Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: A Fun and Solid “D Ticket” Attraction (Spoilers Only at End)

Written by Kevin Yee. Posted in Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World

Tagged: ,

frontpagepic_KY

Published on May 27, 2014 at 2:00 am with 54 Comments

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train finally soft-opened to the public on Friday 5/23, which also happened to be the 24 hour day. While I didn’t show up there until the late afternoon, I got to sample the ride six times in that first day (lines move much faster when there’s no FastPass+) and have some initial reviews to offer. Note that the first half of this report is spoiler-free.

067b - IMG_9525

Let’s cut right to the chase: the ride exceeded my expectations. I have always assumed, since the announcement, that as a ride it would be situated somewhere between Barnstormer and Big Thunder, and indeed that about sums up the thrill level of the attraction. It’s not meant to be an E-Ticket. Those of you with outsized expectations, expecting a power coaster like Big Thunder, will actually be disappointed. The swinging action, as I grew to suspect in the final weeks, mostly does not ADD to the thrill but rather dampens it (more on this later, however).

I went in to the ride without knowing the spoilers and without having seen any videos, so your level of expectation may be different. I had heard enough to expect that the indoor scenes would be short and not that involved. That led me to expect extremely limited things. In retrospect, I guess I was expecting something like the temple (indoor) scenes in the Orlando Jungle Cruise–about a minute or so only and just passing by some static displays. Well, the “dark ride” portion of the attraction was very much above my expectations. Yes, the animatronics were surprising for how detailed and lifelike they were, but mostly it’s the set design and lighting that had me wowed. That said, I don’t want to raise YOUR expectations too high. This part of the ride is unfortunately too short.

I considered calling this a “C Ticket” attraction, mostly because the level of thrill is just not that high. But there is a charm in this attraction that is hard to put your finger on. It has none of the coldness and distance of Under the Sea. It feels intimate and warm, and instantly familiar, while nonetheless delivering surprises and (short) visual feasts. Frankly, on the level of execution in some ways it could even be an “E Ticket”, especially if you remind yourself that in Walt’s day, most E-Ticket rides were NOT thrill rides; they were about theme and immersion. But it doesn’t quite reach that level, mostly because of its brevity. Part of me wishes they’d not tried to make a roller-coaster. A next-gen dark ride with zero thrill at all could have had tons of show scenes. If they were all of this quality, we’d be having a whole different conversation.

038 - IMG_9308

The bottom line is that this is a “starter coaster” for children, but it’s one that no other theme park could ever match. Its innovative ride system gives it a tech boost that renders the ride itself unbelievably smooth, for one thing, but that is overshadowed by the charm and technical know-how in the show (animatronics/environment). It’s hard to imagine any Disney competitor truly delivering as much on that level as this ride provides. I also enjoy that it’s a “terrain coaster” (ie, the peaks and valleys are not bare steel, but follow the contours of the artificial hills and dips). Yes, it’s a tiny one, but this IS part of the Disney mountain range. It’s easily the brightest star of the New Fantasyland constellation.

Theme; “Look and Feel”

Let’s face it: this ride feels like it belongs at Disneyland. It’s small, it’s cute, and it’s intimate. Portions of the ride feel like other Disney experiences. When the queue goes downhill next to a stone wall, it reminds me of Anaheim’s Big Thunder queue. When we reach the loading zone, it reminds me of Journey to the Center of the Earth in Tokyo on a smaller scale. The reason for this is that the entire environment around you in the indoor queue (walls, floors, even ceilings) are sculpted concrete, and we’re talking high-effort patterns. It’s not craftsmanship; it’s artistry, and it’s astounding. All that effort works silently to make you feel like you’re really in a mining cave, and it’s highly successful.

The outdoor portions of the ride, in terms of theme, largely remind me of Expedition Everest. There’s really on vegetation to look at, and at this point in its lifespan, all the vegetation looks a bit sparse. That’s sure to change later, of course (and I love how many trees this area has!), but in general, there’s not as much “there” there as you’d want.

Size and Length

As noted earlier, the ride is too short. As a coaster, you’re almost expecting a third upramp and a final act, but instead, you’re at the finish line by that point. There are only two upramps in the ride. While all this is true, it would not be easy to imagine how designers could have made a longer roller-coaster out of this. They could have maybe made a slow dark ride last longer in this same space, but a coaster needed to be just this short. The problem, of course, is one of available land. The footprint for the attraction was dictated by existing structures, so it’s hard to fault the designers on this.

