You can pull up the previous update here.
There does not appear to be much, which is 1% of the reason why these updates don’t typically come out on Saturdays.
I would call your attention to “Night of A Million Lights” at Give Kids the World, with a video from Disney embedded above. Disney covers the event here in more detail, including the fact that they donated over three million lights. Look for those Osborne Lights callbacks and you may even run into the occasional Christmas Tree that would have been part of the Tree Trail at Disney Springs. A ton of the decorations are also unique to the event. Or at least it’s been some time since I’ve ridden a carousel that looks like a Super Mario Super Mushroom on top.
Tickets to the event cost between $25 and $40 for adults and $15 to 20 for kids depending on the date of your visit. It includes unlimited ice cream, hot cocoa, and unlimited access to their attractions, like this carousel. Most or all of the money should go to the organization. Disney describes Give Kids the World as, “An 84-acre non-profit resort that provides wish-granting, no-cost stays to children and their families who are battling critical illness and want to experience the magic of a Central Florida vacation.” You can read more about the event, purchase tickets, and learn more about the organization here.
Night of a Million Lights runs nightly from 5pm to 10pm through January 3rd, 2021. It’s located at Give Kids the World at 210 S. Bass Rd., Kissimmee, FL 34746. If you’re on vacation and don’t have your own transportation, an Uber/Lyft ride would you run between $15 and $20 each way. It’s a little over eleven miles away from Pop Century. You can see more photos at WDWNT or run a search on YouTube for additional video. With Animal Kingdom closing as early as 5pm on weeknights, that would present a good opportunity to get out there. If you Uber over to one of our fine chain restaurants along U.S. Route 192 after, such as Taco Bell, you’d probably save the money you spent on the Uber ride compared to eating dinner on property. Don’t tell Disney I said that or I will get in trouble. Ice cream and cocoa probably also count, or you could always plan on eating something more substantial at your resort or the theme park.
Disney confirmed their fireworks testing Monday night after Park close:
Disney World plans to conduct routine fireworks testing around Magic Kingdom on Monday night. pic.twitter.com/B2UQkwsHIh
— Ashley Carter (@AshleyLCarter1) November 15, 2020
“Rumors” indicate that this in preparation for the 50th anniversary fireworks. Disney describes the test as “routine,” though it’s unlikely that they would actually admit to what they’re up to if it wasn’t. ” YES GUYS WE ARE TESTING THE NEW FIREWORKS BUT DON’T COME OUT TO CHECK THEM OUT.” Back when fireworks were a common thing, I would be sitting on my couch, as I almost always am, and get angry around 9:01pm as it sounded like my neighbors were making an unusual amount of unnecessary noise. A minute or two later, I would check the cable box and it would read fireworks time. And I would calm back down to just mild irritation. I’m looking forward to that momentary annoyance on Monday as there will be no way I remember that it’s happening and no way I’m going to the Contemporary to zoom in from the observation deck to report that fireworks look like fireworks. The two-hour test sounds lengthy, so there may be a number of shells to launch, which would make sense for a new show. If something doesn’t work, it’s probably better to know before the federal shutdown so you can get your order in.
This could probably go under “Interesting Menu Changes” below, but Rosie’s All-American Cafe began serving breakfast this weekend:
The Park actually opened unusually early, at 9am. We don’t currently see another 9am open this year, even during Thanksgiving week, which begins in about a week’s time. The Park will open at 10am on those dates, though that is still subject to change. It’s slightly interesting that Rosie’s hours begin at 8am, a full hour before the Park is scheduled to open. That means Disney would likely open the parking lot around 7:45am and expect guests using Disney transportation to begin arriving around the same time. Otherwise, there would be no reason to start serving at 8am because people wouldn’t be inside until closer to 8:15am or 8:30am with the rare 9am open. Disney typically opens the parking lot right around 9am, with the usual 10am open, though that opening seems to be creeping earlier and earlier as more guests arrive early.
