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Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Disney's Magic KingdomLast updated by Nick on Wednesday, December 04, 2013 08:50
Submitted by Nick on Wednesday, January 19, 2011 09:30
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster will form part of a major expansion of the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland that is currently ongoing. It was a late addition to the plans, replacing an area that was to host multiple "meet-and-greet" locations for Disney princesses. This has been seen by some as an attempt by Disney to address criticism that the expansion would be too girl-centric, as well as adding an all-new attraction to the mix.
The coaster will take guests on a musical ride deep into a diamond mine. It will feature a first-of-its-kind ride system that will allow the vehicles to swing back and forth as they move along the twisting track, accompanied by tunes from the movie's soundtrack.
Where will it be?
New Fantasyland opened its first phase in 2012 with the opening of Enchanted Tales with Belle (a hybrid walk-through, interactive show, and meet-and-greet) and Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid (a new age dark ride based on the popular film) as well as the Be Our Guest restaurant, Gaston’s Tavern, and Ariel’s Grotto meet-and-greet spot. A sub-area within Fantasyland dubbed Storybook Circus opened as well, based on the skeleton of the former Mickey’s Toontown Fair, but boasting a whole lot more detail and charm.
But if the initially-announced plans for Fantasyland had come to light, Storybook Circus wouldn’t have existed at all. Instead, Pixie Hollow, a land of oversized grass blades and giant mushrooms dedicated to the Tinkerbell film franchise with an elaborate meet-and-greet for Tink and her fairy friends would’ve found its way to that corner of the park. Across the way, Cinderella would have her own meet-and-greet in a recreation of her stepmother’s manorhouse, and Sleeping Beauty’s Aurora would entertain fans in a quaint cottage tucked back in the woods.
Pretty quickly, fans noticed that the much-touted renovation amounted to little more than meet-and-greets with the princesses (a separate one for Belle, Ariel, Tinkerbell, Cinderella, and Aurora) with one ride and one restaurant being the only “meat” of what was promised to be the park’s most ambitious expansion to date.
Given time to ponder the decision, Disney made a few revisions. The first was to combine many of those royal encounters into a single Princess Fairytale Hall. The second was to place that Hall into the space occupied by Snow White’s Scary Adventures, one of Fantasyland’s classic dark rides dating back to the park’s 1971 opening. Snow White may have been exiled from her Fantasyland home, but her sacrifice opened up valuable real estate for a new attraction, and one in which she will find a home yet again: the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Resurrected from Disney's Imagineering graveyard
Disney's Imagineers have dreamed up a huge number of concepts over the years, many of which never made it into construction. When the company decided to revise its plans for the Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland expansion, did it draw upon its list of "parked" projects to fill the gap left by the dedicated princess areas? After all, a Snow White-themed rollercoaster had long been rumored - with many expecting it to be a simple retheme of the existing Barnstormer coaster.
Speaking to Deb Wills of AllEars.Net, Imagineer Eric Jacobson confirmed that the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train concept had been kicked around for several years before being resurrected. With plans for the updated Fantasyland having been in the works for some time, it's likely that designs for the ride were reasonably advanced - enabling it to be quickly slotted back in. However, the original rumors about a Barnstormer retheme proved to be inaccurate - with the junior coaster instead to be renamed as Barnstormer - Hosted by the Great Goofini.
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will be manufactured by Vekoma (a favorite of Disney, responsible for nearly all of its modern steel roller coaster work) and will feature both indoor and outdoor sections. Disney has described the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train as sitting somewhere between Barnstormer and Big Thunder Mountain in terms of thrills. With those rides reaching top speeds of 20mph and 30mph respectively, it's unlikely that the new ride will rocket around its course - with the thrills more likely to come from the swinging action of the cars.
The ride vehicles on the new coaster will swing from side-to-side, accentuating the corners of the circuit. This can be seen further in the video below, shown at the D23 Expo in Anaheim in 2011. It includes footage of Disney Imagineers carrying out testing on the vehicles, which are mounted on the back of a pick-up truck.
You can see an image of the final ride vehicles below:
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is set to be a cross between a classic Disney dark ride packed with animatronics, and a traditional coaster experience. The ride's circuit will encompass both indoor and outdoor areas, including sections in the mine and in a forest.
One aspect of the layout that has been confirmed is that it will end with a scene showing the Seven Dwarfs celebrating along with Snow White in her cottage.
You can see a virtual ride-through of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train experience below:
Disney is removing a dark ride from the Magic Kingdom when it closes Snow White's Scary Adventures, but it appears that its replacement will incorporate at least some elements of a classic slow-moving Disney attraction. The concept art released so far shows animated dwarf figures hard at work in the mine, with the coaster likely to slow down at least long enough for riders to have a look.
It wouldn't be the first time that Disney has merged dark ride elements with a gravity-driven coaster. For example, Crush's Coaster at Walt Disney Studios, Paris features a slow-paced opening section followed by a thrilling high-speed finale. The duration of its latest ride has been described as "less than five minutes" - pointing towards an experience that is shorter than many dark rides, but potentially longer than a typical coaster.
With Disney ripping out one Snow White-themed ride and building another, inevitably some have asked whether it will look to retain elements of Snow White's Scary Adventures in the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Could some of the animated figures from the 1994-built ride make their way into the new one?
The plot for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train will differ from the previous attraction, which sees guests travelling around a series of iconic scenes from the movie. The coaster's plot will focus on guests joining the dwarfs for a "day at work", seeing them dig in the mine and finally witnessing the celebration at Snow White's cottage.
Despite the differences, there will inevitably be some crossover with Disney already hinting that the wicked Queen (who has become infamous for terrorising children in the current ride) could make an appearance. In addition, Snow White's Scary Adventures features a scene set in the mine - so Disney could decide to reuse some items, even if only as a token tribute to a former classic.
FASTPASS / FASTPASS+ availability
Image © Disney
Eagle-eyed fans have spotted that Disney's concept art for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train shows three pedestrian walkways heading into (or out of) the the mine. Although concept art is not designed to be completely accurate, this does point towards the ride implementing Disney's FASTPASS system. This enables guests to receive a ticket stamped with a "time window", during which they can return to the ride and join a much shorter FASTPASS queue (and the latest version, FASTPASS+, enables resort guests to pre-book FASTPASS slots months in advance).
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is unlikely to process guests at the same rate as the non-stop OmniMover system used by nearby Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, making FASTPASS an attractive option.
To give you an idea of what the finished product will look like, here's an overview of the concept artwork posted around the construction site:
When will it open?
No opening date has been confirmed for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but the window of "spring 2014" has been given.
September 26, 2013: Work has begun to install the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train track.
July 2, 2013: Here's a look at the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train's vehicles:
September 28, 2013: Testing of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train has now begun!
October 6, 2013: Check out our latest extensive photo update on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train!
October 24, 2013: Take a look at more some photos of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train taking shape in our Walt Disney World photo update.
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Upcoming refurbishments, rehabs and closures
We are not aware of any scheduled refurbishment periods for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Do you know of any upcoming "rehabs" that we're missing? If so - please contact us so that we can keep the list up-to-date.