What families need to know about Disney World's Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Well, heigh ho! The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train opens today, and it's definitely the hot new "ticket" at the Magic Kingdom. Before you rush to grab that FastPass reservation -- or decide if the new attraction is worth the standby wait -- here is what you need to know:
** Perhaps the most important thing to understand about this attraction is that it was not designed to be a thrill ride, but rather an experience that would appeal to (almost) all ages. With that concept in mind, Disney Imagineers developed a gentle roller coaster that many who previewed it -- including our own Deb Wills -- rank in between Goofy's Barnstormer and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad on the nail-biter scale. Individual cars sway gently from side to side during the 2.5-minute ride, and still my husband said after riding it that the Mine Train is among the smoothest and tamest coasters at Walt Disney World.
** The minimum-height requirement for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is 38 inches, compared with 35 inches for the Barnstormer and 40 inches for the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. This again points to the kid-friendly nature of the ride.
** Unlike the now-defunct Snow White's Scary Adventures, the storytelling throughout this attraction based on Disney's animated version of "Snow White" is not at all frightening. Guests are queued through a landscaped outdoor setting before heading to the mine entrance, and even inside queues are lit up by dazzling "jewels." The ride itself focuses on the lovable Seven Dwarfs rather than the Evil Queen as Snow White's Scary Adventures did, and the theming throughout the coaster is amazing and what guests would expect from a dark ride.
** In its quest to create a new experience that would appeal to the widest audience, Disney seemingly took the gender of its guests into account. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was a late addition to the development of New Fantasyland. It's been said that Disney planners went back to the drawing board when they realized that a substantial amount of real estate in New Fantasyland was dedicated to the Disney Princesses (and, originally, Disney Fairies). They needed an attraction that would give boys and dads a reason to venture behind Cinderella Castle (aside from accompanying sisters and moms, of course). The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train certainly accomplished that with its adventuresome theming.
** If the stand-by queue is not too long for your day's schedule, choose that option at least once. There are three interactive areas that are really cute, and the FastPass+ queue bypasses two of them.
** In short, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is not a scary ride for most youngsters, and it's not boring for children and adults who seek bigger thrills. My 9-year-old daughter, who regularly rides Walt Disney World's "Mountain" coasters with my husband, thoroughly enjoyed the ride when she previewed it during a soft opening and can't wait to experience it again.
** So, where can you find your favorite characters from the ride? Snow White meets guests each day at the nearby Princess Fairytale Hall. The Seven Dwarfs come out of the mine for special appearances during Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, both of which require a separate ticket.
** There are a couple of fun photo opportunities near the ride, as well. Guests exiting the ride will pass by the Dwarfs' cottage, and it makes a unique backdrop to remember the experience. (There are no professional photos taken on the attraction, as of this writing.) Or, have a friend or family member stand along the fence surrounding the ride, on the walkway to Storybook Circus. Have them snap the photo when your mine car crests the hill and Cinderella Castle is in the background. Really adventurous? Have your camera ready as you come out of the mountain on one of the highest drops of the ride. In front of you, you'll have a bird's eye view of the land enchanted by Belle and the Beast. To the right, Ariel's kingdom; to the left, Cinderella's Castle. Hope you have a fast shutter speed.
** Although the stores near Cinderella Castle and on Main Street, U.S.A., carry a variety of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs merchandise, only one item so far is available that is attraction-specific. An open edition logo pin features Dopey and Grumpy and contains a swivel movement similar to the attraction vehicles created for the ride. It costs $9.95.