Edit: Added video of Belle’s Library. Enchanted Tales with Belle is expected to continue public testing through “mid-September.”
We’ll quickly pop into Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom before heading over to Magic Kingdom to take a look “behind the walls” at Enchanted Tales with Belle. Here’s the scene unedited.
Or the same picture edited. It’s 1:49pm.
Along with the lowest crowds of the year, we’re going to start seeing earlier closes and less nighttime entertainment. Luckily, it still stays bright out relatively late, so Disney has to keep the Studios open through 9pm to accommodate a Fantasmic that takes place in the dark. Otherwise, they’d close at 7pm like they used to when Fantasmic was only scheduled twice a week.
The overall crowd level is listed as a “3″ on the crowd calendar, but that’s too high. Based purely on attendance, this is a “low 2,” but staffing is still high enough that it’s going to seem like the Parks are virtually deserted. They could easily be running just three or four turnstiles instead of the twelve they have going right now.
One thing to keep in mind on this particular website, is that the overall crowd number you see on the crowd calendar is based on the total number of people in the four major theme parks and two water parks. When you see a “5,” that doesn’t mean that all four Parks are going to have “average” crowds. That’s where the recommendations come into play.
This is just about the lowest possible afternoon wait times you’re ever going to see at Hollywood Studios. And yes that includes a solid hour wait at Toy Story Midway Mania. Tower of Terror is actually going to be listed at 10 minutes once we arrive at the attraction. These waits haven’t been updated in about a half hour because it’s actually 2pm here. Considering the 2:15pm return time at Tower of Terror and Star Tours, we can assume the wait times were last updated around 1:35pm.
I’m not sure I’ve ever seen more smiles on cast members’ faces than I did today. No one appreciates lower crowds more than they do. At all three Parks I entered, I was welcomed with a “Hello, how are you?” That isn’t something you’ll see as often in July.
Toluca Legs Turkey Company is again closed.
Which means Turkey Legs are available down a ways at Fairfax Fare:
A different version of the menu.
September is a different beast. I see a lot of questions asking, “Do we really need to have a plan in September?” The answer is it never hurts. You want to avoid Mondays and Saturdays at Magic Kingdom. Hollywood Studios on Mondays and Saturdays. Epcot on Fridays. You’re looking at a 20 or 30 minute wait here at Tower of Terror on a “non-recommended” day at the same time of day. Is that the end of the world? Probably not, but there’s no reason to visit the Studios when it’s busier.
In the Hollywood Studios menu update post, I had omitted the Tower of Terror cart, which you’ll find outside the exit.
Here’s the new menu:
It’s another Joffrey’s location, so the menu is the same as what we saw at Animal Kingdom and Epcot.
They sell these goodies along with cookies and whatnot.
I went on a bit of a Twitter rampage earlier about crowds. One other thing to note about the crowd calendar on this website is that it isn’t comparing crowds to previous years. Yes, the crowds you experienced in late August 2007 or September 2005 were undoubtedly lower than they were this year. You visited during a worldwide recession. If you’re planning a future vacation, rather than using a time machine to travel to the distant past, that fact doesn’t really matter. The crowd calendar is based on crowds over the past 180 days and the future 180 days. A “5″ means “average” overall crowds. I use a bit of a “bell curve” with the crowd levels, so you’ll see more 4′s, 5′s, and 6′s than 1′s and 10′s. 1′s and a 10′s are on the extreme side of things, so they aren’t used as often. I can guarantee you that it’s very rarely wrong. I don’t necessarily mean to discredit anyone, but you can look back at crowds and wait times on this website and compare what you saw with virtually any point over the past 18 months. If you visited in ________ with a _ crowd level and think you see lower or higher crowds at some other point that doesn’t mesh, by all means call me out on it. But please don’t point to a 70 minute wait at Toy Story Mania, a 60 minute wait at Soarin’, or a 50 minute wait at Peter Pan’s Flight and say, “easyWDW was wrong, it was crazy crowded.” Those wait times are reality even in the slowest months. The purpose of this website is to prepare you for what you can expect from a Walt Disney World vacation year-round. A “1″ crowd level doesn’t mean you’re going to be able to “walk on” Toy Story Mania at 2pm. That’s impossible. Even with “nobody here,” the wait is still 60 minutes right now. And it isn’t going to get any lower.
