Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever August 20, 2015: Magic Kingdom Farewell

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!

Let’s begin our Magic Kingdom journey the same way every guest’s visit starts: with a walk through the tunnel under the Main Street Train Station

 

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!

 

As I navigated the newly expanded hub on my way to Adventureland, I just had to laugh at these signs on the railings outside Casey’s Corner.

 

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.

 

And here’s the site of the newly confirmed Jungle Skipper Canteen, a new Jungle Cruise-inspired restaurant that is filling the space once occupied by the long-extinct Adventureland Veranda.

 

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!

 

Crossing into Tomorrowland and cutting through Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, I noted that one of the three serving bays was shut down, even though the remaining two had hefty crowds.

 

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!

 

Seth Kubersky

Author of The Unofficial Guide to Universal Orlando. Co-author of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland and Beyond Disney. Contributor to Unofficial Guides to WDW and Las Vegas. Live Active Cultures columnist for the Orlando Weekly. Travel and arts journalist. Theatrical director and producer.

32 thoughts on “Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever August 20, 2015: Magic Kingdom Farewell

  • August 21, 2015 at 7:40 am
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    My kids wonder what it would be like to live in Orlando and be able to pop in whenever the mood strikes! Probably Small World or Peter Pan (if all lines were equal). We do love the people mover. Such a welcome break from the bustle down below!

    • August 21, 2015 at 4:48 pm
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      Great picks Bella! I might have done Small World if the line was shorter, especially since it will be closed in Paris during my visit. But there’s really nothing like being “above it all” on the PeopleMover!

  • August 21, 2015 at 7:42 am
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    No offense to the CMs, but cornhole is a poor substitute for Pirates.

  • August 21, 2015 at 11:20 am
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    I’m not sure this is the proper writer for this type of article. He doesn’t really seem into it and it comes across as a chore. Just call it “here is everything that is closed” and “did you know I wrote a book about Universal?” next time.

    • August 21, 2015 at 11:22 am
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      Also, a pineapple is not a citrus fruit.

      • August 21, 2015 at 4:56 pm
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        You are 100% correct. However, I was hoping readers would forgive my slight botanical misnomer for the sake of alliteration. “Succulent Bromeliaceae soft serve” doesn’t have quite the same poetic ring…

    • August 21, 2015 at 11:46 am
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      I agree, the whole time I was reading this article it felt like an unwanted trip taken as swiftly as possible. I understand a local probably gets tired of Disney World and doesn’t want to ride anything with a wait, but Lauren Daisy made me feel like each weekly trip was magical. This week’s article actually made me feel like I was lucky not to visit Disney this week.

      • August 21, 2015 at 5:03 pm
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        Thanks for your feedback, Laura. I could never hope to replicate Daisy’s style, so I’m trying to make the column my own, in keeping with the Touring Plans/ Unofficial Guide tradition of expert, unbiased observations with a side helping of humor.

        FWIW, if you don’t love huge crowds and extreme heat, you really were fortunate not to be here last week. As wonderful as even the worst day at Disney is, summer is not the ideal time for low-stress touring.

        • August 22, 2015 at 3:32 pm
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          To be fair, Derek Burgan’s Best Week Ever article would be the first one on the blog with a mandatory TV-MA rating.

    • August 21, 2015 at 4:52 pm
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      Sorry I gave you that impression, Bob. Of the nearly 100 photos in this column, less than a dozen are of something that’s closed, and I didn’t go necessarily seeking those things out — it’s just what caught my eye.

      As for the new Universal book, I haven’t make any mention of it in this column for a month, so thanks for reminding me. Everyone go buy two copies today!

      • August 28, 2015 at 1:02 am
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        I wish there was a like button for this post. I was just reading how Bob thought your post seemed like a chore when you clearly posted an insane amount of photos!! I applaude you for having the patience to post an article with so many photos, and for taking feedback so well.
        Oh and me and my husband love the book!

