5214 x 3739 pixels: http://i3.minus.com/imxCONKZRLpBI.jpg. Disney looks to be putting the finishing touches on the Test Track marquee before the walls come down on Wednesday (or Thursday).
I’m not sure exactly what they were going for here. It kind of looks like a space shuttle or a dolphin. Or blue Flubber.
I can assure you that no other website on the Internet is keeping you as up to date on the construction of this hole as I am, even if my sentence structure and grammatical choices is sometime bad.
It was a cold one today. It felt a little Titanic-ish on the way over to Magic Kingdom with the 61 degree temperature in the middle of the afternoon.
Over at the Grand Floridian Vacation Club construction site, prefabricated rooms are being installed.
We’ll have to return for a better look or hope Mother approves the purchase of the 70-200mm F2.8 IS II lens.
If you have the wherewithal to follow this website, you’ve probably seen me make fun of people that come back from their Walt Disney World vacation in September, October, or other relatively low crowd times stating that it was “crazy crowded” and the “crowd calendars were wrong.” There are two reasons for this. First, I’m a huge jerk. And second, no, it wasn’t “crazy crowded.” My favorite comment in recent memory was someone that was comparing crowds from their early October trip in 2005 to their late October 2012 trip, stating that crowds were crazy. And you know my absolute favorite is, “It felt crowded, but we walked on everything and the longest wait we had was Big Thunder Mountain which was 20 minutes.” That’s the definition of “not crowded.” You want to see crowds? You do, don’t you. Let’s take a look at a day where Magic Kingdom was the least recommended Park with an overall crowd level “9.”
So the first thing we should notice here as we take a look at the wait times at 2:25pm, is that the posted wait for it’s a small world is 50 minutes. And Peter Pan’s Flight is 80 minutes. And Winnie the Pooh is 70 minutes. So not only are the walkways going to be slammed everywhere we go, but there are 40,000 more people in line today than just about any day in September, October, or other weeks with lower crowds. As you may have seen me say in the past, the difference between a “crowded” and “not crowded” day at Magic Kingdom is 35,000 people in line. When there are far fewer people in the Park, you may “feel” like there are a lot of people walking around. This is because people are getting in line for Space Mountain with a 10 minute wait and walking off 15 minutes later, looking for something else to do. When the wait is 90 minutes, that same number of people are going to be exiting and looking around for something else to do. The difference is that there’s another 2,000 people in line behind them, rather than 150 like we see in September. I hope this makes sense.
This isn’t quite as bad as it gets. Easter and Christmas are worse, generally speaking. The wait at Splash Mountain is short because it’s freezing out. And because of that, you see the even longer wait at Big Thunder, coming in at a solid 100 minutes.
As I’ve mentioned before, if you’re visiting when crowds are this high and require an ECV, you may want to look off-site. They’re sold out by 11am.
But at least it’s pretty! The skies are going to look blown out because it was so overcast.
I’ve seen it worse as we head over to Jungle Cruise.
FASTPASS is one of those things that’s awesome when you have one and sucks when you don’t. When wait times are this high, FASTPASS distribution is at its highest because people don’t want to wait 75 minutes to ride Jungle Cruise, which translates to incredibly long standby wait times. Via Twitter, I saw one report where a guy counted 163 FASTPASS users let into the preshow area of Tower of Terror before a single standby guest was admitted. That’s why you see those long standby wait times.
FASTPASS at Jungle Cruise is over 90 minutes out with a 75 minute wait. Crazy.
It’s hard to tell from this picture, but the entire extended queue for Pirates of the Caribbean is full. Some of these people you see near the attraction entrance are actually in line.
The queue winds all the way around the building outside before it moves inside and winds around in there. The posted wait was 50 minutes. I’d guess it’s closer to 70.
And the thing about crowds like this is that we aren’t just talking about attraction lines. Quick services are slammed. It’s difficult to browse stores and when you finally find something to buy, there’s 30 people in line ahead of you.
This is 30+ people in line for a Churro.
Because I’m bad at this, I don’t have a picture of the start of the it’s a small world line. But there’s new stroller parking if you can push your way through the line.