A Mickey Ears Halloween hat based on this year’s logo that we hadn’t seen before.
And a Haunted Mansion themed derby hat.
Which would run you $24.95, or a little more than three keychains.
As promised, the website delivers an in-depth review of the Turkey Leg air freshener. These were announced back on the Disney Parks Blog in July.
The packaging is pretty boring. It says “Air Freshener” and “Turkey Leg Scent” and then the air freshener itself is enclosed in a simple plastic bag. The only branding is a small Disney copyright lgogo on the opposite side. I will tell you that it really does smell like a turkey leg, to the point where my turkey leg air freshener is currently sitting outside on the balcony.
Animal Kingdom was the “most recommended Park” today. It’s looking pretty chill at 2:34pm.
It looks like they’re doing a little bit of work just inside the entrance on the right side.
This is the reason it’s the most recommended Park. It doesn’t get much better than a five minute wait at Expedition Everest in the middle of the afternoon. Remember that we saw 70 minute waits at Kali River Rapids two weeks ago.
That was a briefer visit than I was originally intending, but we’ll be back for the Summer Rolls, Asian Salad, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Expedition Everest soon enough. This is current Grand Floridian Disney Vacation Club construction, a project that Disney still hasn’t publicly acknowledged.
Zoomed in a bit.
Magic Kingdom is highly recommended. “Seems busy” though.
Continuing up Main Street with the Halloween decorations in full force.
Posted wait times:
I’m somewhat aumsed that the posted wait for Mickey’s PhilharMagic is twice as long as Space Mountain.
Work continues on New Fantasyland.
“Enchanted Tales with Belle” is one piece of the “New Fantasyland” expansion. The arrow points to the current entrance.
At the moment, the Meet and Greet is more or less open to the public. You just have to ask this guy to open the door for you. Disney was telling people to head over here from Mickey’s PhilharMagic if they wanted to participate.
Disney is apparently ready for sizable crowds with this winding queue.
On both sides of the building.
The queue in context. That’s quite a bit of line on either side.
The cottage itself is very well done.
It seems quaint from the front, but it’s hard to gauge exactly how big it is.
Behind this wall sits the bridge to the Be Our Guest Restaurant.
Even unfinished and surrounded by construction and walls, it looks incredibly immersive. Soon water will flow underneath. It’s going to be “magical.”
With gargoyles as the foundation for the light fixtures.
A look across at the current state of construction. And larger: http://www.easywdw.com/reports5/construct.jpg.
The queue for The Little Mermaid Dark Ride looks like a home run.
The Be Our Guest entrance.
The entrance beasts.
Beast’s Castle sitting on top of the restaurant. Or from my Twitter rampage, “BEAST IS 10 FEET TALL THEY BUILD HIM A SIX FOOT TALL CASTLE. CINDERELLA IS FIVE FEET SHE GETS A 189 FOOT TALL CASTLE.”
It’s still a very active construction zone.
And we’re still at least 15 months away from the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
So back to the cottage, the new meet and greet takes place inside.
From the other side.
Even unfinished, the area is incredibly detailed with dirt and moss on the roof of the well. Or from Twitter, “I SPENT $15,000 ON THIS VACATION AND MAURICE’S WELL IS ALREADY DIRTY AND WHAT IS THAT IN THE BACKGROUND”
One last exterior shot with Beast’s Castle in the upper right hand corner.
Florida is extremely hot right now and most of the queue is completely uncovered. While it’s cooler underneath the roof right before you enter the cottage, none of it is air-conditioned. It was pretty uncomfortable for everyone standing close together in the 90+ degree September heat.
Someone had already ripped off some of the buckets.
Inside, the first room you enter is quaint and holds maybe 25 people, if that.
It’s outfitted how you would expect Maurice’s front room might look.
A look around:
Not funny Scarlett. You may recognize a few TouringPlans.com characters in the photos and videos. We’ll keep our distance.
Twitter rage: “WHO HAS A PICTURE OF THEIR HOUSE INSIDE THEIR HOUSE? MAURICE IF YOU’RE WONDERING WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE GO OUTSIDE AND LOOK.”
