Magic Kingdom Update – Part I

Since moving here in 2005, I can’t remember a busier time for construction at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. I’m always happy to see tarps up around a building because it means that building is getting some much needed TLC. But buildings have two sides and it seems the insides of certain attractions are being allowed to fall into disrepair. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s part one of a two part pictorial romp through the Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney this weekend.

The tarps are down around the Main Street Confectionery. It features a new red, white, and blue scheme, which works well in Town Square. The roofing appears to be more detailed as well.

There is some art deco/nouveau work on its neighbor facade that’s evocative of the seaside pier. I like it, but the bright colors really stand out considering its pale green neighbor.

I always keep my eyes open for new t-shirts and such. I really liked this new one from Space Mountain.

And this one from Splash Mountain caught my eye as well (although it may not be exactly new). There was a time not too long ago when Disney was ending all the attraction specific merchandise. But it’s back and better than ever.

Lots more below the jump:

I road Splash Mountain because I wanted to see for myself the sad state of affairs that’s been reported around various fan boards. This was the condition of the log I was loaded into. Not a good sign. Indeed, the reports are true. Many of the audio animatronics are in various states of disrepair. Some of the rides other effects are also broken.

It wasn’t too long ago that Splash was down for an extended repair. To see it look this bad so quickly is perplexing. You’d think Disney wouldn’t want to have the attraction down unless they’re really fixing them. Especially when it’s an E-Ticket attraction. But the bad show at Splash right now is so awful it really needs to be closed until it can get the TLC it needs. Otherwise, it might as well be a log ride at any amusement park with cheesy stationary figures and broken effects. To leave it like it is now, dilutes and cheapens the experience.

As the same time we are seeing the return of the original Enchanted Tiki Room. Which, as Martha Stewart would say, is a good thing. No obvious changes from the outside except for this wall that’s pushed forward to beyond the queue area. A brief glimpse of powertools through a windblown tarp revealed that there are some serious carpentry upgrades going on here. They’d better be working fast as they’ve promised an August 2011 opening.

No word if an interactive next-gen queue is coming to Tiki, but the interactive queue at Winnie The Pooh has seen better days. They’ve never been able to get the Tigger Bounce area to function properly and safely. Many of the interactive games are broken.

And the props are showing signs of serious wear and tear. Some of these have been around for at least six weeks without being repaired. Disney builds these things with no idea for how to maintain them when they actually are encountered by guests. That’s not to say they shouldn’t try, but perhaps they need to build easy replacement into the idea. SeaWorld has done just that with their floating artificial reefs. The concept would work wonders here to.

Speaking of queues. The new bathrooms that will be built at the old Fantasyland Skyway station are getting closer to reality. They’ve removed all the wooden sections of the old station and all that’s left now are the foundations. The clock tower is still there, for now. It would be nice if it could be worked into the new design somehow.

Belle’s Meet & Greet is coming along. In fact, this whole section looks ahead of schedule. There does seem to be a lot of fake rock around the whole of the Fantasyland Expansion. it’s not a natural berm at all. But it’s also too early to judge as it will probably be softened by some trees at some point.

The Circus Tent for Dumbo is also very advanced. Storybook Circus is supposed to open in 2012. So they’ve still got a lot of work to do. But it appears to be on pace.

There doesn’t seem to have been much progress on the Great Goofini loading and unloading area. But I think I do see a few new studs in place and some roof work going on.

That ends our tour for today. Tomorrow night, I’ll post the second half.

19 thoughts on “Magic Kingdom Update – Part I”

  1. Our passes expired in April and we chose not to renew for the first time in a long time, our last several visits to MK, were….well SAD. I understand construction has to happen, and I can’t wait to see the new attractions, but the place was no longer magical. Also in HORRID disrepair is the Buzz Lightyear ride, the seats are just plain gross, half the guns dont work and the lighting inside the ride was always wrong.

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  3. We visit WDW about once a month, and of all the parks, we spend the least amount of time in MK. It’s sad to see so many things falling to the wayside, especially with such an important attraction as Splash Mountain.