Thrill

The coaster mostly feels like Barnstormer, except perhaps that drops are a touch longer, and the turns obviously more numerous and not as tight. The speed is a bit faster than Barnstormer, but not yet Big Thunder. It truly is a mix between both of those. But as noted earlier, you don’t go to Disney for thrill. Most Walt-era rides were not about physical thrills. And besides, it’s worth remembering that the Magic Kingdom aims for a wide spectrum of thrills since it attracts the entire range of visitors, from young kids to old. Disney is successful precisely because it doesn’t try to make every attraction an E-Ticket ride.

Swinging

I’ve been on some suspended coasters where the swinging action really makes a difference and adds to the thrill, but the swinging on a terrain coaster dampens the thrill. It smooths out the turns and you feel them LESS. Perhaps we are fooling ourselves, but after several rides and experiments, we discovered that you can increase the amount of swing by leaning into/out of the turns strategically. It also helps if you plant the heavier people in your two-row car on the same side. With increased swing comes increased thrill.

Interactive queue games

There are three interactive games in the queue, and all three of them are perfect. They offer quick engagement; they are easily to grasp and start attempting to master, and they are easy to walk away from (because the line is moving again). That last point is extra nice since the line won’t back up and then surge, at least not too much. This is arguably the first time Imagineers have gotten the interactive game thing just right. They help pass the time but don’t dominate.

018 - IMG_9235

Spoilers Below

The remainder of this article will contain spoilers. If you haven’t yet seen video of the attraction or been on it yourself, you may want to skip this section for now.

Plot

It wouldn’t be a Disney ride without a story behind it. The story here seems to be that we enter the mine where the dwarfs are working while still in the queue. In fact, we pass through the “Vault” door seen in the movie, complete with the key Dopey leaves right next to it. Then, we board vehicles while still inside one part of the mine, and instantly head outdoors (that part reminds me strongly of Crush’s Coaster in Paris; the ride starting with a quick trip outdoors on a short drop). We navigate through some nature and get used to the coaster dynamics, then head into a tunnel.

021 - IMG_9208

This turns out to be the part of the mine where the diamonds are, and we see all seven dwarfs hard at work (or play). There’s music here, and animatronics that look as good as anything Disney has produced in the past. The faces are projected onto the figures, a little bit like Buzz Lightyear in his attraction, but with less white-out effect and more character. The figures also move a lot, and fluidly. Having that many moving animatronics on both sides of the vehicle is information overload, made even more dazzling by the seemingly hundreds of colorful diamonds in the walls, illuminated by lights. It’s overpowering in all the right ways, and similar in feel to Pirates of the Caribbean–way too much to see on your first, or even tenth, visit. It demands you return (again in a good way).

051 - IMG_8642

054c - IMG_9084

056 - IMG_8747

At the end of the mine, Doc calls quitting time with “Heigh-Ho”, and the upramp shows us shadows of the dwarfs heading home, which is a nice touch. There is a Hidden Oswald on the left side wall here somewhere; I only saw it once and can’t find it again to snap a picture (someone help in the comments!) Then it’s down the big hill, which isn’t really THAT big but certainly is the top thrill of this attraction. Around the corner and over the bridge brings us to the S-turn, where the swinging is maximized, and then around another bend to the end.

Except the end isn’t the end. That cottage you saw from the queue isn’t just background; it has a show scene from this side of the ride, which surprised me. The dwarfs in here are props from the old ride, except the ones dancing with Snow White (that dancing group actually moves around inside the cottage on a complicated turntable pattern), and there are other animal props recycled here too. (Of note: the vultures atop the first upramp were also recycled from the former attraction).

077 - IMG_9090

The cottage is the hold/brake zone before the unload dock, and it’s brilliant to put something here to look at. I wish every attraction had such a show scene in this place. As your vehicle finally starts moving again, look to the side of the cottage for one final surprise: the queen/hag with her apples cackling at the window.

I’ve put together an extensive photo-tour of the attraction (both queue plus ride) here. Or, you may wish to watch a video (not mine) of the ride:

Where to Ride

As with any coaster, you’ll get a different experience in the front versus in the back. The front brings you enhanced views of everything, plus you can see the hag cackle at the end of the cottage (everyone else just sees her static). The back increases the perceived speed of the attraction and definitely increases the swing.

