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Magic Kingdom Photo Update

prince eric castle in new fantasyland

We’re back from the Magic Kingdom with another photo update. We check in on the progress around New Fantasyland, spot a number of new refurbishments going on in and around the park, and look at a few outstanding maintenance issues. Once again, based on the feedback from the last update, we are again using Google+ Hangout to record this video. It’s best viewed on full screen:

If you want to take a closer look at any of those photos, you can view them on our Google+ photo album.

Below the cut is a video Disney World created to inform its cast members about the Storybook Circus and New Fantasyland expansion. It contains some amazing footage from the other side of the construction walls and inside the rides and restaurants.

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Big Thunder Mountain Railroad Opens for Test After Rehab

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The Magic Kingdom’s popular western themed roller coaster reopened today after a months long rehabilitation process. The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad had extensive work done to its track, show scenes, primary queue, and lighting.

Where the queue was a tightly formed switchback that was seldom fully utilized, the new queue is better themed but shorter. It still has switchbacks, but the queue is wider and there are added show scenes. Also new to the queue is air conditioning. The new wider queue seems to be a conscious decision to accommodate American’s new wider body shapes.

I’m a little concerned about some of the new railings in the queue, they seem designed to cause welts on the heads of young children at the right height. Additionally, there are random boxes in the queue that have already become defacto benches. Without fastpass a full length queue was a wait of less than 30 minutes. Adding in Fastpass and the standby queue could be very long.

In the ride itself, many safety rails, paths, and lights have been added. The new LED safety lights really stood out as we rode, but I’m sure that over time they’ll fade into the background like other safety features. With the exception of some lighting a good attempt was made to theme the added safety features. Most show elements got a general makeover and many effects that haven’t worked in a long time are now functioning fine, even the geyser in the exit queue:

Big Thunder is supposed to return to regular operation on Monday and is not guaranteed to be open between now and then.

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New Segment added to The Magic, The Memories, & You – The Magic Kingdom Castle Projection Show

A new section celebrating summer has been added to the popular Castle Digital Projection show called The Magic, The Memories, and You! It kicks off with Phineas & Ferb and includes segments with The Lion King and Ariel, the Little Mermaid (not coincidentally two characters opening up at the Art of Animation Resort, I’m sure).

The Magic, The Memories, and You! plays at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World.

Concept art for the show below the jump:

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Magic Kingdom Weekend Update – Part I

Had a great time in the Magic Kingdom today (once I got into the MK at least). There are plenty of noteworthy changes at the park: the new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom was open for guests in testing mode, construction was going full bore, and a few surprises were in order. This is a long update with 28 pictures. So I broke it up into two parts. But it might become three or more, who knows. Stay tuned.

Alright then. On with the show.

We arrived at the TTC only to find the Express and Resort monorail lines down. Everyone was being directed to the ferry boats. Without knowing how long the monorails would be down for, we decided to take the ferry.


A giant crane hanging over Cinderella Castle is not really what you want to see when you’re arriving at the Magic Kingdom.


However, when you’re arriving via ferry boat, this is an even worse sight — a ferry still in the dock. We didn’t have to wait as long this week as we did last week (about 6 minutes of waiting this time, about 12 minutes last week). But even more frustrating was the fact that both monorail lines came back to life while we were stuck in the middle of the lake and started delivering guests from TTC to the main entrance ahead of us.

With both a monorail and a ferry arriving at the same time bag check lines were long. I chose a shorter queue, but ended up waiting even longer than most as the Security Guard actually found something prohibited in a bag a few people in front of me. A small glass bottle of alcohol (serious, sneak it in in your pockets or a plastic container if you have to people. You’re not frisked, just your bags) and a mid-sized kitchen knife. There was also a little bit of a language barrier. Everything was handled professionally, but with only limited bag check lines open, it was just upping my frustration level to stuck in a line that was not be moving.

I know we hit the trifecta of bad luck, but I have to think that a guest’s arrival at the park is an area of the show still in need of much work. Starting off with a frown on your face is a bummer, you know.


Finally, we saw this sign and I mentally prepared myself for immersion in the magic.

Let’s get into the magic below the jump:

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Behind the scenes of Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid at Magic Kingdom

Disney has released a new video hosted by Imagineer Chris Beatty who gives us a sneak peek at the making of Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid. The video includes some never-before-seen sketches, artist renderings, attraction maps and more, and shares some details on Prince Eric’s castle and the attraction’s creative queue.

Also included is a brief talk by Imagineer Eric Miller with some behind the scenes glimpses of rock work from a few weeks ago.

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State of the Magic Kingdom

I was talking with someone this weekend about the sad state of Splash Mountain, I’m sorry I can’t recall who, and the discussion turned to Magic Kingdom’s VP Phil Holmes. Apparently, Phil believes that the park has serious capacity issues to the point where only… Read More »State of the Magic Kingdom

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…

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