After enjoying breakfast at Be Our Guest Restaurant and getting in two rides on Mine Train before 9am, we continue our morning before ending the day with the view above. If you missed the previous post, it’s available here.
Looking over posted wait times over the course of the day, we can get a pretty good idea about how to go about our day:
The various touring plans in the latest versions of the cheat sheets (which will be updated with the new Magic Kingdom rope drop details this week) typically organize the day so that they get you to each attraction just before it builds an appreciable wait. And it’s also why we took care of Mine Train, with its 84-minute average wait and 130-minute peak wait, and Peter Pan’s Flight, with its 51-minute average and 70-minute peak, first thing. Based on that average, I saved over 3.5 hours in line within the first 15 minutes of regular Park opening. Not bad.
The chart above will give you a good idea about what to expect from below average waits during the “off-season” with an early close. Even though Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park, we’re still looking at maximum FastPass+ usage at the majority of rides during the majority of windows, which is going to push waits up as so little capacity goes to standby. There only needs to be about 350 people in front of you at Mine Train standby for the wait to be an hour.
I’ve been saying that there isn’t necessarily a huge rush to Tomorrowland first thing in the morning, so I thought I would see what it looked like here in the morning at 9:15am.
Even with the ability to walk into the next available elevator, Astro Orbiter is still going to take about 20 minutes in the morning if you decide to do it.
Deciding whether to do Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin or Space Mountain first is sort of a toss up. Although waits at Space typically peak much higher than Buzz, morning waits in the first hour build at about the same rate.
But because Buzz takes about 10 minutes and Space Mountain takes about 20 minutes and because I was planning on heading back up to Fantasyland after the two rides, I went with Buzz first. If you’re heading in from the Hub for regular rope drop, you could conceivably ride Buzz a couple of times before going over to Space Mountain for the sake of reducing the amount of walking/backtracking necessary. Strictly based on wait times, it probably makes sense to do Space Mountain first.
But even with most of the standby queue inside full, the wait to board was just four minutes.
I arrived at 9:18am and was back out front at 9:29am for a total experience time of 11 minutes. With so many FastPass+ returners in the afternoon, the standby line could be the same length, but the actual wait would be about 25 minutes.
Over to Space Mountain at 9:35am after a brief stop. The posted wait is 10 minutes with both sides of the ride operating already.
And back out front at 9:54am for a total experience time of 19 minutes, which is less time than it would probably take with FastPass+ later in the day. The wait here is going to peak at 90 minutes in the afternoon.
At this point, Astro Orbiter would take about 25 minutes. I could re-ride Space Mountain with a wait of about 15 minutes or head back over to Buzz Lightyear and wait about 10 if I was in the mood.
Tomorrowland just before 10am.
The actual wait at Tomorrowland Speedway would be about 10 minutes.
No wait for a $5 Mickey’s Ice Cream Bar.
The sweet spot for arriving at Dumbo is typically somewhere around 10:15am – late enough that Disney has been running both sides for long enough that the people present have moved through, but also early enough that the masses haven’t yet arrived.
I passed the 15-minute posted wait at 10am in favor of The Barnstormer, where the line is easy to gauge since it’s all outside.
I was here seven minutes later.
And back out front at 10:11am for a total experience time of 10 minutes. Being a “low crowd day,” the wait would only peak at 25 minutes later in the afternoon.
Minnie/Daisy and Goofy/Donald meet back there at Pete’s Silly Sideshow – these days from 10am – 7:30pm regardless of opening and closing times. It’s a good opportunity to meet four characters, particularly this early in the morning when there’s virtually nobody around. You’d have Donald and friends more or less to yourself.
Back over to Dumbo where the posted wait is up to 20 minutes.
A closed playground.
A window into my life.
I arrived at 10:13am and was back out front at 10:26am for a 13-minute total experience time.
It’s perhaps a little early for Mermaid Ride as it won’t hit an actual wait of more than ten minutes until about 11:15am, but it’s here and convenient and the number of rides that we can basically walk on is dwindling.
If you’re interested in meeting Ariel at her Grotto, you want to do that before the ride as waits increase there faster. It’s still posted at 20 minutes just before 10:30am.
Versus 10 here:
Mermaid Ride took a total of 14 minutes and I was back in front of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at 10:47am to find it was down. Disney did not clear the queue and reopened at 11am to a 90-minute posted wait. This scene makes that $24 breakfast at Be Our Guest “feel” all the more tasty.
