Park: Magic Kingdom
at: Disney World
The New Fantasyland is open! The New Fantasyland is open! The
New Fantasyland is open!
the big news at the Magic Kingdom… and, honestly, throughout Disney
World and even Orlando. (You can’t miss the billboards.)
expansion isn’t complete… with the new Seven Dwarfs mine cart
roller coaster attraction still to come. Some things… like trying
to get dinner reservations at the Be Our Guest Restaurant… are
packed. But it is open, and most of it is easily accessible and
available (and impressive).
in the section feature new attractions (the Under the Sea ~ Journey
of The Little Mermaid ride) and dining options (mentioned Be Our
Guest already, Gaston’s Tavern is here as well). For those interested,
Enchanted Tales with Belle is here in the new area, and Ariel’s
me this is an interesting area of the park.
a way, it provides a bit of closure. The 20,000 Leagues Under
the Sea attraction hasn’t been around for quite some time. And
though officially it closed less than twenty years ago, it seems
to me like a long, long time that the attraction hasn’t been around
since in my memories often the ride wasn’t operating during visits.
I only recall riding it once, during my first trip to the Magic
Kingdom in 1979. Once the ride had closed, but before the curtain
dropped, there were character meet and greets done at the old
20,000 Leagues area. But this expansion of Fantasyland really
a way, it provides a bit of recapturing Disney Magic for me. (***
WARNING *** WARNING *** WARNING *** This involves a much more
personal viewpoint.) I grew up with a Magic Kingdom that included
four lands… Tomorrowland, Fantasyland, Frontierland and Adventureland.
(Yes… yes… Main Street… Liberty Square… I know. Stay with me…)
I liked Mickey’s ToonTown Fair during the times I saw it… but
it always felt a bit off to me, as if built to get the parents
and small children off to the side instead of being a major portion
of the park. (And yet… yes… much more Disney than some of the
carnival-like efforts in the Animal Kingdom that aren’t even remotely
Disney to me.) This Fantasyland keeps some of that magic… new
digs for Dumbo and Goofy… while placing them in a decidedly modern
a way, it provides a glimpse of the future. No, it isn’t Marvel
or Pixar driven… and it doesn’t involve the purchase from George
Lucas and company. But it does nod to the power of the strong,
brilliant movie run that returned the name to glory and included
Beauty and The Beast, The Little Mermaid, and
The Lion King. You have Beast’s castle… a Little Mermaid
attraction… and a theme built on these more modern classics. And
better still, with the new Seven Dwarfs attraction coming and
the ride queue at Winnie-The-Pooh still full, the nod to Disney
history and legend is strong as well.
truly is a Fantasyland… a real Disney expansion.
anyway… yes… New Fantasyland is open. And that right now is the
main difference in the park for us from other recent trips. (And,
honestly, from all other trips.)
we went on:
“it’s a small world”
Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Stitch’s Great Escape
Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin
Peter Pan’s Flight
Country Bear Jamboree
Pirates of the Caribbean
Main Street Electrical Parade
we ate… or food we enjoyed:
Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café
best of the best: For this visit, I want to direct the
spotlight at Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid. This
is a terrific addition to the park, and a great piece of the Fantasyland
are soon going to see a new roller coaster in the area… themed
on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs… and the combination of this
with Under the Sea really does hold the promise of an amazing
transformation. Seriously… two brand new, major attractions… a
dining option that is drawing stellar reviews (Be Our Guest)…
and other assorted details, renovations and improvements that
at another time, or in another property’s park, would be incredibly
significant (improvements for Dumbo the Flying Elephant, the addition
of Gaston’s Tavern with LeFou’s Brew). Terrific stuff.
Under the Sea ride certainly isn’t beyond belief technology, but
it wasn’t meant to be. It’s a very family friendly attraction,
with features that are quite well done. As always, the Disney
attention to detail is on full display throughout the experience.
