We’ll hop on the ferry over to Magic Kingdom to see what’s fresh on the morning of Friday May 8th.
Disney continues to mess with the monorail schedule with the above hours expected to continue though July.
Regular hours for the Resort beam are 7am to one hour after regular Park close or on this particular day, 7am to 1am.
Regular hours on the Express beam are 30 minutes prior to regular open through one hour after regular Park close, or 8:30am to 1am in this case.
Regular hours on the Epcot beam are 8am until two hours after regular close, or 8am through 11pm in this case.
If the monorail isn’t operating, the ferry and buses will be. The buses to Magic Kingdom are located to the right of the monorail platforms and would usually be quicker than the ferry. The ferry is ordinarily my transportation method of choice, but lines can get very long when the monorails aren’t operating. Disney usually does a lousy job of letting guests know the buses are a faster option. The buses to Epcot are located in the charter lot. From where I took this picture, I would turn around and then turn left and continue a short way past the store. The charter lot is also the taxi stand and where you’d catch buses to Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios before Magic Kingdom opens.
Lightroom 6 has a neat panorama feature that stitches together photos. The effect works pretty well here I think.
The new face of the Polynesian across the water with the bungalows lining the beach out front.
Hopefully later this week we’ll have an opportunity to take an in-depth look at the new Disney Vacation Club wing.
For now, check out Dave’s in-depth review: http://yourfirstvisit.net/2015/04/28/photo-tour-of-a-studio-at-disneys-polynesian-villas-and-bungalows/
That post should arrive with an accompanying Trader Sam’s review of most of the items there. Spoiler: The HippopotoMai-Tai is my favorite drink. For 15 bucks, you get a nicely balanced, strong cocktail and you get to keep the tiki glass it comes in. Considering a similar glass costs $15 in the gift shop, it’s actually a good value and the glass is very nice quality.
The only food item that has impressed so far is the Salmon Oshizushi.
Back to the task at hand, it’s exactly 12pm on the afternoon of Friday May 8th, 2015 with Magic Kingdom as highly recommended with a “5” or “average” overall crowd level. I can’t remember the last time I had to wait more than a minute or two to enter a Park with the Mickey reader tapstiles improving efficiency.
Temperatures are heating up with highs into the low 90s. The suffocating humidity hasn’t really arrived though so it only “feels” like it’s 97 or 98 out, instead of the 115 we’ll see at this time next month.
That’s a 75-minute wait for Mickey Mouse at the worst-time-of-day to meet him. The above average wait time indicates technical problems.
That wait had dropped to 25 minutes three hours later, just before Festival of Fantasy steps off from Frontierland. The best time to meet Mickey is during a parade or late at night.
Walls are down around the front of City Hall.
At the same time a scrim has gone up on the far corner of The Emporium with Harmony Barbershop operating around the corner.
A slightly better look.
Looking up Main Street, a scrim is up over Uptown Jewelers:
If it’s not one thing, it’s something else.
Disney continues working on the Main Street bypass, which is located here in between Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and The Chapeau store.
The trees behind the gate are new.
We’ll pop into Tony’s Town Square Restaurant for lunch while we’re here. The website has reviewed most of the menu over the years and I won’t rehash much of that here. This post features the most pictures inside the restaurant along with the best introduction to what’s offered. This review covers the calamari, shrimp scampi, chicken bianca pizza, and a couple desserts. This dinner review covers the chicken parmigiana and cannelloni. There are probably others somewhere.
I’ve intermittently discussed the large ice water dispensers that Disney has installed in most table service restaurant lobbies. Anybody is welcome to head in and grab a cup of ice cold, filtered water. Any quick service with a fountain machine will provide a cup free of charge, but it can be kind of awkward to wait in line, order the waters only to be told to proceed up to the counter, at which point you have to bug some poor cast member, who will probably just fill up a kids’ cup unless you also stipulate you’d like “larges.”
I was bemused by the fact that Disney had moved the ice water much further inside the lobby.
Restaurants that have outdoor waiting areas are otherwise your best bet for quick, cold ice water. I like Crystal Palace and Hollywood & Vine the most.
The full lunch menu is available here should you have interest: https://disneyworld.disney.go.com/dining/magic-kingdom/tonys-town-square-restaurant/menus/. This time around, I went with the $14.99 Panini of the Day – Grilled Chicken, Cheese, Mushrooms, and a tomato-based sauce of some variety served on a ciabatta roll if memory serves.
