Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’ll be visiting the Magic Kingdom to check out progress on all the renovations there then heading over to Downtown Disney to see what’s new. We’ve got a lot to cover so let’s get started with a sunny Saturday morning at Cinderella’s Castle. It looks like it isn’t that crowded from the photo but when I arrived at the gates at 8:45am they’d already started letting people in the park. I knew there was no way I’d get to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train without a long wait so I took my time wandering into the park.
It’s been a while since we’ve been shopping so I stopped into the Emporium. This early in the morning you can see how empty it is in there. You can also hear a bird that flew into the shop and was hanging out!
I also encountered a few of my favorite things on Main Street….
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How adorable is the Mayor of Main Street? He was so cordial when I asked him to stop for a photo. He was just walking along while everyone ran past him in a mad dash for the first ride of the day. If you ever see the citizens of Main Street you should stop and say hello. I also caught the Dapper Dans on their way to the first show of the day!
I’m sure you noticed the green walls behind the Dapper Dan’s. Well, those walls are around about half of the hub. They aren’t as much of an eyesore as you’d think but they’re just part of the renovations going on right now. I can remember a time when they made sure the park looked awesome for peak season, but I guess there really isn’t a “slow” time of year anymore. I’m still surprised to see how much work with going on during the summer.
To keep the balance between news and magic, I thought I’d take you guys with me walking through the castle this week. Are you ready? Here we gooooooo….. (Peter Pan reference anyone? Yes? No? Okay, that one was just for me and Angela…)
Of course, I went directly to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train but even at just a few minutes after 9am the line was over an hour. If you’re planning to head to the parks this summer be sure to get there extra early. Rope drop just keeps getting earlier! I decided to head for Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid but while I was walking along something stopped me in my tracks. The doors to Be Our Guest Restaurant were wide open!
I asked the cast member stationed out front if I could just walk in and take a few photos and she welcomed me into Beast’s Castle. I had the entire place to myself! Even during soft openings I was never able to get such good photos. If you’re a Beauty and the Beast fan this is the best way to see the the entry way and ballroom.
I couldn’t believe I had time to really line up the photos I wanted without tripping over tons of people or having to wait for a break in the crowd. Any other time of the day the below photos would be impossible to get because the lobby is so full. I know the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the new, hot thing but no matter when you go there you’ll be in a crowd. There’s a precious, little window of time you can have this beautiful space all to yourself. It seems like an easy choice!
That window was small for me. Just as I was lining up the below shot a family came in with a little girl dressed as Belle. Of course, I got out of their way. (Not before remarking that I was so lucky to see Belle while I was visiting the castle. She beamed back at me. I was also sure to compliment her shoes. Princesses in sneakers are my favorite.) 😀
My original plan had been to stop by Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, but it already had a 20min wait before 9:30am. I blame the tour groups which are here in full force. It seems like they were delayed due to the World Cup, but they are sure here now! Instead I stopped into Big Top Souvenirs to see if there was anything new. Remember all the Frozen treats from last week? Well, they’re at the Magic Kingdom too!
Moving on to Tomorrowland, the Astro Orbiter is still missing. I honestly can’t adjust to it at all. It still just looks like the whole place is out of business! The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is supposed to be back from renovation in less than two weeks. I’d think the ride will have to be back in place before that happens? I’m counting down days until the PeopleMover is back. What would you guys like to see when it comes back? Let me know in the comments below and I’m happy to deliver!
Here are just another few construction shots for you. If you don’t want to see the park in bad shape just scroll to the next photo! Below you’ll see the Tiki Room covered in decorative tarps while they work on the exterior. The show is still going on normally in there, it’s just the outside of the building that’s impacted. Below right, you’ll see some of the hub construction going on behind those walls. Remember: you can click on any photo to see it larger.
Those other two photos are “before” but the below is an example of an “after”. Just a couple months ago this area was torn to shreds with the moat drained, but look at it now! Do you even remember the swan boat dock that used to be in this area? Seeing this makes me very hopeful that all the work going on at the Magic Kingdom is for the best and our park will be beautiful again soon!
Leaving the Magic Kingdom you’ll see banners for Frozen Fun at the Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Well, you’ll see them leaving Magic Kingdom or just about anywhere else within a mile of Disney property. Seriously, I can’t remember anything in the last few years that Disney has pushed so hard.
I took the Ferry back to the Transportation and Ticket Center to get you an update on the Polynesian DVC expansion. As you can see from the photo below they were working on a Saturday! They’re really starting to come together.
