We head into Magic Kingdom from the Polynesian on the Resort Monorail during the 19-minute 36-second window that it was operating on Sunday May 22nd.
Summer is upon us as we look towards what will be a very hot, very busy Memorial Day Weekend. Disney had hosted a 24-hour event on the equivalent of this coming Friday over the last few years, but elected not to this year. The operating schedule reflected that we would see another event this year until mid-March when Disney moved the usual morning Extra Magic Hour back to Friday. With the 6am-6am operating hours beginning Friday and continuing into Saturday, there’s no way Disney would have offered a morning EMH from 5am to 6am.
The 24-hour event never made any logistical/logical/operational sense and last year, Disney didn’t offer any special characters or entertainment, which was a departure from the year before. But marketing insisted despite the strain it put on cast members just before the single longest stretch of hot, busy days of the year. This year, with Jungle Book: Groggily Waking Up From An Afternoon Nap, Soarin’ Around the World in Three Second Clips While My Bare Feet Dangle in Front of Your Face, and Frozen Waiting Forever After opening, it’s possible that the promise of a late night wasn’t necessary. And there is the whole budget cuts/attendance down/didn’t meet Wall Street expectations thing. Actually, I have it on pretty good authority that the decision was based on a Bob Iger coin flip broadcast to all cast members. If it was heads, they were going to do a 24-hour event. If it was tails, they weren’t. Bob then proceeded to take the coin.
Speaking of cuts, we can probably say #thanksshanghai to the removal of the website’s third favorite shrub. RIP lil guy.
This planter has probably saved more lives than every defibrillator on property combined. Yet you don’t see emergency planters listed on the guide map anywhere. Where is the respect?
But if you look back two pictures above, what we’re actually missing is this tall sign welcoming us to Magic Kingdom. When the crowds walking down the ramp are thick, you might not notice the railing splitting the two sides and if you stand there for a couple of minutes, you will inevitably see somebody ram their stroller right into it. Or if they’re less lucky, they won’t be pushing a stroller…
Two or three visits comprise this update – Sunday May 22, Thursday May 19, and occasionally a date from the week prior. I’ll mention dates/times when it’s important. (Actually we’re not going to get past Main Street LOL.) Above is 5:15pm on this past Sunday when relatively few people are arriving.
Busier here on Thursday just before 11:30am. While bag check and security take longer than they would have as recently as this past November, Disney has generally ramped up staffing so waits remain short in a macro sense. You can still wait a while if you luck into arriving just after a 500-person cheerleading team or me with my 19 tripods, 12 flashes, 37 lenses, and three “bottles of water” or something. You might remember my tip at Magic Kingdom to check on the main bag check area here early in the morning if the temporary bag check closer to the buses is busy.
Attraction wait times have been relatively reasonable for most of May after suffering considerably in the first and last weeks of April with higher-than-expected-attendance coupled with staff-and-operating-hour reductions. The picture above is shot at 16mm on Sunday.
Versus 35mm on Thursday.
It’s always fun to see the Main Street Vehicles out and about, my favorite of which is the Omnibus parked in front of Town Square Theater off to the right.
If you see one of the vehicles, you can head over and hop on. They run back and forth from Cinderella Castle:
The top deck in particular is a unique way to experience Main Street without the need for a Launchpad McQuack-equipped choppuh.
Otherwise, the refurbishment continues on the bathrooms to the right of City Hall.
Reopening sometime next month.
Stitch, who replaced The Cat maybe more than a few weeks ago now, sees some pretty decent lines here at the Flag Pole in a location that makes little thematic sense.
Chip and Dale have moved back to Tomorrowland while Woody and Jessie greet in the chipmunks’ old spot in Frontierland across from Diamond Horseshoe.
With Anna and Elsa leaving Fairytale Hall to take up residence in the Royal Sommerhus next month, we should see the other various princesses return to more “normal” locations. Cinderella and Rapunzel will return to greeting separately rather than together, each with a second princess. I’d expect Aurora to rejoin Cinderella and Snow White to rejoin Rapunzel more often than not. Above is Mary Poppins meeting on the “new Hub” grass.
Sometimes I feel like I’m just one tilted picture and one Nine Dragons dinner review away from putting easydubz on the map:
And I know what you’re thinking, “Josh why dont you tilt the other way sometimes are you stupid.” And while the answer is always yes, it’s 30% less artsy if you tilt in the other direction.
Walls are down in front of Cinderella Castle as stage refurbishment continues.
There doesn’t appear to be a lot of changes in front of the Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire debut expected on June 17th.
Soon to Be Louis Alligator’s view.
Michelle was nice enough to invite me along for lunch at the Plaza Restaurant during her whirlwind visit to Magic Kingdom, which included a rope drop and staying for the After Hours Event that stretched well past midnight. I wish I still had that kind of energy.
Disney actually refers to the restaurant as a “hidden gem” and a “best-kept secret” on its website as it’s located in a non-obvious spot at the end of Main Street opposite Casey’s Corner on the other side. I guess if Disney Vacation Club is #1 on the secret front then it make sense that this and Kona Cafe are two and three.
