Excuse me for a moment as I try to do my best impression of every other “Disney blogger” on the planet. Which is to say, allow me to write a “Walt Disney World update” from 75,000 miles away from Disney World. Just pretend like this website is relevant in 2k12.
We’ll rewind a bit to July 24th. The day isn’t that important, but it is important to note that we’re talking about well above average crowds. You can succeed with the following plan just about any day of the year. The difference between July and September is what you’ll be able to do after lunch. As we’ll see later, by 1pm the wait time for virtually every attraction is going to be 20+ minutes. In September, you’ll be able to hit Pirates of the Caribbean, Haunted, Mansion, it’s a small world, etc. with 10 or less minute waits. Still, you’re looking at 30+ minute waits at the attractions we’re going to visit first thing in the morning. I have some initial thoughts on my “Ideal Magic Kingdom Morning” over in the forums here, including the attraction order and the time I arrived/exited each attraction, so I won’t cover those aspects again. But this should give you a nice visual as to why this sort of plan works and what exactly you can expect. Full size of above: http://i.minus.com/ibf2bQMn9vrr9M.jpg.
As usual, our mode of transportation is the ferry. It’s 8:22am, so only the Resort Monorail and Ferry are running. The Express Monorail comes online at 8:30am. The Ferry is faster than the Resort Monorail and the Express Monorail is faster than either. At this point, I’d head to the Ferry if it’s nearby or wait for them to officially open the Express Monorail, which they should do in a minute or two.
It’s 8:33am. Disney will open the turnstiles around 8:15am, so the one you choose is of little consequence.
At 8:37am, there’s already a considerable number of people here in the courtyard waiting for the opening show. You have two options. You can stand in the center and have a great view of the opening show or you can go towards the entrances to the rest of the Park on either the left or right side. The right side is cooler in the morning I think. The sun bears down on those standing outside the entrance on the left side. Unless you’re planning to head to Town Square Theater first to meet the Princesses or collect FASTPASSes, it doesn’t really matter which entrance you choose.
Right at 8:50am, the Fire Chief came out to greet the crowd. You should see him or the Mayor. On morning Extra Magic Hour days, there should be an opening show of some variety, though it’s often abridged because fewer people are in attendance.
The opening show crowd. While it looks like a ton of people, you’ll be surprised how spread out they are once the rope drops and we’re allowed inside. Unlike Hollywood Studios where everyone’s headed to Toy Story Midway Mania or Epcot where everyone is headed to Test Track, there are about 30 different places people are headed at Magic Kingdom. Full size for maximum effect: http://i.minus.com/i37aO3NxWjOYT.jpg.
Per usual, the characters arrive on the train along with the family of the day.
All of the Main Street vehicles are back in commission, including the horse-drawn trolley.
While we’re all glad to see them, I’m not sure whose bright idea it was to drive them all directly at the incoming onslaught. It seems like it would make more sense to have them waiting at the train station or something.
Watch your step.
May or may not look cool as we head up Main Street. Would look better if the Castle “popped” I think, but I’m not sure how to create that effect.
Since we’re not in a hurry to get to Dumbo or Rapunzel, we’re headed to Peter Pan’s Flight first. Peter Pan is virtually guaranteed to have a wait of 50+ minutes in the afternoon even when Magic Kingdom is the most recommended Park and the overall crowd level is a one. It just doesn’t have the capacity to compete with the popularity, making it our first priority. It’s also a quick ride, so it’s only going to take a few minutes to complete.
I opted to collect FASTPASSes for Winnie the Pooh on my way to Peter Pan because I’m planning to head to Frontierland next. I could have opted to head to Pooh first and then visit Peter Pan next before continuing on to Frontierland if I wanted to ride both in the standby line. The line at Pan would be a minute or two longer, but nothing substantial. If you did that, you could collect a FASTPASS to ride Pan a second time. The first FASTPASSes available for any attraction would have a return time of 9:40am – 10:40am.
Crowds have thinned out quite a bit here at Peter Pan’s Flight at 8:59am.
About 15 people in front of us at Peter Pan’s Flight.
I know you’re apprehensive about not visiting Dumbo first thing in the morning. Don’t worry, we’ll get over there.
I’m back out front at 9:06am, for a total wait/ride time of about seven minutes. Fast forward three hours and you’re looking at a 60+ minute wait.
With a higher capacity, longer length, and air-conditioned queue, we’re in no hurry to get to it’s a small world.
Samesies with Haunted Mansion.
Oh don’t worry you. We’ll be back. No reason to get all black and white.
Few people headed our way up through Liberty Square. It makes sense since there isn’t much up there unless you want to be the first one to Hall of Presidents. There’s no reward for that, other than potentially a psychiatric exam.
Frontier Donald meets across from Diamond Horseshoe. That’s his entire line to the left of him, which is actually zero people long as the people in the picture are waiting for others. You could snap a quick photo on your way to Splash Mountain.
The walk over to Frontierland is virtually empty.
Spoiler: This is what it’s going to look like at 12:11pm.
Splash Mountain cycling empty logs had me nervous that it wasn’t operating yet.
But we’re in business. It’s 9:13am, so it was a seven minute hike out here.