It’s nicely themed and probably not completed yet.
Just don’t tell WDWMAGIC that one of the flames is temporarily missing. SHUT IT DOWN!
You proceed through to Maurice’s work room, where a seemingly ordinary mirror sits in the front. The room is surrounded by more knick-knacks.
I’ll have to return with a faster lens. It’s dark in here.
It’s important to keep in mind that this whole thing is still very much a work in progress. For every performance, managers were standing in the back checking out the progress.
Since Disney already spoiled the mirror in their video:
I’ll go ahead and tell you what happens from here on out. If you’d like it to be a surprise, you probably want to stop reading.
In a very cool effect, the mirror actually transforms into a portal that transports guests to Beast’s Castle.
In the next room, you meet the Wardrobe, which is an amazing animatronic. This is where things get a little hokey.
Cast members hand out cardboard cutouts to audience members that represent various characters. We’ve got Mrs. Potts. A horse. Soldiers. And a variety of other characters. I’m really not sure how I feel about this. I think it’s a mixture of fun, cute, and lame all rolled up into one nice little package. On one hand, it’s a lot of fun if your kids are eager to participate. On the other hand, there’s a child crying the entire time, a child chosen to play Beast that probably shouldn’t have been, and the fact that we’re playing puppets with cardboard cutouts.
Here’s a video of the full experience.
Next, you move up to a very cool room designed like the library in the Castle with Lumiere at the helm above the fireplace.
This is one of the coolest things Disney has done in a while:
You can see here how much he moves around and how lifelike he is.
Here’s a minute of the animatronic if you just want to take a look at it.
And the full six minute scene. A little awkward. The entire process, from the time you step into the mirror room until you exit the cottage, is about 15 minutes.
After the “performance,” each person that played a role gets a picture of themselves with Belle taken with a PhotoPass photographer. Those not performing don’t get a picture and Belle does not sign autographs at this particular “Meet and Greet.”
It’s immaculately themed.
Can I get a smile?
Proceeding out of the Castle.
You’ll find yourself back outside the Cottage.
The Belle PhotoPass card and a bookmark that’s handed out to everyone that wants one.
Wait times once it officially opens are hard to gauge. There’s two libraries and two Wardrobe rooms and they aren’t currently running at full capacity. We ended up waiting about 25 minutes and the line was far shorter than it is now. Disney had been corralling guests at Mickey’s PhilharMagic and offering to bring them over here, which caused lines to be much longer. This isn’t a great picture of the line, but I’d put wait times around 90+ minutes. And as we know, overall crowd levels are very low.
I have mixed feelings about the overall experience. On one hand, it’s a ton of fun if you have a child that wants to participate in the story and the other participants are also happy to participate. It’s incredibly immersive and richly detailed. The animatroncis are amazing and this is most certainly a “next generation” experience. Meeting Belle in this manner may be more fun than simply queuing up for her at Town Square Theater with the run-of-the-mill “Hello prince/princess” to your child and a quick picture/autograph.
On the other hand, it’s kind of awkward watching kids that clearly don’t want to participate being chosen. I’m not sure how I feel about the cardboard cutout play. I’m going to have to watch again when I’m not fiddling with camera equipment. And the fact that we’re likely looking at 60+ minute waits for an experience where most people won’t actually get to “meet” and take a picture with Belle and no one gets an autograph.
It’s also important to keep in mind that these are very early previews, with the official opening still three months away. What we see now may not resemble the final product. Since tests are happening so early, it’s likely that someone along the line realized that the cardboard cutout play may not be the best idea. We’ll see what they end up doing.
I had omitted the Storybook Treats menu in Fantasyland. Here is the new version.
20 to 50 minutes shorter than just about any other time of year.
Into Cosmic Ray’s.
To verify that the 1/2 Chicken & Rib Combo remains on the menu only after 4pm and now runs $15.19.
As promised, an HDR photo of a frozen Solar Cocoa Cola from The Lunching Pad.
In case you want to meet the signing version of Belle, wait times are short and FASTPASSes are available.
We’ll check out Belle again and keep a watchful eye on (the lack of) crowds.