We’ll head out to Magic Kingdom to check on Presidents Week crowds and a preview of what we can expect over the busy spring break period from March 6 – April 11.
Wait times over the course of the day on Saturday February 14th, which is the second highest attended day so far this year:
This isn’t quite worst case scenario…but it’s almost worst case scenario. And in some ways…it’s not that bad. Peak waits at the historically-headlining attractions are lower under FastPass+, while secondary attraction wait times are considerably higher – a phenomenon that has been pounded home on this website over the last 15+ months. As more and more people set up FastPass+ in advance and visit kiosks to obtain 4th, 5th, 6th, etc. FP+, standby waits are only going to go up as maximum FP+ distribution leads to the highest number of people returning to attractions with priority boarding, even on “less crowded” days.
The Cheat Sheet maps help visualize the best times to ride:
The 8am open at Magic Kingdom is extremely beneficial for those that can arrive in time to take advantage of it. Casual vacationers that are going to start clogging the Park up around 10:30am are going to arrive around then regardless of whether the Park opens at 7am for morning EMH or 9am for a regular open. Even with long stretches of high wait times in the afternoon, actual wait times at the vast majority of attractions are still under 10 minutes a full hour into open. Late nights are also viable with so many families exiting the Park earlier in the day. Fast forward to 10pm and waits drop again.
Wait times on a more manageable day, February 18th, which is the day the rest of the pictures will be from:
If you’re visiting Magic Kingdom on a recommended day between March 7th and the beginning of April, this is about what you can expect in terms of wait times. They’re significantly lower than Saturday, but there still aren’t a lot of attractions posting reasonable wait times come noon. Sticking with the “green” attractions on the map in between FastPass+ reservations makes afternoons more enjoyable.
This next chart compares Animal Kingdom waits on Saturday February 14th (Highly Recommended, Crowd Level 9) and Sunday February 15th (Least Recommended, Crowd Level 9):
Since switching one of its usual morning Extra Magic Hours from Monday to Sunday, Sundays have reliably become the busiest day of the week at Animal Kingdom. Average and peak waits are virtually higher across the board on the non-recommended day. What you see on the recommended day is what you can expect to see once the spring break crowds arrive at the end of the first week in March and moving through Easter.
Continuing our look at the Saturday of Presidents Day Weekend, wait times at Epcot from the 14th:
You almost never see 8am regular opens at Epcot – they are almost exclusively reserved for the week between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day, but we unexpectedly got three this past weekend. It does again hammer home how important those early morning hours are to efficient touring. Soarin’ is under 25 minutes through 9:30am, which is right around when waits would take off with a regular 9am open. Test Track is posted at 30 minutes from opening, but actual waits would be under 15 minutes for the first hour. Afternoon waits are rough – getting through Future World by 11am and moving up to World Showcase as soon as possible is the key to a successful day with short waits. Waits do drop off again in the evening at most attractions, but note the rides that close at 7pm.
And Epcot on the 18th with the 9am open:
Unfortunately, the numbers are skewed a bit due to eight hours of torrential downpour in the afternoon and evening on the 17th. Excessive downtime at Journey into Imagination with Figment is rare, but looks to have impacted posted waits considerably. Ordinarily, waits would drop down to 20 minutes after around 4pm after peaking at 25 to 40 minutes from 11:30am-2pm or so. With just two rides most people are interested in, Epcot has trouble with heavy crowds, even if there is a lot of physical space to occupy. You obviously don’t want to be in that 50 minute line for Nemo, but it drops down to 15 minutes or less for the majority of the day. The key again is to tour Future World efficiently in the morning and then move up to World Showcase right at 11am.
Hollywood Studios on Tuesday the 17th:
Wait times at the Studios are a little wonky this week with the bad weather on Tuesday and the early close and lack of Fantasmic on Wednesday. Even with Tuesday’s downpour, waits remain long in the afternoon and evening at the few attractions at the Studios that move.
Anyway, that should give you an idea about what to expect if you’re visiting over the busy spring break season.
A nice Wilderness Lodge Villa review should arrive next week. We grabbed lunch at Whispering Canyon and took advantage of the cold temperatures to get a few slightly-less-creepy pool shots.
There aren’t an overwhelming number of exciting things happening at Magic Kingdom these days. The scrim is still up on the cinema on the right and the crane still stands tall above Cinderella Castle. The crane’s involvement in taking down the Dream Lights and performing maintenance on the Castle has actually been extended through March 12th. It was originally supposed to come down February 19th.
Pandora is now a major sponsor – the company is noted as “Presenting Wishes” on signs around the Park and literature provided by both companies. A new Pandora area has been added to the back of Uptown Jewelers on Main Street. You can kind of see it straight back there. I had seen some reports stating the lighting was uneven between the Pandora section and the rest of the store, but those problems seemed to be rectified.
The section is either extremely bland or a nice example of understated elegance depending on which way you want to go with it.
I don’t know anything about this stuff. This site looks to have images of the theme park exclusive charms, which are sold out online and difficult to get in-park.
Lisa picked up four charms to ship off. That may be the last of the Sorcerer’s Hat.
The theme park charms run $58 or so.
This style of Dooney and Bourke bag features the Earful Tower as the Studios’ icon.
This style of LeSportsac is newish too I think. We’ll take a look at more new merchandise in a separate post in a couple of days.
Heavy crowds affect all facets of the theme park experience – here at 1:30pm Casey’s Corner still has a line that spills out the door.
