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We’ve got a reader question that raises some interesting issues about holidays, Extra Magic Hours, and rope drop.
We will be at Animal Kingdom on Monday, November 19 (just before Thanksgiving) with Extra Magic Hours at 7AM. We have the following fast passes: DINOSAUR (10AM), Kilimanjaro Safaris (11:15AM), Flight of Passage (3:50PM).
We have a group of seven (three kids), and we want to see as much of Disney’s Animal Kingdom as possible, but we’ll be skipping Everest.
What time should we get there to rope drop Pandora (so we can maybe ride Flight of Passage twice)? Other suggestions on touring strategy?
We’d like to head to Epcot in late-afternoon and get the kids on Test Track and Frozen. Is it unlikely that any FastPass for Frozen or Test Track will be available late in the day when we leave Animal Kingdom?
Also, how early should I arrive for Hollywood Studios Extra Magic Hours to rope drop Slinky Dog Dash?
Would love your advice!! Thank you in advance!
Thanks for writing! There’s lots to unpack here, so let’s get to it.
Basic Notes & Resources
We always want to remind you that we can’t predict the future, so all of this advice is based on past experience and a few other resources. In particular for this post, I want to point out Touring Plans historical wait time data.
You can find historical wait times, including for last year’s Thanksgiving week, for every Walt Disney World ride over at Touring Plans. Here’s an example of their Na’vi River Journey data. You can change the URL to whatever date you’re looking for.
One tip is to check what wait times are looking like the days before your arrival. The MyDisneyExperience / Disney World app has these wait times. I also like to do some searches on twitter (use things like ride name, park name, “rope drop”) and see if anyone has posted anything relevant the few days before my visit. Occasionally you’ll see something like “got here at 8:30 and walked right on to Toy Story Mania!”
When To Arrive for Pandora Rope Drop
That Flight of Passage FastPass+ you picked up is clutch! But between Extra Magic Hours, Thanksgiving crowds, and wanting to park hop, you’re going to be up early anyways. 6:30AM is a reasonable time to arrive, but I’m probably aiming for 6AM to 6:15AM so I can really knock this day out of the park.
This isn’t just about getting on Flight of Passage twice (though it can be). If you get Flight of Passage done early, you might decide later to ditch your FastPass for it in favor of one over at Epcot.
If you oversleep or can’t make it until 7AM, don’t worry, your Flight of Passage FastPass has your back, and you’ll still probably have a short wait for Na’vi River Journey. Either way, if you’re out of Pandora by 8AM you’re in great position.
Getting Through The Rest of Animal Kingdom
Once you’re out of Pandora you’ll probably have about two hours until the 10AM Festival of the Lion King performance, which is the earliest you even need to start thinking about shows. Your remaining attractions for the day—since you’re skipping Everest—are: Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kali River Rapids, DINOSAUR, Primeval Whirl, TriceraTop Spin, and It’s Tough to be a Bug.
From Pandora, I’d head over to Dinoland U.S.A. (not what you expected, probably). Ideally, you’d modify that 10AM DINOSAUR to be earlier or you’d trade it for a Kali River Rapids at that time. You’re going to be aiming to make the 10:30AM Up! show.
From 8AM to 10:30AM, you can cover DINOSAUR, Primeval Whirl, and TriceraTop Spin. If you’re able, you could also fit in one (or both) of It’s Tough to be a Bug and Kali River Rapids. Again, the thing to do here is probably going to be to swap your DINOSAUR FastPass+ for a Kali River Rapids one at the same time. If you have to skip a Dino-Rama ride to get over to Kali, that would make sense.
At 10:30AM, head to the Up! bird show, which is conveniently near Kali River Rapids (in case you’re able to fit it into your morning) and not far from your 11:15AM FastPass+ for Kilimanjaro Safaris. At 11:15AM (you can tap in as early as 11:10AM), use your FastPass+ for Kilimanjaro, and cross your fingers that you’ll make it into the 12PM Festival of the Lion King.
If you’re late for Lion King, no worries! Grab lunch. I recommend hanging out near Harambe so you can also catch the Tam Tam Drummers performers. Either way, you’re looking to get through Festival of the Lion King, lunch, and Finding Nemo - The Musical in these early afternoon hours.
Then you’ll just need to fit in any of the other attractions that you might not have squeezed in earlier (like It’s Tough to be a Bug and Kali River Rapids).
Afternoon and Epcot FastPass+
Getting a same-day FastPass+ for Test Track or Frozen Ever After is going to be a tall order. Let’s keep in mind a few things. First, you can start trying to modify your FastPass+ reservations as early as you want. You can’t grab the one at Epcot without sacrificing whatever you’ve got left in Animal Kingdom, but maybe you’ll decide it’s worth it.
Second, working with a large group for FastPass+ can be tricky. If you’re not finding space for seven people, try finding space for four (three kids and one adult). Once you find that four, you can try to get the other three people an overlapping time so you can all ride together. Of maybe you can only ever find four, not seven, and at least the kids get to ride.
Third, if you wind up in one of these lines keep searching for FastPass+ space while you’re in line. You can sometimes find FastPass+ times that will get you on earlier than if you kept waiting in the standby line. Even if the FastPass+ time is a lot later, you might still decide you’d rather not be waiting in line anymore.
Slinky Dog Dash Rope Drop At Extra Magic Hours
This one is tougher. When we visited Slinky Dog Dash at rope drop on a busy Saturday, we arrived 45 minutes before scheduled park open. We were near the front of the pack at rope drop, but a slow walk to the ride (we were video recording) left us with a 21-minute wait.
I’m probably aiming for 30 to 45 minutes early. I’d expect Slinky Dog Dash to see waits that look roughly like what Na’vi River Journey had last year. I might be too negative, though, so 45 minutes to an hour early might make sense.
I hope this helps, and I hope you have a Magical vacation!
All Your Other Disney World Planning Questions Answered
Don't be overwhelmed by Disney World planning! Take a second to check out our most important content and you'll not only be an expert, but you'll save big $$$ along the way.
Just starting out? Check out our Walt Disney World planning guide! If you're still picking dates, we've got everything you need to know about Disney crowd calendars. For picking your hotel, check out our Walt Disney World hotels guide.
When it comes time to book, we've got you covered with posts on how to book cheap flights, how to get the best deal on your Disney hotel, and where to find discount Disney World tickets. And of course everyone wants to know whether or not they should get a Disney World dining plan!
Don't forget to master your Disney World FastPass+ strategy a few months in advance. We'll keep you out of long lines so you can maximize the magical time in the parks! We've got park-specific guides as well: Magic Kingdom FastPass, Epcot FastPass, Animal Kingdom FastPass, and Hollywood Studios FastPass.
Know what to ride with our guides to: Magic Kingdom rides, Hollywood Studios rides, Epcot rides, and Animal Kingdom rides! Plus learn about the water parks with our guide to Blizzard Beach and our guide to Typhoon Lagoon!
Finally, before you head out, be sure to check out our to-the-point packing list, 10 essentials you forget to pack for every Disney trip. And if you're interested in saving, there's no better list than our 53 Ways to Save on your Disney trip from start to finish.