We pick things up from Part One on the morning of Saturday, May 18th, 2019 at 8:50am. I’ve already experienced Space Mountain and the Speedway in standby and I’m heading back towards Tomorrowland Proper to visit the other rides that I’ve skipped over, including Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Astro Orbiter, and the PeopleMover. I think I see ten other people around. Thanks 8am regular open.
At 8:52am, we could walk right onto the next elevator up to the loading platform for Astro Orbiter. If the line was already backing up, then I’d probably elect to ride Orbiter now. On the other hand, passing over it and returning in about ten minutes may give people the opportunity to ride and the queue could empty out a bit. Or the line might be short now, but 50 people could get in line over the course of the next ten minutes. It’s sort of a wash. Riding Orbiter first might make more sense. We’ll screw things up this time around for the sake of science and give the opposite order a try.
We’ll rock Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin instead.
While I’m not sure we can deduce the time of day based on the angle of the sun, the clock does point to 8:53am.
With so few people in line, it was basically a straight-shot to load:
I arrived at 8:53am and was back out front at 9:01am to a 5-minute posted wait and an eight-minute total experience time, which is right around the minimum amount of time that the shooting gallery takes. I could head right back in and wait two or three minutes to re-ride if that’s what I wanted.
Here’s a look at Buzz’s wait times so far this month:
I’ve highlighted 9:45am because it looks like that’s the cutoff time if you’d like to experience an actual standby wait of 15 minutes or less. By 10:15am, you’re looking at an actual wait of about a half hour, which is probably too long. Like most attractions, Buzz distributes nearly all of its FastPass+ experiences for every time slot, every day, regardless of attendance. That means most days, you’re looking at a peak wait of at least an hour as the minimum amount of capacity goes to standby all day, every day.
So far in May, it looks like there’s only two or three days where the wait doesn’t hit the 60-minute threshold and in most instances, that’s only because the wait peaked five minutes lower, at 55 minutes. With Buzz distributing over a thousand FastPass+ per hour, it is relatively easy to score somebody else’s change/cancellation later in the day should you have other morning priorities and still want to ride with a short wait. Come 1pm, the total experience time with FP+ will be about 14 minutes, on average, which is four minutes longer than it took me. In standby, you’d wait about 40 minutes, pushing the experience time to 45+. #winning
Just after 9am, more people are streaming in.
But entire PeopleMover cars remain empty, which bodes well for our next couple of stops. While Carousel of Progress isn’t on our agenda today, you could enjoy a show to yourself this early as the classic attraction opens with the Park.
While there’s “literally” nobody in line for the PeopleMover right now, this entire queue will be full when we revisit the Land in the afternoon.
Space Mountain is posting a 15-minute wait about an hour into operation. On days with 9am opens, the average wait an hour into operation is 35+ minutes, or more than twice as long. That goes back to our argument that days with 8am opens offer a significant advantage as we have more time in the morning to enjoy much shorter waits.
I got in line for Astro Orbiter at 9:04am.
I waited through one cycle and found myself upstairs at 9:12am.
What a life pic.twitter.com/cXiISAxwNM
— josh (@easywdw) May 18, 2019
Even if you’re not much of a spinner person, Orbiter offers some picturesque views of Tomorrowland. It’s also quite bit more frightening than you might expect with each rocket tilting inwards, particularly during the final rise and descent. The seating situation, where up to three people are seated in each rocket one in front of the other, tends to be uncomfortable. Couples may wish to split up as two parties of one unless you’ve yet to hit any Disney buffets during the trip and are more likely to fit. I actually don’t fit inside the rocket at all and just sort of hang on underneath.
Here’s an overhead look at the incoming Tomorrowland crowds after I disembarked my rocket at 9:20am. I thought this was supposed to be a low crowd time!
The Castle in the distance.
It’ll be fun to watch Tron rise as construction is visible from a number of in-Park locations, many of which offer better views than this. Construction for Pandora and Galaxy’s Edge is/was mostly far away from guests’ view.
I arrived at 9:03am and was back out front at 9:20am for a total experience time of 17 minutes, which is about four minutes longer than the absolute minimum amount of time that it takes. The Orbiter is a memorable experience, for better or worse, and it’s worth doing if you have the time in the morning.
