advantage here is that you can select a FP+ attraction that will have a return time just a few minutes in the future, use the FP+, and then return to the kiosk and select another. Attractions like Buzz, Dumbo, Barnstormer, it’s a small world, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, and similar rides are good examples because so few people select them in advance and they have relatively high hourly capacities and thus, more availability.

I’ll run a post shortly that outlines more specifically what you can expect in terms of 4th FP+ availability at each of the Parks. The short answer is that at Animal Kingdom, most attractions will have availability at 1pm. The exception is usually the Adventurers Outpost due to a limited number of FP+ being distributed. Expedition Everest tends to be more limited beginning around that time as well.

At Epcot, IllumiNations, Soarin’, and Test Track FP+ will either be gone or severely limited by 1pm and availability for most lower-tier rides will be surprisingly limited. There just aren’t enough to go around.

At Hollywood Studios, the first Fantasmic, Frozen Sing-Along, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Tower of Terror, and Toy Story Mania will have nonexistent or very limited availability come 1pm. FP+ for the other attractions is much more plentiful.

At Magic Kingdom, the first nine rides on the FP+ priority list will have limited or no availability. The rest will have decent availability with the exception of Mickey Mouse (somewhat limited), and Festival of Fantasy, Wishes, and the first Electrical Parade, all of which will have no availability save for cancellations.

Odds and Ends

In other news, it’s been a long time since Friar’s Nook served breakfast, though it is open daily for $10 macaroni and cheeses.

Stalactites.

I took 12 pictures of that rice bowl.

Walls remain to the left of what would now be Sunshine Tree Terrace seating.

And continue down to the right of the old Tinker Bell meet.

And down around the patio.

There’s not a lot to see, but construction crews were active during the day.

Hub construction continues:





Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/badhubpano.jpg

Looking across at the Tomorrowland side.

And the Adventureland side.

Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/peoplemoverhub.jpg

From PeopleMover.

One more of the old rose garden.

Hub picnics remain unpopular in the heat.

Ummmmmmm guys…can you get out of the way I’m trying to take a scrim pic.

Overall, the day couldn’t have gone much better. As far as the plan is concerned, the one spot where you can run into problems is Splash if you fall behind schedule over the summer, when people are interested in riding as soon as Park opening. Taking a look over wait times over the course of the day:

Larger: https://www.easywdw.com/reports13/mk52015.jpg

Lightning closed several attractions for about an hour around 5:15pm, which is the reason for the downtime there.

I’ve included the averages for each time slot along the bottom as well, to show how waits increase going into the afternoon and then begin decreasing again in the evening. It’s kind of interesting how similar wait times are at 10am and 10pm, one hour after open and one hour before close, respectively. Regardless of how many days you plan to spend at Magic Kingdom, you may want to take advantage of short waits in the evening if you have more to accomplish.

Comments

  1. josh says

    I hit publish before I had a chance to give it a quick read over. Hopefully I reduced the number of mistakes from 400 to 70 or 80.

  2. CapeCodKid says

    “Overall, the day couldn’t have gone much better.” I agree! What a great day and a great plan too!

    This post was full of such good information. I enjoy reading these posts where the day unfolds according to your cheat sheets.

    As always, every time my family and I prepared for a trip to WDW (with another this August) you’ve been a big help! Thank you!

    Looking forward to more posts like these for the other parks too!

  3. Mireille says

    easyWDW is my favorite website on the entire internet, and the only one I would take with me to a deserted island (not sure how that would work, though). And these “timing the cheat sheet” posts are my most favorite posts on easyWDW. Basically, this made me very happy. (And envious, because even with the padded time that accounts for stroller parking and stuff, I could never do this much before 10am with a three year-old.)

    • josh says

      If you eliminate some of the rides with height requirements and sub in characters instead, you should be able to have a similar amount of luck in the morning and also potentially cut down on walking. There would be no reason to go to Frontierland for Splash and Big Thunder early, for example.

      • Mireille says

        Yes, I’ve already been mix-and-mashing your cheat sheets to make more sense for us! 😀 (We’re actually planning three days in MK, so I’m sure we’ll have more than enough time to do everything.)

