Ride Review: The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom
Can a roller coaster be too
Walt Disney World's new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train might be the most beautiful attraction in the history of the Magic Kingdom. Set on and in a mountain that forms the heart of the Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland, this mine train rolls through lush forest, past detailed rockwork, and into a whimsical gem mine worked by the eponymous dwarfs, the supporting cast for Walt Disney's first feature film, 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. You ride what look like hand-carved wooden carts, which will respond to your movement by rocking gently from side to side.
But might this ride's beauty betray it? With such abundant visual rewards, the attraction draws your eyes toward countless details that command your attention. It's the overwhelming visual experience that generations of theme park visitors have come to expect from Disney's dark rides, including Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. Yet the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train doesn't allow you the time you enjoy to take in its detail that those other attractions offer. As a roller coaster, the Mine Train sweeps you through each scene so quickly that you can form only an impression of the rich detail before you. Let's take a ride:
With just over two minutes from dispatch to the final brake before the unload station, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train offers an average-to-better-than-average ride time for a roller coaster. But since the visual experience, coupled with the relatively mild ride itself, so strongly suggests "dark ride" than roller coaster that those two-plus minutes instead feel scandalously brief. Throw in a wait time that routinely tops an hour (we waited 60 minutes on a weekday morning when the wait was posted at 105 minutes), and perhaps that's why so many riders have been leaving with more of a sense of frustration than elation. (Check out some of the comments on our Seven Dwarfs Mine Train reviews page.)
An hour's wait provides an attentive visitor plenty of time to eavesdrop on those around one's self. And I heard at least two sets of parents trying to tell their children who these "seven dwarfs" were. It makes sense that kids wouldn't know. After all, the first generation to grow up with Disney's Snow White is now into their 80s. Their children, grandchildren, and maybe even great-grandchildren discovered Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs through frequent re-releases in theaters. But Snow White hasn't played widely in U.S. theaters since 1993, and Disney makes no attempt to introduce (or re-tell) the Snow White story in the Mine Train's queue. Sure, we've got props and interactive games with which to play and pass the time, but there are no storyboards nor screens telling us who these dwarfs are and why Snow White fled into the woods where she met them.
For those who don't know the story, the ride provides an opportunity just to enjoy the beautiful scenery, then giggle at these silly characters who whistle and sing while they work in a mine where already-cut-and-polished gems abound. But what of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train's ending?
As we approach the station, we pull up next to the Dwarfs' cottage, where we can see the previously-unseen-and-unreferenced Snow White dancing with some of the Dwarfs, recreating a delightful scene from the film. But as we pull into the station, we see the Wicked Witch revealed at the cottage door, cackling, the poisoned apple in her in basket.
For those who don't know the story, the moment is bound to confuse. It's a dark note that evokes Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, the original Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean, and Singapore's version of Universal's Revenge of the Mummy — attractions that conclude without the requisite happy ending. But anyone who has seen the film or knows the story knows that this is not the ending. In fact, it's the moment where "stuff" is just about to get real.
If you were frustrated with not having enough time to see the abundant detail on the ride, multiple additional rides can provide new chances to see more. But no amount of re-rides will give the opportunity to see the rest of the story — after the witch knocks on that door — a story we did get to experience in the Magic Kingdom's old Snow White's Scary Adventures.
Sure, the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is pretty — beautiful, really. But the appeal of the roller coaster always has been that delightful yin and yang of anticipation before the drop, satisfied by the power and rush of the drop itself. Physically, the Mine Train delivers that with a few pleasing little drops of its own. Yet, narratively, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train commits the grandest sin of all for a roller coaster attraction — it just leaves you hanging.
What about "those who don't know the story?" Has that consideration been amply covered?
Yes. It has. :^)
Disney rides are not narrative. You don't need to know the story.
Yeah, but, Robert, was it
My problem with it is that the ride vehicles are too small. Since the average American is getting bigger why do they make rides that many people can't ride with their kids? You know like the ride they removed to build this one.
@James: so a parent must educate their kid on every single ride for background info even though Disney does not design their rides with narratives.
Before James goes shaming parents you have to take a couple things in consideration.... it's an 80 year old sub par animation movie that is no where near in the top ten or maybe twenty Disney films by many peoples standards. It is a family coaster that looks good but lacking in story, that's odd for something so long ago that they wouldn't have a refresher in the que. No completion at the end puzzles me too, is Disney taking the dark side in teaching young minds that you should accept an apple from just an ordinary old lady? ;) what Disney is teaching nowadays boggles the mind..... Anyway visually it looks good but lacks content, is only two minutes, and is just below the mine ride at cedar point for thrills. I'll pass on waiting 60+ minutes. Big thanks to Robert for the review and POV video.
