Off to Magic Kingdom in the heart of Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party season. Go on a Party day and enjoy relatively light crowds. Go on a non-Party day and suffer the consequences of significantly heavier crowds.
High temperatures have finally broken a bit here in sunny Florida, where we enjoyed the rainiest September on record with rain on 23 of 30 days. More importantly perhaps, it “feels” less humid, resulting in highs that are actually 82 degrees, instead of 89 with a “Real Feel” of 110.
The new roof above the Wilderness Lodge/Ft. Wilderness boat dock is red.
Even here in October among moderate crowds, Magic Kingdom is already out of ECVs at 11:45am. Arrive early or rent/ bring your own.
Waits at Tinker Bell continue to be modest with more plentiful FastPass+ availability than one might expect.
Looking over wait times this past Saturday, on what should have been the busiest day until the Saturday during Veterans Day Weekend in November, you can get an idea about just how short waits are compared to the other characters that post times.
Disney was promoting the first direct Southwest flight from Dallas to Orlando or something with the Dapper Dans, showing them singing at the airport and on the plane. I like the Dapper Dans okay, but I think I would have tried to strangle one if they walked up and down the airplane aisle at 6:30am singing “Let It Go.”
You’ll notice that last time’s Meatball Sliders have been replaced by a “Meatball Trio,” among other changes and price increases.
We’re joined by Jim, Jess, and family, “winners” of a radio show contest promoting a Disney World guidebook that I wrote with Dave Shute that is currently the highest rated Disney World guidebook of all time. While I was supposed to be on the hook for the bill, they ended up paying, in addition to bringing a gift bag complete with an Ole Miss koozie and an Elvis CD. Which I think means I should run more contests.
We started with the Calamari topped with Olive Relish and served with a side of Marinara Sauce – $10.99, which is your garden variety straight-from-the-freezer quality with a side of sauce from a jar. It’s not “bad,” but certainly not a standout.
The Zucchini Fries – Breaded seasoned Zucchini with creamy Sun-dried Tomato Dressing for dipping – $7.99 are better and potentially a little more unique. Each has a nice crunch and the dip is creamy and delicious.
Jim and Jess tried the Shrimp Scampi – Linguini with Sun-dried Tomatoes and Asparagus tossed in a Garlic Sauce – $18.99 which has six fairly large shrimp on top of pasta. Unfortunately, the sauce was runny and the linguini overcooked, which is the norm at Tony’s. Still, it’s a large portion for the money and while not stellar by any stretch of the imagination, will fill you up for eight or nine more dollars than a quick service burger.
After thoroughly enjoying my Joe’s Artisinal Pizza at my last lunch here, I was looking forward to the Chicken Bianca Pizza – Grilled Chicken Breast and crispy Pancetta topped with Arugula Salad – $16.99. Unfortunately, it was bone dry from the crust, to the cheese, to the other toppings. It might have been a 10/10 with a creamy sauce, but was a 2/10 as is.
A simple kids’ cheese pizza.
I thought the Pistachio Crème Brûlée – $5.99 was excellent – creamy and pistachio-y and “just the right size.”
Their Tiramisu – Espresso-soaked Lady Fingers, Whipped Mascarpone, and Dark Chocolate Shavings $6.49 was just as good. We all planned to have “just a bite” and ended up finishing them.
Tony’s remains on my “You can do better just about anywhere else” list. For less money, you can get a more competent sandwich at The Plaza. Be Our Guest is a better experience for potentially not a whole lot more money at dinner. For upscale fare, it’s probably a restaurant at an area resort.
Thanks again to Jim and family and sorry I dragged you to such a lousy restaurant!
The railroad is down for refurbishment through November 7th. Green tarps are up around the track that’s visible.
The scene at the Frontierland stop. The track is being replaced in parts, among other upgrades.
In the meantime, Mary Poppins and potentially her penguins meet on the upper level of the train station, though currently in only three sets:
Here at 1:22pm, her line is only about ten people long in this not-obvious location.
Frozen merchandise continues to be widely available outside of Elsa dresses.
