Major Changes Coming to Magic Kingdom’s Central Plaza (aka the Hub)

new-hub-closer

Disney has just released a concept video showing a short fly-over of a completely re-designed central plaza in the Magic Kingdom. I’d heard the rumors this was coming, but had not heard exactly how extensive the change would be. It’s dramatic. The end result will change the character of the main hub of the park, transitioning from moat to garden, an idea first conceived for Shanghai Disneyland. But Orlando is getting a version of it first.

Watch the video then join us below as we dissect a few key visuals:

The newly remodeled hub will feature several new elements, including fountains, sculpted gardens, additional pathways, expanded restaurant seating and even a special viewing area for fireworks and other performances.

Looking down toward Main Street U.S.A. you can see the popcorn and soda locations have been converted to fountains. The main parade route path is still there, but there are additional routes to the sides and the moat appears to be gone between the hub and Main Street.

new-hub-mainstreet-paths

Here we see some of the changes coming to the castle forecourt area. The show control buildings that current have a Main Street feel will soon be changed to look like an extension of Cinderella Castle. That effect worked pretty well creating a wall between New Fantasyland and ‘classic’ Fantasyland. I’m hoping it also means they could be preparing for some additional entertainment features added to the moat and forecourt area. Disneyland Paris has an amazing show that uses water fountains, digital projection and more.

new-hub-liberty-square-paths

Finally, we get this overhead shot of all the changes. Starting down by Main Street you can see the expanded dining for Casey’s Corner. There are also new walking gardens where the moat used to run. It’s not clear if this is just a wider bridge or if they will fill in dirt below. Moving toward Tomorrowland, the old Swan Boat Dock is removed, probably to make way for a new filming area. You can also see the relocated popcorn and soda vending location just passed the bridge to Tomorrowland. On the other side of the hub is another vending location and you’ll also notice the second concentric circle of pathways. The path with bridges from Liberty Square to Plaza Gardens remains.

new-hub-no-moat

Not in this video is addition of a pedestrian friendly themed alley way behind Main Street. The same path they currently open backstage to ease crowds off of Main Street and back out to the exits and on the way to their resort of the TTC, will get a makeover so guests will no longer see employees cars, garbage dumps, and a bus stop. Work for that has been progressing simultaneously with the expansion of Casey’s Corner’s seating area.

My guess is that the primary reason for all these changes was to ease crowd patterns, distribute them better throughout the parks, and increase park capacity. If that sounds familiar, it’s because that’s been the main effect of Fastpass+ too. It is always cheaper to pack more people into an existing park’s footprint, than to expand that footprint or even build a whole new gate.

As I said at the beginning, this will transform the hub dramatically. Not only will crowds flow easier through the area, even during fireworks and parades, but the rest of the time, the hub will become a place to slow down a bit, stop and enjoy the garden atmosphere. What I don’t see in this video are benches, but hopefully those will be part of the new plan as well.

What do you think of the changes?

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14 Responses to Major Changes Coming to Magic Kingdom’s Central Plaza (aka the Hub)

  1. Josh says:

    I don’t like it. Swan Boat Landing should stay, it’s one of those things that most people don’t see, but its existence separates the quality of Disney Parks and other theme parks. This is the same issue I had with the Club 33 expansion. They give shoddy reasoning behind taking out everything that makes Disney Parks special, and replace it with generic crap.

    • John Frost says:

      You see, I was never at the Magic Kingdom when the Swan Boats operated. So to me that area is just a purposeless deck with some chairs on it. It doesn’t even offer a good view of the fireworks or parade. Upgrading the hub to a place that does offer those views would be a plus in my book.

  2. Gregg says:

    If they aren’t using the Swan Dock, why keep it?

    I like the changes. Looks like it opens up quite a bit more and more greenery is always a good thing. Thanks for taking the time to go through the changes.

  3. Ryan says:

    When I initially heard rumors last week that the moat was being drained to make room for more firework viewing opportunities, I was a little bummed. It was a bit sad seeing a full moat on 2/24 and a completely empty moat on 2/25. This concept video, however, gives me renewed hope! I’m thrilled to still see water around the castle.

  4. Dustin says:

    I’m not opposed to the changes. That area gets particularly contested during fireworks and night parades. It’s been tough getting around crowds to other spots in the park, so if this helps with flow, I’m Ok with it.

  5. Disney Mike says:

    I think this looks great! There’s still some moat in the concept art, but I’d much rather see sculpted gardens and more walkways than vast expanses of artificially-dyed water.

    It doesn’t really appear that the “character” of the hub has changed much, except for the increased presence of the “castle court” theming.

  6. Those gardens to either side of Main Street, where Main street bridges the canal, does it look to you like they might possibly go down closer to water level? If so this would be a great way to go under Main Street during the parades it would be a pedestrian underpass.

    • John Frost says:

      Actually, those are going to be the reserved fireworks viewing areas. I believe they’ll be elevated to the same level as that section of main street… or pretty close

  7. a11mark says:

    I’d like to see if those trees in the central plaza would restrict viewing for the castle and fireworks. I personally like to stand in front of the castle head on, that’s just my preference though.

    any idea when the work will be complete?

    • Ali says:

      This was my thought exactly. I figured the trees in the center of the hub would block the potential viewing area of shows on the castle stage and the firework displays. :/

  8. Kaz says:

    “and even a special viewing area for fireworks and other performances”

    in other words, a place they can charge extra for to watch the fireworks…

    • Steve says:

      Not charge extra, but to use Fastpass+ since you can now use a Fastpass+ for prime parade/firework viewing areas

  9. Bill says:

    Anyone notice there are no trolley tracks? Will the Main Street Transportation Company cease to exist?

  10. Pingback: Magic Kingdom Central Plaza Construction Update – March 2014 | The Disney Blog

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