We’ll pop into Magic Kingdom in what is almost my favorite time of year in the Parks with a high of 80 degrees, sunshine, and a nice breeze.
There’s some good news for you BoardWalk guests as your bus rides to and from Magic Kingdom are direct and no longer shared with the Swan/Dolphin.
There’s more good news as Hub construction has basically concluded at the end of Main Street, though work on the Cinderella Castle ramps continues.
The Walt Disney World Railroad is closed through November 20th. The Welcome Show is still scheduled (at 7:40am with an 8am open or 8am Extra Magic Hour or 8:40am with a regular 9am open), but the characters arrive on foot rather than train. The closure is a good opportunity to check the station out without anybody else around:
Like just about everything Disney, there are some neat details to uncover.
October 22nd is the only remaining Halloween Party with tickets still available. I’ve seen secondary market tickets in the range of $250+.
One more look back.
“ShellieMay” merchandise has arrived in force just a few days after the Duffy Meet and Greet over at Epcot ended.
I always saw Duffy as kind of the strong, independent type.
But then when your cartoon character creator has the ability to create (and I’m guessing end?) life, sometimes you don’t really have a choice. Minnie is basically Dr. Frankenstein.
The Hocus Pocus shirts are available all day in the Emporium.
I think most parents’ overarching goal is to keep their kids off the pole. I’m not sure these “snuggle snappers” will facilitate that goal. But at the same time if I thought anybody wanted to see me strip I certainly wouldn’t be in the celebrity Disney blogging business.
These are big. And $100.
me irl. A few shirts while we’re here:
Maybe the third year is the charm.
More like a parking lot in the sky am I right guys.
Just in case you’re worried that your shirts are going to fade, they come pre-faded. Modern technology is so helpful.
The Hub looks great. It should as the work has gone on for something like two years.
I had been saying September 2015 since April of last year, which ended up being just about right. What is probably too many pictures around town:
The walkways are supposed to aid congestion, particularly at night, in addition to adding more space to watch the parades and fireworks. The snack cart also moves over here.
From here. Only the priority news here, folks.
This walkway here was the last to reopen. It seemed like it took a lot of effort to basically build a housing unit for a popcorn cart.
It’s nice that that’s over. Just wait until you see what’s coming to the main entrance hahahahahahahahahaha
The other major project is Skipper Canteen in the old Adventureland Veranda space. It’s hard to imagine that a restaurant that still doesn’t have walls is going to be ready in four or five weeks:
Here’s the picture that will finally put easywdw on the map.
But there you go. The sign is at least on its way. We know that.
Rafiki has moved into Adventureland with Stitch getting the boot in Tomorrowland.
Everybody’s favorite shamanistic baboon isn’t a match for the Magic Kingdom ducks. But then what is?
40 minutes for Jungle Cruise at 1:30pm is well below average these days.
Pirates of the Caribbean was down, of course. I was curious if the refurbishment had improved the reliability of the attraction, so I looked it up:
By my count, in the 31 days leading up to the attraction’s refurbishment back in June, there are 111 instances of downtime between 9am-10pm, which indicates about 27.75 hours of total downtime or 53.71 minutes of downtime per day. It also looks like there were eight days when the ride wasn’t down at all, or 25.8% of the time.
Now looking at the 25 days since the ride reopened on September 25th:
Here, we’ve got 168 instances of downtime, which indicates 42 hours of total downtime, or 100.8 minutes of downtime per day.
It might be unfair to consider the days immediately following the refurbishment. While Disney tends to stretch construction out as long as possible, they also tend to rush refurbishments. So let’s eliminate the week immediately following the refurbishment, assuming that there are going to be some early growing pains:
Here, we’ve got 96 instances of downtime, which translates to 24 hours or 57.6 minutes of downtime per day.
So, 54 minutes of downtime per day before the refurbishment and 58 minutes after the refurbishment basically means no improvement on that front.
Pirates had been down for about two hours, including when I first passed by at 1:36pm. Fortunately, after taking a quick walk through Frontierland and spending a few minutes harassing people on Twitter, it reopened by 1:53pm.
I’ve heard a lot of stories about those in the first couple of rows getting drenched on the ride, but have never really experienced that myself.
The refurbishment didn’t bring new boats or anything.
On-ride, there have been substantial improvements in lighting, sound, and animatronic fluidity.
