While it has not been “a while” since our last Magic Kingdom update, it has perhaps been “some time” with the last update focusing on a review of the recently introduced PinQuest, a scavenger hunt around the Park that will set you back a cool $80. Never fear, this post will include some pins, but the focus will be on what else is going on. I doubt we will get to a review of the new Skipper Canteen menu as some tangent that JUST CAN’T WAIT always seems to come up. But you never know.
Disney continues trying to shore up its alligator problem.
Disney has begun laying down rocks as a barrier between the sandy shores and water’s edge in the publicly accessible areas around Seven Seas Lagoon. Ideally, that would keep people away from the water and let Disney remove the fencing that recently went up.
In typical fashion, Disney took about eight months to install a couple sets of federally mandated stairs down from the monorail platforms.
You may be familiar with the installations at Epcot and the Transportation and Ticket Center. In the unlikely event that the walkway in the other direction was blocked, the stairway certainly would come in handy.
After a refurbishment that lasted a couple of years, the Lilly Belle steam train has returned to Lake Buena Vista.
This is not a picture of it as it has not yet return to the daily lineup, but it should soon.
Disney has increased the incentives offered to those dining at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant, giving out FastPass+ experiences for characters to some diners at the end of the meal. You might remember that they recently introduced a Dining Package that includes access to the private viewing area around the Flag Pole for the Main Street Electrical Parade.
For a time, the website at least attempted to sort-of recommend lunch here, which used to be less expensive. It’s been more than a year since it went to this all-day menu with entrees starting at $20:
On the other hand, Via Napoli’s individual pizzas are up to as much as $25 each, perhaps in an attempt to increase perceived value for Dining Plan users.
But I would reassert that you don’t want to pay $26 for a previously frozen, reheated piece of chicken and old pasta underneath jar sauce. If I were going to make a list of the five “worst value” restaurants on property, you’d have to think Tony’s would be near the top. I don’t think anything on the menu is made using fresh ingredients.
Like most stories of little consequence, easydubz “broke” this one via Twitter concerning the refurbishment of the bathrooms in between City Hall and the Emporium. They reopened in the middle of last month. Check my snapchat for pictures inside.
The Flag Retreat is scheduled at 5pm daily in Town Square featuring the Main Street Philharmonic and Dapper Dans.
The best view is perhaps from the top of the Train Station.
Cast members will ask you to step aside during the initial procession, but then anyone is allowed to move to the center of the upper level.
It’s an emotional show with everything going on at home and abroad as the flag is lowered, folded, and given to a United States veteran.
Louis from The Princess and the Frog, a character that was supposed to play a prominent role in the new Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire show, began appearing last week after initially being pulled prior to the debut.
The show has proved to be a lot more popular than Dream Along with Mickey as is evident from the crowd gathered for this afternoon show.
I have some tips and a review as part of this post, but it basically boils down to seeing an earlier show further back from the stage, where the ground is elevated compared to the front. There will be far fewer people and you can look straight ahead over the heads of all the shoulder kids.
Opinions on the show from childless Disney bloggers seem to skew negative (I for one am surprised), but I think it’s a fun opportunity to see a lot of the most popular Disney characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald, Anna, Elsa, Olaf, Louis, Tiana, Naveen, Rapunzel, etc. on stage in a lively show that lasts just under 25 minutes. And I went out of my way to include the show as part of the Character-Centric touring plan on the new version of the cheat sheet. Seeing the earliest show should also help protect against afternoon rain and the oppressive heat of the day. But if you are not really a character person/group then you can probably safely give it a pass.
A quick trip on Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin took about 12 minutes from 5:30pm – 5:42pm with FastPass+. Afternoon backups can add five to eight minutes to that.
Carousel of Progress has received a new paint job.
It has also recently reopened from a brief refurbishment that replaced carpet and seating in four of the six theaters. The other two theaters saw upgrades before the attraction closed.
The color pops at night in particular and is further proof that if you just take a lot of pictures that you’re bound to get lucky once in a while. I am positive that I didn’t notice the red overhang when taking this shot, but it does look like it was set up nicely if you didn’t know better.
A quick trip around town:
While the Parks this summer have largely felt “less busy,” Magic Kingdom does have its moments here at Space Mountain with a 170 minute wait at 6:30pm on the 20th – a non-recommended day with evening Extra Magic Hours.
Things are pretty rough here in the Tomorrowland corridor up to Fantasyland with the switchbacks out in front of Speedway with a 50-minute posted wait.
But things are better on recommended days here in August. Here’s wait times from Thursday August 4th, a most recommended day:
A 28-minute overall average is relatively short in the grand scheme of things.
To compare, here’s a chart from the first Thursday in August last year:
It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison of course as last year Magic Kingdom would not have been recommended with the morning Extra Magic Hour and the list of attractions is also different with Anna/Elsa’s 80 minute average pushing waits higher. But even if you drop Anna/Elsa’s average wait to 35 minutes, wait times last year were still 20% higher even with the extra hour of shorter waits via the 12am close.