Pretty light crowds in the Old Fantasyland corridor at 10:50am. Fast forward a couple of weeks to Presidents Day Weekend and we may be in can-you-spot-the-concrete territory.
But even so, with the maximum number of people heading through the FastPass+ line at Peter Pan’s Flight with priority, the standby wait still eclipses an hour.
it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion are both going to see 15 minute waits at 11am given the low crowd level. It would be 20-30 with above average crowds.
I opted for Haunted Mansion with its 20-minute posted wait.
With few FastPass+ returners here this early, this looks to be closer to 10 minutes:
And back out front at 11:17am for a total experience time of 25 minutes, which is actually surprising as I didn’t “feel” like it took that long at the time. I suppose there is plenty to look at while you wait and move through the various pre-show areas.
According to our wait times chart above, by 11:15am wait times are at their highest point of the day. This is when you want to think about sticking with FastPass+ at the priority attractions and mixing in the high capacity/low popularity opportunities.
Basically anything that’s labeled green on the map above is a “go” for this time of day in standby.
Frontierland just before 11:30am.
For the worst part of the day, this is not bad at all.
In this climate, Pirates is still doable this late, but the actual wait would be 25ish minutes given a higher crowd level.
My first FastPass+ of the day was for Jungle Cruise with a 50-minute wait at 11:35am. This is the third longest posted wait at the moment behind Mine Train and Peter Pan’s Flight, both of which I already accomplished:
Back out front at 11:51am for a total experience time of 16 minutes.
Adventureland just before noon.
45 minutes for Splash with a high of 79 degrees. I turned on the heat last night (the 29th) for the first time this “winter” as the low is 47 degrees!!!
Big Thunder had been posted at 25 minutes for a while, but went up to 45 minutes as I was taking this picture. It certainly appears to be a lot of people. I used my second FastPass+.
A 15-minute total experience time, which is below the 18 minutes we were expecting. If you mouse over the theme park names at the top of the site and choose “attractions,” you can then click on each attraction inside that Park for a wealth of information, including how long you can expect an attraction to take with FP+. That should help budget time a lot better than just knowing that Big Thunder is a 4-minute ride.
Frontierland at 12:15pm.
The scene outside Haunted Mansion has become a lot busier than it was before 11am.
Still manageable, but concrete comes at more of a premium.
I’ve been surprised with how early Pinocchio Village Haus has been closing. A couple of days earlier I tried to visit around 5:55pm with the 6pm stated close and they wouldn’t let me through the door to order. There was a cast member out front turning people, or at least starving bloggers, away. So double check the close if you’re planning on visiting for dinner and plan to arrive at least ten minutes before that.
At one time, Village Haus had a digital menu, but this printed menu sans pictures was up.
Having enjoyed the $11.49 Chicken Parmesan Sandwich well enough on a previous visit, I decided to try the $12.49 Chicken Parmesan Pasta served with Penne and Side Caesar Salad.
Compared to the other options at Magic Kingdom, I thought it was executed pretty well – the chicken breast was sizable with a nice crunch and the sauce, while a little sweet, was surprisingly chunky with a robust flavor.
There isn’t a ton of parmesan going on, but they do have additional packets you can grab and add to the top.
Half eaten for your pleasure. If I was going to lodge a complaint, it would be that the sauce coverage wasn’t fantastic. They spoon it on top of the entire production and after you’ve eaten the chicken, there isn’t a lot of sauce going on underneath. The pasta, which is going to be predictably gummy, isn’t going to hold up very well without sauce and cheese. But there is a ton of penne – I had probably eaten a third of the pasta before taking this picture and there’s enough left here for an entire second meal.
At home, there’s probably a reason why you don’t dress your salads a half hour before eating them – it makes the lettuce a lot less crisp, which is what typically happens with these side salads mixed with Ken’s Caesar. You might consider going entree-only here. Sharing an order of the breadsticks seems smart too.
Overall, there’s actually a decent selection of quick service options at Magic Kingdom when you consider the Chicken Parm situation here and the south-of-the-border menu at Pecos Bill, in addition to the usual burgers etc. at Cosmic Ray’s, hot dogs at Casey’s Corner, and seafood/sandwiches at Columbia Harbour House. Sitting outside on the patio or up on the balcony is pleasant this time of year and may make Village Haus all the more attractive.
