Most or All (good) Photos by Alex Westcott.
In the previous post, we took a ride around on the monorail, focusing on the work happening at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (not technically open) and the walkway that will ideally connect Magic Kingdom with the Grand Floridian Resort at some point during our lifetimes.
No longer on the monorail (I hope at least, based on the angle of the…angle), we stop by Magic Kingdom Park to check in on construction progress and what else is happening around the six themed lands of the most popular theme park in the world. The post seems long so there is either a lot going on or very little going on. I’m not sure the word count changes either way.
Disney is painting the Magic Kingdom Toll Plaza.
We’re 2.7 weeks into a project that should take a total of about eight. I’m pretty sure they originally painted the entire Park in about that much time, but it’s possible that this sign is particularly wavy, adding seven weeks, six days, and about 21 hours to the job. It looks like the letter “M” in “Magic” is being primed for painting, which likely means that it has now joined the other regal blue letters. Disney’s current marketing campaign seems to center on, “The Magic is Here.”
I am not entirely sure what that means. If they said, “The Pringles are Here,” then I would have a reasonable expectation of running into some potato crisps over the course of the week. If the campaign opened with, “Rooms that start at $618 at the Polynesian Village Resort (not technically open) next year can be found somewhere on our premises,” then I could probably also quantify that claim. If I see magic being advertised, I want to see David Copperfield teleport Hollywood Studios to Japan and move DisneySea over here, all while hidden from our view by nothing but my collection of blue Columbia shirts. That sounds like whatever Disney magic is to me. Anything less and I’m throwing a thousand dollars on the ground and flying back to Texas three days early, even if my trip was during the golden age of overpaying for the Disney Dining Plan just so I can rationalize a $54 steak in the moment. The receipts are all going into the same bankruptcy anyway.
If you were thinking to yourself, “I hope they are priming those letters to paint them in blinding rose gold to kind of match Cinderella Castle,” then you are in luck my friend. Nothing says timeless like a color that I don’t even think existed two years ago. Not to mention that the gold is only rose-colored because they add copper to it, a much less expensive alloy. It would be like adding Burnett’s Blueberry Vodka to a glass of Louis XIII Cognac and calling the abomination Louis XVI Bluegnac. Then convincing people they want Bluegnac at a higher price than the Louis XIII even if 30% of it is basically rubbing alcohol and perfume. This may be a niche rant.
But pink is in. Copper content unknown, but hopefully it’s less than 22.25%.
As you hopefully caught in yesterday’s introductions to our new syndicate members, in what are probably the only two positive paragraphs I’ve ever written about anybody other than myself, these pictures do arrive from the watchful eye of Alex Westcott. I just interpret them now like some sort of Rorschach test. I see the Magic Kingdom toll booth here, but you might see It’s Tough To Be A Bug or maybe even Volcano Bay open this winter. I don’t think either of those things are here or happening, but these pictures are just a collection of pixels. They can be rearranged. Above is the scene at 9:30am on a Wednesday with a backup of just a couple vehicles.
If you’re driving yourself, I wouldn’t expect the work to slow you down too much, even if Disney is operating just half of the toll booths. Magic Kingdom parking typically opens an hour before the Park. Before then, you’ll likely be rerouted and told to come back around at 8am with the usual 9am open. Cars then stop and line the right shoulder waiting for the parking lot to open. Once about 7:58am hits, this sort of slow funeral procession begins as drivers try to be the first up to the line, but not so early that someone gets out of the toll booth and threatens to manually push you around in a big circle again.
You may not need to take quite such drastic action as parking on the shoulder and then pretending that your Chevrolet Suburban is just a very slow-moving caterpillar with rose gold rims, but the earlier you arrive, and the quicker you move to temperature/bag check, and then onto the monorail or ferry, the quicker you’ll be across the water and the less you’ll wait at your first few attractions. Poor Blair from Milwaukee is probably still pushing some Ford Super Duty by the Polynesian Village Resort (not technically open) driven by a 170-pound guy who is yet to tow anything heavier than a can of Pringles. Not that there’s anything wrong with being short and driving a big truck. We are all very impressed. We’ll be running another rope drop series after taking a larger look at Epcot. I say larger because the Epcot update is just one very big picture of the hole in the middle of the Park.
It was about 20 minutes from the time they arrived at the Toll Plaza to when they were in line for the Monorail.
