easyWDW https://www.easywdw.com/easy easyWDW Wed, 28 Oct 2020 17:00:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.1 Walt Disney World Wait Times and News for 10/27/2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-27-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-27-2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-27-2020/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2020 16:19:37 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24827 The News According to WDWNT, Disney has laid off the majority of its Actors’ Equity Union cast members. That includes the entire cast and crew of shows like Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo the Musical, the Pandora utility suit crew, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Jedi […]

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The News

Festival of the Lion King Performers

According to WDWNT, Disney has laid off the majority of its Actors’ Equity Union cast members. That includes the entire cast and crew of shows like Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo the Musical, the Pandora utility suit crew, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular, Jedi Training Academy, the Green Army Men, Voyage of the Little Mermaid, Citizens of Hollywood, Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, the Citizens of Main Street, and Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue. There are likely more cuts on the way or more of the layoffs will be made public in the coming days.

Obviously, this is devastating news for the performers and their families. It also means that these shows probably aren’t returning in any form anytime soon. I could go on about how disappointing this news is, but I would guess we’re on the same page without me writing six or eight paragraphs about how entertainment is the heart and soul of a Walt Disney World visit. I may write that post in the future, but I don’t have it in me right now. It’s also not about me at all. It’s just really, really sad that it’s come to this.

The Actors’ Equity union released a statement about the Walt Disney World layoffs:

Before the pandemic, about 780 Equity members were employed at Walt Disney World, either full time, part time or seasonally. About 60 are currently working or about to return to work in the park. About 720 Equity member workers have now been laid off. According to the new MOU with Disney, these laid-off members maintain recall rights until the end of 2021.

720 of 780 cast members is over 92% of the entertainment work force. That is a complete gutting. You can pull up the union’s official press release here.

There’s concept art for the donut store at Disney Springs that I could post, but I’m not even going to bother. The Parks Blog has the pictures.

Today’s Waits

Here’s our familiar chart of Animal Kingdom’s daily average wait since reopening:

This may end up being the best week to visit in about a month, though this Friday and Saturday will likely see a big uptick. But Tuesday’s 17.5-minute average wait is more than ten minutes shorter than the previous week and almost 14 minutes less than the Tuesday before that, when we saw 31.3 minutes. Tuesday was also one of the two or three least crowded days of the last month.

Here’s the chart:

Larger: Here.

Everything returns to its zen-like state of early September for the most part. Even Na’vi River Journey’s average wait is longer than Flight of Passage again. I never thought that would bring catharsis. This week may be proof that some people will get lucky with lower crowds and waits, though this is historically a less crowded week than the last couple. Columbus Day Holiday crowd levels are typically higher and the south pushes visitors to Walt Disney World in the middle of October for fall breaks. None of those things are true during the last week of the month. I still wouldn’t be anywhere this Saturday if I could help it, though.

Here’s Epcot:

Larger: Here.

Waits were well below-average at Epcot as well. You might remember that Sunday’s overall average was 30 minutes, even with the 9pm close versus the 7pm close that we currently see most Mondays through Thursdays. Soarin’ is ten minutes almost all day. Frozen is well below-average. It’s like somebody went to Blockbuster and hit rewind a month on the VHS.

Onto the Studios:

And, relatively speaking, it was a great day there, too.

Here’s the chart:

Larger: Here.

You’d have to go back almost a month to find a day with an average wait as low as Tuesday. You’d have to go back that far just to find a day with an average wait under 40 minutes. But even so, those morning waits are still rough from Park open.

Magic Kingdom:

The good times roll into Magic Kingdom. It was the best day to visit in several weeks.

Here’s the chart:

Larger: Here.

I would guess that we still see reduced capacities in a couple of places, like at Big Thunder and Space Mountain, pushing up waits, but this is as good as it’s been at Magic Kingdom in some time.

The low crowds should continue for a couple more days before a busy weekend hits. Next week should be good as well, up until Friday again.

Current Disney Park Pass Availability 

More Parks are filling up during Thanksgiving week. On the 23rd and 24th, only Epcot is currently showing availability for Resort or Theme Park Tickets Guests. Get those Park Passes booked if you’re visiting over Thanksgiving or get used used to waiting 40 minutes for Journey into Imagination with Figment. The choice is yours.. It’s also likely Disney will replenish the supply at some point, adding availability. That would have to be true even without the major shows coming back online.

December looked to be the same. No availability at the Studios on yellow dates, with the exception of the 25th, when Magic Kingdom is the only sold out Park. Very wholesome. I feel like rope dropping Carousel of Progress and then getting right back in line.

Menu Changes

Good news. The Disney site already updated their menu on the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli at California Grill back to its original description. It’s now Tomato-Fennel Ragù, Truffle-Goat Cheese Espuma, Basil Crisp, just as it should be. That was a close one.

D-Luxe Burger has a $12 Bananas Foster Gelato Shake – “Vanilla Gelato, Bols Banana, Toasted Marshmallow Monin, Caramel topped with Whipped Cream and a Caramel Drizzle” that sounds like something I might be interested in.

Operating Schedule Changes

They should come Friday.

That should get you caught up.

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Epcot Morning Touring in World Showcase October 2020 with RideMax https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/epcot-morning-touring-in-october-2020-with-ridemax-and-a-regal-eagle-lunch/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=epcot-morning-touring-in-october-2020-with-ridemax-and-a-regal-eagle-lunch https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/epcot-morning-touring-in-october-2020-with-ridemax-and-a-regal-eagle-lunch/#comments Wed, 28 Oct 2020 14:00:22 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24814 Our morning at Epcot continues after beginning the day at Frozen Ever After. We’ll be referring to our RideMax-optimized touring plan throughout the rest of the visit, so make sure you familiarize yourself with the software in this post written by the creator of the app. Then see this post, which showcases what to expect […]

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Our morning at Epcot continues after beginning the day at Frozen Ever After. We’ll be referring to our RideMax-optimized touring plan throughout the rest of the visit, so make sure you familiarize yourself with the software in this post written by the creator of the app. Then see this post, which showcases what to expect from the arrival experience, whether it makes sense to visit Test Track or Frozen Ever After first, the benefits of coming in from the International Gateway or the main entrance, and the logic behind the plan that we’re just now really embarking on. And if history is any indication, we probably won’t make it very far in this particular post, either. I can guarantee that we will hit at least one ride, though. That doesn’t always happen.

While we’ve already made it through Frozen ourselves, there are plenty of people who arrived after us and are still in line for the ride somewhere in the China Pavilion at 11:10am. I’m not sure if they expected their morning to begin with a wait for an icy boat ride through Arendelle next to Lotus Blossom Café, but there they are. I would say that life comes at you fast, but that probably isn’t true if you’re waiting in a Pavilion where the ride that you’d like to board isn’t. With Lotus Blossom only operating on the weekends now, you can’t even grab some egg rolls to really get you in the mood to want to sing along with “Do You Want to Build A Snowman?” once you finally get to the front. I think the only thing I would be interested in building is a way out of this line.

Everyone you see in this picture is waiting for Frozen, whether they know it or not. Some of these physical-distancing markers that seem to be heading away from the attraction you’re trying to get to can be confusing. These are the same people who used to ask the cast members at the front of “The Great Movie Ride” if it was a ride. On the other hand, if you’ve sat through the CGI-fest that is Soarin’ Around the World, you might start to question everything around you.

On one hand, it’s positive that we’re currently facing the direction of Frozen Ever After’s entrance, even if it’s one Pavilion over from where we’re standing. The people on our left may be facing the opposite direction of the entrance, but they’re also closer to the front of the line. The posted wait is 95 minutes at 11:10am with an actual wait that’s probably closer to 60 minutes. With six feet in between parties, all lines appear longer than they would be if we still lived in the “please fill in all of the available space” days of March 2020. Once you pass under the wait time sign and enter Frozen’s actual queue, your wait should only be about 12 minutes until you board.

But it will be a slow waltz to the entrance for those who may be unexpectedly eyeballing the Nine Dragons menu that’s painted outside the restaurant in the China Pavilion. Worse, if anything sounds good, the restaurant isn’t even open, so not only are you waiting an hour for your first ride right off the bat, but you can’t even return for Sichuan Dumplings after. Don’t let anybody tell you that life’s fair.

We don’t have FastPass+ priority to contend with, but the ride does run around 50% capacity with Disney typically only filling the first and fourth rows with physical-distancing in effect.

This does reinforce the importance of the early arrival, particularly given the Park’s usual shortened hours. If you arrived right at 11am, got in line for Frozen at 11:10am, boarded at 12:15pm, and were back out front at 12:25pm, 20% of your day would just about evaporate over the course of waiting for one ride. We spent three minutes of actual Park time waiting and only ten minutes of our eight hours in the Park experiencing the ride. That’s only 2% of the day, which seems better than 20%.

From our long chart of Frozen Ever After wait times from Part One, you’ll remember that there’s a bit of a lull in waits for the boat ride from 12:15pm to 1pm. That makes some sense as the first wave inevitably arrives, waits their 65 minutes for Frozen, and move on, while relatively few people get in a line that’s posting a 75+ minutes wait before noon. I bring this up in part because it appears like maybe one person is coming our way as we backtrack to Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico. Most people who enter through the main entrance will spend at least a couple hours in Future World first before thinking about heading up to World Showcase.

One unique thing about Epcot’s current operating schedule is that both Future World and the entirety of World Showcase open with the Park. That wasn’t true back before the March closures, when Future World opened at 9am and 90% of World Showcase followed two hours later at 11am. One reason why I historically recommended Test Track over Frozen first is that if you did Frozen first, the only other thing you could do on that side of World Showcase is get in line to meet Anna and Elsa at the Royal Sommerhus at basically the worst time. After that, which is a thing that you probably wanted to skip, you’d have to haul it back to Future World to do anything else. That’s no longer the case with Future World and World Showcase opening with the Park.

We haven’t spent much time at the Parks over the weekend. While the website is rarely selfish, it is sometimes concerned with its own health and mental wellbeing.

And I have a feeling that standing in this line outdoors just to wait to get inside the pyramid in the Mexico Pavilion would hurt both those things.

But the outdoor wait is one thing that we don’t capture in the posted waits for Gran Fiesta Tour on the weekends.

On your average Saturday afternoon, you have to weave your way through here for 20+ minutes just to get inside.

Then the wait to ride Gran Fiesta is “just” 15 minutes, even if you’ve spent 40 minutes traversing the switchbacks just to enter more to eventually board your boat.

Gran Fiesta Tour is typically one of three places in World Showcase where you may wait longer than the next show to start. The other attraction with longer waits is obviously Frozen, and then there’s the Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along, which can see a wait of about 1.5 shows with physical-distancing inside the theater. That can equate to a wait of about 30 minutes.

This early on a weekday, we’ll almost be able to walk right on:

















We arrived at 11:18am, boarded at 11:21am, and were back out front at 11:31am.

That means our timing so far has been:

  1. Frozen Ever After: 10:43am – 11:09am
  2. Gran Fiesta Tour: 11:18am – 11:31am

That’s pretty good time. Looking back at our RideMax plan, we see the following predictions:

RideMax has us done with Frozen and Gran Fiesta at 11:46am, or 15 minutes later than where we are. Chances are likely that you’ll be a little bit behind where we were in moving to Frozen, though a couple hundred people did manage to beat us. The software works on the conservative side of things. But even I couldn’t tell you exactly when I’m going to arrive or when the ride will begin operating on any given day. Once the line for Frozen started moving, our wait was 13 minutes from that point. So RideMax’s 12-minute prediction there is just about about as close as you can get. We arrived a little earlier for Gran Fiesta, which resulted in a wait closer to two minutes than ten.

But by the time we disembarked, they had already opened the first of the extended queues for the ride, meaning the wait would be closer to six or seven minutes than two or three already. If we had waited a little longer at Frozen, we would have waited a little longer at Gran Fiesta Tour immediately after.

As a reminder, our goal is to visit all of Epcot’s rides and a few shows in one abbreviated day. RideMax knows that World Showcase crowds are lowest in the early afternoon, which is why it’s sent us up here now. It also knows waits for the rides typically go down as it gets later in the day, so it’s going to delay our return to Future World until the software knows we’re waiting as little as possible. It’s even going to put a couple of anytime attractions like Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival and Awesome Planet into the itinerary before moving on to the rides, giving wait times even more of an opportunity to drop.

Here’s where we’ll be heading in the future:

We have plans to visit the Canada Far & Wide show as our last stop in World Showcase before our Future World return, which makes sense since it’s the last World Showcase Pavilion on the way back to Future World for the Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival. I have a feeling that the “rival software” would have us start the day at the Short Film Festival and then send us up to Frozen next, before demanding our return to The Seas with Nemo and then Canada Far & Wide.

In unrelated news, I noticed that I liked some of the Mexico World Showcase merchandise:







Whether you prefer your merchandise to be in bright blues and reds or dark greys and yellows, they have you covered.

Otherwise, the Pavilion is largely as we left it, with the potential that a lot more switchbacks can go up on the weekends.

At least if had to wait through here, you’d have a good opportunity to look over each window in the cultural exhibit. Without the line, we can enjoy the sights at our own pace.

If you don’t, I have pictures of just about everything in this post.

We stepped back out onto the promenade to see one of the several character cavalcades. This time it’s Anna and Elsa:



The Magic Kingdom cavalcades are still my favorite, perhaps because Main Street USA “feels” like a parade route more than cast clearing the way around World Showcase to send characters from a fictitious land through the Mexico Pavilion and beyond. While I spend the majority of my time calling Disney cheap, I would reiterate that they really had no obligation to offer these cavalcades. You’ll also run into Mickey and Friends and the Princesses.

Otherwise, crowds in World Showcase are going to remain low in the early afternoon most days. The exception still being Saturdays during the Taste of Food and Wine in particular.

For guests with time, I think Epcot is still a 2-day Park. I do make fun of the hole in Future World, but the fact is that it only ate the fountain, a few stores, a couple quick services, some meet-and-greets, and some very good air-conditioning. But it didn’t really eliminate any attractions with Spaceship Earth staying open, even after Disney initially announced that it would close for a multi-year transformation.

World Showcase has lost a lot of its charm with most of the International College Program cast members back home in their respective countries. As we’ll see, you can certainly “do” Epcot in one day, but it’s going to mean skipping over the majority of World Showcase or Future World. While a lot remains closed, particularly on weekdays, the majority of the attractions and the things that would consume your time are open.

So while Lotus Blossom Cafe in China may only operate on weekends, and the Nine Dragons restaurant is closed, Reflections of China, the Circle-Vision 360 attraction is still open, along with the Shanghai Disneyland exhibit next door. The House of Good Fortune is also open along with the Joy of Tea kiosk serving drinks and snacks out front. So while dining options may be more limited, most of what there is to do in World Showcase remains. Of course, the character meet and greets and most live entertainment remain unavailable.

You would also want to take the operating schedule into consideration. The Park is open eight or ten hours most days, instead of the standard twelve hour day that we had seen for 10+ years. Eight hours isn’t much time to spread across all of Future World and World Showcase, even if some of your options are more limited.

The line for Frozen remains back in China at 11:36am. People still line the exterior of Nine Dragons on the left.

But the line is actually shorter than it was before the Park opened and after we finished our first ride, which goes back to our point that 12:15pm is your best bet to get in line if you can’t visit first or last thing. Not a lot of people are headed up here with a 75-minute posted wait. The actual wait is probably about 45 minutes from there.

The Alps is one of the Taste of Food and Wine booths that’s only open during the weekends. That’s it before the bridge on the left.

So instead of enjoying some warm Swiss cheese in the Florida heat as the bridge is raised up to let a Friendship boat inside the Lagoon, we just enjoyed the view.

We really weren’t missing warm cheese-covered pickles if we’re being honest.

But we can watch the boat sail out into the distance.

And you may remember that beginning November 1st, the Friendship Boats will once again resume service to the Crescent Lake Resorts to and from Epcot and Hollywood Studios. Service was originally set to return back on July 29th. But who is keeping track of these things. The boat you see will service Epcot, moving guests very slowly from World Showcase to Future World.

Continuing up through Italy, crowds remain low. That’s why we’re here and not in Future World, where the wait for Soarin’ could be 60+ minutes. We stopped for a bit to enjoy the train in Germany. Largely out of frame, the Spain Food and Wine booth lays dormant on the weekdays. Come Friday, they will find their marinated olives again.

With the International College Program paused, it’s not surprising to see so many things still closed. Italy basically relies on the constant importation of what is basically free labor to run their operation. Still, Disney did lay off 20,000+ cast members with the promise to most full-time union employees that if a position were to open up, they would have first dibs. This sign-less kiosk to the left of the Italy Pavilion typically serves a variety of drinks, ice cream creations, and cupcakes. It may be open on weekends considering the ropes and single physical-distancing marker is in place. I’m not sure how many people notice or care that something like this is closed, but it does take away some of the energy from the Pavilion, particularly coupled with the lack of live entertainment that we used to enjoy daily.

The main store in Italy, inside of the replica of the Doge’s Palace, also remains closed. In just a couple of weeks, Epcot will have been reopened for four months. You’d think the sale of one bottle of SPLENDIDA BVLGARI PATCHOULI TENTATION perfume, at a cost of $146, would carry the store’s bottom line for at least an hour. According to the description, the scent is, “A luminous and irresistible Chypre Floral composed around a trio of Patchouli reflecting the evolution of a burning Temptation.”

