Construction Walls, Afternoon Crowds, New Polynesian Merch etc. Magic Kingdom – 6/18/13

After spending some time running around the theme parks in Part 1, we’ll take a look at some odds and ends.

Construction continues at the Grand Floridian DVC site.

It’s my understanding that you can look around some model rooms at Saratoga Springs.  I will try to get over there one of these days.  Until then, check out some pictures here if you haven’t seen inside.

I’m sure staff is looking forward to the day construction ceases.

It’s summertime baby, which means it isn’t going to be less than 75 degrees until October with daily thunderstorms.

This is probably the most run-into thing on Disney property.  The railing behind the planter, I mean.  Last time I was here, a dad looking at his phone ran into it with the stroller he was pushing, launching his daughter head first into steel.  Now she will just get a head full of plant.  One optimization too many I guess.

On Tuesday, Tomorrowland Terrace was still serving breakfast, but it’s expected that they’ll stop beginning Sunday now THAT THE EVIL KNOWN AS $TARBUXXX HAS OPENED ON MAIN STREET RUINING WALT’S LEGACY AND BRINGING COMMUNISM TO A SACRED INSTALLATION.

Never play a theme park shooting game with Lisa.  Or don’t bet her money.  She beat me on Buzz by something like 750,000 points, smiling at me the entire time.  At Universal, she destroyed me on Men in Black by like 300,000 points.  And I was planning to give her pointers!!! How embarrassing.  I mean I let her win.  And please no wookie jokes or I’ll get in big trouble and have to put the website into maintenance mode until July 1st.


Tomorrowland Arcade is one of the odder uses of space in Magic Kingdom, in my opinion.

You’d think this would make a good FASTPASS+ central or something.  Or a lemonade foam stand.  Or something.

It is an excellent opportunity to plug in those phones though.  Also, rarely busy and well air-conditioned.

The Tremaines have moved back here to the castle wall to the right of Pinocchio Village Haus on a semi-permanent basis.

I’ll be trying out to play Anastasia again this fall.  One of these days maybe.


This is factually inaccurate.

Is it’s a small world “racist?”  Can you imagine if they actually built the Western River Expedition?

Straight out of the camera.

Lightroom’d out with the terrace on the lower left clone stamped out and the people on the walkway removed.  Photography is a scam.

The line for guest services spilled out the door and into the street around 12:30pm.  I guess it was an extra magical day.

It’s exactly 12:30pm as we take a look at afternoon crowds.  At the risk of going out of business, I would tell you that it really doesn’t matter which theme park you visit over the busy summer.  Visiting the recommended Parks will result in lower crowds, increased FASTPASS availability, etc. but all the Parks are going to be slammed in the afternoon every day in the summer.  And crowds will be low for the first two hours every day if you arrive 45 minutes before the Parks open.  There is no secret day at Magic Kingdom where Big Thunder Mountain is going to be a 10 minute wait at 3pm.  Unless there’s a hurricane or something.  You saw how much success we had in the early morning, but there isn’t a lot we’re going to be able to do once noon hits.

Princess FASTPASS return times are 3.5 hours out.

The crowds we saw about a week ago were already out of control, but July is worse.  This is the line for Stitch. Outside of the summer and a major holiday, Stitch is a walk-on all day. Not so much in June – August, when you’d be waiting 20 minutes just for the pleasure of walking inside.

The line outside is about half as long as it was at 10:30am, but the wait is nearly three times as long due to the number of people returning with FASTPASSes.

Yeah…the FASTPASS return line starts around here somewhere.  You can bet five or more FASTPASS users will be admitted for each standby rider.  Thus, the 85 minute wait is born even with relatively few people in the standby line.

A 45 minute wait for Orbiter.  Remember it took us seven minutes between when I got in line and was back down here first thing in the morning.

Better than the 180 minute wait we saw on the 13th at least.

Tomorrowland at 1:10pm.

45+ minutes of 90+ degree heat and exhaust.

Mad Tea Party, which took a total of 7 minutes in the morning, now has a 25 minute posted wait.

80 for Dumbo.

