Observations from Magic Kingdom: Be Our Guest Lunch Changes and New Tomorrowland Colors

by on October 29, 2014 35 Comments

Filed under: Observations, Walt Disney World (FL)

WDW’s Magic Kingdom gets ready for another Halloween party as I make observations from the park’s eastern attractions (photos by Seth Kubersky).

After a week of sailing on the Disney Magic, it was a little surreal to step back into the Magic Kingdom again for my first post-Disney Cruise visit to Walt Disney World. Even at Orlando’s oldest theme park, things are always on the move, as I discovered in my mid-morning trip around the park’s eastern half. Here are some fresh observations from Magic Kingdom on 10/23/2014, including policy updates at Be Our Guest lunch, a bold new Tomorrowland color scheme, and the finale of Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It.

Be Our Guest Lunch

Fantasyland‘s popular Be Our Guest restaurant has bedeviled guests in recent months with its evolving lunch policies, which have shifted from favoring walk-up counter service toward FastPass+ reservations.

Here is what’s happening with Be Our Guest lunch seatings, as of my latest visit:

  • Guests without reservations may form a standby line before the restaurant’s 10:30 a.m. opening.
  • By the time I arrived at approximately 10:45 a.m., the standby line had already “closed for capacity.”
  • No paper return time tickets were distributed for standby seating.
  • I was told that standby seating was possible (but not guaranteed) in the last half-hour before lunch service ended at 2:30 p.m.
  • Some same-day dinner reservations were available due to cancellations, but all were during the hard-ticket Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Expect to see this sign often outside Be Our Guest.

FastPass+ reservations are now essentially required for ensuring a lunch visit to Be Our Guest, and are only available to WDW onsite resort guests via a special website. BoG reservations don’t count against your 3 daily FastPass+ picks, but usally can’t be secured until 27 days out and can be tough to come by. I recommend Liberty Square’s Columbia Harbour House as a tasty, hassle-free alternative around the corner.

 

Peter Pan Queue

Construction has progressed on the standby queue for Peter Pan’s Flight, although without any signs of the the long-rumored interactive elements.

The most noticeable changes are the relocation of these FastPass+ touchpoints, and the rerouting of the standby side, moving the merge point closer much closer to the entrance.

The standby/FastPass+ merger appeared somewhat smoother under this configuration, which appears to be the aim of the queue improvements so far. I’m uncertain if additional scenic elements are still to be added to the standby side, or if those plans were abandoned entirely.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

I’d heard rumors recently that Seven Dwarfs Mine Train had been experiencing chronic technical difficulties, resulting in frequent downtimes. While anecdotal evidence suggests 7DMT has been having uneven operations ever since opening, I was lucky enough on my latest visit to experience the ride without any breakdowns.

I secured a midday FastPass+ less than 24 hours beforehand (it’s much easier to do when you are only booking for 1), and was riding within 6 minutes while the standby wait was posted at 60. It’s interesting to note that the other new mine train across town in Universal’s Diagon Alley was posting nearly identical waits at the same time, according to data in Lines.

7DMT has definitely grown on me after multiple rides, though it still leaves me wanting more as both a thrill junkie and dark ride connoisseur. Just do your best to use a FastPass+ for it, because the hyped interactive elements only appear in the last portions of the very long queue.

 

Storybook Circus and Fantasyland Railroad Station

As an iPhone user, I frequently find my battery drained after only a few hours in the park. So I’m pleased to report that the USB charging ports inside Storybook Circus’ former FastPass+ service station are still fully functional (unlike their brethren outside the Tangled restrooms).

Thanks to these ports, you can leave the electrical plug at home, and just carry a slender cable to replenish your phone.

Speaking of replenishing, don’t bother trying to do so at Cosmic Ray’s in Tomorrowland. The sign for the charging station may still be there, but power provider itself was removed weeks ago.

The Walt Disney World Railroad is closed for refurbishment through November 7. A peek past the construction tarps showed some significant renovations going on, including the apparent removal of a portion of track.