I’m guessing that burning temptation is to visit the Italy booth and why the smell of perfume from that store is always so strong out on the promenade. No wonder $9 pasta covered in nuclear-orange sauce is so popular. I should buy a van and start spraying the scent of easywdw.com perfume up and down the neighborhood. Instead of Patchouli, I would use sweat and the sweet scent of the Navy Blue Columbia Fisherman’s shirt, with notes of Cosmic Ray’s Vegan Sloppy Joe and that cupcake the All-Star Sports offered for 45 minutes on September 8th, 2018. If that’s not going to start driving traffic, I’ll probably have to give up and start blogging about Fun Spot again. Please buy my fragrance or at least allow it to guide you to this website and not the Italy booth.

It looks to me like the Enoteca is open, which isn’t surprising considering they are in the wine pouring business at an 800% markup.

But the dining in Italy is all available, from Tutto Gusto, to Tutto Italia, to Via Napoli. Even the Donkey Cart in there is staffed on the right in case you’re about to descend into Dante’s Inferno if you don’t eat a push-up tiramisu pop in the next couple of minutes. I think we’ve all been there. The tiramisu pop could be the antidote for those shrimp from ABC Commissary that would otherwise have you on an IV drip at Centra Care. I’m not a doctor though.

Historically, the Joffrey’s coffee stand menus are in a tiny little font above the kiosk, but you’ll now see a list of what’s available at the start of the line:

The Traveler’s Café Starbucks, located all the way across World Showcase outside of Canada, is not typically popular. That may change with temperatures dropping from 87 degrees to 84 degrees over the next couple of weeks. I mention this a few times a year, but the Joffrey’s locations are actually some of the better values on the alcoholic drink front as you can add a second shot of booze for $2, making for a larger and boozier drink than most others for the standard $14 price.

Apparently, it is a big deal that the Toffee Flight Latte is available at all of Epcot’s Joffrey’s locations at the moment, after being exclusive to the coffee stand leading up to the Caribbean Beach Resort Skyliner station for a while. I would guess that it tastes similar to most of the other drinks that are closer to a heap of candy and whipped cream than a straight cup of Seattle’s Best Coffee. According to this Sarasota Times article, this is where Joffrey’s has come in the last few years:

TED C. ABRAMS faced a daunting challenge in 2001 when he became president and CEO of Joffrey’s Coffee and Tea Company. The business, headquartered in Tampa, had lost money for 17 straight years since its founding, and the chairman told Abrams he had one year to make Joffrey’s profitable.

Abrams, who knew little about coffee but had a head for numbers, took action, closing or ceding control of Joffrey’s nearly one dozen retail coffee shops, getting out of budget-crushing leases for new shops at Channelside and Tampa International Mall and putting the focus on what Joffrey’s did best: roasting and producing specialty coffees. The move cost 30 to 40 workers their jobs and elicited second-guessing from some longtime employees.

Firing employees, shutting down stores, and consolidating your operation….where have I heard a company take that route recently. “Well, we weren’t doing that well, but we found a white guy who didn’t know anything about the product, fired everybody, raised prices, and now we’re doing great.” Welcome to the new American Dream.

Prior to the March closures, the fact that we’re an hour into the day would mean it’s 10am. Now, an hour into the day is 12pm. Next month, an hour into the day could be 1pm.

On your Epcot day(s), if you’re an early riser, you may elect to eat a large table service breakfast to help hold you over until dinner. You could book that for 8:30am and still have plenty of time to be at the bus stop by 9:45am to be on one of the first buses over to Epcot for an 11am open. With a noon open, you could push that breakfast back an extra hour. You may also elect to eat lunch and dinner at Epcot. But remember those short operating hours. With the Park open from just 11am to 7pm on weekdays at the moment, and each meal taking 45 minutes to an hour, you’ve cut down your time to do other things to just six hours or so if you spend two of your eight hours at a restaurant. Then the day is over.

At 11:50am, the United States Pavilion is more than wide open. It’s possible that there is somebody sitting at one of those picnic tables in the distance. But that seems to be the crowd. To the right of the main entrance into The American Adventure show is Heritage Manor, which is mostly Art of Disney stuff at the moment as the store out front remains closed.

The JAMMitors were on, which may have helped clear the place out. When I have grandkids, I just plan to turn off my hearing aids and get as close to smiling at the children as I can. The JAMMitors offer a good opportunity to practice. The average age of their audience of four people looked to come in around 80 years old based on the amount of white hair I’m seeing. I’m guessing the guy standing up and facing our direction is hiding behind that tree until the camera goes down and it’s safe to proceed out. I wouldn’t want to be seen up there either.

We opted to stop at Regal Eagle for lunch.

But we could have gone anywhere without much of a wait. Table service dining was also wide open. Regal Eagle benefits from mobile order, which means we can pick out what we want on the Disney World app and won’t have to wait in line to order and then pick up our goodies. It’s also one of very few World Showcase quick services that offers air-conditioned seating. Katsura Grill in Japan offers some, but I would guess about two indoor tables are available given physical-distancing.

The downside to mobile order is that you basically can’t go inside the quick service without a confirmed mobile order that’s ready to pick up. Disney has two cast members guarding the usual doors leading inside. That isn’t even the entrance.

We’ll have to go over to the far left, past the outdoor bar, and then down a long corridor to get inside.

I’m probably on the record as saying my favorite new addition to Walt Disney World in the last five years is the opening of the gigantic bank of restrooms to the right of The American Adventure. Before that, you’d have to cram into one of the itty bitty locations built for when people were much smaller in 1981 and potentially had to go to the restroom less often because it was a classier time when your average tourist wasn’t pounding shots of Jägermeister followed by slamming as many $10 cups of Beck’s beer as your credit card allows. Not that I would know anything about that.

I bring this up in part because the old bathrooms in the Pavilion used to be located down this corridor. There are still restrooms down here, which may or may not be open at this time. You’ll have an easier experience getting to the much larger restroom building on the other side. Ahead, we’ll have our mobile order confirmed a second time before we’re allowed inside. It’s almost like having to turn two keys before we can launch the nukes. I’ve collected gold and diamonds from my safe deposit box with fewer security checks. But we are talking about chicken salads and pork butt here. Those may replace bullion at some point with our country’s current trajectory. You can try to eat gold, but it doesn’t offer a ton of protein in my experience.

But needing a confirmed mobile order at Disney-operated quick services does eliminate the ability to easily head in and out of a given quick service. You may be interested in checking out the vibe of Regal Eagle before committing, but it’s going to be more difficult than in the Before Times. The cast members at the front may open the front door and let you peer in, but that’s about it. If you’re after a cup of water, I would guess they would guide you to the outdoor takeaway bar next door. On the plus side, that’s also why things are significantly less hectic in here than when they opened.

In the next Part, we’ll grab lunch and continue through World Showcase, before taking a Skyliner ride to check out Ratatouille construction, stop by some World Showcase shows, and then continue on to Future World.

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Walt Disney World Wait Times and News for 10/26/2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-26-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-26-2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-26-2020/#comments Tue, 27 Oct 2020 17:50:53 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24816 You can pull up the last update here. You may have if baby rhinos and the closure of Lucky Brands doesn’t ring a bell. The News This is probably the most crowded I’ve seen the JAMMitors in the American Gardens Theater over the last several months with only one person actively leaving and the other […]

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You can pull up the last update here. You may have if baby rhinos and the closure of Lucky Brands doesn’t ring a bell.

The News

This is probably the most crowded I’ve seen the JAMMitors in the American Gardens Theater over the last several months with only one person actively leaving and the other folks looking old enough that they’re in it for the long haul, even if the finale is me coming out for a 32-minute solo finale on the lute (banged against a microwave rather than elegantly played). As Disney describes them, “The streets of Epcot are alive with the syncopated sounds of the funkiest janitors around.” Given such an accurate description, I’m not sure what the gentleman who is currently hiding behind that tree, but also on his way out of the theater is thinking. It could be, “I’m going to need at least three more beers for this,” which is fair.

Disney may not be interested in offering us much of an update on Guardians of the Galaxy, Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, TRON, the PLAY! Pavilion, or other attractions that may or may not be ready for the 50th anniversary, but they do have an update on how signs work:

Yes, typically, once you pass under the sign for the thing that you are going to, you are typically there. For example you might hear the driver say, “You are here” as you pull up to the Centra Care van after you ordered the fast food shrimp from ABC Commissary three straight times. Sometimes you have to balance that gurgling in your tum-tum with the irresistible flavors of grey, questionably-marinated seafood.

I thought this caption would be a little more helpful.

The signage isn’t a great departure from the current overhangs. Hopefully, the fact that the sign accurately reflects Walt Disney World as the “Most Magical Place on Earth” won’t stop the tourists from continuing to refer to WDW as “The Happiest Place on Earth.” If we can’t publicly chastise them for quoting Disneyland’s motto instead, what’s the point of going? We’ve already elbowed them to the ground and force-fed them three servings of ABC Commissary shrimp. In a surprise twist, I’m fine with people calling Disney World whatever they want. If WDW is the happiest place on earth for you, then go for it, even if it goes against millions of dollars worth of consulting and hundreds of millions of dollars worth of advertising. If you’re at Hollywood Studios, you probably have a lot of worse things to say than happy place. Nobody ever hears somebody say, “I hate it here, let’s leave,” only for some annoyingly peppy 20-year old to fly in and tell us that we’re actually in the Most Magical Place on Earth that Walt Disney built in South Dakota in 1912 and had flown to the swamps of Florida under the cover of darkness. “They opened the next day,” they would tell you.

Apparently, you can sign up for a virtual Food and Wine Experience for today:

You can sign up here. The JAMMitors even make their presence known virtually through your computer. They can now journey directly into your home. It’s like trying to run away from that Mulch, Sweat, and Shears band at Hollywood Studios when they were in an actual pickup truck and could drive after you while missing five out of every six notes of Journey’s “Faithfully.” Weren’t those the days. You can actually taste the Epcot Food and Wine Festival virtually from your home whenever you want. Just get a 1.5L bottle of Placido wine. It will be the $8 bottle on the bottom shelf of the Italian wines section, probably as a pinot grigio. Then drink it all and try to make a pizza with the ingredients that you have on hand. Voila! Flush three hundred dollars down the toilet and you’ve virtually-spent the day at the Italy booth.

Color me surprised, but Disney is going to offer enough merchandise for “The Mandalorian” to run that franchise into the ground. I’m just surprised that Mando Mondays aren’t “Presented by AdventHealth.” One wonders where they would have gone with it if “Monday” and “The Mandalorian” didn’t both start with the letter ‘M.’ “IG11 Thursdays” just don’t quite carry the same juice. You can pull up Disney’s full post on the merchandise here. If whatever you’re looking for, from a Mandalorian-branded Chainsaw for your outdoor tree trimming needs, to talking Salt and Pepper Shakers featuring “The Child” in four different poses, aren’t yet available, you can be sure that they will be by the end of the run.

Today’s Waits

We get going with the usual chart of Animal Kingdom’s daily average waits since the Park reopened:

As expected, waits dropped this week – a full ten minutes in Animal Kingdom’s case. You’d have to go back to September to find a day with a shorter average wait.

Here’s the chart:

Larger: Here.

And here’s what that looked like, with manageable waits all day outside of Pandora. Flight of Passage continues to enjoy its resurgence, pulling the overall average up compared to what we saw in July and August.

Here’s Epcot on Monday:

Larger: Here.

Waits at Epcot were well below-average and less than half of just two days ago. Waits at Frozen in particular are unusually short. Soarin’ sees a jump in the early afternoon, likely due to running at limited capacity rather than elevated demand. But this also would have been the best day to visit Epcot in several weeks.

Here’s the Studios:

It probably goes without saying that things didn’t go quite so well.

Here’s the chart:

Larger: Here.

It looks like Tower of Terror may have operated at half-capacity early and Toy Story Mania’s wait doesn’t drop as much as we usually see in the evening, but this is scarily-normal for the Studios. Even Muppet*Vision’s average wait is 34 minutes and you may well wait that long or longer to see the show. Monday’s 48.3-minute average is only about a minute longer than last week’s average. The average for the day is shorter than last week, but only because Tower of Terror saw fewer capacity problems this week, so it posted shorter waits.

Onto Magic Kingdom:

It was the best Monday to visit since the middle of September and one of the best days to visit in the last few weeks overall. Going back about a month, only five days saw shorter waits.

Here’s the chart:

Larger: Here.

The only thing that sticks out is the longer waits for Under the Sea ~ Mermaid ride in the late afternoon. With shorter waits elsewhere, you’d expect it to post five or ten minutes.

I’d expect the shorter waits to continue through Thursday.

Current Disney Park Pass Availability 

Here’s November for Disney Resort Guests. The Theme Parks Tickets segment is basically the same:

It’s possible that November 24th is the first date in November that is showing no Park Pass availability for a Park that isn’t Hollywood Studios or Magic Kingdom. At one point, I think Magic Kingdom was sold out on Thanksgiving, too, but it’s showing availability again. The first couple of weeks remain wide open for the most part.

Here’s December:

Every yellow day you see in December is due to the Studios running out of Park Passes (for now). The exception is Christmas Day, when Magic Kingdom is showing no availability. Very wholesome. I feel like I should sit through a second Voices of Liberty show.

The Studios remains unavailable on January 1st, 2021, but every other day should be wide open next year.

Here’s Passholders in November:

We haven’t focused much on Passholder availability, but the song remains the same there. Weekends remain significantly harder to book. More Parks are also filling around Thanksgiving.

And December:

Passholders enjoy a lot more availability in December with only the first couple of weekends filling. Without an attached resort stay, Passholders can only carry three Park Pass reservations at a time. So it makes sense that most people would be booking dates sooner rather than later.

It doesn’t look like there’s a Park that Passholders can’t book in 2021. What a life.

Menu Changes

Good news for fans of the Sonoma Goat Cheese Ravioli (Raviolo) at California Grill. It’s back, along with other new food items. It does sounds like it’s quite the different presentation, as it used to be served in a Tomato-Fennel Broth

Other new Menu Items:

  • Potato Pizza – Yukon Gold New Potatoes, Madeira Onions, Sottocenere, Berkshire Prosciutto, Fresno Chili and Potato Chips – $22 
  • Heirloom Apple Salad – Apple Variations, Caramel-Apple Vinaigrette, Tête de Moine and Cider Doughnut $17
  • Braised Beef Short Rib – Parsnip-Apple Purée, Miso-Black Vinegar Poached Baby Parsnip, Crispy Garlic and Daikon $62

Yak & Yeti also increased their kids’ menu prices by a dollar:

  • Mac & Cheese price changed from $9.79 to $10.79
  • Grilled Chicken Breast price changed from $9.79 to $10.79
  • Chicken Tenders price changed from $9.79 to $10.79
  • Stir-fry Noodles price changed from $9.79 to $10.79
  • Mini Corn Dogs price changed from $9.79 to $10.79
  • Teriyaki Chicken Breast price changed from $9.79 to $10.79
  • Cheeseburger price changed from $9.79 to $10.79
  • Chicken Fried Rice price changed from $9.79 to $10.79

Harambe Market in Animal Kingdom may also be looking to reopen soon with the some changes to the menu there. I would guess it would only be open on weekends.

Operating Schedule Changes

They should come Friday.

That should get you caught up.

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Walt Disney World Wait Times and News for 10/25/2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-25-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-25-2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-25-2020/#comments Mon, 26 Oct 2020 18:41:57 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24810 We continue from the previous news update. The News It turned out to be a pretty light news weekend, but I would guess Disney is banking on a little time passing to let the news of the blackened fish debuting at the Festival Favorites Holiday Kitchen ruminate. Bringing new fish to a Festival and instantly […]

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We continue from the previous news update.

The News

It turned out to be a pretty light news weekend, but I would guess Disney is banking on a little time passing to let the news of the blackened fish debuting at the Festival Favorites Holiday Kitchen ruminate. Bringing new fish to a Festival and instantly crowning it a Favorite isn’t the sort of bombshell you should be able to drop on someone without warning. There should be a law against it. It would be like McDonald’s coming out with a Classics menu featuring Steak Alfredo, Wonton Soup, and an ice cream machine that works. It’s just not what you would expect. It’s possible that the company will never make another announcement because nothing will ever be so huge. The only thing more positive would be Disney guaranteeing everyone who visits Hollywood Studios a good time, and that would cost several hundred million dollars per hour in bribes. Even at 25% capacity.

The only news we have to pass on is a newborn rhinoceros:

The rhinoceros lost its designation as world’s largest land animal in 2015 to the Walt Disney World blogger. From what I’ve heard, the rhinos aren’t too happy about it. If you’re ever on Kilimanjaro Safaris with a rhino in view, just about to take the perfect picture, only to have the animal turn around and lay down facing the opposite direction, you can be sure a blogger is on-board your vehicle with a lens that’s a little too large to justifiably bring to a theme park. They love to fake us out.

It could also just be me since it doesn’t appear to be a behavior limited to the rhinoceros. Imagine being a hippopotamus that is roughly the size of a barge, and learning that you don’t even crack the list of top five heaviest land mammals anymore because Disney released 4,912 slightly different vanilla cupcakes at the All-Star Sports last year and you’re stuck on Kilimanjaro Safaris.