Magic Kingdom would have been the most recommended Park on Wednesday August 5th, 2015, so let’s take a look at that while we’re here:
On the equivalent day, the overall average wait is still 7 minutes higher, even with about two hours of lightning that shut down outdoor attractions in the evening. Dropping Anna/Elsa’s average wait to 35 minutes drops the overall average by just one minute, so waits were still more than 20% higher last year.
And back to 2014:
This is even less of an apples-to-apples comparison with the number of factors now contributing to higher waits – namely higher FastPass+ utilization and more capacity given to FastPass+. With all guests being able to scan their MagicBands at the first FP+ reader and then immediately check for another FastPass+ experience (if they’re eligible), we’re now even closer to seeing every FastPass+ experience at every attraction during every hour being utilized. That was less true at this time last year when you would have had to visit a kiosk first and then even less true the year before as so many more people were unfamiliar with the FastPass+ system. Now that Disney inundates guests with literature and reminders about setting their FP+ up in advance, you can be sure that the majority of people are going to make their selections ahead of time. They might still make dumb selections, but it still means they’re going to board Mad Tea Party and The Magic Carpets of Aladdin before you. It would be interesting if someone asked Disney brass how many people are scheduling FP+ during an earnings call. It’s the sort of thing Iger would love to brag about.
In a somewhat surprising move, Disney yanked the tourist-favorite Turkey Leg from Hollywood Studios, rebranding Toluca Legs in the process to something about sunny days and tofu. Here at Prince Eric’s Village Market across from Mermaid Ride, turkey legs are available from 11am-6pm. Frontierland is a more authentic location to pick one up, of course.
Some of you may remember the website’s review of the Shrimp Alredo from Pinocchio Village Haus as part of this post. In describing the alfredo, I would say that it’s like if you went to the grocery store and bought a jar of sauce. Then you got home, opened the jar, and shook half of the sauce into the trash. Then walked to the faucet and filled up the rest of the jar with water, put the lid back on, and shook for 30 seconds. Then strained the sauce over the trash to collect just the water. Then poured that water over fried shrimp and overcooked pasta and called it Shrimp Alfredo.
The website is proud to announce that it has defeated yet another quick service entree as the shrimp alfredo is no longer on the menu, now replaced with a “Sausage and Pepper Flatbread:”
Why they did away with the Barbecue Chicken Flatbread I am not really sure. It was pretty good. At least the Breadsticks here are served with Marinara, unlike Hollywood Studios where they arrive with a side of Ken’s Caesar Dressing. But then it would be out of character if something at the Studios didn’t disappoint. A consistent message is important. I can’t overemphasize how good the Tiramiso Gelato is compared to most other desserts as well, though it’s not nearly as good as the Cookies and Cream Gelato at Tortuga Tavern.
The Kids’ Meals arrives with half of a full size portion on the flatbread, making them a reasonable value for those looking for a smaller meal, though the full size versions are very shareable in their own right.
And speaking of that Village Haus review, I appreciated all of the emails with “josh are you ok” in the subject line over this outburst:
And the answer is “Yes, of course.” Though this may be a good opportunity to mention that I have created a questionnaire in case you are interested in being my next gf:
Just fill that out and send it on in.
We gave the newest flatbread a try along with the breadsticks, which replace the garlic knots that were introduced over a year ago now, and a return to the caprese and pepperoni options.
Disney reportedly tested flatbread recipes for more than a month before deciding on this combination. Because there aren’t a lot of pizzerias around to go on. But to be fair, one is never really sure which defrosted meats and canned vegetables will jive together on the palate.
With that said, I thought it was pretty good compared to the other quick service options in Magic Kingdom.
The layer of cheese was surprisingly thick and filling and while it was a touch under-cooked, the crust had a nice chew to it and the sausage had a bit of spice.
Four thick, hearty breadsticks arrive for $5 along with a tub of more marinara than you’ll probably use, which is always nice. Two of these along with the sauce would be just about as filling as a Mickey Pretzel and potentially more flavorful with the garlic, cheese, and sauce. You could cut costs a bit with two people sharing a flatbread and a side of breadsticks or they would accompany the pasta or chicken parmesan nicely. Breadsticks might be overkill along with a whole flatbread. Or you can be like me and eat them all under the pretense of walking a 5k sometime in the future. You can never be too prepared.
Columbia Harbour House is usually my go-to quick service with Be Our Guest coming in second if I’m in the mood to pay $17 for a roast beef sandwich. But with Harbour House’s second floor seating becoming so popular, the Village Haus balcony and spacious patio seating earn a couple extra points on atmosphere. I think the flatbreads, chicken parmesan, sides, and dessert are pretty good. Not compared to Epcot or Disney Springs or anything. But relatively speaking.
Facade refurbishment continues on Haunted Mansion with the expectation that we might see projection mapping sometime in the future.
During the refurbishment, those with FastPass+ may head through the interactive queue portion instead of bypassing it like normal:
This is perhaps a “bonus” if you were looking forward to experiencing some interactivity or a “negative” as it might add three minutes to your wait.
FP+ would still bypass 90% of the standby queue which is held further back underneath the tent.
