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The Culprit Behind Decades of Insane Lines at This Magic Kingdom Attraction Has Finally Been Uncovered

The Correct Way to Rope Drop Magic Kingdom
Credit: Disney/Canva

One Magic Kingdom attraction is notorious for wait times in the queue that sometimes rival the wait times for some of the park’s most recently added experiences. But there’s more behind this long-wait phenomenon than simply a ride that’s uber-popular with Magic Kingdom guests.

magic kingdom partners statue

Credit: Becky Burkett/Canva

“How Much Longer?”

Second star to the right, and straight on till morning–but that only works if you can ever get to the second star to the right in the first place. And at Disney World’s Peter Pan’s Flight, guests routinely find it difficult to get too much further than the entrance to the queue for the attraction.

peter pan's flight

Credit: Becky Burkett

That’s because the posted estimated wait times for having the chance to experience what London looks like from high above Big Ben alongside Peter Pan, Tinker Bell, and the Darling children often serve as deterrents for guests who don’t want to spend so much of their time in line and who have a hard time believing that such a classic (translation: old) Disney Parks attraction (that features no state-of-the-art ride technology, projections, or other fascinating inventions from Imagineering) could still be so massively popular after all these years.

But it is.

Wait Times to Soar With Peter Pan Can Rival Wait Times for Much Newer Attractions

The wait times to experience Peter Pan’s Flight in Fantasyland at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom are often among the longest in the park, and they have been for years and years.

But those ridiculously long wait times aren’t because the attraction is new or because it’s only available at Disney World. Sixteen years after opening at Disneyland on Opening Day on July 17, 1955, Peter Pan’s Flight opened to guests at Disney World on October 3, 1971, two days after the first official operating day at the Central Florida Disney theme park resort.

Since that time, the attraction has been duplicated at Tokyo Disneyland at Tokyo Disney Resort, at Disneyland Park at Disneyland Paris, and at Shanghai Disneyland Park.

peter pan ride at shanghai disney

Credit: Shanghai Disney Resort

It Takes FOREVER. Just Ask Any Fan of Magic Kingdom.

Guests who frequent the parks in Florida will agree that when the parks are full, wait times for Peter Pan’s Flight seem nearly unbelievable. Magic Kingdom guests can often expect to spend more than 100 minutes in line for the ride, and that number can grow even higher during seasons of peak attendance in the Central Florida Disney parks.

The phenomenon often leaves guests scratching their heads in disbelief, but now we know the culprit behind the seemingly unjustifiable wait times at Peter Pan’s Flight–and it’s not what you might think.

Tick Tick Crocodile Disney Peter Pan 1953

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

RELATED: The Lines at Disney World Are Insane, and It’s All Your Fault

Peter Pan’s Flight has been a guest-favorite experience for nearly 70 years, and its popularity is the central reason behind Imagineers’ decision to include it at almost every Disney theme park resort in the world.

Inside the attraction, Disney World invites guests of Fantasyland to “board [a] pirate galleon and follow Peter Pan as he beckons you to join him on the flight of a lifetime,” to “wave goodbye to Nana and join the Darling children on a gentle cruise over London, where Big Ben and Tower Bridge light up the night sky” and to “descend into Never Land between glowing volcanoes and sparkling waterfalls,” warning them that as they swoop into Pirate’s Cove, “there’s danger ahead.”

peter pan's flight

Credit: Disney Parks

The experience at Peter Pan’s Flight doesn’t feature cutting-edge ride technology. It is a rather short ride, and it isn’t a new concept. But it does evoke and capture those feelings brought on by the magic of classic Disneyana.

Inspired by Disney’s classic 1953 film, the attraction extends to guests a warm welcome as they enter the Darlings’ home. Photos of the family decorate the walls of the long hallways in the home that serve as the first stretch of the queue for the ride.

peter pan's flight

Credit: Becky Burkett

As guests make their way through the queue, they find themselves inside the Darling children’s nursery, where Wendy’s canopied bed is tucked away in a corner, and her younger brother’s bed features blocks laid out to spell “P-E-T-E-R P-A-N.”

A calendar on the wall in the nursery has the date December 27, 1904 circled.

peter pan's flight queue

Credit: Becky Burkett

Though Disney World has numerous attractions that feature elaborate themed queues, it’s likely that guests won’t find a more interactive queue for a classic Disney attraction. The queue is quite literally an attraction unto itself, and that’s a good thing, as guests usually spend between 25 and 105 minutes inside it as they dream of finally having their chance to take flight with Peter Pan and Wendy.

105 Minutes or More? WHYYYYY?

The reason behind that long wait is not what you’re thinking. In fact, Disney’s Imagineers are counting on the fact that guests don’t truly realize what’s going on as they wait for their turn to board a vibrantly-colored galleon at Peter Pan’s Flight.

peter pan's flight galleon

Credit: Becky Burkett

Though the attraction is indeed popular with guests of all ages, the truth about its popularity is that the attraction was designed to create the impression of being more popular than it actually is. As guests walk past the structure that houses the Peter Pan’s Flight attraction, they are privy to the visage of long lines snaking through the queue, and a sign posted on the face of the structure stays “updated” with excessive wait times.

And it’s very believable because, after all, what classic Disneyana fan doesn’t love Peter Pan, Wendy, and the Lost Boys?

peter pan film

Credit: Walt Disney Animation

But the wait times for the attraction aren’t high because of some unresolved fandom that took over in the 1950s and hasn’t let up. In fact, guests at Magic Kingdom can lay the blame for those long lines at Peter Pan’s Flight at the feet of Walt Disney’s very capable Imagineers. A lack of efficiency when it comes to moving Guests through the ride is also to blame.

A Less-Than-Productive System for Moving Guests

At the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction inside Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland, more than 3,000 scurvy guests weave through the ride queue and experience the ride itself every 60 minutes. That’s nearly four times the number of guests who move through the queue at Peter Pan’s Flight and finally get their chance to soar across the night skies above London with Peter Pan and the Darling children.

pirates of the caribbean disney world

Credit: Disney Parks

Years ago, the already-short ride experience at Peter Pan’s Flight was even shortened to help facilitate the movement of more guests through the attraction, but despite their best efforts, Imagineers simply haven’t been able to significantly increase the number of guests who are served every 60 minutes.

That’s why, on most days–and especially during peak seasons at Disney World–guests will often see long lines of excited fans making their way through the queue for the ride–and many times, spilling out onto the thoroughfare in Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland.

guests at fantasyland at magic kingdom disney world at dusk

Credit: Becky Burkett

The scenario is somewhat akin to another unsolvable problem that plagued Disney’s Imagineers at Disneyland, ultimately forcing them to scrap an entire exciting attraction. Not sure which attraction that was? Click here to find out.

About Becky Burkett

Becky's from the Lone Star State and has been writing since she was 10 and encountered her first Disney Park when she was 11. It was love at first Main Street Electrical Parade. Joy is blank lined journals, 0.7 mm pens, and all things Walt, Woody and Buzz, PIXAR, Imagineering, Sleeping Beauty (make it blue!), Disney Parks history and EPCOT. At Disney World, you'll find her croonin' with the birdies at the Enchanted Tiki Room or hangin' with Woody and the gang at Toy Story Land. If you can dream, you really can do it!

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