I’m never going to get a good picture.
I sat in the second row and only a drop or two of water hit me after the drop, followed by a small splash after one of the cannonball effects in the water.
New outfit I think.
I’m not sure why Disney hasn’t approached eBay about sponsoring the attraction.
Maybe they have.
Otherwise, the ride looks great. You just have to wait six hours to board.
Frontierland at 1:40pm was the least crowded I’ve seen it in some time.
Big Thunder is still posting 50 minutes.
40 at Splash.
As you’ve probably heard, some of Tortuga Tavern’s rice bowl and burrito fare moved to neighboring Pecos Bill, while Tortuga adopted a barbecue menu:
The offerings are relatively unique – Magic Kingdom has not offered this sort of thing in recent memory. Early reviews seem to be on the positive side, though nobody is calling it a home run. Tortuga otherwise remains seasonal:
This week it’s just open from 11am-3pm on days when Magic Kingdom isn’t hosting a Halloween Party. Disney made a pretty big deal about the new menu launching on Wednesday of last week via “social media” and then Tortuga was closed all day each of the next two days. The same thing happened with Golden Oak Outpost when it switched to waffle fries. “Hey everybody! Hurry in to get some fantastic barbecue! We’re open a total of 12 hours this week!
Next door Pecos no longer serves hamburgers, instead moving to a rice bowl/fajita/burrito menu similar to Tortuga. Pecos was previously down to just five entrees at lunch and six at dinner:
With the exception of the Southwest Chicken Salad, which remains on the menu here, and the Karubi Style Short Ribs, which are no longer available, everything else is available all day at Cosmic Ray’s in Tomorrowland. So if you’re in the mood for a bone-dry hamburger that will probably take six weeks to digest, you haven’t lost much other than the opportunity to enjoy your meal avec Sonny Eclipse instead of backless stools and darkness. I’ve seen some number of people seemingly crestfallen over the removal of the “toppings bar,” which is not a sentiment I connect with. I’m not sure if these people don’t realize that they can buy lettuce and tomatoes for their hamburgers at the grocery store or if this is literally the only place in the world they know of where you can get canned mushrooms. Grocery stores even sell pickles these days. You can make your own toppings bar at home for just a couple of dollars without the very real fear that some toddler hasn’t picked up a handful of cheese, spit on it, and thrown it back in with the lettuce.
The Burritos, Rice Bowls, and Southwest Salads should be the same as what was served at Tortuga.
I’m on the record as enjoying the Beef Rice Bowl:
The layer of pico de gallo on top is thinner than it might look in the picture and there’s a ton more food underneath – I was impressed by the quantity and the quality. The pulled beef was tender with some mild, lingering spice from the taco seasoning. The pico freshened up the flavors along with some cilantro in the rice and the black beans, which added some additional heft to the dish.
I guess the good news is that there’s still a “fixin’s bar:”
And it’s actually pretty decent – these are 3-ounce cups of Red Star Salsa along with as many sour cream packets as you can stuff in your pockets. Back in the Tortuga days, it was just one packet of sour cream per entree and sometimes you even had to beg for that.
In a rather surprising move, you’ve also got all-you-care-to-eat shreeded cheese, roasted corn, guacamole, and pico de gallo. When’s the last time you tried to add guacamole and you weren’t reminded that it would cost extra before you could get out the last syllable?
Here we’ve got more salsa, verde sauce, jalapenos, and banana peppers.
Chipotle ranch salad dressing, red onion, and limes.
Entree prices are on the high side. The burrito is $3 more expensive than it was at Tortuga. The rice bowls are up $1.50. The Southwest Salad is up $1. But you may remember Tortuga had done away with its toppings bar completely and you can fill up here with as much as you want. My only complaint about the salad previously was that they didn’t give you nearly enough salad dressing. Now you can load up.
$14.49 worth of Beef Fajitas. I’ve seen a lot of people compare the New Pecos to Chipotle, which is another thing that I don’t really understand. When you go to Chipotle, you tell them what you want and they put it in your burrito for you. Here, the labor is mostly on you.
The beef wasn’t fantastic. My guess is it’s cooked separately from the onions and peppers as the juices didn’t seem to flavor the dry, gritty, mostly flavorless beef at all. Usually when you order fajitas at a restaurant, they’re presented tableside steaming hot after being cooked altogether. You don’t get any of that here.
