Best Ways to Beat Long Lines at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Best Ways to Beat Long Lines at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Magic Kingdom’s most popular attraction is Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a family-friendly roller coaster in Fantasyland based on Snow White. This Walt Disney World ride guide covers how to avoid long lines and minimize the hour-plus wait times, with strategy for successfully beating the crowds without buying an Individual Lightning Lane.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is now nearly a decade old, and its popularity hasn’t dropped much at all during that time. It remains the most popular ride in Magic Kingdom with an average daily wait time above an hour on low to moderately crowded days and triple-digit waits on busier days. While TRON Lightcycle Run will undoubtedly pass it in popularity, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will also command long lines due to its relatively-unique mix of thrills and all ages appeal.

Over the past several years, we’ve done Seven Dwarfs Mine Train more times than I can count. Never once have we purchased Lightning Lane line-skipping access, nor have we waited anywhere close to an hour for it in the last several years. (I can’t say “ever” since I’m pretty sure we did a few times when it first opened.) This ride guide breaks down how, explaining your best and worst options for doing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

One thing to note up front is that strategy is not static. In the last year-plus alone, there have been a lot of other changes: Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary plus the debut of Early Theme Park Entry for on-site hotel guests plus the controversial Lightning Lane and Genie+ system. Then there have been other curveballs thanks to park hours, special events in Magic Kingdom, and more.

As with our other ride guides for Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, we’ll be diligent in keeping this updated. Be sure to check back before your trip for the latest info–or subscribe to our free Walt Disney World email newsletter for instant updates about this and all of the other latest news, when discounts are released, etc.

Currently, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train uses a traditional standby line and is Magic Kingdom’s Individual Lightning Lane (ILL) attractions, which means it is not included in the flat-rate Genie+ service.

While it almost certainly won’t use a virtual queue (never say never with Disney!) it’s unknown whether Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will remain an ILL ride (well, it is quite “ill” in the parlance of the youth!) or will move to Genie+ when TRON Lightcycle Run opens in Spring 2023. Our guess is that it’ll move to Genie Plus, but perhaps not immediately.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the least popular Individual Lightning Lane at Walt Disney World, routinely having ability after park opening except during peak seasons. In general, we’re not fans of paying extra for ILLs. Our Individual Lightning Lane Info & Tips post covers the why of that and exceptions to our general rule–but Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is not one of them. We always do it via standby and recommend the same for most guests, unless money is no issue.

With that said, this is in large part because we usually do recommend that visitors to Magic Kingdom purchase the Genie+ service. This makes the rest of the day so much easier, and not having to wait in long lines for Peter Pan’s Flight, Jungle Cruise, the Magic Kingdom Mountain Range, and more is huge. For advice on that, consult our Guide to Genie+ at Walt Disney World and Lightning Lane FAQ.

Now let’s get down to the brass tacks of doing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train with minimal wait. Before Magic Kingdom officially opens for the day, there’s the option of Early Theme Park Entry, which replaced morning Extra Magic Hours.

Officially, Early Entry is offered at all 4 theme parks every single day and offers 30-minute access to guests staying in on-site hotels at Walt Disney World. (See our Guide to Early Entry at Walt Disney World for more info & strategy.)

On a normal morning right now, Magic Kingdom opens at 9 am, which puts Early Entry at 8:30 am. Despite Magic Kingdom being the most popular park at Walt Disney World, it’s the park that opens latest–and at a time that does not present a ‘barrier to entry’ for most people.

This is significant, as you’ll find Early Entry at Animal Kingdom, EPCOT, and Hollywood Studios to be hugely advantageous. That’s because it starts earlier at those parks, and the time is an insurmountable hurdle for a lot of guests. In other words, there are far more people at Early Entry in Magic Kingdom than any other park.

Another noteworthy component of Early Entry at Magic Kingdom is that only Tomorrowland and Fantasyland are open, rather than the entire park. This consolidates the (larger) crowd to two lands of the entire park. It should go without saying, but more people and fewer rides is a recipe for larger crowds and longer lines.

To that point, there are two “starting points” at Magic Kingdom where crowds are held until Early Entry officially begins–the bridges to Tomorrowland and Fantasyland. Typically, there are exponentially more guests waiting on the Fantasyland Bridge. Approximately 90% of those people are planning on doing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

The mood is also more tense on the Fantasyland side. Guests are revving up their double-wide strollers, preparing to do some serious damage to the ankles of anyone walking too gingerly. The sprint to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a high stakes, eat-or-be-eaten game.

