Having just returned from our annual family trip to Walt Disney World, sorting through fresh memories, the opportunity to share the experience of Disney’s newest mountain coaster should not be delayed. The addition of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train indeed made a large impact on our trip which was great as always.
A few months back I took us through the new Fastpass+ process where we did not originally make a reservation for the newest ride, which was quickly rectified after the opening of the ride and the subsequent long stand by lines that immediately appeared (thank you touringplans.com!). Safe to say we were looking forward to riding the Mine Train more than any other ride in Florida…and safe it say…it did not disappoint. Alas before we get to that we have our arrival date and welcome to Walt Disney World.
The trip began with a Monday arrival through the gate of the Happiest Place on Earth..a check in to the Beach Club villas (which required use of my magic band to confirm) around lunch, a quick bite at Hurricane Hanna’s grill (a great spot to stretch out and absorb the Disney resort atmosphere) followed by a trip over to Epcot while we waited for our room to be ready. It was also the big moment to get our first “green light” with our family’s magic bands at the Epcot International Gateway entrance. After stopping briefly to take a photo and grab a walking beverage from the Rose and Crown, we wandered all the way from the International Gateway to Spaceship Earth. A good first ride, especially with a chance to use our first FP/Magic band combo, we settled in and started the theme park experience.
Next up was one of our family favorites, Soarin, using a Fastpass+ that let us ride for the first time in the daylight hours. The ride was great as always especially with our 3.5 year-old enjoying it for the first time. Soarin is a ride that can warm the hearts of the group (as long as there is no fear if heights) while having just enough feeling of speed..even though you are not actually moving at all.
A quick stop at the seas with Nemo led to a talk with a certain turtle from the film, concluding our first afternoon at the park. Arriving back from our walk at our resort, our room was now ready and the number sent via text to my phone. Perfect timing, not to be outdone by the early arrival of our groceries. (Thank you garden grocer!) We began to set up our room for the next few days before scurrying back to Epcot for a dinner at our favorite restaurant, Le’ Cellier in the Canada pavilion. As usual, the filet steak delivered the goods and sent us back to our rooms satisfied and excited for
Tuesday’s morning at the Magic Kingdom and the ride of the trip.
The morning came with an excitement to get to the magic kingdom for not only the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but for the opening welcome show. This is our second year of experiencing the welcome from Disney characters upon arriving at for “rope drop”…but was our first opportunity to see two certain princesses from Disney’s Frozen!
With the family buzzing from the opening show, we walked down Main Street USA for the first time as a group in years. You see, for as long as I can remember, I have left the group to slide rapidly through the crowd to get those valuable paper Fastpass tickets. With our (3) Fastpass + reservations made, I looked around with a large smile with my wife and kids at my side.
We arrived in New Fantasyland after walking through Cinderella’s Castle in time for the first show of Enchanted tales with Belle. A great little show where the children get to take part, it set us in the right mood to go Under the Sea with the Little Mermaid. As with last summer, an early arrival to this attraction will send you rapidly moving through the detailed que and right on board the ride through the movie’s great moments. With a few minutes still after Mermaid but before our Train reservation, we stopped in to the charming Belle’s village and Gaston’s Tavern to observe the details. However it was time to move on and get to our task at hand.
With the ability to walk all the way around the large attraction that is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, we were ready to enter the gates and head inside with a bit of knowledge of what lie ahead. The kids and I held up four magic bands (my wife is the trip thrill ride photographer)..and headed inside the cottage looking building. Our Fastpass worked like a charm, putting us in a short train with room for us in two by two seats. This is important in case you only have one parent on the ride with three children. After pushing down the lap bars for all 3, with my youngest next to me…I slid into my seat pushed the lap bar down…saw all the smiles…and began the ride. The Mine Train begins by quickly moving outdoors ..with my older two children (ages 8&6) reaching back for my hands to hold. With all kids comforted we enjoyed the swift ride through the hills and into the diamond mine of the Dwarfs!
The Mine Train slows down at this point, rocking to the sounds of a welcome melody, giving the entire group a chance to see each of our Seven friends up close and personal. These animatronic versions of each Dwarf were amazing..with incredible details that will hold up for years to come.
