The Race to Big Thunder Mountain

4 11 2009

Seeing an advert the other day for the DVD release of Disney’s ‘Race to Witch Mountain’ made me think of my last visit to Disneyland Resort Paris. Many may see the implementation of Extra Magic Hours at Disneyland Park in Paris as a step forward, but it does create a major problem with riding Big Thunder Mountain in Frontierland.

Extra Magic Hours allows guests into Disneyland Park two hours before regular opening, however only Main Street U.S.A, Central Plaza and Discoveryland are open to the Disney hotel guests for those two hours. During my stay in August I took advantage of the Extra Magic Hours on each day of my visit, varying my touring plan and working out the best option, here’s what I found worked best:

Get to the park for at least one and a half hours before opening to the general public, I find that you don’t need to be there for the whole two hours as all attractions tend to be walk-ons up to half an hour before opening. Head over to Discoveryland and ride Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast, this attraction will have big lines for the rest of the day so riding while it’s a walk-on or has a very small queue is integral. If you can get a Fastpass for the attraction get one before you ride so you can re-ride again later.

After riding Buzz go over to Space Mountain, the longest line I faced for the attraction was 15 minutes during Extra Magic Hours and that was with only one train running. I personally rode Space Mountain multiple times in a row as I’m a coaster fanatic, but you can pick and chose how many times you want to ride, the same can be said for Buzz Lightyear Laser Blast as long as the line remains small throughout Extra Magic Hours.

From Space Mountain walk towards the back of Discoveryland and go to Star Tours (if its open). Star Tours is another attraction which faces relatively long lines during peak times in the day so take advantage of the short lines during Extra Magic Hours.

Once you’ve done everything you want to in Discoveryland head over to the entrance to Frontierland at least half an hour before it’s due to open. If there’s not many people waiting at the rope then sit down on one of the benches close by, there’s plenty to see with the Main Street Vehicles passing around Central Plaza all the time. As soon as a dozen or so people are waiting at the rope go and stand at the rope ready to enter Frontierland. Don’t leave it too late to get to the rope as the crowd around entrance builds up fast before the land is due to open.

When it’s time for rope-drop be prepared for lots of pushing and shoving, if you have younger or elderly visitors with you it may be best to stand back a little as the front of the crowd will be sprinting, yes sprinting, to Big Thunder Mountain. When they finally open the land avoid the urge to run with those at the front of the line, you’re only going to end up falling over or tripping someone up around you. instead walk at a fast pace and head for the FastPass distribution for the attraction.

You shouldn’t face too much of a line at the FastPass distribution as the majority of people head straight for the attraction rather than grabbing a FastPass. Once you have your FastPass it’s really up to you what you do. You can either get in line for Big Thunder, which by this point could be 20-30 minutes long or you can visit some of the other attractions in the park and come back at your FastPass return time. Remember, you can return at any point during the day AFTER the return time, so don’t worry if you’re not there in the hour stated on your FastPass.

It’s also worth noting that if you’re not all that interested in some or all of the attractions in Discoveryland then Extra Magic Hours offers a great chance to get some photo’s. Crowds are going to be minimal so you’ll be able to get unobstructed pictures, not only that but it’s on of the very few times in the day you’ll be able to take a photo directly down the middle of Main Street from Central Plaza without getting in the way of other guests.

I find this a simple and affective plan to ensure you take advantage of Extra Magic Hours an get to ride all the major attraction that are open during the two hours. I wouldn’t suggest doing this everyday of your visit as you’ll want to be outside the Walt Disney Studios Park early on at least one day to ensure you’re not going to face over a two hour wait for Crush Coaster in Toon Studio.

M. Owen

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