        While I have you, is there a particular reason you don’t use tags or categories to make finding posts easier? I mean I know you use them for the most important stuff (cheat sheets, crowd calendars etc.) but I’d love to be able to find all the merch updates, all the cheat-sheet-timings, etc., and sometimes Google isn’t much help (I don’t want the one from 2012, machine, why can’t you read my mine!). I could even do it for you if you wanted 😉

        • josh says

          I don’t think anybody has ever accused me of being organized. Someday there might be a better system. Otherwise, if you go to Google and search for:

          site:easywdw.com what you want to search for -forums

          You’ll hopefully return relevant posts. So if you search for:

          site:easywdw.com liberty tree tavern lunch -forums

          You would pull up the various times I’ve talked about that restaurant.

          Otherwise if you’re looking for something specific, you’re welcome to ask at easywdw.com/forums. I more or less know where everything is.

          • Mireille says

            Wow, then you have a very impressive memory, haha! But that does help, I hadn’t thought of doing the “-forums” bit. Thanks!

      • Jasmine miner says

        Quick question, when would you suggest doing the character meet and greet with mickey at town square theater? I would be using a FP, but not sure when would be a good time to optimize it. Also are Sunday’s normally busier? We have always stayed away from magic kingdom on weekends but with the time frame were going to get to MK a second day that is our only option.

  4. Matt says

    “Instead of inputting the various attractions we’re interested in experiencing through a computer algorithm that doesn’t work and pretending like that offers insight into why our crowd calendar is permanently broken”

    Buuuuuurn. Is TP’s algorithm really so unreliable?

    • josh says

      Since their crowd calendar only goes from 1 to 10, it’s virtually impossible that they could be off by more than nine. So they have that going for them.

      • Dave says

        Yet somehow they are. Would never pay a cent towards them.

        Thanks for all you do Josh, love “the website”.

      • Matt says

        In all seriousness, I’m not generally aware of problems with TP (until their recent major changes in their crowd calendar predictions). Is it generally thought that their touring plans software specifically is not reliable?

        • Brandon says

          The “Personalized Plan” software is pretty bad. Try this test: enter the rides that Josh did in this post with his fastpass times.Hit optimize. Laugh.

          Then what you do is rearrange to the order Josh recommends + any customziation you want. Hit evaluate. Fudge the times (because they’re wrong). And then you can use the Lines App to follow the plan on your phone.

          • Matt says

            Thanks, Brandon. That’s a bummer to hear… and very surprising, given the amount of data and research that has apparently gone into it.

          • Dee says

            LOL Matt! That’s EXACTLY what I did for our 11/30-12/6/14 trip. I used the TP for sequence only and then changed all the times to Josh’s wait time predictions. Even then we were ahead of schedule and accomplished 13 rides in 3 hours on an 8 AM RD MVMCP day. WOO-HOO! TP’s would have had us finishing an hour later and with only 8 rides done. I knew their wait time predictions had to be way off after finding Josh’s site and were they ever! That was the best day EVER!

        • Kelly says

          I have seen TP have the MK as a the most recommended park on a major holiday; I believe it was July 4th or Easter. That should explain everything.

  5. snickers says

    Loved this post. The FP+ explanations you offer really helped our last trip. When we deviated from your advice a few times, we “felt” the mistakes and it was easy to understand the “why” to the order of the rides and how waits build during the course of the day.

    Can’t wait to see the FP+ availability post.

  6. James says

    Great walk through. Thanks for all you do. I have a question, however. Having a little girl, I’m curious about one thing. In the morning when you were able to add in Dumbo and Barnstormer, do you think a viable alternative would be Journey of the Little Mermaid, or would the wait time/ride duration make it not work?

    • josh says

      If you’re doing Big Thunder and Splash, I wouldn’t take the time to do Journey into Imagination in that time slot. I’d hop on Mine Train and then head to Big Thunder and Splash so you will wait less at Splash. The Little Mermaid is very easy to get as an additional FP+ later in the day and waits will be short to nonexistent most days after 8pm. But to answer your question specifically, you could sub Mermaid without any difficulty. It would take about 14 minutes to walk the queue and ride it at that point in the morning, which is right around the same amount of time it would take for Dumbo/Barnstormer.

  7. Tricia says

    “It’s almost like I know what I’m talking about.” Ha. This cracked me up. Thanks for the great post!

