Magic Kingdom Christmas Day Parade Taping, Swiss Family Treehouse, Greek Salad, Extended Queue Saturday, And The Survey Says…

by josh on December 3, 2011

This website doesn’t ask a lot from you.  But this one time, I am going to ask you to do something for me.  I promise it won’t happen again.  I need you to go outside.  Are you there?  Good.  Now, find a patch of grass.  See it?  Good.  Now stare at it for eight hours.  Every once in a while, pull out your mobile device and call someone, asking them only to say the name of a celebrity.  Once they say the celebrity’s name, hang up the phone.  Pretend that this is a rumored celebrity that is going to show up on your lawn.  Get excited.

Now you too have experienced the Magic Kingdom ABC Christmas Day Parade taping.  It’s a lot like watching grass grow.

For those unfamiliar, Disney tapes the ABC Christmas Day Parade over the first weekend in December.  It’s a mashup of Disney World, Disneyland, and stock footage from years past.  While it might sound fun to participate in such an event, I can assure you that it’s not.  Unless you really like standing there feigning interest at seeing the same float go by for the twelfth time.

Here we are arriving at the Ticket/Transportation Center.  No, this is not the line for the monorail.  It’s the line for the ferry boat.

See?  Officially and to quote a cast member on duty, “The monorail isn’t broken.  It just doesn’t have any power.”  I laughed.  It’s hard to say whether this is a “planned outage” to help control crowds arriving at the Magic Kingdom or not.  Maybe.

I’ll borrow a picture from my Twitter thing here.  Disney did order Mears buses to help transport guests from the Ticket/Transportation Center to Magic Kingdom – something you very rarely see.  This is not a regular Disney bus.  I ended up waiting no more than three minutes to get on the bus as opposed to that line for the ferry, which would have taken a long, long time.  Honestly, I was about to leave until I realized buses were also available.  I like you guys, but not enough to wait for a boat for two hours.  I think the buses arrived just as I did around 1pm.

Luckily there wasn’t much of a line for the boat at the Magic Kingdom.  Few people leaving at this time of day – if you could get to the entrance/exit anyway, that is.

Thanks to the transportation delays, there were few people in line for bag check or the turnstiles.  As you’re probably aware, most everyone visiting Magic Kingdom from off-site parks at the Ticket/Transportation Center and then takes the boat or monorail over.

The closed monorails at the Magic Kingdom.

The throngs just inside the main entrance.

Enjoy this. It’s about as much action as we’re going to see.

The parade taping is a pretty serious affair.  You can see the various lifts with lights, cameras, and action.  Teleprompters, too.  Maybe they’re expecting the President.

Monsters Inc!  The Christmas Day Parade taping is a good opportunity to see a bunch of characters that are otherwise “unmeetable.”  Other than Boo, this isn’t the best example.  I don’t want to upset anyone.

Samantha Brown and Mario Lopez hosting.  My guess is they’re looking around because they had just been told I had arrived.  I waved, but they must not have seen me.  Those lights in their eyes are bright.

Busy, but not too bad up here really.  Unfortunately, many of the floats and acts don’t travel around this far.

The crowds along Main Street.  Disney did a better job than usual of keeping people moving on the sides and getting people into the parade viewing area.  A ton of staff on hand for what I would imagine is one of the most obnoxious, frustrating days of the year for many of them.

Without exaggerating, this pirate ship float was sitting here for 20 minutes.  No movement.

I’m on the easyWDW float waiting to head down the street to thousands of my adoring fans in person and millions more around the world.  I don’t think the cast member on the left can handle how awesome it is.

Matching snowflake sweaters.  Very cute.  These Parade participants have nothing to do.  Just chillin.

We’re a little late for Justin Bieber.  I had actually set my alarm clock for 6am in order to arrive in time to get a prime spot up front for his performance.  Unfortunately after I woke up at 6am, I said, “Naw” and went back to bed.  Here are some great pics though: http://www.disboards.com/showpost.php?p=43392934&postcount=33.  No, I don’t know what he’s wearing either – but I want it.

Flowers look great.  I’m always amused at the people complaining about the “lack of decorations” at the Parks, considering how long it must take and how expensive it must be to replace so many flowers across all the Parks.  Epcot in particular is stunning in that respect.  Yes, no more Lights of Winter.  But it’s not like booking a 20-person gospel group for a month is cheap either.