Lucky Brand may be the first retail establishment that reopened with the Springs back in May only to now close permanently. I feel like there is an obvious joke in there about a lack of luck in your pants, but I won’t make it. Lucky Brand was already in bankruptcy before being purchased in part by Simon Property Group, who operates other malls in the area. Next door, whatever Johnston & Murphy is may do even less business. One wonders how long some of these stores will last given the current economic climate. As it stands, I would guess most of these stores aren’t profitable and it’s more about brand awareness and reminding the average tourist that they exist than anything. Maybe a dozen stores at the Springs have closed already, though I’m not sure if Erwin Peal counts. Does a customer actually need to go inside your establishment before you technically have a store or is it the intention of selling something that counts? Anyway, I hope you didn’t come to Disney World to go shopping at Lucky Brand.

We’re not doing Halloween this year:

It would probably pose some logistical challenges if “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” merchandise was only available on the night before Christmas. The resellers wouldn’t have enough time to get your plush mailed out to you. Still, October may be on the early side. You can pull up Disney’s full post, with more pictures and release dates, here.

The “Disney Global Ambassadors Share Their Favorite Ways to Celebrate the Spookiest Season” clip may be the most wholesome 93 seconds of your day. If you started the video at the beginning of Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, it would almost be over by the time you’re done riding. Multitasking. An important skill.

Today’s Waits

Here’s our familiar chart of wait times since Animal Kingdom reopened:

We see the usual, substantial bumps in wait times on Saturday and Sunday compared to the weekdays that came before them. The good news is probably that weekend waits were lower than last week. Saturday’s average of 38.1 minutes was still the second-longest since reopening, with Sunday coming in at its third-longest. Still, it’s better than forever increasing. The average for the week was also lower than last week, but still the second-longest overall.

Here’s the chart for Sunday:

Larger: Here.

The distribution looks like a busy day at Animal Kingdom with nothing specific sticking out. The 35.5-minute average is the same as the weekly average from two weeks ago and within about 4 minutes of last week’s average. If you’re trying to plan a visit on a busier day with an 8am open, you may want to study this chart and see which attractions are viable at what point in the day. By 9:45am, or not even two hours into the day, the average wait is already 35 minutes. That’s about your last chance to get to Everest or DINOSAUR before actual waits hit about 25 minutes and rise from there until about 4pm.

Here’s Epcot on Sunday:

Larger: Here.

Epcot’s overall average wait of 30 minutes is a little above-average, but a far cry from some of the busier Saturdays that we’ve seen. Nothing really stands out, other than the triple-digit waits for Test Track in the morning, which are rare. That popularity is one reason why we’re starting with Frozen and ending at Test Track with our current touring strategy. But even then, Frozen’s average wait across the day is actually longer than any other ride, even if morning waits start lower.

To the Studios:

The Studios remains your best bet if you have to visit a theme park on a Saturday or Sunday. You’ll notice that the waits on those days are typically lower than most weekdays, or, at worst, about the same. Over at Animal Kingdom, average waits go up 35% from Friday to Saturday, even given the same operating hours.

Here’s Sunday’s chart:

Larger: Here.

A 45-minute average wait is what you can expect at the Studios these days, so 43 minutes is….I guess a real treat. As always, note how much wait times fall in the evening, with the average dropping below 30 minutes after 5pm, compared to the 59 minute average at 11:30am. It would be nice if Disney would run the Rise of the Resistance signup at some point before the day of your visit, sort of like FastPass+ signups. That would eliminate a lot of the morning stress, eliminate the need for people to arrive before Park open, and give you more clarity about how your day may stack up. Of course, a lot of people who don’t get a boarding group would then cancel their reservation. Maybe Disney could put some clause in there, and if you don’t show up even after being refused a boarding group, giant Chip and Dale will come seize you in your home and drag you over. It wouldn’t be the first time that it’s happened to me. Anyway, what you see above is about best-case scenario these days with an average wait that’s lower than the last three weekly averages. Unlike Animal Kingdom, where the weekly average wait went down, the Studios’ went up for the third consecutive week to a new high of 47 minutes. And while 43 minutes is “good,” it’s also slightly higher than last week. Saturday’s average wait was virtually the same.

Magic Kingdom:

Magic Kingdom had a couple of reasonably good days over the weekend with waits that were lower than last week. The week’s average also dropped compared to the week before, even if it’s still the second-longest that we’ve seen since reopening.

Here’s Sunday’s chart:

Larger: Here.

Things look to be largely reasonable, with waits that build slower in the morning, making for a more pleasant experience if you’re able to get across the water before the majority of other people. You can pull up this post in case you missed it for some tips on how to do that.

Overall, last week ended up being a bit less crowded than the last two weeks. I’d expect Monday through Thursday of this week to post waits on the lower side of what we’ve recently seen, but this weekend may be a little nutty.

Current Disney Park Pass Availability 

Not much has changed since we took a look a couple of days ago. Here’s Disney Resort Guests in December:

Every yellow date indicates no availability at the Studios, with the exception of Christmas Day, when Magic Kingdom is the only unavailable Park. Again, that’s very wholesome. It makes me want to go out there and rope drop Swiss Family Treehouse.

You can always pull up Disney’s version of the Park Pass calendar here.

Operating Schedule Changes

None since Friday’s update. Look for another round of changes on the 30th, along with another week’s worth of operating hours in January.

That should get you caught up.

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Walt Disney World Wait Times and News for 10/23/2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-23-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-23-2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-23-2020/#comments Sat, 24 Oct 2020 19:29:44 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24803 We continue from the previous update. The News If you have a spare $150,000, know someone who can tolerate you, and aren’t married, then I have good news, because Disney is offering weddings once again. Based on what are either some very menacing clouds, or a batch of very bad Lightroom preset edits, Disney may […]

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We continue from the previous update.

The News

If you have a spare $150,000, know someone who can tolerate you, and aren’t married, then I have good news, because Disney is offering weddings once again. Based on what are either some very menacing clouds, or a batch of very bad Lightroom preset edits, Disney may also be using the photoshoot as a test for a Disney+ series to go up against Netflix’s “The Haunting of Hill House.” I don’t think anybody really knows what goes on beyond those strangely lit gates. We may soon find out.

If “Haunting of…” competition isn’t coming, Disney could probably sell out of Disney+ subscriptions with a series on current trends in dog fashion. Imagine having to book a specific hour to stream “The Mandalorian” 60 days in advance or you’d run the risk of getting shut out. Have your congressperson’s phone number on speed dial because it could happen. shopDisney (the ‘s’ is lowercase) offers some of the new pooch-friendly items here, with their full story on the Howl-O-Ween fashion show available here.

Disney confirmed a number of details about what will be coming to Epcot during the “Taste of EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays Presented by AdventHealth” from November 27th through December 30th. You can pull up their full post here.

Sixteen Holiday Kitchens will grace us with their presence this year. The full list is available here. We may also unintentionally have confirmation that the Citrus Blossom booth isn’t going anywhere until Disney finally unloads the last of the three million Orange Bird Sipper Cups that they purchased for this year’s Flower and Garden Festival that ran for about twelve days before the theme parks closed back in March.

Typically, Disney switches out the booth names and menus between Flower and Garden and Food/Wine. That was not the case this year at Citrus Blossom as you can see the Orange Birds lined up in the window and nobody in line to buy here in October. They at least switched out the names of all of the other booths.

The drink and the cup have been around for a few years now.

And I’m not sure anyone has ever referred to it as “breathtaking,” despite Disney’s description. “How does that viscous orange substance that you are sipping out of that $15 plastic souvenir vessel taste?” “Absolutely breathtaking!” I just don’t see it happening, but there are a lot of tourists out there. But they also have “blackened bass” under Festival Favorites and I’m not sure anybody has ever been hanging out at the Festival of the Holidays wishing they had a little more bass on their plate, either. In fact, I don’t think Disney has ever served Blackened Bass at any Festival, and you’re talking to someone who has eaten more questionable Festival fish than anyone on earth. And I’m still here. I think. At least you can wash it down with the fear of whatever Tropical Eggnog consists of. Hopefully it’s alcoholic. And strong.

The Cookie Stroll is back:

According to the last section, you can even start a new holiday tradition by buying something at Disney World. If they run out of those Cookie Jars, they’re going to replace them with those Orange Bird Sippers, so please either buy a Sipper when it still comes with bootleg Orange Julius or don’t buy one of these jars so I don’t have to carry around my cookies in a plastic orange bird. Also, how long has cookie collection been a thing? And is this cookie collector the same guy who has been endlessly wandering around Epcot looking for more blackened bass? “Finally, the Festival Favorites booth!” he exclaims. Nobody has ever handed me a Chips Ahoy as I whip out my ceramic jar and thank them because I’ve been collecting rare cookies for years. But that may just be because I’m not very polite.

We can expect some changes to the entertainment offerings:

The JAMMitors will now replace Star-Lord and the Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Live! show, the entire Eat to the Beat concert series lineup, the Candlelight Processional and its slate of celebrity narrators, and the Broadway shows at the Festival of the Arts, in turn cementing their status as the final boss in my life. At some point, it will either be me or them. And I wouldn’t bet on me when the JAMMitors have a guy who has been playing the oven as a musical instrument for the last 300 years. A new Festival Center may not rise from the ashes of the old CommuniCore building, but you can be sure the JAMMitors will. That’s actually a concert I would go to.

Olaf brings a new scavenger hunt:

Hopefully one of the traditions that he’s lost isn’t buying generic overpriced cookies and carrying them around theme parks in ceramic jars that you also have to buy from the theme park.

I don’t know if it’s their gigantic size, or the fact that they look like they’re about to throw Santa off the roof for trying to eat a collectible cookie out of the collectible cookie jar, but I feel like Chip and Dale will have something to do with whatever sinister things are happening in that first Disney Wedding picture. Look for me and my collectible jar of cookies at Epcot on November 27th.

Imagineer Zach Riddley shared a picture of the marquee that will hang over the main entrance to Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure someday. You can find the full description on his Instagram page. One wonders if this conversation hasn’t happened at some point around the corridors of Team Disney:

“Hey, that Ratatouille ride that was supposed to open in June finally did, right?”

“No, they are still applying the gold leaf to the sign by hand.”

“Oh, I thought we were investing the gold instead.”

“No, we put half into that sign and half into blackened bass.”

Also at Epcot, Lotus Blossom Cafe should be open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, from 12pm through Park close in the China Pavilion, serving an abridged menu:

The adult entrees look like slightly different takes on what we’ve seen before, now at higher prices, while the appetizers, kids’ meals, and desserts, are the same as before.

Friendship Boat service to/from the Crescent Lake Resorts – the Beach Club, Yacht Club, BoardWalk, Swan, and Dolphin to/from Epcot and Hollywood Studios will resume Sunday, November 1st, 2020. The Friendship boats had been previously operating inside Epcot, but did not travel out to the resorts to transfer guests to the theme parks. Officially, service to Disney’s Hollywood Studios will begin one hour before Park open. Service to the International Gateway at Epcot will begin 30 minutes before Park open. Service will continue until one hour after Park close. The boats are so slow and airflow is so bad that I usually prefer to walk over waiting for the boat to arrive, load, and depart. The boat will also get you to the Parks after just about every other mode of transportation, even if you’re on the first departure. At both Parks, guests arriving on Disney buses, charter buses, the Skyliner, and their own vehicles will be able to easily arrive earlier. It can be a scenic ride in the middle of the day when there’s less interest and fewer people on-board.

Here’s the Epcot dock with the social distancing markers and barriers in place.

Today’s Waits

We begin with the chart of Animal Kingdom’s daily average waits since the Park opened:

The same trend that we saw each of the previous few days continued on Friday. Waits were shorter than the week before, but still the second-longest of any Friday yet. One thing to note is that at the moment, Friday is the one weekday when the Park is open an additional two hours compared to most Mondays through Thursdays. It didn’t do a lot of good for overall wait times, with enough people in the Park on Friday to increase peak waits and bring the average wait up right around Thursday’s. Still, there may be opportunities to take advantage of shorter waits during the first and last hours of the day. Saturday and Sunday are ugly.

Here’s the chart for Friday:

Larger: Here.

Some of the longer waits elsewhere are likely due to Everest being down from 8:30am to 12:30pm. I can guarantee you that Saturday will be a lot worse. Nothing else really looks out of sorts compared to the last few days, just with similarly-long waits over more hours. You could potentially get more done with an 8am open if you’re able to arrive by 7:30am and tour efficiently.

Here’s Epcot:

Larger: Here.

In yesterday’s post, we predicted an overall average wait of 32 minutes. It actually came in at 34 minutes. Potentially, some mechanical trouble in Norway caused waits to be higher than average there. Soarin’ average is also on the high side. It usually opens with a 10-minute wait instead of the 30 that we see here. But the above is about what you would expect from a Friday. Note the 9pm close is also two hours later than most Mondays through Thursdays, but wait times are also longer with more people in the Park.

The Studios:

Hollywood Studios is almost suspiciously average compared to the last couple of weeks. The 45.8 minutes that we see Friday is exactly the same as the previous week’s average.

Larger: Here.

Nothing stands out as remarkable whatsoever. This may be the most boring chart that we’ve ever looked at. I’m almost embarrassed to show it to you.  But it remains a lot of waiting with so many people arriving before Park open for the Rise of the Resistance boarding group signup “excitement.” Waits fall from the very early morning on, but basically remain at 50+ minutes until noon, 40+ minutes through 5pm, 30+ minutes through 6:45pm, and then end just under a half hour. At the very end of the night, you’d wait about 15 minute for Slinky and about 35 minutes for Runaway Railway, compared to the 60-minutes and 50-minutes posted, respectively. Don’t be deterred if the posted waits there remain long and you’re planning on getting in line for one or the other last thing.  I had Friday and Saturday’s averages coming in at 45 minutes according to the last post, so it looks like we’re getting pretty good at this.

Magic Kingdom:

After having one of the best weeks in a while, at least since Sunday’s high, Friday saw another increase from the week before, but still loses out to October 9th by 0.1 minutes Every Elgin Baylor has their LA Lakers, when you just can’t quite eke out that victory. October 23rd may always eyeball October 9th over that 0.1 minute difference. I know I would be.

Here’s Magic Kingdom on the 23rd:

Larger: Here.

What you see is on the high side, with an average of 30+ minutes across the 17 attractions from 10:30am through 6:45pm. Luckily, Disney does tack an extra hour to the close, so waits drop off a bit after 7pm. On the downside, just about anyone who wants to can stay out that late, which means we don’t see bigger decreases. If the Park was open until 10pm or later, we might see some relief. But we may not see a close that late until around Christmas.

Overall, this week looks to be less crowded than the week before. Next week should be even better, at least from Monday through Thursday.

Current Disney Park Pass Availability 

Halloween is right around the corner in Orlando, which means highs have dropped from 94 degrees to 88 degrees and it still rains every day, just at less consistent times. Park Passes are beginning to fill for more Parks on more dates for Disney Resort Guests, who should have the highest priority when booking because Disney prizes them as the biggest spenders.

November:

Disney actually replenished a lot of Park Pass availability throughout November the first three weeks in November. Those spots are already beginning to fill.

Remember, when you’re actually ready to book your Park Passes, don’t only check the calendar, but actually go through the change or create new Park Pass process here. The calendar is not updated in real time and may only show availability if a lot of spots are available. The Park Pass reservation system also works similarly to FastPass+, in that cancellations do become available for others to book. If you continue checking on a day that was previous sold out, you may find availability closer to the date and be able to book it. Smaller parties may also see availability when larger parties do not because there are only two or three spots open instead of four or five after another smaller party cancels.

December:

Every yellow day in December is one without availability at the Studios. But the fact that just about twice as many days have filled up in the last week means more people are committing to booking their trips.

The first Park on the first date in 2021 has filled to capacity. Take a moment to see if you can think of which Park on which date it might be before scrolling further.

There is no prize for getting January 1st at the Studios right because the question was so easy. But if you picked something like Epcot on July 27th then we might have to talk.

Operating Schedule Changes

We see a number of extensions on weekends in November and around Christmas in December. Here’s the full rundown:

Friday, November 6th, 20120:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 7pm from 8am to 6pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 10pm from 11am to 9pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am to 9pm from 9am to 8pm

Saturday November 7th, 2020

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 7pm from 8am to 6pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 10pm from 11am to 9pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am to 9pm from 9am to 8pm

Sunday, November 8th, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 7pm from 8am to 6pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 10pm from 11am to 9pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am to 9pm from 9am to 8pm

Friday, November 13th, 20120:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 7pm from 8am to 6pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 10pm from 11am to 9pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am to 9pm from 9am to 8pm

Saturday November 14th, 2020

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 7pm from 8am to 6pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 10pm from 11am to 9pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am to 9pm from 9am to 8pm

Sunday, November 15th, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 7pm from 8am to 6pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 10pm from 11am to 9pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am to 9pm from 9am to 8pm

Friday, November 20th, 2020:

  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 10pm from 11am to 9pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am to 9pm from 9am to 8pm

Saturday, November 21st, 2020:

  • Epcot hours extended to 11am to 10pm from 11am to 9pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 9am to 9pm from 9am to 8pm

Sunday, December 20, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 7am to 7pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 10am to 9pm from 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 8pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 10pm from 9am to 7pm

Monday, December 21st, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 7am to 7pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 10am to 9pm from 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 8pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 10pm from 9am to 7pm

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 7am to 7pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 10am to 9pm from 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 8pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 10pm from 9am to 7pm

Wednesday, December 23rd, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 7am to 7pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 10am to 9pm from 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 8pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 10pm from 9am to 7pm

Thursday, December 24th, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 7am to 7pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 10am to 9pm from 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 8pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 10pm from 9am to 7pm

Friday, December 25th, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 7am to 7pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 10am to 9pm from 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 8pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 10pm from 9am to 7pm

Saturday, December 26th, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 7am to 7pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 10am to 9pm from 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 8pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 10pm from 9am to 7pm

Sunday, December 27th, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 7am to 7pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 10am to 9pm from 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 8pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 10pm from 9am to 7pm

Monday, December 28th, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 7am to 7pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 10am to 9pm from 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 8pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 10pm from 9am to 7pm

Tuesday, December 29th, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 7am to 7pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 10am to 9pm from 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 8pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 10pm from 9am to 7pm

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020:

  • Animal Kingdom hours extended to 7am to 7pm from 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot hours extended to 10am to 9pm from 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios hours extended to 9am to 8pm from 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom hours extended to 8am to 10pm from 9am to 7pm

It’s not too surprising to see more extensions on weekends in November, and then again over part of the busiest time of year, from December 20th to December 30th. We will certainly see extensions to December 31st, January 1st, and January 2nd as well, along with other dates in the new year. Expect to see extensions to more dates this year as well. Disney almost always makes them on Friday afternoons. You can pull up their official calendar here.