  8. gw_lit says

    I am a little disappointed that on the video of the walk up (down?) Main Street, there was no pushing of little kids or tipping over of little old ladies on scooters…

        • Neil says

          Although soon after the start, when walking through the “tunnel”, the lady in front not he right carrying her baby comes awfully close to hitting the baby’s head on the wall a few times. Especially when she pauses to pick up a map/show times leaflet.

          I must admit, I was hoping for something more like the chariot race from Ben Hur. This felt almost like it was too friendly, lol!

  9. Melissa says

    I was waiting for you to do this one day plan for quite some time. I am planning a solo trip and the 1 day plan is perfect for me. Thanks for all you do!

  10. Barry says

    The cheat sheets really are as good as they sound. We followed them to the letter on our last 2 trips and couldn’t believe how much we got done. Busy park, quiet park, it didn’t matter, we were always ahead of the crowds.

    I’m going to have to admit to the kids one day that I’m following someone else’s plan and I’m not actually a theme park ninja

  11. Carrie says

    I like people watching the people in your pictures.

    I also like when you take pictures and we can see your reflection of you taking the picture in the picture.

    This possibly sounds creepy.

    • josh says

      Yes, you could more easily add a few attractions before Big Thunder and Splash too. Dumbo, Barnstormer, Under the Sea Mermaid Ride, Haunted Mansion would all make sense. Or you could run through the plan as written and probably make it to Jungle Cruise before you need FP+ there and instead use it on something else.

      • Anonymous says

        So a 8am opening during November is considered an extra magic hour morning? I thought these were just put in place during holidays.

  12. Matthew says

    Josh, used your cheat sheet on Sunday morning and it was spot on. We had reservations at 8:00 at CP and were out by 8:30. Rode 7DMT 3 times before park opening and then followed cheat sheet from there. Disney needs to refurbish SM bad as it will beat you to death. Have a photo of the crowd being led up main street after opening and all I can say is there is more room in a can of sardines.

  13. Kim says

    Thank you so much for what you do! But especially this post. Helping some friends plan a first trip and can’t tell you how much difference it makes to be able to SHOW them what it’s going to look like instead of just telling them.

  14. Micklessor says

    Lawd, Josh…this post alone is worth the subscription price. Truly valuable info.

    That condiment stand at Tortuga could use a little refurb though – the flowers just don’t cut it.

    I still don’t know why you do what you do, but it’s very much appreciated.

    Thanks for taking one for the team in riding Space, I for one can not do it.

  15. Anonymous says

    Traveling to WDW in July. Looks like tons of construction around the castle. Does it take away from the ambiance? When will it all be completed?

    • josh says

      It won’t be done until sometime after September. It’s currently centralized in the center hub area – it’s a lot better than it was.

  16. Ezra says

    Hi Josh,
    Is there anywhere that I can get these kind of touring plans for Disneyland? Planning a trip there, and can’t find anything remotely as good as your site for the West Coast parks. Any advice?
    Thanks!

    • Kelly says

      Besides what Josh recommends, you might to try Disney Tourist Blog (http://www.disneytouristblog.com/). He has a lot of good stuff on Disneyland, including planning guides, lots of reviews of dining and hotels in that area, and some one day planning tours. He also has stuff for Disney World and is perhaps the best place to go for partical planning information in English on Disney in Tokyo, plus stuff on Hong Kong and Paris. Overall, his stuff isn’t quite as indepth as Josh is with Disney World, but it’s a good, common sense viewpoint and isn’t all “Disney can do no wrong”. About the only think that might bug is how much he is in love with Tokyo Disney and the comparriosons that spring from that, but honestly from what I’ve seen of the place DisneySea pretty much blows anything state side out of the water so I can’t blame him.

  17. Erika says

    This was the best! ‘…. my antiquated ride vehicle of probable death’ ….EXACTLY how i feel every time…I always go once with my teens…but once is enough!

    So fun to see this walk thru as we get close to our trip!! Thanks so much!

  18. Ocalla says

    Do you happen to have any of the Wait Time charts like the one above, but for September time frame?

  19. Kathleen says

    Thanks for all your hard work, Josh! Used your advice for our trip in April and it kept waits to a minimum. Was bummed I didn’t get to stop and say “hi” in Epcot, but I had to take my soggy family home right after dinner.

