Today we’ll head out to Magic Kingdom to see what rope drop from the main entrance looks like these days. There’s a lot of clamoring for pre-opening Be Our Guest Restaurant breakfast reservations with the express intent of exiting no later than 8:40am to hurry to Mine Train or Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall before the rope drop crowds from the main entrance can possibly hope to arrive. I cover that process in this post: https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/be-our-guest-8am-breakfast-reservation-review-the-rope-drop-situation-to-seven-dwarfs-and-annaelsa-magic-kingdom-morning-touring-over-spring-break-32715/.
The website does advocate that approach, which almost always leads to a mostly effortless first trip through the Mine followed by a short wait at Peter Pan’s Flight. But not everyone can book breakfast there and at a cost of $21.99 per adult, not everyone may want to spring for the additional cost. With the pastry platter, entree, and beverages, in addition to the opportunity to take some pictures around Main Street with fewer people around and the quick entry into Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, I think Be Our Guest does offer a lot of value even if the price is on the high side.
But today we do not eat like kings and queens, instead joining the townsfolk at the main entrance here at 8:20am.
Like with the Studios, the rope drop crowds are an ever-earlier-arriving group. It seems like most of those that have already arrived are intelligent enough to move to one side of the Mickey Floral or the other for a quicker entrance into the Park once the Welcome Show concludes. While we don’t enjoy the breakfast reservation line trick like at the other Parks, there is one thing you can do, which is saunter up to the side of the entrance instead of getting in the back of the line that typically forms straight back.
Here we are. I’ll be able to weasel my way through here and get in front of a couple hundred people that arrived before me.
And you never know, look to your left and you might just see me. Some of you may remember Kim and her daughter from the Garden Grill dinner review.
By 8:25am, we’re already looking at this.
By 8:30am they aren’t letting anybody else inside the courtyard, which means you’d be stuck outside the tapstiles until about 8:46am when the Welcome Show concludes. And your view of said show would be largely nonexistent, not that it’s much better all the way over here in the corner.
The Welcome Show begins 20 minutes prior to official open and lasts about six minutes.
Here’s a video of my walk up Main Street, which follows the same advice that I’ve dispensed since the day after Mine Train opened. If you’re headed to Mine Train, you want to take the path to the right of Cinderella Castle towards Mad Tea Party and then take a left past The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It’s a shorter distance than heading through the Castle and you’ll arrive earlier. Those headed to Anna/Elsa or Cinderella/Rapunzel will want to continue through the Castle and then onto Fairytale Hall. Those headed to Peter Pan’s Flight also ought to head through the Castle and then take a left at the Carrousel.
I arrived here in the queue at 8:53am.
You’ve probably seen me stress the importance of staying ahead of the rope drop crowd if you’re headed to Mine Train. If your group is able-bodied adults/full size children, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s still unpleasant and potentially somewhat stressful, but it’s more than doable to keep up with the cast members leading the way from right inside the entrance all the way to Mine Train. With strollers, kids that can’t be easily carried, or slower individuals, it’s going to be more difficult to stay ahead over the course of a walk that takes about seven minutes.
The point here is to be realistic about whether you can arrive at Mine Train quickly or if you’re going to be behind the pack. If you want to watch the Welcome Show from the center of the Mickey Floral – forget Mine Train. You’re going to wait over an hour first thing. If you don’t arrive until 20 minutes before official open – forget Mine Train. You’re going to wait over an hour first thing. If you walk slow or want to take pictures in front of the Castle first, forget Mine Train. You’re going to wait over an hour first thing. And if you’re going to have to wait an hour, you might as well do it at 1:30pm when waits have peaked everywhere else and instead focus on hitting other priority attractions with short waits first thing in the morning.
In the picture above, the standby queue already stretches outside of the entrance towards Storybook Circus just one minute after I arrived at the queue. Nearly everybody you saw waiting for the Welcome Show is headed here because that’s where Disney is leading everyone. It’s not dissimilar from the phenomenon we saw at Hollywood Studios where everyone present is headed to Toy Story Mania because that’s where they’re led. I’m going to wait less than four minutes for the Mine Train, while the people currently standing outside the queue will wait over an hour. This happens every day.
I didn’t have much of an opportunity to participate in the interactive queue as the line had not yet backed up all the way here. I’m not sure you’re missing much. There’s these games.
