Heading out to Magic Kingdom bright and early this past Wednesday. An easyWDW “Most Recommended Park” and a TouringPlans.com “Neutral Park.” Very diplomatic of them. I hope it isn’t busy (wink)!
I arrived at the Transportation and Ticket Center at about 8:10pm. The Express Monorail doesn’t come online until 30 minutes before regular open, which is 8:30am in most instances. That means our options are the Resort Monorail or the Ferry Boat. When the Express Monorail is operating, it’s virtually always the quickest means of transportation, even if it’s backed up much further than the Resort Monorail. There are usually three Express Monorails for every Resort Monorail and the trip on the Express is about three minutes, compared to around 15 minutes on the Resort. The Resort would stop at the Polynesian and Grand Floridian Resorts before arriving at Magic Kingdom. I checked to see if the Ferry Boat was docked and waiting for guests to board. It was, so I boarded. If the boat wasn’t in sight, I would have hopped on the Resort Monorail.
There were 11 other people on board.
As I’ve mentioned before, the Ferry is ordinarily my favorite means of transportation. Unlike the Monorail, where you’re stuck with the screaming child sitting next to you, you can easily move around the boat should the decibel level become intolerable. It’s also a scenic ride past the Grand Floridian on the left.
The Contemporary on the right.
And Magic Kingdom up ahead.
And of course there’s always taunting people coming in the other direction. Unfortunately, there wasn’t anyone on the Joe Potter other than the Captain, which isn’t someone we’d like to infuriate this early in the morning. Sailors, you know the type.
Arriving. It’s only about a six minute ride.
At 8:22am, there aren’t a lot of people here.
Which turnstile you choose is less important at Magic Kingdom than Epcot or Hollywood Studios. Disney is going to open the turnstiles at 8:20am and let us into the holding pen in front of the Railroad Station.
I’m through at 8:24am without incident.
At 8:50am, a six minute opening ceremony is going to begin above the “Let the Memories Begin” sign. The best viewing location for the show is right here in the middle of the area. Unfortunately, if you stand here you’ll be behind those closer to the entrances on the left or right. If you’re headed to a major attraction, it won’t matter as much. Magic Kingdom eats guests a lot better than Epcot or Hollywood Studios, where virtually everyone is headed to Soarin’ or Toy Story Midway Mania, respectively. At Magic Kingdom, we’ve got people headed all over the place – Rapunzel, Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain, Winnie the Pooh, Haunted Mansion and wherever else. Being a hundred people back isn’t going to be the end of the world if you’re headed to a major attraction.
There are two entrances into Magic Kingdom from this area. One over there to the right.
And this one over to the left. Today’s plan of attack is to hit Rapunzel, Tinker Bell, and Ariel. To do that, we’re headed straight for Rapunzel who now appears just inside the entrance on the left side of Town Square.
So we’re lining up on the left side here.
No one had weaseled their way over here to the right of where I’m standing. If there are a lot of people already in front of the rope, you may be able to move off to the right side and line up right in front of the rope. The cast member will open the rope from that side, giving you earlier access than those of us standing over here.
Fast forwarding about 20 minutes to 8:44am, it’s filling in behind us.
Promptly at 8:50am, the Fire Chief arrived alongside the Main Street performers. Ordinarily, the Mayor of Main Street would conduct the ceremony. We get a short introduction with singing and dancing followed by the characters arriving on the Walt Disney World Railroad.
As you can see, it’s filled in behind us in the 25 minutes since we arrived.
Our view over here at the front of the rope isn’t just terrible. I’m still able to see some of the characters and hear everything that’s going on, but it certainly isn’t ideal.
Just as a reminder, Rapunzel greets guests here now after moving from Fairytale Garden to make way for Princess Merida.
The entrance is on this side, so you’ll be looking at the entrance/exit as you walk through the queue.
I arrived at the rope first. Only had to knock over about 17 kids on the way. I’ve been at this a long time and I’ve found that elbowing is a lot better than trying to knee or stomp. If you try to stomp, you always run the risk that the child will latch on and it isn’t classy at all to be dragging six or eight kids behind you as you stomp over to the Rapunzel entrance. In this instance, the queue wasn’t set up yet and the entire thing is roped off. Should that happen, you want to march right up to where the arrow is pointing to above and wait.