Great review Robert. I have been anxious to get yours and other readers opinions on 7DMT since it opened. Oddly enough, we were there on May 28th, first day it was open to the public. Not really planned it that way. Just the way our vacation was scheduled in terms of which parks we visited that week. We made no plans to ride because there was so many other things we wanted to do at MK that day (and Fastpasses were not to be found in advance).
@Anon Yes. If you don't want immersive attractions that tell a great story go to Six Flags, they have better thrills.
Apparently, attraction like Mine Train and Antartica are being criticized for not meeting expectations.
Yeah, it's fun. I liked it, and could ride it time and again. And yet... people are giving it mediocre ratings. Why is that? Why are people almost unanimously noting that it "feels short" when, in fact, its active ride time clocks over two minutes -- hardly short for a coaster.
@James "Yes. If you don't want immersive attractions that tell a great story go to Six Flags, they have better thrills"
Disney's best rides might not tell a narrative, but many of them do invite *you* to impose one. That's part of their appeal -- they stimulate your imagination.
"And that Disney can solve the second simply by taking out the witch animatronic."
I agree this ride does not look up to snuff. The theme isn't bad but it should not be a coaster. The ride is almost confused on what it is supposed to be, coaster or slow dark ride.
Wow subpar animation? You must know nothing about animation at all. Snow white was revolutionary and built upon the great advances made by Disney studios in their Silly symphonies shorts. It was the first cartoon EVER to realistically portray human movement (reference the "silly song" sequence) using live action reference, was the epitome of character animation of the time, the mother of all feature length animated films and launched Disney into one of the most successful businesses in human history.
Disney made 2 kind of rides (when he was around), original ones that took quite some ride time because they had to explain the setting and what was going on, and movie rides that rehashed key scene's from the movies. Those later ones are the once who mostly survived after Walt's death because they are recognisable and are easily sold to the public (according to management). These rides don't do anything different from the movies (unlike Universals) and are in my opinion redundant but they evoke comfort (look at children television, they do the same thing over and over again).
@Anon To be fully enveloped in the Magic of Disney, one must have some knowledge of what Disney is all about, right? And watching the film that "started it all" is pretty much requisite. I am sure you have seen Snow White many times and you have practiced exactly what I am preaching with your family, so I have no idea what point you are trying to make.
It seems clear to me that this is an almost-story being told. Regardless of the source material, perhaps there was a plan at an earlier time for a longer ride but there simply was not space to build it. The end result is much like a movie that was hastily edited down 30 minutes, and we only get a glimpse of a much more fulfilling story. The source material is fine I think, but anyone would be confused at the short duration of the ride given it is treated like a dark ride. It makes me wonder why they chose to make a roller coaster instead of some type of omnimover or other slower-moving vehicle that could have fit in a lot more in the footprint provided.
@James. It is possible to enjoy Disney from the opposite approach. Visit the parks first without prior knowledge.
@Anon I understand all the individual words you wrote, but not the order in which you presented them. I apologize for being so dense but I just don't understand the point you are trying to make.
Nice for you to ignore your own shaming language.
I have absolutely no idea what you are upset about, Anon, but I certainly do apologize if by word or deed I have offended you in some way.
James. You have a reading comprehension problem. You didn't like other negative comments. I said Robert was the source of the negative comments. You don't have to dispute the negative comments that are not Robert's original comment.
Anon, let's just agree that you are clearly the most intelligent and correct person on the planet. I am certainly willing to make that concession if it means I don't have to read another one of your incomprehensible attacks on my motives or reading abilities.
James. "incomprehensible attacks on my motives or character."
Only because I am an idiot. Just ignore me and move on... It was clearly wrong of me to voice a different opinion. It won't happen again. I see the light. The 7D coaster is a piece of crap, and Snow White is an irrelevant waste of celluloid. And parents who educate their kids on the stories that built the Magic Kingdom should be reported to Social Services. They are monsters!
I'm still looking forward to riding the attraction when I go to WDW next year. I never had any over expectations for the ride. It was always clear to me, way before it's debut, that it had a serious shortcoming on length of time and lack of major dark scenes, and that it was not in the class of Splash or Thunder Mountain. And I was always on the side that thought it would work better as an omnimover. I would never wait in a real long line for this ride but I'm sure I'll do it for fastpass and multiple days since it seems to be one of the better fun attractions in Fantasyland. I accept it for what it is, a beautifully themed, entertaining attraction but certainly not one of the top ranking Disney rides.
I agree that the ride is a good, solid effort that just not measure up to the overall success of Disney's other rides. The question is, is that good enough? Can Disney get by with anything less than spectacular when there are incredible efforts taking place just down the road?
Can Dwarfs measure up to Universal's new attractions? Probably not. It remains to be seen whether Avatar will equal Universal's new offerings. Avatar seems to be Disney's effort to match Universal, but that is pretty far into the future. Avatar will be the real test. But I'm not very optimistic for Disney concerning Avatar.An immersive Star Wars land is their best hope, if ever they decide to do that. Just my opinion, though.