Water comes out of the spouts.
You can spin the barrels of jewels.
Otherwise, I was ready to board just four minutes later at 8:57am.
Overall, it wasn’t a tremendous amount of effort to get here as a somewhat able-bodied blogger that knew where he was going and didn’t have to worry about anyone else falling behind. If you can secure FastPass+ for later in the day, you may want to forgo the hustle and bustle if you do have young kids or just don’t want to deal with it.
I’m back out front at 9:03am for a total experience time of just 11 minutes, which is about five minutes less than average with FastPass+.
Some of you may remember that I was here for opening day all the way back in May of 2014, which is covered back in this post. You do not want to be in this line this early.
At this time of day, literally any other part of Magic Kingdom is going to be completely dead.
It’s kind of hard to tell here, but the line for Anna/Elsa has backed up into the extended queue a ways. Waits there are nowhere near as bad as they were originally. Here’s a look at posted waits over the last 30ish days:
Note that some of these are Christmas Party days with a 7pm close for regular guests. Still, if you ignore the busy Thanksgiving holiday and look at wait times around 1pm over the last week or so, they average just about 50 minutes. So my point here is basically that even if you can’t get Anna/Elsa FP+ and can’t realistically get here first thing that you’re not going to be waiting four hours to meet Frozen. You’ll be best served if you can visit as late in the evening as possible or get in line around 2:30pm as Festival of Fantasy continues to pull thousands of people away from the major attractions as well as restrict crowd flow heading into Fantasyland from Main Street and Adventureland/Frontierland/Liberty Square.
The main purpose of today’s visit is unexciting – seeing how long it will take to ride Peter Pan’s Flight in standby after first riding Mine Train after first entering from the main entrance. A lot of the typical Walt Disney World advice is easy to dispense, but not always easy to execute. You can’t ride everything immediately after Park open. You can’t get in line for everything with one minute to close. And you can’t use FastPass+ for everything. In fact, FastPass+ for Peter Pan’s Flight are routinely unavailable ten or may days in advance, meaning the only possible way to secure one on the day-pf is to luck into a cancellation at some point during the day, which is going to be unlikely, particularly with larger groups. With two or three days to spend at Magic Kingdom, you’ll need to make fewer compromises as you’ll have more opportunities to visit priority attractions during recommended times along with the ability to schedule three high priority FP+ experiences in advance each day. But those with less time in the Parks are likely going to have to look at experiencing some priority attractions at “pretty good” times instead of the “best” times. Peter Pan’s Flight may be one of those examples.
It’s 9:04am, so the Park has officially only been open four minutes, and the posted wait is already 35 minutes. But as we know, there’s a difference between a “35-minute wait” and a “35-minute wait.” For example, Test Track over at Epcot never posts less than a 30-minute standby wait first thing in the morning. And we ran into a 30-minute posted wait at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster just last week that ended up being around five minutes in actuality. But Peter Pan’s Flight is a different beast thanks to its terrible capacity.
Other people may want to experience the still-newish interactive queue. It took eight minutes to get to the start of it, where you’ll find these paintings on the walls. It’s at least a little more interesting than winding around outside.
This is the main room, where you’ll find a variety of set pieces and effects.
Here, a pirate flag might appear on the mast or you may see pixie dust taking over the treasure chest or boat on top of the shelving unit.
Here, butterflies perch themselves on fingertips or bells ring with the help of a guest’s touch.
You might find this bed helpful later in the day when the wait is 60+ minutes.
Pixie dust showers guests just prior to boarding the ride – a neat effect that also has the benefit of making the ride make more sense.
All in all, it took 23 minutes from the time I got in line to the time I was just about to board. Disney was showing an “actual wait” of 15 minutes with an “actual FastPass+ wait” of 2 minutes.
I was kicking myself for bringing along my 16-35mm f2.8 lens instead of my 35mm f1.4 lens.
Looking back for a slightly different perspective.
Poor Captain Hook. So misunderstood.
With virtually nobody walking around and appreciable waits only here, Mine Train, and Anna/Elsa, the total experience time ended up being exactly 30 minutes. It’s a lot of time to take this early, but Peter Pan’s Flight often has the longest wait at Magic Kingdom and if you want to experience it, there are only a few opportunities when the wait will be under 30 minutes – now, potentially during the afternoon parade, with FP+, or last thing at night. And as I said before, that’s true of several attractions, so you’ll need to decide what you want to prioritize if you have limited time in the Park.
