News and Views around Walt Disney World-middle of May 2014

News and Views around Walt Disney World-middle of May 2014

By Cassie

There is great news for the rest of us: Magic Kingdom Cast Member preview of Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is taking place this week! Following that, traditionally, is Cast Member preview for other parks, Annual Passholder preview and then soft openings for guests.  We do not know if they will stick to the traditional pre-opening path or not, but we are closer to the Grand Opening on May 28.  I was there for the first of the MK Cast Member preview days and it was very exciting to see the trains loaded and operating as the “testing” phase continued. Training for the SDMT continued and the Cast Member at the entrance was patient in answering the peppered questioning from park guests.

A new sign reading “Ride opens May 28” has replaced the one that read “Mine Ride opening soon”.  The sign did not prevent the most bold from stepping up and demanding a ride today, or this week, etc., but the Cast Member repeatedly answered the demands with “We are still in the testing phase and the ride will open on May 28th.” When asked who those people are that are riding right now he answered “Cast Members” as they are in the testing phase.

The train is made up of five cars that each seat up to four guests for a total of 20 per train. I have not seen any with three riding across a seat so I do not know if the seats are designed to hold three children or not.  The cars do swing independently as the train moves down the track.  You can see how much they swing differently in some of the photos below.  We are told that the queue holds some great interactive spots that turn you into jewel miners, putting you into the story of Snow White & the Seven Dwarfs. Standing outside you can hear some of the singing coming from inside the mountain with a rousing “Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho, It’s off to work we go”  and from speakers placed around the outside you will hear birds singing and owls hooting, among other “nature sounds”.   Another song we are expecting to hear is “Music In My Soup”, playing during the queue line, that was cut from the original film, but re-recorded by Imagineers for this attraction, the Disney Parks Blog tells us.  There are scenes played out from the  original film and as Disney Imagineers are famous for, a nod to the previous Snow White attraction by reusing the figures of Grumpy, Doc, Bashful, Sleepy, Happy and the vultures you will spot when you ride it.  I can’t wait, how about you?

I walked around the entire mountain watching multiple trains and they all looked like they were enjoying the ride very much.  It is not as fast as Big Thunder Mountain but definitely a step up from Barnstormer if you just look at the ride speed, drops, lifts, etc.  But this ride looks like so much more in the theme and story-telling department.  This will add a major themed ride to Magic Kingdom and become another famous “mountain” at Walt Disney World.  Let’s go, right? May 28 is the date.  I did see a couple “Disney-bounding” which means they chose clothes from their regular closet to represent a character’s costume that they wear into the parks and this couple representing Minnie and Mickey were pretty good.  Thanks guys for posing for us!

There is some new food news at Magic Kingdom this week that you don’t want to miss! Friar’s Nook has been offering different Mac and Cheese dishes, unfortunately the Beef and Bleu has been discontinued but it is replaced with Pot Roast Mac and Cheese that is delicious! The meet is really tender and flavorful and when combined with tender cheesy sauce and macaroni you can’t beat it.  It is very filling too! The smells from Tortuga Tavern have been drawing more and more people in and this week seems to have the longest lines for Mexican fare such as Taco Salad, Chicken or Beef Burritos served with Cilantro Rice and Black Beans, Beef Nachos served with Black Bean Salsa, Vegetarian Burrito filled with Cilantro Rice and Black Beans, Caesar Salad with Chicken, and for kids there is the choice of  PB&J or Quesadillas-two flour tortillas filled with melted cheese.

For dessert choose Triple Chocolate Cake or Cookies & Cream Gelato.  Newly added is Strawberry Lemonade Slush served in a souvenir Skull Mug or a pirate skeleton on a souvenir Stein either for $9.99, or in a regular cup for $3.99.  Sleepy Hollow has a souvenir Stein as well  bearing the Headless Horseman filled with the New Horseman’s Brew $9.99, which is all natural lemonade topped with Wild-berry Foam.  Sleepy Hollow is also serving up a New Ham and Cheese Omelet Waffle Sandwich made with Prosciutto, Cheese, Egg and Gourmet Tomato on a warm golden waffle. These have all been very popular.

Adventureland is the focus of a good deal of refurbishments: front and side of Tiki Birds is enclosed with fabric walls, the attraction is still in operation, and across the way is the Bazaar area that has the shops enclosed, yet open, none of it affection meet and greets with Aladdin and Jasmine.  The Cinderella Castle hub area is still mostly behind construction walls or screens. Blocking the view of the castle from Casey’s and Plaza Restaurant.  Tomorrowland Terrace, still the location for the Fireworks Dessert Party has a view of the Castle, and fireworks, but also the backside of the construction walls, piles of broken concrete, empty moat and inflatable bridges.  “it’s a small world” façade is behind construction barriers but the attraction is still open.