As far as $15 Disney World sandwiches go, it was very good – everything was freshly made and it was packed full of ingredients. I’d much rather pay $15 for this than $10 or $11 for a quick service chicken sandwich with considerably lower quality ingredients.
The couple bites of salad are what you would expect from Disney these days – reliably fresh and crunchy here with a little bit of what is probably Ken’s Italian.
My dining companion ordered the $13.49 Meatball Trio – Meatballs cooked in Marinara Sauce topped with Provolone on a House-made Roll.
This is how a similar item looked like a couple years ago when they were known as the $12.49 Meatball Sliders – Meatballs cooked in Marinara Sauce topped with Provolone and Arugula on Focaccia Rolls.
Despite a new description, the dish is basically the exact same as it was two years ago, save for the slightly softer rolls. I was expecting just one roll with three big meatballs in it, but I might be dumb. Anyway, the sandwiches here are again significantly better than the Meatball Sub you’d get at a place like Pinocchio Village Haus for just about $4 more.
Overall, I like lunch at Tony’s a lot more than dinner if you’re paying out of pocket. You can get out of there for not much more than you’d pay at The Plaza, which is otherwise the least expensive table service restaurant on property.
Most of the items that also appear at dinner, like the Chicken Parmesan, Cannelloni, Shrimp Scampi, etc. will most likely disappoint for significantly more money. Most of those items taste like they’ve been recently defrosted and reheated. Tony’s serves lunch for guests with reservations through 2:45pm. For lunch, you get the same service, ambiance, and relaxing atmosphere as dinner for potentially less money. I would not go back for dinner save for a new menu and the sake of #bloggability.
Okay, where were we. The new Hub areas are significantly less popular with the significantly hotter afternoons. Just one picnicking family on this side.
While the expanded seating areas on both sides were full.
It seems like we take one step forward, two steps back here in the center Hub.
Walt is behind walls again as the concrete is ripped up all around him. Again.
Looking toward the Castle.
It turns out tree scrims are hard to print.
Here, the new turrets are covered on both sides. I’d expect them to house projectors and other technology items that aid the various Castle shows. Magic Kingdom is slated to receive replacements for the majority of its shows in the next 12 months, including replacements for Dream Along with Mickey and the #superwhateverdancepartything in Tomorrowland.
There’s not a lot going on construction-wise on this side.
Things are a little more serious on the Tomorrowland side, where walls line most of the bridge. The rose garden is long gone.
Work continues on what is expected to be a new restaurant in Adventureland at the old Veranda location:
You can’t see a whole lot, but that’s a substantial amount of exposed building in back.
Sunshine Tree Terrace in its new location doesn’t exactly look to be popular. The walls on both sides might have something to do with that.
The souvenir tiki mug is no longer on the menu.
The Sunglass Hut sponsored Island Supply has a new, more permanent sign.
If Disney can’t keep this camel that literally only turns its head from side to side operating properly 74.3% of the time, then it doesn’t seem like there’s much hope for the yeti.
Aloha Isle Refreshments is smart to go to a single line. There’s no line here at 12:20pm, but come snack time in a couple hours, you could wait 15 or more minutes for that Dole Whip. Historically, each cash register would have its own convoluted line.
This was the last day of the Jungle Cruise refurbishment, which apparently opened up looking better than it has in years.
25 minutes in the heart of the day at Pirates of the Caribbean is less than average.
Looking over posted wait times over the course of the day:
Average waits for the days around it are listed at the end. This is otherwise what you can expect on your average day at Magic Kingdom. Also as you might expect, wait times went up as the overall crowd level went up moving into the weekend. And waits are reliably higher on non-recommended days, even if you include the wait times from the 8am-9am hour and the waits much later at night, both of which pull the averages down. Late nights, particularly at Magic Kingdom, are very attractive times to tour. And for those of us that prefer to sleep in, it’s more than welcome.
As mentioned last time, Tortuga Tavern recently changed its menu to this:
That change eliminated the cult favorite taco salad, which had been removed from Pecos Bill the year prior.
And the toppings bar in its entirety. Menu items now arrive with a tiny cup of shredded cheese on the side and a small container of salsa. They would certainly give you more, but it’s a far cry from the good ole days when you could load up – no questions asked.
The back of the line for FastPass+ with a 45-minute posted wait at 12:30pm for Big Thunder Mountain. Long backups like this aren’t uncommon, but they’re also almost entirely due to user error. It only takes a couple confused people to hold everything up. If you came back in 15 minutes, there would likely be no line out here.