It more than exceeded our expectations.
treasures from the day were all great. Honestly, I look at the
list of the attractions and shows, and there really isn’t a weak
link on this visit. Awesome and classic and new and exciting from
beginning to end.
really need to know (and other observations): Two items
here… (1) FASTPASS distribution, and, (2) lines/crowds.
up… the FASTPASS.
tickets for Under the Sea were printed at a station next to Mickey’s
PhilharMagic. And when I say “next to” I do not mean
in the general vicinity of… I mean the line to get into PhilharMagic
is a step or two away from the machines. It’s not simply near
the attraction… it shares the same façade, and pretty much
literally the same ropes and stanchions. Sweet and easy -- to
get to one… either one… you have to step around the other.
you took 100 people into the Magic Kingdom that had never used
FASTPASS (but understood the “advance reservations” concept),
told them the doors led to Mickey’s PhilharMagic and the machines
distributed FASTPASS tickets, and then asked them what attraction
they though the FASTPASS was for, I would be willing to place
money on the wager that all 100 would tell you they were for Mickey’s
PhilharMagic. Yes… all 100.
this isn’t the only place where FASTPASS is a bit of a treasure
hunt when it comes to matching attractions with distribution points.
It happens in all of the parks. Sometimes the ticket distribution
is in the general vicinity of the attraction… and other times
thing I’ve been wavering on in recent visits is ride lines. I
used to feel like they were getting worse. Disneyland in 2005
was a really eye opener. And yet, I honestly haven’t been destroyed
by them in the past few years, even when I haven’t utilized FASTPASS
been on weekends and holidays.
been during school vacations.
the reality is, lines haven’t been too bad at the attractions.
Most of the time we’ve found waits to be less than 15 minutes.
Maybe one or two lines longer than that, but not many.
focus has been significantly different these days when compared
to trips in 1997 or 1999 (and for me, earlier). It’s been more
than a decade since I last tried to visit every attraction during
a visit to Disney World. And, that is something I really want
to work on during my next few visits in the future. But for now,
my experience with lines has meant always getting to what I’ve
wanted to see… or more precisely, to what we’ve wanted to see…
and we’ve had terrific visits.
but I’m also not crazy enough to think that even with holidays
and school vacations involved that I’ve seen Disney World at its
most nightmarish with lines. Still, even if the lines are there
for New Year’s Eve and summer months… and those times that I have
not visited… the reality is there are still places to completely
feel the presence of other guests during each and every stop.
and fireworks are the two biggees for this one. We’ll get to those
in the “Special praise (or complaints)” section.
this section today though, I want to mention Cosmic Ray’s.
stopped at the Starlight Café for a really quick bite.
That’s just the kind of mood we were in. (Keep in mind, I usually
like using Cosmic Ray’s with a visit to see Sunny Eclipse coupled
with a no frills but easy meal.) And… the crowd, line divisions,
and service were frustrating.
wasn’t bad. It was simply annoying.
Ray’s is the largest counter service restaurant that I know of
in any Disney park. It is huge, and boasts different locations
(three of them, called “Bays”) for different items. For the most
part, the adult items are not offered at every station. In other
words… while for the most part desserts, meals for children, and
beverages could be ordered at each register… if you wanted a burger
and chicken nuggets, you should have to go to two different cashiers
and place two different orders. Chili cheese fries only in Bay
2… Caesar salad with chicken only in Bay 3.
is certainly possible that in recent trips, mainly with Terry
and I simply ordering as a couple (and often just splitting a
single order), we didn’t need to go to different stations. But
I seem to recall it not being busy, and at least once a cashier
let us get something assigned to a different area.
time though… busy… and the four of us actually revised our order
so we only needed to place one. It’s a bit tricky… and I have
seen comments in places from other visitors where they shared
sure it makes easier for the servers assembling orders in the
back… with each bay creating similar plates over and over instead
of a variety of plates item by item… but the service on this day
wasn’t that fast, and I do wonder if it costs Disney a few dollars
when people shrug their shoulders and just don’t order the extras.
unexpected fun we had (or special moments we experienced):
This was a really nice day… straightforward and wall-to-wall fun,
with a great, even pace to it. So I’m not certain there are many
unexpected moments to truly focus on.
such… we head to Splash Mountain for this one.
wasn’t sure about the high-flying, big-dropping, thrill rides.