The Royal Majesty Makers have added a fun segment at the Sword in the Stone.
I spent some time taking pictures of all of the 2017 merchandise that I’ll put up in a separate post.
We’ll take a quick lap around the Park at 1:30pm to see how much more crowded it is compared to the morning.
Buzz is posted at 25 but it looks closer to 35 depending on how many FastPass+ returners there are.
60 minutes at Space Mountain is 50 minutes longer than I waited.
Here at 2pm, there’s a short line for PeopleMover and what looks like a 20-minute wait for Astro Orbiter.
Speedway is about 30 minutes.
Still posted at 20 minutes at Dumbo.
This is about 25 minutes at Barnstormer.
The actual combined wait should be closer to 30 minutes than 45. Still a bargain to meet four prime characters.
About 20 minutes longer than I waited before 11am at Mermaid.
A little longer line than you’d expect these days for lunch at Be Our Guest, perhaps due to pre-ordering being down. This is a 20ish minute wait to get to a kiosk.
Thanks to refreshing FastPass+ availability via the app, I was able to score a Mine Train FP+ for 1:50pm-2:50pm around noon. Despite some downtime earlier, it was still a straight shot inside:
I arrived at 2:16pm and was back out front at 2:26pm for a total experience time of 10 minutes, which is well below average. The posted wait was 100 minutes, making my three minutes worth of refreshing seem like a worthwhile investment.
25 minutes at small world and 60 at Peter Pan.
I offered a mixed review of Tiana’s Riverboat Party last month in this post. It looks moderately popular though they are set up to accept day-of reservations out front.
I like to see Festival of Fantasy from around this area. It’s wide open on this side of the street and quite crowded on the other.
Just 15 minutes at Big Thunder.
Posted outside of the FP+ entrance.
35 at Splash. Wait times typically decrease a bit from 2:30pm-3:30pm as Festival of Fantasy pulls so many people away. Big Thunder and Splash in particular see a drop from 2:45pm-3:15pm before seeing an increase after the Parade passes.
This is about as good as it gets, which is what you’d expect from a weekday in late January.
Capacity still comes into play with the 55-minute wait at Jungle Cruise. There’s a reason it was our first FastPass+ choice.
15 minutes at Magic Carpets.
It will take about 20 minutes after the Parade steps off for it to reach this area in front of City Hall, but it typically fills in late and you can make a quick escape after if that’s the direction you want to go.
Departing just before 3pm with the flag of the United States blowing in the wind.
And a 5pm return.
Overall, the day went well with some efficient touring in the morning and intelligent FastPass+ usage in the afternoon, if I do say so myself. What ended up happening:
- Wait for Park to open: 7:30am-7:45am
- Pictures around Main Street: 7:45am-8:02am
- Be Our Guest breakfast: 8:03am-8:33am
- Wait outside the restaurant: 8:33am-8:42am
- Ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 8:42am-8:49am
- Ride Seven Dwarfs Mine Train:8:50am-8:57am
- Ride Peter Pan’s Flight: 8:58am-9:11am
- Ride Buzz Lightyear: 9:18am-9:29am
- Ride Space Mountain: 9:35am-9:54am
- Ride The Barnstormer: 10:01am-10:11am
- Ride Dumbo: 10:13am-10:26am
- Ride Journey of the Little Mermaid: 10:28am-10:42am
- Ride Haunted Mansion: 10:52am-11:17am
- Ride Jungle Cruise with FastPass+: 11:34am-11:51am
- Ride Big Thunder with FastPass+: 11:58am-12:13pm
- Lunch: 12:23pm-12:57pm
11 rides, including several high priorities, in addition to lunch, in about four hours seems like a successful morning.
Relatively light crowds certainly helped the efficiency a bit, but the morning portion is more or less foolproof.
With a higher overall crowd level, I would have likely waited a bit longer at Haunted Mansion in particular and perhaps a couple of more minutes before using FastPass+ at Jungle Cruise, Big Thunder, and Mine Train.
I’ll be back at Magic Kingdom for an Adventureland/Frontierland rope drop later this week.
For now, we’ll move on to some crowd calendar stuff and take a walk around Epcot for the Festival of the Arts.