 

 

 

 

New Tomorrowland Color Scheme

The biggest change while I was away was the return to service of Tomorrowland’s Astro Orbiter, accompanied by the debut of a new color scheme for the immediate area.

Various structures, including the PeopleMover, Lunching Pad, and DVC sales booth, have been redecorated in shades of teal and orange.

The new Tomorrowland color scheme could be said to recall the 1964 World’s Fair, Horizons, the Miami Dolphins… or even a Howard Johnson’s. We’ll let you make up your own mind about its aesthetic merits.

Either way, it’s good to see the Astro Orbiter operating again, although unfortunately the extensive refurbishment did not make the ornamental planets rotate again.

 

Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party Ends

As I was heading back to Main Street, U.S.A., I caught the tail end of one of the last-ever Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! street parties.

The mini-parade was retired at the end of that day, and replaced the next morning with the extremely similar Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It!.

The “new” street party has new music and some additional characters, but is essentially the same; if (like me) you found it skippable before, you probably still will.

I’ll share further any thoughts and photos after I see the new show in person on my next visit.

 

Magic Kingdom Hub Construction

After a swift sausage snack at Casey’s Corner (yay for free cheese sauce!), I concluded my tour of the Magic Kingdom’s east side with these photos of the ongoing hub construction project, as seen from the porch of the Crystal Palace buffet:

 

 

 

What are you interested in seeing in our future WDW observations? Let us know in the comments below, and we’ll try to go look at it for you!

Posted on October 29, 2014

35 Responses to “Observations from Magic Kingdom: Be Our Guest Lunch Changes and New Tomorrowland Colors”

  • Hi, thanks for the Magic Kingdom update!
    When you say “moving the merge point closer much closer to the entrance”, I can’t tell, do you mean closer to the entrance into the queue, or closer to the entrance into the ride?

    • Both. Before you had to make a right and walk all the way down towards the end of the loading belt before the FP/standby merge point. Now they merge just after you enter the queue, much closer to the ride entrance.

  • We’re preparing for a second honeymoon trip in a couple weeks (sans kiddos) and I really wanted to see the castle, but hadn’t even considered trying to get BOG into our touring plan because it’s a short trip and I figured it wasn’t worth the hassle. I was thrilled when I got an unsolicited invite to use the FPP for lunch. I never inquired about a reservation there, and I don’t know how guests are chosen to test these things, but we’re AP holders/resort guests/celebrating an anniversary and I made all our dining and FPP reservations 30 days out, so maybe that tipped the scale in our favor. The system was really easy to use although there was no confirmation number and nothing appearing in MDE to confirm. Hopefully we get in… Either way it was a nice surprise for our anniversary trip.

    • Sounds like you got lucky Emma! You got selected for BoG FP because you are staying at the resort, having an AP or anniversary has nothing to do with it. And you are correct, there is no reservation #, nor does it show up in MDE.

      • On your MDE itinerary, there is a place to type notes. We just typed in the FP+ info for Be Our Guest (time to arrive, how many people, etc.) We even added in our order as we pre-ordered our food.

        If you print out the daily itinerary, the note will show up at the bottom, as a reminder.

        • Congrats on your anniversary trip (sans kiddos)! 🙂 Any guest staying on property receives an email for FP for BOG. I always tell my clients that their alternate reservations (Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, BOG, etc.) will be in their notes section of their MDE itinerary. It is a one stop itinerary and they don’t have to go looking for their reservation number!

          • It is not accurate to say “Any guest staying on property receives an email for FP for BOG.” That’s simply not true. I have never received an invite, I have stayed on property 4 times since BOG has opened. But I have used the Fast Pass BOG lunch link multiple times, successfully. Without an email invitation for it.

      • You actually don’t need to wait for your invitation e-mail! Any onsite resort guest can make a Be Our Guest FASTPASS 27 days prior to arrival using their 16-digit resort reservation number. I posted how to find this number further down in the comments.