Tourists (and bloggers), you do.
And no, a tail is not pants!
Sulley is also available.
Trees and shrubs added as the Hub construction walls move closer to Casey’s seating area behind me.
Speaking of which:
Walls still line Main Street up and around the Hub area.
Work looks to have begun on what is expected to be a Main Street bypass behind Main Street. Guests would use it to enter/exit after the mayhem that is the end of Wishes.
The Buzz Lightyear FastPass+ kiosk has been “closed,” but isn’t removed and works as overflow for the Stitch location across the way in heavy crowds.
Closed but not forgotten.
Astro Orbiter recently reopened with a new paint scheme:
Unfortunately, the Orbiter is not an easy attraction to experience most days due to the agonizingly slow load/unload procedure and extremely limited capacity.
Wait times from Friday October 17th, a day with below average crowds:
There was a version of the Cheat Sheet touring plan that included Astro Orbiter as the first step, but experiencing it after Space Mountain and Buzz Lightyear is a better bet as waits will still be short once you finish with the other two. Then it’s off to Speedway. In below average crowds, you’ll otherwise wait 20 to 25 minutes in the sun/rain in a boring switchback queue at most times of day. In heavier crowds, actual waits are closer to 35 outside of the very early morning and very late night.
FastPass+ lines continue to look long from time to time. Anecdotally, Buzz’s queue spills outside after winding around to the right of the entrance at 12:15pm.
But just ten minutes later the queue is maybe half as long. There are a number of reasons for the appearance of long FastPass+ lines, most due to user error/the language barrier, but potentially also due to a large number of people returning at the same time, technical problems with the ride, etc. Out of hundreds of FastPass+ uses, I think I’ve waited longer than ten minutes just two or three times, usually at a character or Soarin’. Anna/Elsa is usually under 10 minutes and Seven Dwarfs is remarkably fast with actual FastPass+ waits usually under five minutes.
Also keep in mind that standby and FP+ are not equals. I’ll occasionally see someone post a picture of a long FP+ line and a short posted standby wait with some comment about how the wait would be shorter in standby. This is virtually never the case due to the way ratios work. FP+ usually makes up 70% of a ride’s overall capacity. So even if you have 100 people in FP+ and 25 people in standby, the 100th person in FP+ will virtually always ride before the 25th person in standby due to how much priority FP+ riders are given.
On the other hand, if you come across a ride with a short standby wait or you can easily get into the next show without FastPass+, it would be wise to pull up your handy phone app and change your experience to something else on the fly. A good example of when a FP+ will save you exactly zero minutes or exactly 20 minutes is Turtle Talk with Crush. While there is no reserved section for FP+ users at Crush, FP+ does guarantee entrance into the next show. If you time it so you get into the next show in standby, your FP+ is completely useless. But if you arrive closer to the start of the show and standby is closed, FP+ will save you the 15 minute wait
I am not a collectible popcorn bucket person, but these two are a home run.
Zero’s nose lights up. For $13.50 they’re expensive, but awfully fun.
PeopleMover’s/Astro Orbiter’s Miami Dolphins paint scheme continues over to the Disney Vacation Club booth, a sign that a larger cosmetic overhaul may be in the works.
It doesn’t make a lot of sense to repaint the kiosk and nothing else.
Mine Train continues to see 60+ minute waits virtually all day with FastPass+ that are extremely limited, even 60 days out. If you can’t get a FP+, there are exactly three good times to ride:
- Immediately at Park open if you can stay ahead of the group walking in that direction. Take a right at the Castle up toward Mad Tea Party, then a left at Mad Tea Party toward The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. The entrance will be up on your right.
- Getting in line about 15 minutes before Wishes.
- At the very end of the night, ideally getting in line with about five minutes to Park close. Everyone in line at close gets to ride.
Otherwise, it’s going to be 45 to 90 minutes.
There was some confusion earlier this week when a major Disney news outlet incorrectly reported a 2-sentence headline without any explanation announcing that Be Our Guest had gone “FastPass+ only.” Coupled with the “website error (Disney’s words)” that made it impossible to book Be Our Guest lunch after October 29th with FastPass+ invitations that had gone out to on-site guests, it “seemed” like big changes were coming in November.