Not really, but the atmosphere does feel tense before the crowd starts moving. Once it does, it’s more like a slow trudge in a sea of humanity. No one is doing anything even resembling running. We call it the “SDMT Shuffle.” Ironic that this is for Fantasyland, as it’s a bit nightmarish.

We strongly recommend skipping the SDMT Shuffle. For one, it’s a simple numbers game. If there are 5 times as many guests heading to Fantasyland and the overwhelming majority of those people are racing (at sloth speed) to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, that leaves a lot of other attractions in both lands with lower crowds and significantly shorter waits.

Heading to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is uncomfortable and unpleasant, with everyone “competing” for the best spot in a line that forms quickly and aggressively. It does not set the right tone for a good day in Magic Kingdom.

To be sure, if you’re at or near the front of the pack–in the first few hundred people–your wait time for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will be short. You can likely be in and out in under 30 minutes, which is far better than average.

However, you had to get up and arrive to Magic Kingdom super-early to “accomplish” that. So you’ve simply shifted your wait from the actual queue to standing in a sea of people for 30-45 minutes waiting for Early Entry to start. By contrast, it is simple to show up a few minutes before Early Entry starts and knock out Peter Pan’s Flight or anything in Tomorrowland without any stress and a ~5 minute wait.

Another variable is that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train routinely has delayed openings due to technical difficulties. While the ride doesn’t suffer from much downtime throughout the day, it (and all of the mountains, for that matter) is notorious for not being ready to open at the start of Early Entry. Granted, that may only happen 20% of the time or less, so the odds are in your favor. But it’s a very frustrating feeling when you dedicate a lot of time to beating the crowd to SDMT and get unlucky.

Given all of that and the opportunity cost of doing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train instead of short waits elsewhere, it’s just not worth it most of the time. This is why we are anti-Seven Dwarfs Mine Train during Early Entry or at rope drop. It’s a subjectively bad way to start the day, risky, and there are good alternatives.

With that said, there is one exception to this rule: Magic Kingdom Early Entry on Party Days. (Or really, any day when the park opens before 9 am. Right now, that’s only party days, though.)

The reason for this is simple, and what’s intimated above. Moving from a 9 am opening time to 8 am is huge. It shrinks the pool of potential guests who are willing and able to get up early on vacation. This is especially true for families with small children–the core audience for Fantasyland attractions.

In short, that 7:30 am start time for Early Entry reduces the crowd to such a significant degree that doing SDMT is less of a stressful sloth-like shuffle and more…normal. You can easily be done with the attraction in <20 minutes with minimal effort or lead time, and still do Peter Pan’s Flight after as a near walk-on.

With Early Entry out of the way, this brings us to normal park opening time or “rope drop” for everyone else. This is literally the worst time to do Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. There are two reasons for that.

First, the reality that the vast majority of Early Entry guests are doing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, even the ones who arrive later. This means that the line is typically getting longer over the course of Early Entry. Regular park opening is still below-peak for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train’s daily wait time, but it isn’t too far off.

Second, and the bigger reason, is once again the opportunity cost. Racing to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a ride that has been open for 30 minutes, to join the back of a line that is already quite long might save you 5-20 minutes as compared to lining up at 10 am or 1 pm. But it’s still a bad idea.

That’s because, as discussed above, only Fantasyland and Tomorrowland open during Early Entry. This means that you can rope drop every single other land and be at the front of the pack–not joining a line already in progress. This means doing Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, or literally any ride on that side of the park as a near walk-on. That will save you far, far more time in the grand scheme of things.

To this point, consult our 1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary for step-by-step strategy for attraction order and beating the crowds at rope drop and throughout a day in the park.

If you want the best time to do Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the first half of the day after the initial rush, line up around 11:30 am to noon. The posted wait time will still likely be above 60 minutes, but it’s typically falling at this point rather than rising. Typically, the posted wait time will drop in the 12 pm hour, but that’s reactionary–due to fewer guests lining up pre-lunch.

This is because the influx of park opening guests is cycling out, and fewer new guests are jumping into line because the wait will conflict with lunch. Objectively, this is the optimal time unless you’re staying late–assuming no ride breakdowns.

