Main

Magic Kingdom Archives

July 17, 2013

Construction Update Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Magic Kingdom

Construction on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in the Magic Kingdom continues to move forward at a steady pace. The attraction is scheduled to open 2014.

Here are photos from July 15th, walking around the construction walls starting at the new Fantasyland Entrance. (Click on the photo for a larger image)

mine-train-july-2013-a.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-b.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-c.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-d.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-e.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-f.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-g.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-j.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-k.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-l.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-n.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-o.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-p.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-r.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-s.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-u.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-v.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-w.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-x.JPG

mine-train-july-2013-y.JPG

RELATED LINK:
Eric Jacobson, Senior Vice President of Creative Development for Walt Disney Imagineering, talks about the Fantasyland expansion at Walt Disney World, including the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and The Great Goofini roller coaster.


May 3, 2013

Monstrous Summer Preview: Princess Fairytale Hall

debkomabanner.jpg

During the "Monstrous Summer" media event, I had the chance to get a little peek behind the construction walls surrounding the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and talk to Imagineers about the work being done on both the coaster, due to open in 2014, and the Princess Fairytale Hall, which will debut sometime later this year.

Alas, no photos were permitted behind the wall, but we do have some new artists' renderings of what Princess Fairytale Hall will look like. I was also able to get a few more details about the meet-and-greet location, which will be approximately on the site of the former Snow White's Scary Adventures, from Imagineers Pam Rawlins, assistant producer, and creative designer Jason Grandt.

According to Rawlins, when guests enter Princess Fairytale Hall they will be immersed into the "majestic world of the princesses."

"It will all be very elegant, with dark wood panelings and elegant finishes, with a bit of a gothic motif, so you really feel like you're in the castle," she says. "You will be a royal subject meeting your princess."


princess-fairytale-hall-1.jpg


princess-fairytale-hall-2.jpg


"You'll enter through a tournament-type structure into the castle, and you'll pass our stained-glass windows that feature scenes and characters from classic movies, like Jacques and Gus-Gus from Cinderella," Rawlins explains. "Then you'll go through our Royal Gallery. This is a very airy, very open, high-ceilinged gallery, with our framed princess portraits and chandeliers, all very elegant."

Rawlins says you will then be received by your princess, and will be directed to one of two rooms, where you will meet up with either Cinderella and a friend, or Rapunzel and a friend.

"You won't know until that day who the friend will be," Rawlins adds.

Grandt notes that the Princess Fairytale Hall, while similar in purpose, does not borrow anything from the new Fantasy Faire character meeting spot that opened recently at the Disneyland Resort.

"I haven't even seen the California location yet," he says, "though I hope to this coming weekend."

Grandt also emphasizes the "opulent" furnishings and appointments the new Hall will have, particularly mentioning the princess character portraits that have been created.

"They are really beautiful," he adds, "I think you will really enjoy seeing them."



Although construction on the new meet-and-greet location seems to be moving apace, neither Grandt nor Rawlins would be more specific as to an actual opening date. "Later this year" was all either of them would say.


princess-fairytale-hall-3.jpg


princess-fairytale-hall-4.jpg


Guess we'll have to wait patiently to meet our new Royal Highnesses! But it will certainly be nice to have them all in one place, in Fantasyland.


December 7, 2012

New Fantasyland Grand Opening

debkomabanner.jpg

I haven't been to "the World" since early October, so I've missed all the little sneak previews Disney's been holding to tease us all with tastes of the new attractions and other features of the expansion to the theme park's beloved Fantasyland. It was so difficult to read everything about the new Enchanted Tales with Belle, the Beast's Castle and the Be Our Guest Restaurant, as well as the new Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, knowing it would be months until I finally had the chance to experience them all for myself.

Finally, as of today, I can tell you both that the New Fantasyland is open and, even better, I am even happier to report that I've seen it and LOVE it!

The opening festivities actually started Wednesday night with a press event that allowed members of the media and their guests to explore the area on their own. But the formal ribbon-cutting and "Grand Opening Celebration" occurred today, December 6, with the expected Disney fanfare.