Through here. Doesn’t look like Gramps is movin’.
Now to be fair, I do see some concrete. Larger: http://i7.minus.com/i6i9Xy0VNTbNg.jpg. Count the smiles.
75 minutes at Peter Pan’s Flight is above average for this time of day. 45 minutes around 2:45pm is about as short as waits would get – common when the overall crowd level is one, two, or three and Magic Kingdom is recommended. 60 minutes is common and anything 75+ would be considered “long.”
Like Toy Story Mania, it doesn’t have the capacity to meet demand. And because of the long waits, it issues all of its FASTPASSes almost every day. It isn’t even 3pm yet, so FASTPASS return times are over fives hours out.
But the Rapunzel bathrooms are looking to be the best themed bathrooms of all time.
A thatched roof for maximum absorbancy.
If Enchanted Tales with Belle in New Fantasyland is a “must do,” I’d head straight back after Park open. Belle currently meets from 9am – 11pm straight through. If you’re unfamiliar with the attraction, this is a nice overview, and it has some nice pictures of crowds and wait times in September for comparison.
With the queue winding around this far outside the Cottage, 60 minutes seems optimistic, but at least it doesn’t offer FASTPASS yet(?)!
After Belle, I’d head over to Ariel’s Grotto to meet Ariel if it’s of interest.
And then Journey of the Little Mermaid. If you’re skipping the Meet and Greets, you can put the Mermaid ride off until around 11am when crowds are this heavy. As things die down, so should Journey of the Little Mermaid’s popularity, and thus, wait times. But since it’s new and it’s “crowded,” you can expect 45 – 60 minute waits. Today, Journey of the Little Mermaid was down for about three hours in the afternoon, which hopefully won’t be the norm moving forward. The 19th was the first day of the official “Preview,” which culminates in the Grand Opening on December 6th. The area will be open all day, every day until then barring any major meltdowns.
But there’s really nowhere to turn when crowds are this heavy. That’s a 70 minute wait at Pooh. If the crowd level was “average,” the wait would be 40 or 50 minutes. Thank FASTPASS returners. The only attractions you’ll find with short waits when crowds are this heavy are Mickey’s PhilharMagic, Carousel of Progress, Country Bear Jamboree, Hall of Presidents, Swiss Family Robinson, and Liberty Square Riverboat. And even Swiss Family will end up using its extended queue and Country Bear Jamboree is down!
On the happy front, those snowman apples sure are cute!
And Pete finally tips his hat. Considering it took Disney like two years to be able to figure out how to make a cardboard cutout move one of its appendages six inches in the air, it shouldn’t be surprising what else isn’t working. Pete has sat dormant in front of everyone for over six weeks.
Mine Train continues to look promising as even more steel work has been completed. People make fun of how long it takes Disney to build something, but it’s all very intricate. Transformers over at Universal is just a big box.
The courtyard area outside Pete’s Silly Sideshow is the least crowded part of the Parks these days with plenty of seating and a few snack opportunities. You can get Churros, Mickey Pretzels, Hot Dogs, Chips, and Bottled Beverages back here with nonexistent waits.
When crowds are lower, there’s virtually no one back here. FASTPASS distribution for Barnstormer and Dumbo is to the left.
Casey Jr. was turned off, but it still seems to make the water noises, unless those animals naturally make water spraying sounds. My guess is the water isn’t heated, so you’d be standing there getting soaked with 40 degree water.
Looks to me like there’s room for at least 12 more people in the Barnstormer line.
Later, the wait would be up to 75 minutes for this 59 second attraction. The Parade is actually going on right now, which pulls people away from the attractions.
It’s that kind of day. Hope they don’t get a squatting ticket. I thought about hanging around to watch the one kid inevitably kick the other kid in the head when he wakes up, but it looked like they were down for the long haul.
I’ll take this 60 minute wait in the extended queue at Tomorrowland Speedway in November over July. At least in November you can bundle up from the cold. Not a lot you can do to cool down when the “RealFeel” is 110 degrees.
An ummmmmmmmm… eclectic collection of popcorn receptacles?