50 minutes at Splash.
With the line backed up outside the building, that’s probably accurate. The nearby bathrooms were recently refurbished and now arrive nicely themed.
Frontierland crowds. Fast forward a month and we won’t be able to see what color the ground is.
In addition to turkey legs temporarily moving to Tomorrowland, it looks like corn dogs are no longer available around here either.
The Adventureland Breezeway FastPass+ kiosk typically takes longer than the other locations due to fewer cast members and only a couple of actual kiosk stations. My favorite FP+ kiosk location is Jungle Cruise followed by Stitch, then Fantasyland and Adventureland.
Oh look, it’s lunch time again, this time at Liberty Tree Tavern. The lobby water is pictured.
Liberty Tree Tavern’s menu hasn’t changed much over the years. Lunch is an a la carte affair with items similar to dinner. Dinner is a family-style all-you-care-to-eat deal that costs $34.07 for adults and $17.03 for kids with tax.
Other than inevitable price increases, the only menu change from two years ago is the “Vegetarian Proclamation” sandwich, which replaced the old Vegetarian Burger. Liberty Tree is expected to close for refurbishment from July 6th through November 19th. At least it’ll be open for the big patriotic holidays. I would expect Diamond Horseshoe to offer dinner in its stead. Past reviews cover most of the other menu items along with more pictures around the restaurant. Here and here, specifically.
We started off with the $6.49 Tavern Fried Cheese with Marinara Sauce, which doesn’t exactly arrive with the world’s most inspired presentation. But the little tin cup of marinara might be a little classier than dipping them right into the jar of sauce at home. Anyway, these are about what you would expect – they’re probably frozen, but don’t really suffer from any of the negative qualities that come with freezer burn. I would have liked a little more crunch to the exterior, but they are appropriately ooey-gooey. I’m not sure they’re unique or special enough to recommend, but they’re here, which is really what you could say about the majority of Disney food. “Well…we’re here.”
I laughed out loud when the server said “Today’s Fresh Catch is fish and chips” and then ordered it. It was a significant step above quick service fried fish and with three large pieces, too much food for one person to eat with the fries and coleslaw. The fish otherwise had a nice crispy exterior that dipped nicely into the fresh tartar sauce. Disney would be wise to add fish and chips to the regular menu after the refurb instead of hiding them under the market price tag.
Mark ordered the $14.99 Liberty Boys BLT – Slow-roasted Pork Belly, fresh Greens, and Tomatoes on House-made Bread with Caramelized Shallots and Mushroom-Mayonnaise Spread, which is not particularly attractive looking here in this cross section, but the pork was tender and flavorful with the shallots and lettuce providing some crunch.
I am not usually a dessert person, but the Ooey Gooey Toffee Cake is my favorite resort-wide. It would best be shared among three or four people I think.
It will be interesting to see what changes, if any, come to Liberty Tree during its extended refurbishment. Otherwise, I like the restaurant okay for lunch and if you stick to the $13-$16 sandwiches, you won’t be spending a whole lot more money than quick service. If you order the pot roast and turkey, you basically come away with the two main dinner dishes for about the cost of just one person at dinner.
Haunted Mansion with a 30-minute posted wait at 2:15pm. That’s right around average these days under FastPass+. It’s best to ride right around 10:15am or with about two hours to Park close. By 11am most days, you’re going to be waiting 20 to 25 minutes and waits of 30 to 45 minutes will continue from there through 8pm or so.
I don’t remember seeing this shirt at Memento Mori in the past.
Samesies with the flip flops.
Some artwork has emigrated from Downtown Disney’s Marketplace Co-Op.
Peter Pan is back to meeting around the corner from the ride.
In context. it’s a small world is ahead and the Rapunzel bathrooms are on the left.
Relatively light Old Fantasyland crowds.
That still comes with a 30-minute posted wait at it’s a small world, which at one time would have indicated well above average crowds. Now it’s an every day occurrence.
And with the queue mostly full inside the building, that’s about how long you’d expect to wait. It’s best to ride right around 10:45am or in the evening around the same time as Haunted Mansion.
Wait times at attractions that historically offered legacy FASTPASS and typically distributed the maximum number of return tickets daily remain largely unaffected. 65 minutes is how long you would have expected to wait at this time of day for Peter Pan’s Flight just about any day of the year since 2012 or so. I’ve debated running another post on how FastPass+ has changed the wait times landscape, but it’s been so long since anybody pulled a Soarin’ FASTPASS that it no longer seems all that relevant. FastPass+ is here and there’s really no sense in debating whether it’s “better” or “worse” “for you” than the old system. What’s important is how to best use it to our advantage, which is what the website has tried to focus on since its inception.
