We’ll head out to Magic Kingdom on the afternoon of Friday June 16, 2017, to check in on some hot dogs.
And a number of pictures that really have no business being this wide.
Disney moved to all-beef hot dogs property-wide a few weeks ago.
Walt Disney World’s most prolific purveyor of meat-of-questionable-origin is probably Casey’s Corner, though to be frank, pork is what I think of when the topic of hot dogs comes up. And when does it not come up.
Disney began offering a monthly “featured (all-beef) hot dog” earlier this year, with each concoction arriving a little more batty than the last.
I was surprised with the difference in size between the “Regular” hot dog in back and the “Foot-Long” hot dog up front.
The price difference is just $1.50 and the foot-long size is probably four times as much dog…er…beef.
But they’re also two different hot dogs on two different-style buns. Front and center is the “$12.49 Macaroni and Cheese Dog Topped with Macaroni and Cheese with Bacon served with Apple Slices (yeah right) or French Fries (yes please).
The foot-long hot dog is quite good. Served piping hot, the dog is plump, but manageable, with a bit of a snap from the thin casing and a nice overall spiciness similar to what you’d expect from a Costco Polish Sausage. I didn’t care so much for the bun, which is necessarily thick to hold together all of the toppings. But it was dry and dense and did little more than take away from the flavor profile of the major ingredients.
About 40% of the dog doesn’t touch any of the toppings, which are bunched up towards the center of the bun. The macaroni seemed to get lost with so much bread going on and the cheap bacon bits didn’t add much flavor considering the spice and salt in the hot dog. Overall, it gets a skip from me, though I had better luck removing the hot dog from the bun and eating it along with the macaroni with a fork. Sacrilege, sure, but this body ain’t free.
The “Featured All-Beef Hot Dog Topped with Shredded Chicken tossed in Buffalo Sauce, Diced Celery, and Garlic Ranch Dressing” was a more manageable proposition, at least in terms of size. The bun here is more typical, not unlike a Ball Park or Wonder bun from the store, and was much softer and less hearty. It just barely kept everything together for the duration of the meal, not unlike your experience at Walt Disney World with the in-laws.
The flavors worked surprisingly well together, though the hot dog may get lost in the many chunks of buffalo chicken and the creamy, herb-y garlic ranch. This will only be around for a few more weeks so it doesn’t really matter how good it tastes, but I enjoyed the hot flavors in the buffalo sauce against the spice in the Regular Hot Dog, which reminded me more of a hot link with more of a snap and a peppery kick. Overall, it’s a bit of a bummer that the smaller Regular Hot Dog tastes so much better than the Foot-Long, considering the price difference is so small and the difference in portion is so large. I would much rather have two of the Regular Hot Dogs over one of the Foot-Longs, but that’s going to cost a lot of money.
Overall, I think the changes in hot dog quality are subtle, but meaningful. It’s a higher quality product than it would have been a few weeks ago. And that’s a good thing.
Casey’s Corner is, I believe, the only quick service that serves these thinner “shoestring-style” fries. I like them a lot – it “feels” like you’re eating a lot more than you potentially are with the immense number of pieces in the carton. They have a nice crispiness to them, though I thought this particular batch could have used some salt. You know, just in case the hot dog didn’t already have 1,000% of the recommended sodium intake for the day.
In related hot dog news, Sleepy Hollow Refreshments in Liberty Square is serving a new “Hand-Dipped Corn Dog.”
You might remember that the Waffle Sandwich actually came down in price, though I’m not sure it’s as good as the original with what is often a sadly-sized piece of chicken.
This corn dog looks to be about 135 feet tall.
The hot dogs are actually hand-dipped right there in Sleepy Hollow – we watched a poor cast member struggling with the process throughout our 15-minute wait for the sticked-meat to materialize.
We ordered the “Corn Dog Only,” which comes in at $5.99, though there is a 32.9% chance that you will still receive chips, as we did. The corn dog was really good – easily seven times better than the frozen version that they serve at a lot of kiosks around property, with a delicate crispiness around the outside and a flavorful hot dog inside. It may not be a fantastic value for the money, but it would make for a satisfying snack if you can put up with what are usually long wait times to receive your food at Sleepy Hollow.
Corn dogs are in-season at Westward Ho, the kiosk across from Pecos Bill in Frontierland.
On the plus side, you’ll have your sticked-meat in just a few moments, but they’re actually more expensive than Sleepy Hollow and literally reheated from a frozen state. Think State Fair brand.