Kids and parents enjoying Casey Jr. and enraging WDWMAGIC I’m sure.

Barnstormer with a 35 minute posted wait.  The actual wait would depend on the number of FASTPASS returners – that’s an awfully long standby line.

Mine Train construction continues as the walkway between Circus and Enchanted Forest remains open permanently.

Just south of an hour at The Many Adventures.

In addition to the umbrellas we saw last time, a water cart is also available should those waiting get thirsty in the heat.  Lines seem to be shorter here in the summer – people aren’t willing to wait outside in the blazing sun.  There are also more cast members inside helping people along with the order process.

Umbrellas straight out of the camera.

Lightroom’d out.

A tapestry throw available in Bonjour Gifts in New Fantasyland.


In addition, more art is available around the store.

It’ll be interesting to see how the area meshes together when the Mine Train opens. It’s three distinct properties within just a few steps of each other.

The bane of my existence.

Lines out the door at Pinocchio Village Haus. I think the overall experience at Be Our Guest would be more pleasant even with the ten minutes spent waiting outside. Once you’re inside BOG, it’s nicely air-conditioned and you can sit down at a relatively comfortable table while you wait for your food to be delivered. It’s actually less hectic than Pecos Bill or Pinocchio would be this time of day.

It doesn’t necessarily “feel” that much more crowded than September or another less busy time.  As I’ve mentioned before, you’ve got a similar number of people exiting the attractions and walking around whether there are 35,000 people in the Park or 75,000.  The difference is those 40,000 people in line in front of you.

If you know anything about Disney wait times, you’d know 45 minutes for it’s a small world is about as long as it gets. In September we might even see more people walking around, but the wait will be 5 minutes. Or at least it would be without FASTPASS+.

Pan is always going to be 40+ minutes at 1pm. 85 is pretty rough. Remember from Part 1 that we grabbed FASTPASSes for it before lunch and the total wait/ride time would be 10 – 15 minutes.

The line for Haunted Mansion starts down there somewhere.

It makes that 15 – 20 minute wait at 11am that much more attractive.

Liberty Square Riverboat leaves on the hour and half hour and is one of the rare attractions you can walk right up to and enjoy, even when it would take you six hours in line to ride the Mountains.

It’s also a relaxing way to spend 20 minutes away from the helter skelter that is a summer afternoon at Magic Kingdom.

And some great views.

In addition to being able to grab your Disney sweets at the Confectionery and Big Top Souvenirs, the Frontier Trading Post also offers a selection and there’s usually nobody inside.

Larger:  Rice Krispie Turkey Leg.

Larger if you want to play count the smiles:

The River Boat has a spiel that goes along with it that is hard to hear unless you’re standing next to one of the speakers.

You’ll otherwise travel behind Big Thunder Mountain, which is a view you can’t really enjoy from any other vantage point.

Proof of Polynesian DVC?

And an animatronic Native American scene.

And a long line for Mansion.

Columbia Harbour House has also received an electronic menu that looked to be the same as before.  Here’s each screen in a more readable size:

Big Thunder Mountain was down, but the queue had not yet been cleared.

I’m not sure what this is.  The line for the railroad with Splash at a 90 minute wait, which is below average for this time of day during the summer.

Pirate’s Adventure continues operating on a permanent basis.  The free map that’s included is a great souvenir even if you don’t plan to play the scavenger hunt.

20 minutes for Pirates looked to be about 20 minutes less than the actual wait would end up being.

50 minutes versus the 70 you’d see on a non-recommended Monday or Thursday.

Even so, there’s literally nobody waiting for Enchanted Tiki Room.

And you could walk right on Swiss Family Treehouse!

Roofs are going up on the new parking structures.

These Cinderella Castle sand castle modes are pretty adorable.

And somehow five bucks. You can’t even get a generic Disney World keychain for five bucks.

Shovels and pails also available.

If you happen to own a winery, you might want to start naming your wine something that Disney can tie in to one of their resorts or other properties.  Once Upon a Vine wine for Once Upon a Time.

Dolls creep me out.

The resorts have a different Buy More….Buy More promotion.