We’ll check out the Swiss Family Treehouse while we’re in the area.  Disney was using the normal entrance out in front of the attraction.

And the alternative entrance and extended queue down near the smoking section across from Aloha Isle, as alluded to the other day.

The Treehouse does look immaculate.  It’s a beautiful area.  It would be nice if there were more places to stop and just take it all in.  There’s a lot of pressure to keep moving from the people behind you!

The extended queue.  Magic Kingdom is not the place you want to be when this thing is necessary.

The water wheel from above.  It would be better if it was a scotch wheel.

Between this and the Jungle Cruise you could just pretend like you’re in Animal Kingdom.

Another look down from one story higher.

A few more:








Up to the top. Not an ideal place to have a panic attack.

Their bedrooms resemble cages. It’s a little creepy.

A few more, but only because you twisted my arm:





What a ride!

Let’s take a look around:

Not terrible. It’s just after 1:45pm.

Pirates of the Caribbean with nominal waits as well.  It helps that this is as far away from where many people are entering and as we’ll see in a moment, traffic from Frontierland is also blocked.

This is back on Main Street.  Disney was actively sending as many people as possible through the “back entrance” that puts you near Tomorrowland Terrace.  This is to the left of Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and to the right of the Mickey/Princess FASTPASS machines.

Pirate Goofy continues to meet near Pirates of the Caribbean. The entrance is to the right of the main entrance to the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction.  The line is underneath the “Castillo del Morro” sign.  Friend-of-the-site Kenny has put together a very handy table that shows the specific Meet and Greet times for almost every character across all four major theme parks.  Check it out here: http://kennythepirate.wordpress.com.  If you click on “MK Characters” on the top, you’ll see that Pirate Goofy is slated for 10am – 3pm and 4pm – 6pm.  Unfortunately, the characters do take a bunch of breaks in between that time period.

Here’s a better look at the scrim on Pecos Bill on the Adventureland side. Golden Oak Outpost continues to serve hot dogs.

Another look.

We’re stuck here in Frontierland because Parade floats keep getting spit out from the usual spot.

A lot of people waiting.  Other than the heavier crowds, these sorts of delays are extremely common on Parade taping day.  It was just a ten minute delay, though.

And I did have the opportunity to see this huge inflatable candy cane.

Frontierland once we were released into the wild.

The line just to get into Pecos Bill.

I made it exactly this far until I had to get back on the sidewalk to make way for another float.

Scrims on Frontier Mercantile.

Ropes everywhere.

Oh no. Diamond Horseshoe is open!

Updated pricing:



I’ve never seen a $6.99 Kids Picks meal before, I don’t think.  The most expensive Kids Picks were at Restaurantosaurus, but only because Disney throws in a plastic pail and shovel.  I’m not sure what the reason for the increased pricing here would be.  As you may recall, I’ve had the Kids Meal here:

And at the time, I noted that it was a lot of food for the money.  I guess Disney saw that comment too.

It’s decorated very nicely for the holidays. I’m expecting it to open daily during Christmas Week for quick service lunch and a buffet-style dinner.  Because it shares a kitchen with Liberty Tree Tavern next door, the food is basically the same for dinner.

I verified that their sandwiches continue to be served sans toppings. They do.

BUT!!!!!! I did see two slices of tomato and some lettuce!!!!  Maybe they will hand a slice over if you beg.  It’s really a shame that they don’t top the sandwiches properly.  They would be pretty amazing with a nice flavored mayo or relish, some lettuce, and a nice thick slice of cheese.  A shame, really.

I’ve renamed Saturdays in September, October, November, and December at the Magic Kingdom as “Extended Queue Saturdays.”  From here on out, we’re going to be looking at a lot of extended queues.  At Haunted Mansion, the line is all the way out here to the promenade.  All of those people on the left are in line.  You’re probably looking at a 40-50 minute actual wait at this point, if not longer.

Extended queue at it’s a small world – 25 minute posted wait.

Crowded.

Here, too.

Rocking the extended queue at Dumbo.

Haha.  Prince Regal Carousel is not looking particularly regal today.  Sort of looks like a bouncy castle or something.

Carousel in a Cave.

Yes, that’s a 70 minute wait for Winnie the Pooh.  And more extended queues.  The FASTPASS return line is all the way out here.

