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News and Views Around Walt Disney World the week of January 20, 2014

News and Views Around Walt Disney World the week of January 20, 2014

Just so you know, those of us who live in central Florida do notice the weather the rest of the country is experiencing and we think of you and you are welcome to come back down anytime.  We don’t have snow or ice, but in Hollywood Studios you can see the art behind Frozen, the movie. Head back to Animation Academy to find the gallery.   There are sketches, story boards, and character sketches, of all your favorite characters. Then join the drawing class and perhaps have the opportunity to draw Anna, Elsa or Olaf.  Anna and Elsa are still meeting guests in Norway, Epcot.  They are enjoying lines that are often over two hours.  So if you want to meet them before enjoying the Princess dinner in Norway, come at least two hours ahead.  You may need a light jacket while waiting in the Norway pavilion. They will remain in Norway only through the end of January 2014.

Very big news is that all the parks will go completely to FastPass+ this week doing away with the legacy paper FastPass machines.  All guests will have to use their MagicBands, if they have them, or use their plastic tickets at a FastPass+ kiosk once they arrive at the park that day.  Only three FastPass+ selections can be made by every guest, all in the same park. One park, one day at this point.  The Park Hopper feature is very popular and being able to only reserve three FastPass+ times in one park each day is going to dramatically change how guests schedule their time and dining experiences.  The FastPass+ has been tested in Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom.  Epcot and Hollywood Studios are changing over this week.  If you do not wish to participate in the FastPass+ testing than Disney invites you to enjoy your favorite attraction in the Stand-by Line.

Downtown Disney News: The Smokehouse counter service restaurant is open for business.  This is just a soft opening and they do not have the details ironed out for accepting DVC, AP, Cast Member, or Tables in Wonderland yet.  They hope to soon.  There are cranes seen on the front/parking lot section and pilings getting taller for the parking garage.  Half of the parking that had been enjoyed before, back behind Cirque du Soleil, is now closed off with construction walls. So Disney has yet again carved into the remaining locations for parking.  I can’t wait for that parking garage to be built.  Splitsville Luxury Lanes is having a Super Bowl Spectacular on Feb. 2.  In support of a non-profit group that seeks to save lives globally by sending them hotel bars of soap to countries all over the world. Price is $85.00 per person. Bowling is not included during this event.

“Show Your Disney Side” is the theme for 2014, just like “Limited Time Magic” was for 2013.  The current special is that Walt Disney World is giving away a vacation for a family of four, each day through January 31, 2014.  Just share with WDW how you could show your Disney Side at the Parks with your family.  One person will be selected daily to receive that prize.

Sports News: The ESPN Wide World of Sports will host the Atlanta Braves Spring Training games beginning in February.  This is another great family event as kids get to run the bases after the games, get a photo snapped with characters, special entertainment and perhaps going out onto the field. The game schedule has not been published yet. We will let you know more details when we get them.

For a no obligation, FREE Quote with new bookings contact our sponsor Magical Vacation Planner by calling: 1(407)442-0289 Or for a free no obligation quote with new bookings you can fill out the form by Clicking HERE!

For a no obligation, FREE Quote with new bookings contact our sponsor Magical Vacation Planner by calling: 1(407)442-0289 Or for a free no obligation quote with new bookings you can fill out the form by Clicking HERE!

Magic Kingdom News:  7 Dwarfs Mine Train promises to be one of the top rides of the park.   The ride is scheduled to open “Spring 2014”.  As we have been able to watch the ride come together, many have speculated on it’s opening, but Disney has not released a specific date yet.  We can see that many trees have been planted inside the ride walls.  Several sections of the wall have come down only to reveal large rock walls.  There has been some testing of the ride vehicles on the track.  What we have been told about the ride is that a great deal of attention to detail has gone into the 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride experience. Riders will enjoy music from the Snow White movie, see sparkling gems inside the mine, and a ride car that both runs down the track and rocks with motion. Guests will enter the attraction by crossing a stone bridge over a creek, then coming through the woods to the Dwarf’s cottage. This attraction is designed as a family ride and will have a height requirement of 38”.  These ride vehicle trains will be making history as the first-of-its –kind train with cradle-type rocking motion which means you will be swinging back and forth as your train moves along the track. We will see Snow White, the Seven Dwarfs, and of course woodland creatures as animated figures throughout the ride. Disney doesn’t want you to be bored in their queue so there will be interactive mining themed activities to entertain us while we wait. This has been dubbed the “crown” of New Fantasyland.  It will be the final piece of New Fantasyland and most certainly the center of attention.  We will be able to watch the ride from so many places in Fantasyland and Tomorrowland.  While sitting here at Cosmic Rays Starlight Café I can see the ride. Guests will see it from many dining venues, dozens of walkways, and from other rides. When 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride opens, it will add another great FastPass+ ride for the Magic Kingdom.  Do you think that guests should be able to have more than three FastPass+ selections a day when they are spending the day and evening just in the Magic Kingdom?