A new menu at the excellent Kona Cafe Sushi bar.

And dessert.

And price increases for dinner.  Disney raised the price of the Dining Plan by about $2 per day for adults and $1 per day for kids.  The adult cost is now an astounding $58.65 per day for adults and $19.85 for kids ages 3-9.  Quick service is $39.65 for adults and $15.75 for kids.  I am not a Dining Plan proponent in most situations.  You would really have to be certain that you’re ordering the most expensive items on the menus and able to consume all the food/drink, including desserts and fountain beverages.  You can save a considerable amount of money by simply ordering a (free) cup of water with your meals over the $3 fountain beverages and skipping the mostly pre-packaged desserts.  On the other hand, if you get the $5 cupcakes as desserts and the $14 quick service entrees, you can come out ahead.  I would also stipulate the Dining Plan is much less convenient than simply ordering what you want and paying for meals with a credit or gift card.

‘Ohana breakfast is up to $26.62 for adults and $14.90 for kids.

Dinner is $42.59 for adults and $20.23 for kids.  Eating here as an adult would mean you’d need to spend about $17 on your quick service meal and snack to come out ahead on the Dining Plan.  That’s possible, but in that scenario you’re saving around $6 if you got a $5 snack and $18 quick service meal.

The menu for the Luau has changed a bit.  Frontera wine is also advertised, which is another indication of how cheap Disney is these days.  Frontera is among the worst wines you could buy and would run you about $8 for a 1.5 liter bottle.

Wine is actually one of the only reasonably priced items in Disney gift shops.  A bottle of the Vine would run you $13.49 here, which is only a markup of $1 – $3 over what you’d pay at a store.  A six-pack of Bud Light, conversely, runs $15, or about $9 more than you’d pay at the grocery store.  I feel like there’s some bias here.

Captain Cook’s menu looked to be the same.  I really like their Pork Nachos and Stir-Fried Noodles.

It looked like a cold version of the noodles was available in the Grab and Go cooler.

Joffrey’s roll out continues as it’s available here at Cook’s.  Fill up your refillable mug with some drinkable coffee for the first time in years.

Back on April 28th, Disney started rolling out Simply Heinz with “all natural ingredients.”

The Deluxe resort should all be receiving another round of resort-specific merchandise. I have no idea why the Contemporary is the only one left out.  Here’s some of it:

This is in addition to the previous wave of stuff.

This may be my favorite shirt of all time.

So that’s what’s going on these days.  Afternoon wait times are going to be serious at all four major theme parks every day until the last week in August when things begin to relent a bit.  That isn’t helped by the shorter operating hours and removal of the Friday evening Extra Magic Hours at Magic Kingdom.  It was only two years ago when Magic Kingdom had eight Extra Magic Hours weekly.  One on Tuesday, one on Thursday, three on Sunday, and three on Friday.  They’re down to a total of three per week this year.  One on Thursday and two on Sunday.

Take a look at the July 2011 operating schedule:

And compare it to July 2013:

Over the course of the month, Magic Kingdom is open 454 hours in 2013.  It was open for 502 hours in 2011 or about 1.5 hours longer per day.  The problem is that there aren’t enough “normal” hours to handle the crowds.  Parents with young kids typically aren’t in the theme parks after 10pm.  And they don’t like getting up for an 8am opening either.  So the Parks were open with very few guests in attendance before 9:30am and after 11pm.  Of course, that was amazing for those of us able to stay up until 3am, but the labor/energy/etc. costs were immense to operate attractions with nobody around.  I can recall riding Tomorrowland Speedway when there was “literally” only one other car on the road at 1:30am on a Friday in August 2011.  That’s one of my favorite memories, but it comes at a substantial cost to the company.

Disney has elected to pocket most of the money saved rather than investing it in new entertainment and attractions.  Realistically, Epcot “needs” two or three more major attractions to balance crowds out.  The average peak wait time for Test Track and Soarin’ in June is an even 120 minutes with waits as high as 180 minutes.  And wait times are over 60 minutes by 10am daily.  That’s four hours in line for your average family to experience two 5-minute rides.  You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure out why a lot of people have sworn off Disney World forever.

