Saturday, May 21, 2016

Foodin' and Winin' 2015, Day 3: Ridin' and Tourin', Part 4

Part 3 can be viewed HERE

Wanna go back to the beginning of this day?  Click HERE

We made our way back up Main Street so I could face my adversary, Dumbo (long story…refer to this excerpt from our 2007 Anniversary trip for the backstory).

All joking aside, this is one of those attractions that is better at night (Moose folks…quiet).  We experienced it (complete with Facebook laughs from the Lodge/Moose).

After that, I snuck in a really quick attraction that only requires a picture…Casey Jr. Splash and Soak Station.

…and Sheri returned the favor from my Kilimanjaro Safaris pic a couple of days ago and getting a pic of us getting a pic.

With FP #7 done, we headed to the Village Haus bathrooms for a quick break.  I pulled out the Lines app to check on posted/actual wait times on a couple of attractions and then grabbed a couple of dusk pictures and then (after seeing a mob still present at the kiosks there) made our way back to Tomorrowland to see if there was the chance of anything more available at the kiosks.

We hopped in line and immediately chose the wrong one.  After about 3 minutes of not moving (due to a family not quite understanding what the kiosks were for), we jumped to another line and got behind a guy who, when it was his turn, couldn’t comprehend why there were no FPs for Space Mountain left for the day (it was about 7:30 pm, and the park was closing in 3 ½ hours).  The cast member did an absolutely amazing job dealing with the irate customer, who pretty much expected him to give him whatever he wanted simply because he paid the money to get into the park and wanted to ride Space Mountain without having to stand in line.

When it was our turn, I looked at him and said, “Dude, you need a raise!  You handled that guy better than ever would have.”  He cracked a smile and we talked for a quick second to help him collect his thoughts.  We assured him that we were low-key and knew what was going on.  He looked at hour FP history, and his eyes widened that this was our 8th FP for the day (we got a high-5 for that accomplishment).  We saw an 10:00 FP for Pirates; after discussing with Sheri a bit (she wasn’t going to miss Wishes, which started at 10), we decided that we were good to go with that time for Pirates (we could ride it afterward).  We wished him well and were on our way for the next attraction.

We all agreed that it was dark enough to really enjoy the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover (forever known as the TTA), so we got on there.  Lines had a predicted wait time in line with the posted wait of 5 minutes, but I could tell that it was essentially a walk-on.  I timed an actual wait, and we were on our way in just about one minute…

…until we were right in front of the stage where the Incredibles dance party was going on…

…and then we stopped…

We were stuck there for about 6-7 minutes…

You know, I technically could count this as an additional attraction, because viewing it for 5 minutes is the threshold for it to count in an ultimate plan.  Granted, I don’t think the powers-that-be at Touringplans meant for an experience to be while you were stuck on another attraction.  You know what?  Since I DIDN’T count the Pirate Tutorial, I’m counting this one!  I saw at least five minutes of it…and it's not even an official attempt at an ultimate plan...again, my rules!

(if this is the last blog post you see from me, it might be because I wasn't supposed to share that last pic)

We eventually did start moving again (though I don’t mind being stopped on the TTA…there is so much to look at around you that you’re still entertained), and we were back on Tomorrowland pavement not too long afterward.

I pulled out the Lines app to check on posted vs actual wait times for a couple of attractions (FYI: here is a really good situation to optimize remaining steps while in the park).  After seeing the numbers, I decided that up next was going to be at least one Mountain that we hadn’t done yet…Big Thunder.  I actually wanted to do the standby line on this one since we haven’t yet experienced the new interactive features that they added.  Disney had a posted wait of 45 minutes, but Lines predicted something more along the lines of 30-35 minutes. The actual wait submitted was 24 minutes.  Honestly, it didn’t seem long at all – they did an excellent job with the interactive elements that both children and adults were taking part in.

With that done, Splash was right there with a 20 posted wait time, and TouringPlans was predicting only 10.  We timed it for them, and it was only a 7-minute wait from entrance to the log starting its journey (with most of the wait being the walk).