    Is there a “just after the crowd” sweet spot for entering MK? I don’t think my kids could handle waiting with the sardines. We got off to a slightly later start than I would have liked this past trip. It’d be nice to know a realistic entry time when we could walk in just after the mob next time.

    • josh says

      It depends how far away from the mass you need to be to feel comfortable. You could wait in the area after security but before the entry tapstiles. There’s a lot of room there and you could watch the welcome show from a comfortable spot. Then after everyone in the courtyard filters through, you could get in line to enter. If that’s still too close, I’d probably wait down in the area outside the ferry dock, which is close to the walk to the Contemporary. It’s a big open space and everyone will be headed in the other direction.

      As far as when that will be – just there or four minutes after the welcome show that area will be mostly clear. So it would still be before 9am most days.

      • Kathleen says

        Thanks for the response, Josh. Good idea to look for a less crowded waiting spot. Thanks again for sharing your advice.

        • Mary Ann says

          Kathleen, I’ve found that the entrances to the tunnels under the train (which puts you in first) can have a bit more elbow room than you might think cause you can’t really see the Welcome Show. Plus you have all this open space in front of you so it “feels” less crowded. But you’d need to get there a little earlier. We just took our breakfast bars and ate them while we waited. And we had seen the welcome many times before so it was not big miss.

  20. Carol O says

    “sour cream #blessed.” hahahhah! Just returned from a week in your land and my sister and I played “where’s Josh?” all week, to no avail.
    Maybe next time. :-)

  21. alicea says

    We rode Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh first that day as well. How did I not see you?! We then moved on to Tomorrowland before splash and btmrr. We had an awesome day thanks to all the advise and tips from the site. Thanks so much for what you do!

  22. becky silverberg says

    Josh, do you have one of these walk throughs that you have done recently for the 2-Day morning at MK? That is what we will be doing in mid August. Thanks.

  23. Shannon says

    While PoTC and HM are hands-down my favorite rides, that scene of the riverboat at the bottom of the drop on Splash is one of my favorite views. It’s just so happy and pretty.

  24. Cassie says

    Oh, thanks! These walk-through posts are my favorite and having one for the 1-day plan is perfect.

  25. DUSTY CHEATHAM says

    the bueaty of fastpass+ is now you don’t have to be ” at rope drop ” HOWEVER if you want to make the most of your day just follow josh advice it really is just that simple. AND IT CAN BE DONE . of course allowing for kids & grannys & paw paws .

  26. Vaughn says

    WOW!! This is an excellent post Josh. Kudos to you for sharing. We will be going the last week of August (crowd calendar says 6/10). Definitely going to follow this plan. Thanks a million.

  27. Maura says

    What do you think of taking the WDW train after rope drop and get off at Splash Mountain and BTMR for 2 adults and 3 teens. Does it save time…definitely less walking.

  28. Elizabeth says

    Great post–funny, informative and helpful. I’m worried about getting wet on Splash Mt that early in the morning…and then being wet all day. I’ve always gotten wet–sometimes soaked–in the past. Thoughts?

        • Elizabeth says

          I’ve used ponchos in the past, but it takes a lot of time and energy to get them on me and my kids…and I can’t picture Josh messing with a poncho on a tight schedule, but maybe I’m wrong. I’ve heard rumors about an extra splash at certain times of the day or year. Is that true? Are there perhaps certain seats to choose or avoid, etc?

  29. Jen says

    We used your 1-day cheat sheet touring plan in March (during spring break), ended up with 7 fast passes, did everything we wanted with minimal or acceptable waits, including Mine Train twice (to experience it at night), even ate at Be Our Guest, and sat in the rose garden one last time for the show and fireworks. It was our first trip without TP or its app, and we did just fine.

  30. Lesley says

    Thanks Josh! We don’t visit until November (our yearly trip) and I’m already trying to soak all of this in! First, is Tortuga closed then? I reallllly want that rice bowl.

    Also, touring/ FP+ has been fairly easy for us so far with only a party of 4, but this time we will have 6 (1 being a toddler). The anxiety over adding 4th FP+ and figuring out rider swap is already getting to me.

  31. Mary Ann says

    Thanks for the walk-in. It’s nice to have those ever now and then just to give me a little Disney fix. I’d love to see more of those (weird I know).