Speaking of Pecos, Tres Leches Cake has been added to the dessert menu and Tortilla Chips are an official side. For a snack credit, you can really load up the chips at the toppings bar, which includes salsa, guacamole, shredded cheese, sour cream, and more.
It’s about six dollars more for the Beef Nachos, which includes a couple large spoonfuls of beef, in addition to the lettuce and tomato, which you won’t find at the toppings bar.
The $4.59 Tres Leches is pretty good – flavorful, light, and airy with cream and cinnamon on top. For five bucks, you could probably find something tastier and more novel at The Confectionery or something, but it’s not a bad choice if you’d like something sweet to accompany your burritos etc.
Over at Prince Eric’s Village Market, across from the Under the Sea ride and Ariel’s Grotto meet and greet, you’ll find a new-ish “Pretzel Royale.”
This is the exact same pretzel that Germany offers over in Epcot. It desperately needs the cheese sauce – it’s incredibly dry, dense, and flavorless without it, even though it certainly looks the part. Personally, I’d take a Mickey Pretzel any day of the week, but you may have better luck.
Magic Kingdom was having some operational issues with lightning in the area closing outdoor attractions, in addition to Pirates of the Caribbean being down.
I had made a FastPass+ reservation for Splash Mountain after spending the morning at Hollywood Studios taking pictures of a cupcake. Here at 2:34pm, a line of hopeful people has already formed waiting for the log flume to reopen.
It’s a similar situation over at Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.
Disney has changed the way it offers replacement experiences when an attraction for which you have FastPass+ is unavailable at the beginning of the return window. Here’s the email I received:
This is obviously a ton of attractions, many of which have low capacities. Big Thunder Mountain distributes over a thousand FastPass+ experiences per hour. So if it’s down for two hours worth of FastPass+ returns, you then have over 2,000 people potentially looking to use that FP+ at a different ride. That can easily overwhelm something like the Cinderella and Elena meet, where the hourly capacity might be 350 people per hour.
Previously, these were the replacements for Splash:
- Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
- Haunted Mansion
- Monsters Inc Laugh Floor
- Pirates of the Caribbean
- Space Mountain
- Splash Mountain
- Tomorrowland Speedway
Not a bad list, but you’ll notice that they’re all relatively high capacity rides, perhaps with the exception of Tomorrowland Speedway.
This is the FastPass+ return line for Haunted Mansion at 2:40pm. It certainly “appears” crazy, though the actual wait to get inside is likely 10ish minutes. Standby is posted at 75 minutes and could well be longer than that with virtually no capacity allotted to anyone without FastPass+.
it’s a small world.
Even PhilharMagic was backed up outside the building.
We were debating what to do with our “anytime FP+” and ultimately decided to ride The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.
Around the time we were passing Princess Fairytale Hall, we saw that Splash was posting a wait time, so we doubled back to ride.
This turned out to be a mistake, as we are about to get very stuck:
I’ve only been evacuated from a couple of rides over the years.
But this one was particularly happening. Obviously, cast want you to wait until they can safely evacuate everyone. But the woman in the row in front of us was having none of this and climbed over her husband to get out just a couple of minutes into the ordeal. You can see a video of that here. About 15 minutes later, a young man a few logs in front of us climbed out of his log with cast yelling at him over the intercom to stay put. He was yelling at his girlfriend to come with him, but she didn’t want to get up. She finally relented and escaped, much to the dismay of the intercom voice.
All told, it was 37 minutes between when we initially stopped and when we were back out in front of the entrance. They walked us outside and behind the show building before handing us an “Anytime FastPass+” for any attraction other than Peter Pan’s Flight and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Houdini and his girlfriend saved about ten minutes of this time, while the woman that jumped up early probably saved 20 – not enough to risk your life, probably.
Operational issues like the ones experienced earlier in the day are typically short-lived. This is Haunted Mansion at 4:47pm and you could basically walk right into the stretching room with FastPass+ – a far cry from the hectic scene from a couple of hours before.
small world and this pathway are much less congested. We booked a 5th FastPass+ here without any trouble, arriving at 4:49pm.
And on-ride less than five minutes later:
And back out front at 5:06pm for a total experience time of 17 minutes.
Pirates had reopened by 5:20pm and there was no problem securing a 5th FastPass+ for it.
The 40-minute posted standby wait is perhaps optimistic.
This looks closer to 60 minutes.
