After an all-too-brief “vacation” back in Washington State, the website has returned to the daily grind in sunny Unincorporated Orange County, Florida. Mother appreciated all of the birthday wishes. It’s nice to return to a little bit of that unconditional love a family provides. Obviously you all love me, but in more of a “What did you blog for me today? capacity. But it’s nice to be back.
We’ll take a look at what’s going on at Magic Kingdom first before heading out to the Art of Animation Resort to check out the newly opened Lion King section along with the not-yet-opened Mermaid section and Cars under-the cover-of-darkness-and-in-the-rain. First off is a foray into Magic Kingdom though. You may notice that the website does not focus much on the construction of things. But now that we have some firm dates on openings of New Fantasyland and a clearer idea about what to expect, we’ll take a closer look.
A reminder that ECVs continue to be in short supply at Magic Kingdom. It’s 5:07pm and they’re “temporarily out of ECVs,” as they have been every day over the summer. Though it appears we may have at least one returning. Remember that they’re cheaper if you rent them off-site and at least several companies deliver to your resort.
Decent waits at Town Square Theater. A few days ago, Disney Parks Blog had a nice piece on what we can expect from Pete’s Silly Sideshow in the Storybook Circus section of Fantasyland. We’re going to see Minnie as Minnie Magnifique, Donald as the Great Donaldo, Daisy as Daisy Fortuna, and Goofy as the Great Goofini. At that time, Minnie will no longer appear here, Donald will no longer appear as Frontier Donald, Daisy will no longer appear at the flagpole, and Goofy will no longer appear as Pirate Goofy. What an upgrade!
Rapunzel continues to meet continuously through 4pm. After that, she switches out with another Princess. Rapunzel should meet more often than not though, particularly as Disney increases Rapunzel staffing.
Aurora was greeting guests through about 5:15pm next to City Hall, so I’m not sure who you’d see inside.
With a seemingly short line (that’s Mickey’s line on the right, the Princess line is basically nonexistent in the distance), I would have checked!
But I was trying to beat the rain. Next time! Full size: http://i.minus.com/i1laDiB6ghQC0.jpg.
It’s true that I’ve ignored Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. I think the whole thing is kind of nutty. The “problem” is that some cards are much rarer than others to the point where they can be worth a substantial sum of money. Disney will give you five cards for free here at the Fire Station on Main Street or the backside of the Christmas store in Liberty Square. One of those cards is rarer than the others. People don’t generally realize this. Since the game is targeted towards kids, you potentially have hundreds of kids walking around with cards that they have no idea could be worth money. The “problem” is then that you have a bunch of creep-o guys hovering around the “game portals” trying to hustle kids and their parents out of their cards. So the last thing Billy wants in his deck is “Tinker Bell’s Pixie Dust.” A card that’s maybe worth five bucks. But Billy really wants Pumbaa’s Odorous Gas, a card that’s worth maybe five cents. So creep-o(s) will hound you at the portals trying to get your Pixie Dust card away from you while you try to play the game. It’s rather unpleasant. And because lines at the portals were so long, Disney lowered the difficulty of the game to “easy” at all portals over the summer. This week, they reintroduced the “medium” level to see how lines will fare.
And now, Disney has monetized the game further, by distributing a limited number of “booster packs” that went on sale for the first time today (August 17th). Those run you $11.95 for seven cards. Yes. Nearly two bucks a card. More info. If you are interested in the game, I recommend bookmarking http://sotmkblog.com.
Tea has replaced Vinylmation here
Brave merchandise popularity has been hard to gauge. Disney moved the merchandise from a wall near the other Princess merchandise a few weeks ago to a much smaller kiosk thing. And over at her Meet and Greet, the cart there is now half Rapunzel merchandise. But looking at the sizes of dresses available, you’ll notice that they only have XXS, XS, and S in stock. Meaning they’re completely sold out of Medium and larger sizes? Over at Art of Animation, Brave merchandise is gone, save for an action figure of one of the characters not named Merida. So it’s either popular or they’re not bothering to stock more.
Not much else going on in the world of merchandise. Halloween merch has arrived at Hollywood Studios, but not quite yet at Magic Kingdom. These three packs of purse things are new as far as I can tell.
And come in two sets of styles. Not sure why Disney decided you want three.
