Seeing Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes at Magic Kingdom can be a hassle in September, October, November, and December. Unless you’re going during a busy holiday week, Magic Kingdom closes three or four times each week at 7pm to accommodate Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party or Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. On any Party night, Wishes and Main Street Electrical Parade are not offered. Should you want to see Magic Kingdom’s nighttime spectaculars, you would need to visit on a day when they’re featured. It’s no coincidence that Disney extends the hours and offers evening entertainment on days that it already knows are going to be busy – Mondays and Saturdays are a given. Mondays because it’s a lot of people’s first day at Disney World and they naturally head to Magic Kingdom and Saturday because it’s a lot of people’s last day at Disney World and they want to revisit Magic Kingdom. We also see Disney attach evening entertainment on a lot of Thursdays, when morning Extra Magic Hour is also offered, because Disney knows that a lot of Disney resort guests head to the Extra Magic Hours Park. By scheduling evening entertainment on days that are “naturally” busy already, Disney is able to offer the nighttime spectaculars to as many people as possible, given the limitations of so many early closes. In October of this year, Disney has scheduled Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes primarily on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays. The exception being Columbus Day Weekend where crowd patterns were slightly different. In November and December, Magic Kingdom’s evening entertainment will be scheduled on Mondays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Because of the popularity of the nighttime entertainment and the natural attractiveness of longer hours of operation, any day that features Wishes and Main Street Electrical Parade will be busier than a Mickey’s Party night. It makes a lot of sense. If you were to look at the schedule, which day would you logically pick?
Day A: Magic Kingdom open from 9am – 12am with Wishes Fireworks Spectacular at 9pm and Main Street Electrical Parade at 8pm and 10pm.
Day B: Magic Kingdom open from 9am – 7pm with no evening entertainment.
The answer seems obvious. Unfortunately, Day A comes with significantly heavier crowds, especially in the afternoon and evening from 11:30am – 10pm. Fortunately, we do know how to beat the crowds and find the least crowded areas to enjoy the fireworks and parade. On the other hand, Magic Kingdom on a Mickey’s Party day is significantly less crowded. That means shorter lines at rides and quick services, more FASTPASS availability with closer return times, less congestion in walkways and bathrooms, etc. It’s not uncommon at all to see a Mickey’s Party date with 30,000 people at Magic Kingdom over the course of the day and the following Saturday see 60,000+ people.
Lower crowds at Magic Kingdom on Mickey’s Party dates also translate to higher crowds at the other Parks. Those extra 30,000 people that show up on Magic Kingdom’s doorstep on Saturday don’t just appear out of thin air. They’ve been clogging up the other theme parks all week. That’s why Hollywood Studios in particular isn’t recommended on most Mickey’s Party dates. The longer hours and Fantasmic are a huge draw when Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm with no evening entertainment. Epcot also sees heavier crowds, though the onslaught is handled a bit better there. We still prefer to visit Epcot on most Mondays when Magic Kingdom has longer hours, Hollywood Studios hosts evening Extra Magic Hour, and Animal Kingdom is a decent draw with a morning Extra Magic Hour. Epcot also sees further complications with the Food/Wine Festival in October and the first two weeks of November.
For those of you who do want to see Main Street Electrical Parade and Wishes, the mid-week offering (Wednesday or Thursday in most instances) is almost always your best opportunity. Magic Kingdom will still be busier than most Mickey’s Party dates, but much less busy than your other opportunities. If you’re planning two days at Magic Kingdom, your best plan of attack is visiting on a Mickey’s Party date to take care of as many major attractions, time-sensitive attractions, and characters where the lines can build (Tinker Bell/Fairies, Rapunzel, Princess and the Frog) and then visit on the weekday with Main Street Electrical Parade/Wishes attached. On evening entertainment day, you can still have a ton of success touring in the morning and collecting FASTPASSes during the day. Take a break to rest up for dinner and the evening entertainment and you’re set.