As with the other Parks, there is no tram service. The length of your walk will depend on how early you arrive, and then how unlucky you are with how far down the lane they are currently parking. There’s nothing quite like being in the first available row at the very end of the line. A day at Hollywood Studios may be like finding out that you’re at the very end of a row over and over and over again throughout the day.
While you’ll be missing some prime touring time with the later arrival, these people are likely less stressed with the short lines and lack of people. Or they are really stressed because they wanted to be over there and not over here at 9:30am.
The Evolv Scanners, where you can leave almost everything in your bag and pass right through, haven’t made it to Magic Kingdom quite yet. This is the quaint Park after all. If anything, we should be going backwards in time. Maybe that’s why they’ll end up not paving the walkway from the Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom. It’ll be just like the roads Walt used to walk. What an authentic arrival experience. I might cry. Mostly because I would prefer a paved walkway.
Most popular theme park in the world. Last bag check to be streamlined. It checks out.
One does wonder how many people arrive at the Parks having no notion that the Disney Park Pass system exists. On a Wednesday at Magic Kingdom, you could buy a ticket and get in on the same day without a problem in most instances, but I’ll often see dozens of people in line waiting to buy tickets at Hollywood Studios on days that have long since run out of Park Passes. They may have since smartened up and are begging to go literally anywhere else after seeing the morning rush of people. But anything you can accomplish on your phone, including switching Park Pass days on the fly, is something you’ll want to do. Unless you really like hold music or waiting outside Hollywood Studios. Actually, standing outside Hollywood Studios for nine hours might be more fulfilling than going inside Hollywood Studios for nine hours. Both people would probably make it through a similar number of attractions over the course of the day.
I feel like I should open these posts with an over/under on whether we actually make it into the Park before the post ends and Part Two promises the excitement of a real life ride experience that we also don’t make it to. But for once, everything is contained herein as we are already inside. City Hall Guest Services is now out from behind scrims. If you’d like to
lodge a complaint leave a cast compliment, you’ll likely need to head in through the left door in what may be called the rose garden, and then you’ll exit out what used to be the main doorway. City Hall looks closed, but they are open. At least for people without blogs.
That’s it with the scrim. It’s pretty spot-on.
Guest services outside the Park is also available. Depending on the time of day, City Hall is typically less crowded because people who are inside at least aren’t having substantial ticket problems that can take forever to fix. Disney’s ticketing system only consists of 37 processes and servers, the majority of which someone reminds me at least twice a week that I’m in charge of maintaining. City Hall is also air-conditioned, so if you have to tell them any lies about how you held up your new correspondent on The Barnstormer for better shots of the Tron construction and then “accidentally” threw them over the wall, which is obviously Disney’s fault, you may sweat less than telling the same story outdoors.
The Happy Halloween Cavalcades have proved incredibly popular with guests.
Crowds aren’t quite what you would see for a scheduled Festival of Fantasy Parade, but it’s a lot more people waiting around than what you’d see for a Move It! Shake It! performance. This is not exactly social-distancing at its finest. I suppose it’s possible everyone is together and arrived in that one Suburban.
Not only is this the only opportunity to see Jack and Sally in the Park.
But it’s really the only time they’ve appeared for day guests in as long as I’ve been doing this. Which is obviously way too long.
Typically during Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, which would cost an additional ~$150/person, you’d have to wait 2-3 hours just for an opportunity to interact with the pair for about 30 seconds before getting an indoor PhotoPass picture that will probably come out as blurry as the what you tried to sketch from that 45-plus-minute drawing tutorial of the Haunted Mansion.
While the website has probably been harsh on Disney for being slow to bring back some of the stage shows that should be feasible to run under the current conditions, they were certainly under no obligation to add all these characters to the processions. It’s fun seeing Oogie Boogie and others without having to pay (more) big bucks.
One tip: the cavalcades are typically much less crowded in Frontierland and Liberty Square when they pass through there.
Part of the fun of it is the spontaneity. A couple of the Caballeros are crossing the bridge over to Main Street after beginning their procession at the start of the route, to the left of Splash Mountain.
We should see festive cavalcades for Christmas, which, for Disney, starts at about 12:01am on November 1st. Actually, they’ve already started selling merchandise, so Santa may just start coming down Main Street instead starting this week. Here across from Liberty Tree Tavern, nobody is in the vicinity, unlike Main Street.
