Ultimate Magic Kingdom Touring Plan Part 1 – Fairytale Garden Fail

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As I hung up the phone I was instantly reminded of the Oliver Hardy line, “Well, here’s another nice mess you’ve gotten me into.”  My great friend JL Knopp had just agreed to tackle the Ultimate Magic Kingdom Touring Plan with me.  We had already arranged a day to hang out in the parks together, but at the same time we had been discussing doing something new.  As I mentioned in my last article, “Preparing For An Ultimate Touring Plan”, I’d always wanted to do an Ultimate Touring Plan.  Suffice it to say, I was excited.

Anticipating the day, I immediately dove into planning, but I had a lot of questions.  So I started asking them to our resident Ultimate Touring Plan expert David Davies.  He immediately directed me to study up on the rules.  And he had some initial suggestions I incorporated into my notes right away: grab a FASTPASS for the new Town Square Theater meet & greet immediately, and do not arrive late to the Fairytale Garden.  I would later learn how very important that second suggestion was.

I covered a number of things about planning for an Ultimate Touring Plan last week, and much of that came out of my own planning and discussions with Dave and JL before our Tour.  The day we had picked out was April 9, 2011 which was to me a perfect day for it. Both the Crowd Calendar and the weather were looking to be on our side, and Magic Kingdom would be opened 16 hours (8am to 12am) that day.  I also checked both wait times and and showtimes.

Much of this research was incorporated into the notes I brought with me into the park that day.  Looking back, the planning phase of this was a lot of fun for me.  As much of my free time is spent at Walt Disney World already, planning isn’t something I need to do as much anymore because the parks have become more about being there for me.  I’m either already attending a planned set of events such as “Reunion”, or I’m doing ad-hoc planning using Lines.  This greatly fed my dormant commando touring side.

After a rough week at work, Saturday came – I was psyched and ready.  My wife, Cheryl, was away at a Hadassah conference, and knowing that I’d be gone for more than 16 hours that day, I’d chosen to board Jasper for the weekend.  This way I wouldn’t have to monitor him throughout the day.  I had packed my knapsack the night before so all I needed to do was head out the door and over to JL’s house and carpool over to the Magic Kingdom.

We parked in Minnie, roughly the 10th car there, and walked to the Transportation and Ticket Center.  The sun was first rising, it was a little chilly and we were still waking up.  We rode the Monorail over, and arrived at the main gate to Magic Kingdom at about 7:30am.  After settling on a place to wait for the Magic Kingdom Welcome, I grabbed a times guide and a map.  This, or at least a photograph of a times guide, is a must when doing an Ultimate Touring Plan.  That photo will need to be part of the pictures that you turn in to get credit in the Hall of Fame.

The Welcome started.  It was the first time I’d seen it with the new “Talking Mickey” – I still find it a little disconcerting to watch, but eventually I’m sure my brain will get over the “Uncanny Valley” aspect of it.  Otherwise the show hadn’t changed since the last time I saw it.  Once it was over we headed to the right archway, and as soon as the rope dropped we were moving.

The first stop was Dumbo, but on the way, as suggested, we grabbed FASTPASSes for Town Square Theater to see the Princesses. It’s important to note that according to the UMK Touring Plan as presented you’re supposed to get this FASTPASS later on.  However the entire plan is a series of suggestions.  If you limit yourself to just the one FASTPASS suggested you’re going to limit your chances of success.  And, as you’ll learn later on, you need to be prepared to adapt – judicious use of the FASTPASS system will help with that.

By 8:10am, even though it listed a 15 minute wait time,  we were off Dumbo.  And by the time it was 8:45am we had managed to breeze through Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Snow White, and the Astro Orbiter.  Even though Astro Orbiter is pretty much the same ride as Dumbo, I enjoy it more because the view up there is always spectacular – it’s just got one of the worst queue designs in all of Walt Disney World, so I don’t get up there as much as I’d like to.  If you’re afraid of heights, or don’t like being tilted as the ride vehicles are skewed a bit, you probably never go up there at all.

Had it been any other day where I was at the park that early, I probably would have considered knocking off the rest of Fantasyland as there was almost no one else present back there.  Snow White was a deviation from the UMK Touring Plan, but it was literally a walk on and it made complete sense to do at that time for 4 minutes of our time.  To me this is a testament to both the power and flexibility of Touring Plans.  And, much like the Force,  if you give yourself over to them they will guide your destiny and help you complete your goal.  Okay, maybe not the destiny part.