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Princess Fairytale Hall is showing a 155 minute wait time for Anna & Elsa from Frozen at mid-day if you want to meet them and don’t have a FastPass+.  There are signs for the FastPass+ kiosks that are also serving as a reminder that additional FastPass+ times can be booked after using your first three.  After you use one of these additional FP+’s you can revisit the FP+ kiosk and book another one.  I was surprised to see Mary Poppins greeting guests on Main Street in front of the Confectionary today.  Since Anna & Elsa have left Norway the only lines in the morning now is the one for the Princess Character Breakfast.

After being at the Flower and Garden Festival my family was inspired enough to get out in the Florida heat and plant things in our yard.  It has also made me appreciate more of these plantings throughout Walt Disney World. There are many banana trees planted near the Adventureland bridge, and beautiful orchids in the lower branch of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse tree, and I love the live planted trees, bushes, and flowers around Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride in Fantasyland.

Speaking of Epcot, let’s head over there.  There appears to be a medical emergency happening with a guest on one of the Ferry Boats that is in the Magic Kingdom dock.  A third Ferry Boat has been called into service and is docking at the new dock here so we should be on our way soon.  On our way over we get a glimpse of the construction going on at the Polynesian resort.  There are multiple bungalows built with roofing materials going on, the boardwalk is being added to, and did you hear that the Volcano pool is going down mid-July?  It is scheduled to be closed through early 2015.  Guests of the resort will be offered a one-day pass to Blizzard Beach water park.  A smaller pool will remain open on the property.  Getting on the monorail for Epcot from the Transportation and Ticket Center reminds me that the original Red Monorail Mark IV cab from the opening of Magic Kingdom in 1971 is on eBay.  Did any of you bid on it? It currently has 21 offers and is up to $189,000.00 for a Buy-it-Now price, local pick up only, Orlando. It is the actual front cab of the monorail that took guests to and from the Magic Kingdom from 1971 to 1989.

Here we are at Epcot and the final weeks of the Flower and Garden Festival that has been so enjoyable. The children’s playgrounds, both shaded and unshaded, were such a welcome experience for families this year.  I love how children of all ages were welcomed into the displays and the great wealth of information for those of us who love to garden.  It has been a fun experience watching all of these plantings grow and mature since being here so I have included several photos of the flowers for you to get a look at them too.   Blood, Sweat and Sheers are making a greatly appreciated performance with their percussion and singing.  The crowd is really getting into it. Have you watched one of their performances?  In Future World there has been a series of colors painted onto the building facades and no explanation has been given.  There is a theory that it may be a “color test” of sorts to decide on a new color scheme, but that has not been confirmed by Imagineers. Check out the photos and tell us what you think of this.  First it was tans and browns, then blues and now more greens, even pumpkin. Hmm, wonder what they are up to?

Did you see that? It was a golf cart covered in flowers with a placard on the side for “Flower and Garden  Festival” with two ladies in very colorful costumes. They are greeting guests as two of the great Disney live performers that do such a fantastic job at making you feel at home in the parks. These spontaneous interactions are what makes your trip to Disney so fun and unpredictable.  Something else I have not seen before are some men fishing on World Showcase lagoon.  They seem happy, casting their lures out across the water.  I have not seen them make a catch yet but they are having fun.

Preparations are in full swing over at Hollywood Studios getting ready for the first Star Wars Weekend of 2014.  The stage is set up and photo props are going up to get those really fun photos of your family and friends.  Merchandise is moving into the stage area next to Toy Story Midway Mania.  The meals are planned for the first time ever Star Wars Character meals. But this is the important question: are you coming? It is going to be great!  Star Wars Weekends also brings one of the best fireworks shows at Hollywood Studios EVER!  If you like to draw, make sure you take the Artist Academy drawing class in the Art of Animation attraction where you might even draw a character with a Star War’s influence.

Over at Animal Kingdom things are really heating up for the summer.  “Harambe Nights” is a special late night hard ticket event that focuses on a special presentation of The Lion King show in the new theater and you are treated to African foods and drink and a street party after the show.  The show will be narrated by a different celebrity and these are selling out fast.  Animal Kingdom will be bringing nighttime entertainment to all guests soon, although we don’t have definite dates yet, through a “Rivers of Life” show and a nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris.  It looks like it will be an exciting summer in the Animal Kingdom.

I went to Typhoon Lagoon Sunday with my family and it is ready for your family! The waters are warm and the palm trees are blowing in the gentle breezes.  Come on down and float down the river in an inner tube or hold on tight while riding Slush ‘n’ Gusher the water roller coaster, either way it is a great time to be here.

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.