Hopefully we’ll hear something to get excited about sooner rather than later.  49 days to D23.


  1. Disneyfan says

    Thank you for the update! The castle sand mold is so cute. I may have missed something, but where are they located? I really want one.

  2. josh says

    That picture was taken at the Contemporary Resort store, BVG (Bay View Gifts). I’d check the resort gift shops and the water parks should stock them also.

  3. Michael says

    Nice to see Simply Heinz out there. I had just assumed every condiment at Disney World had High Fructose Corn Syrup and other miracles of science. Will we be able to get those in the parks as well?

  4. Cindi says

    Do you know how it really makes my day to come home from work and find you have another new post up? Squee!!!!!!!!! My daily Disney dose. Thanks Josh. Did I ever tell you how awesome you are? Um, yeah I’m using you, but what did you expect?

  5. Lucy says

    I love reading your summer updates. It only makes me more certain that I’ll NEVER be subjected to that. Give me February refurbishments and November “too cold for Splash Mountain” over this nightmare.

  6. Betty says

    We just returned from 6/5 to 6/19 WDW trip. Yup, it was packed & hot. But we stuck with recommended parks and made it for rope drop most days as it is the only way to stay ahead of the crowds and the heat.
    We really missed the third hour of EMH in general, plus the Friday night MK EMH. Unless you can wait out a late thunderstorm, there really isn’t an “empty” time in MK in the summer nights anymore *sigh*

  7. says

    Oddly enough, Epcot is the only domestic Disney theme park that does not have a roller coaster and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park is the only domestic Disney theme park without a nighttime spectacular; two things that need to be added but probably won’t be within the next ten years at the least.

    And I completely get how many (particularly FL Residents) with teens are choosing to forgo trip to WDW in leu of one to Universal. While WDW is great for Disney fans, there’s just not enough to entertain a teen for a week, even less so repeat visits. By adding a couple more thrill rides (or any ride for that matter) might catch people’s attention, but by pocketing money, in the long run, you’re hurting yourself. Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now.

  8. John H says

    So the Contemporary is shunned when it comes to resort-specific merchandise. Why? Sounds like an investigative report is necessary. I nominate Josh.

  9. josh says

    I’m not sure. I’ve asked around and there excuse is that there is no demand. But you’d think Contemporary would sell a lot better than say…Saratoga Springs or Old Key West, both of which have full lines.

  10. sonja says

    We have APs this year as our last hurrah to Disney World! We have visited either WDW or DLR every year since 2001. My kids have grown up Disney and it will always be a very special place for them. Now that they are almost 14 and 16 they have been allowed to wander the parks on their own and take the bus to and from the hotel as they wish. It was exciting for all of us.

    Now our favorite vacation spot is Hawaii (a quick 5.5 hours from Anchorage). I guess all the price increases, hours reduction, and lack of new attractions has taken its toll on us as well. That said, we enjoyed our 2 days at Universal in December but none of us have any interest to return. We are making a repeat visit to Discovery Cove next month which will include some time at Sea World (I actually prefer SW San Antonio to Orlando) and will check out Aquatica for the first time now that both parks are included in the DC ticket.

    Nothing like 3 WDW visits in one year during the busiest travel seasons 12/29/12 – 1/5/13; 7/20/13 – 8/2/13; 12/20/13 – 12/30/13! We are planning more Disney after dark time for our July visits since our must do list is pretty short. It is hot even at 9:00am!!

  11. angela says

    I love the new Polynesian merchandise! The designs that were new a couple years ago were great, too. I would love to see similar merchandise for the Contemporary, maybe with Mickey in a few cool, Mid-Century Modern scenes.

  12. cupcake says

    If only they’d hand out complimentary deodorant at the BOG line along with the water and umbrellas. Life would truly be grand.

    And the idea of SSR-themed merchandise is hilarious to me. That would be like buying a mug from the Holiday Inn.

  13. Strangeite says

    “It’s three distinct properties within just a few steps of each other.”

