News and Views Around Walt Disney World, First Week of February 2014

News and Views Around Walt Disney World, First Week of February 2014

Magic Kingdom hosted the Celebrating Super Bowl Champion parade today featuring Seahawks linebacker Malcolm Smith with a warm, Florida welcome.   There were plenty of Seattle Seahawks fans in attendance in the park and they joined in with the other guests who were fired up to see this great MVP player and to cheer him on. He rode atop a red sports car seated right next to Mickey Mouse.

It has been a great tradition for the MVP of the Super Bowl to shout out “I’m going to Disney World!” and amidst the frenzy on the field, that is just what Malcolm did!  Malcolm’s team took to the field and aimed for the win and never let go of that.  Smith stood out in the game with a great interception in a throw by Denver quarterback Peyton Manning and ran a 69 yard touchdown.  He also recovered a fumble and made other stand out plays for his team. This is the first time a defensive player has won the Super Bowl MVP Award.  Looking at the score there is no doubt that the Seattle Seahawk’s defense dominated the game. Way to go Malcolm and all the Seattle Seahawks! This is the 47th such commercial following a Super Bowl win.  When the tradition began it was true Disney Imagineering to pull off a national commercial for their brand live in an event that is watched the world over.  Brilliant marketing Disney!

While waiting for Malcolm Smith to appear I was standing next to a very nice couple and we struck up a conversation.  The wife was eating an ear of Roasted Corn that she purchased at the food area next to Hall of Presidents in Liberty Square.  Being from the Midwest we talked about corn from back home.  She finished her corn and said it was delicious.  I planned on getting one right after the parade.  There were two tour groups that got in line ahead of me so I was not able to get it today, but after her great response to the corn I WILL be getting some soon.  There is a photo below of the Cast Member Dory roasting the corn.  It is not on the food sign; you need to ask for it.

The Liberty Belle Riverboat is back on the river and guests are eager to ride it. As you step onto this boat you are stepping back in time.  This is actually steam powered and you can watch the Cast Members run this big vessel down the river.  Enjoy this step into days gone by and take a few minutes to slow down and enjoy the views.

Splash Mountain is still closed for annual refurbishments. It will not reopen until the end of March. Something new this week though is Rosetta joining Tinker Bell’s Magical Nook near the Swiss Family Treehouse.

I went on my way to check out the advancements made on 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride, but that corn was still on my mind.  I see that there are more trees and bushes placed since last week.  There are some construction workers around the mountain, but not feverishly working like we saw them doing last week.  The day is cloudy, but not rainy, so I am a bit surprised to see them so relaxed looking and not working at a faster pace.  Looking through the peeking windows in the wall I see there is still a lot of work to be done around the base of the ride. There is still some painting and construction to be done so expect work to continue for several weeks if not months just on the physical appearance of the ride’s exterior.  I do spy something new on the side by Dumbo, a Train Car that has no track to move on.  There is a pile of rocks where the train track should be so it is a dead end track.  It looks like this is the Imagineers tip to guests on what the ride vehicles look like, and to let you see just enough to understand you will be riding train cars on a track inside the mountain. People here are very excited to ride this and have a variety of guesses on when it will be done. Spring 2014.

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I see the Popping Machine back near Gaston’s Tavern and laugh that I am still thinking about corn. Now think about this for a minute. How many places can you find corn at the Magic Kingdom? Well, we know there are many Popcorn stands right. Collecting those souvenir popcorn containers is pretty popular here.  Well, there is also fresh made Caramel Corn inside the Big Top Treats area.  Let’s go in the big tent here and see it. The Cast Members are busy starting with freshly popped corn to make their housemade Caramel Corn.  You can see in the photos below some pictures of the corn and its packaging. And yes, it is delicious!

Let’s take the Walt Disney World Railroad around to Main Street.  While waiting on the Train to come into the station I open a Magic Kingdom map and see that locations for FastPass+ kiosk locations have been put on the maps now.  When I was at Animal Kingdom a couple days ago I noticed they had also added the kiosk locations to Guest Maps.  Hollywood Studios and Epcot still need to do this so we aren’t wandering around trying to find a kiosk.  I see long lines at the kiosks here for people without Magic Bands who were able to make FastPass+ selections ahead of time. If you have a Magic Band joined to your My Disney Experience app you can make or change FastPass+ selections on your electronic device and you don’t need to wait in these lines.  If you are a regular day guest, or Annual Passholder, you will have to make your FastPass+ selections after you enter the park for the day, and if you want to make any changes to your selections throughout the day.  It is nice not to have to be there at rope drop and race to get a Fast Pass across the park but it will be nice when we can all make FastPass+ selections ahead of time.  If you pick up a Disney FastPass+ guide near the Park maps and Times Guide at the front of the Park you will have something to write the times for your selections on.  The back of the guide has locations and attractions names with check boxes.  You and your group can see what is available for FastPass+ and make your selections while waiting in line.

