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Walt Disney World Update

I spent the last few days celebrating the holidays with family who traveled far and wide to visit us in Orlando. So, of course, a trip to Walt Disney World was required. Every park had extended hours. The walk-ways were busy, very busy, but I still felt that crowds were a little down from what Disney was prepared for.

There are rumors that this is the last hurrah for Disney before numbers go way down. Cast Members have been told to expert hours to be reduced and many of the expected park improvements have been put on hold. In the past Disney has used the slow times to add capital improvements, so I’m hoping that will continue here. Especially with three big coasters (plus Harry Potter land) opening up down the street. Disney is going to need some sort of answer.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom had waits about equal to the busiest summer day. There is still no additional work on the area that is rumored to become Australia and Camp Minnie Mickey is still there. Entertainment options were fewer this holiday season. But I think the smaller crowds justified that.

Hollywood Studios prepares to host the next big opening with the American Idol Experience. For those applying to participate it could be a whole day experience, but the end result is a free-pass to audition in front of the judges for the big show. The AI experience has taken over quite a bit of real estate in the middle of the park. The park has also finished a nice little landscape upgrade to what was always an ugly spot between the ice cream shop and the entrance to Rock’n’Roller Coaster. The area is still pointless, but at least it looks good now.

At the MK cars were parked everywhere, even in the grassy areas of the parking lot. Inside the park every restaurant possible was open, even the seldom used Veranda area. There was also some work in progress in Tomorrowland at the stage area. Couldn’t tell if it was just a redo of the stage or something more. The best news was that the Cinderella Castle Dream Suite will remain open to be won for 2009. But it is now also open to other uses. Not sure what that means.

Let’s end this update with a flashback to 1972. Check out this 8mm home movie tour around the Magic Kingdom. The Pooh For President parade shows how far Disney Parades have progressed while the rest of the park still has that just-opened smell. There’s even a quick ride on the Monorail and parking lot tram.