I took off Friday for my son’s 6th birthday. As per his wish, we spent some time meandering through the Magic Kingdom doing what he wanted to do (mostly).
The day started with ride over to the park on the monorail. Believe it or not, that was my first ride on the transport since the tragic death of monorail purple’s pilot. The system functioned as it should, there may have been a couple extra cast members on the platform, but for the most part things were the same as they ever were.
We tried to time our arrival with the little show that takes place at the train station as the park opens to guests. It’s a cute show, but it seemed most of the cast members were just going through the motions and the guests that were selected to open the park really didn’t do any thing much. I think it’s time for some new magical moment to be created here, hopefully one that doesn’t involve crowding hundreds of people into a small area and then forcing them to move through an even smaller passage way all while strollers run over their toes and elbows are thrown jostling for position.
So having survived Disney’s version of the Running of the Bulls, what do we do next? Head to our first Fast Pass? No! Not this day. We went straight to the Harmony Barbershop where the official festivities for “Pink Hair Day” were set to begin.
(follow me below the jump for a photo of the famous pink hair and more from the day)
As I said it was my son’s birthday and he wanted us all to get our hair colored with pink hair gel. Michal was happy to oblige and even through in a hidden mickey for the effort. Needless to say we drew plenty of odd looks from strangers as we went around the park for the rest of the day. I mostly drew looks of pity. But it was fun and really did help make the day that much more special.
Put the bird’s nest of pink hair and confetti together with a birthday button and my son had lots of attention from cast members around the park. He was sung to twice, had a magical moment, and got two free chocolate chip cookies. Add to that the $64 gift card we got for Disney’s Celebrate Today promotion and even the wallet was happy. (well happier that it could have been, at least.)
This was the last weekend for locals to get out to the parks before school starts, add that to the summer crowds still permeating the park, and it was a busy day. That didn’t stop Disney from multiple construction projects all over the park. Main Street, Fantasyland, and Liberty Square had a few buildings covered like this.
It’s so much nicer than the old green tarps that we used to see. So big kudos to Disney for this innovation.
Another of Disney’s big innovations is the ability to squeeze every last dime out of the winter holidays that they can. I just heard that the Osborne Lights will open a full 20 days earlier this year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and I think they’re prepping the Magic Kingdom for a similar early debut of its holiday fare. As you can see below they’ve already started covering the castle in lights.
It’s a beautiful effect for sure. But man that crane can ruin someone’s once-in-a-lifetime picture in a hurry. It was down by the middle of the day, however. So keep that in mind for the future photography expeditions.
One of the questions I get asked quite frequently is what sort of effect the economy is having on the theme parks. It’s affecting them in a lot of different ways, but for the most part guests only experience a few slight degrees of change. Fewer labor hours means attractions spend more of the day running fewer vehicles (and hence slightly longer lines), maintenance is sometimes deferred or must be performed during operating hours (so we have more down time), and you’ll see more management in the parks since they’re salaried that that 11th and 12th hour on the clock doesn’t cost Disney anything (except grouchy managers).
The most obvious change to me has been the reduction in custodial staff. I definitely see fewer sweepers in the park and more trash on the ground. Areas that would have been cleaned every night and a couple times a day instead see trash accumulating over what is obviously a few days. For example poor Donald is not only surrounded by trash, his cactus needles have been plucked off and not replaced.
It’s very bad show and this sort of thing should not be slipping through the cracks of a premier destination theme park like Disney charges for. Maybe they can use some of that extra admission charge they’ve just added in August to pay for some more labor hours for custodial and show quality.
It’s not all gum wrappers and bottle caps. There is still plenty of magic to be found. This moment below came during a steady drizzle and was snapped from, of all places, the Fantasyland bathroom area.
To me it proves there is nothing else in the world quite like Disney theme parks.