Magic Kingdom Update – Part II

Tonight I’m continuing my walk through Magic Kingdom and a bit of Downtown Disney. Part One covered much of the Fantasyland Expansion, problems with Splash Mountain, Skyway Station Removal, and more. Part two looks at some of the details that Disney is getting right.

When the Fast Pass for Mickey & Minnie and The Princesses first opened there were signs over head indicating which of the four machines gave out tickets for which queue. However, the machines themselves had no signage. This led Disney to a very simple indicator. Just place a Princess Mickey Hat on the Princess machines and a regular black Mickey Mouse Ears on the Mickey & Minnie machines. While cute, that was probably not the most effective way to do it. They’ve finally added new permanent signs to the FastPass machines.

As nice as these signs are, they’re still not doing much for traffic to the Town Square theater. Both fastpasses were running barely 40 minutes into the future and the wait times for the Princesses were never longer than 35 minutes and Mickey never much longer than 15.  I’ve heard that they’re already considering adding a tent to Storybook Circus for Mickey and Minnie and returning Town Square theater to meeting space for special events.

A new food cart appeared in Fantasyland a bit ahead of schedule for its eventual location in the Beauty and the Beast section of the Fantasyland Expansion. Maurice’s Amazing Popping Machine is great because it tells the story of Maurice being an inventor. It also has a wonderful specially themed menu and other fun touches. If they have to have outdoor vending, I hope it looks like this instead of…

…the non-themed collection of carts you see at the bottom of this photo. Bad as that clutter is, I want to direct your attention up into the sky where the roof is getting some TLC. The whole building has been getting some updates and it looks much improved for the effort.

The work continues around the corner near ‘it’s a small world.’

Heading over to Adventureland, here’s a great example of Disney continuing the story with little details. The average guest may not notice this, but if they do, they’ll feel like they’re right in the middle of a story from Pirates of the Caribbean. Gunshot marks lead up a stairway to a door marked ‘Private Residence’ with obvious Pirate garb hanging outside. An example of how Disney still knows how to do things right.

Tony’s Town Square Restaurant finally has an electric sign back. It looks good. Unfortunately it unbalances the facade of the Town Square Theater building.

Frontierland has new tarps up over a couple of buildings. Pecos Bill is covered, but still open for business.

While the Frontierland Shooting Gallery is covered, but not open for guests.

The old sign for Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress has returned . A wireframe temporary sign was in place for a bit, while the old sign was repaired. There is a significant change, however. It does away with the date that use to be found in the top ‘gear’ (seen in orange in the photo). No idea if that’s gone forever. While it would save Disney a small amount of money by not changing the date every year, I’m not sure this is the issue to make a stand over.

According to accounts on Twitter the other day a couple of the audio-animatronics on the attraction had malfunctions or leaks. I had noticed that the movement wasn’t as pronounced recently. AA’s get that way without occasional large scale rehabilitation. No word if that’s coming soon.

The larger issue is that Disney has a tough decision to make with the COP. It’s definitely a classic attraction that fits the brand of innovation most associated with the vision of Walt Disney. In that recent HBR interview Bob Iger made a point of saying that the Disney Company of today was following in Walt’s path by continually innovating. And yet, this attraction sits as a monument to the vision of the mid-1990s. It’s a bit hypocritical of Iger to say that in the interview and leave the COP abandoned in Tomorrowland. Makes you wonder if there is real weight behind his words.

Tomorrowland is not the place for a museum dedicated to the past, so Disney needs to either update that final scene or come up with a new attraction that honors the original, but is truly innovative. Of course, they could ship the attraction off to a museum somewhere and use that space for something entirely new. Let us know your preference in the comments.

Moving to Downtown Disney, you’ll notice the AMC Theater has a new color scheme. This is now the only entrance for the regular movie theaters. The Dine-In entrance is across from Planet Hollywood.

Work continues on the Harley Davidson store location. That familiar burnt orange color has now made an appearance.