  • I think it the FastPass+ for Be Our Guest Lunch really sucks. I have been trying to make reservations for 60 days for our upcoming trip – and there is nothing available. What is to stop people from making reservations & not showing up? I really dislike knowing that there is no way to experience an attraction when I visit on vacation unless I am lucky enough to get a FastPass way out in advance, & still have to compete in getting FastPasses with Disney Vacation planning companies who gobble up everything before us normal people can even get to it on our computers or through the App.

    • We tried at 60 days out (doing FP+ anyway) to get Be Our Guest Lunch & then off & on for days. It kept saying nothing available. Finally read online that most people couldn’t get any reservations until about 24-25 days out from their trip. We got our email from Disney at about 23 days out with the “special” link.

      Hopefully you’ll get your email soon, if you’re staying on property.

    • “& still have to compete in getting FastPasses with Disney Vacation planning companies who gobble up everything before us normal people can even get to it on our computers or through the App.”

      This is the first I’ve heard of this practice. Do you have a reference that further explains this?

      Cheers,
      –Lee

    • Keep trying! I had a client that wanted hard to obtain reservations, but we kept hitting a wall with no availability. We kept trying, starting 1 month from their arrival date. Finally, 3 days before their arrival date, I was able to get them a reservation! It was such a great feeling when they were over the moon excited!

    • Mike, agencies cannot gobble up FASTPASS or Be Our Guest reservations. A valid park admission is required for each set of FASTPASSES made. A valid onsite resort reservation is required for a Be Our Guest reservation. True, an agency may assist a client with these types of reservations, but the agency is not entitled to any extra FASTPASSES or Be Our Guest reservations beyond what the client would be able to make him or herself.

    • Thanks Mike! As I mentioned in the article, you can’t book BoG Lunch FP+ until 27 days before your on-site arrival, and must use the special website (not MDE). AFAIK there is zero advantage for Disney Vacation planners, all on-site resort guests get a 60day window for attraction FP+. You are right that there is nothing to stop people from canceling lunch BoG bookings, since a credit card isn’t required to make one (unlike other meal reservations).

  • I was informed recently by someone at Disney that on-site resort guests are eligible for Be Our Guest Lunch FastPasses ONLY during the first seven days of your visit. We wanted to have lunch on our eighth day, but the previous information was confirmed when we logged into the BOG Lunch website and were only shown the first seven days of our reservation.

    So, if you’re planning to be there longer than a week, be sure to schedule your BOG Lunch plans during your first seven days. Otherwise, you’re relegated to standby.

    • This is the first I’ve heard about this, you should be able to book BoG for the first week of your trip on 27th day before your arrival, but as the week progresses you should be able to book for the remaining days. Can anyone else confirm?

      • Yes, the 7-day limit is true. At this time, you are only able to book Be Our Guest lunch FASTPASSES for a single day, and that day must be within the first 7 days of your trip.

  • by Kristina Snowden on October 29, 2014, at 12:50 pm EST

    We were at Be Our Guest a few weeks ago when they still allowed a standby line before opening. It was the worst experience I have ever had the Magic Kingdom. Only a small standby line was allowed and everyone else was turned away. We stood in line for 45 minutes in the scorching sun while maybe 2 parties from standby were allowed in. Numerous times people from the line asked the castmembers if we had any chance of getting in and if the answer was no just say so. We were constantly told that we would get in. That the FastPass line had just gotten backed up. Soon there were hundreds of people in the FastPass line and it was becoming clear that no standby diners were going to get in, yet still castmembers assured us that they would start letting us in. After and hour and 15 minutes in the hot sun, we gave up. I ran into the group of diners that were ahead of us in line later that day and asked if they made it in. They did not. After waiting even longer, the castmembers turned all the standby diners away and suggested that they might get in if they came back right before the end of lunch. This marked the only time I have ever complained to Guest Relations.

    • That sounds pretty miserable. I’m suggesting that people show up at BoG at 10am and look around the restaurant, then go eat somewhere else. Otherwise wait until after 2 and ask about standby.