  32. Kristen says

    This may be a dumb question because I have not yet visited during the FP+ era, but if you can get a prime-time 7DMT FP+ at 7 am on the day of your visit, why is everyone killing themselves to get in line at rope drop? How difficult is it to get that particular FP+ in advance? (I’m praying that since my 5 year old can’t read, she won’t know that Anna and Elsa even exist in the parks.)

    And any idea when all that hub construction will be done?

    • Kacie says

      Mine Train isn’t the only high priority attraction — I was there last year before it opened, but still being there at RD with a plan really does afford you time to see many many other attractions that have longer waits without having to…wait.

    • Jason says

      Its a lot easier to get a FP+ for one, than for 2 or 3 ro 4 or more. That’s the only reason he was able to snag one the morning of.

      On your A/E plan, unfortunetly Disney has nice pictures of the princesses faces along with their names on the sings outside Princess Fairytale Hall. So lack of reading skills won’t hamper any child.

  33. Tammy says

    Thanks so much for all that you do in helping out the uninformed!!! And you always do it with a side of sarcasm. It can’t get much better than that!

  34. Carol says

    Hi Josh!
    I love your posts. Viewing them is an instant pick me up. So thank you. I love this run through of your cheat sheet- love it! We are going to WDW 6/30- 7/7. We are so excited. I hate to sound skeptical because I truly believe you are the master of touring WDW, but I must ask if you really can get 4th (& 5th?) FP+ (in MK) in early July? Will July really run as smoothly as May? My family is a party of 5. Reluctant to use our 3 FP+ early in MK if nothing will be available later. We have not been to WDW since FP+ started. Please let me know if there are any modifications you would recommend for July. We will be taking mid-day breaks (~1p- 5:30p). Thank you so much!

  35. Angelique says

    Love this website and these touring posts give me hope for our trip next week.
    Your comments about TP havemade me a little uneasy. Hoping the comments about their errors with crowd predictions are on the good side of correct because they’ve predicted 9’s for several of our days next week instead of the 8’s shown here. I know that’s only off by 1 but I’m guessing it’s an exponential growth.
    I’ve used your cheat sheets to “guide” their touring plans with adjustments because we have kids who’ve never been on a real roller coaster before and lots of character meets and no hope for many additional FP+ because our last is at 7:10 for AE meet. Regardless, I think we’ll be able to experience more than six rides in eight hours (geez!) thanks to your help.

  36. Jake says

    Josh,

    You said you recommend arriving at 8:20 AM for a 9:00 AM opening. What time do you recommend arriving for an 8:00 AM opening and what time would be the best time to be at the bus stop.

  37. servingCheezecake says

    This is JUST what I needed… a MK one day FP+ ride or die plan ! Planning first week of Feb visit… so I am going to adjust to remove Splash ( brrrr). We went in Feb of 2014, right when Enchanted Tales with Belle opened ( like within weeks of opening) and used your ” be AT the rope and run like the wind up main street” approach and it was PERFECT! no wait. It helps that we go mid week in early February every time to avoid crowds and heat …but none the less…peak season or not…your nerd level attention to detail is spot on :)

  38. Roxanne says

    Reading this gives me hope as I was beginning to feel like all we’d be doing at Disney was going to be waiting in lines!

    I’m trying to figure out the FP+ system which you use in such an optimal way. There are five of us travelling together and I understand getting extra FP+ at decent times will be much harder than it is for one person. Would it be a good idea for both my husband and I to each have a Myexperience account so that we could try getting FP+ as smaller groups?

    Thanks!

    Roxanne

  39. Amanda says

    Just got back from a 4-day weekend trip and your one-day plans were so perfect! Mine Train was closed for a few hours and we had a 9:20 FP+ but were able to ride later with an “Open FP” due to the technical difficulties. Subbed Haunted Mansion FP+ at 11:00 for Jungle Cruise and arrived at Space Mountain which had been down all morning just as it opened, so rode once standby with zero wait and then a second time right after with our FP+. Your plan was seriously spot on and we were able to ride some of our fans multiple times (got a 3rd ride on Space Mountain at 3:45 with another FP). I felt bad for all the people wandering aimlessly and waiting in crazy lines! Another great recent perk is unlimited FP+ once you finish your initial 3 – we just kept getting new ones on the app and then as soon as we scanned, got the next one. Must have had like 15! Thank you so much!

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