Here’s a look at Astro’s posted waits in May:
9:45am is highlighted again as that’s the cut-off time for a 15ish minute actual wait. After that, you’re looking at 25ish minutes for most of the day in one of the slowest-moving lines in any Walt Disney World Park. You’re at least a little better covered from the sun than the Speedway. On the other hand, the sweet, sweet smell of tiny car exhaust at Speedway does help mask the body odor of your neighboring guests. I’m not sure which fumes are more likely to cause permanent damage. At least you’re not shoveling radioactive graphite off the roof at Chernobyl. It can always be worse. After shoveling radioactive graphite, they might hand you a coupon for a free meal at Tony’s Town Square. See? Worse.
Beautiful, beautiful Carousel of Progress. It would make sense to visit later in the afternoon. There are few places more comfortable inside Magic Kingdom.
There’s nobody in line for the PeopleMover.
As I said before, there certainly will be later. This is the same day.
As always, the PeopleMover offers some picturesque views:
You can see how close we’re getting to the Tron construction as we pass by this mound of dirt.
This picture is from May 23rd as you can see several pieces of track are installed.
That’s quite a bit of progress compared to just five days before, when the first piece of track was installed. The above picture was taken just five days earlier. It probably looks about the same.
It’s quite the project as we look towards the coaster’s opening in what should be a little over two years.
We’ll enjoy an even clearer view from The Barnstormer next.
Until then, we’ll enjoy magnetically-traveling by the Castle with a view that isn’t available from any other vantage point.
The incoming crowds remain light as I’m ready to disembark at 9:33am.
That means my total experience time was 11 minutes, which is the absolute minimum. I could certainly enjoy another ride if I’d like. Buzz’s wait is up to 15 minutes. We’re 12-minutes away from that 9:45am cutoff that we stipulated a chart or two ago. I would think the actual wait at this point would be about 12 minutes, which isn’t prohibitive for 90 minutes into operation. On days with 9am opens, the actual wait would be about double that at 10:30am.
Astro Orbier’s wait is probably about 15 minutes too.
We’re heading back up towards Tomorrowland Speedway at 9:37am, with just a handful of people around. It doesn’t get much better than this.
The Speedway is posted at 20 minutes, which is probably about right, though you’re entirely at the mercy of how many cars they’re loading. If it’s still four, Galaxy’s Edge might open before it’s your turn to take a lap.
An hour after we saw just about five teacups full, it looks like they’re all full, which means the wait would be about three minutes to board. I could certainly get in line now if I wanted to experience the ride in eight or nine minutes total. I don’t. But I could. Having options is so freeing.
Dumbo is posting a 10-minute wait, which is probably about the time that it will take from the moment you get in line to the moment you’ve boarded an elephant.
I typically visit The Barnstormer first because wait times usually develop faster, and if the wait ends up being a little longer at Dumbo after, at least most of it is indoors and air-conditioned.
You can see how close Tron will be to The Barnstormer’s queue.
The Barnstormer is Tron and the Tron ride is Tron 2.
A little more context.
There was basically no wait for Barnstormer.
I arrived at 9:42am.
Spent a couple of minutes taking construction pictures.
And was still back out front at 9:50am for a total experience time of eight minutes, which was about two minutes longer than it would have been if I didn’t stand there taking photos.
Here’s a look at Barnstormer’s wait times in May:
I’ve highlighted 10:45am since that’s the time where your actual wait is going to rise above 15 minutes. Arriving before then should result in a wait of ten minutes or less. I waited about three just after 9:45am. According to the chart, the posted wait is almost always five minutes at that point, indicating a walk-on.
Dumbo is still posting a 10-minute wait at 9:51am.
We have the option of stopping by the indoor, air-conditioned playground or we can continue in line. Since I’m not really allowed in playgrounds, we’ll continue on.
You’ll notice that the elephants are now numbered and you’ll be assigned where to stand, rather than joining a clump of people. This sort of thing is our best defense against “please fill in all the available space.” Every inch of my apartment is actually numbered on the off-chance that somebody comes in and tells me that I need to fill in the emptiness that’s in my heart. “But sir, I was assigned spot 62,378. Surely, surely I can’t leave it.”
The current procedure probably helps with loading speed. Back when it was a free-for-all, you’ve usually got that one group that’s circling the spinner looking for an empty elephant over and over again.
I boarded my elephant right at 10am, so my wait ended up being a little less than ten minutes.
And I was back out front at 10:04am for a total experience time of 13 minutes, which is perhaps three minutes longer than the absolute minimum amount of time that it takes with FastPass+.