First thing this morning, members of the media attended a small ribbon-cutting ceremony in Belle's Village, with chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs and two special guests -- actress Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays Snow White on the popular ABC-TV show "Once Upon a Time," and singer (and former American Idol winner) Jordin Sparks. The festivities were overseen by Mickey Mouse, donned in appropriately regal Fantasyland-themed attire.

ribbon-cutting-1.jpg

ribbon-cutting-2.jpg

ribbon-cutting-5.jpg

ribbon-cutting-4.jpg

ribbon-cutting-6.jpg

With a burst of dove-shaped confetti, the ribbon leading to the new section of Fantasyland was cut and the attention turned to the Castle Forecourt Stage.

ribbon-cutting-7.jpg

The more elaborate and more public grand opening celebration on the Castle Forecourt Stage, featured Jordin Sparks singing a Disney tunes medley and performing with a new Magic Kingdom act, the Giggle Gang -- circus clowns!

After this performance, Staggs took the stage once more for the dedication of the New Fantasyland.

"Walt Disney once promised that Disneyland, and by extension all of our parks, would never be complete as long as there is imagination left in the world," Staggs said. "New Fantasyland is a spectacular addition to the Magic Kingdom that delivers on Walt's promise. We're thrilled to take guests beyond the walls of Cinderella Castle to discover new worlds featuring iconic Disney characters and stories in ways that are more imaginative, more interactive and more immersive than ever before."

Following the ceremony, the media had the opportunity to attend a short panel discussion on "The Story Behind New Fantasyland," held in the Diamond Horseshoe in Frontierland. Panel members included Imagineer Chris Beatty, who has overseen the development of the New Fantasyland project; Maribeth Bisienere (vice president of Food and Beverage and Merchandise Operations Integration for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts); and Phil Holmes, vice president of the Magic Kingdom.

panel-3.jpg

panel-2.jpg

panel-4.jpg

panel-1.jpg

The discussion centered on the challenges the team faced in bringing the New Fantasyland to fruition, including the controversial decision to serve alcoholic beverages at the new Be Our Guest restaurant in the Beast's Castle. Below, Beatty talks about the inspiration behind the New Fantasyland project.

And with that, the New Fantasyland is finally open! I'll be sharing more photos and my thoughts about the new features of this brand new section of the park in this week's AllEars newsletter. Until then...

DISCLAIMER: I was a guest of Walt Disney World at the New Fantasyland Press Event.

September 30, 2012

Big Top Souvenirs Opens

debkomabanner.jpg

I took a break from Epcot's Food and Wine Festival today to run over to the Magic Kingdom and see what progress had been made on Fantasyland since my last visit (back at the end of July).

I was happy to find that the new shop, Big Top Souvenirs had opened in the Storybook Circus section, so I spent some time wandering around and checking out the fantastic details.


storybook-circus-sign.jpg


storybook-circus-sign-2.jpg


big-top-souvenirs-1.jpg

I love the circus tent motif, and they really have carried that theme out to an impressive degree, from the carpeting, made to look like canvas, to the sales desks that resemble circus train cars, to the trapeze and rope ladders suspended from the brightly lit ceiling. I especially liked the cast members' costumes.


big-top-souvenirs-15.jpg


big-top-souvenirs-3.jpg


big-top-souvenirs-10.jpg


big-top-souvenirs-12.jpg


I didn't notice any merchandise that appeared to be specific to this shop, but still, it was all displayed in such a whimsical way it was very appealing.


big-top-souvenirs-2.jpg


big-top-souvenirs-13.jpg


big-top-souvenirs-11.jpg


In the middle of the shop is a snack counter -- Big Top Snacks -- selling the types of goodies you get when you go to the circus: popcorn, cotton candy, caramel corn, slushies and caramel apples. But not just any caramel apples -- these are gourmet apples, with personality.


big-top-souvenirs-4.jpg


big-top-souvenirs-5.jpg


big-top-souvenirs-6.jpg


I watched them making some chocolate-covered apples for a while -- loved that they were in the shape of Mickey, with marshmallows for the mouse ears.