While the restaurant may not seem busy, it’s also small and you absolutely want to secure a reservation if you want to eat here. They do typically take walk-ups at lunch, but you are likely out of luck without a reservation come dinner/dessert time. They were quoting 40 minutes without a reservation on this particular afternoon.
It occurred to me that it had been a while since I’ve reviewed Plaza. Not because it’s “bad” or anything, but the menu so rarely changes that it doesn’t exactly scream bloggability in the same vein that a new hamburger at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe might.
But Plaza Restaurant is assuredly best known as being the least expensive table service restaurant at Magic Kingdom and one of the least expensive property-wide:
With the recent price increases on the quick service front, sandwich and hamburger prices are still $2-$5 more expensive at Plaza than its quick service counterparts. But you might remember that Be Our Guest’s Roast Beef Sandwich is up to $16.99, Pecos Bill serves a $16 Taco Burger, and Cosmic Ray’s recently-added a burger topped with pulled pork at $15. So for around the same money, you could instead visit Plaza and be served in a potentially more tranquil setting rather than having to figure out what everyone wants while waiting in a long line at Cosmic Ray’s before heading over to the seating area to secure a table while others carrying trays full of food wander endlessly looking for somewhere to sit.
Plaza Restaurant does not do appetizers, though they will bring you a cup of soup for $7 or a side salad for $8, so you do cut to the chase and meals here are usually quick. Michelle ordered the $15 Plaza Club wtih Smoked Ham, Turkey, Bacon, Lettuce, Tomato, and Mayonnaise layered on Sourdough Bread with choice of Broccoli Slaw, Homemade Chips, or French Fries. It’s a sizable and easily shareable portion if you want to go that route with four individual pieces, two and a half of which are visible underneath the pile of fries on top. It’s good for what it is – a relatively reasonably priced sandwich served inside of a theme park. The turkey and ham are Oscar Meyer quality, but the tomatoes are thick and the lettuce is appropriately fresh. It’s not Yellow Dog Eats, but it’s perfectly serviceable. With deli sandwiches on the way out of Magic Kingdom with Main Street Bakery no longer serving Disney entrees and the sandwich leaving Cosmic Ray’s, that potentially makes this a better choice.
An archive photo of the same sandwich from 2014, when perhaps there was more meat and the thicker steak fries were more unique.
I ordered something that had been on my mind since it was just a sparkle on the menu a couple of years ago in the $19 Beef Brisket Onion Burger served on a Flour-dusted Kaiser Roll with Lettuce, Tomato, Provolone, and Bacon with choice of Broccoli Slaw, Homemade Chips, or French Fries.
It’s a more serious beef patty than your typical quick service burger, served with a slice of cheese, then topped with bacon and brisket, and then finished with another slice of melted cheese. It was one of the better-put-together burgers that I’ve eaten at a theme park in recent memory, though I thought the overall product was a little dry as the brisket lacked much moisture. A bit of barbecue sauce or perhaps a more highfalutin sauce or spread would have made the burger that much more impressive.
Overall, the burger is worth the few extra dollars over quick service just based on the size and quality of the burger and ignoring the pleasantness of Plaza’s “charming Art Nouveau touches, including beautifully embellished light fixtures and mirrors.” Add that and I think most people will want to take a strong look at booking a meal here over a quick service counterpart. If you’re looking for two relatively inexpensive table service meals, you might look at Liberty Tree Tavern for a la carte lunch and dinner here. Skipper Canteen can be done relatively cheaply as well. That’s especially true if you look at the menu outside and leave without ordering anything.
Oh right, dessert.
Plaza Restaurant is located adjacent to Plaza Ice Cream Parlor. Those on a budget or those looking to put on less weight than the 55 pounds that I’ve gained over the last five years may opt to share an entree and a sundae for less than two quick service entrees would cost.
A $6 milkshake arrives in a classic glass with whipped cream and a cherry on top and then about two more milkshakes-worth served alongside it in a tin. They will also bring along a to-go cup. You can of course book Plaza just for dessert, not unlike many people do at Beaches and Cream.
Overall, it’s hard to fault Plaza for “what it is” – a comfortable, pleasant restaurant with good food and efficient service for not a whole lot more than you would pay for quick service.
There is perhaps renewed interest in the Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party as it’s the only opportunity for most guests to get a peek at Nick and Judy from Zootopia.
While the characters regularly meet in Disneyland, you won’t even find them descending off their float down to ground level at Magic Kingdom. You might be able to sort of get a picture with them if you walk up near their float and security doesn’t tackle you in the meantime. They are on the third float headed up Main Street and stop just about right in front of the Castle.
Otherwise, as I’ve mentioned in the past, Move It is not a major priority in most instances, usually scheduled three times at 11am, 12:30pm, and 5:40pm though the first or last show is sometimes not scheduled. It starts and ends in between the Firehouse/Emporium on Main Street and continues up to the Castle before returning to where it started. You can either elect to meet it as it appears on Main Street and walk on the sidewalk as it heads to the Castle or meet it in the Hub. Arriving a couple minutes before it’s scheduled should be fine, unlike Festival of Fantasy or the Electrical Parade, both of which are much more popular.
Okay, 2,000+ words and 50 pictures and we didn’t get past Main Street.
Maybe next time.