A nice bonus is that you may see the characters as they come down from the Railroad Station:
The crowd is filling in behind us.
Unfortunately, this meet and greet location is far less awesome than Fairytale Garden. It’s the same generic background as we had with Winnie the Pooh, Tigger, and other characters that met here. The shadows are also terrible.
Rapunzel tows the union line, which means she doesn’t appear until 9:20am on a regular day and 9:30am when Magic Kingdom hosts a morning Extra Magic Hour.
As I mentioned before, the shadows here are terrible. You’ll want to use the flash to help mitigate that fact.
Via post-processing (this is using the same original image as above), I was able to come out with something usable, but your average family isn’t going to be as nerdy as I am. Talk about having a good angle to elbow someone in the head.
I was through Rapunzel at 9:22am. This is the line at 9:23am. You’re looking at an hour wait here, if not a bit longer.
“In reality,” I ended up waiting about an hour for Rapunzel, if you count the fact that I arrived at 8:20am and didn’t meet her until 9:20am. So on one hand, there’s that. On the other hand, the 40 minutes I spent outside the entrance wasn’t “wasted” Park time. So I only spent 20 minutes of actual time I could have spent doing something else. If I arrived at any other point in the day, I’d be looking at an hour-plus of actual Park time waiting in line.
An hour is really the minimum amount of time it’s going to take to meet Rapunzel. It can be even longer in the afternoon, especially after you start tallying up her 20 minute breaks she takes every hour. Your best plan of attack is to line up and meet her immediately after Park open if you can be among the first people in line. If you’re 30+ people back, you may want to move on to another character or attraction that will see lengthy waits later in the morning and evening. As we know, the first hour is the best part of the day to hit the attractions/characters with long afternoon waits. So you would also find the shortest waits at Dumbo, Peter Pan’s Flight, Space Mountain etc. right now. That’s what makes Rapunzel so difficult to plan.
There are occasional reports of seeing Rapunzel over at Epcot at International Gateway and possibly other locations. This is merely training and it’s highly unlikely that you’ll find her in Epcot or one of the other theme parks. I’ve seen all sorts of things at Epcot. I’ve seen the Prince with Snow White. Prince Eric with Ariel in front of the Land Pavilion. Two Dwarfs in Germany in place of Snow White. Rafiki in Canada. Max in the United States Pavilion. Mickey in the Outpost. Your chances of seeing Rapunzel anywhere other than here are slim at best.
The other two major character priorities are Tinker Bell at Tinker Bell’s Nook and Princess Ariel on the Adventureland Porch. Both of these characters meet just over this bridge and then immediately to the right. Ariel will be on the patio and Tinker Bell is inside through a door.
This is Ariel’s Meet and Greet area. Tinker Bell is through a door to the left. Ariel begins meeting at 10am. I recommend being in line by 9:50am. As we’ll see shortly, lines build very quickly once she appears, but are short to nonexistent before she arrives. Very few people know which characters meet in specific locations. Once people begin lining up, people will inevitably begin asking why others are lined up. If they’re satisfied with the answer, they’ll get in line. And then once the character appears, lines and wait times take off.
Tinker Bell is one of few characters that has a posted wait. Unfortunately, it’s not entirely accurate. You can step inside and gauge the line.
This is what a 15 minute line does look like. I arrived at 9:27am and was through at 9:45am.
The process is the same as it was when we first took a look at it. You’ll wait out here with some artwork and an animated monitor.
Then you’ll wait against this wall.
One group at a time goes through the portal to get shrunk. Any more and the portal would short out. They don’t make these things like they used to!
This is actually one of my favorite Meet and Greet backdrops. If it’s any indication of what we’re going to see at the new Princess Meet and Greet in Fantasyland, I think we have some good things on the horizon:
Tinker Bell is always present. The other Fairy could be Terrence (as in this case), Rosetta, or Vidia.