I’m not sure how many people would elect to eat breakfast and then wait 50x longer at their first attraction after they finish, but I’m sure there’s somebody. Everyone who arrives while you’re eating is going to be heading towards an attraction queue and getting in line before you’re able. Officially, you can’t eat or drink in queues, so you couldn’t really take the food with you. You’d also only pass by Rosie’s if you were walking through Sunset Boulevard and heading to Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Tower of Terror. Those destinations would be well out of the way of anyone heading to higher priorities, including Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, Slinky Dog Dash, and Millennium Falcon: Hondo’s Run. (Yes I know that isn’t the name of it.)
Rosie’s breakfast menu is virtually identical to what ABC Commissary used to serve for breakfast. Disney then offered the same menu at Backlot Express as part of Early Morning Magic in Toy Story Land. Here it is/was:
The Cocina Breakfast is the only new take.
But I’m not sure when the quick service will serve breakfast again. It’s scheduled to open at 10:45am moving forward:
And while that might still be breakfast hours for you or I, Disney changes over to lunch as early as 10am. ABC Commissary opens at 10:30am with its lunch/dinner menu, for example. I don’t think Rosie’s would stock all those items to serve breakfast for between 15 and 30 minutes before switching to burgers at 11:15am.
As I’ve mentioned countless time, this weekend saw the longest hours and earliest openings that we’ve seen at the Parks since they reopened in July. The Studios returns to its regular 10am opens moving forward, despite selling out of Park Passes across all ticket segments on most dates. It will be interesting to see if this weekend was some overarching stress test to see what’s possible with earlier opens and what are now basically capacity crowds given current physical-distancing protocols. There was very little Park Pass availability this weekend, with Passholders only able to book Epcot on Sunday. Saturday was completely sold out. So it would have been a good opportunity to check waits and distancing, and probably more importantly, whether they sold enough stuff during the extra hour to make it profitable.
Anyway, if you see a 9am open at the Studios on the day of your visit, you might pull up Rosie’s All-American Cafe to see if it opens at 8am, and the equivalent of a food court quick service meal sounds palatable.
But I’d also warn that if you spend 8am to 8:30am eating, you’re going to wait a lot longer in line as basically everyone else streaming in heads for an attraction, and will be in line in front of you as you enjoy the Chilaquiles more than you were expecting.
That’s Rosie’s All-American Cafe in the back of Sunset Ranch Market.
Which is behind Fairfax Fare, which is completely closed at the moment. At also next to Catalina Eddie’s – also closed.
But there are a lot of tables at Sunset Ranch Market. With the heavy crowds that Disney was expecting, it’s possible that Rosie’s filled a real need after people saw the long lines for Trolley Car Cafe Starbucks on Hollywood Boulevard. But most people there are probably looking for a beverage over a microwaved breakfast sandwich. Or it’s possible that opening up the quick service also allowed Disney to increase the number of people they let into the Park, without really opening anything of consequence. Rosie’s might come up as being able to hold 500 people, particularly with three registers instead of the two you would find at Woody’s Lunch Box if it were open. While only 12 people wander over to Rosie’s for breakfast, there are tables to seat well over a hundred, even with physical-distancing protocols in place. If you were adding up theoretical capacity on a piece of paper, that sounds good. In reality, it just means more people in line at the attractions. But as we look at weekend waits below, it doesn’t look like Disney crammed the Park full of additional people, even with the extra hour in the morning.
Rosie’s also changed up their lunch/dinner menus last month:
I’ve enjoyed some number of “Vegan Sausages” from the Plant-Based category over the years, but this will be my first Hearts of Palm Sandwich disguised as a “Lobster” Roll. Putting the names of food in quotations always gives me pause. Like if we were scuba diving and my air tank was on low and you were to say, “Hey, would you like some ‘oxygen’ to breathe?” I’d probably take you up on it, but still wonder if the air quotes were necessary and what on earth it really is. A salad similar to what Fairfaxe Fare used to offer is also available, now only All-American with Pomegranate Pickled Radish and the same Mojo Pulled Pork that used to come in a sandwich. I bet it looks pretty at least.
