Amazing Facts about Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Heigh Ho! It’s off to Walt Disney World we go!
Our destination is the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, one of the newest attractions at Magic Kingdom. Today, we’re going to learn a few fun facts about why it’s such a warm hug of a roller coaster, a place where a million diamonds shine. Here are a few reasons why Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is currently the most popular ride at Magic Kingdom.
The Anchor of Fantasyland
After almost 40 years of operation, Magic Kingdom needed a fresh coat of paint. The themed lands across the park had remained the same since opening day. Disney executives faced a difficult situation in that they couldn’t change any of these themed lands. Such a move would take a ton of work, and Disney would face a public outcry of backlash about the decision.
What park planners could do, however, was reboot a current land. They looked over Magic Kingdom and decided that Fantasyland had the most room for improvement. In 2010, Disney shuttered Mickey’s Toontown Fair and started construction on a couple of new attractions. You know them as The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure and Enchanted Tales with Belle. One is an Omnimover roller coaster, and the other is an interactive show. While both of these attractions are fun and well worth your time during a Magic Kingdom visit, Disney execs knew that they needed something bigger and better.
One of the closures during the Fantasyland reboot was Snow White’s Scary Adventures, which had been at Magic Kingdom since opening day. Park planners knew that they needed something better in that space, and it became Princess Fairytale Hall.
Demolishing this ride created a vacuum at Fantasyland, though. The two new attractions were both modest in nature. Disney needed a strong selling point for their marketing push for New Fantasyland. That attraction became Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a rollicking good time that’s gentle enough to have a height restriction of only 38” but satisfying enough to claim a 60+ minute wait time for several years.
An Amazing Wait
Imagineers anticipated this extended wait. They knew about the impending changes to FastPass+ and how these alterations to line queues would fundamentally alter the Disney experience. So, Disney constructed a ride that can satisfy two groups of people. The guests lucky enough to hold FastPasses for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train walk through a special line that bypasses everyone else. Even when the wait time is 100 minutes or more, a FastPass holder can board the ride in 15 minutes or less.
Meanwhile, the guests who don’t have FastPasses will discover plenty of entertainment while standing in line. Imagineers added innovative entertainment throughout the line queue. At one point, you’ll see an arcade game that’s similar to popular smartphone apps. You match gems in a water trough. It’s an easy game to understand, as it has to be since you’ll only stand in that part of the line for a few minutes. The goal here is simple. Disney wants to distract you so that the line queue isn’t aggravating.
You’ll find a couple of other interactive elements later in line. A series of water sprouts will entice you to slide your hands underneath them, especially on a hot day. When you do, you’ll see a colored water stream and hear some music, depending on your hand gestures. Pro tip: If you do this right, you can mimic the music of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs!
Finally, you’ll encounter my favorite interactive element in line. Here, you can spin jewel barrels with your hands. When you spin the barrel fast enough, it projects an image of one of the Seven Dwarfs on the ceiling. The spectacular part of this game is that other people in different areas of the line can do the same. If seven different people all spin the barrels enough to activate the Dwarfs projections, Snow White will appear, too! It’s a great way to participate in a team-building exercise with total strangers. You can watch a video of the interactive queue here.
Enjoying the Soundtrack
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was the original Disney animated motion picture, the first one that was Walt Disney’s pride and joy. It started the trend that’s been followed by countless Disney classics since then, which is to say the film had an amazing soundtrack.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train honors the film by playing its music throughout the attraction. In the line queue, you’ll enjoy classics such as Whistle While You Work, Someday My Prince Will Come, and The Silly Song. Then, when you’re in your mine cart, you’ll climb a mountain as you hear the unforgettable introduction to Heigh Ho! The sound of clinking pickaxes mining for gems will remind you that you’re in the fortress of the Seven Dwarfs, fully immersed in their world. This ride incorporates music about as well as anything that Disney has built to date. You can’t help but smile and hum/sing along to the music.
The Twisting Mine Train
The construction of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train came with several architectural challenges. Space at New Fantasyland was tight. Imagineers had a small footprint where they were expected to build a satisfying new roller coaster, and they also had to create something that smaller children could enjoy. A 38” height requirement means that the average four-year-old can board the mine trains!
Since this ride would cater to kids, Disney couldn’t build something akin to Expedition Everest or Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. They had to do something different instead. What they came up with was a series of interconnected coaster carts, the titular mine trains. Imagineers changed the nature of the roller coaster experience with these carts. They use a “tilting vehicle” design that allows each one to turn independent of the other connected mine trains. By doing so, each rider enjoys a slightly different one.
Disney even accentuated this style by adding bumps to the ride. You’re supposed to be visiting the depths of a mine, after all. You wouldn’t have a smooth ride up and down the mountain. You should feel some of the danger of descending into the depths on a rickety cart, and that’s why Seven Dwarfs Mine Train bounces you around so much. In combination with the twisting carts, you will feel like you’re with the Seven Dwarfs in their cavernous abode.
And that leads us to the final tidbits about Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride. This roller coaster does something unusual midway through. You slow down from the roller coaster elements and enter the mine where the Dwarfs live, work, and play. Here, you’ll see the shiniest jewels imaginable thanks to the magic of Disney Imagineers. The set pieces here are impeccable, with popping colors that will cause you to lament that you can’t stay in that spot and stare for an hour.
Disney recycled some of the audio-animatronics (AAs) from Snow White’s Scary Adventure but then updated them for the final scene where the Evil Queen prepares to give Snow White an apple. The Seven Dwarfs are also from the previous version. Imagineers touched up all of the AAs to make them seem more modern and lifelike, and they injected humor whenever possible to add more jovial moments to the attraction.
One of Dwarfs, Dopey, wears gems as glasses, and another, Sleepy, naps under the tail of a skunk. Even Doc is humorously displayed; he’s precariously balancing three different buckets. Each set piece on Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride is immersive enough to qualify as a dark ride, yet Disney accomplished this on a roller coaster! It’s an amazing blend of two disparate ideas into one extremely satisfying ride.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train immediately became the most popular attraction at Magic Kingdom when it debuted in 2014. It maintains that status to this day, and Disney even duplicated it at their immaculate new theme park, Shanghai Disneyland last year. The ride is a masterpiece that will put a song in your heart as you board…and that song is Heeeeeeeeeeeigh Hooooooooooooooo!