Looking over wait times over the course of the day:
This is about as dead as Magic Kingdom gets these days, though I’m sure we’ll see our fair share of people comparing the first week in December to the third week in June. OH MY GOSH THE WALKWAYS WERE PACKED WE COULD BARELY MOVE GOOD THING THE WAIT AT SPACE MOUNTAIN WAS ONLY TEN MINUTES SO WE COULD JUST RIDE AGAIN AND AGAIN WITH NO WAIT OR I DON’T KNOW WHAT I WOULD HAVE DONE IT WAS CRAZY. If you wanted to stay in Fantasyland, it’s already a bit too late to do The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh with a short wait. The ride is down in this specific example, but you’d already be looking at a 25 to 30 minute wait by 9:30am. The majority of other attractions are fair game though – if it were me and I wanted to stay in the area, I’d do Ariel’s Grotto -> Dumbo -> Barnstormer -> Little Mermaid Ride -> it’s a small world.
With one day, you’re going to need to decide whether you want to do other priority Fantasyland/Tomorrowland during the day and do Adventureland/Frontierland at night or do the reverse. There isn’t really a “right” answer, though I think visiting Liberty Square -> Frontierland -> Adventureland next is a little more forgiving and you won’t have to deal with the parade cutting off walkways in the evening if you spend it in Tomorrowland/Fantasyland instead.
It makes a lot of sense to do Haunted Mansion at this point. Some of the touring plans call for a quick trip over to Big Thunder and Splash Mountain before doubling back here for Mansion, it’s a small world, and then Peter Pan’s Flight with FastPass+. But even though Haunted Mansion isn’t going to be pushing a 20-minute wait until 11am, it makes sense to do it now due to the amount of walking it would take to double back all way over here later. I’d rather spend an extra two minutes in line for Splash than spend 20 minutes walking.
Another bonus of doing standby here is enjoying another interactive queue.
FastPass+ bypasses this completely.
r u spooked
Another bonus of riding early is that you don’t have to deal with the clustercuss after the stretching room where 100+ people are trying to fit through a narrower and narrower passageway prior to boarding the doom buggies.
Mansion took 17 minutes after basically walking on, which is a reasonable expenditure I think.
Persevering through wall to wall crowds over to Frontierland. I thought this was supposed to be a low crowd day.
Arriving at Big Thunder at 9:57am.
I had set up my FastPass+ the night before:
As a lonely theme park blogger, it’s easier for me to secure FP+ for priority attractions. You may remember from the Hollywood Studios post that the smaller your party, the more FP+ availability you’ll see. While Mine Train FP+ might be completely unavailable 60+ days out, cancellations do happen, particularly the night before. Dining reservations are even easier to secure on the days leading up to a particular date. People inevitably realize how big Walt Disney World is and how much of a hassle it is to get from someplace like Pop Century to the Polynesian for ‘Ohana and end up cancelling half of their reservations towards the end of their trip.
I was planning to have lunch with the Milz family around 12:30pm, so I wanted to move my FastPass+ around so I’d have an opening around then.
This is easy to do on the fly via the My Disney Experience app.
In about two minutes while walking the Big Thunder queue I was able to change the FP+ times.
Fortunately, almost all of the problems with the technology behind FastPass+ have been rectified. You may remember that the system was constantly losing and adding reservations when it was first deployed.
No availability for Mine Train. If you constantly refresh the app, something will eventually open up.
It was exactly ten minutes between when I got in line and was on board.
And I was back out front at 10:12am. You may remember back over spring break I arrived here at just about the same time and waited about 25 minutes instead of walking right on. Such is life in legitimately heavy crowds.
Splash Mountain was still sporting a 5-minute posted wait. Back in March, it was already 35.
Our rogue Imagineer continues making improvements. More water effects were working than I’ve ever seen before.
I got a kek out of this shirt.
Woody and Jessie meeting near the Splash Mountain exit with a short line given low crowds.
Splash is a lengthy ride so even though I was able to walk right on, the total experience time was still 29 minutes, which is a minute less than it typically takes with FastPass+ later in the day. The posted wait is now 20 minutes at 10:40am.