That’s Disney’s pic of your “Lobster” Roll.
We begin with our usual chart of Animal Kingdom’s average daily wait since it reopened on July 11th:
As promised/threatened in the previous update, wait times on both Saturday and Sunday were higher than Friday, though Friday’s were much longer than I would have liked to have seen in their own right.
Here’s Sunday’s chart:
Over the weekend, all of the Parks opened an hour earlier than they’re scheduled to open at any point through the rest of the year at the moment. I’m not sure there’s much use in doing more dissecting than we did on Friday given that fact. It’s worth noting that even with the longer hours, the overall average wait on Saturday was longer than the week before and the second-longest overall, while the average wait on Sunday was actually down by about three minutes compared to the previous week.
Here’s Friday’s chart again:
Interestingly, waits on Friday were much lower in the morning, but didn’t drop-off nearly as much as they did on Sunday in that last hour. That’s largely due to Flight of Passage and River Journey posting longer waits on Friday, even if actual waits were closer to what Sunday was showing.
With the hours going back to 9am to 5pm over the next four days, it will be interesting to see if wait times stay high given the popularity of the weekend, or if everyone ends up going home. Part of why Sunday’s waits are lower towards the end of the night could be due to local visitors wanting to get home earlier to relax before another week starts. On Friday, you’re just headed for the weekend.
Here’s Sunday first:
Epcot’s waits on Sunday were 34.7% higher than Friday and right around average for the day of the week. That’s true even with the “early” 10am open. The Park isn’t scheduled to open at 10am or earlier for the rest of the year at the moment. With waits completely falling off after 8pm, Disney may reconsider those 10pm closes moving forward, even if they have already committed to a number of them in December. It certainly would have made some sense to stick around if you could with everything basically becoming a walk-on in that last hour.
Frozen might be posting 25 minutes, but it was likely closer to half that. Test Track is back to its old shenanigans, down at both open and close for an extended period due to technical trouble. The only way to have experienced it would have been to wait about an hour in the middle of the day. If you’re planning on two days at Epcot, it would definitely be a good candidate to save for that second day. There would have been no opportunity to ride first or last thing given the fact that it was down at both, which is rare. Unfortunately, there’s no way to know what kinds of things like that are going to happen on a particular day until after it does. Few rides are as unreliable as Test Track, but if there’s something that you absolutely have to do, and it’s down at open, and you’re only visiting the Park one day, it makes sense to grin and bear what could be a long wait after the ride reopens.
On our recent visit to Epcot, we bypassed Test Track first thing on purpose in favor of Frozen Ever After. But we would have had to bypass it regardless because it was down at open. The plan was then to ride last thing, where we waited exactly a half hour after getting in line about 20 minutes before close. That’s about half of what the wait would be most of the day that it operated. It all worked out pretty perfectly. However, had Test Track been down, we would have gotten shut out. With a second day, we would prioritize Test Track. It would be very bad luck to see it down at open on both of your visits. But if it was, you’d know that you needed to get in line at some point during the day when it’s back up, or risk another closure later.
Since we don’t have a clean daily chart for Epcot, here’s the specific chart for Saturday, in case you’re wondering if there’s a big difference in wait times between the two days:
The averages are within a minute of each other on Saturday and Sunday, which doesn’t seem to indicate a whole lot of difference between the two. We do see lower averages towards the end of the night on Sunday, but that’s mostly due to Test Track being down, and not contributing a 30+ minute wait to pull the average higher. Frozen also posts a more reasonable 25 minutes, even without Test Track being up to pull guests in that direction. On Saturday, all of the Parks were sold out for Passholders. On Sunday, the only available Park was Epcot. That likely pushes some number of last-minute local visitors in that direction, The fact that they would likely leave a bit earlier to get home helps explain the lower nighttime waits compared to Saturday, when Frozen is twice as long in that final hour. 10pm is also getting to be on the late side for families with young kids, which also helps clear things out.