Disney also released their initial hours for Sunday, January 3rd, 2021, through Saturday, January 9th, 2021. The conservative, initial release shows:

  • Animal Kingdom: 9am to 5pm
  • Epcot: 12pm to 8pm
  • Hollywood Studios: 10am to 7pm
  • Magic Kingdom: 9am to 6pm

One potentially interesting thing is that 12pm could be Epcot’s default opening instead of 11am next year.

That should get you caught up.

The post Walt Disney World Wait Times and News for 10/23/2020 appeared first on easyWDW.

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Disney Epcot Rope Drop to Frozen Ever After October 2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/disney-epcot-rope-drop-to-frozen-ever-after-october-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=disney-epcot-rope-drop-to-frozen-ever-after-october-2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/disney-epcot-rope-drop-to-frozen-ever-after-october-2020/#comments Fri, 23 Oct 2020 14:30:45 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24788 It was around the first week in September when I was standing in front of Cinderella Castle in the early afternoon after basically walking on each attraction I had visited all morning. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Walked on twice without even having the opportunity to throw a single elbow. Peter Pan’s Flight? I counted three […]

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It was around the first week in September when I was standing in front of Cinderella Castle in the early afternoon after basically walking on each attraction I had visited all morning. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? Walked on twice without even having the opportunity to throw a single elbow. Peter Pan’s Flight? I counted three other people in the entire queue and I can count a lot higher than that. To at least ten. Space Mountain? Everyone had either fallen out of their rocketships and entered orbit or I was the only one already on the phone with my chiropractor as I crashed back into my front row seat for the seventh time in as many seconds. The joyful laughs and giddy woohoos entirely absent as I embarked on my mission alone in the dark. Frontierland? Exactly what the name suggests – just me, wide open spaces, and a quaint saloon with apple juice as the featured cocktail of the day.

The lower half of my face was not quite contorting into a smile, but the few people in the vicinity did get to enjoy the rare glow of my half-smirk, at least as they passed me on their way to their next walk-on attraction. Was touring really going to be this easy? Even without character meets to occupy the families and weird bloggers that just need a quick picture to prove they were there, stage shows to absorb the thousands of extra parkgoers ready for a break from the long lines and sun, and with most attractions running at severely limited capacities?

Walt Disney World had been open for about two months after being closed for about three. Crowds and wait times remained low to nonexistent most days, making for easier and more relaxed touring than I think anyone was initially expecting. There isn’t usually a lot of overlap in the words “July,” “Florida,” “Disney World,” and “pleasant,” but here we were. Obviously, the circumstances surrounding the situation were anything but positive, but it’s hard to focus on that when you’re being invited to rejoin the line for Flight of Passage without even having to exit the building because there was nobody else waiting to ride.

That began to change during the second week in September. Disney reduced the operating hours of its theme parks across the board for dates beginning September 8th, citing a lack of demand over the first eight weeks of operation. The theme parks would be open for six fewer hours each day. That reduction in supply seemed to arrive at the same time as tens of thousands of new guests, many of whom probably saw those initial reports of low waits, and decided to book a trip for a couple of months later, perhaps thinking even more policies would be ironed out by then and things would return to some semblance of normalcy. Instead, waits quickly went up, touring got a lot more complicated, and you couldn’t count the number of people in line for Peter Pan’s Flight even if you could count to a thousand. The line now routinely stretched around Fantasyland, back to Liberty Square, and eventually into the winding queue.

For a look back on just how easy it was to tour Epcot back in July, you can take a look at our original series:

In the picture above, there may be more people headed towards Epcot’s entrance at 10:30am on a Wednesday than we saw in the entire Park back during that first month.

To further illustrate the point, here’s the wait time chart for July 22nd, or the second Wednesday that the Park was open:

Larger: Here.

That was actually a day with above-average waits for July, thanks to significant downtime at Test Track, along with technical difficulties at Living with the Land and Frozen as well. Still, none of the average waits for the day hit 30 minutes. You’d have trouble finding a time of day when the actual wait for Soarin’ was longer than 20 minutes.

Here’s the wait time chart from this past Wednesday, October 14th:

Larger: Here.

Wait times have more than doubled over the last twelve weeks with the 30-minute overall average in the lower right hand corner of the chart. The overall average on weekends is over 40 minutes, or about a third higher than what you’d experience on a typical weekday. The worst part is how quickly wait times now take off in the morning, with the longest waits of the day during the first three hours of operation.

That’s not unusual as the majority of guests arrive at the main entrance and head to a priority ride first. But back in July, Frozen Ever After didn’t post a wait longer than 15 minutes until 12:15pm. Now it opens the day at 95 minutes and rarely posts anything below 55 minutes. Soarin’s average has more than doubled, while Test Track’s average wait has almost tripled. So some strategy is going to be necessary if we want to get all of the rides and several of the theater shows done in one day. Back in July, the combined average wait for Frozen, Soarin’, and Test Track was 72 minutes. With posted waits about 30% higher than reality, you wouldn’t even wait an hour to do Epcot’s three premier rides. Fast forward to October and the combined average wait for the same three rides is exactly three hours. That’s a significant increase.

Fortunately, we’re not only armed with our experience, our piles of wait time charts, and our elbows, but we also have the help of RideMax technology:

If you’re wondering what that means, see yesterday’s introduction written by the creator of the touring optimization software. The post also includes a bevy of tips and tricks to get the most out of the program. With yet another tool at our disposal, we should be set up to wait less, even as waits rise significantly for everyone else.

There is one thing that hasn’t changed much since July and we can get that out of the way right off the bat. The parking lot still opens about 30 minutes before the Park most days, though there is now a chance that it might open five to fifteen minutes earlier on busier days. With the 11am open on the day of our visit during a holiday week, it’s 10:23am and we’re already on our way to find a space. I visited the week before and we were held at the toll booth until right at 10:30am. To be among the first vehicles in one of these lines, you probably want to arrive at about 10:15am. You’ll sit there for between five and fifteen minutes, ideally refreshing this website for the potential of new content (unlikely), or gazing at the beauty of your RideMax optimized plan (more likely).

Our visit happened to coincide on the day the Evolv Technology scanners were added to the main entrance. The walk-through artificial intelligence allows you to keep most things in your bag for the contactless experience that is so popular at the moment. They do ask that you hold out any umbrellas or large aluminum water bottles out in front of you as you pass through the scanners.

I’d also suggest taking any large electronics, like big cameras, and hold those out in front as you walk through. The streamlined process is much more pleasant and much more “fair.” How quickly you move through the line won’t depend on the arbitrary attentiveness/aggression of your bag checker. I think we’ve all been in a line that moves at a snail’s pace while security touches, squeezes, and caresses every one of your belongings at the same time you’re watching others whiz through a line where the bag checker is more concerned about getting to Applebee’s by the end of happy hour as they barely glance down at what you’ve got going on. Now it’s up to Skynet on whether or not you get to proceed.

It’s exactly 10:30am as I head inside without a whole lot of people around. As with the other Parks, once the first buses arrive, the parking lot opens, and temperature check starts, you’ll be allowed to head inside the Park. There are no major holding areas other than out in front of the Toll Plaza. Disney doesn’t want people to congregate, which is part of the reason for the parking lot hold and new screening technology.

Ordinarily, about 80% of the rope drop crowd will be headed left for Test Track or Frozen. The other 20% will be headed right, largely because they are lost or headed to Soarin’. If you enter the Park late, which is probably defined as within 20 minutes of its official open, then you may want to start with Soarin’ as the wait for the other two priorities will already be prohibitive. You don’t want to start your day waiting for Frozen outside Lotus Blossom Cafe in China or Test Track back at Temporary Mouse Gear.

We’re going to run into some bad luck right off the bat with Test Track not opening with the Park. The aging ride is probably the equivalent to the hunk of junk that is the Millennium Falcon, only without any of the unrealistic movie stuff, so the thing just doesn’t really work well because it’s old and beat up. We won’t enjoy a lucky jump into hyperspace here – just the potential for a responsible recall if the check engine light won’t turn off.

We can take a look at how often Test Track, one of Disney World’s three least-reliable attractions, is down at either Park open or close. Here’s the ride’s wait times throughout the day over the last month, with the days that it’s down at Park open or Park close highlighted in red. Any blank cells during the day represent another 15 minutes of downtime:

Larger: Here.

Over the last month, it looks like Test Track was down at open on five dates and also down at Park close on five dates. The downtime typically occurs on consecutive days, which makes some sense as maintenance struggles to fix whatever problem is going on. Perhaps comparing Test Track to your air-conditioner or freezer on its last legs would be more apt than a fictitious spacecraft. You might think you’ve fixed the problem on the cheap, but that handyman is probably coming back the next day to spend a lot more time and money on it.

Looking over the chart, October 3rd was the most problematic day in recent memory, with the ride operating for less than two hours, and then not opening with the Park the following day. October 8th and 9th were also two days in a row when the ride was down at open. Late night downtime may be more of a coincidence, but the ride was also down at consecutive Park closes two times as well.

When FastPass+ was a thing, we prioritized Test Track because it protected us from downtime, which is obviously common. If the ride was down during our FP+ return window, we could simply return any time after it came back up and use the FP+. Single rider was also historically an option with waits that were typically shorter than either standby or FastPass+ thanks to the ride’s seat configuration. With both those options currently off the table, there are only two opportunities for most guests to ride Test Track with a wait of less than 40 minutes – absolutely first thing or absolutely last thing at night.

If you arrive early enough and Test Track is operating, starting there may make the most sense. You’ll get an unreliable ride with long waits out of the way. A ~17% chance that the ride will be down at the end of the night isn’t overwhelming, but it’s also far from uncommon. You’ll want to keep an eye on the weather because lightning in the area closes the ride. That’s less common in the evening as we move towards November, but you’ll see rain and the potential for lightning after 7pm at least 40% of the time during the summer. While the one red box at the end of the night isn’t a lot of downtime, it does take away the ability to get in line and wait at the end of the night on October 9th isn’t a lot of downtime, it also means you wouldn’t be able to get in line to ride last thing.

Here’s the chart for Frozen Ever After on the same dates:

Larger: Here.

While it wasn’t always this way, Frozen is significantly more reliable than Test Track. Like any attraction, it is occasionally down at Park open, but it hasn’t happened in the last ~30 days. The ride looks to be down at Park close twice with sporadic spurts of technical trouble in the middle of the day when the wait would be around 50 minutes otherwise.

Three other things to note. First, check out how much longer wait times are first thing than they were even three or four weeks ago. On September 21st, the ride opened with a 20 minute wait. on the 22nd, it was 25 minutes. Most other days over the next couple of weeks, it was 45 minutes. Now, you’re looking at between 60 and 100 minutes at 11am, with even higher waits at 11:15am and 11:30am.

You’ll also want to note how much longer waits are on Saturdays and Sundays. Without having to look up specific dates, Saturdays are the middle row when the Park is open until 9pm on three consecutive days. Sunday is then the wait in the third row. October 12th was Columbus Day, so the Park’s hours were also extended then, but the average on the Monday holiday is almost a half hour shorter than either Saturday or Sunday. If you visit on a weekend, expect waits to be 30% to 40% higher than weekdays.

Last, Frozen does see the longest average wait at Epcot, likely in part due to physical distancing – they only load the first and last rows – and likely in part because of a lack of things to do in World Showcase with only one other ride open around the entire lagoon.

So what’s the right play between Test Track or Frozen first? If you’re among the first few hundred people in the Park and Test Track looks like it’s going to open on time, then starting there is your best bet. If it’s not running, then Frozen is the obvious first stop. If you arrive closer to Park open, then beginning with Soarin’ is likely your best choice.

With only one day at Epcot, you’ll have to wait longer than you’d probably like for either Test Track or Frozen if one of them is down first thing or you arrive late. Looking at the chart for Frozen, waits actually drop off between 12:15pm and 1pm with the likelihood that getting in line at 12:30pm will result in the shortest wait possible outside of riding last thing. For Test Track, getting in line between 1:30pm and 2:45pm is your best bet for a shorter wait.

One of the perks of using technology like RideMax is that the software already knows this and can rework your plan on the fly depending on how your morning works out, what time you arrive, and which attractions are operating. You won’t have to try to hunt down this chart that you think you might have seen on that one website with the url that you can’t quite remember.

Your initial decision may also come down to where you plan to eat and where you’d like to end your day. We chose to visit Frozen Ever After first with lunch in World Showcase and dinner at Sunshine Seasons in Future World. The website’s original advice was to visit Test Track first, followed by Frozen, and then spend a couple of hours in World Showcase when crowds there are lowest. We’d then return to Future World in the late afternoon, when crowds and waits are lower there as people inevitably finish up with the Future World rides and head up to World Showcase, probably with hopes of missing the JAMMitors.

Doing both Test Track and Frozen back to back with short waits isn’t going to be viable most of the time now with the larger number of people arriving early and again heading to Frozen first. By official Park open, the end of the line for Frozen will be in the China Pavilion, and it will stay there for at least an hour, if not most of the day.

As a couple of adults, it’s easy for us to bypass Future World and enjoy World Showcase first. With young kids, you may want to stay in Future World and visit additional rides to try to sell them on the Park before hitting up a cultural exhibit about Mesoamerican architecture. Part of the fun of RideMax is playing around with the various options and seeing the impact that changes you’re considering could have on your day while you’re still at home on the couch.

For Test Track or Frozen, there is exactly one corridor to walk through to get to that side of the Park. Stay left as you pass Spaceship Earth. The middle of Epcot remains behind walls and will likely stay that way for at least the next 24 months, whether Disney ends up building that Festival Center or decides to go with plan B, which is a giant statue of me. You can have dessert parties at the top of either, so both projects are equally viable.

We’ll take a brief look at a number of projects as we tour the Park and likely come back them for a closer look in a separate post. Yes, this is me not getting bogged down in the details. The bathrooms on the left across from Spaceship Earth are closed for refurbishment. Luckily, most people are able to contain their excitement as they enter Epcot, but if you pee your pants, we will understand. I’m nervous about running into a JAMMitors show too.

If we were going to get bogged down in the details, then I’d have to mention that we’ve got new paint and accents above the stores on either side of Spaceship Earth as well.

I would guess the most popular show on Disney+ would be a live stream of wherever it is that they lead people who refuse to wear their mask properly out of the Park. I’ve never personally seen any major altercations, but you never know when a maskless madman is going to invoke a misquote of the villain from “It’s Tough To Be A  Bug” as a rationalization for endangering others.

It’s 10:35am as we continue past what will eventually become part of the Guardians of the Galaxy building.

While we can see more clearly above the walls that surround what used to be the central spine leading through Future World and into World Showcase, the area remains an active construction zone. At a minimum, it seems like at least one of the Property Brothers comes through here every night with a sledgehammer, knocking over exactly one thing while looking for water damage. Those people on the right are standing in front of the entrance to Temporary Mouse Gear as Classic MouseGear is now MouseRubble.

Fortunately(?), the decision on whether we were headed to Test Track or Frozen first was made for us. Test Track was down at open. The bad news is that we were already planning on doing Frozen first, and Test Track’s downtime means more people will continue up to Frozen. It’s potentially worse for those who were planning on staying in Future World as the 1,000+ people headed to Test Track first are now in line elsewhere, causing significantly larger backups at rides like Mission: SPACE, which aren’t prepared for an early influx of people.

As a second data point, here I am headed to Test Track a week earlier at 10:39am, or right around the same time.

They’ve already had to add a number of additional switchbacks to handle the morning crowds.

That’s in addition to the regular outdoor extended queue.

This is where I ended up after being among the first vehicles to arrive before the parking lot opened. My actual wait from here would be 15 to 25 minutes depending on how much of the indoor queue they’ve opened.

Here is the scene behind me at 10:50am, or ten minutes before the Park even opens. Hence the advice to not come here first if you are running “late.”