Ultimate Orlando Clicks #16 – 24 Hour Day in Orlando

The 24-hour party at the Magic Kingdom on May 24 gave many surprises and costumes; we look at the props, the characters, and the dance floor. Plus, we tour Tinker Bell’s new meet and greet facility on Main Street and catch up with some minor additions to signage at the Magic Kingdom.

Direct link: http://youtu.be/NsJ1OxB0mxQ

Ultimate Orlando

I’ve maintained a “side blog” since 2006 and have unified all my social networking around one site and brand. That means I only use the “Ultimate Orlando” venues/accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and a dedicated YouTube channel and playlist. If you follow me on any of these services, please update your bookmarks:

 

 

About Kevin Yee

Kevin Yee is an author and blogger writing about travel, tourism, and theme parks in Central Florida.

Browse Archived Articles by

  • AaroniusPolonius

    It certainly does look tremendously detailed and well done, so that’s a major step in the right direction for WDW.

    I think it’s the timing thing here that’s killing Disney. For what it is, this shouldn’t have taken as long as it has.

    And I’m kind of over the “footprint” excuse at WDW, as in “the ride is too short because the space for the ride was X.” Any other park, that makes sense. In WDW, where they have 43 square miles of land, it totally doesn’t.

    For example, if they needed more “footprint,” they could have expanded beyond the railroad tracks. Or taken a ride with a fixed footprint, like Under the Sea or the Beast Compound, and switched positions in the New Fantasyland lineup.

    Anyway, I like it, as well as all of New Fantasyland from a theme and putting money into place-making standpoint. I’m not so convinced that they nailed the content…and it still kind of feels as if they’re missing an E-ticket. (Families like E-tickets as well, hence the building of them in the first place.)

    • danielz6

      They had plenty of room here to build whatever they wanted. Just look at the Google map and it’s obvious. There’s even extra room behind new fantasyland that could accommodate large show buildings if necessary. I guess they just have no desire to add any major new attractions to magic kingdom.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Well, really…that’s our fault as fans. If you want Disney to build E-tickets, don’t go and give them your money until they do so.

  • KENfromOC

    Great report Kevin!

    We will be going to WDW the first week of July (Port Orleans French Quarter) and about to set up our FP+ – So I am assuming by you report SDM will not have a fastpass (or FP+), I don’t see it listed on the FP+ site as a choice as of now. Do you know?

    Also, FYI, we just renewed our Disneyland Premium APs and decided to upgrade to the Premier pass. For $300 more it is less costly than a week-long ticket package at WDW and we will get the food and merch discounts ( and the prestige of the “gold” Premier pass!).

    Again… nice report and looking forward to a great family vacation in WDW – maybe I’ll see you there!
    (I’m sure that CaptianAction duffus will have something negative to say about your report….)

    • CaptainAction

      Uh, no, there are plenty of folks here already pointing out the footprint of 43 square miles of land and what WDW could have done in 3-5 years if they really wanted to give guests something big.

      A duffus would be a person who spent hundreds of dollars and then extra hundreds of dollars for the “prestige of the Gold Premier Pass” and has appointments made for all your vacation days including meals. That’s a duffus.

      Iger is very proud of you and your Gold Premier Pass. No more E Tickets this decade either.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Cap, you keep on keepin’ on.

        And y’all should listen to the Wakefield Report podcast: a fine example of MiceAge being quite critical of the Mouse. On a “Disney” site, no less.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Sorry: The E-Ticket Report Podcast.

        http://micechat.com/67842-podcast-magic-kingdom-4/

  • bespinally

    I understand the complaints about it taking three years to build and the complaints about there being no E-ticket in the new fantasyland, but those issues are not really relevant to a review of the ride itself. I think that the theming of this ride and the rest of the new fantasyland (which I have yet to visit) are on par with cars land (which I have visited). This gives me hope that Disney will continue to put this level of detail into their new expansions as they are budgeted. For example, lets say they are going to build some E-tickets at some point in time like in Avatar land, it is encouraging for me to think that they will put their full level of artistry and technological advancement into each project. As a background to my discussion, I returned to Disneyland in 2009 (first time since 1987/89 for WDW) and I was appalled at the theming in BLAB and the weak HISTA which replaced Captain EO. So if they are moving in the right direction than this is a good thing IMO.

    • met19

      but what is definitely relevant is the length of the ride. I think length of the build time is also relevant- how much money/time for a C plus maybe D ride.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        I think one needs to put the ride review IN CONTEXT with regards to the Magic Kingdom, which hasn’t seen an E-Ticket attraction expansion in, literally, decades.

        I think one needs to put the ride review IN CONTEXT with regards to the time it took to open this admittedly awesomely detailed attraction with regards to how swiftly its growing competition is doing it.

        And I think that one needs to put the ride review IN CONTEXT with regards to the amount of space that Disney has to work with in their Theme Park Vatican City. If story is what suffers for the footprint of the space alloted, carve out some more space for story in the zillions of square feet on Disney property.

  • Pingback: Seven Dwarfs Mine Train: A Fun and Solid “D Ticket” Attraction (Spoilers Only at End) | Everything TravelsEverything Travels()

  • Carrie317

    AaroniusPolonius – Unfortunately your posts are 1000% correct but fall on deaf eyes and ears in this forum. I agree with you and Captain Action and all the others but most people here drink the Disney KoolAid. At some point, when the admission becomes $150 per day and there are no new rides, they might change their beverage. Until then, you might as well bang your head on the wall like I do and wonder wtf they see that I don’t. The mine train ride looks like fun but not enough of a draw to get me to wait in line over 30 minutes.

    • CaptainAction

      Hi Carrie. I don’t know. I think there are more people here seeing WDW especially, for the theme park museum it’s becoming. It seems to me that on these posts more folks are seeing how little WDW has given but how much they are raising the prices each year of the last decade.

      A new watershow at AK and a value budgeted Avatar Soarin’, a new bar at the Polynesian. Those are the plans of the next 5 years at WDW. It’s never been so obvious.
      I see more folks on here seeing these facts every day.

    • Marko50

      I’m not really agreeing or disagreeing with you since it’s been over two decades since I went to WDW & have no plans at the present to return…but as far as people drinking the Disney Kool Aid, that’s really not all that shocking on a Disney site.

    • AaroniusPolonius

      Carrie317, it’s all good. I’m a little worried that MiceAge is softening. This used to be a much more critical of Disney site than it is. Although, one should check out this week’s Wakefield Report Podcast, where they basically rip Disney a new one. Note that it’s on this site, sanctioned and produced by this site, and it’s highly critical of Disney. So much for the “Disney site” fan wank nonsense.

  • Kenny B

    Kevin —– upramps? I recommend using the proper term – lift hill. It may give your article a little more “coaster nerd” cred.

    Upramps — that’s just wrong. I don’t mean to sound harsh or a dick —- but it needed to be said.

  • Kenny B

    Captain Action,

    Your arguments that WDW is becoming a museum, not enough new E-tickets, the prices not being in line with what you receive may be valid — however, you are running them into the ground. Please start talking about something new. Every thread has the same Disney bashing, with no new argument or POV to state. Your beating a dead horse, and it’s becoming quite boring and cumbersome to see the same conversations on every thread.

    • CaptainAction

      Kenny B, tell WDW to change. I’ll change my points when WDW changes. Blame them, not me.

      • Marko50

        I gotta agree with Kenny B…if you want WDW to change, talk to WDW. This ain’t it.

        On the other hand, I’ve gotta compliment you on not bringing up Uni where it doesn’t belong. And we saw what happens when you put in an E-ticket without enough planning (OK, not me *personally*) at that third Orlando resort.

      • Cory Gross

        No, I think it’s perfectly valid for people to criticize your behaviour and express their exhaustion with your constantly attacking them and what they like. Sometimes you have to take responsibility for your own behaviour, y’know? But then it’s hard to do that when you refuse to see your behaviour from the point of view of the people you’re attacking. You see yourself as being on a holy crusade, a mission from God, when most people just seem tired you never having anything nice to say about them or something that they love.

      • KENfromOC

        I too agree with Kenny B! And I appreciate that AaroniusPolonius at least has “constructive criticism” and some valid points.
        CapAct. you too have valid points, but in a very “betrayed” way – I really don’t get it.
        I do want to make a couple more comments back to you:
        1. Yes, we got the Premier AP. We live close to Disneyland and go there 20-25 times a year, sometimes a few hours, sometimes all day. I have a 7-year old girl, so you never know how long they may last! Upgrading the pass will save us 100′s over the week we will be at WDW vs. buying a ticket package.

        2. Last time we were there in 2005 (with my wife and step-daughter, now 21) my girl was not born yet… So this will be 100% new to her! As it was for my wife and step-daughter in 2005 This will be my 9th trip there, first was in 1978. I was there in 1981, then in 1982 (opening day for Epcot), 1983 and beyond. Every time I saw plenty of new things. (Everest was being built in 2005, so that will be new to me, as well as everything else since then.

        3. The fact that WDW doesn’t rip out the old for always something new as UNI seems to do? Love it. Why? As one example my girl will get to see the Country Bear Jamboree, after hearing that song (from my Disneyland 50th CDs) for years and me telling her about it. One example, there are dozens.

        4. WDW all about money? Yeah, not too far from the truth. UNI? Certainly! Why do think you will now have to buy a “park-hopper” ticket to enjoy the full Harry Potter experience? Brilliant on their part – part certainly about getting guests to flip the cash! My estimate it would costs us nearly $500 just for 1 day over at UIN (cab fare, tickets, etc.). We have UNI here in Hollywood (haven’t gone for years), so i’ll wait until Potter is done here.

        5. Our friends went out there 18 months ago. Their girl was 6 at the time, their boy 2-1/2. They stayed at a hotel between Disney and Uni and went to both. The dad was wowed by Potter – loved it! Favorite of the whole trip and they too have Disneyland APs. His trip was paid for by his father-in-law. When we were planning our trip, I asked, should we go to UNI? Again, as much as he loved it, he said many rides they could not go on, or too much a thrill ride they did not want to do with the kids. My girl is about 46″, so I already know Potter is out.

        6. I don’t know why Disney could build Cars Lands and redo a lot of Cal. Adv. out here is just over 2 years, but Dwarfs took much longer – strange indeed! Certainly couldn’t have saved them money, maybe a design or supply or even getting enough construction worker problems? Who knows.

        So bottom line CapAct: The traditions at Disney do account for a lot, maybe for folks who can go there often not so much. But WDW gets more of a once-every-few-years crowd then Disneyland, so faster change doesn’t need to happen as quickly. And to be honest, while Cal.Adv. needed the Cars Land upgrade -fast, many do not want to see Disneyland change that much- honest!
        So be a little more positive in what WDW does right – it’s a lot! Thanks!

      • Carrie317

        Country Bears is a shortened show so you better make sure you know that before you come. Apparently the kids now a days thought it was too long for their short attention spans so we lost part of it to accommodate them. Of course Disney agreed and made it shorter so they could get through it faster. The result is that it lost some of its appeal.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        “…a mission from God.”

        I’ll take ‘Hyperbole and Histrionics’ for $1000, Alex.

        Honestly, y’all miss the point of Captain’s posts. He CLEARLY wants you to respond with an emotional retort to “out” you as one who will offer excuses in defense of Disney divestment. And you all clearly keep taking the bait.

        Again, he’s repetitive and certainly missed the “spoonful of sugar” lesson, but watching the responses, as well as the impact he has, is pure theme park fan bliss. Keep on keepin’ on Cap.

      • Cory Gross

        “He CLEARLY wants you to respond with an emotional retort to “out” you as one who will offer excuses in defense of Disney divestment. And you all clearly keep taking the bait.”

        I didn’t want to say it, but apparently even his supporters are willing to admit he is a troll.

        “In Internet slang, a troll (/ˈtroʊl/, /ˈtrɒl/) is a person who sows discord on the Internet by starting arguments or upsetting people,[1] by posting inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community (such as a forum, chat room, or blog) with the deliberate intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.[4]” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Troll_(Internet)

        That’s good to know. Thank you.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    Great review, Kevin!

    While I think this is a great “D” ticket which fits into Fantasyland, I cannot help but feel it is not enough for me to book another visit to WDW just to see it. Now if this had opened at the same time the rest of new Fantasyland opened, it as a totality would have been worthy. I am glad that Disney added this ride, but what gets me excited is the new Harry Potter additions. NOW that is a trip worthy addition.

  • michael darling

    Kevin: you’ve got more willpower than anyone I know. How to be so immersed in Disney as yourself and stay surprised at this attraction and all its details is a feat of strength.