It’s 9:45am. There may not be a cast member out before 10am directing people to Ariel’s line. You’re still welcome to enter the queue, as these people have already done. You can either walk ahead to where Ariel meets and then backtrack back up the queue or unchain the rope to the right where the arrow is and proceed through. People do this every morning.
The wait time is bumped up to 25 minutes at Tinker Bell.
Which is probably a little short with a line like this. Closer to 30 minutes. That’s why it’s so important to get to Rapunzel first and then move up here as quickly as possible.
Ariel is a doll:
Unfortunately the dog had gotten into the ocean and Prince Eric had to clean him up. Ariel was not looking forward to the state of the bathroom upon her return home.
It’s 10:12am and the line is already backed up outside the queue, which is a testament to how important it is to get here by 9:50am. I would have been through Ariel sooner, but the couple in front of me grew to a party of eight while we waited and then a Make A Wish child arrived.
The wait is bumped up another 10 minutes.
I did about as well as you could hope. First in line for Rapunzel. A nominal 15 minute wait at Tinker Bell’s Nook. And then just two groups in front of me at Ariel. Had I begun the same process at 10:30am, I’d be looking at a 60+ minute wait for Rapunzel, 40+ minute wait for Ariel, and 35+ minutes for Tinker Bell.
The joys of the tour groups at Jungle Cruise. We took a look at the Jungle Cruise queue a few days ago and it’s difficult to gauge the actual wait because of how it’s set up. But if you see this many people arrive at once, you may want to find something to do for ten minutes while it clears out.
Aladdin’s Magical Carpets is a virtual walk-on. You might have to wait for one spin before it’s your turn. I mean this 100% seriously. Aladdin’s Magical Carpets is actually a lot of fun.
Up to Sunshine Tree Terrace where we’re going to cut through to Frontierland and then head over to Fantasyland.
It would have been quicker to cut through here, but I was interested in wait times at Jungle Cruise/Aladdin.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’d know that the Florida Orange Bird is back at Sunshine Tree Terrace.
You can buy these little Orange Bird sippie cups for $6.99 each.
Or these other items:
A short wait for Frontier Donald.
It’s a great shot.
Princess Tiana will be meeting again in six minutes. There’s no one else in line so that would be your total wait.
Heading back up through Liberty Square.
The Liberty Square Riverboat is down for refurbishment through May 20th.
We could walk right on Haunted Mansion, but will return later.
Samesies with it’s a small world.
Not samesies with Peter Pan’s Flight, which has wait times that build faster than any other Magic Kingdom attraction.
We’ll grab FASTPASSes. It’s 10:24am, so they’re just about an hour out already.
We’re headed all the way up to Dumbo. Snow White’s Scary Adventures sits at 15 minutes.
20 at Pooh. It didn’t look quite that bad yet.
Mad Tea Party is a walk-on, but still will be a walk-on in 20 minutes.
In line for Dumbo at 10:30am. It’s a hike all the way back here to Storybook Circus. Tack on an extra five minutes compared to what it would take to get to the old location.
Barnstormer headed up.
I know I’ve said it a thousand times, but Dumbo is so much more pleasant now with Storybook Circus surrounding it and the water flowing underneath.
Work continues on New Fantasyland. I’m expecting a more detailed timeline of what’s going to open when to come out of tomorrow’s “media” event. It’s about time we heard something definitive.
Work continues on Dumbo 2.
And looking out at construction as a whole. Bigger: http://i.imgur.com/EBvEc.jpg.
And a video behind the construction walls:
The center of the Dumbo. I was off Dumbo and over to Barnstormer at 10:46am, for a total wait/ride time of 16 minutes, which is really good for this time of day.
Because Barnstormer is so short and Storybook Circus is so far out of the way, I recommend riding immediately after Dumbo in the morning. Wait times won’t let up until the late evening, assuming Magic Kingdom is open past 9pm.
Hop in Goofy, what could go wrong?
It should be about a five minute wait from here.
Hopefully there’s track on the other side.
We’ll find out soon enough.
The Casey Jr. Splash Zone construction. Bigger: http://i.imgur.com/8dZKp.jpg.
We’ll continue with whatever is left to cover in the title.