They’re served alongside what basically amounts to three halves of a tortilla. Together, they probably span the size of a single large Mission-brand tortilla, though they’re not as soft or as plump.
With the help of the salsa, sour cream, and other toppings, I was able to put together three half-decent little tacos, but the fajita beef certainly did not impress. Cilantro is apparently very divisive – they should have plain rice to substitute if you prefer or they may be able to double you up on beans.
My advice is otherwise to stick to the burritos and rice bowls, I think. They’re easier to manage, less expensive, and you get either the same amount or more food.
Kids can get in on the action with a smaller version of the Rice Bowl, Quesadillas, or Smucker’s Uncrustables. The Country Bears Jug is still available.
Overall, I think the menu changes are positive. Tortuga’s old food is superior to Pecos. And if for some reason you don’t have grocery stores, Curly’s BBQ chicken tubs, or lettuce where you live, you can visit Cosmic Ray’s for literally the exact same thing. And you could probably walk your burger back over to Pecos and it will be just as hard and just as cold as when it was originally served.
I’ll return for the soup and sopapillas.
Props to the lady making herself comfortable outside the Big Thunder queue, where the wait has dropped to 35 minutes at 2:40pm.
25 at Splash.
The Rivers of America is still here.
When you get photobombed by a roving band playing Let It Go as you try to take an important picture of a scrim.
Liberty Tree Tavern should be on pace to open before Thanksgiving week.
30 at Haunted Mansion.
Looking over the last 30ish days, there’s “literally” one day when Mansion didn’t hit at least 30 minutes. And that’s only because the wait topped out at 25.
I thought this sweater at Memento Mori was new-ish, but I don’t know.
I don’t remember seeing this $8.95 coaster before either.
10 minutes at it’s a small world – almost unheard of these days.
Relatively speaking, nobody is in Old Fantasyland.
45 minutes at Peter Pan’s Flight at 2:50pm. Looking over wait times over the last month:
You’re not going to see anything much lower. I see a 35, but a lot more 80+s.
Some facade work at Mickey’s PhiharMagic and a lot more concrete than we’ve seen in some time.
Dream Lights installation is complete so no more crane.
While a scrim remains over Castle Couture.
Friar’s Nook switched out the cheeseburger macaroni for barbecue chicken macaroni.
I thought the Dragon Sipper cup was more of a novelty than it ended up being.
Apparently they were given out at last year’s Villain’s Soiree or whatever last year’s upcharge event inside of an upcharge event was called.
It leaks from the nose.
At least a dozen people asked about it over the span of just a couple of minutes. Friar’s Nook had never sold one before.
In related souvenir cup news, the popcorn cart just inside the entrance was selling Cinderella Carriage popcorn buckets, which I hadn’t seen in a while. Sleepy Hollow Refreshments also had those “poison apple steins.”
Vampire Mickey popcorn buckets are widely available. Note the Pop Secret branding on the popcorn on the right.
The waterfalls at Mine Train had been turned off for a couple of days at least.
Gaston’s continues to serve the Pork Shanks. You may remember that I took a picture of the menu last month when they weren’t listed.
The $75 Clock Cogsworth is the best thing I’ve seen in a while. It actually tells time.
10 minutes at Mermaid Ride.
I thought this was supposed to be a low crowd time.
20 at the Ariel meet is about as short as daytime waits get there.
10 at Dumbo.
Elephants were flying empty.
Seating had been removed here in Storybook Circus, potentially in front of moving the Sandy Claws meet here during the Christmas Party.
Signage was looking pretty faded.
It’s about that time.
13 bucks is pretty inexpensive. You can’t even get out of here with a keychain for less than $9. With the chatter about whether or not Star Wars Weekends will return and the fact that we’re not supposed to see the Fab 5 dressed as Star Wars characters, it’s interesting that they picked that picture for May.
I had lucked into a convenient FP+ time for Mine Train on the day before with a 40-minute posted wait.
As is typical, I more or less walked right on the ride – it was about four minutes between when I got in line and when I was on my way through the mine.
That made for a total experience time with FP+ at 11 minutes, which is about two minutes below average. The posted wait was still 40 minutes, but the queue was spilling out into the street, which indicates an actual wait that’s about twice that long. Amusingly, a woman was hurrying her family into line saying, “It says 40! It says 40!” kind of like they were trying to lock in a sale price at a Macy’s sale that ends at 11am. With so much capacity given to FP+, they may still be in line.
