In Seattle, I enrolled in a course titled, “The Foundations of Artistic Photography.” Each of the students brought a portfolio of some of their favorite images to share with the class. While the instructor agreed that my compositions were stellar across the board, they were lacking the proper tilt to be considered truly artistic. That will not happen again and I apologize for all of the previous non-artsy images this website has subjected your eyes to in the past.
After not immediately dying from lunch at Hollywood & Vine, I decided to head over to Magic Kingdom. Progress continues on the DVC wing ahead of its opening in about two months.
Using some mirrors, I was able to capture this image of the front of the building.
And the back.
DVC is supposed to be on its way to the Polynesian in one form or another. Disney continues to build DVC for a number of reasons. Obviously, it’s profitable. But perhaps more importantly, all those DVC down-payments go straight into the profit column of the Parks and Resorts segment of Disney’s earnings report. So Disney would have some ‘splainin to do should revenue and income drop substantially in that space.
Some of the DVC “rumors” include plans for bungalow-style huts out on Seven Seas Lagoon, a la the Four Seasons Bora Bora. The picture of the Polynesian above was taken on the afternoon of August 18th. The video above was taken that evening. The magical rain storm lasted about five hours. Storms like this aren’t a nightly occurrence here in the Sunshine State, but they happen more often than you might expect over the course of the summer. This particular storm ended up flooding much of Magic Kingdom, causing power to go out at a dozen indoor attractions, among other problems. I bring this up because I’m not sure a bungalow in the middle of Seven Seas Lagoon would necessarily be the place I’d want to be during your typical Florida summer storm, let alone one of these suckers that lasts several hours. Considering we live in a society where children are apparently scared to go to the bathroom because the hand dryers are too loud, I can’t imagine sitting out on the water during an electrical storm would go over particularly well. One wonders if Walter Elias ever actually set foot on the ground in Lake Buena Vista between May – October or simply flew around in his private jet washing down chain-smoking with Chivas Regal. Amusingly(?) a Bungalow Suite at the Four Seasons in the real Bora Bora, complete with private balcony on the water, costs less than a club level theme park view at Disney’s Polynesian Resort. And the Four Seasons suite is over a thousand square feet.
One thing about the Grand Floridian DVC is the length of the property and the distance from the DVC wing to the monorail and main building. Transportation from Disney’s Deluxe Resorts is frustrating at best for the most part. If you’re returning “home” to the Grand Floridian from Epcot after IllumiNations, you can first expect to wait about 15 minutes to wait for and board the monorail. Then it’s a 10 minute trip to the Transportation and Ticket Center. Then you walk three or four minutes to the Disney Resort Monorail and wait ten minutes for that monorail to load and depart. Then it’s a stop at the Polynesian and a stop at the Grand Floridian before walking from the second floor of the main building over to the back entrance of the DVC wing. Or 15+10+4+10+10+7 = 56 minutes at the end of the night, most likely in monorail cars that are pretty packed. And that’s a fairly optimistic timeline. You could very easily wait another ten minutes at Epcot and again at the TTC. Grand Floridian shares buses with the Contemporary and Polynesian going to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios and it’s the last stop on both routes. It’s also the second stop on the Downtown Disney route, where it shares a bus with Wilderness Lodge.
One of Disney’s more substantial construction projects continues in front of Magic Kingdom.
Turnstile conversion continues.
There are between one and four old -fashioned turnstiles that might be open on the other side of the great wall of refurbishment, but that information does not do you a whole lot of good in regards to rope drop. As we know, Disney starts admitting guests over an hour before the Park opens, so there is no great benefit to trudging all the way down here to find a shorter line unless you have an old non-RFID ticket.
The scrims are down and the baby-walls are up on Main Street as Disney continues concrete refurbishment.
It looks like they’re working on the curb.
Work is expected to continue through the end of September, though progress seems to be about an inch a day.
I was chatting with a buddy in food and beverage about how Main Street Bakery’s Starbucks conversion was going. They attribute sales much lower than anticipated on the fact that so few people realize Starbucks coffee and baked goods are sold here. While the “Disney online community” was aghast that their precious fake-bakery-facade received the number of the beast (in the form of a small old-time Starbucks logo), the fact of the matter is sales would be much, much higher if there was a huge $bux logo hanging in front of the Castle. Or at least something more than a small sign hanging outside the “Bakery.”
Looks like you can blow a snack credit on a 69-cent hot fudge topping at Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. Or for the same credit, pick up one of the Bakery’s famous ice cream sandwiches.
It was a non-recommended Sunday at Magic Kingdom, though waits weren’t too bad as crowds decrease as we get closer to the light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel that is September. Crowds continue to be problematic at Epcot and Hollywood Studios, which both operate with far fewer attractions.
I’m not sure how helpful a stationary, over-sized braille map would be. But it’s here to the left of the wait times board. There should also be one at Guest Services.