Luckily, we didn’t get too wet (that was one of Sheri’s stipulations on riding this attraction…I prayed to the water Gods that we didn’t get soaked).  As we headed past Big Thunder and back towards Adventureland, I was almost hoping to see the Main Street Electrical parade passing by (it was about 9:10…we were a couple of minutes early as the parade had started at Town Square).  We were allowed to scoot across the parade route, where we did another (unscheduled) bathroom break by Pirates.  As the last person walked out, the start of the parade was just reaching our vantage point.  We could have had really good spots, since they just closed the walkway from Pirates to Big Thunder.  We talked it over for a minute and decided to forego the parade and hit Pirates instead (if we wanted to do Pirates again, we still had the Fastpass, and, if we wanted to watch the parade, it was going to be shown again at 11:00).  It was a 25 minute posted time, and we timed it at 17 minutes.  This was another recently refurbished attraction, with new lighting, props, costumes, etc.  It’s always one of our favorites!

We exited and knew that, if I was to remain married to Sheri, we’d have to high-tail it to Main Street to have a chance at seeing Celebrate the Magic and Wishes.  Luckily, the masses had already either started heading out of the park or were already packed in Main Street.  Flying through Adventureland was a breeze; we made it past the Adventureland Bride just as Celebrate the Magic started.  We were then slowed to a a crawl as we made our way across Main Street in the walkways.  This actually wasn’t a bad thing because we got to see the entire show on the castle while we walked.  Eventually, we made it to the Tomorrowland bridge where we saw some daylight to stand and watch the end of Celebrate.

It’s not the best vantage point, since there was a tree nearby; however, we could see through the tree pretty well.  One thing I knew…we’d have a great view of Tink when she flew overhead…and she flew DIRECTLY overhead.

Sheri and I differ on the best night-time show.  For me, it’s Illuminations; Sheri, however, still loves her some Wishes, and I made sure I glanced over a couple of times to see the smile on her face.  I didn’t take any more pics of the fireworks.

As soon as Wishes was done, I knew we had a window of opportunity to get on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, since there’s a transition after Wishes…a LOT of people exit, while others are quite a distance away from the attraction entrance.  We made our way to the next “spoke” of the hub, took a left at the Mad Tea Party, and hopped in line for Mine Train.  The standby line barely crawled by, and I noticed that the FastPass return line was jammed with people.  A Cast Member nearby explained that, since the attraction was down for a while earlier in the day, those with FP+ reservations were given an open return time.  Nope, this one wasn’t going to work.

The boys seemed to be okay with missing that one.  We all agreed to start making our way towards the exit via Tomorrowland for one last attraction…we wanted to do the TTA again.  There was no wait, and we decided to let the boys have their own car.  They sped away with us not too far behind.

Of course, the attraction came to a halt just after we entered the Buzz building.

I think they enjoyed the time away from us LOL!

After what probably seemed like 20 minutes for Sheri (and 40 seconds for the boys), we were back moving in about 4-5 minutes, and we met back up at the bottom of the moving walkway.  The boys tried talking us into one more ride on Buzz, but we were all starting to drag a little bit, considering we had been in the park for over 14 hours.  We pulled them out of Tomorrowland and down Main Street.

We wanted to get something for our neighbors, who were taking care of our Hellcat, so we popped into the Confectionary.  As we looked around, the Main Street Electrical Parade started in Town Square, and I popped out every couple of minutes as another float made the turns around the square.  We saw just about the entire parade, and I contemplated trying to talk the rest of them into sticking around for the end to get juuuussst onnnnnnnnnnnee  mooooooooooorrreee attraction added to our list.

(from the Cinderella section of the parade)

We saw most of it, but I won’t count it.

We all did our goodbye to the Castle and headed out.