        • August 28, 2015 at 10:06 am
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          Thanks Sarah, you are too kind! I’ll take an extra dozen photos just for you next week. 🙂
          And I’m so glad you like the book, but I’m hoping you each bought your own copies (along with copies for all your neighbors) instead of sharing… 😉

  • August 21, 2015 at 11:31 am
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    I disagree with Bob, I’ve always enjoyed reading Seth’s articles.

    • August 21, 2015 at 12:59 pm
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      Yes, I also enjoy Seth’s P.O.V. Style and often great photos, captures exactly what he saw that day, the good the bad and the ugly!

    • August 21, 2015 at 5:17 pm
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      Thanks for your support Jillian!
      Where should I send your check? 😉

  • August 21, 2015 at 1:08 pm
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    Hi! Was the construction work still to heavy during this days? I mean does it impact the “magical mood of the park” It seems some areas look very “ugly” when they pop in font of you between all the beautiful scenarios. 🙁

    • August 21, 2015 at 5:19 pm
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      Construction is a lot less obvious than it was a few months back, and the park is still plenty magical. But it isn’t like the old days when most work was done at night in the off season. There are so many projects going on, there’s no way to hide it all from the guests without things taking even longer to complete than they already do.

  • August 21, 2015 at 1:50 pm
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    I also disagree with Bob, I enjoy Seth’s adventures through WDW. I miss Lauren Daisy something fierce but I’m very happy that Seth is keeping the “Best Week Ever” going! Save travels Seth and fam – can’t wait to read all about your European adventure!

    • August 21, 2015 at 5:22 pm
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      You’re too kind Belinda! Hoping the internet gods smile on me so I can keep blogging while away…

      • August 21, 2015 at 5:24 pm
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        Ha! I just realized I said “save” instead of “safe”. Oh well, you know what I meant 🙂

  • August 21, 2015 at 1:51 pm
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    He said he got a citrus swirl….Bob

    • August 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm
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      Bob was right, I got a Dole Whip but took some poetic license with the description.

  • August 21, 2015 at 2:23 pm
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    Seth – love your articles! 🙂 I would love to see more pictures of the hub and around the castle on your next best week ever. I haven’t been since Dec 2013 and am returning in November – having a hard time picturing what the new hub is like!

    • August 21, 2015 at 5:21 pm
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      Thanks CC! I’ll try to get some more photos for you on my next visit, but you’ll have to wait at least a month for my return.

  • August 22, 2015 at 11:14 am
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    Seth – you keep up the good work! I always enjoy your updates.

    My family has a semi-tradition of riding the TTA as the last attraction at the MK. We’ll see if that hold true next week when we’re there! Also, I’d love to get stuck in front of the Progress City display. We seem to get stuck in front of the lady in the hair dryer every time.

    Enjoy your European vacation. (Look kids, it’s Big Ben!)

    • August 22, 2015 at 11:20 am
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      Thanks, hope you & the family have a great visit!

  • August 23, 2015 at 10:05 pm
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    You know that your WDW boat ride was a mistake when the captain starts humming, “Just sit right back, and you’ll hear a tale….”

    • August 28, 2015 at 10:03 am
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      Unfortunately, neither Ginger nor Mary Anne were around to keep me company after the shipwreck. 😉

  • August 27, 2015 at 3:06 pm
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    I should have known Seth was visiting a park or resort when the monsoon began around 6:00 that evening! Nothing like being at Disney Springs with 3 people and only 2 ponchos when the skies open.

    • August 28, 2015 at 10:04 am
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      Sorry, that was my fault! I ought to just notify the weather service every time I head to the parks, so they can warn folks to hunker down. 😉

  • September 2, 2015 at 11:54 am
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    Thank you so much for showing the current construction sites at the Magic Kingdom and their levels of completion. It’s really hard to gauge just how much they will diminish the “magic” from a home computer… but you did capture the walls/areas nicely and I feel like I know which areas are affected. I like your reporting style- it is efficient and unbiased. I am really hoping Disney completes the central hub area by mid-October. The new Hocus Pocus party looks to be amazing and deserves and unfettered stage.

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