Unless you’re booking an early breakfast, be prepared to wait 20 to 30 minutes to be seated at Crystal Palace, even with a “reservation.”
Tinker Bell (STILL TWO WORDS GUIZ) and her usual 40 – 60 minute wait. Word seems to be that Tink will move to Town Square when the Princesses move into their permanent meet and greet in Fantasyland next month. That would double the pixie capacity and add FASTPASS+.
The water wheel is working at Swiss Family Treehouse, adding a bit of ambiance to the area.
This was Jungle Cruise’s last day of operation until October 1st (as it stands).
The joys of FASTPASS+ at Magical Carpets.
As mentioned a week or so again in this post, old room keys are working in the FASTPASS machines. I used a room key from a one-night stay in September 2012 in conjunction with my Annual Pass to pull two identical FASTPASSes for Journey of the Little Mermaid. Old keys do work like current tickets as far as the FASTPASS “rules” go. So I’d have to wait 40 minutes before I could get another FASTPASS with that room key.
Guests testing FASTPASS+ can use their Key to the World cards to gain access to the regular FASTPASS system, in addition to the three or four FASTPASS+ experiences bookable via MyMagic+. Because of that, you may want to use your FASTPASS+ experiences at attractions that don’t offer regular FASTPASS. Magical Carpets isn’t the best example of a wise use of an experience, but you may want to look at Haunted Mansion or Wishes.
The FASTPASS+ designated areas offer great views of the nighttime spectaculars. For Main Street Electrical Parade, The Hub area in front of Cinderella Castle is reserved. For Wishes, you’ll stand in the Rose Garden area to the right of Cinderella Castle. It’s a good location because you can stand by the railing and there’s no room in front of you for Yao Ming to arrive with one of his kids on his shoulders at the last minute. For Fantasmic, one of the center sections is reserved. The Fantasmic Dining Package seating has also moved to a center section. At Epcot, IllumiNations viewing is at the base of World Showcase in the “Showcase Plaza” area in between the two gift shops. It’s one of the best places to watch the show.
About half of the seating section inside Tiki Room is purportedly behind walls at the moment. The “attraction” is still open during the refurbishment.
Walls are up in front of the water-spitting tiki gods. Hopefully MyMagic+ will allow the tikis to spit only at the left-handed and people with red hair.
A lot has been speculated about how FASTPASS+ will affect wait times at attractions that have not historically offered it. As the website has mentioned in the past, it is not the attractions that “need” FASTPASS+, it’s the theme park that needs additional FASTPASS+ capacity. There are only so many FASTPASS+ experiences that can be distributed for popular attractions with severely limited capacities, like Soarin’, Toy Story Mania, Space Mountain, Wishes, and the like. When those experiences are booked well in advance, Disney needs to have something to offer guests on the day of, even if it’s Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Muppet Vision 3D. Thus, FASTPASS+ is offered at attractions that have historically seen wait times of ten or fewer minutes.
But one thing that will potentially impact wait times even more than the limited number of FASTPASS+ experiences is the Guest Assistance Card (GAC). You may remember the New York Post’s article, “Rich Manhattan moms hire handicapped tour guides so kids can cut lines at Disney World” and the subsequent Today Show piece showing the process in action. If you know anything about the Guest Assistance Card program, you’d know that you don’t actually have to exhibit any kind of physical ailment to procure one of these magical GACs. So you don’t need to hire some poor kid with polio to get to the front of Soarin’. All you need is an excuse that precludes someone in your party from waiting in line – perhaps a heart condition that makes it difficult to stand for more than 15 minutes at a time, particularly in the heat.
Assuming you word your disability correctly at guest services, they’ll hand you a Guest Assistance Card good for use at an attraction’s alternate entrance. In most cases, this is the FASTPASS line. Unlike a FASTPASS, the GAC is good for the user and up to five additional people. And it’s good for an unlimited number of uses. So if your group wants to ride Splash Mountain a dozen times in a row, they can with nothing more than their special red GAC. With the installation of the FASTPASS line at so many additional attractions, the Guest Assistance Card becomes a FASTPASS at more attractions than ever before.
While the Guest Assistance program is the only way some number of guests could enjoy the theme parks, it’s open to a barrage of abuse, as one might expect. Disney doesn’t require any kind of proof of your ailment. And if you’re an Annual Passholder, Guest Assistance Cards have historically been issued with an expiration date six months in advance. Steps have been taken recently to cut back on the abuse, including issuing GACs with expiration dates much sooner. Disney also asks for picture ID for just about any guest services interaction, including the issuance of a GAC. GACs have been sold on eBay as well as locally at the various ticket stands up and down Highway-192, among other places.
MyMagic+ is expected to address or replace Guest Assistance Cards in some way. Rumors always persist about the future of the program. It’s a godsend to those that truly have debilitating diseases or disabilities, but it’s hard to look past so much fraudulent use.