Let’s see how this evening panned out – Magic Kingdom was open until 9pm and offered Main Street Electrical Parade at 8pm and Wishes at 9pm – one of only three nights this week where evening entertainment was offered during regular Park hours. This Saturday, Magic Kingdom is open from 8am – 1am and Monday saw 9am – 9pm hours with evening Extra Magic Hours attached from 9pm – 12am.
We’ll start at the Ticket/Transportation Center with these new electronic boards showing ticket prices and other pertinent advertisements. There are only two on the far right ticket booth, but it’s a glimpse at what’s to come. These have been up for a few weeks now (you would have seen a picture had you subscribed to my very exciting Twitter thing!!), but I’m always hesitant to bust out my camera this early in my trip because if anyone on the bus sees it I would probably get mugged on the way home.
As you can see, all of the other ticket windows have your standard signs.
Standard Monorail hours for a 9pm close at Magic Kingdom and Epcot:
The Resort Monorail will be operating until 12:30am for the rest of the Mickey’s Halloween Parties. It’s unclear whether that will continue for the first of the Mickey’s Christmas Parties in November, which are less popular than the current October Halloween Parties.
I never know if they put me in my own car because I smell or I’m a VIP.
Not too bad outside around 5:15pm:
Oooooooh the madness.
No whiners? I think they have a sign up that they’ve already given out all their Grand Floridian upgrades for the day. Whine early, whine often!
As wide as it gets on a cropped sensor camera at “18mm.”
Nominal waits at Mickey and the Princesses.
Over to the Confectionery. It’s more or less the first building on your right as you walk up Main Street.
I’m surprised this one-pound-plus apple dipped in caramel and pecans doesn’t come with a list of warnings a la Mission: Space. Don’t eat if you have heart problems, high blood pressure, a history of strokes, a slight limp, cough, peanut allergy…
Thank goodness the nutritional facts aren’t on the back of these things. You’ll want to have at least one heart valve clear.
A few more Halloween options.
Minnie is always the cutest.
I didn’t get a good shot of this Toy Story button-up shirt, but thought it was cute too. $78 is pretty crazy for something that is more or less garbage quality though.
Some of the Room for 1 More Haunted Mansion merchandise is still available.
A new scrim out across from Uptwon Jewelers.
A good crowd for Dream Along with Mickey.
A “healthy wait” to meet Tinker Bell and the Fairies – around 45 minutes.
Swiss Family Robinson still under refurbishment until the middle of next month. When it comes back………it will be exactly the same.
A longer wait than we’d like to see for Jungle Cruise at 5:43pm.
FASTPASSes for Mickey Mouse continue to be “unattached” from the rest of the FASTPASS system. You’ll notice that at the bottom of the Mickey FASTPASS, it says I can collect another FASTPASS at 5:25pm and the FASTPASS was collected at 17:24, or 5:24pm.
15 minutes at Pirates of the Caribbean.
A cute new sign at Tortuga Tavern, which is located right across from Pirates of the Caribbean. Unlike El Pirata y el Perico, which was rarely open, Tortuga Tavern is open every day from 11am – 3pm (and occasionally 4pm). Visit for lunch if you’re interested in a burrito or taco salad.
I was going to take a picture of the Tortuga Tavern seating area to show that it was a good place to veg out before 11am or after 5pm. But these people already seem to have that figured out. The seating area is also close to Pecos Bill, which famously has few open tables during peak hours. Walk the minute or two over here and you’ll have the place to yourself. The chairs are also more comfortable than those little benches without backs.
Busy out in Caribbean Plaza.
Golden Oak Outpost has been closed during regular Park hours. For a while, the menu changed during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party to this:
But now, Golden Oak Outpost is closed during regular hours and should open during the Party to serve the chicken-nugget-only menu.
This walkway between Frontierland and Liberty Square is always crowded.
Nominal waits at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad with FASTPASSes just 40 minutes out:
Big Thunder Mountain has a tremendous capacity. FASTPASS return times are virtually always 40 minutes out and actual wait times of more than 40 minutes are uncommon. You’d have to have about 2,500 people in line to hit a solid 60 minute wait.
Not bad at all. Splash Mountain FASTPASSes will almost always be just as far out or further out due to a lower hourly capacity. As it gets colder, wait times will only decrease as fewer and fewer people want to ride (or re-ride).
