This is the third in a series of undercover investigations of the Walt Disney World monorail system. I am your host – Josh. If you have been living underneath the proverbial rock, you may not be aware that the Epcot Monorail now shuts down one hour after regular close and the Magic Kingdom Resort and Express Monorails close one hour after regular close. For past coverage, check out The State of the Monorail – Magic Kingdom Edition and The State of the Monorail – Epcot Edition. There have been “literally” thousands of posts on this subject on the likes of DIS, WDWMAGIC, and other forums. Most of these threads are filled with people freaking out over perceived inconveniences, theoretical situations, and “what if” scenarios that have little basis in reality. While I enjoy fear mongering as much as the next guy (PAGEVIEWS, BABY!), I don’t find it to be particularly useful when discussing a Disney World vacation. The reduction in monorail operating hours has had virtually no impact thus far. There is anecdotal evidence of the occasional delay – most notably on the day that lightning caused the monorail to shut down for an afternoon and evening. That doesn’t have anything to with the reduced hours though. Will the reduced hours have an effect come November when Magic Kingdom’s operating hours are much shorter? Will we see significant delays or inconveniences beginning Tuesday for the start of Mickey’s Party season? Maybe. But we might as well wait for it to happen first. The next State of the Monorail should follow on Wednesday with an update about transportation options during Mickey’s Parties.
Tonight is the second night of the aptly titled “Night of Joy.” Magic Kingdom closed promptly at 7pm.
Night of Joy runs until 1am and ticket holders can enter Magic Kingdom as early as 4pm. Disney was running the monorails much later than usual – 7 and 7.5 hours after regular close. Epcot shut down as usual, at 10pm.
Very unfortunate timing here. It’s about 5pm and everybody and their mother have arrived at the Ticket/Transportation Center. A lot of the local churches run all day events in the morning and afternoon and they all arrive at once. We’ve got a lot of out-of-towners in attendance as well. Interestingly, the peak wait time at Big Thunder Mountain before 4pm was 10 minutes and actual wait times at Space Mountain were under 10 minutes all morning and into the afternoon. In other words, Magic Kingdom was basically a ghost town up until 4:30pm.
I was going to head over to Magic Kingdom to check it out, but wasn’t really interested in waiting in line with thousands of kids that make the South American tour groups that are so famous during the summer look organized and well behaved. Grad Nights (now defunct) look like the Royal Wedding compared to Night of Joy (also very likely defunct). It’s pretty nuts.
Hollywood Studios it is. It’s 5:20pm. I was in a hurry to get over to Studio Catering Company, which was scheduled to close at 5:30pm. The next three pictures are quick snaps of crowds as I made my way over.
Here’s the updated Studios Catering Company menu: https://www.easywdw.com/menus-and-seating/studio-catering-company-menu-streets-of-america-major-quick-service/. Studio Catering Company is pretty decent, at least for Hollywood Studios. I especially like the Buffalo Chicken Sandwich, which is better than the chicken sandwiches you’ll find elsewhere. The Pressed Tuscan Deli disappoints, however. Just for reference, here are a couple of the entrees from past Walkabouts:
Pressed Tuscan Deli Sandwich ($8.99)
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich ($8.99)
And now we can add the Pressed Turkey Club ($9.99) to our repertoire.
It doesn’t look much like the menu. The fact that it’s pressed flattens it quite a bit. The number of peppers in the menu picture is also a little optimistic. I pulled the turkey back to expose the bacon underneath in my picture, but you can actually see all of the peppers that were on the sandwich in that image. It’s a far cry from the hefty slices pictured. That being said, this was actually pretty good. The fact that it’s pressed makes it nice and crunchy and it was a huge portion, especially compared to the Pressed Tuscan Deli, which was pretty sad. The only real downside is that it lacked more pronounced flavor, which was surprising considering everything that was going on with it. Disney might consider finding a dressing or mayo that would accompany it well, as it’s served dry. A large helping of fries – but you can chalk that up to luck. I actually found the meal to be a bit overwhelming in size, which is rarer these days than it used to be. It was a ton of food. Overall, I think Studio Catering Company should be on your short list of Hollywood Studios quick service locations. Granted, the others aren’t much to write home about, but it’s a nice fresh, seemingly healthier option to ABC Commissary’s fried food or Toy Story Pizza Planet’s pizzas and meatballs.