Also making an appearance are those giant plastic flowers from the EPCOT Flower and Garden festival.

Disney does not seem to have a viable plan for the Pleasure Island section of Downtown Disney. Ideas have been released (Hyperion Wharf), leaked, pitched and construction has even started on certain projects only to have all of them halted to under go revisions. Pleasure Island continues to be a place where most guests just pass-through. There’s no real flow to the area. Shopping exists on one side and entertainment on the other. PI has no real identity of its own.

One of the ideas I think would work the best is to just re-open many of the pavilions. Bring back the comedy club, at least one dance club, and (don’t hate me here), level the buildings that house Adventurer’s Club (it’s never coming back) and BET Soundstage. Then turn that area into a stepped sitting area for a nightly fireworks show to take place on the lagoon.

Previously: Magic Kingdom Update – Part I.

22 thoughts on “Magic Kingdom Update – Part II”

  1. Even though this would likely never happen due to the logistics involved, I have often thought that if the Carousel of Progress were ever to leave the Magic Kingdom it would find a perfect home at The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan. The museum’s mission states, “The Henry Ford provides unique educational experiences based on authentic objects, stories, and lives from America’s traditions of ingenuity, resourcefulness and innovation.” The Carousel of Progress would fit nicely within that idea. There even is a unique Disney connection through the influence Henry Ford’s Greenfield Village had on the design of Disneyland. The museum also hosted a special Disneyland exhibit a few years ago.

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  5. Yes, you will probably get a bit of flack for the Adventurer’s Club statement, but I think it’s a great idea. Fireworks are a big part of Disney, and they could definitely put on a small scale show in that spot. To me, that’s better than another lousy restaurant or shop…

  6. COP – One of the highlights of MK is COP. We have been visiting from the UK since 1980 – with and without kids – and we all enjoy the experience. Please do not move it – Please update the last show for my children’s children to enjoy.

  7. Our visits to WDW have been numerous, and we are very fortunate! No matter how big or small the group, ages, etc. We have ALWAYS LOVED COP!!! I agree that the ending needs to be updated, but am hopeful it will not go anywhere!!!!

  8. update the last scene to todays reality. who wants to see a bunch of aa`s sitting around texting others while the tv plays some drivil.

  9. It wouldn’t be met with a lot of fan resistance if COP were moved over to Epcot Future World. Might be a bit odd, seeing something about the past growth of technology combined with the future of where we’re going… but it’s a better idea than closing it down entirely

  10. I see no reason to ever open one of the clubs again if the Adventurer’s Club isn’t included. For starters it was the only one that consistently made revenue (I’m not going to say profit for sure). The other clubs brought too much seediness to Pleasure Island. I guess it really wasn’t the clubs fault but when they started letting people into Pleasure Island for free and charging per club instead of the old ticketed method. There really isn’t any logical reason for AC to close besides that Disney just wanted to gut the entire area for shops.

    Whatever Pleasure Island or Hyperion Wharf becomes, it needs to have some night time entertainment. That should be the draw of PI/HW: bring guests down there after the parks are closed. Shops just aren’t going to do that.

    Regarding Carousel of Progress, it’s one of my favorite attractions but it needs to leave MK. You can’t give it to some museum that isn’t connected to Disney. What possible way of staying fixed does it have in Dearborn?? If you have to send it to a museum, do it to the Walt Disney family museum.

    However we all know that EPCOT should be it’s home. Either create a place for it while modifying it with a new final scene (Maybe in a space home?) or gut part of the horrible Innoventions and make it as a testimonial to Walt’s vision. I would really love to see the new generation of AA go into it with the attraction 4 scenes. They could just re-create 2 or 3 of the scenes. Then totally blow us away with the last scene.

  11. COP is what Tomorrowland is all about! Our future is in our past and this attraction showcases the development of technology both through the ages and of AAs. I definitely agree that the last room should be updated. That would obviously make the ride more relevant while keeping it’s classic integrity. Of all years to discuss getting rid of such a vintage attraction, MK’s 40th Anniversary is not the time!