I really can’t emphasize enough how much larger crowds are now than they were from July 11th through the first week in September. That’s another area where something like RideMax will keep you and your plans up to date with the changing times. Back in July, you could have arrived at 12:30pm and waited ten or fifteen minutes for Test Track. Now, it’s 45 to 60 minutes. That is potentially still better than the 90 to 120 minutes you would have waited with the same arrival time with FastPass+ priority in play before the March closures.

That is one thing I’ve noticed amid the theme park discourse on current crowds and wait times. The people who visit with no idea how to tour effectively, and are used to waiting 30 to 60+ minutes to do just about anything, continue to applaud these “lower” wait times. Since they’re used to waiting two hours, one hour sounds better. If you’ve made it this far into the post, then you’re probably unaccustomed to waiting more than ten or fifteen minutes for most attractions, thanks to the use of an intelligent touring plan and hitting that FastPass+ refresh button. We’re a little less enthusiastic about waiting longer now without the ability to take advantage of FastPass+.

But, never fear, we’re still going to do just fine.

But that line for Test Track does go all the way back to Temporary Mouse Gear. On a weekday. During a non-holiday week.

Back to the day at hand, we’ll pass by the walkway towards Test Track and then take a left at Cool Wash, just past these restrooms that recently reopened.

The one thing that may have you second-guessing your plan to visit Frozen first is the smell of fresh meat and burning charcoal up at Flavors From Fire. I think it’s pretty rude to put it on the walkway right where we’re planning on making our turn. You’ll remember that all of Epcot currently opens at 11am, instead of the 9am open that we had seen virtually every day for 10+ years. Starting next month, the Park will move to a 12pm opening on some dates. That’s lunch time or what would usually be three hours into our day given the old 9am opens. The late start is part of what makes it possible for more people to be here for Park open. Getting the dad and kids out of bed, bathed, and clothed for an 8am arrival is more difficult than shooting for 11:15am come November and December.

We’ll be taking a shortcut through the old Odyssey building instead of walking all the way around.

*Holding up flag*

And we’re walking.

We’ll continue through these open doors with “The Epcot Experience” inside and on the right.

The Epcot Experience opens with the Park, which is part of why we can easily skip through here first thing.

Epcot is unique in that it has two entrances and exits. Most people will come through the main entrance, like we did, but there is also the International Gateway (IG) in between the France and United Kingdom Pavilions. For years, we’ve discussed the advantages and disadvantages of coming in from both areas for rope drop based on Disney’s current opening procedure and where you’re planning on heading first. Before the March closures, guests entering from the IG had an advantage to Frozen Ever After because the walk was shorter than coming in from the main entrance. Those same guests coming in from the International Gateway were typically at a slight disadvantage to Soarin’ and a bigger disadvantage to Test Track because those rides are farther away.

Currently, guests coming in from the International Gateway are typically the best off regardless of their first attraction stop. Disney should open the International Gateway at the same time they open the parking lot and as the first couple of Disney buses arrive from the resorts. With no holding areas inside the Park, the few guests present at the International Gateway when it opens should be able to make it through temperature/bag check, into the Park, and over to their desired attraction before 99% of the people coming in from the main entrance, even if that attraction is Test Track and the walk inside the Park is a little longer. That’s because of the delays in parking and the longer walk from the buses, etc.

Back during our last Studios rope drop, I discussed the potential benefits of coming in from the Crescent Lake area and how it would allow you to be among the first guests to arrive. Guests from that area are the same ones who would use the International Gateway. If you missed the Studios series, which discusses touring the most frustrating Park in depth, you can pull up the posts in order here:

With how nutty the Studios arrival experience has become, I would potentially advocate in favor of going out of your way to make an arrival from Crescent Lake work. For Epcot, it’s less necessary. A very small fraction of the guests visiting Epcot will be coming in from the IG, so even if every one of them is ahead of you in line for Frozen or Test Track, your wait would only increase by a couple of minutes, if that. Epcot is also much easier to tour overall, so we won’t be nearly as pressed for time. Actually, once we get through Frozen in Norway and Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico, we basically have three hours of free time in World Showcase for lunch and to do whatever else we’d like. So even if Frozen takes 25 minutes instead of 12 minutes, we’ve only lost 13 minutes of that free time and it won’t affect our wait at Gran Fiesta. At the Studios, you can save an hour or more in line by being among the first guests in the Park, which is easiest from the Crescent Lake area.

But if you are staying at a Crescent Lake Resort – the Beach Club, Yacht Club, BoardWalk, Swan, or Dolphin, and are present at the International Gateway 40 minutes before the Park opens, you should be able to beat just about everyone coming in from the main entrance to any attraction. Obviously, the Ratatouille ride is not in the mix yet, but the IG will offer a major advantage there as the attraction’s entrance is right around the corner. From the main entrance, those headed to Ratatouille first are in for a haul. We’ll have to make a big reassessment of how we go about our day once Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure opens, but at this point, it doesn’t look like it will be this calendar year. Somehow, it both feels like November is sneaking up on us in just about a week, but it also feels like it’s been five years since March. The Rat Ride was originally set for a summer opening.

From here, things should look familiar as we head to Frozen:






What may look less familiar is the length of the line, unless you visited shortly after Frozen Ever After debuted, and waits were routinely 120+ minutes amidst a significant amount of downtime. But the line is not nearly as bad as it looks…yet…as they actually haven’t opened the doors to the ride queue yet. We’re also spaced about six feet apart, which makes every line appear longer than it would be if we were filling in all of the available space.

At 10:45am, we’re waiting in the old Norway smoking area, around the corner from the entrance to the ride. The people on the left are also in line, but they’re behind us, waiting to cross over from China to Norway. It should be an easier crossing than in the Viking days. We may need to add another ranking to our list of worst places to be at the end of the queue. “Waiting in line not even in the same Pavilion as the ride” would probably come in low on that list, somewhere around being in line on the opposite side of the mountain than the entrance is located, like we recently saw at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

A minute or two after we arrived, the doors to the queue opened, and we could almost get a glimpse of the attraction entrance. That’s an improvement. We’re in the right Pavilion. Never let anyone tell you RideMax never got us anywhere.

Kringla Bakeri reopened at the end of September, but you’ll only see it operating on the weekends at the moment. On weekdays, it’s just the promise of School Bread from the Norway Kiosk out front. Still, knowing that there’s School Bread somewhere on the other side should power us through however long this wait ends up being.

Like a lot of major attractions, Disney operates a separate station for Disability Access Services. At Frozen, that’s it under the brown umbrella on the left.

It’s the entrance! RideMax works! We knew it all along!

It’s a little hard to tell, but that’s the standard 90-minute wait that Disney posts to start the day. It’s 10:50am, or ten minutes before the Park officially opens. Disney typically begins operating the major attractions, including Frozen and Test Track, before official open if the rides are ready to go. The fact that the doors didn’t even open until 10:45am may have meant we were close to this one opening late too.

The 90-minute wait isn’t aimed at us. It’s for the people far out of frame back somewhere in China.

From Frozen’s entrance, our wait should be about 15 minutes until we board:

















We were back out front at 11:09am, or just nine minutes after the Park opened and a little less than 40 minutes after entering the Park. The posted wait went up while we were riding to 95 minutes. Those currently standing at the end of the line, somewhere in China, will wait a little more than an hour.

So it certainly seems like RideMax got us started on the right foot, getting through an attraction that averages a wait well over an hour and reducing it to only three minutes of actual Park time.

Now that we’ve made it through the first attraction, we should be able to breeze through a quick World Showcase update and then get back to Future World for the rides.

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Walt Disney World Wait Times and News for 10/21/2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-21-2020/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-21-2020 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/walt-disney-world-wait-times-and-news-for-10-21-2020/#respond Fri, 23 Oct 2020 06:49:29 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24791 Editor’s Note: What you see below is sort of bad because we are still a day behind the news and the wait time analysis is pretty generic. But another thing I was doing took longer than I was expecting, so we will call this getting caught up for now and then with the next update, […]

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Editor’s Note: What you see below is sort of bad because we are still a day behind the news and the wait time analysis is pretty generic. But another thing I was doing took longer than I was expecting, so we will call this getting caught up for now and then with the next update, we’ll actually be caught up. More or less.

The News

We have a date for the expected reopening of the first of the All-Star Resorts, which will be the All-Star Movies on February 9th, 2021. If memory serves, all of the rooms at the resort are now refurbished with the “clean” or “sterile” look that you see above, and with many more pictures in this post. Few things have been quite as divisive as the new look of many of Disney’s newly-refurbished resort rooms.

But unless you’re looking for a very blue room in the Little Mermaid section of Art of Animation, it’s going to be difficult to get away from the minimalism of the modern Disney Value Resort. Pictured above is Pop Century with similar furnishings. Movies will add 1,920 potential rooms to Disney’s inventory. Neither All-Star Sports or All-Star Music currently have reopening dates.

The main Wilderness Lodge, BoardWalk, Beach Club, and Animal Kingdom Lodge – Jambo House Resorts also don’t have reopening dates on the Deluxe front, while the DVC wings of those same resorts are all open. The Polynesian Village Resort comes with a Summer 2021 opening date, but that’s probably more of a placeholder than anything. DVC there remains open. Both Port Orleans Resorts also remain closed. Disney has pushed back the reopening of several of its resorts already, and the February 9th date on Movies “feels” far enough away that it could change as well. February 9th is the week before the Presidents Day holiday, which falls on the 15th next year. Then Disney will be gearing up for whatever spring break looks like next year. It sounds like Disney wants at least 1,920 more on-property rooms filled by that time, even if they’re on the low end of the price spectrum.

At an average of three guests per room, that’s about 6,000 more guests in the Parks. Adding the other two All-Stars to the mix would increase the number of on-property guests by about 12,000. That would ordinarily be a blip on the radar, but with the Park Pass system already showing no availability for Resort Guests at certain Parks on certain dates, Disney would need to increase the number of guests it allows in for the resorts to come online. There would also obviously need to be the demand for it.

Speaking of the resorts, Disney released three new discounts for guests planning stays most nights from January 3rd through April 17th, 2021:

Disney also extended its flexible cancellation policy through April 30th, 2021:

The full details are available at DisneyWorld.com here.

Disney announced that the “Taste of Epcot International Festival of the Arts” will run from January 8th, 2021 through February 22nd, 2021. According to the Parks Blog, this is what we can expect:

I wonder what a “Taste of easywdw International Festival” would look like. Maybe I could include three charts per post instead of four and leave out half the pictures, all while still charging the same price of zero dollars. The site would probably become more popular. Hopefully it will not come to that. You need to see the fourth chart.

One notable missing piece is the Broadway show concert lineup, which is one of the highlights of the event. I’m lying through my teeth when I say this, but maybe the JAMMitors will make up for it.

Morocco Pavilion Epcot

Apparently, Disney will take over for the operating participants that run the dining and merchandise in the Morocco Pavilion by the end of the year. What is probably Epcot’s least popular Pavilion struggled more than others during the extended theme park closure. They were forced to shut down Tangierine Café shortly after Epcot reopened either due to lack of demand or a lack of cash flow. Other Pavilions at Epcot have also kept a number of stores, restaurants, quick services, etc. closed even as crowds increase. Lotus Blossom Cafe and Nine Dragons in China remain closed, for example, while others, like (Les) Chefs de France, reopened about two weeks ago. Monsieur Paul, the signature restaurant in France, also remains closed. Other outlets, like Kringla Bakeri in Norway and Yorkshire Fish in the UK, only open on weekends.

Marrakesh Moroccan Restaurant LLC was the independent operator of the Pavilion. Even during the best of times, the company struggled with balancing authenticity with what the tourists want. Spice Road Table is one of Disney World’s true hidden gems and perhaps the best spot to stop and cool off with a cocktail and shareable appetizers in World Showcase. I used to recommend Restaurant Marrakesh more highly when they offered a much less expensive lunch menu. Once lunch prices met the cost of dinner, it was harder to recommend on value. I’ve always recommended Tangierine Cafe. Hopefully little will change there, other than perhaps improving the low energy of the cast members working the outlet. They always seemed to be less enthusiastic about being there than I was, which actually may be impressive.

It will be interesting to see what changes Disney makes to potentially increase interest in Morocco. They’re in the process of sort of finishing the Ratatouille ride next door in France, and also have a new nighttime spectacular and Guardians ride on the horizon, in addition to the PLAY! Pavilion and whatever comes up from the hole in the middle of Future World. That’s already a number of things. The Spaceship Earth overhaul was either delayed or canceled along with the Mary Poppins project in the UK. So it seems unlikely that they would be in a big rush to spend big so people potentially spend a few more minutes in a different World Showcase Pavilion. Few things instill fear in the Epcot fanperson quite as much as the potential for Disney to bring Disney-related things to Epcot. But there probably isn’t anything that makes more sense than transforming Restaurant Marrakesh, which has less curb appeal than I do, into a character meal hosted by Genie, Abu, Aladdin, and Jasmine. The “online Disney community” will freak out for a day about how it doesn’t fit before complaining that they can’t get a reservation. Poor Marrakesh.

I’m not sure we know how lenient Disney has been with its partners over the last six or seven months. But the Morocco Pavilion would have been closed in its entirety for three months, in addition to basically losing their entire workforce. That can’t be good for business. A company like Patina, who has restaurants at Epcot, Disney Springs, Downtown Disney, and around the world, likely has more leverage than Marrakesh Moroccan Restaurant LLC, which could never quite figure out how to make a waterside Mediterranean restaurant overlooking World Showcase Lagoon popular. But there are few things that scare away a tourist quite as fast as a menu without a hamburger on it.

Today’s Waits

We’ll have to move through this quickly so we can get caught back up and I can try to stretch these posts out to 5,000 words a pop.

Here’s our familiar chart of Animal Kingdom daily averages:

Last Saturday’s monumental crowds continued slightly abated as the week began with both Sunday and Monday posting the highest averages for that day of the week yet. Crowds let up a bit over the next three days with lower waits than the holiday week that preceded it. That’s probably good news, but even if the waits were lower than last week, they’re still the second-longest we’ve seen since the Park reopened. That’s not much of an improvement, but lower is better than forever getting longer. I’d expect waits on Friday and Saturday to come in lower than last week too, but still be on the high side compared to what we saw from July through the end of September.

Here’s Thursday’s chart for Epcot:

Larger: Here.

I’ll level with you. I didn’t make a chart like the one above for Epcot because it’s Epcot….and who really cares…but I guess I will need to put one together. It’s just that every day it becomes more work because there’s one more day to add to the chart. Maybe that is where the saying, “There’s no day like today” comes from. Anyway, Epcot’s 27-minute average is below-average compared to the last month and right around what you can expect from most weekdays at the moment. Friday’s average will likely go up to about 32 minutes with Saturday coming in around 43 minutes.

The Studios:

The current week at the Studios started off so auspiciously that at first I thought there was something wrong with the wait time grabber. Sunday’s average of “just” 42.7 minutes is below the weekly average of the last two weeks and not higher than the week before it. Those are two things you would not expect. Then I saw the Park finally break the 50-minute barrier on Monday and knew everything was in its right place. You can blame Monday’s long average on Tower of Terror, which operated at limited capacity most of the day and posted 100+ minute waits. Otherwise, the average would have been more reasonable, like 49.3 minutes or something. Seeing 50+ minutes on the chart is still a little startling. Like being willing to pay $49.99 for something, but an even $50 sounds like an absurd price. I’d expect Friday and Saturday to come in around 45 minutes each.

Magic Kingdom:

Magic Kingdom has had a good week for the most part. Sunday still saw the longest wait for that day of the week yet, but each day that followed saw shorter waits than the week before with most daily averages shorter than the previous few weekly averages. That seems hopeful. I’d expect Friday and Saturday to come in slightly lower than last week too.

Current Disney Park Pass Availability 

We’ll take a closer look with the next update, but even Disney Resort Guests are looking at getting shut out of Epcot this Saturday. Next Saturday now has no availability for Resort or Tickets Guests for the Studios or Magic Kingdom.

You can always pull up Disney’s version of this calendar here.

Operating Schedule Changes

We should see Disney add another week of operating hours on what is technically today, Friday, the 23rd. We may also see additional adjustments to other dates.

You’re not quite caught up. But you’re close.

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A RideMax Optimized Touring Plan Software Introduction https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/a-ridemax-optimized-touring-plan-introduction-to-rope-drop-frozen-at-epcot/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=a-ridemax-optimized-touring-plan-introduction-to-rope-drop-frozen-at-epcot https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/a-ridemax-optimized-touring-plan-introduction-to-rope-drop-frozen-at-epcot/#comments Thu, 22 Oct 2020 16:50:42 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24778 Mark Winters here, the developer of RideMax — a planning app designed to help folks spend less time in line at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Josh’s note: Mark and I go back seven or eight years, in large part because we both live in Orlando and frequent the Parks ourselves to see how things […]

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Mark Winters here, the developer of RideMax — a planning app designed to help folks spend less time in line at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.

Josh’s note: Mark and I go back seven or eight years, in large part because we both live in Orlando and frequent the Parks ourselves to see how things actually look on the ground, in addition to crunching all of the collected wait time data. We may see more easyWDW rolled into RideMax as the future unfolds. Stay tuned.

The backstory for this post is that I’ve been something of an “easyWDW fanboi” for a long time now. To me, Josh always seems to know how to balance his in-depth knowledge of the parks with just the right amount of “I don’t take myself too seriously” snark.

As an easyWDW fan, when Josh recently suggested that I create a RideMax plan for both of us to try out at Epcot, I was all over it!