big-top-souvenirs-8.jpg


big-top-souvenirs-9.jpg

After leaving the shop, I wandered over to the other big tent, which will house a character greeting area called Pete's Silly Sideshow. Many thought it would be open this weekend, as well, but apparently its opening has been delayed. The outside of the tent piques your curiosity, though.


petes-silly-sideshow-2.jpg


petes-silly-sideshow-3.jpg

petes-silly-sideshow-4.jpg


petes-sily-sideshow-1.jpg


There were a number of other things in the area that were also new to me, like the covered Fastpass area for Barnstormer and Dumbo, which also has several picnic tables.


storybook-circus-fastpass-1.jpg


storybook-circus-poster.jpg


There were also some new snack carts (although didn't seem to be open as yet) with a brightly colored seating area.


storybook-circus-cart-1.jpg


storybook-circus-seating-1.jpg

Just seeing all these little changes makes me even more anxious for the grand opening of the entire New Fantasyland on December 6!

storybook-circus-sign-3.jpg

October 1, 2011

Fantasyland Construction Update

debkomabanner.jpg

As part of the 40th anniversary celebrations today in the Magic Kingdom, we had the opportunity to speak with Chris Beatty, creative director for the new Fantasyland expansion construction project currently under way in the Magic Kingdom

A few of the highlights that Beatty discussed:

-- While we see the Beast Castle taking shape over the construction walls, it will probably not be the first thing to open in the new Fantasyland. That distinction will probably go to the "circus elements" -- the areas surrounding the upgraded "double Dumbo" attraction. That will be followed by the Beast Castle restaurants, Enchanted Tales with Belle and the new Little Mermaid attraction, and then lastly the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.

-- The restaurant in the Beast Castle will be serving lunch and dinner, with no characters, and will be the signature restaurant for the Magic Kingdom.

-- There will be an animatronic Lumiere (the candlestick from Beauty and the Beast), that will be sort of a next-generation Mr. Potato Head (as seen in Toy Story Mania).

-- The previously announced Pixie Hollow area is no longer being considered as part of this expansion.

Here's the complete interview:


May 10, 2008

Whirlwind Weekend Getaway: Part 2

By Michelle Scribner-MacLean

Beautiful weather was a welcome theme for this entire weekend, after traveling from New Hampshire, where it is still struggling to get out of the 50s. This May weekend was in Orlando absolutely beautiful with temperatures in the mid-80s and abundant sunshine for nearly the entire time I was there. This provided a terrific backdrop for my second full day at the Flower and Garden Festival at EPCOT.

I spent the first part of the day on my own, taking my time and carefully checking out the special exhibits and plants that were highlighted in Future World. I got the chance to speak with two beekeepers, whose booth was located in Future World East, between the Mousegear store and Mission Space. They brought two living hives, samples of honey, and were very willing to talk about the bee-plant relationship, as well as what is involved in keeping hives.

beekeepers


Next I made my way over to Minnie's Butterfly Garden (Can you see a theme here? I'm a science teacher and love learning about bugs!).

minnie.jpg

Sandwiched between two amazing butterfly topiaries, this popular attraction is back with an array of local butterflies including zebra longwings, orange julias, and painted ladies.

butterfly.jpg

It was fairly crowded (with lots of enthusiastic photographers getting shots of these interesting creatures on their native plants. Here's a photo I took of a common buckeye.

Buckeye.jpg


Later in the morning I was joined by my friend, Pat, who had never seen the Flower and Garden Festival. I visit Walt Disney World frequently, but one of the things that I really enjoy is introducing my friends and family to new things that they haven't seen before. Pat was thrilled with all that she saw and kept saying, "I can't believe that I never knew this was here!"

stitch.jpg

At lunchtime we made our way over to Garden Town, former home to the Wonders of Life Pavilion. (I met up with a cast member friend who said that, although they've been opening the Wonders of Life for five weeks a year during the past several years, now it is officially closed for good - or, as we like to say in the Disney fan world - it has become an "extinct attraction").