Here’s a look at Dumbo’s waits so far in May:
Wait times are very similar to Barnstormer, with just a one-minute difference in the overall average for the 4ish week period. Ideally, you’d get in line here before 10:45am as well. That’s a lot easier with an 8am open than a 9am open. Since I’m about two hours into my day at this point, I’m still able to enjoy the shorter wait times at 10am. With the 9am open, if I was two hours into my day, it’d already be 11am and wait times would be much more prohibitive. Plus, since I would have waited longer at each preceding attraction with a 9am open, it would be even later in the day, and I probably wouldn’t be back to Dumbo until 11:30am or so, when 25- to 30-minute actual waits are possible. Thanks 8am open.
As it stands, I could ride Dumbo or Barnstomer again with a wait of less than ten minutes each.
We’ll move on to our next attraction, which is Journey of the Little Mermaid. (Not pictured.)
Like most walkways that we’ve seen thus far, there aren’t a tremendous number of people around in New Fantasyland. Newish Fantasyland might be more accurate.
The Ariel Meet and Greet is back here. Looking over wait times:
A 10am arrival is the sweet spot with an actual wait that should be under 15 minutes. An hour later, at 11am, you’re looking at twice that. With the 8am open, I’ve already experienced six attractions and I’m still back here in time to enjoy a short wait. With a 9am open, I’d only have time for two or three things before I’d need to make my way back here, which isn’t going to be possible in most situations. Ariel does offer FastPass+ and experiences do typically open up throughout the afternoon as people change/cancel their plans. FP+ is your best bet from 10am-9pm, but you could say that about the vast majority of attractions.
If Fantasyland is your priority, with an emphasis on characters, then I go over a “Do Everything in Fantasyland” plan here, with Part Two following here. That’s also with a 9am open, which would be adaptable to an 8am open with even more success. As a reminder, here’s how that day went:
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 9:01am – 9:18am
- The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: 9:19am – 9:37am
- Princess Fairytale Hall Aurora and Snow White: 9:38am – 9:44am
- Princess Fairytale Hall Cinderella and Elena: 9:45am – 9:52am
- Ariel’s Grotto: 9:57am – 10:09am
- Dumbo: 10:09am – 10:21am
- Barnstormer: 10:22am – 10:45am
- it’s a small world: 10:54am – 11:22am
- Enchanted Tales with Belle with FastPass+: 11:31am – 12:02pm
- Prince Charming Regal Carrousel: 12:08pm – 12:21pm
- Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with FastPass+: 12:24pm – 12:40pm
- Lunch: 12:45pm – 1:45pm
- Peter Pan’s Flight with FastPass+: 1:56pm – 2:09pm
- Journey of the Little Mermaid with FastPass+: 2:14pm – 2:26pm
- Mad Tea Party with FastPass+: 2:30pm – 2:40pm
During “Do Everything in Fantasyland,” I got in line for Ariel’s Grotto just before 10am and ended up waiting less than ten minutes. That was on a weekend with the paid Early Morning Magic event scheduled.
This time around, the rides are what we’re after.
Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid is posting a 10-minute wait at 10:06am.
After the long walk through the queue, I waited about three:
Sebastian the lobster.
I was back out front at 10:21am for a total experience time of 15 minutes, which is right around the minimum amount of time that the ride takes. That’s pretty good for 2+ hours into operation.
Here’s a look at Mermaid’s wait times so far in May:
You may have noticed that the purple bar is moving further and further to the right with each subsequent attraction, as we don’t see a 20+ minute average wait until 11am, versus 10:45am at The Barnstormer and Dumbo, 10am at the Ariel Meet, and the 9:45am that we saw at Buzz. That’s why we’re going about things in this order. If we were to start our day here at Journey of the Little Mermaid and then try to ride Space Mountain in standby as our sixth attraction, we’d wait between 60 or more minutes for the roller coaster. The early arrival is always a smart strategy to minimize waits, but knowing where to go when is what’s really going to save you the most time.
So far, my day is going about as well as it possibly could. I’ve experienced:
- Space Mountain: 8:01am – 8:20am
- Tomorrowland Speedway: 8:24am – 8:50am
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin: 8:53am – 9:01am
- Astro Orbiter: 9:04am – 9:22am
- The PeopleMover: 9:22am – 9:34am
- The Barnstormer: 9:43am – 9:50am
- Dumbo: 9:51am – 10:04am
- Journey of the Little Mermaid Ride: 10:06am – 10:21am
Capacity reductions at Space Mountain and Tomorrowland Speedway were the only things that slowed me down. There isn’t much we can do about that.
In Part Three, we’ll continue on to enjoy Seven Dwarfs Mine Train before visiting it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion.