The one thing Patrick absolutely had to do on our August trip to Walt Disney World was ride the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. When we realized his schedule only allowed us to try for it on a Saturday morning, we bit the bullet and made an early reservation at Crystal Palace for breakfast in order to get as close as we could to the rope before it dropped. (Do not fear for our immortal souls: They hold guests who are already in the park near Cosmic Ray’s until the guests at the gate have been escorted to that spot, so everyone gets the same shot at speed-walking toward the Mine Train.)
Patrick was not sold on this idea, seeing as how we’re not huge fans of buffets, character meals, crowds or noisy places, until we walked into the Magic Kingdom an hour before it opened and he realized we (almost) had the place to ourselves. Please enjoy this short detour into MK glamour photography before I get to the part about the Mine Train—what with all the speed walking, these be the last decent photos you’ll see…
When it was getting close to opening, we joined a group of other diners near the rope in front of the carousel. However, a friendly cast member came by and told us that if we were hoping to get on the Mine Train, we should line up at the bottom of the ramp that leads from the castle to Cosmic Ray’s and the Tea Cups. A good-sized crowd had gathered there, with only one CM to hold them back via scolding and stern looks as we waited those agonizing extra minutes for the crowd at the park gate to be escorted to our spot.
I expected a mad dash when the two groups merged, but a line of CMs did everything but link arms to keep us behind them as they marched toward Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
At the ride entrance, it was hurry up and wait: The crowd dashed through the queue only to bonk into each other in a chain reaction as the first guests ran into the closed vault door.
Patrick took advantage of the delay to shoot the rock work, some of which was done by his co-worker Robert, winner of Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge!
It’s my fault all these photos are blurry cuz when they finally opened the door, I was practically dragging Patrick toward the load area…
We were only in the queue about 10 minutes, but it was hot and muggy enough that I was surprised they hadn’t put more of it indoors.
Patrick didn’t plan to take photos because he wanted to get the full ride experience. But the ride stopped twice while we were on it, so he did get a few. Some of the others were taken later from outside the ride, for illustrative purposes…
There’s no way we could have gotten good shots of the one big show scene, but it is SO dazzling and overwhelmingly appealing that I’ll put in those publicity shots Disney released so you can see for yourself!
Our last ride stop was right by the cottage, so Patrick was able to get a few nifty shots of the figures. Unfortunately, he didn’t realize that the ride was not going to continue on through the rest of the story. He was soooo disappointed when we pulled forward a few feet and the ride was over.
We thought about running right back into line, but by that time—just 15 minutes after the park opened—the line was 45 minutes long. This isn’t even the end of it!
Instead, Patrick wanted to circle the exterior and get shots of everything he could reach with his camera.
I’d been trying to avoid Seven Dwarfs Mine Train coverage so I’d be surprised, but enough comments came through my Twitter feed that I knew people were disappointed with how short the experience is. Because of this (OK, and maybe also the multiple ride stops) it felt longer than I’d expected. A lot of the outdoor queue, especially the front half, felt very similar to Expedition Everest to me, but with less interesting stuff to look at.
I adored the interior show scene and was glad the cars slowed down so we could appreciate it. I just wish there were, like, three more of those. I mean, the attraction that this one nominally replaces had, what, five show scenes? Sure, they weren’t as sophisticated as the one in Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but they were still evocative and engaging—and contiguous! This one feels like a lot of filler on either side of one really great scene.
Poor Patrick had not heard any of the online scuttlebutt, and his expectations were based solely on the grandiose promises of the D23 Expo presentation about Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. He was bitterly disappointed by what he saw as missed opportunities. For one thing, all of the outside environments are the same. He wonders why Disney didn’t theme even part of it to the Haunted Forest, with faces on the trees and grasping branches. At the very least they could have put in more animals than just the two vultures. Big Thunder is also a roller coaster, but look at how many clever vignettes and simple-but-effective animatronics Disney packed into that one—especially in the Magic Kingdom version.
He also missed the creepy dungeon aspect found in the original Snow White ride. And I do too, now that he mentions it! I guess that part doesn’t fit with the idea of a mine ride, but it was one of the best parts of the original attraction and another great example of simple illusions and skillful art direction that drew you completely into the fantasy.
Patrick did like the mining sequence, including the projected faces on the dwarfs, but he wished there were more animatronics. And he loved the indoor queue, with its sparkling jewels and detailed rock work.
Patrick’s biggest complaint was that, for as much as present-day WDI seems to revere the idea of “story” above all else, it’s pretty much nonexistent in this ride. If they’d put the Haunted Forest in the first half of the ride, we could have seen Snow White fleeing through it as a parallel story to the dwarfs’ work in the mine. Instead, as Patrick says, “Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is about some dwarfs in a mine who go home. Also, a creepy lady looks in the window.”
We always laugh about how Disneyland’s Snow White ends with a storm raging and the Old Hag about to crush us with a boulder but then—BAM!—the door opens to Snow White on the prince’s horse and birds singing and the sun setting and happily ever after. But Seven Dwarfs Mine Train doesn’t just end abruptly, it ends halfway through the story!
I guess they figure everybody knows the story well enough that they only need to tell part of it. But maybe they should take it one step further and sell the Super-Duper Diamond Deluxe Ne Plus Ultra Snow White DVD just outside the ride exit so we can actually see what happens after the creepy lady looks in the window!