With recent changes to crowd patterns due to all of the social-distancing standards, entertainment changes, and more, it’s been fascinating to see how much change has also come to “optimal touring strategies” as a result.

I’ve been doing RideMax for almost twenty(!) years now, and I’ve never seen plans like those it’s producing with no FastPass+, shorter hours, no nighttime entertainment, and so much else.

It makes ZERO sense to use a 2019 touring plan in 2020!

Josh will give the play-by-play of how our “RideMax day” at Epcot unfolded, but I thought it might be helpful to know what went into planning the day in the first place.

First, I’ll cover important tips for getting the most from RideMax during the planning phase, then I’ll give some advice for actually using those plans in the park — especially as it comes to adjusting on-the-fly for unforeseen events.

Let’s begin at the end with the RideMax plan we used for Epcot, which I’ve copied below, and which you can find in the RideMax app itself.

(Apple users can follow along by downloading the RideMax app from the iOS app store. The Android version is still in beta officially, mainly because we haven’t navigated the Google Play Store approval process just yet. In the meantime, you can install it here.)

Note that if you’re not ready to buy a RideMax membership, you can still login to the app as a guest, where you’ll find our plan listed as one of the free samples as of October, 2020.

With that housekeeping out of the way, here is the RideMax plan we used to tour Epcot, broken into several screen shots:

We’ll start the day at Frozen Ever After, then hang around World Showcase for a while.

We’ll then move to Future World West, including the attractions in the Land Pavilion…

…then finish the day at Test Track.

So, what went into creating this plan? As you can see above, RideMax breaks the plan creation process down into three chunks: Attractions, Breaks, and Plan Options. (An invisible fourth section deals with FP+, but that doesn’t apply in today’s standby-only world.)

The “attractions” screen is fairly straightforward. You basically hit that “plus” sign for as many times you wish to include a particular attraction in your plan. I chose each attraction once for this plan, but omitted Mission: SPACE due to my own personal aversion to the dizziness factor. (Josh’s note: Oh, we’ll make it to Mission: SPACE, all right).

The goal of RideMax will be to take these attractions and order them to optimize our day, by giving us an itinerary designed to minimize our waiting and walking time.

You can also add any necessary “breaks” to the plan. I typically only use these for meals. Note that you can also choose the specific restaurant at which you want to eat. This is helpful to RideMax because it also wants to minimize your walking time, so it can take the restaurant’s physical location into account if you have a reservation at a specific restaurant.

Finally, RideMax gives you this catch-all Plan Options screen, where you can choose your plan name, the time at which you want to begin and end your day, your touring speed, and whether you want to visit “water rides” during the warmer time of the day. (Note that Epcot doesn’t have any of these, at least by the RideMax definition of “water rides.”)

So, now that you have the high-level overview, what are some tips I use when putting my own plans together?

Planning Tip #1: Understand “Free Time” on the Plan

When RideMax creates your plan, it looks at the start/stop time you specified on that options screen, and adds your attractions to the plan. Time left over after wait optimization is done is listed as “free time” on the plan. It’s important to note that RideMax doesn’t just take your list of attractions and add them to your plan starting at the beginning of the day and going until it runs out of attractions. It will use the “free time” strategically to help minimize your waiting and walking within the start and end times you told it to use.

An extreme example of what this means is shown above, in a RideMax plan containing just three attractions. Here, we told RideMax to start our plan when the park opens at 9:00am, and that we would queue for our last attraction ten minutes before the park closes, at 5:50pm.

As you can see, RideMax has us visiting Big Thunder and Pirates right at opening time, but then waiting until just before closing time to do 7DMT. The rest of the day is listed as “Free Time” on the plan.

The reason RideMax did it this way, rather than just having us do all three rides in a row at opening time, is because this timing results in the lowest estimated wait, given the start/stop parameters I used to create the plan.

What if I don’t want to have such a large block of free time in my day? Well, this is where some “playing” with the software helps. I can either move my ending time up to earlier in the day, or I can add more attractions to my plan. It’s especially helpful from a “free time usage” standpoint to add some of those “filler” two-star attractions to the plan if you’re just trying to soak up some of that busy afternoon time, since these can often be boarded in the busy middle of the day without much wait.

Planning Tip #2: Don’t Use a Break Unless You Have To

Even though the software allows for breaks, I normally first try to create a plan with NO breaks included, just to see where the natural “free time” falls in the plan. If the free time already covers the break I wanted to make, I’ll just omit the formal break and use that free time instead, since this can result in a more optimal plan.

The second advantage to trying a plan with no breaks is that it helps me to see where the natural flow of the plan wants me to be during various points during the day.

For example, in our Epcot plan above, when I first created the plan with no breaks, it was easy to see that RideMax preferred to have us in the area of the Land Pavilion around dinner time. This, not my love of all things food court, is what led me to make that dinner break at Sunshine Seasons.

Had I tried to force my own dinner preference on the plan without checking the natural flow first, by scheduling dinner at Via Napoli, for example, it likely would have led to much more walking and/or waiting, since being in World Showcase at dinner time runs completely against the grain of the natural flow of the day.

Planning Tip #3: Plan for Meals Early in the Day

Because the parks close early right now, and waits are generally lower in the late afternoon and evening than they are earlier in the day, it’s a good idea to take your meal breaks by early afternoon and leave late afternoon and evening for touring.

I didn’t follow this advice in our Epcot plan, with the break at Sunshine Seasons for dinner, but you may want to consider this when undertaking your own planning, since evenings are now your most valuable resource from a wait-minimizing perspective.

Using a RideMax Plan: Adjusting On-the-Fly

Once I’m in the park, it would be naïve to think that I could simply pull up this plan on my phone and expect everything to run perfectly. Rides break down, kids need attention, and try as hard as we might, waits may not always match what’s expected, whether due to technical trouble, downtime, deep-cleaning, or what have you. RideMax offers a 30-day money-back guarantee when you purchase a subscription through their site at https://ridemax.com/orderwdw, so there is no risk in downloading the software and seeing what it can do for you. You’ll simply enter your login details into the app’s welcome screen and be off on your planning adventure.

RideMax will likely offer some alternative solutions to some touring quandaries that you didn’t even realize could majorly impact your day. Just about everyone has less experience touring the parks in the present conditions, which continue to change weekly. If anything, experienced visitors may have more trouble adjusting to the realities of the available attractions, how crowds and wait times flow throughout the day, and actually needing to”unlearn” some of the old touring tactics that may actually now put you at a disadvantage and cost you more time. Never forget attractions like “it’s a small world” now post longer waits than Peter Pan’s Flight. The updated software with the updated wait time estimates will take all of these new changes into consideration when outputting a plan that will save you the most time.

There are basically two approaches to adjusting to unforeseen circumstances: Create a new plan taking your new situation into account, or keep the plan, but skip or add attractions to your day as you go along, depending on whether you’re behind or ahead of schedule.

Adjustment Approach #1: Create a New Plan

If we want to create a new RideMax plan on the fly, it’s fairly simple.

While viewing the plan you want to tweak, just click on those three dots in the upper-right corner of the RideMax app…

…and hit that “Modify plan” selection in the dropdown menu.

This will bring up the main “plan creation” screen, with all of the current plan’s parameters selected as a starting point. You can then add or remove rides, choose a new starting time, or change other options, before creating a new plan. Note that this process will leave the previous plan intact, leaving you with both the old and the new plans in your list for easy reference.

Adjustment Approach #2: Skip or Add Attractions to Your Day as You Go Along

This second approach is probably the one I use most often, where I don’t actually modify the plan per-se, but skip attractions on the plan if I’m running behind, or add attractions to my day if I find myself ahead of schedule (Josh and I did the latter on the day of our visit when we found ourselves ahead of the plan).

In other words, there’s no need to explicitly modify a plan when it’s basically working. You just want to deviate slightly as you go along, which is fine.

In our case, it was clear that the plan had us starting in World Showcase, then moving to the area of the Land Pavilion, followed by Spaceship Earth and Test Track as the day came to a close. As long as we stuck to that basic high-level plan, there was room for minor adjustments within those general “themes,” without adjusting the exact details of the plan as shown in RideMax.

Sometimes “perfect” is the enemy of “good,” and playing with the app while you’re trying to enjoy the parks isn’t worth the effort if you’re just adjusting on-the-fly for minor changes such as these. It can be fun while you’re sitting on the couch at home thinking about your vacation ahead.

And Finally…

I hope you’ve found this brief introduction to how I approach planning my day with RideMax helpful.

Stay tuned for details on how all of this turned out on our actual visit to Epcot!

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Magic Kingdom October Projects Update https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/magic-kingdom-october-projects-update/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=magic-kingdom-october-projects-update https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/magic-kingdom-october-projects-update/#comments Wed, 21 Oct 2020 17:53:13 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24779 Most or All (good) Photos by Alex Westcott. In the previous post, we took a ride around on the monorail, focusing on the work happening at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (not technically open) and the walkway that will ideally connect Magic Kingdom with the Grand Floridian Resort at some point during our lifetimes. No longer […]

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Most or All (good) Photos by Alex Westcott.

In the previous post, we took a ride around on the monorail, focusing on the work happening at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (not technically open) and the walkway that will ideally connect Magic Kingdom with the Grand Floridian Resort at some point during our lifetimes.

No longer on the monorail (I hope at least, based on the angle of the…angle), we stop by Magic Kingdom Park to check in on construction progress and what else is happening around the six themed lands of the most popular theme park in the world. The post seems long so there is either a lot going on or very little going on. I’m not sure the word count changes either way.

Disney is painting the Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza.

We’re 2.7 weeks into a project that should take a total of about eight. I’m pretty sure they originally painted the entire Park in about that much time, but it’s possible that this sign is particularly wavy, adding seven weeks, six days, and about 21 hours to the job. It looks like the letter “M” in “Magic” is being primed for painting, which likely means that it has now joined the other regal blue letters. Disney’s current marketing campaign seems to center on, “The Magic is Here.”

I am not entirely sure what that means. If they said, “The Pringles are Here,” then I would have a reasonable expectation of running into some potato crisps over the course of the week. If the campaign opened with, “Rooms that start at $618 at the Polynesian Village Resort (not technically open) next year can be found somewhere on our premises,” then I could probably also quantify that claim. If I see magic being advertised, I want to see David Copperfield teleport Hollywood Studios to Japan and move DisneySea over here, all while hidden from our view by nothing but my collection of blue Columbia shirts. That sounds like whatever Disney magic is to me. Anything less and I’m throwing a thousand dollars on the ground and flying back to Texas three days early, even if my trip was during the golden age of overpaying for the Disney Dining Plan just so I can rationalize a $54 steak in the moment. The receipts are all going into the same bankruptcy anyway.

If you were thinking to yourself, “I hope they are priming those letters to paint them in blinding rose gold to kind of match Cinderella Castle,” then you are in luck my friend. Nothing says timeless like a color that I don’t even think existed two years ago. Not to mention that the gold is only rose-colored because they add copper to it, a much less expensive alloy. It would be like adding Burnett’s Blueberry Vodka to a glass of Louis XIII Cognac and calling the abomination Louis XVI Bluegnac. Then convincing people they want Bluegnac at a higher price than the Louis XIII even if 30% of it is basically rubbing alcohol and perfume. This may be a niche rant.

But pink is in. Copper content unknown, but hopefully it’s less than 22.25%.

As you hopefully caught in yesterday’s introductions to our new syndicate members, in what are probably the only two positive paragraphs I’ve ever written about anybody other than myself, these pictures do arrive from the watchful eye of Alex Westcott. I just interpret them now like some sort of Rorschach test. I see the Magic Kingdom toll booth here, but you might see It’s Tough To Be A Bug or maybe even Volcano Bay open this winter. I don’t think either of those things are here or happening, but these pictures are just a collection of pixels. They can be rearranged. Above is the scene at 9:30am on a Wednesday with a backup of just a couple vehicles.

If you’re driving yourself, I wouldn’t expect the work to slow you down too much, even if Disney is operating just half of the toll booths. Magic Kingdom parking typically opens an hour before the Park. Before then, you’ll likely be rerouted and told to come back around at 8am with the usual 9am open. Cars then stop and line the right shoulder waiting for the parking lot to open. Once about 7:58am hits, this sort of slow funeral procession begins as drivers try to be the first up to the line, but not so early that someone gets out of the toll booth and threatens to manually push you around in a big circle again.

You may not need to take quite such drastic action as parking on the shoulder and then pretending that your Chevrolet Suburban is just a very slow-moving caterpillar with rose gold rims, but the earlier you arrive, and the quicker you move to temperature/bag check, and then onto the monorail or ferry, the quicker you’ll be across the water and the less you’ll wait at your first few attractions. Poor Blair from Milwaukee is probably still pushing some Ford Super Duty by the Polynesian Village Resort (not technically open) driven by a 170-pound guy who is yet to tow anything heavier than a can of Pringles. Not that there’s anything wrong with being short and driving a big truck. We are all very impressed. We’ll be running another rope drop series after taking a larger look at Epcot. I say larger because the Epcot update is just one very big picture of the hole in the middle of the Park.

It was about 20 minutes from the time they arrived at the Toll Plaza to when they were in line for the Monorail.

As with the other Parks, there is no tram service. The length of your walk will depend on how early you arrive, and then how unlucky you are with how far down the lane they are currently parking. There’s nothing quite like being in the first available row at the very end of the line. A day at Hollywood Studios may be like finding out that you’re at the very end of a row over and over and over again throughout the day.

While you’ll be missing some prime touring time with the later arrival, these people are likely less stressed with the short lines and lack of people. Or they are really stressed because they wanted to be over there and not over here at 9:30am.

The Evolv Scanners, where you can leave almost everything in your bag and pass right through, haven’t made it to Magic Kingdom quite yet. This is the quaint Park after all. If anything, we should be going backwards in time. Maybe that’s why they’ll end up not paving the walkway from the Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom. It’ll be just like the roads Walt used to walk. What an authentic arrival experience. I might cry. Mostly because I would prefer a paved walkway.

Most popular theme park in the world. Last bag check to be streamlined. It checks out.

One does wonder how many people arrive at the Parks having no notion that the Disney Park Pass system exists. On a Wednesday at Magic Kingdom, you could buy a ticket and get in on the same day without a problem in most instances, but I’ll often see dozens of people in line waiting to buy tickets at Hollywood Studios on days that have long since run out of Park Passes. They may have since smartened up and are begging to go literally anywhere else after seeing the morning rush of people. But anything you can accomplish on your phone, including switching Park Pass days on the fly, is something you’ll want to do. Unless you really like hold music or waiting outside Hollywood Studios. Actually, standing outside Hollywood Studios for nine hours might be more fulfilling than going inside Hollywood Studios for nine hours. Both people would probably make it through a similar number of attractions over the course of the day.

I feel like I should open these posts with an over/under on whether we actually make it into the Park before the post ends and Part Two promises the excitement of a real life ride experience that we also don’t make it to. But for once, everything is contained herein as we are already inside. City Hall Guest Services is now out from behind scrims. If you’d like to lodge a complaint leave a cast compliment, you’ll likely need to head in through the left door in what may be called the rose garden, and then you’ll exit out what used to be the main doorway. City Hall looks closed, but they are open. At least for people without blogs.

That’s it with the scrim. It’s pretty spot-on.

Guest services outside the Park is also available. Depending on the time of day, City Hall is typically less crowded because people who are inside at least aren’t having substantial ticket problems that can take forever to fix. Disney’s ticketing system only consists of 37 processes and servers, the majority of which someone reminds me at least twice a week that I’m in charge of maintaining. City Hall is also air-conditioned, so if you have to tell them any lies about how you held up your new correspondent on The Barnstormer for better shots of the Tron construction and then “accidentally” threw them over the wall, which is obviously Disney’s fault, you may sweat less than telling the same story outdoors.

The Happy Halloween Cavalcades have proved incredibly popular with guests.

Crowds aren’t quite what you would see for a scheduled Festival of Fantasy Parade, but it’s a lot more people waiting around than what you’d see for a Move It! Shake It! performance. This is not exactly social-distancing at its finest. I suppose it’s possible everyone is together and arrived in that one Suburban.

Not only is this the only opportunity to see Jack and Sally in the Park.

But it’s really the only time they’ve appeared for day guests in as long as I’ve been doing this. Which is obviously way too long.

Typically during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which would cost an additional ~$150/person, you’d have to wait 2-3 hours just for an opportunity to interact with the pair for about 30 seconds before getting an indoor PhotoPass picture that will probably come out as blurry as the what you tried to sketch from that 45-plus-minute drawing tutorial of the Haunted Mansion.

While the website has probably been harsh on Disney for being slow to bring back some of the stage shows that should be feasible to run under the current conditions, they were certainly under no obligation to add all these characters to the processions. It’s fun seeing Oogie Boogie and others without having to pay (more) big bucks.

One tip: the cavalcades are typically much less crowded in Frontierland and Liberty Square when they pass through there.

Part of the fun of it is the spontaneity. A couple of the Caballeros are crossing the bridge over to Main Street after beginning their procession at the start of the route, to the left of Splash Mountain.

We should see festive cavalcades for Christmas, which, for Disney, starts at about 12:01am on November 1st. Actually, they’ve already started selling merchandise, so Santa may just start coming down Main Street instead starting this week. Here across from Liberty Tree Tavern, nobody is in the vicinity, unlike Main Street.