Pirates of the Caribbean had only built up a 15-minute wait by 10:45am. I had originally planned on using FP+ here around 12:30pm, but had moved it up for the sake of spontaneity.
I briefly considered switching the FP+ to something else and getting in standby now, but opted to leave things as they stood since I wasn’t really in the mood for the awkwardness of a meet and greet and didn’t want to risk my life on something like Space Mountain.
So I bypassed it for now even though the window for my FastPass+ is open. Remember that wait times only go up as it gets later in the day, so you want to use your initial FP+ as far into the window as possible so you can experience additional standby attractions with shorter waits. If I was to use FP+ now and then ride Aladdin’s Magical Carpets, I would just end up waiting longer at Aladdin because that many more people would have an opportunity to get in front of me. I felt a little better about my Jingle Cruise FastPass+ given that a 65-minute wait had already developed.
I like Aladdin’s Magical Carpets a lot. I’m not sure if that’s embarrassing to admit.
Since it’s a slow loader, riding right around 11am is your best bet. In the afternoon, 20 to 35 minute waits develop depending on how “crowded” it is.
It’s a lot of fun to fly over Adventureland and enjoy views that you wouldn’t be able to see otherwise.
I arrived at 10:47am and was on my way at 11am, so it’s not a major time commitment.
Realizing that it had been a while and I didn’t have any decent shots of Swiss Family Treehouse, I decided to make the climb.
I was also interested in looking down at Skipper Canteen.
There is admittedly not much to see from up here. Skipper Canteen soft opened today (December 13th) for walkups and should continue seating guests on that basis through the holidays.
Otherwise, the Treehouse is kind of fun if you don’t mind the stairs.
The view from the top.
There’s otherwise a few setpieces to look at.
All in all, it took me nine minutes to walk the Treehouse, so you might as well visit sometime in the afternoon if you’ve never done it.
Returning to Pirates at 11:15am. The posted wait was still 15 minutes, but with the standby line already spilling out into the extended queue, actual waits are probably closer to 20. It all depends on how many jerks with FP+ arrive.
People continue reporting that they’re getting occasionally soaked on Pirates, which seems to be due to how weight is distributed on the boat.
If you’re concerned, you might request one of the back two rows. The ride continues looking great:
Prior to the lighting enhancements, most of these pictures would just be a big orange blob.
I was back out front at 11:35am after a brief look over some merchandise, for a total experience time of 20 minutes.
An example of how lines only get longer – now the line for Aladdin stretches back outside the entrance.
Jingle Cruise has returned for the holiday season. The FastPass+ return line has backed up outside the entrance, but cast members were assuring us that we would still walk right on.
Of course, that was mostly true as I got in line at 11:37am and had boarded by 11:47am.
Admittedly, Jungle Cruise is not a personal favorite. I think it’s super lame. But the holiday overlay jazzes things up a bit and it’s a nice festive touch. My total experience time ended up being 21 minutes, which is one minute longer than average.
Next up is Enchanted Tiki Room, which is another attraction that I haven’t visited in some time.
Like Swiss Family, this is one of those things I do every two years or so.
It’s at least an opportunity to hate the one family that won’t leave with their screaming child. There’s one in every show.
Typically by 11:30am, the well has pretty much run dry on being able to experience most attractions with short waits, which is one reason why we’re popping into the likes of Enchanted Tiki Room. With crowds about as low as they come, Big Thunder sits at “just” 30 minutes at 12:25pm.
35 at Splash. You may remember we waited about two seconds.
So it’s off to Country Bear Jamboree.
The countdown to the next show is handy. If it’s further than five minutes out, you have an opportunity to shop or what have you. The pin store in Frontierland is above average and there’s also an underutilized confectionery-like store that offers fudge and “crisped rice treats” in the shape of turkey legs and honey pots, among other things.
If you looked “anytime attraction” up in the dictionary, you’d probably see a picture of Country Bears.
Seating is more comfortable than most, it’s dark, and nicely air-conditioned.
And it might be more fun than you remember as those that typically show up thoroughly enjoy the show.
I covered the changes to the Pecos Bill menu back in October in this post. As a refresher, this is the current menu:
One potentially unfortunate change is that Disney has already removed the Kids Picks version of the Rice Bowl.