Told you.

Tomorrowland is the busiest part of the Park during the Parade taping because Disney is basically sending everyone over to it as they enter.

A better look at the Cheshire Cafe menu. Same as the old Enchanted Grove menu.

The Greek Salad ($7.29) from Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe:


Because this website is more about gimmicks than anything else, I’m putting together a “Salad-Off” that will compare the various quick service salads at the theme parks.  I’ve had most of them, but I am still a couple short.  I always forget to ask for the salad dressing on the side at Cosmic Ray’s.  They just put so much on that the salad is basically dripping in it with a nice little puddle on the bottom.  I’m surprised Disney doesn’t serve the dressing on the side since people have such varying tastes as far as how much dressing they like.  Actually, I’m not surprised they don’t, but it would be nice.  Try to remember should you be ordering the Greek Salad or Beef Salad here.

Anyway, this was a perfectly decent salad, if not for the fact that it was drenched in dressing and the lettuce was limp.  There’s a nice helping of feta cheese on the side there, which is the key ingredient in a salad of this variety.  It tasted like the President branded feta that I tend to put on most of my salads anyway.  The cucumber had the appropriate level of crunch and seemed to be sliced fresh.  The Greek olives were as you would expect.  They’re not my favorite.  The hunk of bread is also about as fresh as bread gets at Walt Disney World and it’s an awfully big piece.  Get some butter for it while you’re at the condiment station (if you’d like to, that is).  Overall, not a bad choice should you be looking for a salad, especially a “naturally” vegetarian one.

You know it’s a busy day when this hot dog cart is spread out like this.

Serving Disney’s famous $5.00 hot dog, of course. For a little over $2.00 more, you can get something a lot more interesting at The Lunching Pad underneath the People Mover and Astro Orbiter.

90 minute wait for Space Mountain, but FASTPASSes just 40 minutes out. It wouldn’t surprise me if Disney offers more FASTPASSes on a day like this. That would account for the number of people in the Winnie the Pooh FASTPASS return line and the fact that Peter Pan’s Flight had FASTPASS return times of “just” three hours in the future.

A decent line for the PeopleMover. Scary stuff.

Big line for Buzz – 50 minute posted wait.

Disney was still sending people through the “backstage” area behind Main Street.  For a company that’s normally so intent on maintaining “the show,” it’s unfortunate that Disney was sending so many people through the parking lot and cast member cafeteria that sits back there.

A zoo.

Not sure who that is, but the dress is definitely working.

A last look at the Parade staff finishing up.

Remember that float from a long time ago where I said, “I made it exactly this far until I had to get back on the sidewalk to make way for another float.”  This is that float.  It just made it to Main Street now!

I enter 10 or 12 Disney World theme parks every week and I’ve never been “chosen” to complete a survey.  I think because most surveying cast members are startled by how attractive I am and can’t get the words out.  Or I don’t have kids (that I let out of their cage).  Today was my lucky day as I got to sit down on this ridiculous laptop thing to take a survey about my “food and beverage experience.”

It’s a very odd experience.  In this instance, we were seated in the building to the left of City Hall where you would normally pick up packages.  This little computer-contraption-thing was sitting there.  To answer a question, you poke the screen in the appropriate place and then click “next” at the bottom.

I found it amusing that they supplied pictures of the various quick service eateries.  Most people have no idea where they ate.  I’m not sure some of these little pictures help, but they probably do.  You can also select “Don’t know.”  The questions pertained to food quality, service, temperature, selection, perceived “healthiness,” and the like.  I let them know that I thought their Pizza Burger was atrocious.  Speaking of “poking,” people like to poke fun at Disney for their abundant use of surveys, but I give them a lot of credit for taking the time, energy, and money to collect so many opinions.  Even if most people just whiz by, it still gives the impression that “Disney cares.”

Thank goodness – the monorails are “back.”

A wedding at the Grand Floridian.

And directly to the left of the Wedding Pavilion.  I’m not at all kidding when I say that this is a mural of what the Grand Floridian looks like.  If the people in the picture above look to their right, they would see this painting of the Grand Floridian and beyond that – the “not-DVC-construction.”  Dream wedding!

Enjoy staring at your grass.

