Unless you’ve been living underneath a magical gem mine for the past month, you’ve probably heard about the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction that opened on May 28, 2014, at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Len Testa’s review of the ride does a thorough job of explaining why we feel this family-friendly roller-coaster is worthy of 3½ stars. I accompanied Len on a soft-opening preview of Fantasyland’s newest ride during the 24 hour “Rock Your Disney Side” party, and returned on opening day to experience the ride during official operations. Here are some Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opening day observations that may make your visit more “heigh-ho” and less “poison apple.”
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Standby Queue
The queue area around the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is lovingly sculpted and landscaped, but unfortunately there isn’t quite enough of it. The standby line runs out of the entrance (across from Storybook Treats snack stand) and stretches along the sidewalk towards Storybook Circus. When I stepped into the queue near the Mad Tea Party, the wait time was 75 minutes, according the portable wait sign held by a cast member marking the end of the line. However, by the time I reached the actual queue entrance, the wait was posted at 110 minutes, which proved much closer to my actual 100 minute wait.
Here are the stages of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, as I experienced them:
- From the sidewalk near Mad Tea Party, to the main queue entrance of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: 30 minutes
- From the start of the main uncovered external queue, until the first shaded section of exterior queue: 30 minutes
- From the start of the shaded queue, to the first interactive “gem washing” game table: 20 minutes
- From the first interactive activity to the last one (spin all 7 gem barrels to make Snow White appear on the ceiling) just inside the interior queue: 10 minutes
- From the start of the interior queue to the boarding area: 10 minutes
As you can see, the interactive activities, though well done, comprise only as small fraction of the queue near its end, and if you want to fully explore them you’ll need to step out of your place in line. The unshaded exterior queues have virtually no shade, and will be brutally hot this summer. There are high-powered fans along the main exterior queue, but they don’t spray cooling mist. Disney was even handing out cups of free ice water along the extended queue on opening day, in hopes of preventing patrons from passing out.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train FastPass+
In addition to riding standby for the sake of journalistic investigation, I also booked FastPass+ reservations for myself on opening day. The FastPass+ return line parallels the exit and bypasses all of the interactive queue, leading riders directly to the boarding area. From scanning my MagicBand to boarding the train took seven minutes. Until the crowds for this attraction die down, consider using FastPass+ here unless you can be among the first riders of the day, particularly if you’re not planning to use it for Space Mountain and Big Thunder.
Front Row vs. Back Row
As expected, you get a better look at the dark ride elements from the front row, while you feel slightly more sway from the swinging cars in the back. Luckily, you can decide for yourself which you like better by requesting the first or last seats. There are separate standby queues for the front and back rows; just let the attendant past the spinning barrels know which row you want to wait for.
Daytime vs. Nighttime
After taking multiple trips through the mine both before and after sunset, I can say that both day and night rides have their merits. During the day, you get a good look at the gorgeous rock work and faux horticulture cradling the train tracks. At night, the area around the tracks is oddly under-lit, leaving the spectacular scenery mostly in the dark. On the other hand, the darkness accentuates the sense of speed, making the ride feel faster than it is.
Night rides also have the advantage of giving an unobstructed view of the cottage interior at the end of ride, while glare on the glass often makes the animatronics inside invisible during daytime. Finally, the unshaded exterior queue will obviously be much more comfortable in the evening than at midday.
Mine Train Seat Size
The mine cars hold two riders per row, with molded seats and individual lap bars. I found them fairly comfortable, and cozy enough to prevent me from sliding into my companion, as I do on some coasters. But some larger guests have reported finding them a bit too confining. Unfortunately, I don’t yet see a sample car available outside the attraction to test before you get in the queue. On the positive side, the trains sit flush with the loading platform, making it relatively easy for wheelchair users to transfer in and out.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Rider Capacity
The biggest question leading up to opening was what the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train capacity would be like. We now know that the attraction can run up to five 20-passenger trains at one time, which is more than some observers initially expected. However, the real question is not how many trains can be on the track but what the average interval between train dispatches is, as that is what ultimately determines hourly ridership capacity.
- According to cast members, the minimum dispatch interval is 43 seconds between trains, which translates to 1,674 guests per hour.
- In actual observations, the average dispatch interval on opening day was approximately 55 seconds, which equals 1309 riders per hour.
Once the operators and guests become more familiar with the attraction, I expect average hourly throughput to end up between 1,500 and 1,600 riders per hour. That puts it ahead of C-ticket dark rides like Peter Pan’s Flight, but far behind people-eating omnimovers like Under The Sea or The Haunted Mansion. However, it has been rumored that Disney is distributing a much higher ratio of FastPass+ reservations for this ride than usual, which would further restrict the speed of the standby line.