A few more shots of the various processions, which are spaced about ten minutes apart most of the day:
It’s quite the assortment of characters dressed up for Halloween. I’m looking forward to the Christmas version, particularly if they continue after dark.
Halloween decorations were sparse this year with no Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Not adding scarecrows and such may make sense if Disney doesn’t want people crowding around them taking pictures, but they didn’t seem too concerned during some of those cavalcades. They also didn’t add the typical bunting out front, most of the pumpkins, or switch out the Mickey Floral. It’s possible that budget went to the characters, which will probably bring more memories than slightly different landscaping.
If not next year, hopefully we’ll see the train return in time for 2022’s Party along with all of the festive oranges and reds.
Characters also appear in spurts up on the train station platform, coming out for a few minutes before returning to the comfort of the station. I think the hope is people will disperse in those few minutes of inactivity. The princesses are waving down at the moment. It looks like Alex is comfortable getting as close to the princesses as I am. I’ll just keep getting bigger and bigger lenses so I can crop farther and farther in from further and further away. That won’t be weird.
The Mickey and Friends characters also come out in costume.
Along with the other characters that make up the cavalcades. It’s always fun to catch a Dapper Dans performance, try to angle your way into a selfie with the performers up on the train station, and then enjoy another cavalcade coming down Main Street. Or you could wait 150 minutes for Smugglers Run at Hollywood Studios. I can’t make every decision for you.
We’ve got a few more days of Halloween merchandise with October 31st falling on a Saturday this year. Park Pass availability for the various segments comes and goes. I wouldn’t expect Disney to run anything different, entertainment-wise, than the Saturdays running up to the actual holiday.
Disney continues to tinker with their signage and in-park messages trying to keep guests outdoors in Florida who don’t want to be wearing face coverings to keep their face coverings on. Among a number of issues, Disney’s main problem at the moment is that the Disneyland Resort is still closed. The California governor supposedly sent over undercover health officials to check out Walt Disney World’s health and safety procedures. It’s possible that the changes in the signage are a coincidence, or they could be based on feedback from California’s team, or Disney may have gotten wind of what was happening and went for a more direct approach. Considering the sign doesn’t say that it “contains a chemical known to to state of California to cause cancer,” we may be able to rule the California part out.
Overall mask compliance is perhaps in the eye of the beholder, or perhaps more specifically, in the eyes of person looking around for it. I’ve never paid much attention to what anyone else is doing in the Parks because I’m already this bonkers as it is. Something tells me general theme park guest behavior would not restore a whole lot of my faith in humanity. Y’all are good though. You’ll still see a lot of people walking around with their masks down, eating or drinking, or just because they can. The one thing that annoys me is the people who get in line and then continue to sip or snack on something for the duration of the wait, even though Disney specifically says you need to be stationary and away from others in order to rock that Babybel 3-pack, you big spender.
Typically, when you see non-compliers out on the walkways, you can keep a little more distance from them. That’s less true when you’re in a queue with switchback after switchback. You would think cast would block guests with open ice cream bars or beers from entering a queue, since they either have to finish them in line, which is “not allowed,” or throw them away at the end before boarding. A couple of weeks ago, I was in line for Slinky Dog, and somehow two separate groups of four or five people all managed to have some sort of snack or beverage in hand, constantly shoving whatever they had in their mouths with those masks down around their necks. There’s probably somebody around to snitch to, but who wants to be that person. There are some people who thrive in those situations. I think I have the wrong haircut for it.
Casey’s Corner has looked to be readying to open for some time, putting down physical-distancing markers leading to what is hopefully the entrance and not the end of the standby line for Splash Mountain. But the markers could simply be leading to those snack carts instead, particularly with markers on both sides. The prep area for Casey’s Corner is about the size of a thimble, which doesn’t allow for much social-distancing, and the overall amount of space inside is incredibly small. Because it takes a relatively limited number of people to run the operation, Casey’s is historically one of the last quick services to close for the night. You would think Columbia Harbour House would be the next major quick service to open should Disney continue piling them in.
The area to the right of Casey’s is out from behind walls.
The area is now fountainless, ostensibly to improve crowd flow, particularly after the evening fireworks that aren’t currently running. There’s a bypass on the other side of Main Street to the left of the Plaza Restaurant that lets guests out next to Tony’s Town Square. Remember not to go into Tony’s, though. There is some likelihood that this is to become a similar bypass once the nighttime crowds and fireworks return en masse.
We’ll go full throwback here with pictures from 2015, when not only were there fireworks, but the show was called Wishes and you could get a FastPass+ for it. Just five years ago you could do all that.
Also somewhat on topic, Disney uses this bypass for the Mickey’s Parties with guests grabbing their first goodies of the night along the pathway.
As much as we may not want to, we’ll travel back to 2020 with more of those distancing markers on the left. Probably leading to Casey’s. Hopefully not to Splash Mountain.
A wider look at the area with Casey’s and The Emporium on the left and Crystal Palace on the right.
Here’s the same area with the walls.
11mm wide. Very dangerous. Baby Care and First Aid are there on the right and the bathrooms are still open on the left. You’d think the latter would be busier, but they’re typically not. Now they probably will be.
While the bypass may not offer much nighttime crowd relief at the moment, we are at least enjoying some fine new pavement that you won’t see outside on that Grand Floridian walkway.
We may be able to use this as a sun dial to determine the time of day. Is it 11am? 1pm? 3pm? 5pm? “How long have we been on this rock?” I don’t trust any of it unless I can see the angle of the sun.
In case you’re wondering why I am always talking about the angle of the sun. Here it is. I was blocked by this person over the exchange, like most things I reply to, but I think we can agree it was worth it:
Not to mention you can probably open the app and check the current wait times faster than triangulating the time from a sundial that doesn’t appear to be particularly circular. We’ll try to make do. Since it’s been over 2.5 years and I’m still not over this callout, I’m not sure what we’re going to do about that lady who said our entire visit to Animal Kingdom was a lie, despite 400 beautiful pictures and 10,000 poignant words. I think we’ll still be talking about that in ten years when Avatar 1.5:We Almost Made It comes out, probably exclusively on what will become one of 600 channels that makes up on the Disney+Cubed+8K+Dolby+We-Have-the-Mandalorian-So-You-Better-Renew streaming service. Now $600 a month.
A big project that we should soon see more movement on is the draining of the Rivers of America on the Frontierland side. It may make Big Thunder “feel” all the more authentic as it basically looks like a rusty Grand Canyon down there without the few inches of greenish water.
Expect to see the draining on the left. They did the right side a couple of years ago.
That should make for some interesting views for those guests waiting for Haunted Mansion.
But even with the line backed up this far with physical-distancing, your actual wait should come in around 35 minutes, with 50 typically posted. Cooler temperatures should be incoming, which I’m guessing will make the face covering and uncovered waits a little more bearable.
Liberty Square Riverboat and Tom Sawyer Island and the rafts that service it will be closed at least through early next year. While I don’t spend a lot of time on Tom Sawyer Island myself – bridges shouldn’t be made wobbly and I’m not exactly known for staying upright under the best of conditions – the Riverboat is always a nice respite when wait times peak in the afternoon.
It’s artsy because it’s tilted. Someone has apparently learned from the best.
Not artsy. Can’t do anything with it.
The $16 Madame Leota Sipper should still be around at Sleepy Hollow Refreshments. Theoretically, you put the liquid in the globe thing, and then stick a straw in the top to sip that $500/ounce Remy Martin Bluegnac. In reality, this is probably going in a box to be stored away forever or become a cat toy. Why not both?
Walkaround crowds weren’t too bad for a late weekday morning, probably because most people are waiting longer than they’d like in line somewhere.
But you do have those people headed for what could be one last ride on Splash Mountain in front of the Princess and the Frog overlay. I still wonder what sort of a date Disney put on the project. “Well, Splash is problematic, but not to the point where we’ll do anything before November….let’s make it December 2021 problematic. When does the fiscal year start again?”
Cinderella’s Royal Table has reopened with a similar menu and no tableside meet and greets.
Cinderella does wave from afar in the dining room. The price break here is just $13 for adults compared to the full experience, bringing the price “down” to $62/adult and $37 for kids. Potentially, there may be some value for adults with the three courses, one of which is Tenderloin of Beef, but it’s hard to imagine extracting $37 of value from a 5-year old. That may not be the best way to phrase that $37 is a lot to pay for the three bites of macaroni and cheese they’re going to eat before deciding that they’re starving the minute food is no longer in front of them.