Probably my first mistake of the day, was that after getting off Astro Orbiter we should have gotten a FASTPASS for Space Mountain.  When all was said and done it wasn’t critical though.  We ended up having more FASTPASSes then we needed – and even one we couldn’t use.  Getting off of Snow White we were handed FASTPASSes for PhilharMagic by a castmember.  The rules for Ultimate Touring Plans specifically state that a FASTPASS “must be obtained by you, using your ticket, on the day that you complete the tour”.  Since they were handed to us, we could not use them.

Next, we rode the yellowish Main Street Vehicle from the Hub down to City Hall.  It was just us, and it was a lot of fun.  Getting off we managed to convince a family to hop in and ride to the Castle once we knew they were just headed to Fantasyland.  Walking back we had an excellent encounter with Mayor Weaver.  We even got to even check out his 20 year Disney service ring.  It was a very memorable moment.  We then headed up and through Cinderella Castle, stopping for a UMK required picture in front of one of the mosaic murals.

From there we headed to the Fairytale Garden to see Rapunzel and Flynn.  This one attraction pretty much defined the rest of the day for us.  You have to realize this attraction is a meet and greet with no fixed schedule.  It’s a core attraction for completing the UMK tours, so you can’t miss it.  However, due to it’s length (about 30-60 minutes) and that it has a daily capacity of about 400 to 500 guests, you need to arrive as early as possible to guarantee you’ll get in.  It fills up fast, so you shouldn’t pass it up just because the line is long or you will miss out and fail.

Your total time investment in the the Fairytale Garden is likely to be on the order of 1 to 2 hours.  Looking back, I can only say to plan for it.  I had never done this attraction before, and didn’t realize what a time sink it would be – I figured half as much time.  Not that we hated the meet and greet, we actually had a fun time with it – despite that for some reason they pipe in a hamburger smell.  Up until we arrived at the attraction we felt pretty good about our time, but 1 hour and 39 minutes later, we both knew our success was in jeopardy.

How did we fare? You’ll just have to wait until next week to find out.  Same TouringPlans.com time, same TouringPlans.com channel.

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Posted on April 28, 2011

26 Responses to “Ultimate Magic Kingdom Touring Plan Part 1 – Fairytale Garden Fail”

  • by Becky Lovins on April 28, 2011, at 9:02 am EDT

    Took watching Tangled about a dozen times to let Rapunzel off the hook for our December 2010 Ultimate fail…

    • So you hit the time sink wall of it also? I’d love to hear your views on it. I’ll get more specific about it next week, but I’d like to know at what point you felt you were in trouble? How long you kept going after that point? How long did you actually spend waiting for the meet&greet? Or you didn’t get to it until it was too late? etc.

  • Great post!! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story!!

  • So when is the “Right” time to get to this attraction? Everyone says early but what time is that so it doesn’t have such an impact on your day in the Magic Kingdom?

    • Honestly, castmembers say that people line up the second the park opens. It seems the hours are generally either 10a-5p or 9:15a-5:15p. We likely would have spent maybe 20-30 mins less time had we lined up right after we got off Astro Orbiter. that still would have been an hour and 15 minute wait roughly.

      Try to check the hours ahead of time. This would be easier at WDW in this case as I’ve not seen the schedule posted online. I’d plan to be there at least 30 minutes before the first show. Now if the park opens at 9am and the first show is 10am, that means 9:30am. You should then make the first or second show.

      Once you go inside, there is a 2nd queue btw. So you have two waits.

  • Tangled is such a time sink. Got there about 20 minutes after open (at 8) on a “7″ day, first show at 9 was already full, and a second line for a 10:30 show was already forming.
    Said “the heck with that” and rode Pooh, Snow White, Peter Pan, small world with no wait instead.

  • Were you able to get the Fastpass for the Town Square Theater Meet & Greet right at park opening time?

    • Also, is the line for the Tangled Meet & Greet one where one parent can wait in line, and then the rest of the family can come join them at the last minute?

      • There were people doing that, there are castmembers counting people in line though. So you should at the very least make sure they count your entire family and not just you.

    • Yes as soon as we went through the gate we went right to the FP machine for the theater and got our FPs.

      • Thanks! I can’t wait to hear how you fared. A new attraction that doesn’t offer Fastpasses will certainly make the ultimate tour difficult.