With so many stations and so many cast members, waits at the Fantasyland FastPass+ location are typically short, to the point where there is no extended queue out front.
It could be a lot worse through here. Fast forward a month and it will be.
Some merchandise inspired by the live action Cinderella is widely available.
This has been the Buy More…Buy More promotion for some time.
Somewhat reasonable wait times for the princesses…60 minutes for Cinderella/Rapunzel and 70 minutes for Anna/Elsa.
Be Our Guest Restaurant has been offering lunch reservations for a couple of months now and is officially “reservation only,” though they may have capacity for walkups, as they did at 2:25pm. The line to get in is backed up very much like it was when it was “walkup only.” And then when it was “return ticket only.” Pre-ordering your food via the My Disney Experience app or the website should allow you to skip most of this wait, which would be about 20 minutes until you order.
$4,200. Hey, it’s not like they’re making money on $3.19 sodas. Disney has to make those billions dropped on MyMagic+ back somehow.
Journey of the Little Mermaid continues seeing nominal waits, here posted at 20 minutes probably.
The Ariel meet and greet next door is a much higher priority for those interested.
A fairly nominal 25 minute wait at Dumbo. With the air-conditioned playground inside, there are worse ways to spend 15 minutes or so, particularly with kids that want to play.
20 minutes for Barnstormer, which is below average, but still too long for most people to wait for a ride that lasts less than a minute. Getting here right around 11am is smart and waits taper off once the sun goes down.
The ummmmmm… “eclectic” seating has returned to Storybook Circus, providing a relatively comfortable place to relax. Minus the heat and the other people at least.
Per usual, Minnie and Daisy see a slightly longer wait than the gentlemen.
If you’re bringing in your own meal, I think the two chillest areas to enjoy it are back here in Storybook Circus or at Tomorrowland Terrace (particularly if it’s closed, as it usually is).
Mine Train was down for about an hour in the afternoon.
Prolonged attraction downtime usually causes a bit of a ripple effect at area attractions as people use their FP+ elsewhere. Unfortunately, Winnie the Pooh had just gone down as well, creating another backup.
I haven’t seen the Speedway line this short in the heart of the afternoon in some time.
Turkey legs remain available in Tomorrowland at Cool Ship.
50 minutes at Space Mountain at 2:50pm.
20 or 30 at Orbiter.
PeopleMover sees lines that extend into the external queue most days, but you could walk right on at the moment. Festival of Fantasy helps pull people away at this time of day.
35 at Buzz.
Tomorrowland Terrace was operating and the location has recently eliminated the various pasta options. This also marks the first time I think I’ve seen Spanish and Portuguese translations on a menu. Longtime readers may remember the website’s Pasta Primavera review:
If your favorite pasta sauce isn’t cold balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing then I’m going to punch you in the face until it is. This is amazing. The shrimp are so gummy that you can literally bounce them off the floor into your mouth. Give it a try! The pasta was cooked no longer than two days ago, making this some of the freshest food on property. The Terrace isn’t always open, but when it is, I prefer the Pasta Primavera.
In other words, it’s not exactly a big loss. The old menu:
Losing the Beef and Blue Cheese Salad is somewhat unfortunate.
The Citrus Shrimp Salad here is actually really good, but I’m not sure there’s enough menu variety here anymore for families.
Looking over this week’s Times Guide:
It looks like the majority of the seasonal quick services will be operating daily from now until the end of August with Tortuga Tavern and Tomorrowland Terrace open for lunch every day this week.
With about five minutes until Festival of Fantasy steps off in Frontierland and about 20 minutes until it arrives here, there are still spots to sneak into on Main Street, though the front row filled long ago.
Parade FP+ crowds are still relatively low with the location around the flag pole out in the sun.
The view from outside the area is similar, but FP+ basically guarantees that nobody is going to come up at the last minute and stand in front of your kids.
Otherwise, I like to see the Parade in the Frontierland area across from the Trading Post store and Pecos Bill. Or on the upper right here in front of The Chapeau, which doesn’t usually fill in until close to 3pm.
That’s what’s going on at Magic Kingdom.
We should see Hollywood Studios and Epcot updates this week, along with operating schedule changes and the December 2015 crowd calendar. I also have a variety of dining reviews to write…Boatwright’s…Shutters…