For Flower and Garden, they've converted this space into sort of an exposition of things related to plants and growing. There are two spaces for lectures and demonstrations (I caught a horticulturist talking about garden irrigation and walked by a group learning about proper ways to plant trees), there is a little garden store, and there is a wonderful 20-minute film which shows behind the scenes footage of how the Disney team of horticulturists prepare for this event.

Pat and I then ventured to the Garden Town Café for lunch. This was a perfect spot for a few reasons. First, it seems that not many people know about this café".so it was not crowded at all. Second, there were some great food choices. We had salads with edible greens and flowers and both agreed that it was really yummy (and I definitely felt as if I'd had my vitamins for the day after eating that).

We spent the remainder of the day walking around World Showcase, where each country featured some special plant arrangement, spice, or fragrant flower collection. The topiaries were just spectacular. I noticed these familiar characters in Germany.

Seven Dwarves


My last morning at Walt Disney World was filled with interesting events. I decided that I could not go home without going to the Magic Kingdom (what trip to WDW would be complete without seeing the castle?). Taking advantage of my planned reservation later in the day, I parked at the Grand Floridian and took an easy monorail ride over to the Magic Kingdom. I spent quite a bit of time in Tomorrow Land and must comment that every time I've gone to the Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor, I've really enjoyed myself. I sort of feel that I don't want to like it - because it's so goofy, but every show that I've been to has been different and really funny. I'd recommend it if you've never been.

Crowd levels we really high, but I decided to venture over to one of my favorites - Splash Mountain - because I had a Fast Pass. Not a good idea. Ten minutes into it, the ride broke down and we were stuck for 25 minutes. Because we stopped at a difficult to access place in the ride, our evacuation required that we climb over the back seats of several boats before being taken backstage to exit (cast members requested that we take no photos). Although this doesn't happen often, it happens occasionally, so here is a tip for parents: make sure that your child has visited the restroom before going on a long attraction. The poor family behind me had a 5 year-old girl who had to go and that 25 minute wait was not a pleasant one for her!

On the way out of Splash Mountain, I had a bit of a celebrity sighting. Cole and Dylan Sprouse (a.k.a. Zack and Cody from the show on the Disney Channel) were walking toward Splash Mountain with a VIP guide. There were so many people in the park, they seemed to be walking around unnoticed. Sadly, I didn't have my camera out when they passed.

The final treat for my weekend was meeting my friend for high tea at the Grand Floridian. This was a new experience for me and I was very excited. The tea is served at a small restaurant at the back of the lobby called Garden View Lounge. The tables are small, the chairs are comfy, the room is sunny, and the wait staff was excellent. Pat and I both ordered three course teas and settled in for a wonderful experience. I treated myself to a Prince Edward's Tea (but shared the pate with my friend since I'm a vegetarian). The first course also came with sherry (a fun surprise), delicious cheese, and an assortment of berries. Later I had scones with Devonshire clotted cream, while Pat, who had ordered the Sally Lunn Tea, had beautiful strawberries and cream. It was a perfect ending to a whirlwind getaway weekend and I highly recommend high tea as a change of pace from the parks and a new experience at Walt Disney World.


You can download your own copy of the Flower and Garden Festival at: http://adisneyworld.disney.go.com/media/wdw/Images2003/languagespecific/eng/nontheme/parks/epcot/events/flowerandgarden/FlowerGarden08_lores.pdf

Take a look at menu for high tea at the Grand Floridian Garden View Lounge.

January 29, 2008

Lou Mongello’s Audio Guide to Walt Disney World - A Review

Lou Mongello's Audio Guide to Walt Disney World:
Your Portable Personal Guide to Main Street, USA

By Michelle Scribner-MacLean


Think about that first time you went to the Magic Kingdom. Remember all of the excitement as you hit Main Street, USA as you entered the Happiest Place on Earth? Perhaps you "rocketed" over to Tomorrowland to get a ride on Space Mountain. Maybe you scooted over to Adventureland to hop aboard a pirate boat? Quite possibly you were drawn right to Cinderella's Castle to get a closer look.