Terry didn’t want her to leave without getting on at least one
of the Three Mountains though, and she figured that the briar
patch was her best bet.
from that moment, my advice here is simple… don’t be afraid to
try some different things. Yes… pay attention to signs and warnings,
especially if you have a medical condition. That said… Mickey’s
PhilharMagic, Stitch’s Great Escape, Splash Mountain and Country
Bear Jamboree are four very different experiences. And with Disney
involved, this is not a collection featuring a cartoon, spooky
theater, flume, and puppet show.
praise (or complaints): Here’s an edited excerpt from
we hit Main Street and begin walking along the parade route…
more than thirty minutes before the start of the parade… it
becomes apparent just how many people are in the park, and that
almost all of them agree with my can’t-miss assessment.
I’m not heading down this path to be judgmental or even naïve.
Instead, I’m just pointing out that overall, Disney does a pretty
amazing job managing thousands upon thousands of people and
keeping them from stacking up in ridiculous logjams. Think about
million visitors to the Magic Kingdom per year works out to
more than 46,000 people per day.
that registering? One more time… 17 million visitors to the
Magic Kingdom per year works out to more than 46,000 people
each day. And I would bet that easily more than half of those
people have some combination of the Three Mountains, new Fantasyland,
and the Haunted Mansion on their minds today… huge chunks are
planning to visit Pirates of the Caribbean and Jungle Cruise…
and virtually all of them want a parade and fireworks.
with that understanding… how can it be that it never feels like
several thousand adventurers have boarded Peter Pan’s Flight
before you that day, but when the Electrical Parade steps off,
those thousands are all around you?
suppose I don’t have an answer either… but it sure feels like
something Disney should be improving and not something that
gets more difficult.
have to be honest, I have not had troubles with Disney lines
since 2005. It was during that family visit that I recall experiencing
longer lines at attractions. Since that time… sure, there’s
been a 30-minute ride here or there… for the most part it’s
been less than 15-minutes at all but the biggees, and wise use
two or three times of a FASTPASS has meant no waits there either.
I would guess I haven’t waited more than a half-hour for any
ride more than once per park on any visit since 2010.
that isn’t a small sample. I’ve been fortunate to travel down
to Florida with Tigg several times over the past four years.
We’ve seen Christmas and Halloween special events… we’ve gone
on holiday weekends and days celebrating a park’s anniversary…
we’ve been during the day and evening, mid-week and weekends…
we’ve been to all four of the Disney parks, and all but the
Animal Kingdom multiple times in recent years.
today… we showed up well after noon. And by using FASTPASS for
the new ride, we had visited three attractions in roughly the
first 60 minutes. (Mickey’s PhilharMagic, “it’s a small world”
and Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid)…
you do need to stake out a place an hour or so ahead of time.
I know that. If you want to be comfortable, have a preferred
sightline, or get the kids right up front, even slightly over
60 minutes is cutting it close. But if you aren’t being picky…
are willing to stand and stay to the back… look around for different
places along the parade route… there is almost always a corner
against a building or place near a fence that you can get into
with the event just a half-hour away…
parade was good, and worth the aggravation. But I’m sending
a message to Disney… please, please, PLEASE
work on this a bit.”
is worth noting… when something happens just once a day, everyone
shows up at that one time. And the Magic Kingdom has two terrific
examples of this.
a ribbon on the day: I don’t think we could have planned
this day any better. We hit all of the attractions we wanted to
see… managed to add in one or two that were on the possible list…
and got the fireworks and Main Street Electrical Parade to close
out the evening.
the Magic Kingdom is changing. Be Our Guest… I haven’t been… still
requires incredible planning (and possibly even persistence depending
on your approach and needs). The Seven Dwarfs will be bringing
their mine and coaster to the property. The busiest theme park
in the world is getting bigger folks.
I tell you that… for now… places like Hollywood Studios and Animal
Kingdom are one-day locations, the reality is that seeing everything
in the Magic Kingdom (meaning all of the attractions without being
selective and leaving some off the list) will require you to plan
at least two full days. And even then… you’ll never see it all.