I guess Disney really wants you using their new app, because wait times still aren’t posted on the wait times board.
But character waits continue to be long in the afternoon.
One of the worst jobs at Walt Disney World is undoubtedly the character attendant. Imagine telling hundreds of sad kids a day that they aren’t going to be able to meet Ariel because she has to go back to the castle.
So that doesn’t happen to you, I recommend Kenny’s new character locator mobile app, available for download free here: http://kennythepirate.com/2012/08/15/disney-world-character-locator-app-available-now/. The site also lists character meet times/locations that are more specific than what Disney would tell you. Everyone trying to get in line for Ariel was told to head down here for Aladdin and Jasmine, causing the line to be backed up further.
Over in Liberty Square, The Yankee Trader is behind scrims.
It seems to serve two purposes. One, I’m sure the facade could use a touchup. But it also helps cover the construction at the old Skyway station behind it.
“Soon,” you’ll be able to walk behind Yankee Trader from Fantasyland. That’s Haunted Mansion to the left of it.
As of just a couple of days ago, the facade was covered with brown tarps.
Like this side.
Fortunately, the store remains open during the facade work. Unfortunately, you really won’t find anything unique in here. I think all of the kitchen related stuff is available at the Emporium at the front of the Park.
Speaking of the Skyway station, Disney is building a John Carter themed rocketship ride for anyone that wants to ride. Or no one. Whichever is more. Just kidding. It’s expected to be a Rapunzel Meet and bathrooms. The vertical construction is new since were last here in late July.
It’s 5:43pm, so Peter Pan FASTPASS return really isn’t that far out compared to similarly crowded days last year.
A phenomenon directly attributed to FASTPASS at Dumbo, I think.
Things have changed at Dumbo. You’ll notice that the return time is now much further out than Winnie the Pooh. This is because anyone that pulls a FASTPASS for Winnie the Pooh will also receive a SURPRISE FASTPASS for Dumbo for the current return time. Above, I’ve pulled a Dumbo FASTPASS, which printed along with a SURPRISE FASTPASS for Mickey’s PhilharMagic, which is worthless because there’s never a wait longer than it takes for the next show to begin anyway. At the moment, you’re much better off pulling FASTPASSes for Pooh. The time you’ll be able to collect another FASTPASS is based on the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh return time rather than Dumbo. In this instance, that would be 7:05pm, which is the current return time for Pooh. For my Dumbo FASTPASS, it would be 7:45pm, which is two hours in the future.
Over at Dumbo Proper, the bonus FASTPASSes seem to be working as the standby line is out the door with a 25 minute posted wait. You may recall that Dumbo was seeing 15 minute waits most of the day with FASTPASS return times almost always at 40 minutes out.
Progress continues on New Fantasyland, which now has an official opening date of December 6th. All day previews begin November 19th and we should see sporadic “soft openings” and Passholder previews before that.
The turrets are out from behind scrims.
They should look familiar.
The rockwork all looks top notch.
I’m taking bets on how long it takes after opening until a thread on DISboards.com titled, “The rocks already look old!” appears. Days 1 through 4 are already full, but there’s plenty of room for anyone betting 30 days or more. Of course, you would lose that bet.
Work continues on transforming Snow White’s Scary Adventure into Princess Fairytale Hall. With Belle and Ariel expected to move to other locations in New Fantasyland, I’m not sure who they’re planning to put here. It’s not like anyone wants to meet the Pink Princess! Rapunzel should move to the Skyway and Tiana’s location in Liberty Square is pretty good. I guess we’ll see.
Beast’s Castle is looking better out in the distance. Disney is going to begin taking reservations for Be Our Guest Restaurant on August 20th at 7am for dates beginning November 19th via 407-WDW-DINE. Online booking should begin August 22nd. Dinner is a sit-down meal that will run you one table service credit on the Disney Dining Plan. Here’s the menu if you haven’t seen it. Feel free to add me to your reservation in November or early December. Very bloggable. And I come with a Tables in Wonderland card! Lunch is quick service with this menu and runs one quick service credit. Both menus sound good to me. I’m not sure how well Turkey Meatloaf with Zucchini is going to go over with kids. I’m guessing there will be a lot of, “Can he get fries with that instead?” And the answer will be yes. Here’s the latest artwork for the restaurant. It looks great.