Main Street


Remember the second time you visited? You were probably a bit more confident, took your time"and maybe by your third or fourth trip you felt like a pro".and started noticing all of the details that make Walt Disney World so special?

For many of us, the details are one of the many reasons we keep coming back to the Magic Kingdom. Lou Mongello, author of the Walt Disney World Trivia books, has put his love of the history and details of WDW to create The Audio Guide to Walt Disney World. The recording, which took Mongello about 18 months to write, record, and edit, can be likened to an audio guide that you rent when you go to a blockbuster museum exhibit, the type that gives you more inside information about what you're looking at, listening to, and experiencing.

Main Street Audio Guide Cover


This on-going series, which will eventually feature each the lands of the Magic Kingdom, has high-appeal for those wanting to get the "back story" about the architecture, music, and production aspects of Main Street, USA.

Mongello had several goals in mind when producing this audio guide. "I really want to be able to both enhance the vacation experience for the Guest who is visiting the parks, as well as give people a little bit of the "magic" at home as they prepare for their next visit, or just when they need a little bit of Disney in between their visits." In addition, this recording is an excellent resource for those visitors who are visually impaired, as Mongello's descriptions are rich and detailed.
Production is a strength of Mongello's, who has earned two podcast awards during the past few years. His narration is that of a seasoned tour-guide: the pacing is excellent, allowing the listener time to take in the details being presented.

Another appealing aspect of the production is the ambient noise in the background. Normally, "noise" isn't viewed as a strength - but, as Mongello narrates, he uses "Main Street" activity and music to enhance the topic at hand. You'll hear the Dapper Dans, horse-drawn trolleys, visitors mulling around, as well as rag-time piano players who perform outside of Casey's. Mongello spent days just recording the background sounds that helps the listener feel as if they are really at the Magic Kingdom, strolling down Main Street - you can almost imagine Cinderella's castle off in the distance.

"Spending 7 hours walking up and down Main Street in complete silence, or standing in one spot hoping that the kids in the family of four walking towards me weren't about to have a loud, screaming meltdown was a pretty unique experience," says Mongello.


From the significance of the bricks and signs as you enter Main Street, to Crystal Palace bordering Adventureland, to the hub at the center of the park, Mongello explains some truly interesting aspects of the park encountered by arriving visitors.

You learn the history and the development of many of the buildings. For example, many Disney fans know about the use of forced perspective for the buildings on Main Street, where the scale of the buildings changes on the upper stories to make the buildings appear larger than they really are), but did you know that the Exposition Hall is the only building on Main Street that was built to full scale to block the view of the Contemporary Hotel in the background?

I also learned that Main Street was actually designed to look long and majestic, with the castle in the distance as the visitor enters, but looks shorter as you look towards the train station, with your back toward the castle so that weary visitors would not be overwhelmed by the long walk back down the street after a tiring day at the park.

The names features on the windows on Main Street have long held a fascination for many visitors, but, if you're like me, you might only know handful of names. Mongello details the backgrounds and histories of many Disney notables and legends, as well as how they each had a significant impact on the park's design.

Main Street Windows


Among the many things I learned about these "credits" which "roll" on Main Street was that not all of them are listed on windows. There is actually a door, located at the end of Disney clothiers, which says "Open Since 1971, Magic Kingdom Casting Agency. This door, dedicated in 2005, recognizes the contributions of the thousands of Disney cast members, who are, of course, some of the most important contributors to the success of the park.

Main Street Door Honoring Cast Members


Of this project, Mongello says, "I hope to be able to open people's eyes to the incredible detail, history and story that is present throughout the parks and resorts, introduce them to some true "hidden treasures", and even use it as a planning tool. It was designed not only for the WDW "expert," but for the first-time visitors as well."

He has achieved this - and I highly recommend this audio CD for Disney-lovers of all ages. It is available for $9.99 (plus shipping).


Mongello plans to tackle Adventureland next, as well as the remainder of the lands in the Magic Kingdom. Plans for audio tours of EPCOT are also in the works in the distant future.