{ 22 comments… read them below or add one }

Jill December 3, 2011 at 6:54 pm

I agree with you that it seems very un-Disney-like to escort people behind Main Street. The time I was routed back there I could only spell trash and saw ashtrays, cars and picnic tables. I can’t help to think “what would Uncle Walt say?”

josh December 3, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Yeah, they use that entrance/exit a lot after the Wishes Fireworks in the evening. I’m not sure what the alternative would be. They couldn’t possibly move that many people through/around Main Street with it closed off like that. Maybe they could create some sort of canopy or something that would make the parking lot less obvious. But that would also be a little weird to walk through. It does definitely detract from the “magic” though.

Kenny the Pirate December 3, 2011 at 7:02 pm

Josh,
Thanks for the shout out! I owe you some crappy theme park food, like waffledogs or squid pizza when I get back to the parks in a couple of weeks. I might even throw in an over-iced soda or stamped to manufacture cheese cake or gooey pudding thingy. Be sure to bring that camera…for the food of course.
KtP

josh December 3, 2011 at 7:03 pm

Maybe we can split an Angus Pizza Burger and meet in the middle – Lady in the Tramp style. Laughing!!

anne December 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm

You are a very brave man and you must be reallllllllly skinny to fit in the middle of all those people.

PEACHES December 3, 2011 at 9:31 pm

You took another one for the team, thanks! No pictures of Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin? Just kidding, they would make my Christmas morning more enjoyable. Nice picture of Samantha Brown. I think Mario Lopez had his dimples enhanced. The Biebs ensemble that would really work for you I say go for it. I would just squint the entire time if I had to walk behind the shops. I will go stare at the grass now in the dark.

cupcake December 4, 2011 at 2:43 am

The only bad time I’ve ever had at Disney was a few years back when I inadvertently hit MK on a parade taping day. I had no idea what was going on, I had no idea why the crowds were at 11, we were shepherded around the back of the main street facades and I’d just barely made it to tomorrowland when someone charging at full speed with their head turned bodyslammed me hard enough so that my camera, which I was holding AND was strapped around my wrist, flew through the air and landed on the ground in two pieces. I spent another 30 minutes making my way back to the exit and vowed never again. I can’t think of any celebrity I’d be desperate enough to see from 40 feet away that would have me consider hitting the taping. You are a brave man, Josh.

MrsNick December 4, 2011 at 7:04 am

Hi Josh, the Greek salad looked yummy. Do you know if it’s possible to pay for an add-on to the salad, like some grilled chicken or a piece of salmon? I love salad, but I won’t eat it as a main course without a bit of protein (I know cheese is technically protein, but I guess I just like meat, lol).

Mike December 4, 2011 at 8:18 am

So the chartered buses allowed you to get on much quicker? Surprised Disney doesn’t have another mini-fleet of buses just for the really busy times, instead of making you wait for an hour while getting on the bus when it does show up is like a Running of the Bulls event

radiochick December 4, 2011 at 9:16 am

Aaaawwwe. Treehouse. :) I’m going to live there someday. I’ll call it Occupy something-er-other.

jcarwash December 4, 2011 at 10:34 am

Working the dress is Maria Menounos.

dizzycat1969 December 4, 2011 at 11:58 am

I think because most surveying cast members are startled by how attractive I am and can’t get the words out. Or I don’t have kids (that I let out of their cage).

Josh, you are truly awesome! Made me LOL so hard that my kids (whom i do let out of the cages) asked me if i was ok! Can’t wait to be at WDW in less than 10 days!! And a big HUGE thanks to you for all that you do. I don’t think we could’ve planned our first WDW vacation without you (well we could’ve, but then we would’ve been at the non-recommended parks, ate crappy food, etc. you get my point). THANK YOU, JOSH!

RebeccaMcK December 4, 2011 at 1:20 pm

Yeah, Maria was the lady in the green dress…I think she’s in the picture with Justin Bieber over on that link you included, too. The non-performance picture. Thanks for the link to Kenny the Pirate’s site/blog….I like knowing when and where the characters are, even though I think now my family (with just the one child, sans cage) is down to just trying to find the Up! characters and perhaps Flik, Terk, Baloo and King Louie if we ever can….but every little bit of info helps us do so. Thank you for braving the parade-taping crowds to show us what that is like. So far I’ve just done one Disney survey and it was emailed to me to do after we used a FP to see the Festival of the Lion King (all about the whole FP experience with that show). Oh, and I did a survey after our Disney Wonder cruise and made sure I told them that their theater seat cup holders weren’t deep enough (Hubby hit his cup gently and accidentally spilled a Long Island Iced Tea on our young daughter, ack! Missed Tarzan and Terk’s appearance in the Golden Mickeys because of that incident – ran out to find a bathroom to get her cleaned up before returning to the wonderful show). Ah, memories.