    I heard that that the real reason the Yeti doesn’t work on Everest is because Walt’s head is constantly spinning in its cyrogenic vat causing weird harmonics in the superstructure.

    With that being said, my (almost) three year old wants me to tell him about Disney World every night when I take him to sleep. After our nightly ritual of talking about nightmare inducing lines, heat lamp food and crowds on the verge of rioting, he just looks at me and says “Daddy, Miller ride Dumbo. See pirates. See ghosts. Ride train.”

    And then he rolls over and goes to sleep.

    What is the point of this comment? Thank you for providing the information, to those of us that venture into the mosquito infested sauna that is Florida in the summer despite our better judgment, because it will make, not my vacation more enjoyable but my kids vacation magical.

    p.s. Sorry about the grammar, I am several bourbons in after going over our itinerary and touring plans. Hope you don’t ban me.

  14. josh says

    Getting trolled on my own website again. This is worse than whoever said I needed to go to rehab in the comments of every post haha

  15. Brandy Bo says

    @Disneyfan, we got our sand castle mold at Beach Club Marketplace, but I remember seeing them in a park store. I want to say it was Mousegears in Epcot. It was a really cute castle when made. The top part of a couple of spires didn’t come out that great. But who’s worried about it when you’re 4 years old? We only worried about it when we lost the &*$% thing or when big sister crashed into it.

  16. RebeccaMcK says

    I agree with Angela above who recommended that the Contemporary clothing feature the modern Mickey Mouse (well, actually, she said, “…with Mickey in a few cool, Mid-Century Modern scenes” – but I prefer the modern Mickey anyway and he’d look cool sticking out of a monorail zipping into the Contemporary). Mickey from the 1940s/1950s (that I started seeing in the 1970s myself) appeals more to me than the old Steamboat Willie type Mickey and the years before the 1940s’ style. I have a gray zip-up hoodie sweatshirt with the old Mickey on it but it’s the only thing I own of “his,” and it was from a friend (for when we all toured Disneyland with matching sweatshirts one December day). Anyway, great post as always. The Poly DVC comment with the photo made me laugh. Some commenters did, too, hehe. I know more and more people who are moving to Florida (from Colorado) and I’ve been recommending this site right and left.

  17. RebeccaMcK says

    I forgot to mention Epcot….YES, Epcot needs a new attraction or two, I agree – a thrill ride of sorts. I know Ellen’s Energy Adventure (or whatever it’s called) has SOME fans out there, but, really, they could rip that thing out and I wouldn’t miss it. Did it once, and it takes such a long time to do it would be better to have a fun new coaster there IMO. A nice new ride could fill that space and help spread out the Future World crowds more. What could go there that would go with the “future” theme? I haven’t read any rumor-oriented threads on other sites lately to see what those people’s takes on it would be (nor do I ever post there; I just read). Honestly, I kind of loved the April Fool’s blog post Josh did that involved Epcot, with Russia and Brazil, etc. Almost wished it was true for World Showcase, lol.

  18. KB says

    Since I was mean about the Lightroom yesterday, let me just say that today’s restraint gets you an A. The castle pic is gorgeous, without a single bush or turret looking like it could cause radiation poisoning just by looking at it. And then there’s the Big Thunder pic. I’m assuming it’s Lightroom because a couple bushes there are practically iridescent. Or is that really the color of the mountains? Cuz they’re looking like the boulders over at Dudley Do-Right! Wow, I’m suddenly thirsty for some Tang!

  19. cupcake says

    I stand corrected, that SSR decal is freakin’ adorable! If only the resort itself had half that much whimsy. Oh yeah. I went there.

  20. Scott says

    First of all your work is great, please keep it up, it’s very much appreciated. Now for your photos, is Lightroom 5 all that you use? I am a newbie and want to be cool like you.

  21. LizD says

    I want a sand mold! Our friends who are going to WDW this summer could pick one up for us but they are staying offsite and unlikely to visit the resort shops or the water parks. If you see the molds in the parks anywhere could you give me a heads up?