The Mine Train is being encased in concrete. This one isn’t supposed to open until early 2014.
From Storybook Circus. It’s going to be quite the structure as I can assure you that’s a full size crane.
The top of Belle’s Village.
This video will give you a better idea of what to expect here.
And this one that you’re not supposed to see.
The rockwork at Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid is looking fantastic.
Disney is planting(?) grass here.
I’m getting and seeing a lot of questions about how New Fantasyland’s opening is going to affect crowd size. The answer is very negligibly. And you know I don’t throw around the word “very.” We’re talking about almost three weeks before the official opening that the area is going to be open in its entirety. And before that, we should see the area open in large chunks for testing purposes. We’re not talking Cars Land or Harry Potter here. You can expect December 6th to be busier than it would be otherwise, but it’s not going to bring in many locals and it’s unlikely Disney will do much of substance for day guests. Expect a lot of press, but it’s still a Mickey’s Party Thursday with a 7pm close. I changed the recommendation to “not recommended” because of the additional hassle, but we’re not talking about an extra 25,000 guests.
As far as planning your day with the new section open, the wild card here is the characters. The Little Mermaid ride eats guests, which is to say it has a capacity of around 2,000 riders/hour. In California, the ride rarely has a wait than exceeds 15 minutes because of this. Expect it to be decently popular, but we’re not looking at waits that exceed 20 or 30 minutes, making it a low priority overall. Theoretically, things could be different out here in Florida, but I’m not expecting them to be. Otherwise, there aren’t any new rides opening. Expect Be Our Guest to be very popular. There aren’t a lot of dining options within Magic Kingdom in the first place. On the plus side, it should make dining at the other restaurants easier. Otherwise, we’re only talking about characters and shops here. With no interest in characters, there isn’t a lot to bring you back here until the late morning at the earliest.
So you really have nothing to worry about if you’re planing a November or December trip.
Casey Jr. remains unpopular, though the weather isn’t great at the moment. It looks like there’s some kids thinking about it, but you’ll notice no one is actively splashing around.
A little later and on the opposite side, a couple kids are giving Casey Jr. a whirl. It still has the fence around it, but we’re going to see “Don’t climb on this” to a whole new level at Art of Animation.
Barnstormer remains popular with the queue almost spilling out and a 35 minute posted wait. Visit before 11am or in the last hour of operation.
A friendly reminder that you can’t take Disney strollers on the train. It’s a bit of a stroller graveyard over here to the left of the bathrooms. Or “FREE STROLLERS!” for you enthusiastic types.
A rare action shot with the train going by. Not sure if I’ve mentioned this, but I really like Storybook Circus.
The three big tops. What’s supposed to be inside these things? Big Top Souvenirs…Pete’s Silly Sideshow…and? And what are they going to serve at Gaston’s Tavern?
I have high expectations for the parts of New Fantasyland opening “in time for the holidays,” even if it seems to be lacking that major attraction that makes people say, “Wow!” The Mine Coaster may get us closer, but we’ll have to see about Mermaid.
Back to Merida, who seems to be getting more poplar.
It’s 6:07pm and she has her last set at 7:15pm. If you got in line now, you’re looking at what’s probably a 45 to 60 minute wait depending on how long it takes for the next group to be let in.
Magic Kingdom is only getting busier with the previous storm letting up and evening Extra Magic Hours. It’s still much less busy than it was last month. Can’t wait for September.
Work continues on Tomorrowland Bridge.
And on the seating area down there.
The building looks a little creepy.
This poster book is extremely popular with the bloggers hawking Amazon affiliate links. It’s $25 there compared to $40 inside the theme parks. Amazon won’t have it until September 4th though. I briefly looked through it and found it to be an extremely awkward size.
At 6:20pm, FASTPASSes for the characters aren’t far out at all.
Despite a lengthy posted wait for the Princesses.
No problems getting a table at Tony’s Town Square Theater for dinner it seems.
Anne had asked about seating at the railroad station in the forums, so here’s a look from one side.
And the other.
So that’s that. Not a ton going on necessarily, but a few changes, particularly at Dumbo and the New Fantasyland elements.
Next up is a return to Art of Animation.