As you leave the mine, the train car slides down a hill..then begins to pick up speed and shoot around the turns of the mountain tracks. The ride was smooth (similar to Expedition Everest) and quick..and by the time the screams could come out we were back to the dwarf cottage …slowing down once again to see into their home..exactly at the point of the movie where Snow White and Dopey are about to dance. The last observation you may make is seeing a certain Wicked Witch approaching the home from another side. We pulled into our final stop and climbed out of the train cars thrilled with our ride and ready to embark on the rest of the day.
That rest of the day included an opportunity in the new Dumbo circus tent followed by a spin on that timeless, yet improved classic. Speaking of classics, we then set out to ride on the Carrousel, a visit to a Small World, and a flight over London with Peter Pan. Nothing really captures family time memories like reliving the fantasyland rides that you rode as kids with your own kids.
These experiences were then joined as my daughter and I went on it conquer two more famous mountains at Walt Disney World. Her appreciation for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (enough to wait on a 40-minute line) and Splash Mountain really makes the trip eve more exciting each time. These were both great as usual..and yet quite different than the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
We ended the magic kingdom day with Mickey’s Phillarmagic, a wonderful movie musical experience enjoyed by the whole family. Then headed out towards our bus back to the Beach club. After a Florida thunderstorm and a brief pool outing, we were off to the Flying Fish on the Boardwalk for another family favorite meal. This meal always ends with my wife taking the group into the adjoining Seashore Sweets for dessert. The real sweet treat of the evening however came at 9pm when my eldest child and I snuck off to catch Illuminations…even in the rain.
Illuminations is probably my favorite nighttime show..partly because of the show ..but mostly because of its location in one of my favorite places: World Showcase in Epcot. Not to spoil the ending, but the point when all of the Nations Pavilions light up to the music brings a chill every time. After that moment we began to head back to prepare for our final day on land before we headed off on Thursday for our first cruise on the Disney Dream.
Wednesday was a rainy morning in Disney’s Hollywood Studios that began sunny enough with yet another opportunity to walk with my family ..this time down Hollywood Boulevard (toy story midway mania FP+ booked months ago). This trip was also different as the entire park has been laid over with a Frozen Summer. We were greeted by a funny welcoming video with Olaf before we went over to try our skill.
Arriving at Toy Story Midway Mania (my wife’s favorite), we quickly moved through Andy’s room and on board our ride vehicles. The entire family enjoyed the ride with my wife taking the highest score in accuracy as well as a very high point total. After this we bounced into Disney Junior live on stage. A show that really hits home with the little ones as they watch puppet versions of their favorites on stage. Next was a trip across the park and across the galaxy with Star Tours….then an unexpected run into the Muppet 3d show to avoid the thunderstorm that was coming right at the start of the Frozen royal greeting. After the Muppet attraction, we scurried through the rain to another family favorite, Beauty and the Beast live on stage. This show is one of my oldest son’s favorites …it is always well done and sitting together in that amphitheater really gives us a chance to catch our breath and relax for 30 minutes.
Before we left the studios we went to the play and dine lunch show with the aforementioned Disney Junior characters, this time full size. These character lunches are a great chance for the kids to take pictures and get autographs, while being inside and enjoying a meal. The show involved singing and dancing with the characters and kids, which again gave the adults time to relax and smile at the giddiness of the little ones.
After lunch, we decided to walk back to the Beach Club, through the Boardwalk hotel area, then over to our first chance to enjoy Stormalong Bay. This pool area of the Beach and Yacht club has portions of the pool that are sand bottom….with a small beach area available to sit and watch your kids play in the sand as well. We ended our pool afternoon with the kids slides..and lots of happy faces.
Our final dinner was back in Epcot at Via Napoli…always fun for the family…with the comfort food of WDW’s best pizza and happy atmosphere. After dinner we decided to head over to the Mexico pavilion to enjoy a small attraction, the grand fiesta tour with the three caballeros. This brief ride is great for little kids..as well as great for after dinner.
On the final day before leaving for our cruise, we went through the gateway one last time to experience Test Track. A favorite of my daughter’s..It was first for some in our group…ending with our 3.5 year old having his hands in the air as we sped towards 65mph!
Another nice walk back ended with checking out of our great two bedroom villa and off to the car. It was time to drive to the Disney Dream. Full details on our first Disney Cruise to come next week.
Looking back at our short trip to Walt Disney World, I can say that adding in a new headliner was well worth removing a smaller attraction in order to fit in our day and brief time in the park. The ability for the entire family to connect and create our own experience in the world of Disney classic animation was the highlight of our visit.