  4. When Pooh’s new queue opened I could see the the destruction coming a lot sooner than later. Not enough cast members to keep kids and their families from destroying props, climbing where they’re not supposed to, being too rough, etc. We will see the same problems with the HM queue soon also.

    My family takes a trip to WDW every 12-18 months. But with all the improvements/additions coming to DL, we will be heading west next year, not south (we live in Ohio). That being said, I believe the Magic Kingdom will get its stuff together – it just takes a lot longer than any of us would prefer.

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  7. I was wondering if they’re trying top push the Dumbo ride forward since its one of the first rides you encounter in the Storybook Circus area and could have a potentially earlier opening from the rest of the area. That way they could have at least one ring of the new Dumbo running and get rid of the existing one and begin whatever construction work they need to get going on over by the old one. Disney seems to be on top of things like this for construction staging and I wouldn’t be surprised if they do that and open the rest of the Storybook Circus area later.

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  9. I have to say that this construction has maybe hurt them. It seems to be too much at once. I went back this past may, and it wasn’t the same. I’ve been going to Disney since I was about 5 years old, and I have to say this last time I went was probably the worse ever. The “guest service” wasn’t terrible. Had a fight with a coordinator that called himself a manager, too bad he didn’t realize he was fighting with an ex-castmember who knows the difference. An item my friend bought from one of the stores was stolen out of our room. It just wasn’t right. I’m hoping come then end of next year when most of this construction is done, they have a basic training course for their castmembers to re-teach them what it is to be Disney.

  10. If you want to see the real Magic just visit Disneyland, in California. I was in Florida at WDW in May and I found all of these things to be true. I think the East coast should take notes from the West. They do an amazing job of keeping up with repairs. Splash Mountain just reopened after a 6-month refurb. And I rode it before they closed it and it was in very good condition. I found the Magic Kingdom in Florida to be a mediocre version of DLR.

  11. Interesting. I can remember just a few years back when the opposite could be said of the East Coast and West Coast parks. Disneyland had seen better days and the customer service was often lacking. Magic Kingdom was better maintained and presented the best experience. Then, from all indications, the folks in the Burbank office acknowledged the issues and began addressing them. Now, DL is again a well-oiled machine.

    Having seen some of this progression first-hand, I am confident that the same will happen in Orlando. However, I admit it is difficult to have much patience when I hear of these challenges in MK.

  12. We were there in April and had a wonderful time despite all these things. Maybe you people that go twice a year and take it for granted should go west and give more people a chance to experience the magic that don’t get to go as much. It sure would help crowd control. Think about it.

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  14. And the sad part is that top leaders like Tom Staggs have been so blinded into thinking that all of the “experts” in running parks and resorts are found only at WDW. Maybe the thinking needs to change and the leadership power shift to the property that seems to be doing most everything right from maintenance to entertainment to guest services – Disneyland Resort.

    Wake up Tom and realize these poor decisions being made in Florida. New direction and new leadership is needed to oversee WDW.

  15. I went to both the east coast parks and the west coast parks last year. I came away from the experience enjoying DL and DCA far more. The parks were kept in far better condition, so I plan to return to DL/DCA next year after the construction settles. And I will probably stay at a hotel down the street.

    The west coast parks are just better maintained and the rides are practically on top of one another. If I had to transport stuff from the east coast to the west, I would bring over the Disney World chefs. Food service is 10x better at Disney World. And I’d bring over Islands of Adventures. I had a far better experience at the Universal parks than the Disney parks last year, so if I do go back to the east coast, I’d probably spend a weekend hitting the universal parks and eating at downtown Disney.

    My bad experiences were staying at the resorts on both coasts. While the bed was pretty good at the Disneyland Hotel, the room smelled like mildew, so I spent my last evening at the Hyatt down the street, which was a far better experience and cheaper.

    I stayed at Saratoga Springs (for four nights) and Caribbean Beach Resort (for one night) at Disney World. Both rooms had awful beds, which is horrible since my girlfriend has a bad back. And I will never, ever stay at the CBR again. It was like staying in a Motel 6. Awful!

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