Have you taken the time to look at the signs, photos, and maps in the Main Street Train Station? If you are any kind of a train buff you should check this stuff out.  You will find information on the trains that run here at the Magic Kingdom.  The Walter E. Disney and Roger E. Broggie trains are both ten-wheelers with four wheels at the front of the engine and six in the middle and none at the rear (4-6-0). The Broggie was built in 1925 and was headed for the jungles of Mexico, but in 1969 Imagineer Roger Broggie found it discarded and abandoned.  Roger wanted to find the older steam trains for Walt Disney World rather than having new trains built.  He found this engine in Mexico and shipped it to Florida. A respected machinist worked on the train, under direction by Roger Broggie, and accompanied it from Tampa to the Magic Kingdom, stayed, and worked for 35 years as the foreman to the Walt Disney World railroad. Roger had been with Walt from the time they worked together to build a miniature steam train for Walt’s back yard, to the Disneyland Railroad to the Disney World railroad. In fact, Roger Broggie became Imagineer #1 in 1952. Broggie worked on the technology behind Audio-Animatronics.   He worked his way up in the company and by the time he retired in 1975 he had reached the title of VP of Research and Development. In 1990 he was named a true Disney Legend.  The Roy O. Disney train is known as an American Standard locomotive. That means it has four wheels at the front of the engine, four in the middle and none at the back (4-4-0).  It was built in 1916.  It too was found in Mexico and had it shipped to Florida and reworked it to his standards.  Roy was Walt’s older brother and ran the business side of the Disney Company so Walt was free to lead it creatively. After Walt’s death he vowed to open Walt Disney World, and he did. The Walter E. Disney locomotive was built in 1925 and it was worked in Yucatan Mexico and later found by Roger Broggie and redesigned by him, like all the trains at WDW, to fit the theme park application. He found this train in 1969 while searching through Mexico for narrow gauge steam engines and shipped it to Florida.  After being reworked it was recommissioned as the Walter E. Disney Engine Number 1.  Walt and Roy both worked on the railroad as boys selling newspapers and candy to passengers.  Walt dreamed about being an engineer.  Later, when he had gained some success with his company, he built a miniature train his girls could ride on in their backyard. There is one train left, the Lilly Belle. She is a Mogul 2-6-0; two wheels at the front of the engine, six in the middle and none at the rear.  Like all the others she was built at the Baldwin Locomotive Works in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but in 1928. It also made its way to work in Yucatan, Mexico, and was later found there by Roger Broggie in 1969. She is now known as the Lilly Belle Number 2 in honor of Lillian Disney, Walt’s wife for 41 years. There are many maps with train routes on them; perhaps you can find your state on one of these maps?

Animal Kingdom has added some new entertainment in DinoLand: DinoLand Dance Party featuring Disney characters inviting guests to join with them to dance to party tunes, daily at 11:30AM and 12:30PM.   If you have allergies you will be happy to see a Snack location opened with you in mind.  Visit the Gardens Kiosk at Discovery Island for Allergy-friendly snacks and even better a list of special dietary options throughout the Park.  The FastPass+ locations are: Island Mercantile and Isle of Java both on Discovery Island; Kilimanjaro Safari; Kali River Rapids; which leaves DinoLand, Expedition Everest and the front of the park without any locations.  There is also a MyMagic+ location in the Creature Comforts gift shop on Discovery Isalnd.

Downtown Disney continues to experience a big push in construction.  The parking garage is progressing.  There are construction walls up in anticipation of a large restaurant that will be part of the new Disney Springs area in the old Pleasure Island location.

Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World is projected to be open Summer 2014 and they are kicking that off with a couple of promotional offers such as the “Stay Longer-third night free” because what do we all like more that visiting Walt Disney World?  Just one more Disney day, please! If you are traveling with a large group you can also take advantage of the “Group Value Offer” when booking 10 rooms per night. The rate would be $229.00 per room, per night.  This package also includes some special savings on golf, spa, and more.  You can begin booking for stays in August 2014. The level of service and their aim to provide luxury accommodations, world class dining and golf is a great match for Walt Disney World.  This will be a great addition to the WDW resort.

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.