(Un)fortunately,nothing has changed and the restaurant continues to issue return tickets for guests unable to make FastPass+ reservations. I picked this one up at 12:40pm. More info on Be Our Guest FP+ here: http://www.easywdw.com/forums/showthread.php?21033-The-New-Be-Our-Guest-FP-Guide. Otherwise, my advice remains the same. Get in line shortly after 2pm when standby is wide open or head over right at 10:30am to see if they are distributing tickets. While standby is open to guests that get in line before 10:30am, I don’t recommend doing so as you’re wasting precious morning touring time with short waits at most attractions to order a turkey sandwich.
The old mine store is walled off.
Friar’s Nook to the left of it is now open daily at 11am:
Serving up dat macaroni menu.
60 minutes for Cinderella/Rapunzel and 120 for Anna/Elsa at 1pm. That’s about average.
The Fantasyland FP+ Kiosk Megaplex is one of the only four remaining locations available in Magic Kingdom now that Storybook Circus is closed and Buzz doesn’t always operate. With the number of kiosks and iPads, waits tend to be short even if the line is longer than the other locations.
The Adventureland Breezeway FP+ kiosk is operating here with no signage whatsoever. When they do put up a sign, the two kiosks are overwhelmed and lines back up even with 15 or 20 people there.
No walls up at Peter Pan’s Flight or it’s a small world for the first time in a long time.
While permits continue to be filed for interactive elements at Pan, the queue reopened again without any for the second time. The queue is wider to accommodate ECVs and wheelchairs and the FP+ line is rerouted a bit, but that’s it for now.
The new normal.
Poor Rapunzel overwhelmed with strollers.
The Yankee Trader closed a few months ago for its transformation into Memento Mori, a dedicated Haunted Mansion store. Note that there is only one entrance as pictured.
Some poor cast member is stationed at this more-obvious door near the Haunted Mansion announcing that it is “exit only.”
Such a thing is necessary because the store is Harry Potter World small.
Due in part to this Spirit Photography booth, which actually seems like a good value at $19.95.
They take your picture and from straight on you look more or less normal.
Look from the sides and you look like your ghost host.
Some more lousy merch shots at unfortunately high ISOs:
Virtually everything should be available at DisneyStore.com and they have free shipping this weekend with code SHIPFREE when you purchase a “Disney Parks Product” like any of the Mansion stuff.
The merchandise has already invaded the Emporium:
Mori is otherwise definitely worth checking out. Most of the stuff is great. Bring your credit card.
Liberty Square Riverboat and Tom Sawyer Island are excellent choices here in the afternoon when waits at just about everything with a sign are over 25 minutes. Country Bear Jamboree, Hall of Presidents, and Enchanted Tiki Room are three more.
FP+ continues to pull down waits at the major attractions, this time at Big Thunder where the wait is only 5 minutes longer than it’s a small world and Haunted Mansion.
50 at Splash, where waits will fall with the temperatures.
Another example of a long FP+ return line visible, again probably due to user error of some kind. The line inside is probably nonexistent and you’d be waiting behind this many people whether it’s in front of the Mickey scanners or later on up the queue. It’s not a big deal.
Golden Oak and it’s over hyped waffle fries continues to be closed more often than not.
Though this week it was open four days:
The Halloween Parties don’t affect the quick service schedule as much as the Christmas Party, when Pinocchio Village Haus and Columbia Harbour House stop serving at 5pm on Party nights.
A family next to me as I was taking this picture commented that “the wait is down to 40 minutes if you want to ride,” something you would assuredly never hear prior to FP+ outside of maybe Christmas day.
My favorite of the remaining FP+ kiosks next to Jungle Cruise. Lines re typically shorter and it’s more organized than the other areas. It’s also away from a major thoroughfare, which may decrease the chaos inherent in other locations. That was another nice thing about the Storybook Circus kiosk (RIP).
I think that’s about it. AK up next.