  22. Disney4ever says

    Thanks Josh for giving me my Disney fix during these hot sweltering months of summer. Any chance you may be doing an Epcot “crawl” anytime soon? Or perhaps you would be interested in joining us for one? My youngest daughter will be 21 in Oct. and this is a must do for her…and us. So far, I know that we will be visiting La Cava, as tequila is a fav.

  23. Psac says

    The Poly iPhone case will be tempting when we’re there for Fourth of July. A Boardwalk (our DVC home) iPhone case would be even better, though! Is there a request form for that? :)

    Maybe the problem with the Comtemporary is the separate Bay Lake Tower branding. Might make it tough to sell a CR logo to someone staying at BLT.

  24. RebeccaMcK says

    Ah, but they could do a line of BLT clothing, too. Maybe Mickey could be holding a BLT sandwich while he’s hanging out of the monorail zipping into the Contemporary.

  25. aobrien says

    Will I be able to find the castle sand mold in November? Or is it a summer only thing? That is a perfect mold for sand castle ice cream for my daughter’s 1st birthday party…next February :-)

  26. JasonMiller says

    Okay Lisa, I signed the petition and its got 13 signatures. Let’s get this thing some legs !!! Come on people – you can be the voice of change !!

  27. Tina C says

    Oh…STOP…talking about adding things at EPCOT. It just makes my heart hurt so much to know it isn’t happening any time soon… sigh. Its my favorite park, yet I’d be hard pressed to explain why… I mean, I find Spaceship Earth compelling in a way that I know is irrational, but still..

  28. tukogirlAndrea says

    Do you happen to know the size of the green double walled tumbler with the new poly logo? Just curious if it is the 16 oz or 20 or size.

  29. JohnC says

    Thanks for the pictures!!
    We went last year in July and until noon it was not too bad. But the afternoon heat and crowds were unbearable. It didn’t even cool off in the evenings. Most of the lines for the rides in the early morning hours were very short. I would say we will stick, from now on, with October, November, December, and January. The weather is much nicer and the crowds are lower.

  30. Carol O says

    Hey! I have a Saratoga Springs coffee mug and I use it at work every day! it’s totes adorable, as Josh would say…

  31. pfalcioni says

    Another eye-bleedingly perfect Buzz pic to go with this superb update. Why not blame your lack of shooting skills on the fact that you’re busy shooting bloggable pics on the rides?

  32. Melissa c says

    We are here now and it has been more crowded than the previous 5 June’s I have visited. Today we did the marceline tour at mk which was fantastic and we k we it being a red day we wouldn’t do much besides the tour. I have never in my life seen a park more crowded with people continuing to spill in all afternoon and I mean herds of people. Best questions that random people would walk up to our guide and just interrupt him were where can u get fast passes at for rides? They had no idea u had to walk to each attraction . The heat was insane today and josh is so right this is nuts for a while

  33. Terri -back home is So. Cal says

    Thanks again Josh. FYI the link for larger photo of the treats at the General Store isn’t working.

  34. RebeccaMcK says

    Okay, I signed the petition. Since there seems to be no shirt yet that has all of the resorts represented, that Polynesian button-down one seems like a good summer uniform (maybe keep the polos for late fall and winter). Might “breathe” better, too, in the spring and summer months – meaning, feel cooler out in the heat. And it’s Disney. I wear Disney shirts (or Muppets or Star Wars) every time I’m in a Disney park now, even if all the stuff hung around my neck (small camera, cell phone in waterproof bag, waterproof container for tickets and FPs) might block the t-shirt’s image – and they make a lot of noise unless I hold them and keep them from swinging, lol. At least my kiddo can hear me and not walk too far ahead of me.

  35. Christine says

    Thank you for the reminder of how awful summer crowds are. I’m so glad we can go in the off-season.

  36. Ellen says

    Josh, you say above that “Afternoon wait times are going to be serious at all four major theme parks every day until the last week in August when things begin to relent a bit.” But, you do have crowds relenting a bit during the third week of August (mostly 5s and 6s) and that’s when we are going (kids are back in school 8/26 so we opted for 8/14-8/23). Have you changed your thoughts on that and will the crowds be as bad then as they are now?

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