The Studios remains your “best worst choice” for the weekends. It’s easy to say, “Saturdays and Sundays are typically busier, avoid the Parks if you can!” Well, if you’re on a 7-day vacation, it’s going to be sort of difficult to avoid going to the Parks on nearly a third of your trip unless you have the privilege of being able to take a couple of pool days or something. Disney Springs isn’t any more viable than the theme parks, and may “feel” even more crowded on a Saturday, even if you go in the early morning or afternoon. At the theme parks, all of the attraction queue marking and such add some amount of civility to the theme park experience. Shopping is basically a free-for-all.
With the extra hour in the morning, Saturday’s waits were lower than the week before, and around average for the last few weeks. Saturday’s average was also lower than four other days during the week. Sunday and Thursday are just about tied as the “best” day to visit, with Sunday being a little more reliable. I don’t know if anybody wants to do the Studios back to back, let alone once, but don’t hesitate on keying in on a weekend day thinking the Studios is going to be busier. The wait times above prove that it’s not. Saturday’s average is the second-highest of the week, with Monday being highest. But Saturday’s average is within two minutes of Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. And there aren’t that many lines at the Studios to get in, so even if you wait two extra minutes nine times, we’re talking about less than 20 minutes across the day. Book Sunday if you can.
Rise of the Resistance also moved through more than 130 boarding groups over the course of the day – more than they have since reopening in July. It’s amazing what an extra hour can do. And amazing that Disney won’t add it to more dates considering so many have sold out. While the 7am open at Animal Kingdom may be too early for most people, 9am is much more reasonable.
Since we take special interest in crowd distribution with Disney changing the boarding group procedure, we’ll take a look at Saturday’s chart first:
The 9am open means shorter waits in the morning. They’re still not fantastic, because 9am isn’t that early and people think they should arrive before Park open even if it’s not required for Rise, but it certainly helps. It also means lower waits in the last two hours as crowds are distributed better across more hours. Some number of locals are also likely on their way home earlier on the Sunday.
We haven’t seen this little red and this much green in the bottom row in a long time, and not since Rise moved to 7am boarding signups. There are no more 9am opens currently scheduled, but the lower wait times on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday certainly look to help further prove our point that more hours means lower waits. Even if they let more people in this weekend, they averages are still lower than a lot of other dates. The Studios is going to sell-out of Park Passes virtually every day. I’m still uncertain as to what exactly made this weekend so special. There are obviously a lot of people in town, but there will be over Thanksgiving too. It’s possible that Disney will still extend the hours, but you’re certainly not giving people much notice if you do it Friday, or a day or two before most people are on the road or in the air headed to Orlando.
It’s somewhat rare that I am wrong about anything, but it appears like I was about this, and there doesn’t seem to be any mechanism to easily cover it up. In the last update for Friday, I threatened longer weekend wait times. And that did not happen. Saturday’s average wait was the lowest it had been since the first week of September. It was about about 36 seconds lower than Friday, but still lower. Waits on Sunday dropped even lower, and would be the lowest average since Sunday. Thank that extra hour in the morning.
Here’s Sunday’s chart:
It certainly would be nice to see these longer hours more often. There isn’t another 9am open on the calendar for the rest of the year at the moment. But Magic Kingdom was out of Park Pass availability for most ticket segments on the weekend and still posted lower waits than a number of other weekdays over the last month when it didn’t sell-out.
Current Disney Park Pass Availability
We’ll take a closer look with the next update since this one is already late. You can pull up what I would screenshot at DisneyWorld.com any time here.
Operating Schedule Changes
They arrived with Friday’s update. We should see another round this Friday for dates that potentially go into January.
Interesting Menu Changes
Nothing much over the weekend. We’ll see what the week brings.
That will get you caught up through at least this morning. We’ll have some more news to share for the next update.