Subjectively, we still don’t like doing Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at this point.

Our big hesitation is due to most of the queue being outdoors, and much of it in direct sunlight. This is especially true when the overflow line is in use–the pavement reflects the light and slow-cooks guests. The actual queue has some shade thanks to a partial canopy of trees, and it also has fans to keep things cool.

Nevertheless, we prefer waiting until later in the afternoon from a subjective perspective, when the sun is lower in the sky. The outdoor line is much more pleasant then, and is downright refreshing when those fans hit you with a blast of cool air.

Unfortunately, the wait time between 1 pm and 6 pm doesn’t budge much. On average, it varies by 3 minutes during that entire stretch. In an actual day, the posted wait time range will be higher–that’s the actual average smoothed out over the entire year.

Trying to pounce on a drop in the posted wait time is counter-productive, too. Walt Disney World wait times are reactive, and with headliner attractions, a drop in the posted time induces more guests to jump into line. Those guests will then wait longer than those who lined up at the tail end of the higher posted wait time. It’s like the accordion effect played out repeatedly over the course of the day.

There’s also the reality that most wait times are inflated at Walt Disney World, and not always by consistent amounts. The end result is that a posted wait time of 60 minutes might have a longer actual wait than a posted wait time of 95 minutes, depending upon when in the ‘cycle’ of each someone enters the line.

In general, later in the day is better than the first half for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, with actual wait times typically dropping in the 2 hours before park closing. There are a couple of things you need to be aware of here, however.

First, posted wait times typically don’t drop much in the evening. That doesn’t mean actual wait times aren’t still declining, though. Walt Disney World often inflates posted times later in the day to discourage people from queueing up. Usually, an attraction’s actual wait time will be shortest in the last 30 minutes of the night, regardless of posted waits.

Which brings us to one of the best times to do Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom: right as the fireworks end.

While we don’t recommend it for your first or only viewing, Fantasyland is actually a great and highly-immersive spot. In fact, this is our favorite “secret” or “low-stress” location for fireworks viewing in Magic Kingdom. It’s like you’re in the midst of the fireworks, with bursts both in front of and behind you. You’ll also enjoy pyro over Beast’s Castle above Be Our Guest Restaurant, which is cool.

Towards the end of the fireworks, we recommend moving from the area near the New Fantasyland walls to the nearby Seven Dwarfs Mine Train entrance. Disregard the posted wait time; again, it’s reactive and very few people are getting in line for the fireworks during the fireworks.

The night when I took the above photo, the posted wait time was 50 minutes, but our wait time was between 3 and 4 minutes. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was a walk-on with some empty rows! We got very lucky and that’s not a typical wait, but it should nevertheless illustrate the huge disparity between posted and actual wait times.

Our final recommendation is the tried and true approach for any headliner attraction: 1 minute before park closing. This is like the reverse rope drop, or ‘rope rise’ option. (We like to think of it as the “buzzer beater” approach.)

Walt Disney World doesn’t stop lines for attractions until park closing, which means you can queue up right until the clock strikes midnight (or usually in Magic Kingdom’s case, 10 pm or 11 pm). This effectively extends your day and is when the actual wait time is lowest for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

Again, you will want to ignore the posted wait time. Not only is it reactionary, but also because Disney deliberately inflates wait times at the end of the night to discourage guests from getting in one last ride.

Think about it–if you have an 8 year old that is on the precipice of crashing, are you going to want to endure another hour-long wait at 10 pm? Now, what if that was actually only a 10 minute wait?! Probably a different answer.

We have done the ‘buzzer-beater’ approach to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train dozens and dozens of times in the last 5 years. There have been a handful of times that we’ve waited 20 minutes or more (especially during peak season when the weather is warm), but the overwhelming majority of the time, our actual wait time has been between 10 and 15 minutes. (It’s been as low as 7 minutes.)

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is so much easier, consistent, and more pleasant at night. It’s also neat to experience the ride in the evening, and see the park all lit up. It’s an extremely satisfying way to end the perfect day at Magic Kingdom!

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If you’ve done Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, what’s your optimal approach and time of day to ride? What would you recommend to Walt Disney World first-timers? Do you stick to standby or buy an Individual Lightning Lane for SDMT? Do you agree or disagree with any of our strategy? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback–even when you disagree with us–is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!