It’s been replaced with Macaroni and Cheese, which may be good news if the kids don’t like tacos. I like that Disney is offering more unique items for kids at many of its restaurants, but it seems like they are missing typical items that most kids enjoy like hamburgers or chicken nuggets. Be Our Guest is a good example and over at the newly opened Skipper Canteen, even items like macaroni and cheese are served as “a typical Egyptian dish consisting of Ground Beef, Pasta, Bechamel Sauce, and House-made JBen Cheese Gratinee served over Broccoli.” I don’t even know what half of those words mean.
Back to Pecos – here we have the Beef Fajitas, Chicken Burrito, and two Southwest Salads with Spicy Beef. The tortillas that go with the fajitas are wrapped in foil.
I really enjoyed the salad – it might be my favorite on property, thanks to the ability to dress it up further at the toppings bar. You can load it up with an unlimited amount of shredded cheese, roasted corn, guacamole, pico de gallo, salsa, verde sauce, jalapenos, banana peppers, and sour cream. So if you ask for another plate, you can pretty easily split this up into two sizable salads. The spicy beef that you receive here and in the rice bowl is otherwise worlds better than the fajita beef, which is extremely dry and lacks much flavor. I highly recommend going with the rice bowl or salad if you’re after beef.
Otherwise, I’m a big fan of the changes at Pecos – it adds a nice amount of variety to Magic Kingdom’s overall offerings and those desperate to add as much lettuce as they want to their burned hamburgers can simply visit Cosmic Ray’s instead.
In related news, Liberty Tree Tavern reopened a couple of days later than expected on Thanksgiving Day.
The menu is largely the same, though the fish and chips are now a menu mainstay at lunch. Sweet Corn Fritters also replaces the Tavern Fried Cheese. If you’d like to recreate said cheese at home, visit your nearest Costco freezer section.
On the dessert front, the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake is still available and that’s all you really need to know about that. (The Johnny Appleseed Cake is now a Johnny Appleseed Tart and Boston Cream Pie replaces Martha Washington’s Cake.) At dinner, the Patriot’s Platter now consists of Roasted Turkey Breast, Pot Roast, and Sliced Tavern Ham with Mashed Potatoes, Seasonal Vegetables, Herb Stuffing, and Macaroni & Cheese. The ham is a change I think.
Battling the Old Fantasyland crowds on the way to Tomorrowland.
Visiting a relatively high priority attraction or two between 2:30pm and 3:30pm is smart as Festival of Fantasy pulls a couple thousand people away. it’s a small world is still at 25 minutes and you can see people filing through inside.
Peter Pan’s Flight is down to 35 minutes, which is unusual, but this is a very lightly attended day.
Continuing behind the Castle.
10 minutes at Speedway.
Lunching Pad cut two of its hot dogs in favor of this Ham and Cheese Stuffed Pretzel, which I have in mind to try Tuesday.
In particular, this is basically the best time of the day to visit Mickey and Tinker Bell in Town Square as the Parade restricts access to this area. If you’re interested in meeting the characters during the Parade, you should try to be here no later than 2:45pm or at least be on the Tomorrowland side of Main Street so you can more easily walk over here.
You could also opt to see the Parade in this area just inside the entrance, which is a recommended location, and then quickly pop into Mickey or Tink immediately after the Parade passes.
Overall, it was a successful day I thought:
- Mine Train: 8:52am – 9:03am
- Peter Pan’s Flgiht: 9:04am – 9:34am
- Haunted Mansion: 9:35am – 9:52am
- Big Thunder Mountain: 9:57am – 10:12am
- Splash Mountain: 10:12am – 10:40am
- Aladdin’s Magical Carpets: 10:47am – 11am
- Swiss Family Treehouse: 11am – 11:10am
- Pirates with FP+: 11:15am – 11:35am
- Jungle Cruise with FP+: 11:37am – 11:58am
- Enchanted Tiki Room: 12pm – 12:20pm
- Country Bear Jamboree: 12:30pm to 12:45pm
If you’d like to discuss a specific touring plan or have other questions, I would invite you to join us in the forums. Forum members would have enjoyed seeing an early version of this post a week ago here.
The website has also joined Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/easywdw/. Look for more timely updates in that neck of the woods.