  12. It breaks my hurt to think of the eventual close of COP because it’s been such a big part of our family trips. I definitely agree that the last segment should be updated for it to stay in Tomorrowland. I liked an above comment about moving it to EPCOT too… that would be great, but then it would still have to be updated. It’s a tough choice but it’s such a part of WD history… but Tomorrowland really needs to be better defined at some point. :-/

    Great updates. Thanks so much for sharing them!

  13. That is the best idea for Pleasure Island I have heard. I could care less about The Adventuerer’s Club, but I want the Comedy Warehouse back SO BAD! A fun and exciting improv show is just what that area needs!

  14. It’s dificult to think whats best for COP. I personally love the ride, probably my favorite ride in all of Magic Kingdom. And though there are alot fo fans like myself out there , there are also lots of park visitors who go see COP for quick nap or to get out of the sun for a bit.

    I hope it stays. I love the nostalgic feel of it and it really makes you see innovation from a different light. Would be nice to be updated with better technology.

    On a side note, Just got back from visitng Universal Studios and I must say they’re beating Disney to some great new concepts such as the technology behind the Harry Potter ride as well as the best meet & greet i’ve ever experienced with Donkey from shrek.

  15. I believe they should move and restore the Carousel of Progress to the old Wonders of Life pavillion in EPCOT. Put the Carousel, a Blue Sky/What’s Next/Imagineering exhibit and maybe even the full city of tomorrow model under one roof as the new World of Progress pavillion. It adds that final component from Walt’s World’s Fair contributions to EPCOT (Test Track with the track around the buidling looks a bit like the Magic Skyway with those dinos in UoE, the World Showcase as it’s a small world, and the American Adventure is a bigger version of Lincoln).

  16. I think the charm of COP is that the end is the future vision of the 90s. The great things about the 60s was all the specials about the “future” and the fact that it was at times ridiculous, and at other times mimicked things we actually have today. COP is my favorite attraction at MK, and I know I’m not alone. The only reason I’d be okay with it being updated is because that’s what Walt would have wanted. But, to be completely gutted into a new attraction? Why don’t they just leave classic rides alone. Look what happened to Tiki Room. If it HAD to be moved – I agree with the other commenter, Future World in Epcot would be okay. But it shouldnt be gone or greatly changed.

  17. I have long believed that the best thing Disney could do with the Carousel of Progress is move it to Epcot. They should transform the Wonders of Life Pavilion into a replica of the General Electric Progressland Pavilion that Walt Disney produced for the 1964 World’s Fair where the Carousel of Progress was originally located. If they kept the attraction updated, with a true vision of the future at the finale, then I think it would fare well there. In addition, Epcot could really use the revitalization it would bring to Future World.

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  19. COP is one of my favourites at the MK and I really hope it stays there. It is one of the last Tomorrowland attractions that hasn’t a Pixar or “Fantasyland” feel to it. It is still true to the Tomorrowland-Theme. Luckily Space Mountain and PeopleMover are sort of what they used to be as well. Of course COP would need an updated finale. Be it the present time or go to one of those Horizons scenes to show a possible future.
    With the new Fantasyland extention and the Princess overload it would be nice to have a Tomorrowland that is more about the future and visionary concepts as it was ment to be originally.

  20. I’d be sad if the COP left.. I remember riding that with my family, and my mom took a flash picture, even though she was told not to, and the ride stopped. And we were stuck there, for what seemed like forever, while other passengers glared, but it was hilarious :)

  21. I can understand how one may see Bob Iger’s comment about The Disney Company “following in Walt’s path by continually innovating” as being hypocritical, but think about this: The Carousel of Progress is one of the few rides we still have around today that Walt Disney himself had a hand in. To change it would be changing an important part of Disney history. If it were to be moved to a museum where it would be properly cared for, I could say good-bye. Otherwise, leave it as it is for generations of Disney fans to come.

    Also, an Adventurers Life is best!! KONGALOOSH!!

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