Disney finally got around to taking the Christmas stuff down. The Studios’ tree was still up as recently as last week, which seems a little late. “People” seem to complain that Disney gets a little too festive a little too quickly in November, but my estimation is those complainers are the same ones clamoring for sold out Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party tickets over Veterans Day Weekend. But rolling up on January 14th to see a giant, fake Christmas tree might make you check your calendar.
As expected, Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat began to come down in pieces over the second week in January.
As the world’s foremost expert on WDW theme park touring and operator of a Disney blog that receives well over a million visitors a month, you might think that I have an opinion on the dismantling.
Truth is I don’t care at all.
It has absolutely no effect on my life whatsoever, other than its location has always been helpful as a directional tool.
It’s always been easy to tell people heading to something like ABC Commissary to walk down to the back of the hat and take a left.
Instead of an overwhelmingly popular icon sitting at the end of Hollywood Boulevard, we’re left with this puke green concrete building in desperate need of paint and a power wash.
It seems like a giant thing blocking the building for about ten years would have been a good opportunity to perform some upkeep.
Instead, we’re left with dirty, rusty, dilapidated concrete.
Progress is being made every day. These pictures are from January 20th.
It looks like these walls are going to be up for a while longer.
The Hat’s slow demise has necessitated Hollywood Boulevard’s PhotoPass photographers to turn around and instead take pictures towards the Crossroads.
The Trolley Car Cafe is the Studios’ Starbucks installation on the right side of Hollywood Boulevard.
Expected to open next month, it will be another breakfast and caffeine option, in addition to Starring Rolls and Fairfax Fare.
It looks like some patio seating might be in the cards, which would be a nice addition.
I always get a kick out of the cast member positioned at the Studios’ wait times board that stands right in front of the thing. Toy Story Mania and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster were both down, leaving the eighth most visited theme park in the world operating with exactly three rides.
In fact, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster’s entire courtyard was gated off – something I don’t remember ever seeing in some number of hundreds of visits. To their credit, Disney is armed with two hula hoops and a bean bag toss.
If a ride goes down that you have a FP+ for, you may remember that the replacement options are based on the attraction, regardless of time of day or remaining FP+ availability. In this case, both Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror share the same replacement options:
So if you have a FP+ for Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or Tower of Terror (“the action collection”), the seven bulleted attractions are your replacement choices and you can visit any one of those at any part of the day. Should Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster come back up later in the day, your FP+ would be valid when it does. This post: https://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/fastpass-replacements-should-yours-be-canceled/ lists the replacements for every attraction, in addition to some more details about how exactly you’re notified.
Looking over wait times over the course of the day:
Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster finally did come back online around 1:15pm after being down for over hour hours, but that sort of downtime can have pretty catastrophic effects on wait times at other attractions, particularly at the Studios where there is barely anything to do even when everything that’s supposed to be operating is operating.
Downtime not only pushes up standby waits because more people are funneling into a shorter window, but also FP+ wait times because you’ve got all those FP+ returners that couldn’t return when the attraction was down returning after it reopens. We got in the FP+ line at 12:53pm and weren’t back out front until 1:15pm, which is six or seven minutes longer than usual. Certainly not the end of the world in isolation, but it’s just one of several extended delays you could expect with major downtime.
Despite the construction, the Sorcerer’s Hat characters still appear. With Minnie still absent, Goofy and Pluto meet separately.
Chip and Dale (not pictured) appear together.
Donald and Daisy meeting separately.
Lines for the characters can get pretty long. Here in cool temperatures, they meet from 9am-1pm and 1:40pm-4pm daily. Stitch/Donald/Daisy are one set and Chip and Dale/Pluto/Goofy are the other. If the characters are important, try to visit between 10am-10:45am or 3pm-4pm. Most people will have higher priorities first thing.
With the pin store underneath/behind the Hat gone, a similar store has moved over to Sunset Boulevard in between Anaheim Produce and Fairfax Fare on the walk to Tower of Terror. In case you’re looking.
Speaking of Anaheim Produce, it features yet another new menu.
Speaking of Fairfax Fare, while the Fairfax Salad is still on the menu, it now enjoys a new presentation.
This is the old iteration – Chopped Romaine, Chili, Tomato, Roasted Corn, Sweet Peppers, Monterey Jack, and Corn Tortillas served with a Jalapeno Ranch Dressing. According to the review, “My only complaint would be that there isn’t a ton of sustenance involved. While the tortilla strips are in abundance, there isn’t a ton of protein. I would have liked it to include some chicken or something or at least include the option. There isn’t a whole lot to the chili. Based on taste, this is one of the best Disney quick service salads I’ve had and it would pair nicely shared with one of the barbecued items available. It would be filling for someone with a smaller appetite, but it isn’t going to keep people with larger appetites full for very long.”
The new version heeds our call, now with the description: Barbecued Pulled Pork Wedge Salad, Bacon, Roasted Corn Tomato Salsa, Crispy Tortilla Strips, and Cheddar served with a Jalapeño Ranch Dressing – $8.49.
Pulled barbecue pork is ummmmmm not exactly the most photogenic topping on earth, but don’t let that dissuade you from ordering. The pork is piled high on top and the lettuce wedge and other ingredients are garden fresh underneath. The tortilla chips add some crunch and the jalapeno ranch dressing offers a slight kick with robust flavor. Very good and one of my favorite salads property-wide. My only complaint would be cutting up the salad inside the low cardboard container is a bit of work. ISN’T THIS SUPPOSED TO BE A SPONTANEOUS VACATION?