radiochick December 4, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Josh, based on the crowd we’re seeing in these pictures, would you call this a 10? I mean, can it get busier? I’m having a little concern about my travel dates since I know they are going to be 7 or 8′s. Hoping it isn’t this crowded.

josh December 4, 2011 at 4:54 pm

anne – Actually, I’m just really big and move people out of the way with my belly.

PEACHES – Hope you enjoyed experiencing the Christmas Day Parade taping at home!! Surprised you made it the full eight hours.

cupcake – Yes, most people have no idea it’s going on. At first they’re excited, until they realize the reality of the whole thing.

MrsNick – No, I don’t think there is an option to add anything to the salad. You would have to purchase a separate meal and prepare it yourself ^_^ Bay 1 at Cosmic Ray’s would have a couple of chicken options.

Mike – There was no wait for the bus as opposed to that huge line for the boat. I think there are only about 15 – 20 buses that aren’t in commission at any given time.

jcarwash – I approve of that dress.

dizzycat1969 – Thank you and good luck. My mom laughs like she’s dying too. Every once in a while I have to trudge downstairs to make sure she’s okay.

RebeccaMcK – Hopefully Terk will be around for your next trip. He’s in the Move It, Shake It Parade at the moment.

radiochick – The Parade taping day is an odd day in terms of crowds and crowd flow. It can certainly get busier, but most of those wait times and queues are about as long as they get. In terms of how many people were in the park overall, it’s a solid “9″ on my scale.

Regina December 4, 2011 at 5:03 pm

70 minutes for Pooh? Sorry, but anyone that waits that long has rocks for brains.

Rebecca McK – soooo sorry you missed Tarzan on your cruise! I will NEVER forget him. Never.

Patty December 5, 2011 at 10:41 am

When I get forced to go around Main St., I put my hands up on the sides of my face, so I can’t see anything but directly ahead of me…kind of like blinders on a horse. I am such an infant. I just don’t want to see beyond the magic.

Kevin Mueller December 5, 2011 at 11:21 am

We just got back from our weeks vacation to Disney World and I only have one complaint about the decorations, they were so good I am not sure I want to decorate for Christmas myself as there is no way I can do it that well. I thought the parks and resorts were just beautiful. Luckly we did not get to the Magic Kingdom on this day until 8:00 because we had the dessert party and 11:00 ELP, which was not crowded at all.

RebeccaMcK December 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm

Regina, thanks – yes, I’m sad we missed the Tarzan part of the show. Maybe we’ll see him some day. The treehouse at Disneyland was redone a while back as Tarzan’s Treehouse but as far as I know he’s never there. Maybe for parties.

Kelly December 8, 2011 at 7:08 pm

Josh, first off, your blog was literally invaluable for our vacation we just returned from. Thank you! Next I have 3 comments:
1. We were there for the parade taping. We got to the park around 7:30 am. You are right. Watching that madness was like watching cement dry. We stood around for about 1 hour before we had enough. We also got to see Justin beiber perform(yipee), until my 13 year old asked if we could PLEASE move on. Lol.
2. We were there for 10 days and my husband was asked if he could do a survey twice, both times while he was waiting for me.
3. I am pretty sure that the pizza burger was replaced with a guacamole burger at Cosmic Rays. We tried it, and it was OK. Really just the bacon cheeseburger with guacamole. Probably better than a pizza burger though ;)

josh December 8, 2011 at 7:10 pm

What!!! They got rid of the Angus Pizza Burger!!
I’ll have to check it out. Sounds like you had a fun trip otherwise!! And I’m jealous about Bieber!

Micah December 28, 2011 at 12:30 pm

We watched the parade on Christmas day… and the woman with the green dress that was “working” was Maria Menounos.

At times the parade was really just an advertisement to try to get people to visit the parks, but they did show a few things about the new Fantasyland, Art of Animation resort, and Carsland at Disneyland.

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