Things are relatively quiet marching through Tomorrowland at 3:40pm. If you put that sentence into your friendly DISpeak translator, it becomes, “Wall to wall crowds and it was a Party night! We could barely move! I was fearful for the life of my child.” Tomorrowland Speedway had a 20-minute posted wait.
35 at Space.
The store next door looks to be the future home of customizable MagicBands, not unlike the D-Tech customizable phone case thing.
The phone station has already arrived, though your model options are limited to just iPhone and Samsung Galaxy.
I’m not sure how many people actually go through with purchasing, but there are probably 100ish designs, including BB-8.
You can apparently get your name printed on the case, just in case you forget it or something.
10 minutes at Buzz is almost unheard of these days with a straight shot right into the building. Check out wait times over the course of the day, a most recommended Tuesday with a Mickey’s Party and 7pm close:
Now compare that to just one day prior, when Magic Kingdom was least recommended:
And now, just the averages over the past five days:
This is about what you would expect with higher wait times on the non-recommended days indicated in red. The overall crowd level is higher on the 17th and 18th, which pushes up waits on those days. According to the crowd calendar for Magic Kingdom on the 19th:
Magic Kingdom is going to be busy today. Mondays are usually the second busiest day of the week at the Magic Kingdom, second to only Saturdays, for a variety of reasons. First, a lot of people travel over the weekend and visit Magic Kingdom on their first full day. In most instances, that day is Monday. Second, Mondays often feature longer hours, Wishes Fireworks, and Main Street Electrical Parade, when other days during the week have shorter operating hours and don’t offer the Electrical Parade. Anyone who wants to see the evening entertainment will have to visit on a day when it’s offered, like most Saturdays and Mondays. Here in the heart of Mickey’s Party season, that means Magic Kingdom closes at 7pm on four days this week. Every day with a later close and nighttime entertainment will be overwhelmingly more popular. Finally, Disney added a morning Extra Magic Hour, which will only drive more Disney resort guests to the Park because they truly believe the Extra Magic Hours schedule is Disney’s way of telling them where they belong each day. If you are Extra Magic Hours eligible, you can do well in the morning if you arrive prior to 7:30am and tour efficiently in the morning. But it’s going to be busier than any day other than Saturday from 11am-9pm. The late night is also a good time to tour with short waits at most attractions after 9pm. If you do visit in the evening, consider hitting Tomorrowland with two hours to close and Fantasyland in the final hour to find much shorter waits than the afternoon. Wednesday is the best day of the week to see the Electrical Parade and Wishes.
And then on the 21st:
Magic Kingdom is going to be busy today with the long hours of operation, both nighttime spectaculars during regular Park hours, and the addition of evening Extra Magic Hours, which will attract even more Disney resort guests. Unfortunately, today also marks one of the best days this week to see the Electrical Parade and Wishes. The addition of a second Electrical Parade at 11pm will make it easier for people who can stay out that late to see the fireworks and the later and less crowded Parade, ideally after park hopping from a Park that’s recommended higher. Guests that don’t care about the nighttime entertainment are much better off visiting on a recommended Mickey’s Party date. If you do visit today, your best plan of attack is arriving before 8:30am with plans to head to the priority attractions on your itinerary first thing. Take an afternoon break from 1pm to 5pm or so to rest up for the evening. This is the hottest and busiest part of the day and you’re better off relaxing at your resort than you are waiting 45 minutes to ride Pirates of the Caribbean. Head back in the evening for dinner, some late night attractions, and the nighttime entertainment. The best place to see the Electrical Parade is in Liberty Square or Frontierland because they’re less popular than Main Street. If you’re planning to visit during evening Extra Magic Hours, begin in Adventureland or Frontierland because most people will head straight for Tomorrowland or Fantasyland. Visit Tomorrowland or Fantasyland in the final hour to find shorter waits. While it is possible to have a decent day here if you arrive early and tour efficiently, there are much less crowded days to visit during the week.
That assertion is backed up by the numbers with Wednesday seeing lower average waits than the Monday or Saturday.
Overall, this was easily my most pleasant Magic Kingdom visit since I don’t know…April, maybe. The cooler weather goes a long way.