In only two weeks, I’ll be boarding a plane to Amsterdam and leaving Orlando behind for a month-long European vacation — hopefully not the Chevy Chase kind. While across the pond, I’ll be exploring (and sharing with you, WiFi willing) some of the continent’s best theme parks, including Disneyland Paris. But my impending bon voyage means that my latest Best Week Ever visit to Walt Disney World will likely be my Magic Kingdom farewell until some time in October.
[Note: I realize that to people who don’t live in the Orlando area and only visit WDW every few years, the above sounds a bit ridiculous. But such is the life of a theme park writer, so try to suspend disbelief for the sake of this column.]
With that in mind, I documented this final summer stroll around Florida’s favorite theme park, in which I pulled off the amazing anti-achievement of only experiencing one single attraction during my entire afternoon. What ride or show did I pick for my final taste of the Magic Kingdom before departing the country? Read on and find out!
And the dramatic reveal of Town Square:
It appears I’ve arrived just in time for the 3 o’clock parade! I wonder what time it is?…
Oh well, if you can’t beat the crowd, join it. There were still some prime viewing spots on the train platform as the Festival of Fantasy parade began rolling through the castle hub.
Most guests prefer to see the parade up close, but if you don’t feel like camping on the sidewalk the train station platform affords a unique perspective.
Since I’ve see the parade a few dozen times, I made like a salmon and swam upstream against the parade route, snapping a few more shots along the way:
Oh, so that’s what time the 3 o’clock parade is!
Obviously, the signs are are there for a good reason. But who else remembers the title of Walt Disney’s favorite Sherman Brothers song?
Sometimes irony is just so ironic (and not in the Alanis Morissette sense).
Here’s a look at construction work around Cinderella Castle, which finally seems to be approaching a conclusion.
While passing through Adventureland, I popped my head into the Island Supply Shop.
This is an infrequent destination for me, since I was disappointed when they renovated the space into a Sunglasses Hut instead of stocking vintage Adventureland merchandise (like a similar shop in Disneyland). But I must admit they did a decent job installing props and themed decor to make this a little more than your average mall eyewear store.
Where is the longest line in Adventureland? On this day, it was to meet Aladdin and Jasmine:
Luckily, there was little to no line to score a Dole Whip, which has been increasingly the case since Aloha Isle swapped places with Sunshine Tree Terrace. Good thing, because my succulent citrus soft serve was swiftly melting in the August sun before I even took a dozen steps!
Sorry folks, Pirates of the Caribbean is still closed. The parrot out front should have told ya!
While PoTC’s major refurbishment rolls on, cast members are standing in front of the ride all day, playing games with guests.
On a hot day, there’s nothing like a refreshing ride on Splash Mountain…oops, never mind…
Splash Mountain did return to service later that day, but by that time I had already cast off for Tom Sawyer Island.
Aunt Polly’s snack stand appeared to be closed again for the season, and her patio facing the Haunted Mansion is under refurbishment.
Back on dry land, The Diamond Horseshoe has also closed its doors again.
Next door in Liberty Square, Princess Tiana and Naveen have vacated their meet and greet gazebo.
Reportedly, the Princess and the Frog couple have relocated to the Heritage House near The Hall of Presidents exit. However, the room was empty (except for a couple cast members) and lacking any identifying signage each time I stopped by.
Over in Fantasyland, it’s always a fantastic day to take a flight with Peter Pan to Neverland…as long as you remembered to book a FastPass+. Even with the new interactive queue to entertain you, 70 minutes is too long a wait for such a short ride, at least in my book.
New Fantasyland is filled with fun design touches, and this fountain in front of Gaston’s Tavern is one of my favorites!
Speaking of FastPass+, there was a bit of a backup at the return line for the Little Mermaid dark ride. Since I wanted to stay ahead of approaching storm clouds, I actually ended up skipping it, wasting the only FastPass+ I’d been able to secure on my way into the park.
These folks on Seven Dwarfs Mine Train sure look like they are having fun!
I’m guessing they are so happy because they managed to get FastPasses for the attraction, instead of waiting in this 90 minute standby line.
Another often overlooked detail in New Fantasyland is how nicely these turrets compliment the original Cinderella Castle architecture:
Remember those storm clouds? Yup, they are coming in quickly now!
Since the food here is generic at best, and the toppings bar doesn’t even have hot cheese anymore, what on Earth is it that makes this venue so popular?
I think we all know the answer, and it isn’t on Earth — it’s Sonny Eclipse!
Back outside, the daily Incredibles dance party was just cranking up.
I’m not the target audience for this type of thing, and was trying to circumnavigate the periphery of it when Mr. Incredible spotted me.
I’m not going to start grooving away in the middle of Tomorrowland any time soon. But any performer who can dance with that much enthusiasm while wearing latex in 100+ degree heat deserves a standing ovation (and a cold drink)!
Now it’s nearly time to say goodbye to the Magic Kingdom…but wait, there’s more! I couldn’t leave without one more ride on the most quintessential classic Walt Disney World attraction. Disneyland may have the Matterhorn, and Tokyo has its Hunny Hunt, but Orlando has the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover, and that’s good enough for me.
Obviously, I’m not the only one to acknowledge the importance of the PeopleMover. There’s actually enough of a line today for a cast member to hold a queueing sign! That’s mostly because the uphill speedramp is stopped, but still, don’t let anyone tell you that this isn’t still a popular attraction.
Climb aboard the TTA PeopleMover with me now and enjoy a grand circle tour of Tomorrowland. Sure, there are plenty of PeopleMover POV videos available on the internet, but this one is in 1080p/60fps for extra awesomeness.
Leaving my beloved PeopleMover behind, I passed through Tomorrowland Terrace (scene of my recent lobster roll experiment) which is now closed again, except for evening dessert parties.
If anyone is looking for a Magic Kingdom Starbucks “You are here” mug, Main Street Bakery had plenty in stock:
One last lingering look down Main Street U.S.A. before I say goodbye to Mickey’s east coast home…at least for now.
Let’s close out this week’s tour with a hard-learned tip. If you have any inkling that inclement weather is about to strike, avoid the watercraft transportation between the Magic Kingdom and the resort hotels.
I boarded the boat back to the Wilderness Lodge just as rain drops started sprinkling, and before we were half-way there a hellacious downpour began.
These boats’ windows don’t do much to seal out the elements, and by the time we arrived at the dock (after an unscheduled detour to Ft. Wilderness) I was pretty much soaked, with a long wet walk to the hotel itself ahead of me.
What attraction would you ride last if you saying farewell to the Magic Kingdom for a while? Share your picks in the comments below!