And no available tables.
Two of the major projects in the Hub are nearing completion.
Wishes FastPass+ viewing moves here beginning February 27th, so it won’t be much more than a week before we’re enjoying the AstroTurf.
They did a nice job with it.
Concrete ripped up in the center of the Hub with the statue of Walt behind walls.
Something that doesn’t show up on the wait times charts…the extended queue was in use at Swiss Family Treehouse with the line stretching back across the bridge at a virtual standstill.
Adventureland Veranda still has a scrim on the front of it with the expectation that the space will serve food when it reopens.
Sunshine Tree Terrace began serving Dole Whips back in December.
Due to licensing/sponsorships/agreements etc. you won’t see “Dole” advertised here by name. But the “Pineapple Soft-serve” is indeed your favorite non-dairy powdered treat. The same is true at Tamu Tamu Refreshments, which also serves Dole Whips disguised as pineapple soft-serve.
The menu opens up some new possibilities, including Dole Whip in a cone or Citrus Swirl substituted for Dole Whip in a float for the same money. In my estimation, the Citrus Swirl Float doesn’t work particularly well – the tartness of the orange slush clashes with the sweetness of the pineapple juice in an unpleasant way. You might have better luck.
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin briefly changed its wait time from 60 minutes at 2:15pm to 10 minutes at 2:30pm, before going back up to 45 minutes at 2:45pm.
Hopefully nobody actually thought they would be on and off of this thing in under 15 minutes. This is 45-minutes worth of line. Thanks FastPass+!
You actually can’t see the end of the FastPass+ return line at Jungle Cruise in this picture.
It’s back here somewhere with a 60-minute posted wait.
60 minutes at Pirates of the Caribbean, which is actually a pretty average peak wait these days with the maximum number of FastPass+ allocated most days.
Golden Oak Outpost is open all week to “help” with the heavy crowds.
The website reiterates that their waffle fries are a horrific value, made only worse by the mandatory addition of apple slices or carrots at a $2 upcharge.
Each one is reviewed in the middle of this post. There were originally four varieties – the “Tex Mex Waffle Fries” are already off the menu. When something sounds so disgusting that I don’t even order one for the sake of bloggability, you know it’s got a short shelf life.
75 minutes for Big Thunder around 2:35pm.
Splash Mountain reopened from its usual refurbishment a few weeks ago. The ride continues to look great and downtime is increasingly rare.
We’ve had a bit of a “cold” stretch in Orlando the last few days, with low temperatures dipping all the way into the low 30s, if you north-easterners can imagine a landscape so hopeless. That pushes wait times at the water rides down as fewer people want to get wet. If you’re concerned about comfort, you can watch a couple boats from the bridge pictured above to ascertain how wet people are getting. The jets are usually turned off in cooler temperatures, resulting in dryer drops.
This is my favorite place to see the Festival of Fantasy Parade – across from the Frontier Mercantile/Pecos Bill area. Virtually any other area has several rows of people by now, while fewer people manage to find this relatively deserted section in the middle. People tend to fill in on either end.
Long time readers may remember “Extended Queue Saturdays” at Magic Kingdom, back in the day when 30 minute waits at it’s a small world weren’t a daily occurrence. It’s been a while since we’ve seen the extended queue signs – while wait times at secondary attractions are up, it’s relatively rare that the queues can’t handle the additional people. This is Haunted Mansion with a 50-minute posted wait. Actual waits with a line this long are closer to 70, depending on the number of FP+ returners.
The FP+ line for it’s a small world backs up outside the entrance.
A 50-minute wait for it’s a small world as people file into the switchbacks outside the entrance.
100 at Pan.
If only stroller parking could be billed as a new attraction.
Can you spot the start of the FP+ return line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train?
We have a winner. It’s the guy holding the sign. Do you see him now?
Standby starts down there somewhere with a 150-minute posted wait. This isn’t a daily occurrence, the ride was down from 9:45am-12:15pm. So you’ve got 2.5 hours worth of FP+ returners returning later in the afternoon, causing the standby line to basically not move and resulting in 15 to 20 minute waits with FP+. On February 19th, the ride was down from Park open all the way through 5:30pm. It opened with the Park on the 20th.
Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid is closed for refurbishment, while it receives what are expected to be similar upgrades to the version out in California. I have heard good things about the result, though it’s hard to fathom how some lighting effects could improve what is a pretty uninspired attraction.
45 minutes for Dumbo…could be worse.
55 at Barnstormer.
New themed canopies on the extended queue.
A 60-minute wait for Tomorrowland Speedway just before 3pm.
We tried to make Buzz our one ride of the day using FP+, getting in line at 2:55pm with a 55-minute posted wait.
But the ride broke down about 15 seconds before we were set to board. After about 15 minutes of standing there, we were evacuated through the gift shop and given paper FASTPASSes to return later. #TheFuture #2billiondollars #PleaseDontSendMeMoreMagicBands
You may notice at a few attractions that the FP+ touch points in the queue are covered. Ordinarily, FP+ requires the user to scan at the entrance and again at the merge point, but a few attractions load so quickly that people can’t figure out how to “TOUCH MICKEY HEAD TO MICKEY HEAD” fast enough. I don’t think I’ve ever scanned my ticket at the touch point in the FP+ queue at Splash Mountain, for example.
The extended queue in operation at Monster’s Inc Laugh Floor.
This side doesn’t seem to be quite as far along:
We’ll see what the 27th brings.