  • Be Our Guest lunch reservations are actually super easy to come by. I make them for all my clients as soon as their window opens on the 27th day prior to arrival, and I’ve never been blocked out. Just be sure that you know your 16-digit resort reservation number (NOT your package confirmation number). You can find it by hovering over the “online check-in” button on your My Disney Experience page. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see a web address with a 16-digit number. That’s your resort reservation number! Easy-peasy!

    • yes, there is so much accurate information out there online if you just do a little google searching! There is a whole bunch of misinformation in many comments on this thread however.

    • Glad it’s working for you and your clients, but we’ve had enough reports of people having trouble that I wouldn’t call it “super easy.” Of example, if you weren’t a TA, how on earth would you know how to decipher that 16-digit code? It’s certainly doable, but not what I’d call “easy peasy” for the average guest booking their own trip.

      • I learned how to decipher the code by Googling it. It’s definitely not a secret! I just thought I’d save others the hassle of having to research it themselves!

      • And if you do it this way, it actually is very easy! Takes about 5 minutes total. Plus, you’ll get lots of available time slots since you’ll be booking it right away instead of waiting for your e-mail, which can sometimes come 3-4 days after your window opens.

  • by Jonathan McIntosh on October 29, 2014, at 5:01 pm EST

    For those of you who have had a chance to dine at BOG for lunch using the FP+ system, how much time did your lunch take from check-in to exit?
    We have a Fastpass for lunch during our visit, and I’m trying to get accurate info on how much time to budget.
    Thanks!

    • Last week we waited about 20 minutes from checkin to the ordering kiosks. After that, it took about 15 min for the food to arrive at our table, plus eating time. We didn’t preorder because we didn’t want to choose 27 days ahead. If I had to do it over again, I would have logged in the day before and ordered then. MK crowd calendar was a 3 that day. Overall, it took a good bit longer than I expected.

  • Is there any information on when the hub construction will be complete? I am unclear on whether seeing parades is blocked by construction as well. Thanks!

    • There is no official date for hub improvements to finish, but I’d count on construction to run through at least the next year.

      Parade viewing is unobstructed on Main St and Frontierland, but some areas around the outer central hub are now blocked by walls.

  • I have been looking forward to bringing twin grands here for a year. If my off-site condo hadn’t already been paid for I would have cancelled this trip and stuck with Disneyland. I can’t believe how shabby Disney is treating their off-site guests now. The only meal reservation I cared about the entire trip was BOG, and now it is only onsite guests who get in? I’m dreading this whole FP+ Experience, and this will likely be the last of our money Florida gets. And with 12 grands and counting, and 6 disney trips in the past 4 years, that’s a hefty chunk believe me.

    • This is only for Be Our Guest lunch. Dinner is still table service, and all guests (onsite and offsite) are eligible to make an ADR for dinner.

      • BoG dinner is technically available to all, but is currently more popular than even CRT or Le Cellier. You’ll need to be very persistent (or have a paid ADR service) to snag a table. There are often same-day cancelations for dinner, stop by the restaurant and ask in the morning.

  • BOG is a joke. We have been coming annually since the year it opened and have never been able to secure a reservation 180 days out. As we stay off site we wouldn’t be offered the Fast Pass for lunch and now you can’t even wait it line. It’s gone onto the “who cares” list. My big concern is the “hub construction”. This is the first I’m seeing this and we are scheduled to come in January. If it’s going to look like that when we get there I might reconsider.

  • HELP! I hovered over the online checkin as advertised and nothing comes up. All I can seem to get to pop up is the 12 digit confirmation number. Does it make a difference if you use DVC oints instead of cash????

  • For what it’s worth, I’ve eaten lunch twice at BOG, once in January 2013, the second time in January 2014. The first time I decided it was the best meal I had ever had at WDW but the kiosk ordering and the line (pre-fast pass) was a disaster of epic proportions. The 2nd visit saw the food quality plummet. We won’t go back to eat there, especially with the added hassle of fast pass, which is a seriously flawed system. I agree with Seth that if you’ve yet to see the place, go in before lunch service and take some pics. Save your time and your sanity and eat elsewhere.