The former Heritage House gift shop, next to the Hall of President’s, has reopened as a MyMagic+ service center. Guests can make FastPass+ selections at this additional location as well as get any help with their magic bands that they may need. Heritage House used to carry merchandise related to US Presidents, along with tri-corn hats and other historical items.  It also carried many items featuring Jack Skellington from Disney’s Nightmare Before Christmas movie. No word on where that merchandise may be available now.  Another shop that closed is a gift shop that went by the name of 7 Dwarfs Mine Shop. It was located near the ride of the same name so it is expected it will reopen under another name or have merchandise featuring the new ride.

Remember how beautiful the Cinderella Castle looks with those lights dripping off of it like icicles? It is time for them to melt away but it isn’t a matter of the temperature getting warm enough to make that happen.  It takes a big crane and a lot of man hours to remove those lights.  Expect to see the crane between the hours of 11:30 PM and 7PM. It will take until the end of March for the work to be completed.

The Riverboat in Magic Kingdom is heading out for some annual refurbishment until the end of January.  It is a beautiful vessel that really does move under steam power.   Some lucky guests may occasionally be invited to experience the ride in the wheelhouse at the top of the ship.  It is a beautiful view and nice breezes through the open windows make this is very special, but rare, opportunity to experience the Riverboat as the Captain does.

Taking a walk back toward Big Thunder Mountain Railroad we can’t help but notice Splash Mountain is dry.  There is large scaffolding seen in the big drop area and some rocks are marked with bright Day-Glo orange markings. It will be interesting to see if things on the ride are changing, or if this is just standard refurbishment.  The ride is down through March 21, 2014. The Splash CM’s are out on the bridges and at the top of the stairs that lead to the entrance to Splash Mountain.  They are greeting guests, answering questions about Splash Mountain and even have sometimes have games to play.  Aladdin and Jasmine’s meet and greet area at Agrabah Bazaar is closed for refurb through February 2, 2014. Casey’s Corner, the place with the really great hot dogs and the piano player, is closed through Feb. 15.  Tomorrowland Speedway is back up and running after its recent refurbishment.  Tiki Birds has a wall around the façade while work is being done on it, the show is still running during this refurb work.

For a no obligation, FREE Quote with new bookings contact our sponsor Magical Vacation Planner by calling: 1(407)442-0289 Or for a free no obligation quote with new bookings you can fill out the form by Clicking HERE!

After enjoying the Riverboat we went to Haunted Mansion and had worked up an appetite so we grabbed a hot dog at a recently added stand in Fronteirland.  We waited for the Electric Light Parade to come through Frontierland.  There is no other parade that goes from Main Street through Frontierland right now except this popular nighttime parade. Disney Parks Blog revealed another float design that will be in the next Magic Kingdom “Festival of Fantasy Parade”.  It is a steam punk version of Maleficent as a dragon. It is 35 feet long and 26 feet tall. The new parade will hit the Magic Kingdom Spring 2014. The new parade will be featuring characters found in Fantasyland on their own special, one-of-a-kind float.

Other places closed for refurbishment are Studio Backlot Tour through March 1, 2014. Festival of the Lion King until July 1, 2014. Blizzard Beach through March 16, 2014.  Winter Summerland, the Winter course is closed through June 1, 2014 for refurbishment.

Epcot-Spice Road Table in Morocco is officially open.  This restaurant is Table service, but requires no reservation.  It is so new though that it is not on the Disney Dining Plan and without discounts usually extended to DVC, AP and Cast members, but they hope to add them soon. The new tiered FastPass+ system is meeting some pushback from Epcot guests. Paper FastPasses no longer will be available at Epcot, or any of the parks.

A merchandise update: Glow the Show ears seem to be sold out.  I have not seen any at the Magic Kingdom or Hollywood Studios.  Since it is fairly new, and has been such a big hit, this is probably just a lull between shipments getting out onto the shelves. New handbags by Dooney and Bourke as well as Valentine’s Day merchandise are hitting the shelves at Walt Disney World. There is a little Duffy bear in a red satin outfit for your Sweetie.

By Cassie

About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.