Another congested area. Just imagine if Soarin’ and Test Track basically shared an entrance.
Diamond Horseshoe will be open this Saturday. Please don’t.
Princess Tiana’s line around 5:50pm with the princess nowhere to be seen. It’s been downhill since the princesses unionized. Mandatory primping. Excessive breaks. Spa treatments. Just out of control.
Her gazebo on the Liberty Square bridge.
Her meet and greet is a bit out of the way. This picture was taken from just outside the meet and greet area. That’s Sleepy Hollow Refreshments across the way. To the left of that is Hall of Presidents.
And looking at the Gazebo from Sleepy Hollow Refreshments on the other side. Basically, as you’re walking across the bridge to Liberty Square from the Hub, the meet and greet is on the left just after you cross the bridge. If you’re walking from Liberty Square and past Hall of Presidents, you’ll see the meet and greet on your right after you pass the shops and Sleepy Hollow, just before you cross the bridge.
Liberty Square Market has a new menu board:
Not too crowded over here.
10 minute wait.
Not a 10 minute wait.
FASTPASSes long gone for Peter Pan’s Flight at 6pm:
Not unusual to see this and Winnie the Pooh have longer waits than the Mountain rides.
Winnie the Pooh still has FASTPASSes – about 90 minutes out. You still collect Winnie the Pooh FASTPASSes underneath the large Mickey’s PhilharMagic sign. It confuses a lot of people.
WHOA WHOA WHOA WHOA!!!! A smaller Great Blue Wall of Fantasyland!!! That can only mean one thing!!!! NEW PAVEMENT BABY!!!
Yep. Disney doesn’t let just anyone photograph pavement.
Just beautiful concrete. Brings tears to my eyes. It’s pink-ish to reduce glare when you’re taking pictures.
Now the wall has moved next to the carousel. As you ride the carousel and pass the Big Blue Wall of Fantasylandm just pretend like you’re passing through a tunnel with just one side.
Yuck! The concrete here could certainly use a three-month refurbishment and a blue wall of its own!
So the same people behind our beloved new wait times board at Epcot are also behind this playset. I mean Beast’s Castle. Is there really any amount of “forced perspective” that can make a three foot tall castle look big? What do you do when the Lego figures are just as big as the moat?
Too long at Winnie the Pooh. Collect FASTPASSes or plan to hit this before 10am.
Disney finally got around to raising prices at Enchanted Grove Refreshments, despite the fact that it’s behind scrims:
The ol’ paper and glue technique.
Although her sign and the Times Guide says Rapunzel appears from 9:15am – 5pm, she actually appears through 7:15pm with the last group being admitted at 6:45pm.
We’ll come by in a few minutes to check out the last group heading in to meet her.
Oh my, science! Cosmic Ray’s has new LCD menu screens. Very futuristic. And I don’t throw around the word “very.” The menu items scroll through on screen and larger pictures of some of the items appears in the middle, where the turkey sandwich picture currently sits. We’ll come back to take a closer look later. I’m hunggggggrrrryyyyyy.
This is the Turkey Sandwich from Bay 3 at Cosmic Ray’s. Most nights, Bay 3 closes before the rest of Cosmic Ray’s and does not usually operate during Mickey’s Parties or evening Extra Magic Hours. Tonight, it officially shuts down at 8pm, while the other Bays will continue serving until 9pm.