Unless you have to see the inside of the Castle now, I’d probably hold off until things return to some semblance of “normal.” The Castle isn’t going anywhere and they may even paint it another made-up color by the time you’re ready to roll back into town. “Thornberry Turmeric” has a ring to it. It would be sort of like a wintergreen yellow with 17.5% zinc content and whatever copper wire we can steal from the Tron job site. They say the top Crayola Crayon Maker was colorblind for the duration of his-35 year tenure. Growing up, “Robin’s Egg” was always my favorite color. A very tranquil, but masculine blue for confident young boys. I always assumed robin’s eggs were a similar color, but they could be orange for all we know. Everything is up in the air at this point.
Here’s that Filet. It’s a little steak on a big plate.
We’ll make our way through Fantasyland on our way to The Barnstormer for some choice Tron pictures.
Walls had been up on the external queue for it’s a small world for about nine months before finally coming down in September. Now even more scrims cover the façade with the queue behind walls again.
— WDW News Today (@WDWNT) October 20, 2020
Those scrims have since been themed, which means we’re probably in it for the long-haul again. This building must have been built so poorly that even the people who decided the main character in Smugglers Run should be some guy named Hondo are shaking their head in its general direction. This corridor is already on the narrow side and more walls jutting out probably isn’t helping.
Your wait for the Mermaid Ride would only be a couple of minutes.
But that’s the end of the line for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. At least it starts with a bench.
We may need to rank how bad your starting position in line is. Of course, our preference would be to find ourselves in the actual queue, ideally with few or no people in front of us. Next best would be in the physical queue with more people. Then there’s just outside the queue with the entrance in sight. Not great, not terrible at this point. Then there’s outside the queue with the entrance not in sight. Then there’s this, with the line completely on the opposite side of the entrance, with the entire ride in the way, closer to the entrances to about eight others attractions, and all with much shorter waits. But at least you’re not waiting backstage. The posted wait for Mine Train is 55 minutes and likely about accurate.
We’ll close this round out with the current state of Tron construction. And for our sanity, ignore those social-distancing markers on the ground on the left that are likely for The Barnstormer. But, could still be for Splash Mountain.
The canopy is going up around the exterior of the roller coaster track.
Still not doing much to conceal the large box. I’m not sure if they make ferns tall enough, but we may soon find out.
Work looked to be winding down on what we could see from the outside. They are working on closing the building and covering the track.
Back in March, the expectation was that Tron would be ready to go by Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary celebration, which Disney was probably planning on dragging out for closer to two years of
advertisements celebration. That anniversary is less than a year away. But I guess all anniversaries are technically less than a year away.
Disney’s stock price is somehow just $5 lower than it was at the same time last year, despite what would have to be serious blows to revenue with Disneyland still closed and so many movies wiped from the theater slate. But Tron was not named as a “priority project” at Disney World, and the company may elect to defer the cost over several more quarters than we originally anticipated. I guess the ride is sort of like K-Mart layaway. You pay a little at a time, and then about a year after you were expecting to be able to pay it off, you finally get to pick it up. And then you find out that there’s a newer model.
There’s always Shanghai.
Party of one.
Front row only.
The true sign of the Disney blogger just hoping for slightly different construction pictures.
Lunching Pad, underneath Astro Orbiter in Tomorrowland, opened to some amount of fanfare over the weekend, serving all three of Disney’s Warm Pretzels – the Mickey, the Sweet Cream Cheese, and the Pepper Jack.
But like many of the smaller outlets, it looks to be a weekend-only thing. If Cosmic Ray’s is a “dining pleasure” I wonder what they call Tony’s.
The low number of people you see here is probably why our Pretzels remain frozen rather than warm. Still, you would think that when you are in the $7 Pretzel business, with a bottle of Dasani added on the side ringing up as a total of $10.50, you’d be able to break even on just about two orders an hour. But then there is profit. And there is Disney Profit™. “Why make 4.7 billion dollars when you can fire 28,000 people and make 4.8 billion dollars?” The logic is infallible.
That should get you caught up with what’s happening around Magic Kingdom. We’ll return for some touring strategy after moving through Epcot for the day.
98.2% of the pictures: Alex Westcott.
The words other than typos and bad jokes: Still Josh.