Disney installed a new photo opportunity just before the drop that will sync with your My Disney Experience account via a MagicBand. In other words, the photo should appear in your PhotoPass account if you’re wearing a MagicBand, but like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, there is no area to look at the picture after the ride or use a plastic ticket to add the picture to your account. The talking skull has also returned to help mask the flash used in the photo.
The Pirates Dooney and Bourke bags are available.
This will set you back a cool $198.
By 5:53pm, things had died down considerably at Haunted Mansion with a 40-minute wait and extended queue out of use.
We walked right into the stretching room via FP+.
And back out front at 6:14pm for a total experience time of 21 minutes.
The point here is basically that if you do find yourself in Magic Kingdom during the afternoon over the course of the summer, that you’ll likely see some downtime for lightning, in addition to mechanical problems at a variety of the older attractions. In that scenario, it probably makes sense to stop for a snack or visit a couple of the really high capacity, really low priority attractions. Here at Magic Kingdom in June, you’re still going to run into packed theaters at the likes of Country Bear Jamboree and Mickey’s PhilharMagic. But that may still be preferable to the hassle of standing in a lengthy FastPass+ return line for the Haunted Mansion or another attraction that will be much calmer once the outdoor rides are operating again.
This is Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor with the line backed up out of the building just before 3pm.
Here’s a look at posted wait times over the course of the day:
There isn’t a whole lot Disney can do about the weather, but seeing the extended downtime at Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, and Pirates of the Caribbean is frustrating, particularly when those are three attractions with relatively high capacities. But this is about what you can expect at Magic Kingdom moving through the summer. Unfortunately, the condensed operating hours don’t offer as much opportunity to enjoy short waits in the early morning and late night.
This souvenir skull cup is available from Tortuga Tavern with Cherry Slush or at Aloha Isle with a Dole Whip Float. The difference is the Tortuga version has the Pirate Mickey sticker on the back.
Interestingly, this is the advice Disney is distributing to cast members on the front of their weekly Tell-A-Cast.
Given the high wait times at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Magic Kingdom’s newest ride, it’s interesting to see the second newest ride with such low waits.
Over in Tomorrowland, the now-characterless “Cosmic Dance Party” has replaced the hashtagdanceparty from 5pm to 10pm.
There is actually a “DJ” on a MacBook inside there, though he seems to be about as embarrassed by the situation as I was. A lot of fanbois hate these kinds of dance parties, but they are (or were) a fun way for the kids to interact with the characters without any lines. Now you just have music and concrete.
Space Mountain down at 7:15pm. According to the wait times chart above, it was down until about 8pm and came back up with a 140-minute posted wait for the rest of the evening.
In refurbishment news, the scrim is still up on The Emporium.
Hopefully work will be complete by July 4th – it would be nice to see a very pristine, very patriotic Main Street for the holiday.
Trying and failing at art. At least I scared everyone in a 25-foot radius away.
Sir Mickey’s, which currently doubles as the exit for Princess Fairytale Hall, sits behind scrims.
One wonders if a re-theme is imminent – something pinker might work better.
Work continues on expanding Cosmic Ray’s outdoor seating sections on both sides.
For the weekend only, Sonny Eclipse was offering these “Doughnut Wheels” to promote Cars 3. A MagicBand is available, in addition to a newish 45th anniversary Band celebrating the Enchanted Tiki Room:
Sunshine Tree Terrace is behind scrims, but they’re still serving Citrus Swirls inside.
The Hall of Presidents reopening is going to be a complete circus as national media and the blogosphere meet.
The situation is a lose-lose situation that Disney certainly doesn’t want, but it will be interesting to see if they take the opportunity to revert back to an older version of the show or if The_Donald takes center stage and offers the day’s code word security information. If it were up to me, I’d change the show into something more akin to Turtle Talk, where an animated Donald appears on screen and you tweet him back and forth in real time.
A few more pictures:
With more focus on the projections on Cinderella Castle, the Hub area fills up much earlier for Happily Ever After than it did for Wishes. This is right around where I like to see the show – close enough that the projections are visible, but not so close that you can’t take in the fireworks in their entirety.
This is 70 minutes before the start of the show and things are already getting a bit cramped in the center Hub. But an arrival around 45 minutes before the fireworks should suffice.
There’s more pyro than Wishes, so you can still enjoy the show from around Magic Kingdom or at a nearby resort, but you do lose out on some of the visual elements.
Fortunately, the train station is again open to all.
You might remember that Disney was reserving it for VIP guests during Wishes.
We’ll get over to that cupcake at Hollywood Studios next.