News and Views around Walt Disney World-fourth week of April 2014

Wait times at Disney World’s magic kingdom
Credit: Disney Dining

News and Views around Walt Disney World-fourth week of April 2014

This week we began with Easter Sunday that brought Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny to the Magic Kingdom, but it also brought 3 ½ hour waits to meet Anna & Elsa from Frozen in Princess Fairytale Hall.  Sunday was the first day for the sisters to appear for a meet and greet at Magic Kingdom and FastPass+ reservations were available 60 days prior to Disney resort guests and 30 days prior for Annual Passholders.

A reported glitch in the FastPass+ system was responsible for an unreported number of FastPass+ reservations to disappear from the system overnight leaving some unhappy guests who appeared at their time only to be told they had no reservation. (Thanks to insidethemagic.com for breaking this side of the story.) There is no way to prove you had a reservation if the computer says you never had it. Hopefully Disney’s IT discovered how to guard against this type of glitch when it discovered it had indeed happened.  Anna & Elsa will appear from park opening through 5PM each day and then some other Disney Princesses will appear for the balance of the evening.  Fast Pass+ openings for the popular duo are gone for the next couple of months so if you don’t have a FastPass+ for them you may want to be there at park opening and move directly to the Fairytale Hall to get in the Standby Line.

Other big news at Magic Kingdom this week is the filming of a commercial on the yet-to-open Seven Dwarfs Mine Train ride in New Fantasyland.  Walls were removed giving us a much better view of the outside portions of the ride.  Actors rode through the afternoon as filming crews recorded the ride that will complete New Fantasyland.  Disney still only releases the opening date as “Spring 2014” so we wait.  It was satisfying to at least see the trains riding across and into the mountain.  The cars have great details and the move smoothly and almost silently across the track.  There is no clickety-clackety sounds as it smoothly climbs the lift.  You have to be watching for it or you may miss it because it is so quiet.  That should help with hearing the ride’s audio tracks, which were not played yesterday.  Dopey was spotted on the ride later in the afternoon.  It is not a thrill-ride as the speed does not look that fast and the swinging motion so looked forward to that makes this coaster a one-of-a-kind was less than I expected.  Keep in mind that this is billed as a “Family coaster” and it promises to be just that.  Height requirement for the ride is only 38” and I believe it will delight the younger members of the family, and the oldest ones as well.  When the opening date is announced, you should be able to start booking FastPass+ times for it, according to the Disney Parks Blog.  We are hoping for an announcement during the media event to be held there the end of next week.

The Cinderella Castle moat has been refilled, complete with water falling at the Tomorrowland bridge.  There is an interesting inflatable dam blocking the water from the moat areas closest to the Plaza Restaurant where work is continuing.  Ribbon cutting for the new Ferry Boat docks that connect Transportation and Ticket Center with Magic Kingdom took place last week, but the docks were not being used this week.  One of the Captains told me they had all practiced with the new docks and were happy with them but there was some electrical complication that was preventing them from using them until it is fixed.  The Resort and Express monorail system was down Tuesday afternoon due to some issue on the Resort monorail side leaving the Ferry Boat as the only transportation to T&TC.

I had heard about some corn fritters on the menu at Golden Oak Outpost in Frontierland and went to try them today.  Unfortunately they have been dropped from the menu even though many people really liked them.  I ordered a Spicy Chicken Sandwich that came with French Fries.  While I waited I could see food sitting, waiting for someone to order it, and that is exactly what the food tasted like when I got it.  The chicken was ok but the bun was crusty along the outside, the lettuce and tomato also did not taste fresh, and the French fries were rubbery and cold.  Better to order from Pecos Bill in that neck of the woods.  I would also recommend Tomorrowland Terrace for some unusual meal offerings if you are near the front of the park.  On my way out I saw a prom couple near the flag pole in Town Square that looked like they were getting engaged.

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Now that everyone is able to have a Magic Band, either by being a Disney resort guest, or an Annual Passholder, getting them complimentary and day guests who need to purchase them, there are locations of Magic Bands and their accessories that have taken over large chunks of merchandise locations.  You can purchase them with a valid admission ticket.  Some of the bling you can purchase to personalize your band is with Bandits, charms that push into the open band holes, or sliders that slip over the band, and some stretchy fabric covers.  The Emporium in Magic Kingdom offers this section at the entrance next to the Fire Station at Town Square.

Earth Day is being celebrated this week at Animal Kingdom in a big way.  You can pick up a post card at the entrance of the park that tells you some of the highlights in the park and serves as a souvenir that you can send to yourself or someone else back home.  There are special face painting, caricature drawings, merchandise, artists, performers, games and learning experiences throughout the park but a bulk of the activities for children are a short train ride away at Rafiki’s Planet Watch.  There are give aways and special buttons as the park celebrates its conservation efforts.

You don’t want to miss a ride on the Kilimanjaro Safari where you can see many African animals.  It is a good idea to get the FastPass+ reservation for this attraction as soon as possible.  There are new FastPass+ attraction signs out in the park today that shows the name of the attraction and if there is availability or not prior to you standing in the line to get it. You will learn a lot about animals on this safari, and it is different every time.  Did you know that a group of hippos is called a “bloat”?  And a group of giraffes is called a “tower”, pretty appropriate in both cases.  Currently you may catch a glimpse of a baby giraffe and baby elephant as we did today.

Behind the Tusker House Restaurant in the Harambe, Africa section of Animal Kingdom we can easily see a crane for the work being done behind the construction walls here.  This is the location for the new Lion King Theater that will reopen this summer.  In addition to the theater there will be additional food and merchandise locations opening in this space.  Work on Avatar land, where the Lion King Theater used to be located, is going on but we have no way of seeing that yet.

In DinoLand you may spot a large Dinosaur puppet walking down the streets in this area.   She is attended by her handler from the Dino Institute that will answer any questions you may have about this unique dino.  This is currently in the testing phase. Disney has cut other street performers, primarily in Epcot and some in Magic Kingdom, but this is a new one they are testing for guest interest.  If you are here in DinoLand during lunchtime hours make sure you bring the kids to the Dance Party!

Over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios a special sneak peek preview, in 3D, of Maleficent is being shown in the ABC Sound Studio through June.  The movie that fills us in on the back story of the evil queen in Snow White’s story will premier in theaters on May 30, 2014. Disney is giving out cardboard Maleficent horns to guests, while supplies last.

Coming up in Hollywood Studios is Star Wars Weekends, May 16 through June 1, 2014.  You will want to make your FastPass+ selections, if you can, for riding Star Tours.  Of particular note is the arrival of Mark Hamill, who played Luke Skywalker in the original Star Wars movie series, on weekend IV, June 6 through 8, 2014. Expect to see him during the daily themed parade, and a lecture series.  There is a special merchandise event, the Rebel Rendezvous, which is a hard ticket event taking place on May 15 at between 10AM and 5PM at the Studios.  Those attending will receive access to Darth’s Mall, a merchandise location, a whole day before opening to other guests; limited edition “recruitment pack” that includes a custom messenger bag, cadet hat, tumbler, lanyard, collectors pin and medal set; special meet and greets with artists and characters; preferred opportunity to purchase all other 2014 Star Wars Weekends official merchandise. The price for this special event is $250.00 per person.  Registration is open.  Learn more at www.disneyparksmerchandise.com/events/rebel-rendezvous-announcement/?instance_id=

In other merchandise news is the Perfect Petals Disney Collection by Vera Bradley that will be offered early May at Walt Disney World. In the Animal Kingdom where the largest display of Vera Bradley Disney bags are on display you also now see a sign saying customers may only purchase two of these bags now.


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.