This book is new-ish with some fun illustrations.
This one as well with considerably fewer pictures.
I think this is the third in this series?
This picture is now part of two separate news stories. Disney announced that “The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History” will arrive here in Liberty Square sometime in October in this Disney Parks Blog post.
Sam Eagle, the fiercely patriotic American eagle who is forever trying to set a high moral standard for the Muppets, will join Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo and James Jefferson, town crier of Liberty Square, as they gather outside The Hall of Presidents to present historical tales in hysterical fashion as only they can. From the midnight ride of Paul Revere to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the Muppets appear throughout the day to share with Guests, their own unique take on the founding fathers and the birth of the United States of America.
That seems to be a departure from the expectation that the Muppets would be appearing in the windows above Heritage House. The website usually takes a “wait and see” approach to this sort of thing, but I will admit that I’m not a fan on first blush. But I am sure Disney will respect our collective history and not make some kind of catoon-y farce out of Alexander Hamilton’s Publius.
Speaking of Heritage House and in a move that seems to make very little thematic sense, those with Memory Maker entitlements will also have an opportunity to meet Belle here from August 7th through the 31st. More details are available here: https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2016/08/limited-time-character-experience-for-guests-with-memory-maker-at-walt-disney-world-resort/. It sounds like Passholders that have Memory Maker as part of their pass will also be able to “take advantage” of this meet.
Some pictures on the walk over to Frontierland:
There’s always another set of Disney pins to “collect” with the mystery collections proving most popular.
If by some miracle you pulled one of each pin in succession, the collection of 11 pins would run you north of $100, making that $80 scavenger hunt potentially seem like a bargain.
When you get photobombed by a bee front and center.
Swiss Family Treehouse is closed for refurbishment through September 24th, ruining vacations far and wide.
The work looked to be fairly extensive for once.
Though one potential bummer is that Celebrate the Magic will not be shown through August 30th.
As is usually the case, there was hysteria over impending menu changes at Skipper Canteen after the news was “leaked” a couple of months ago:
Of course, those changes ended up being nominal at best/worst.
The Shiriki Noodle Salad replaces the Fish Collar on the appetizer menu. That’s it on the appetizer front. I guess the SALAD DRESSING ON THE BALADI SALAD IS SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT NOW too.
Most of the entrees are the same too, though there are a few differences, some advertised and others not so much. The Char Sui Pork is now pork belly. The Skip’s Beef Baked Pasta is served as a cube instead of a bowl. The Whole Fried Fish is new. The chicken in the chicken dish is fried. The Noodle Bowl doesn’t mention that it can be served with tofu but perhaps it still can.
We ordered most of the new items and I will write a fresh review sometime in 2017 or 2018, though my opinions won’t differ much from the original review back in February. Your dining options in Magic Kingdom are somewhat limited and I like Skipper Canteen for the overall experience. I think it oversells the “adventurousness” of some of its ingredients and preparations and then under-delivers on taste, which is perhaps the worst of both worlds as you scare a good number of people away and then don’t satisfy the ones that do visit. I would suggest that they go Full Tiffins, but then nobody eats at that restaurant either. Anyway, I would go to Skipper over Tony’s/Liberty Tree/Plaza for table service lunch just about any day of the week. It’s a fun place. Be Our Guest remains hard to look past for first time visitors, though I would understand it being one-and-done for a lot of guests. Lunch there is potentially a cheaper proposition with more flexibility over where you sit and how long you take perusing the restaurant.
There are apparently more changes coming to the Wishes Dessert Party come October 1st. You might remember that Disney doubled the price from $25 to $49/adult somewhat recently and did away with assigned tables, so it’s first-come, first-served, causing people to wait 60+ minutes outside the Dessert Party area before it even starts in order to secure a table closer to the railing. As the party still routinely sold out with the higher price point, Disney decided to add a “Day Of” Dessert Party for $10/adult more. Instead of watching the fireworks from Tomorrowland Terrace, cast members walked these day-of partyers out to the old Wishes FastPass+ viewing location on the Hub grass.
This is the view sitting in that area.
The Hub view is arguably a better, straight-on view compared to the side-view of the Terrace. From over here, the fireworks look like they’re being shot off from behind Space Mountain (because they are) and don’t appear over the Castle for the most part.
The above picture is Disney’s, which appears to show the view from a newer, even more expensive offering. For $79/adults and $47/kids, guests look to enjoy guaranteed seats along the railing for the show. The $59 option will still exist, but will be bookable in advance rather than just day of. This is all explained here: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/magic-kingdom/tomorrowland-terrace-fireworks-dessert-party/. We’ll see what happens, but a family of four with an 11-year old and a 7-year old is looking to pay $284 on top of admission to see a show that is pretty easy to see from Main Street.
I think you’ll continue to find me on Main Street nursing a piece of fudge.
The One Truth of theme park photography. It’s always someone.
As you are probably already aware, the view of the fireworks is pretty lousy from just outside the Park. You’re much better off across the water at the Transportation and Ticket Center or a neighboring resort.
Doing just that:
There might be some walls to investigate at Hollywood Studios next.