September 15, 2007

Haunted Mansion Comes Alive!

All Ears® Team Member Jack Spence (accompanied by Anita Answer and friends) files this report:

The good news: it's still the Haunted Mansion. It has been improved. Some changes are obvious, others would hardly be noticed. They come together to update a wonderful attraction. Somebody who had never been on the attraction wouldn't have a clue of which effects are new, and which are the originals from 1969 / 1971. Even people familiar with the attraction might have trouble.

First, what hasn't changed:

It's still the Haunted Mansion.

The feeling of the attraction is the same.

The entire graveyard scene is the same.

The busts that turn to watch you pass are the same.

The hitchhiking ghosts still join you on the way out.

The ballroom dancers are still backwards.


Rumors that weren't true:

There are no live bats

There is no new shop at the exit.

What is different outside:

Outside, the queue begins near the old fastpass structure. The line has a couple of switchbacks in this area before proceeding under the "13 minute" sign. (The line was long this morning, so all the queue was in use.) The awning over the queue area next to the Rivers of America is wider than it used to be. This provides enough space that they can divide it into thirds - so one line goes in front of the mansion toward the attraction entrance, then it switches back toward the 13-minute sign, then switches back toward the attraction entrance again. The line is narrower than it used to be, so people more naturally fill the available space without worrying about passing (or being passed by) somebody else.

The color of the building is subtly different.

WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


WARNING: SPOILER ALERT AHEAD. DO NOT LOOK/READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU WANT TO BE SURPRISED AT THE HAUNTED MANSION CHANGES. DETAILS OF THE CHANGES INSIDE OF THE ATTRACTION ARE BELOW THIS WARNING.


What is different inside

The first improvement I noticed was the sound. In the stretch room, the ghost host doesn't bounce from one location to another. Rather the voice moves smoothly around the room. Also, some new sounds have been added to improve effects - when the room stretches, it creaks.

The interior of the attraction has been spruced up. For example, the wallpaper in the stretch room is new. The old was looking rather shabby. The frames on the stretch pictures look better.

The lighting throughout has been improved. While the ambient lighting isn't brighter, most anything of interest is better lit. The hanging body above the ceiling is more visible; the ballroom characters are brighter.

Some of the pictures with the eyes that follow you have been moved to the loading area. The hallway where these pictures used to be now has windows on the left side, with lightning outside and the appropriate thunder. On the other side, there are still pictures, some with the eyes that follow you, and some not. But all of the pictures change appearance with the flashes of lightning.

One of the most obvious changes is the area where giant spiders used to be on giant webs. Those are completely gone, replaced by stairways going up, down, and around at odd angles. Some room décor around the area (such as candelabra and small rugs) are also at odd angles, even upside down. You can even see the foot falls as a ghost is walking on the steps. I always thought the spider webs were put in because there just wasn't enough space in this area for anything more. The Imagineers certainly overcame that limitation.

The séance room has more items floating around the outer edges (or are they just better lit?) Madame Leota's crystal ball floats and moves above the table.

The other most obvious changes are in the attic room. The pop-up heads are gone. Similar to the Disneyland HM, there are several pictures, each with the same bride, but each with a different groom. At Disneyland, the faces of the grooms fade out. I believe the effect is supposed to be the same here, but it wasn't working. Finally, you see the bride, holding an ax which appears and disappears.

One of the best effects is that there are eyes (bats' eyes, I think) which watch you from the darkness. Some of the eyes even move. As you move along, the eyes transform into the wallpaper - the same wallpaper with eyes that has been on the walls since opening day.

If you're looking for more information on the Haunted Mansion, Jason Surrell has written a great book on this attraction. The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies fleshes out how the Mansion's 999 grim grinning ghosts were brought to life. Rare early sketches and story concepts, and stunning architectural drawings illustrate the Mansion's evolution as it was constructed at each Magic Kingdom Park around the globe.
The Haunted Mansion: From the Magic Kingdom to the Movies

June 24, 2007

Photo Updates from Walt Disney World

All Ears® Team member Jack Spence was roaming the parks recently, and sent in these photos.