The total?  Here we go:

Opening show
it’s a small world
Mad Tea Party
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Space Mountain (FP)
Royal Majesty Makers
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
Cinderella Castle
Mickey’s Philharmagic
Peter Pan (FP) (# 10)
Hall of Presidents
Haunted Mansion (FP)
Pirate Tutorial…didn’t count
Pirate Adventure
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Jungle Cruise (FP)
Stitch’s Great Escape
Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor
Festival of Fantasy Parade
Aloha Isle/Dole Whips
Casey’s Corner Pianist (# 20)
Journey of the Little Mermaid (FP)
Carousel of Progress
Cosmic Ray’s Starlite Café (Sonny Eclipse)
Tomorrowland Speedway (FP)
Meet Mickey in Town Hall
Dumbo (FP)
Casey’s Splash Zone
Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
Incredibles Dance Party
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (# 30)
Splash Mountain
Pirates of the Caribbean
Celebrate the Magic
TTA (repeat) …not counted
MSEP…most of it…not counted

Total: 34 attractions!!!!!!

Now, here’s the real kicker…Fred Hazelton, the primary statistician for, told me that the crowds were trending a lot higher than anticipated and that we completed these attractions with an actual crowd level of ‘9’ on the day we were there.  That more or less meant that the day fell (for lack of a better term) in the top 20% of the busiest days that year.

Imagine what we could have done had I not screwed up the order of attractions with the second entry.


A 2010 New York Times article mentioned that the average guest was able to experience nine attractions on a given day at the Magic Kingdom.  This was based on data that most likely included the Great Recession in 2007-2008, when park attendance was most likely lower.  There has been a surge in attendance over the past couple of years (thanks, economy), which means that a crowd level of '6' back in 2010 would more likely equate to a '4' or a '5' with today's larger average crowds.  I reached out to Len Testa, the mastermind behind the concept of and Lines, and he confirmed the crowds are definitely increasing.  According to Len, "(t)he average crowd back then was around a '6' on our calendar, and in 2016 so far, it's closer to an 8."  This essentially means that having a plan before entering a park is even more valuable now than it was when the crowds were lower.

Here's the short version:  In a busier time (like what we were at), not having a touring plan probably would have allowed us to see 7-9 attractions on the day we were there.  The touring plans allowed us to see nearly quadruple the number of attractions.  Granted, we were veterans of the parks, we knew exactly how to get to the attractions, and we had FastPass+ at our disposal, where, in 2010, the traditional paper method of Fastpass was being used.  Okay, so we also counted the Dole Whips as an attraction, and the Royal Majesty Makers was a bit of a stretch (though we did see 5 minutes of the show).  Still, 30-35 attractions on one of the busier days of the year is a pretty impressive accomplishment.

Keep in mind that we were not running around like crazy; we took an average pace between attractions.  We did not skip meals, either, and we had several snack and (subsequently) bathroom breaks throughout the day.  We spent a couple of minutes browsing some of the gift shops, and we left before the park closed. Oh, and there's my screw-up of hitting "optimize" on the first attraction, too.  Had I been in my 20s and still in my U.S. Air Force Academy physique, I think that 40+ attractions were easily attainable.

The best part is that the folks behind the software are constantly tweaking the app to help maximize one's time in the parks. For example, one of the biggest wrenches that can be thrown into a plan is an attraction unexpectedly closing.  A recent entry on the blog announced an update that estimates a rides downtime during a closure and will take that into account on a reoptimization of a plan.  I have not yet had the chance to utilize this update, but I'm sure that it will definitely help someone who has an attraction set up early in their plan go down!

This undoubtedly reaffirms my recommendation of Touringplans software when taking a Disney trip (or Universal Orlando...that's the next trip report muahahaha), and I am going to continue to gift this to my clients who want help with itinerary planning in the theme parks.  The benefits that my clients get from this software far outweigh the minor expense I incur by purchasing this for them.

We did spend one more night in Orlando.  The following morning was a quick packing up.  We grabbed a few pics of our 1 Bedroom unit at Vacation Village:

It's a nice place with a great location!  I wouldn't have any reservations about recommending this place.

We checked out, but, before we made our way up to Orlando Sanford airport, we drive back to Walt Disney World one final time.   We were able to meet up with some friends that we had not seen for many years over at Animal Kingdom Lodge:

Dan, Brian, and was great seeing you again; I wish we could have stayed longer!

This actually concludes the trip report for this quick vacation. Don't fret, though, because I'm already working on another trip report...this next one will be our inaugural trip to Universal Orlando!

Hope you enjoyed it!

1 comment:

Mare said...

We loved your report! Thank you for taking the time to share it with us all. <3