Guess what I saw on the way over to Downtown Disney? Seriously, they have this stuff everywhere! There is no escape. 😉
Here’s a look at all the glorious parking that’s coming soon to Downtown Disney. It’s rumored to be over 5,000 parking spots in there! They really need it too. I’d originally heard that this garage would open at the end of this year but I know Disney had some issues with the company they hired for the work. I hope it won’t delay them too much.
New Guardians of the Galaxy merchandise was out at several locations. (Here pictured at D Street) I’ve heard they’ve added a few things to the preview at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so I’ll have to check it out for you next week. Are you excited for this movie? I wasn’t really until I saw the preview at the Studios. I’m curious what you guys think. Let me know in the comments!
I have lots of construction photos but I want to balance them with little glimmers of what Downtown Disney will soon be. If I change the angle on this photo you’d be able to see construction walls up, but this gives some hope for the future! What is this strange awning? At the moment the answer is: shade. But who knows what this might be? The new Starbucks in the background is huge and so nice. I’m really excited for Disney Springs!
Below left is the future site of The Boathouse Restaurant. On the right is additional construction beside Paradiso 37. Pleasure Island is seeing the most construction right now with guests being routed to walk on a boardwalk by the water while most everything is behind walls. Personally, I’m thrilled to see this progress. I loved Pleasure Island and spent a lot of time there, but it was sad to see it rotting away empty. It’s exciting to see the space put to use.
The walkways in front of Fulton’s Crab House are complete and look great! The new lightposts are supposed to be the new ones for Disney Springs. I believe it as they seem to be popping up around the area. Again, a little to the left and you’d be seeing construction. However, I think the below shot gives you a glimpse at the future.
However, for today it’s important to know if you’re visiting Downtown Disney you’ll be facing a lot of walls. It reminds me of Disney’s California Adventure while they went through their painful renovation. I hope Downtown Disney is half as amazing when it returns as Disney Springs!
One fun spotting over at the Lego Store was this “new to me” Lego creation of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Or maybe I just noticed it because the ride opened? Is it just me or does this look a little like Splash Mountain?
While at Downtown Disney we had to stop for some fun treats! At Goofy’s Candy Company we saw they also had all the Frozen treats and had to finally try one. It seems like all the sweet shops on property are carrying the event goodies. We picked up a Snowball to celebrate the Frozen events and a Mickey macaroon. The snowball was a rice krispie treat rolled into a ball, then dunked in white chocolate, and rolled in sugar. It was SO good! The Mickey macaroon won points for design, but much tastier macaroons can be had at Epcot.
I also spotted a promotion I wanted to let you guys know about. They’ve got new backpacks and towels you can purchase for a discount if you spend a certain amount. All the details are in the photos below. I don’t love the towel but I really think I need one of those backpacks. They’re really cute!
Last merchandise update for this week is the new WonderGround Gallery that has moved into the MarketPlace Co-Op. Don’t worry, nothing has moved out. They just added a two sided display in the center walkway. It’s mostly selling things you can get at other locations around Downtown Disney so I’m a little confused by it. Also, some of the things sold here actually say Disneyland on them. Am I alone in really hating that? It’s bad enough all the merchandise in our parks has gotten generic.
One last look at the future of Downtown Disney. This walkway is over near the Rainforest Cafe. Soon you’ll be able to walk over the water right to Fulton’s. They’re really making progress. I can’t wait to see it all start coming together.
That’s all for this week. If you’re heading to Disney World next week, here’s a look at what you can expect:
Crowd Calendar: Be sure to follow park recommendations this week to avoid tour groups! It looks like Sunday will be the lowest crowds but all days are very manageable with a Touring Plan!
Weather: I promise, later this year my weather section will be relevant. This time of year it seems like I just say hot with some rain every week, but that’s accurate. This week we had a couple days where the rain didn’t come and we were all doing out rain dances begging for it! The heat is unbearable if we don’t get daily rain.
Remember: Are you following the @TouringPlans Twitter account? You totally should! Not only do they have all the latest theme park news, I’ll be live tweeting from my Disneyland trip there! I hope you’ll join me for my trip!
Here’s my top tip for this week: If you ever have the option of taking a bus between the Magic Kingdom and the Transportation and Ticket Center, then take it! This weekend the monorail wasn’t available and people flocked to the ferry boat. On the bus I had an air conditioned seat! I wish that was an option every day!
Do you have any news I missed or any requests for coverage next week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading! I’m wishing all of you the Best Week Ever, until next time!