In other wedge news:
Pizzafari over at Animal Kingdom is also sporting a new salad replacing the old Caesar. The Baked Pasta replaces the Hot Italian Sandwich, which is kind of a shame as that was a good option. Pizzafari also now serves tiramisu for dessert.
The Milz(‘s) of Mama Melrose fame will play a bigger role in an upcoming Boatwright’s review, but Peggy did us all a favor and ordered the $9.99 Buffalo Chicken Macaroni and Cheese with Crumbled Blue Cheese from Min & Bill’s Dockside Diner. More info and other dining changes, including a review of ABC Commissary’s new “steak,” here: https://www.easywdw.com/uncategorized/abc-commissary-adds-a-steak-baymax-reassessing-hollywood-studios-show-fp-indiana-jones-beauty-and-the-beast-12514/. While the dish looks the part, there was nothing “Buffalo” about it – no sense of heat or spiciness to speak of and very little flavor from the chicken or macaroni. Despite a little sprinkle (that probably looks like more in the picture), the overwhelming flavor was the blue cheese. I doubt this dish will last much longer.
While the Baymax Sipper souvenir cups are long gone, Baymax lives in this $5.19 chocolate cupcake with banana buttercream icing and caramel drizzle. While the size of these immense cupcakes may not be evident from the picture, each is a sensible dessert for 2.5 Americans or 6 non-Americans. The cupcake was surprisingly good with an airy chocolate cake base and buttercream icing with a very faint natural banana flavor. The toffee and caramel sauce added sweetness and another layer of flavor. I’d expect this particular cupcake to be available until late March when Easter takes over. You do probably want to share.
This is what’s available at Sweet Spells next to Starring Rolls on Sunset Boulevard.
Elsewhere at Starring Rolls:
Keep in mind it usually closes at 3pm or 4pm (almost never later).
In the old Sounds Dangerous building, Disney is showing a promo for its new live action Cinderella movie through March 21st. The carriage from the film will be available to take pictures next to on the Streets of America from February 1st through April 11th.
The clip plays on the half hour, so you’d be best served arriving at :23 or :53 or so. We arrived at :28 and had our choice of seats. The movie looked like a solid 2.5 star Sunday afternoon popcorn flick. Funny, but a little heavy handed with the CGI.
A few new things have been added to One Man’s Dream since our November visit. To spice things up a bit, ask the cast member at the entrance for one of these scavenger hunt cards.
Return it completed to receive a special prize. Some of these things are new…others I probably just don’t remember seeing before or are better pictures:
What it’s like to run into me in the Parks.
The arcade portion of Toy Story Pizza Planet is largely gutted in favor of more indoor seating.
A few racing games remain.
Disney is still using the side door near the Muppet Store as the main entrance to Pizza Planet. Go through the arcade and you’ll arrive at an Exit Only sign.
MagicBands have new packaging. Oooooohhhhh. Aaaahhhhhh.
And the same warning.
One wonders how much longer Phineas and Ferb will appear with lines nearing zero people.
The Frozen Sing-Along continues to play to largely sold out audiences in front of its expected move to the old American Idol Experience stage.
Osborne Lights come down for perhaps the last time.
Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post is closed permanently, rendering most of this area vacant and lowering the number of places you can buy an Olaf plush from 317 to 316.
One wonders when they’ll finally make a move on Lights, Motors, Action.
Despite nearly a month passing since Christmas, yuletide cheer is still available in abundance.
Zipz wine appears for the first time on property. I’m not sure if the vintage is really necessary. Nobody puts the box of Franzia down because 2011 “was a down year in the valley.”
Something! Toy Story Mania FP+ is backed up so far at 3pm that they had to send out a guy with a sign to indicate the end of the line. In mid-January.
Characterpalooza still takes place near the exit to Tower of Terror. Currently, if there is one Fantasmic scheduled at 7pm, Characterpalooza should begin at 2:45pm, 3:45pm, and 4:45pm give or take five minutes. With a Fantasmic at 7pm and 8:30pm, just one Characterpalooza session should begin at 4:10pm.
Once Characterpalooza starts, the doors will swing open, revealing a collection of characters:
Pocahontas and Evil Queen.
Chip and Dale, Stitch, and Mulan.
Mary Poppins and Bert.
You never know who is going to appear. Jasmine/Aladdin, Gepetto, and Pinocchio are also common as are other random princesses like Belle and Tiana. Characterpalooza is worth hunting down if you have interest, but the rotating times and locations can be a bit frustrating.
Hiro and Baymax continue meeting in the Animation Building, potentially only through March.
The Magic of Disney Animation is the show in the Animation Building. If you’re looking at Hiro and Baymax from the top of the stairs above, the entrance would be located down the hall to the left.
This is about as low key as Disney productions come. There were maybe eight people seeing this particular show.
The antiquated script still follows the story of Mushu from Mulan being animated for the first time. It’s still kind of cute and kind of funny.
And it does include a clip of whatever animated feature Disney is currently promoting. Big Hero 6 in this case.
While certainly not a “must do” in the grand scheme of things, it will get you off your feet in air-conditioning in about as relaxed of an atmosphere as possible.
We’re still in the midst of tour group season at the Parks. With Beauty and the Beast just letting out, you can count no fewer than seven separate flags each indicating a separate group. That should clear up just in time for President’s Day Weekend, which is shaping up to be one of the busier weeks of the year.
Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom updates incoming.