First, an updated view of the space that once was occupied by the North Garden Wing of the Contemporary.

Contemporary Resort
Larger Version Here.

Next the Haunted Mansion entrance, closed for rehab!

Haunted Mansion entrance
Larger Version Here.

Finally, a new figurine for sale at the Watch Shop on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.


Pirate Figurine
Larger Version Here.

May 17, 2007

A Quick Weekend Trip Report

AllEars Team Member Anita Answer files this report:
Just back from a quick Mothers' Day weekend trip to the World, and wanted to share a couple of things:

flower and garden festival


New Fastpasses: Saw them at the Safari and Everest. They're about 1/3 bigger, on heavier stock. The issue date is BIG now, so no cheating! The new FPs also reference the pass you used to get them, and have a ref number printed at the bottom as well as bar code on the sides. I think this foreshadows some other changes coming to the FP system in the near future, but I'm not really sure yet what they may be.

New Show at the Safari: First ride on the Safari on Sunday morning was the old show (Miss Jobson, Wilson, Big Red, Little Red, Shifty- eyed Crocodiles, etc.) I asked an area coordinator when the new show was starting as I thought it already had. He said there are 3 shows right now as they phase the new one in: The old one, the new one with a recorded spiel, and one where the driver does the whole thing. He asked if we wanted to check out the new show (Uh, let me think...YEAH!) and he back-doored us back onto the ride and made sure we got a truck with the new show. By the way, the trucks now have 2 extra rows on the back and a canvas roof. Anyway, back to the new show. Miss Jobson has been made redundant, Wilson has had a voice transplant and now sounds like Mr. Bean imitating Wilson. I was on the floor of the truck I was laughing so hard. It's unintentionally hilarious. What can I say? I'm easily amused.

In the new show, the driver handles most of the spiel now, and the poacher/dead elephant story has been relegated to the back page, with more emphasis on the animals now. Bottom line, the old show was silly and probabably needed some work. The new show is just...blah. The animals are spectacular as usual. Several times during the ride, we were eye to eye with rhinos, giraffes, and ostriches.

Saw the new Monsters, Inc. show. It was not an E Ticket, but not as bad as I had been led to believe. I thought it was cute. The audience interaction was very funny and entertaining.


Saw the new Three Caballeros ride at Mexico. Also cute and well done, but the boat goes too fast for you to catch on to what's going on in the story. You may have to ride it a few times to figure it out.

New queueing in Rock 'n' Roller. The queue is completely different from the entrance to the load zone now. There are three lines: Stand- by, Fastpass and Single Rider. The pre-show area has been rebuilt. The upper tier is now much smaller and for Fastpass guests. The lower tier is larger, and for Stand-By guests.

I rode Everest 12 times on Sunday. This is not my personal best, however, which is 29 times in one day during the first day of previews.

Saw the Nemo show again, and they've changed Crush's human's costume. I liked the old one better (dreds, board shorts, sandals). Now he wears one of those body suits the other puppeteers wear, and it's kind of a washed-out mottled khaki. Now it looks like there's another turtle riding on Crush's back. I thought it looked odd. Bring back the original costume, please?

Went to have lunch with friends yesterday (May 15) at the Yacht Club Galley and found it closed and under rehab! The hostess told me they had only found out at 2:30 on Friday they were closing. They'll re-open on May 23. Meanwhile, lunch is being served at the Yachtsman Steakhouse. The menu is the same. Lots of changes happening to the World's restaurants these days!

Stayed at Shades of Green for the first time and it was pretty much a bust. Although the resort is absolutely gorgeous and the rooms are huge, pretty and spotless, the restaurants were awful, and the guest service was worse. I started my stay on Saturday at lunch in Evergreens where I had an entire glass of iced coffee dumped on me by the server. Did she apologize? No. Did she offer to get me a towel to clean up? No. She didn't offer a free drink to replace the one I was now wearing, and in fact I had to ask for a replacement drink four times from two servers before I got it. Some of my clothing was ruined and my capris were soaked through to my skivvies.We didn't have a room yet, so it made for an uncomfortably damp coffee-scented afternoon. It did not set a good tone for our stay.