But it felt crowded in October when the wait was 20 minutes. FASTPASS is out to 7:45pm – 8:45pm at 3:13pm.
The usual 30+ minute wait at Astro Orbiter doesn’t seem so bad compared to the alternatives.
FASTPASS is almost two hours in the future at Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, which is almost unheard of. That means virtually every single FASTPASS that’s available would be collected, causing standby waits to balloon to 50 minutes, even with a line that barely extended out the door. With FASTPASS users getting priority boarding, few standby riders will be admitted.
We’re almost done, but here’s Monsters Inc. with a line out the door.
Yep, a 30+ minute wait for Stitch as the line stretches around and around.
One place where there wasn’t a line was Gaston’s Tavern. I wish they served Frozen Butterbeer. I mean, if they were going to clone something, it might as well have been something they didn’t offer in California!
This now feels like a very narrow path outside Journey of the Little Mermaid. The Ariel meet is ahead of us on the left. Larger: http://i1.minus.com/iXcaqNAAfRi2t.jpg. I count two smiles. One is a child that’s about to drop her little sister and the other appears to be a gentleman happy to find someone he knows through the crowd.
I would guess picnic tables up on the mountain around Beast’s Castle are off the table so to speak, but they’re going to have to do something come Christmas Week.
We took a good look at dinner at Be Our Guest Restaurant a few weeks ago, so I won’t repeat most of what’s found there. We had a 4pm dinner reservation and were welcomed inside by most of the staff in a sort of awkward tunnel of clapping. If your reservation is after 5pm, you won’t have the opportunity(?) to walk the tunnel.
We sat in the ballroom again. Unlike previous reports during the Preview, the Rose Gallery room off to the right will be used for dinner service. Expect large groups to be seated there.
I took the opportunity to take a few pictures of the West Wing with fewer people inside.
It’s equal parts cool, dark, and scary.
If you have kids that are prone to being scared of dark, eerie places, request to be seated in the Ballroom.
And you’re also going to have a ton of people walking through taking pictures of the room.
So this poor prince gets turned into a hideous beast because he refuses to let some random woman inside his house? Don’t talk to strangers though, children.
Anyway, there are two soups on the appetizer menu – The Potato Leek and French Onion. This is the Potato Leek ($5.99 at dinner, $4.49 for a similar portion at lunch), which I enjoyed quite a bit. It was served piping hot with a thin potato consistency, which kept it from feeling “heavy,” while still offering a steady potato flavor. I personally enjoyed this more than the Salad Trio or French Onion Soup.
Jose ordered the $14.99 “Assorted Cured Meats and Sausages.” It looked to be a diverse assortment of items – what they are I could not tell you. The bread seemed superfluous since similar bread is served to all diners. But it looks like you’ve got some salami, ham, two cornichons, and a couple different kinds of faux-pate? It was so dark in the Ballroom that the group had to again bust out the phone-as-a-flashlight to see what was going on.
As an entree, I went with the Thyme-scented Pork Rack Chop with Au Gratin Macaroni, Seasonal Vegetables, and Red Wine Jus – $21.99. I found the pork to be dry and tough. The Red Wine Jus didn’t seem to have a lot of flavor or accompany the flavors from the pork well. Maybe I’m just more of a glaze guy? The Au Gratin Macaroni in the upper right hand corner of the plate didn’t have a lot of flavor either. Think of a baked macaroni. I guess I was expecting something a little more ooey gooey. BUT!!! Like 50’s Prime Time, the green beans were very good. I preferred the Strip Steak and Sauteed Shrimp & Scallops. Both Scarlett and Tom (from 50’s Prime Time Cafe fame) liked the Pork the most, so opinions are definitely split.
The Layered Ratatouille – Oven-baked Zucchini, Eggplant, Mushrooms, Tomatoes, and Caramelized Onions sliced and layered on Quinoa served with a Bell Pepper Sauce – $15.99. This was met favorably by the woman that ordered it. It certainly looks nicely presented and should be a hit with the vegetarians.