A few more shots of the various processions, which are spaced about ten minutes apart most of the day:


























It’s quite the assortment of characters dressed up for Halloween. I’m looking forward to the Christmas version, particularly if they continue after dark.

Halloween decorations were sparse this year with no Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Not adding scarecrows and such may make sense if Disney doesn’t want people crowding around them taking pictures, but they didn’t seem too concerned during some of those cavalcades. They also didn’t add the typical bunting out front, most of the pumpkins, or switch out the Mickey Floral. It’s possible that budget went to the characters, which will probably bring more memories than slightly different landscaping.

If not next year, hopefully we’ll see the train return in time for 2022’s Party along with all of the festive oranges and reds.

Characters also appear in spurts up on the train station platform, coming out for a few minutes before returning to the comfort of the station. I think the hope is people will disperse in those few minutes of inactivity. The princesses are waving down at the moment. It looks like Alex is comfortable getting as close to the princesses as I am. I’ll just keep getting bigger and bigger lenses so I can crop farther and farther in from further and further away. That won’t be weird.

The Mickey and Friends characters also come out in costume.

Along with the other characters that make up the cavalcades. It’s always fun to catch a Dapper Dans performance, try to angle your way into a selfie with the performers up on the train station, and then enjoy another cavalcade coming down Main Street. Or you could wait 150 minutes for Smugglers Run at Hollywood Studios. I can’t make every decision for you.

We’ve got a few more days of Halloween merchandise with October 31st falling on a Saturday this year. Park Pass availability for the various segments comes and goes. I wouldn’t expect Disney to run anything different, entertainment-wise, than the Saturdays running up to the actual holiday.

Disney continues to tinker with their signage and in-park messages trying to keep guests outdoors in Florida who don’t want to be wearing face coverings to keep their face coverings on. Among a number of issues, Disney’s main problem at the moment is that the Disneyland Resort is still closed. The California governor supposedly sent over undercover health officials to check out Walt Disney World’s health and safety procedures. It’s possible that the changes in the signage are a coincidence, or they could be based on feedback from California’s team, or Disney may have gotten wind of what was happening and went for a more direct approach. Considering the sign doesn’t say that it “contains a chemical known to to state of California to cause cancer,” we may be able to rule the California part out.

Overall mask compliance is perhaps in the eye of the beholder, or perhaps more specifically, in the eyes of person looking around for it. I’ve never paid much attention to what anyone else is doing in the Parks because I’m already this bonkers as it is. Something tells me general theme park guest behavior would not restore a whole lot of my faith in humanity. Y’all are good though. You’ll still see a lot of people walking around with their masks down, eating or drinking, or just because they can. The one thing that annoys me is the people who get in line and then continue to sip or snack on something for the duration of the wait, even though Disney specifically says you need to be stationary and away from others in order to rock that Babybel 3-pack, you big spender.

Typically, when you see non-compliers out on the walkways, you can keep a little more distance from them. That’s less true when you’re in a queue with switchback after switchback. You would think cast would block guests with open ice cream bars or beers from entering a queue, since they either have to finish them in line, which is “not allowed,” or throw them away at the end before boarding. A couple of weeks ago, I was in line for Slinky Dog, and somehow two separate groups of four or five people all managed to have some sort of snack or beverage in hand, constantly shoving whatever they had in their mouths with those masks down around their necks. There’s probably somebody around to snitch to, but who wants to be that person. There are some people who thrive in those situations. I think I have the wrong haircut for it.

Casey’s Corner has looked to be readying to open for some time, putting down physical-distancing markers leading to what is hopefully the entrance and not the end of the standby line for Splash Mountain. But the markers could simply be leading to those snack carts instead, particularly with markers on both sides. The prep area for Casey’s Corner is about the size of a thimble, which doesn’t allow for much social-distancing, and the overall amount of space inside is incredibly small. Because it takes a relatively limited number of people to run the operation, Casey’s is historically one of the last quick services to close for the night. You would think Columbia Harbour House would be the next major quick service to open should Disney continue piling them in.

The area to the right of Casey’s is out from behind walls.

The area is now fountainless, ostensibly to improve crowd flow, particularly after the evening fireworks that aren’t currently running. There’s a bypass on the other side of Main Street to the left of the Plaza Restaurant that lets guests out next to Tony’s Town Square. Remember not to go into Tony’s, though. There is some likelihood that this is to become a similar bypass once the nighttime crowds and fireworks return en masse.

We’ll go full throwback here with pictures from 2015, when not only were there fireworks, but the show was called Wishes and you could get a FastPass+ for it. Just five years ago you could do all that.

Also somewhat on topic, Disney uses this bypass for the Mickey’s Parties with guests grabbing their first goodies of the night along the pathway.

As much as we may not want to, we’ll travel back to 2020 with more of those distancing markers on the left. Probably leading to Casey’s. Hopefully not to Splash Mountain.

A wider look at the area with Casey’s and The Emporium on the left and Crystal Palace on the right.

Here’s the same area with the walls.

11mm wide. Very dangerous. Baby Care and First Aid are there on the right and the bathrooms are still open on the left. You’d think the latter would be busier, but they’re typically not. Now they probably will be.

While the bypass may not offer much nighttime crowd relief at the moment, we are at least enjoying some fine new pavement that you won’t see outside on that Grand Floridian walkway.

We may be able to use this as a sun dial to determine the time of day. Is it 11am? 1pm? 3pm? 5pm? “How long have we been on this rock?” I don’t trust any of it unless I can see the angle of the sun.

In case you’re wondering why I am always talking about the angle of the sun. Here it is. I was blocked by this person over the exchange, like most things I reply to, but I think we can agree it was worth it:

Not to mention you can probably open the app and check the current wait times faster than triangulating the time from a sundial that doesn’t appear to be particularly circular. We’ll try to make do. Since it’s been over 2.5 years and I’m still not over this callout, I’m not sure what we’re going to do about that lady who said our entire visit to Animal Kingdom was a lie, despite 400 beautiful pictures and 10,000 poignant words. I think we’ll still be talking about that in ten years when Avatar 1.5:We Almost Made It comes out, probably exclusively on what will become one of 600 channels that makes up on the Disney+Cubed+8K+Dolby+We-Have-the-Mandalorian-So-You-Better-Renew streaming service. Now $600 a month.

A big project that we should soon see more movement on is the draining of the Rivers of America on the Frontierland side. It may make Big Thunder “feel” all the more authentic as it basically looks like a rusty Grand Canyon down there without the few inches of greenish water.

Expect to see the draining on the left. They did the right side a couple of years ago.

That should make for some interesting views for those guests waiting for Haunted Mansion.

But even with the line backed up this far with physical-distancing, your actual wait should come in around 35 minutes, with 50 typically posted. Cooler temperatures should be incoming, which I’m guessing will make the face covering and uncovered waits a little more bearable.

Liberty Square Riverboat and Tom Sawyer Island and the rafts that service it will be closed at least through early next year. While I don’t spend a lot of time on Tom Sawyer Island myself – bridges shouldn’t be made wobbly and I’m not exactly known for staying upright under the best of conditions – the Riverboat is always a nice respite when wait times peak in the afternoon.

It’s artsy because it’s tilted. Someone has apparently learned from the best.

Not artsy. Can’t do anything with it.

The $16 Madame Leota Sipper should still be around at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments. Theoretically, you put the liquid in the globe thing, and then stick a straw in the top to sip that $500/ounce Remy Martin Bluegnac. In reality, this is probably going in a box to be stored away forever or become a cat toy. Why not both?

Art.

Walkaround crowds weren’t too bad for a late weekday morning, probably because most people are waiting longer than they’d like in line somewhere.

But you do have those people headed for what could be one last ride on Splash Mountain in front of the Princess and the Frog overlay. I still wonder what sort of a date Disney put on the project. “Well, Splash is problematic, but not to the point where we’ll do anything before November….let’s make it December 2021 problematic. When does the fiscal year start again?”

Cinderella’s Royal Table has reopened with a similar menu and no tableside meet and greets.

Cinderella does wave from afar in the dining room. The price break here is just $13 for adults compared to the full experience, bringing the price “down” to $62/adult and $37 for kids. Potentially, there may be some value for adults with the three courses, one of which is Tenderloin of Beef, but it’s hard to imagine extracting $37 of value from a 5-year old. That may not be the best way to phrase that $37 is a lot to pay for the three bites of macaroni and cheese they’re going to eat before deciding that they’re starving the minute food is no longer in front of them.

Unless you have to see the inside of the Castle now, I’d probably hold off until things return to some semblance of “normal.” The Castle isn’t going anywhere and they may even paint it another made-up color by the time you’re ready to roll back into town. “Thornberry Turmeric” has a ring to it. It would be sort of like a wintergreen yellow with 17.5% zinc content and whatever copper wire we can steal from the Tron job site.  They say the top Crayola Crayon Maker was colorblind for the duration of his-35 year tenure. Growing up, “Robin’s Egg” was always my favorite color. A very tranquil, but masculine blue for confident young boys. I always assumed robin’s eggs were a similar color, but they could be orange for all we know. Everything is up in the air at this point.

Here’s that Filet. It’s a little steak on a big plate.

We’ll make our way through Fantasyland on our way to The Barnstormer for some choice Tron pictures.

Walls had been up on the external queue for it’s a small world for about nine months before finally coming down in September. Now even more scrims cover the façade with the queue behind walls again.

Those scrims have since been themed, which means we’re probably in it for the long-haul again. This building must have been built so poorly that even the people who decided the main character in Smugglers Run should be some guy named Hondo are shaking their head in its general direction. This corridor is already on the narrow side and more walls jutting out probably isn’t helping.

Your wait for the Mermaid Ride would only be a couple of minutes.

But that’s the end of the line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. At least it starts with a bench.

We may need to rank how bad your starting position in line is. Of course, our preference would be to find ourselves in the actual queue, ideally with few or no people in front of us. Next best would be in the physical queue with more people. Then there’s just outside the queue with the entrance in sight. Not great, not terrible at this point. Then there’s outside the queue with the entrance not in sight. Then there’s this, with the line completely on the opposite side of the entrance, with the entire ride in the way, closer to the entrances to about eight others attractions, and all with much shorter waits. But at least you’re not waiting backstage. The posted wait for Mine Train is 55 minutes and likely about accurate.

We’ll close this round out with the current state of Tron construction. And for our sanity, ignore those social-distancing markers on the ground on the left that are likely for The Barnstormer. But, could still be for Splash Mountain.

The canopy is going up around the exterior of the roller coaster track.

Still not doing much to conceal the large box. I’m not sure if they make ferns tall enough, but we may soon find out.

Work looked to be winding down on what we could see from the outside. They are working on closing the building and covering the track.

Back in March, the expectation was that Tron would be ready to go by Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration, which Disney was probably planning on dragging out for closer to two years of advertisements celebration. That anniversary is less than a year away. But I guess all anniversaries are technically less than a year away.

Disney’s stock price is somehow just $5 lower than it was at the same time last year, despite what would have to be serious blows to revenue with Disneyland still closed and so many movies wiped from the theater slate. But Tron was not named as a “priority project” at Disney World, and the company may elect to defer the cost over several more quarters than we originally anticipated. I guess the ride is sort of like K-Mart layaway. You pay a little at a time, and then about a year after you were expecting to be able to pay it off, you finally get to pick it up. And then you find out that there’s a newer model.

There’s always Shanghai.

The Barnstormer.

Party of one.

Front row only.

The true sign of the Disney blogger just hoping for slightly different construction pictures.

Lunching Pad, underneath Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland, opened to some amount of fanfare over the weekend, serving all three of Disney’s Warm Pretzels – the Mickey, the Sweet Cream Cheese, and the Pepper Jack.

But like many of the smaller outlets, it looks to be a weekend-only thing. If Cosmic Ray’s is a “dining pleasure” I wonder what they call Tony’s.

The low number of people you see here is probably why our Pretzels remain frozen rather than warm. Still, you would think that when you are in the $7 Pretzel business, with a bottle of Dasani added on the side ringing up as a total of $10.50, you’d be able to break even on just about two orders an hour. But then there is profit. And there is Disney Profit™. “Why make 4.7 billion dollars when you can fire 28,000 people and make 4.8 billion dollars?” The logic is infallible.

That should get you caught up with what’s happening around Magic Kingdom. We’ll return for some touring strategy after moving through Epcot for the day.

98.2% of the pictures: Alex Westcott.

The words other than typos and bad jokes: Still Josh.

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Magic Kingdom Area Resort Projects Update with an Introduction to Two New easyWDWers https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/magic-kingdom-area-resort-projects-update-with-an-introduction-to-two-new-easywdwers/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=magic-kingdom-area-resort-projects-update-with-an-introduction-to-two-new-easywdwers https://www.easywdw.com/easy/blog/magic-kingdom-area-resort-projects-update-with-an-introduction-to-two-new-easywdwers/#comments Mon, 19 Oct 2020 20:03:37 +0000 https://www.easywdw.com/easy/?p=24766 The website would take a moment to introduce two very important additions to the easywdw.com syndicate. The first is Steven Miller, a master’s graduate in Data Science, and someone who is far too intelligent to have had to work with me over the last six months. Steven is the brains behind the backend portion of […]

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The website would take a moment to introduce two very important additions to the easywdw.com syndicate.

The first is Steven Miller, a master’s graduate in Data Science, and someone who is far too intelligent to have had to work with me over the last six months. Steven is the brains behind the backend portion of the wait times charts and set up the mechanisms, databases, scripts, and more that allow us to store and access the data so easily. I can grab one of those wait times charts for any day of the week and for any attractions I want in about 30 seconds. Once we finish up with one project, I send him out on what I’m certain is another boondoggle, and he always comes through with a solution. Should you be looking for someone with a background in Data Science and Analytics, I would not hesitate to contact him at steven@stevenjmiller.me. He’s a really great guy and will work with you to get your project completed.

The website has also hired Alex Westcott as its first correspondent. You’ll know it’s him in the Parks because he will introduce himself with, “Hi, I’m Alex Westcott,” in Michael Eisner’s voice, whereas I always deny who I am, despite it being very obvious that it’s me. As an experienced photographer, former cast member, and actual Disney expert, he’ll be taking over for some of the picture-taking that I don’t have the time for, particularly with the whole one-park-per-day thing. There’s also the fact that I would much rather be at home. When they’re Alex’s pictures, I’ll make a note at the top and bottom of the posts. Alex is also a designer, and you can check out his work, most of which is theme-park-related, on RedBubble here.

The pictures in the following post are mostly Alex’s with one of mine occasionally thrown in from the vault to add a little past context.

I am perpetually behind where I want to be as just about everything you see on this site takes much longer to prepare than you might imagine. For example, on my recent Epcot visit, I left my apartment at 10am. I then toured through Park close, ending with Test Track at about 7:20pm, which put me home around 8pm. So that’s ten hours invested. I came home with 756 pictures. At 20 seconds of editing per picture, that’s over four hours of editing, and it probably comes in closer to five or six hours with a few longer edits. Then each 3,000+ word post takes six or seven hours to write and another hour to edit because I am slow. And with that much to cover at Epcot, it’s likely a four or five part series. So just one visit to Epcot is ten hours at the park, five hours of picture editing, and 30 to 35 hours of writing and chart-preparing, etc., for a total of about 50 hours. Just for one rope drop series at one park. There’s then all the news and wait times stuff and whatever else is going on to keep up with at the same time.

The website may hire an additional writer. It’s been something that I’ve considered for years. When you visit easywdw.com, you probably have some expectation as to what will be in front of you, since it’s been my one, singular, sarcastic, long-winded voice for over ten years. You probably don’t always agree with me, but there is likely enough detail in whatever I’m talking about for you to come away with a pretty good understanding of where I’m coming from, and how your situation may be different, causing you to come to a different, informed conclusion. You don’t have to try to keep track of the preferences of eight or nine different writers, none of which ever seem to bring much personality with them.

I was thinking that it might be invigorating to go in exactly the opposite direction with a second writer, with someone who is actually excited about things, but doesn’t need to randomly bold words and add eight exclamation points to the end of every dull sentence. Personally, I don’t think adding Josh 2.0 would be wise for me or for you. But it may be interesting to add another perspective that focuses on some of the more magical elements of the Parks rather than fountain beverage price hikes and increasing wait times. We’ll see how the next couple of weeks go.

The good news for you is that it would also mean faster, more relevant content. Even if you hate the new Josh-Not-2.0, and in a strange turn of events that almost never happens, don’t actually hate-read the content, I will still be here to fulfill your needs one to four weeks late. With so many sites now with eight, ten, twelve, or more writers, I simply can’t keep up, and haven’t been able to for some time. That leaves us with a few options: hire help, reduce the detail/quality of the posts on the site, or stick to being farther behind the times than either of us would probably like.

I’ll still be doing the touring and news content, and at the moment, writing all the words. So the commentary you see will still emanate from my brain, which may or may not be a bad thing. We have big Magic Kingdom and Epcot rope drops to cover this week. So far, I am two for two on hires. Both Alex and Steven have gone well above what was expected and have been incredibly easy to work with. Hopefully a funny, energetic writer will also fall from the sky and into easydubz HQ.

Plus, what I’m sure will be an upcoming coup, where I am removed from my own website and forced to live in exile with Len Testa and his harvest of heuristics, will make for quality television coverage. I can’t imagine anything far more tortuous than having to agree that a correlation coefficient of .000 is mathematically significant. But I would for just one glass of Canadian Club. I don’t think Disney bloggers are known for being difficult to break.