Going on 6pm. Studio Catering Company was scheduled to close at 5:30pm, but kept serving until about 6pm. It’s worth passing by a quick service location if it’s just past the time it’s scheduled to close – they may still be serving.
Backlot Tour is closed, which means there’s “literally” nothing going on over here.
This is a straight shot to meet Phineas and Ferb. Just a 15 minute wait or so.
Let’s take a closer look at the Animation Building with the help of some very poor quality images. The story of our lives, right? There have been a few questions about what’s going on with it.
This is the Animation Building, which is located in the back of the Animation Courtyard. You’ll find Disney Jr. Live on Stage to the right and Voyage of the Little Mermaid to the left. On the left side there, we have two separate queues divided by a rope. The queue on the left is for the Magic of Disney Animation tour – a 10 minute video in a comfortable air-conditioned theater. The wait here is generally only as long as it takes for the next show to begin. Immediately to the right is a separate queue. There’s actually no wait here – you’ll walk right into the Animation Building, bypassing the Magic of Disney Animation.
A better look at the Animation Gallery. This is where you’ll find a lot of the high end Disney merchandise like limited edition sculptures and artwork. It also houses the 40th anniversary items at the moment. And vinylmation, of course.
Inside of the Animation Gallery, you’ll find an opening in the back of the store that leads into the rest of the Animation Building. It’s a small store – it’s only a few steps from the entrance through this opening.
You’ll continue through this room into the Animation Building. Take a look at the various stuff – it’s neat!
Currently appearing – characters from The Incredibles. I keep trying out to be Lady Tremaine or the step sisters, but I might have to give it up because they keep telling me not to come back. My second choice is Frozone, who is currently on a break.
This is the entrance to the Animation Academy, which is a fun drawing tutorial where you’ll be taught how to draw one of a variety of characters. There are a few different characters, so don’t be shy about doing more than one class! It’s a fun, free way to create your own souvenir. The only problem with it is that they move very quickly through the steps and little ones can get frustrated trying to keep up.
This is the view as you exit the Animation Tour. The Incredibles Meet and Greet and Animation Academy will be to your right.
Winnie the Pooh has a huge meet and greet location on the bottom floor. Waits are generally short, even when the Studios is more crowded.
Sorcerer Mickey on the bottom floor on the far left. Lines are longer for him, but it’s air conditioned at least. If you don’t care about which Mickey you meet, the Town Square Theater at Magic Kingdom with FASTPASS is the way to go. This is easier and more comfortable than the outdoor meet and greet at Animal Kingdom or the Character Spot at Epcot, though.
There are a few interactive activities in here that are kind of fun. If you have one child that’s into the characters and another child that is getting to be a little “too old,” you can have one check out the activities while the other waits in line. It works out very well. We’re a little late for Characterpalooza with an 8:30pm Fantasmic. For more info on Characterpalooza, including a schedule of when characters appear, see this post: https://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/tune-in-lounge-characterpalooza-itzakadoozie-hollywood-studios-walkabout-august-16/#more-5043.
Getting a little busier as Magic Kingdom/Animal Kingdom close.
Certainly not busy, but it is a “not recommended day.” FASTPASSes are just 40 minutes out at Star Tours and Tower of Terror and 55 minutes out at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster is usually out of FASTPASSes by this time of day. Over the summer, they would often run out by 2pm.
The wait times board needs to be updated. 13 minute posted wait at Tower of Terror.
30 minute wait at Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. I’m not sure what the actual waits were – my army is light on Football Saturdays. It would be a good time to pick me off.
6:30pm on Sunset Boulevard.
This looks more accurate.
Last day at Journey into Narnia Prince Caspian. I thought about walking through one last time but…..naw. Looks like they are already working on dismantling the queue! LOL
This actually looks to be a solid 60 minute wait at Toy Story Midway Mania.
They’ve been trying to schedule a Backlot Tour refurbishment for over a year. It’s finally happening. It will reopen September 25th….exactly the same I would imagine.
Studio Catering has cleared out almost completely by 6:30pm.
A look back up Hollywood Boulevard during a Disney Channel Rocks! show.
Overall, I’ve never seen it this “uncrowded.” Even for September, attendance is low.