Although SoG is located right next to the Poly, it's impossible to get anywhere easily without a car. It's also impossible to park at the TTC and try to get back to SoG without going about 20 miles (slight exaggeration...) out of your way unless you know the Super Secret exit that will not put you on World Drive going south. I knew it was there, but could not find it at 1:00 am Sunday morning in the dark. After three loops around the parking lot, I gave up and went all the way down World Drive and turned around and came back. Frustrating, since you can see the
resort, but you can't get to it! By the way, it costs $5 a day to park at SoG, and your park parking is not covered. Parking is also in a garage, and the rows are so narrow you can't back out without doing a five-point turn.

Yesterday, they left our bill on our door. We opened it and noted that they had charged the wrong rate. We also noted that there was a room service charge we did not make. Then we noted we had been given the next room's bill! So...downstairs my friend goes, which was ok since she had to pick up a package we had delivered from Epcot. The front desk was less than helpful and had to be begged for a new printed copy of the bill. The desk clerk seemed unconcerned about privacy and identity security issues (at a military hotel!? ) and told her not to worry about who might have her bill. The the clerk then rolled her eyes at my friend as if it was all her fault!

Now it was time to get the package...which they had lost. Nowhere to be found. They said if they found it they would call and she could come get it! Uh, no! Shouldn't they mail it at their expense since they lost it? They finally found it and called, shortly before we were due to leave for the airport. "It was sent over to Saratoga Springs. You can pick it up there." Why did they send it to SSR? Needless to say, we both agreed that no matter how inexpensive it was to stay there or how lovely the resort was, we would never ever- did I mention NEVER?- ever stay there again. DND (Definitely Not Disney). It remains to be seen if the package ever makes it home.

Flowers


The Flower and Garden Festival has certainly been pared down this year! The grounds are stunning this year, but the "Festival" part is lacking. The Odyssey Festival Center contained a demo area, a display of arrangements and about 3 vendors. We kept asking if we were missing the rest somehow, but were assured this was pretty much all there was. Outside, there were some kiosks along World Showcase Plaza, and that was about it. They extended the show, and then got rid of 1/3 of it? That didn't make sense to me, but I'm not in charge of Epcot Special Events either.

Yak & Yeti - Second floor is taking shape, but still no roof. I don't think they're going to make that July 2007 deadline for opening. Had a "Farewell To Tusker House" breakfast on Sunday. Goodbye, old friend...

The Magic Kingdom Noodle Station is open 5pm to 9 pm daily. El Pirata in the Magic Kingdom has been open for lunch.

Apparently, the exhorbitant shipping costs did not go over well with guests and shipping costs are back to normal again. I didn't experience this personally, and I'm just repeating what my friend told me she learned when she bought something at Downtown Disney and had it shipped home. YMMV.

Saw the Animal Kingdom Lodge models and chatted with the sales people. I loved the layout, and especially the master bathroom in the new bigger 1 br. (there are two full bathrooms and the unit sleeps 5!) I did not like the general decor, however. Animal prints and dark woods are not to my taste. By the way, the dining table only seats 4, but the unit sleeps 5. Guess someone didn't think that one through?

Davy Jones


Saw Davy Jones on Sunday! We were so close to the stage we could almost touch him. Woohoo! For a 61 year old man, he sure looks good! He can also sing and dance just as well as he could when he was 21. Amazing. Can you believe the Monkees TV show is 40 years old? Special guest was his sister Hazel, sitting two rows behind me. He sang a Swing song for her, and a young couple began swing dancing near the back. He called them up on stage, but they didn't hear him as they were concentrating on their dancing. He walked all the way out into the audience and brought them onstage, then brought his sister out of the audience to dance with him. It was a really nice moment, and nice way to end my Epcot visit.

Now it's back to reality until my next trip.

Anita
Read Anita's Weekly Column!

Return to Blog Central

About Magic Kingdom

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to AllEars® Team Blog in the Magic Kingdom category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

Epcot is the previous category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.