But that’s the update on where we’re at before we take a ride around on the monorail. The website will still largely function as it has. I am still the maniacal head of the operation, while Steven does whatever database people do behind the scenes and Alex is out taking pictures to report on. I’m just hoping we can get more relevant, quality content out sooner in a way that makes sense.

All photos are by Alex Westcott with a couple from Josh just so you remember I still know how to take them

Our tour starts out on the monorail before we’ll head inside Magic Kingdom. We begin with the backside of the Tron building, which reminded me of the Guardians of the Galaxy box over at Epcot. It may just be due to the fact that both buildings are blue.

Larger: Here.

This picture is about a year old, but it shows the launch construction from the old Universe of Energy building on the right into that building on the left, which may also just be a large blue box like Tron. They just “felt” architecturally similar maybe because I don’t have a lot of experience with boxes. It will certainly be interesting to see what they have in store for us inside when both Tron and Guardians open, likely now in 2022.

We’ll have a better look once we get in the Park, but that’s the canopy structure currently being built around Tron’s track. You can see its proximity to the classic Space Mountain structure next door. At least with Space Mountain concealed indoors, you won’t know that you’re about to come away with permanent back issues as people zip around much more happily outside. I’m not sure what the Daft Punk beat situation will be, but, “The Grid” would fit with The Barnstormer well, though with the song at 96 seconds in length, it’s about twice as long as the ride. At least on Rip, Ride, Rockit, you can get through 5% of Free Bird. The Tron Legacy soundtrack is available here should you wish to bump along to some construction photos. You know I am.

Work seems to have slowed at Tron, though the cranes and a limited number of people are still working from time to time. Whether or not it will open in time for Magic Kingdom’s 50th anniversary in a little less than a year remains to be seen, but with the recent layoffs, and Disney continuing to cut capital expenditure, we may not see Disney invest enough money in the upcoming quarters to get the job done.

Even with negative carpentry skills under my belt and what basically amounts to the dexterity and coordination of a small child with two small left hands, I feel like I could have paved the walkway from the Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom faster than what Disney currently has going on. We’ve been following the construction of this path on the left for what “feels” like a couple of years. It’s a sidewalk. Not Galaxy’s Edge. We’ve been building them ever since we got tired of people getting run over in the middle of the street. Or at least we wanted to see a reduction in that probably a few hundred years too late.

I think many people assumed the path would open when the Grand Floridian reopened to the public last month, but we obviously have some time to go with so much of the area still unpaved. The lampposts along the walkway have been installed, which will help illuminate the dirt on the path that is still closed at night. I guess that’s something.

Ostensibly, this waterway on the bottom left is what caused Disney to keep the Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom separated, at least so far as walkability goes. The Electrical Water Pageant is housed behind there, and under normal conditions, it would putz out gloriously each evening all lit up with that delightful beepity boop soundtrack. While I have never built a bridge without the help of the Property Brothers and what ends up being unexpected water damage, it seems like there would be some number of ways to let the Pageant out at night and the people cross the water at other times. First, you could just build a pretty basic bridge that would only have to go up and down about twice per day. The Pageant goes out once and then comes back. That’s the entire operation. I would even offer to hold that bridge up so the Pageant could go through.

It also looked like there was a new problem with the bridge, which looks like it will swing out instead of going up and down. That makes sense since the floats are tall, but that’s probably a lot of weight to swing in one direction or another.

Disney had installed what would be a temporary walkway from the ~half-completed pathway from the Grand Floridian up through the resort monorail station. The temporary walkway would have bypassed all of the boat dock work, which we’ll see momentarily. It even looks like temperature and/or bag check is set up and ready to go. Disney has since removed the tents and the walkway, potentially because they didn’t want more people walking up through the resort monorail area, particularly in the evening when things are busier. It’s also possible that the project simply wasn’t far enough along that it made sense to open a temporary walkway for a short time. And of course, you’re looking at paying a minimum of five or six more cast members to run it. That last part is something Disney is very not into right now.

One other potential question is just how far the walk from the Grand Floridian is over to Magic Kingdom, and when it would make more sense to take advantage of it over the single monorail stop or watercraft, when they’re available. This probably isn’t even two-thirds of the walk and Magic Kingdom’s entrance isn’t in view. That’s the monorail station on the far right. The DVC Tower at the Grand Floridian is also the farthest from the beginning of that walkway over. It certainly would be a pretty walk on cooler days, but you may want to save those legs for touring. At the end of the day, the walk will also feel about 3.7 times longer and is unprotected from the elements. It does get a little windy out there even when it isn’t raining. With the monorail backups, taking your destiny into your own hands by walking is a powerful tool and may be the smarter choice. You don’t have to wait on any transportation. You can just leave when you like.

I almost always walk back to my penthouse at Bay Lake Tower, so I don’t have to try to figure out how to follow Disney’s zany arrows pointing me to where I’m supposed to wait in line for the monorail.  I’d probably still be standing here trying to figure this out since the Park reopened in July. This system was so convoluted that they changed it to be more clear. Whether or not that’s clear enough for me to understand remains to be seen. I’m actually still standing here.

The walk from Magic Kingdom to Bay Lake Tower or the Contemporary is about ten minutes. But it’s also just one monorail stop away from Magic Kingdom. Just eyeballing it, the walkway to the Grand Floridian looks longer, but it’s also several more monorail stops away on the way back to the hotel. You’ll be stopping at the Contemporary, Transportation and Ticket Center, Polynesian (until the station closes on November 2nd), and then the Grand. That trip at the end of the night can take an hour. Bricker says he thinks he can walk from the Grand’s main building to the MK entrance in seven minutes, which probably means 15 minutes for the rest of us. I think there is less wind velocity lower to the ground, which is why he is able to move so quickly. Up where I am, I run into more resistance, slowing me down.

We’ll stop by Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. You’ll remember that the resort is not officially open, but the DVC buildings and Bungalows are, which means a number of amenities around the resort are open, while many others remain shuttered.

Outside, the main work is taking down the wooden-looking beams from above the Great Ceremonial House, which is the resort’s main building. The long pieces of wood and metal look like they would provide a good way for the various bloggers to joust, Highlander style. That may be wishful thinking, but I do have the reach on just about anyone, wind velocity or not.

Disney has installed some protection up top to protect the sun roofs, and also block much of the natural light coming in. A planned medieval joust, done right with plenty of grog ,and without any bathing for several days, would be a nice event. That’s actually not too far off from my regular week. Metal crashing through your sunroof while you’re just trying to take a selfie with your Lapu Lapu may be less ideal. But, if you’re not completely impaled, you could look forward to several hundred thousand views on the Gram if you time the video right and probably come away with a coupon for 15% off the All-Star Sports that will expire before it reopens.

Here we are looking up. Nothing crashing down, unfortunately. I’m sure we were close.

There’s another outdoor view with the crane sticking its nose out in the center. That’s how they get to the roofing adornment.

The semi-strange thing is that according to the concept art, we see similar wood accents up there, though they are spaced further apart. The removal may just be refurbishment time.

I spoke a bit about the strangeness of the timing with the Polynesian work, which is going on at the same that 28,000+ cast members are being laid off. If they had started the project in March, when everything closed, they’d also be about done. It’s possible that internal numbers are showing the Polynesian as being a considerably less desirable resort to stay at than it once was. Based on nostalgia alone, it seems unlikely that one of Disney’s original hotels, and one with some of the best views across the water of Magic Kingdom, would be the resort that I targeted for an overhaul. If money were no object, the Polynesian is where I would stay, in large part to my own nostalgia from a particularly pleasant trip about 18 years ago now. The Polynesian, as it stands, could be in my budget, but I don’t let it be. You can always visit and do just about anything that a regular guests can do other than swim or sleep in your designated room.

While a couple of pylons removed from the top of the Ceremonial House probably isn’t getting too many people to inch forward in their chairs out of excitement, Disney has shared more details: “A Pacific Ocean-inspired color palette, as well as details, patterns, and textures from Disney’s Moana, an animated film that takes place on the Polynesian island of Motunui.”

Disney also said, “One of the biggest changes will greet you right up front – a new porte cochere will showcase the iconic mid-20th century architecture the Polynesian is famous for. Our team from Walt Disney Imagineering and Walt Disney World have crafted a design inspired by colors, patterns and textures found throughout the resort.  This new entry features a high-pitched, open-truss roof covered in a thatch style. There’s also a bold façade that features pops of color complementing the Longhouses found throughout the resort. Along the Monorail station, bold new wooden screens will be covered with geometric patterns in bright, tropical colors that complete an exciting new composition that will greet you when you arrive.”

Personally, I think I would have taken whatever they had going before without the big price increases that will likely start in 2022. Already, the absolute cheapest room at the Resort on the absolute cheapest night of the year is $618. A Theme Park View room on a Saturday in the middle of April would set you back $1,252 a night. Just four nights would cost over five grand. That sounds like a lot. And I don’t think it will sound any less expensive with the promise of “textures from Disney’s Moana.”

Disney continues to provide updates in a much more timely manner than they ever have before. You can pull a list of what’s currently available at each resort on DisneyWorld.com here.

This is what they’ve got at the Polynesian:

Disney has so many different divisions, with so many different budgets, with so many different people doing different things, that there may have been money in the budget to go to town on the Poly, at the same time projects that are a lot more visible in the Parks languish. Even so, this is probably the time for someone to realize that, and figure out how to better manage the funds. We’ve already seen a shakeup at Disney+, and I would expect Parks and Resorts to follow.

While I have never had a job before, I have heard of some frivolous spending at the end of the year so that the division’s budget doesn’t go down the following year. If you don’t spend your money, they give you less next year. The project may also be Disney trying to give some key Imagineers a project to work on so they’re not part of the 400+ layoffs in that department. They say an Imagineer without a project is an Imagineer without a job. Take my blog away and I’m not sure where I stand. Probably still out in front of that MK monorail station.

The current setup, with DVC wings open at resorts that aren’t offering regular cash rooms, continues to ring bizarre to me. At Jambo House at Animal Kingdom Lodge, only the 5th floor is open, as that’s where the DVC rooms are located. But the front desk is open, some amount of housekeeping is there, the lights are obviously on, the lobby is kept cool at great expense, the pool is open, but that’s about it. The Mara, the resort’s quick service, is closed, since occupancy is so low. Boma, Jiko, and Victoria Falls Lounge are closed. You won’t really see the cultural representatives or too many activities available either. If you cook or bring most of your meals with you, you’re likely set, particularly if you’re trying to stay away from as many people as possible. I would never fault you for that. But definitely check out what’s available at the resorts as you make a selection. Also consider renting points as you may be able to score a room at a big discount. You just don’t want to show up to Jambo House expecting to grab a quick service dinner at The Mara an hour after everyone has already hit peak hangry.

I did write a post a few months ago titled, “The Bizarre Landscape of Visiting Disney World Resorts,” which highlighted what things were like at the DVCs back in June without the main resorts “open.” It’s not nearly as strange with the theme parks open, but it can be a little Twilight Zone being in the Animal Kingdom Lodge lobby with literally nobody else in sight in the middle of the afternoon. Even here at Wilderness Lodge, this cast member is wiping down this table that nobody has touched. Hence, massive layoffs. The work isn’t there.

Back to the Polynesian, check-in has moved to the Pago Pago building, where most of the DVC units are contained. There should always be someone here to check you in and answer questions around the clock.

The main entryway into the resort is blocked off, as almost all of the external work is out front. You’ll need to use a side door to get in the main building. Again, from the Pago DVC, you’re probably already coming in from the side.

Guest Services is sill available in the usual location in the lobby.

There is an A-Frame sign for just about everything other than a link to this website. The Great Ceremonial House, with Guest Services, Shopping, and Dining, will close at 10pm nightly, probably for the next eight or nine months. As far as I know, there is no end date to the construction and permits currently filed extend into August, though that could be conservative. If you are a late snacker, you’ll want to keep that in mind.

Since you can’t go through the front door, signs invite you to continue to the back.

That arrow looks to be a little too easy to turn in another direction.

But with the work Disney is about to embark on, the various walkways may change directions fairly common. On our next stop, we may be headed right for the Great Ceremonial House. Somehow to the right instead.

The monorail station at the Polynesian is currently scheduled to close on November 2nd. According to Disney, “Along the Monorail station, bold new wooden screens will be covered with geometric patterns in bright, tropical colors that complete an exciting new composition that will greet you when you arrive.” That’s the one part of the project that I’m least excited about. The Polynesian Resort is probably understated in its bright, tropical, breeziness. But it’s tasteful and often understated. Bright colors, along with anything from the Italy booth at Epcot, are things that I don’t need shoved down my throat. Of course, we’ll see what the final product looks like and then condemn it at that time.

Guests staying at the Polynesian DVC while the monorail station at the resort is closed can walk over to the Transportation and Ticket Center to take the Resort or Express Monorails to Magic Kingdom, in addition to the ferryboat there. Watercraft transportation from the Polynesian isn’t currently offered as we’ll see the state of the docks on the Magic Kingdom side shortly. The Epcot monorail has not opened because there is little reason for it to operate without park hopping. If you want to go to Epcot, you park at Epcot. The Magic Kingdom area resorts also offer buses with the Resort Monorail down. Bus service is typically a faster process, while the monorail is obviously a lot more novel.

Another Polynesian overhaul is going to be a substantial project lasting several months. We’re only a couple of days into the work, so I’m not sure what too many guests currently on the ground are thinking with little currently underway, but I’d probably elect to stay at a different resort rather late summer 20201, and not have to deal with the construction noise, the shortened lobby hours, the fact that you can’t even enter or exit through the main doors because the whole front of the resort is chained, no monorail service upcoming to Magic Kingdom or Epcot, ‘Ohana remaining closed, and probably a lot more as the next several months bring out more cranes and heavy construction equipment.

Trader Sam’s is also closed, inside and out. The capacity in there might not be that much lower considering the tables are somewhat spread out. When you are in the $70 souvenir tiki mug business, I would probably just go for it. Interest may be lower, but the DVC folks love that stuff and Sam’s is a destination for guests staying elsewhere in its own right. The patio is also incredibly pleasant. I would drink my “Dark and Tropical Stormy” out there any day of the week.

We’ll check back in periodically to see how things are going. Probably not every time they take down one of those accents on the roof.

I do have a thorough review of the Polynesian’s Studio rooms under normal conditions in this post, should you like to take a look inside. These rooms should remain largely or entirely untouched since they will remain open during the refurbishment.

Potentially, the good news is that the Pago Pago rooms are off to the right side of the resort and have their own parking lot. They’re also the closest rooms to the Transportation and Ticket Center, and the walk to the monorails or ferry may even be shorter than going all the way over to the Great Ceremonial House. With most people cozied up in their rooms by 10pm, the main building closure may not come into play that often. Typically, Disney will always take care of you if you start out nice, before making unreasonable demands like a 20% coupon for the All-Star Sports that doesn’t have an expiration date attached.

If you are looking at the Polynesian over the next ~9 months, you’ll definitely want to take the impact of the construction into consideration. Disney typically does a good job of hiding most of what they have going on construction-wise. You may be able to rent points at more affordable rates if demand is down as well. The Vacation Club already has too many points out there, particularly at the Polynesian with those Bungalows, which is why DVC is up and running. Even if it was raining hellfire, and I was screaming random Tomorrowland Speedway wait times from 2006 over a loudspeaker that is just one decibel away from being illegal, DVC would get those points off the books.

During Premier Season, a week in a Bungalow will run you 1,449 points. That’s compared to 239 points in a Studio for the same dates. Disney released the points, with enough to cover all of those bungalows just about 365 days a year, only to find that people weren’t spending their points on the Bungalows very often. Because the Studio is six times less expensive and with significantly less ferryboat honking.

Now outside and disembarking the monorail, you can sort of make out where the path coming in from the Grand Floridian will likely wind around the resort launches.

Those are also under construction in a big way. We’re probably making a lot of modifications so security can set up without it all “feeling” shoehorned in.

There’s a lot going on down here as Disney continues to try to streamline guest flow.

Potentially, this assortment of projects, including the walkway and the boat dock stuff, have been put on the backburner.

We’re going on month 18 or so of this work.

But we’ll see what happens. You would think Disney would want the walkway project done by the time the monorail station at the Polynesian goes down. It wouldn’t surprise me if Disney halts the resort monorail in its entirety in early November, should at least the walkway be done. It would be an even longer walk, but guests staying at the Polynesian can also walk to the Grand Floridian and then continue on to Magic Kingdom once the walkway becomes an option.

When the Resort Monorail is down, planned or otherwise, Disney runs a bus in a loop from the Contemporary to the Grand Floridian to the Polynesian. You’ll see that in the evening now with the Resort Monorail closes earlier than most restaurants and lounges. They could run that bus all day should the resort monorail go down. On the other hand, Disney needs the capacity to transfer guests to and from Magic Kingdom. We may end up with two Express Monorails come November 2nd.

As always, we’ll see what happens. It does look like a long walk out to the Grand Floridian, but at least you won’t have to smell whatever waste is going on in that water hole over on the Contemporary walkway.

Thanks again to Alex for providing 40 photos for this post. I’d say its an auspicious beginning.

The post Magic Kingdom Area Resort Projects Update with an Introduction to Two New easyWDWers appeared first on easyWDW.

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