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Walt Disney World Update – Part 1 of 3

This week I have a three part photo update featuring interesting changes, construction, and other fun facts from my recent travels around Walt Disney World. Let’s get right too it.

Yeah, Christmas is here and so is the merchandise. There is the usual selection, and some nice new stuff like this.

More work on the Facades along Main Street. It would be nice if they did something with this space so it sees more use. Nothing major, just a small plus or two.

Props from Sorcerers in the Magic Kingdom continue to pop up around the park. Another one was added near the Frontierland Shooting Gallery. I’ve heard that they’re doing soft testing, but nothing was going on when I was there.

Click image for Larger. The new Dumbo unit is already going in. It’s the unit closer to the train tracks, which I understand will spin counter the direction of the current unit.

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New Fantasyland Imagineer Shares Vision, Timeline Adjusts

Click to view larger size.

Disney has announced some slight updates to the schedule for the phased rollout of the new Fantasyland. The Storybook Circus area will still be the first to start opening up, but it too will open in phases. I also had the opportunity to interview the Imagineer Art Director for the Fantasyland Expansion about how the vision for the Fairytale Forest and StoryBook Circus areas are being realized.

First here is Disney’s recent release on Storybook Circus which will now start opening in phases beginning in early 2012.

Is Dumbo spinning in the wrong direction?

Actually, Dumbo is just reversing decades of flying in counter-clockwise circles. Call it “unwinding,” if you will. And in a new location within Magic Kingdom.

Guests will board Dumbo the Flying Elephant from the lovable critter’s left side — like mounting a horse … and unlike the way guests hop aboard for a whirl at Disney parks on three continents. It is scheduled to begin happening in early 2012 when select experiences in the Storybook Circus neighborhood of New Fantasyland debut just northeast of Mad Tea Party.

Also early 2012, the existing Dumbo attraction near Prince Charming Regal Carrousel will close, be refurbished and be moved to a location in Storybook Circus next to the new Dumbo attraction. The result when completed later in 2012: double Dumbos, one going this-a-way, one going that-a-way … a real circus act, if you will.

There also will be a “big top” that serves as a queue area for the popular attraction. It will feature a variety of interactive experiences currently being developed.

Two other Storybook Circus elements planned for opening early in the year are The Barnstormer and Fantasyland Station. Guests who enjoyed The Barnstormer at Goofy’s Wiseacre Farm will be happy to know the junior coaster thrills of that attraction are back with a thematic change: Goofy has sold the farm and is now a circus stunt pilot and magician, The Great Goofini. The completely re-imagined train station will serve as the gateway to Storybook Circus and all Fantasyland points beyond.

Below the jump is The Disney Blog’s interview with Imagineer Chris Beatty:

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Magic Kingdom Update – Ch-ch-ch-changes ( Part II )

Took a walk around the Magic Kingdom on Saturday and noticed quite a few changes coming to the park and surrounding resorts. Part one of the update had the Fantasyland Expansion updates, and this second part contains a look at something that may make as big an impact as all of new Fantasyland. As usual, click on the photos for a larger version.

Powder blue walls surround the beach area that will soon become a noisy construction zone next to the Wedding Pavilion.

They’ve installed a gate and some construction fencing (meant to keep spills from leaking outside the construction area), but no work on expanding the plot of land that will eventually hold the tower and partially block the view of the Wedding Pavilion.

Plans are under way to divide the Magic Kingdom parking lot into two zones. Two tram loading zones will have distinct colors and names. In theory this will help guests find their cars faster at the end of the night. In practice, not so much as anyone at Disneyland can attest. Guests still find themselves in the wrong parking lot at the end of the night.

Lots more, including details on a new game coming to the Magic Kingdom, below the jump:

Read More »Magic Kingdom Update – Ch-ch-ch-changes ( Part II )

Magic Kingdom Update – Ch-ch-ch-changes ( Part I )

A quick trip through the Magic Kingdom on Saturday revealed a number of changes coming to the park. There are also a few fun new pieces of merchandise to peruse. Click on any image to see a larger version. Now, let’s get started.

The park is looking festive with plenty of Halloween decor everywhere.

City Hall joins in the fall themed fun.

There did appear to be just a bit less of the holiday themed decor this year than before. But it was still a few days ahead of the 1st official Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party, so more may be coming.

A lot more to see below the jump:

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New Fantasyland Expansion Concept Art Released

A couple pieces of new concept art depicting two attractions and a restaurant that’s coming to the Magic Kingdom as part of the New Fantasyland Expansion. Starting in 2012, guests will be able to experience parts of the expansion with new rides coming online all… Read More »New Fantasyland Expansion Concept Art Released

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…

Read More »Magic Kingdom Update – Part II