  • by Kenny the pirate White on April 28, 2011, at 4:26 pm EDT

    I would not attempt an Ultimate MK on a day that e park opens in 8 am. I wrote in December that Tangled would create a lot of incomplete tours. If you attempt, go straight there at 9 am, use fp well, and slow loaders before closing.

    • I’m not sure you have to avoid the 8am days. I think you have to consider that if the theater opens at 9:15a you may want to be there around 8:30a. You’d still be able to do Dumbo, Peter Pan, and 1 or 2 others. Had I known it was going to take twice as long as I had alloted for I’d have gone to wait those 30 mins earlier.

      • by kenny the pirate on May 2, 2011, at 8:46 am EDT

        If you enter the line at 8:30, provided it’s not already closed, your minimum wait is about 50 minutes for a 9:15 appearance. If you do an ultimate on a 9 am day, your wait is only 20 if you head straight there. As a matter of personal preference for an Ultimate Tour, I wouldn’t want to wait in line for an hour or more.

        • I agree, except that only Sunday nights are typically a 9am-12am day. Otherwise you’re talking 9am-9pm. Which granted you should be able to finish UMK in. But at the same time, it’s hard to justify NOT knocking off the 3 or 4 things before-hand if you have the opportunity to. But you’re right, we waited too long for sure. Also consider that 9am days, it often opens at 10am not 9:15am.

  • by Kristi Schmidt on May 5, 2011, at 2:33 pm EDT

    I did the Ultimate with Becky Lovins who posted above, and I wish the Rapunzel attraction could be completed for the plan the same way as Belle’s Storytime was previously– five minutes watching the show and a picture. That’s ultimately (pun not intended) how Becky and I wound up experiencing the Rapunzel show when we did the Ultimate, because we couldn’t see any other way of salvaging the day.

  • Doh! I totally missed this response. We were flying high by 10 and the opening of Toon Town. We headed straight for Rapunzel and heard, “Oh 45 minute wait” so we said, we’ll come back. The next time we checked it was 1.5 hour wait “Seriously?!?” and by noon when a mom told us she had been in line since 11:30 for the 2 pm show, we knew we were sunk. There was no way to spend 3 hours waiting for a show because we would have missed ALL the core shows that are only during the day.

    So we watched the dance and 5 minutes of the meet-n-greet as was the requirement for things like the 626 dance party and other type attractions in the past. We were going to submit it anyway.

    We finished all other core attractions and a half a dozen bonus in 16 hours. THEN I lost my camera with all the pictures on it from that day, so it didn’t matter anyway. We only came out of it with a dozen or so pics that our husbands took as they cheered us on occasionally.

    My friend that I did the plan with is trying again this Sunday with her daughter and me and my son are going to attempt it again in December. Super fun day. Now I just have to complete it!

    • I’ll presume your friend is Kristi above. Good luck to her on Sunday! And good luck to you in December. I need to try out Rapunzel on a day when I’m not doing an Ultimate Tour to get a better feel for it. But I’m still in shell shock some :)

  • Oh yeah, since we were in December, I think the show times were greatly limited. There were only a few chances to do the Move it, Shake it and other daytime shows. I think the flag retreat was the latest of any show except the castle lighting and MSEP. With Fairytale Garden ending at 4, we were sunk.

    I did go back later that week with my daughter and we got in line at 9:20 for the first show at 10 and didn’t get in until the second show and we were the last ones in so she didn’t get to do the dance, coloring thing.

    • Yeah I think we ended up in the 2nd show too. It’s just not well controlled. It should be a 100% FastPass event. Get the pass and come back at the proscribed time. Making people wait crazy amounts like that is insane.

      • Yeah, Kristi and I have been going to WDW together since high school in the 80′s. Our families have managed to vacation a couple times together and we always have fun.

        My comment to Disney Attractions at a convention last March was about the fact that they want to make every character interaction “special.” The kids may forget about the 3 hour wait once they meet the character, but the parents do not.

        I also think that there is a definite air of competitiveness at the parks where parents make sure their child is chosen for a show or experience (Jedi Training Academy for instance) and an attraction that is so limited in capacity only fuels that fire. Not only did we wait 2 hours in line, but we didn’t get to dance and color. We were one of 5 girls who had to watch the other 12 dance. Having an attraction that doesn’t give every kid the same opportunity to be “special” gives some parents and even worse memory.

        Oh well, its not like I think about this stuff too much ;)

        Can’t wait to see how the rest of the Epcot Ultimate went.

  • I wouldnt dream of cosplaying that hehe I cant believe it was done, i guess it was bound to happen do to the shows popularity.