A review (mid-June) from a family of four adults:
I haven't had the pleasure of riding 7DMT, but I am excited for the chance. It really does look absolutely beautiful, and whether or not the ride itself lives up to expectations, I think the ride's structure and beauty is a great addition to the landscape of New Fantasyland. Not everyone will ride, but everyone will see it and/or walk by it. It makes for a fantastic backdrop to a family photo.
Disney will be fine regardless of what happens "down the road." There will probably be 1 or 2 more slam dunks from Universal before Disney removes it's bean counters from their high horses and they start investing more heavily into the parks.
Disney will continue to "get by" on $1B - $3B profit per quarter. It's going to be a struggle, but somehow, some way they will survive.
@James, that doesn't get to the heart of the issue I meant to address. Clearly Disney is the leader in Orlando at this moment in time when looking at attendance and profits, there is no doubt about that. But what is Disney doing to secure its position as a leader for the future? How is it responding to the competition, or does it need to? How long will it be until the numbers change?
Obviously Disney is doing something right or attendance and profits would be down, not up. We keep saying they are struggling but that struggle is not supported by the numbers.
@James Rao Disney is loosing attendance in Orlando but because they know to squeeze more money from their customers their earnings are up and that is a great thing for a company because less people in the park means less work for Disney but (as said) more money from their customers.
For the record, Disney is not losing attendance in Orlando. It is losing (ever so slightly) market share, simply because it is not growing as fast as Universal Orlando is. But overall attendance, spending, and profit are up for Disney on an annual basis. And there's no sign that's about to change.
@O T I do care about quality, and I do want Disney to do more and make more and push the envelope in ways no other company can push it. I get just as frustrated as you, I promise!
I haven't had a chance to ride it yet, but I disagree with the notion that you should have time to take in all a ride's details. For the sake of re-rideability, why would you want to take everything in the first time?
I'd like to add another comment. This ride was never intended to be an E Ticket, so of course it doesn't have the scope of rides like Splash and Pirates.
So many of the negative comments on this thread seem to be from people who wanted Disney to produce something, anything, that would rival Harry Potter over at Universal. I think much of the problem here is that 7DMT happened to come along at the same time as Diagon Alley and it's being compared directly to it when it simply isn't even trying to be in competition.
I don't understand the argument. The ride was built for kids so the story doesn't matter? Kids are smart, and they care about "complex nuanced storytelling" just as much if not more than adults would.
As I said before, I haven't been on the ride. But it seems to me that this would be a golden opportunity for Disney to have the ride exit right into a Snow White Meet & Greet and a store, where they could market the original movie on DVD/Blu Ray. Something along the lines of "Continue the story on DVD" or the like.
Who says it has to be a complete narrative?
As negative as I have been about Disney….(Still got my annual pass for a few more months...) This ride did what it was intended to do; which was add capacity and complete the landscaping of the new Fantasy Land. Should it have taken 3 years to complete...H-e-double hockey sticks no! The speed at which Disney is completing their projects is inexcusable. They may not be losing money, but they are losing market share. Harry Potter will steal people away from Disney for at 2 or 3 days. Some guest may just like Universal enough to wake up and smell the roses; seeing that Disney is being lazy and not investing in their Orlando parks. Universal has already broken ground on a major King Kong E-ticket. (yes, another E-ticket!) Jurassic Park is getting another attraction. Kid-Zone over at the Studios is rumored to be demolished to create a "Fantasy Land" type experience. Twister and T2 getting replaced after this year......Universal opening a 5th on-site hotel and a state of the art water park.....If a third gate opens in the next 5 to 7 years, Disney needs to be afraid---very afraid. People will drop a day at EPCOT, AK, or the studios....Leaving the Magic Kingdom to capacity with long lines and moody guest.
Fantasyland rides are intended to appeal primarily to children. That doesn't mean the adults can't enjoy them, too (I know I do). But the kids are the primary audience.
The "too short" complaint comes from the lack of "coaster" to this ride. There isn't a whole lot of dark ride elements or a whole lot of coasting. It wets the palette but leaves you wanting more which it fails to deliver on.
I agree whole heartedly with this article. It seems that today's Disney "imagineers" are good at artistic detail, but when it comes to the big picture, to put it bluntly, they pathetic. I wonder if they went through all this trouble just to illuminate the true story of Snow White with the resurrection and celestial city ending just because they couldn't stand the allusion to the biblical theme. If Walt were alive, he would be livid. Some of these people wouldn’t even be working for him. But of course, they will ignore these posts because they are smug and arrogant, which by the way is a very ugly thing. Walt may not be here, but there is no doubt that their day of reckoning will come. Another generation will rise up that will return to the true art of Walt Disney and these people will be very lightly esteemed, if they are esteemed at all.
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