Only a few short months ago, my daughter had a thrill ride experience that began a new love for her at the Walt Disney World Resort. At age 11, she was very much like her mother—not the thrill junkie her sister had always been—but all of that would change after a 3-minute ride aboard a mine cart on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Not only did it make her fall head over ears in love with Disney thrill rides, but it also restructured her list of favorite princesses to promote Snow White to the new number one spot!
This family-friendly coaster nestled in the heart of the New Fantasyland expansion at Magic Kingdom has Guests raving and has even turned some coaster scaredy-cats into quasi-coaster enthusiasts. The attraction had a soft opening on May 21, 2014 and was officially opened to Guests at Walt Disney World on May 28, 2014. (You can also experience this attraction if you’re ever in China at Shanghai Disneyland.)
Scoring a FastPass+ time for the ride proved difficult in the months following its opening, and the stand-by queue saw 90 to 120-minute waits. And while FastPass+ times are somewhat less difficult to score now, during peak seasons in the park, those times go quickly, and if you try reserving one only weeks ahead of time, you’ll likely see this attraction listed under the “Unavailable Experiences” on the My Disney Experience app.
What makes this coaster so popular? And what about it has Guests returning to ride it again and again, even if a stand-by line is part of that journey? Here are eight really cool things about the attraction that might just have you wanting to mine gems with the Seven Dwarfs on your next Disney adventure.
8. It’s been a long time coming.
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was one of the main attractions created by Walt Disney Imagineers as part of the New Fantasyland expansion. The expansion was forecasted for several years before its opening on December 6, 2012. The Seven Dwarfs attraction was over five years in the making, from the planning stages to the realization of the attraction and its opening in May of 2014.
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7. It’s two attractions in one.
One of the things that sets this attraction apart from others is that it is a thrill ride and a dark ride, combined into one experience. Part of the ride takes place on the outdoor tracks, including a big drop and a whoosh behind a waterfall. Another part of the ride takes Guests into the workplace of the Seven Dwarfs—a mine where “a million diamonds shine.” During the part of the attraction that takes place indoors, the ride vehicles move more slowly than they do during the rest of the ride, thanks to variable speed technology in the 20-passenger trains. This technology allows the ride vehicles to race down the mountain into the valleys and back up again, while allowing the them to proceed at a much slower speed through the mine.
6. You can help Doc while you wait.
Imagineers surely knew this attraction would be a Guest favorite and that the stand-by queue would have to be entertaining, interactive and alive with color and intrigue so that Guests could more happily pass the time while waiting their turn to experience the ride. While you wait, you can help Doc sort jewels by shape and size on a virtual wooden trough that is more than 15 feet long. It incorporates touchscreen technology to allow Guests to drag jewels to different trays by sorting them. There is also a part of the queue that allows Guests to “wash” the jewels as well.
5. You’re never sitting still.
Disney is always on the forefront of cutting-edge ride technology, and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is another example of that. It’s the first coaster of its kind in the world to incorporate ride vehicles that sway from side to side during the ride to simulate the swaying you would experience on a mine cart inside an actual mine. The sway of each vehicle is independent of other ride vehicles on the train, and the amount of sway depends upon whether one Guest or two are riding, and also upon the distribution of weight inside the ride vehicle.
4. The year 1937 revisited
To rebuild a structure that was actually in existence back in 1937 would prove to be an undertaking in its own right. Now imagine rebuilding a structure that was only in existence on the big screen—and in animation form. That’s exactly what Disney Imagineers did as part of the development of this attraction, and the attention to detail is amazing! In creating the Seven Dwarfs’ cottage in the woods, Imagineers matched the color of shingles, the slope of the roof and even the color of paints used on the cottage in its animated form to create a real-life Seven Dwarfs’ cottage that is identical to the one in the 1937 feature film, Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
3. Imagineer-created terrain
The track on which the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train rides weaves in and out of caves, travels up the mountainside and back down through the valleys. It makes hairpin turns here and there, but the entire area on which the track rests in 100% Imagineer-fabricated. Though you are sure you’re in the mountains, you’re still really in an area of Central Florida that used to be mushy swampland.
2. Recycled animatronics
At EPCOT, many of the audio-animatronic humans showcased in the Spaceship Earth attraction once played roles at Magic Kingdom’s Hall of Presidents attraction. The same practice was used during creation of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride. Most of the animatronics used in the new attraction—including Doc, Bashful, Sleepy, Happy and Grumpy—are animatronics that were used in the Snow White’s Scary Adventures attraction that permanently closed in 2012. Disney’s doing its part to reduce, reuse and recycle!
1. Smile for the camera!
One of the coolest features of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction is that it boasts two on-ride cameras that are able to create videos and pictures for Guests to view via Disney’s PhotoPass system. The only other ride in the parks that has the same feature is Disney’s Hollywood Studio’s Tower of Terror.
If you have time when next you visit Magic Kingdom, would you lend a hand and help the dwarfs mine their gems so they can get home in time for supper? And don’t forget to give a cheery “Heigh-ho” as you leave!