The Lemon Meringue Cupcake – Vanilla Sponge Cake, Lemon Custard Filling, and Flamed Meringue Icing – $3.99. I personally opted out of dessert, but the cupcakes were met with “exceptional” ratings by my tablemates. I wasn’t impressed with the Passion Fruit Cream Puff or Triple Chocolate Cupcake.
And the Strawberry Cream Cheese Cupcake. If you visit during lunch, the same cupcakes are a dollar less. I’d personally put that $4 towards a Cinnamon Roll at Gaston’s or a much larger cupcake at the Confectionery or Big Top Treats, but these are here if you like them. I’ll be trying another during lunch.
“The Grey Stuff” isn’t listed on the menu and you have to ask for it by name. You may also need something to “celebrate,” whether it be a birthday, anniversary, new job, etc. Your server may or may not bring just one for the table to share. The Grey Stuff is “free,” which is why they may be chintzy with it. Since the cost of a dollop of icing isn’t particularly high, you’d think they could squirt a larger portion on the plate. As it stands, you’re looking at two or three bites with little rice krispies on top. I would guess Disney is trying to figure out a way to either monetize the grey icing mound or a work around so they don’t have to clean so many plates. It seems silly that only people that frequent Disney blogs will know to ask about it.
There was a Disney Parks Blog “Meet-Up” at Be Our Guest Restaurant a couple of days ago. The usual assortment of Disney “everything is great!” bloggers, Disney employees, cast members, and friends/family of Disney Parks Blog staff were invited. Just for fun, try Googleing one or two of the names followed by “Disney.” You should find that almost all have Twitter accounts with the word “Disney” in the profile, run a Disney blog, or work for Disney in some capacity. I looked up five of the names I didn’t recognize and was either taken to a Twitter account or a LinkedIn profile mentioning Disney attached to the person. In other words, there isn’t much of a reason to try for one of these Meet Ups – the list is hand picked. Or I should say, add “Disney” to your Twitter account profile before you do. But the surest way to ascend the Disney Social Media ladder is to simply buy 25 thousand Twitter followers. Disney isn’t smart enough to look your numbers up.
I only mention this for one reason – apparently Disney Parks Blog and Be Our Guest staff at the Meet Up swore up and down that Beast would not be making appearances at the restaurant for dinner. But as expected, he does.
Here’s a throw away video of his arrival. Music plays and the Beast walks through the Ballroom, pops his head into the West Wing, and then retreats into the “Study” where he takes pictures with guests. This is the room where you would order food during quick service lunch, just inside the entrance to the right. You’ll have an opportunity to meet Beast after your meal if you choose. PhotoPass is on hand and they’re happy to take pictures with your cameras, phones……..and iPads. This is the only spot you’ll find him these days.
The best part about Be Our Guest Restaurant is that alcohol is served. Second, of course, is the ambiance. Food and service are better than anywhere else at Magic Kingdom, but I’m not sure it’s at the level of the Monorail Deluxe Restaurants like The Wave and Kona, where more attention is paid to food preparation, recipes, innovation, etc. If you’re planning a meal inside Magic Kingdom, Be Our Guest is a no-brainer. If you want to simply tour the restaurant and grab a small (or large) bite to eat, visit during lunch. You can order a bowl of soup and fill your fountain beverage cups to your heart’s content. Having experienced the restaurant twice now, I’m not in a big hurry to get back, which I’m somewhat surprised to say. It’s definitely worth doing once though.
The Castle Dream Lights on Cinderella Castle will be turned on every night through January 8th. They’re accompanied by a six minute show called “Cinderella’s Holiday Wish.”
Here’s what the show looks like – it features Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy, Cinderella, Prince Charming, and the Fairy Godmother. It’s cute and fun to see the Lights turned on for the first time, but isn’t necessarily a “must see.”
The nice thing is that the show is easy to see. The Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It Parade should run until about 6:05pm. After it clears out, most everyone else does along with it and you can work your way up to the front of the Castle. I recommend being a ways back so you can see the stage and the entire Castle.
But the Lights are not to be missed.
So that’s an example of what Magic Kingdom looks like on a solid “9” day. It gets busier.