The “Stand-By Entrance” sign is a bit peculiar as it implies a FASTPASS+ sign will eventually turn up on the other side. Of course, they could just be going for symmetry. This is that interactive Adventureland game that would be a complete waste of a FASTPASS+ credit. At least as things stand now.
Guys I didn’t quite catch you on my iPad, can you wait in the 120-minute line and go again? Oh, you have a Guest Assistance Card? See you back around in five.
You may remember Disney’s installation of a Disney Visa kiosk literally right in the middle of the Haunted Mansion queue back in May.
Somebody, somewhere realized that was kind of stupid. So they closed it and built another kiosk 30 feet to the left.
I won’t tell you the Disney Visa is a lousy card.
Another refurbishment, Prince Regal Royal Carousel was closed through the 21st.
Princess Fairytale Hall has added a tent entrance out front.
It should open next month. I’m not sure exactly who will meet here once it does. It’s expected that there will two lines each leading to two princesses. Cinderella and Rapunzel should be fixtures in separate rooms with a second princess meeting alongside each. Snow White and Aurora would make the most sense. Jasmine’s picture is obviously featured on the sign, but it wouldn’t make much sense to move her out of Adventureland. And if they don’t put Rapunzel in Fairytale Hall, there isn’t another location where she would go, assuming they pull the princesses out of Town Square.
Construction continues on the Mine Train.
Larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports9/mineminemine.jpg as Disney installs wood looking log things.
Sure, China is building Sky City One, which will potentially be the world’s tallest building, in a total of 210 days.
But we’re talking about the intricacies of The Barnstormer here.
They keep adding stuff to the front of Triton’s Treasures. Maybe it’s Imagineering’s MagicBand.
It’s hard to imagine that Enchanted Tales with Belle won’t be one of the hottest FASTPASS+ experiences.
With two libraries, they may be able to work it out so one is used for FASTPASS+ and the other for standby.
But there’s still only one workroom, wardrobe room, etc. Any way you look at it, once FASTPASS+ comes online, standby capacity is going to be cut by half – at best.
If you’re skipping Enchanted Tales, Journey of the Little Mermaid can be pushed back as late as 10:30am or so. Or you can use FASTPASSes, which are still distributed at Mickey’s PhilharMagic alongside The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Or you can visit in the last hour of operation to again find shorter waits. It isn’t much of a morning priority with the high capacity, but it gets bogged down in the afternoon as people return with FASTPASS. If you’re doing Enchanted Tales first, it makes sense to visit Mermaid and Ariel’s Grotto right after because they’re so close and you can virtually walk on.
Dumbo and Barnstormer FASTPASSes continue being distributed in the back of Storybook Circus near Pete’s Silly Sideshow. Both continue to be disconnected to the system, meaning you can collect FASTPASSes for both even if you have a current FASTPASS for another attraction. Town Square Mickey works the same way. Please don’t ask if any other attractions work like this – they don’t. With the potential exception of Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom, which occasionally will distribute unconnected FASTPASSes. Not that you need them.
Much like the MyMagic+ kiosks we saw over at Sid Cahuenga’s at Hollywood Studios, Disney has installed exactly two such kiosks back in Storybook Circus. These can be found in between the FASTPASS machines for Dumbo and Barnstormer.
The back side of construction.
The best FASTPASS+ signage at Mad Tea Party.
Cheshire Cafe has added these “Gourmet Cake Cups” to its usual menu. The website will have a more robust quick service menu update as they all get updated here in the next week. Soft drink prices are going up across property. Regular drinks go from $2.59 to $2.69 and Larges will be $3.19, up from $2.99. You can call 407-939-7675 to cancel your trip.
The Cafe in context. They also serve muffins, cereal, milk, etc.
Planes merch has invaded the theme parks. I guess it makes sense here at Star Traders? With our luck, Hollywood Studios will get Planes 2 Land instead of Cars Land.
In exciting snack cart news that you just won’t find anywhere else, the rarely-used-turkey-leg-cart has joined forces with these other two carts. But it just advertises chips – turkey legs aren’t available.
Tomorrowland Rocket Tower Plaza Stage was advertising a dating service for Disney bloggers:
I guess there really is someone out there for everybody.
At 3pm, Space Mountain FASTPASSes were “only” out to 5:40pm with the 80 minute posted wait.
You can probably guess why Stitch’s Great Escape doesn’t offer FASTPASS+. It’s the only attraction that Disney acknowledges is so bad that it doesn’t want to advertise its existence to guests.
Monsters Inc. across the way does get the FP+ treatment.
Just another day in paradise.
There’s a March 2014 Crowd Calendar coming. I have a review of Turf Club at Saratoga Springs along with an update of what’s going on over there. We’ll take a look at all of the new quick service menus when those are updated on September 1st. I have a lunch review of The Wave and a dinner review of the House of Blues which I don’t think I’ve posted. I’m not sure what else.