It’s a 13 minute ride, so you may want to grab some provisions from the queue. Don’t worry, those ropes are only “suggesting” that they keep you out.
There’s “literally” no one in line.
A few on ride photos for no reason:
In so many ways, Splash Mountain is the quintessential Disney attraction, blending story telling and thrill perfectly.
With interest rates at 3.5%, I might finally be able to afford to get in here.
Outside of Astro Orbiter, you’re not going to find better views.
Fox looks friendly enough.
So much for diplomacy.
The website has tested a lot of potential scotch drinking locations, but seemingly better ones continue to pop up. Lounging on top of this fishing alligator topped with a cowboy hat may be a new favorite.
This fox is evidently following the “What To Do With A Br’ear Bear in a Pinch” book. Which is to say, try to find the smallest hole possible and shove him through. Where’s PETA?
I won’t tell you how it ends.
Okay fine, I will. This is the final scene that was lambasted some time ago because it wasn’t working at all at some point during one particular day. Everything looks to be working, but I’m not smart enough to pick things out that aren’t.
I was back out front at precisely 9:30am, for a total wait/ride time of about 17 minutes. The loading area was so empty that the cast members just told us to “sit wherever.”
With Big Thunder Mountain Railroad just a moment away, I arrived there at 9:31am.
My favorite Hendy story during World War II:
Admiral Emory S. Land, chairman of the U.S.
Maritime Commission, heard that the Hendy plant –
which had manufactured ship engines during World
War I – had been rejuvenated, and might be able to
supply some of the steam reciprocating engines
needed for a projected cargo fleet of 1,600 ships
(eventually 2,500 ships). After placing one order for
twelve engines, Admiral Land called Moore from
Washington to ask if Hendy could build another
twelve. Moore said, most emphatically, Hendy could
build another twelve. Said Moore, “It’s just as easy to
tool up for a hundred.” They settled for a contract of
Via http://files.asme.org/ASMEORG/Communities/History/Landmarks/5580.pdf. Hendy went on to build 750 engines for the war effort, each weighing about 127 tons, by March 1945. I also get a kick out of the fact that Admiral Land was chairman of the Maritime Commission.
Like we saw last time, the geysers sit dormant.
Like Expedition Everest, Big Thunder is a roller coaster that is much wilder in the back. If you’re apprehensive about riding, request the front, where speeds are much slower through the various curves and drops. The last row is a totally different experience.
Pretty. The queue area is off in the upper right hand corner.
Is this where we’re supposed to see falling boulders? It’s been so long.
I don’t even remember.
Now off that crazy mine train ride, W. Ray Colburn actually is the fire chief of Reedy Creek Improvement District, which services Walt Disney World.
I was back out front at 9:42am, for a total wait/ride time of 11 minutes.
With plans to hit Columbia Harbour House or Diamond Horseshoe for lunch, I opted for a 10:25am – 11:25am FASTPASS. This may or may not be smart. I’m going to make it back in time, with an additional Space Mountain FASTPASS in hand, but with only about ten minutes to spare (and the supposed 15 minute grace period). We’ll discuss our options more in a bit, but you don’t want to pull FASTPASSes for times that you don’t expect to make. And instead of Big Thunder, you may want to pull one for a second ride on Peter Pan or something instead. While we’re planning to ride Jungle Cruise in the standby line, you could also opt to FASTPASS it and then return up through Liberty Square to Haunted Mansion.
With nominal wait times in the evening and a high capacity, we’ll save Pirates of the Caribbean for later.
Now would be a good time to hop on Aladdin’s Magical Carpets. Afternoon wait times are usually in the 20ish minute range, which is a long time in the summer heat. Here, you could be on and off in less than ten minutes.
Oh no! A line that’s all the way outside the attraction! It’s only 9:48am! Josh, YOU STEER US WRONG! OPTIMIZE! OPTIMIZE! OPTIMIZE!
Be cool hunny bunny. The wait is only about five minutes because only the straight-shot-queue is open.
We may never see them again.
As usual, a great view.
An unfortunate situation…
My ride to Seattle…
As long as you keep your head, there’s a pretty good deal coming up…
The rear end…
A Trader Sam’s bar in Walt Disney World probably isn’t feasible, but it would be so coooool.
Back out front, it’s 10:04am with the line backed all the way out here! Or about ten minutes.
So in our first hour we’ve:
- Secured FASTPASS for Winnie the Pooh
- Ridden Peter Pan’s Flight
- Ridden Splash Mountain
- Ridden Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Secured FASTPASS for a second ride on Big Thunder
- Ridden Jungle Cruise
When we circle back after noon, we’re going to see a 55 minute wait at Pan, a 40 minute wait at Pooh, a 70 minute wait at Splash, a 40 minute wait at Big Thunder, and a 25 minute wait at Jungle Cruise. So if we were somehow in all of those lines at once (not including Many Adventures of Pooh since we haven’t made it yet), the total wait would be over three hours, not including the time it actually takes to ride said attractions. So we’re doing very well for ourselves. In hour two, we’ll hit Pooh, Barnstormer, Dumbo, grab FASTPASSes for Space Mountain, and check out Merida.