The Turkey Sandwich with choice of Apple Slices, French Fries, or Cucumber Salad ($7.99):
Now you could chalk this up to being, “just a cold sandwich.” But let’s not forget how many sandwiches Disney has screwed up in the past. There’s everything at Diamond Horseshoe, the Pressed Tuscan Deli at Studio Catering Company, Lobster Roll at Columbia Harbour House, BLT Chicken Flatbread at Golden Oak Outpost, Chilled Chicken Wrap at Pecos Bill, etc. So the fact that this is made with fresh bread, has a healthy helping of turkey, is topped with crunchy cucumbers, tomatoes, and red onions and has a tasty mayonnaise puts it squarely in the “winning” column. I haven’t made a Charlie Sheen reference on the blog yet, so that’s my one. If I ever use “winning” again, remind me that I’m over quota. It’s also topped with a nice mayo and Swiss(?) cheese. It had a decidedly “Greek salad” vibe with the cucumber and red onion, which aren’t necessarily turkey sandwich staples. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it. Are our standards as low as the new pavement installed in front of Pinocchio Village Haus? Sure. But somehow most things still seem to miss the mark. This is also a large portion with two convenient halves, tastes and appears healthy, and comes with choice of a few side items. Overall, this would be a nice healthy snack for two people or a nice value for lunch or dinner. Don’t have a bad word to say about it.
And the menu:
It’s not all the future yet. Sorry that second image is blurry. But it’s the same as before. Bay 2 and Bay 3 still use the old static menu boards.
Same static menu as Bay 2.
I’m not crazy about the LCD menus, though that may have more to do with the fact that they’re a hassle to photograph and will make it easier for Disney to constantly tinker with pricing. The other downside is that several of the screens change because there isn’t enough room to display all of the items. This is less of a problem at Cosmic Ray’s because each Bay only serves a few entrees. But if you’ve ever been to Lotus Blossom Cafe in Epcot, which has similar menus, you’ll know that it can be annoying having to look at several menus that are constantly switching between appetizers, entrees, beverages, and pictures of the items. On the plus side, the large pictures of the menu items are very helpful. I’ll be back for better pictures. It was peak dinner time and there were a ton of people around.
Checking the watch. Just after 6:30pm.
It’s about, “Shouldn’t you be having dinner? And buying some lightup stuff for the Parade? And finding a Parade Spot? O’clock.” As far as Disney is concerned.
As mentioned earlier, the sign says Rapunzel appears until 5pm. However, she actually appears until 7:15pm. The cast members were explaining that the 5pm cutoff time is in place so people know that they need to be in line by 5pm. Now that Flynn is gone and waits are about 66% shorter (40 minutes instead of 120 minutes), it’s not quite as necessary.
Several people walked up right at 6:40pm and were admitted into the line. They’ll still be waiting about 25 minutes to meet Rapunzel, but it’s better than the 40-60 minute wait in the afternoon. If Rapunzel is important, it’s a gutsy call to put her off until after 5pm. But if you’re somewhat indifferent, you might want to head over around 6:30pm and see if you can score a shorter wait. It just depends on how many people have already arrived. There may already be enough people in line at 6:15pm to fill the 6:15pm and 6:45pm groups, in which case you would miss the Meet and Greet. It isn’t like restaurants or rides where they’ll serve you so long as you’re in line by the cutoff time.
Still FASTPASSes available for Pooh at 6:45pm – but not for much longer.
Probably overstated, but I forgot my ear plugs. Can’t press my luck.
It’s about 6:50pm, which means the Main Street Electrical Parade is still over an hour away. But we already have a lot of people in place on Main Street:
Around the Hub.
The popular “leave your stroller behind to save your space” technique.
A lot of people looking down Main Street.
And just as many looking up.
The Train station continues to be popular. It offers an interesting elevated perspective of the Electrical Parade and a decent view of the Fireworks.
I continue to recommend Parade viewing locations in Frontierland and Liberty Square. My personal favorite spot is near the Churro cart in Frontierland. Easy access to a snack and it’s usually the least crowded area. Further down near Pecos Bill is also a great location. Liberty Square seems to be busier most nights because people that enter from Main Street tend to fill in whatever location is closest.
Like me, a lot of people trying to get out before the madness.
While many, many more stream in.
The crowds today were more than manageable, especially if you arrived prior to Park opening and visited the most popular attractions/characters first thing in the morning. While waits for Peter Pan’s Flight, Winnie the Pooh, Big Thunder Mountain, and Splash Mountain were longer than we would have liked in the afternoon and evening, we would be holding FASTPASSes for them or would have already visited once or twice earlier in the day. It’s busier than it was yesterday or will be Friday, but much less busy than this past Monday or this coming Saturday.