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

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

Well there have been some exciting things happening here at Walt Disney World since we talked last.  Magic Bands have been extended to day visitors who wish to purchase them once they are inside the parks, or at Pin Trader, Downtown Disney Marketplace with a valid park admission ticket.  As you can imagine this has led to new expanded areas within the parks for selling the MagicBands to day guests and the vast array of MagicBand accessories as well.  You can purchase items to personalize your band with decorative sliders, charms, and band covers.

The covers are made of a stretchy material that not only changes the look of your band but also gives you fabric next to your skin if you don’t like the feel of the plastic the bands are made of.  No one has worn these through the hot summer months here in Florida yet, those fabric band covers may turn out to be the more popular item.  As an Annual Passholder I received my band a few days ago and I have to say I have not noticed it that much when wearing it. It is lightweight and with so much else capturing my attention it doesn’t take away from enjoying the parks. That is not to say that when it gets hotter that I won’t be getting one of those band covers. If you are planning on purchasing a MagicBand when you come to the Parks the best way to take advantage of it is to visit MyDisneyExperience online from the Walt Disney World website and create your account.  Make or add your reservations to this account so when you do get your MB it will all be available from your previous planning.

In other news the 7 Dwarfs Mine Train has been added as an attraction on the Walt Disney World website!! We have been waiting two years for this and it is getting close.  It shows as “No times available” if you try to book a FastPass+ for it. When will that be lifted?? We will let you know as soon as we hear!  The construction phase appears to be at the end, at least on the exterior.  Ride testing, Cast Member training, those things still need to happen before guests will be allowed to ride.  Big Thunder Mountain will be closed three days this week for refurbishment.  There are two sets of Topiaries at Magic Kingdom, showing that they do not all live at the Flower and Garden Show at Epcot. Can you find them? They are Mickey and Minnie and the other is a collection of Alice in Wonderland characters. There is a new figure of King Triton who is keeping an eye on Ariel over at her Under the Sea Adventure attraction.

At Epcot you can join in a new scavenger hunt based on the latest Muppet movie “Muppets Most Wanted”.  It takes place in the World Showcase Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom pavilions.  There is no additional charge for this and you can pick up your Clue Packet in the World Showcase plaza.  This does not replace the Agent P Adventure and it is unclear how long this will continue.   Something else causing a buzz in Epcot is the way the walkways and buildings have been repainted in the Future World area of the park.  The International Flower and Garden show continues here and if you have never been, you should make an effort to see the park during this time.  Epcot always has beautiful gardens but to see and taste everything here is a great experience.

May 1, 2014 will be Hollywood Studios 25th Anniversary and we are awaiting any news on how HS will be celebrating that.

Recently there has been so much attention given to “it’s a small world” which is celebrating its 50th anniversary.  The Disney Parks Blog has been posting several musical renditions of the theme song by many groups and individuals around the world. They are really fun to listen to. You can post your own sing along video to be part of the celebration.  Just visit SmallWorld50.com for more details.  Did you know that there are 289 figures in the attraction, designed by Mary Blair, who has a doll that bears her resemblance at “it’s a small world” in Disneyland?  The costume department responsible for the dolls costumes still use the original photographs taken of each doll when the attraction was built to keep the continuity alive so guests who remember riding through this as children see the same quality when they return and it is familiar to them. I have been fascinated by this ride since I was a child and it has a lot to do with my love of costumes today.  I have a couple of favorites that I look for each time I go on this ride; the Dutch girl with the two geese and the Russian boy holding the small black bear.   Do you have favorites?

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I am heading to Downtown Disney to see the latest Captain America movie, want to come along? It is mid afternoon and the parking is challenging but still some availability. Walking from the parking lot we can see the long promenade along the water has many people on it and we can see there is quite a bit of construction going on all over Downtown Disney; there is the causeway joining the two ends of the Marketplace section, and the Boat House restaurant, in the Landing area between Ragland Road and Paradiso 37. The beginning of the boat docks for the Marketplace section will be connected to the bridge that also connects Disney’s Saratoga Springs resort and the Marketplace, just behind Rainforest Cafe.  Since the new Marketplace causeway is blocking off the water in that section new boat docks were needed.   Coming around the corner by Cirque de Solei we see one of the Disney food trucks parked here until the new Food Truck Park on the West Side is completed. There are tables and chairs available here to enjoy your meal at and I am glad to see this since we have only been able to enjoy food truck offerings while walking.  There is a construction wall on the outside side edge of DisneyQuest which will be the new location for Wetzel’s Pretzels and Haagen Dazs.  It is Saturday and there are loads of people here already.  Many are enjoying the outside seating at House of Blues and I hear the first of many live performers spread over Downtown Disney.  There is another performer singing at the outside eating area of Splitsville.  It is a beautiful evening here and I see more people enjoying all of the outdoor spaces offered at Downtown Disney tonight. There is actually no line at the AMC movie theater tonight.

Captain America, the Winter Soldier is outstanding! I want more Captain America and the ending certainly leads into another one.  This is one of the very best Marvel character movies I have seen! It is too bad that there will be no Captain America in the Walt Disney World parks due to contractual reasons.

Let’s walk on down through Downtown Disney to see what else is changing in the Disney Springs redesign.  The West Side shops have taken on a new look and we see the wall up where the new Food Truck Park will be opening this summer.  The Starbucks for West Side is clearly visible above the construction walls. It is located next to Bongos.  The majority of people in this area have their eyes glued to the Candy Cauldron shop where workers are making caramel apples and Monster’s Mike W. cake pops on a stick.  Walking across the bridge near Planet Hollywood we can hear more outdoor performers singing and playing instruments.  We see construction walls everywhere.  Buildings have been coming down, others going up, spaces being redesigned, and crowds of people still trying to negotiate their way through the narrow pedestrian areas.  Tip: The new walkway next to the water offers more space to walk in.

The LEGO store is extremely busy tonight. The construction walls are up next door to it as the Pollo Campero location was completely torn down.  No word yet on what is going in here.  There are construction walls by the water to cover up some of the causeway construction zone.  Moving on we hear children performing that just concluded a Disney Performing Arts session. They are pretty good. Walking through the Marketplace section there are several more vocalists we can hear.  The construction of the Starbucks in the Marketplace section seems to have slowed down, perhaps focusing more attention on the West Side location.  The old Team Mickey store has the front windows and doors boarded up with announcements regarding the space being transformed into a Co-op Market.  I am looking forward to seeing the variety of shops that will be in here.  Photos were released this week of some housewares that will be sold here that combine the beauty of chalkboard art and Disney attractions in the form of plates, drinkware, placemats, napkins, etc.  In the space between Once Upon a Toy and Earl of Sandwich there is a DJ playing tunes and a large crowd of children and teens dancing and enjoying this beautiful evening and some favorite tunes.

I am really hungry, let’s get a sandwich at Earl’s!  Sadly, Earl’s has joined in with all the other changes happening at Downtown Disney.  The menu, sandwich size, and prices have changed.  I am especially disappointed that they no longer have the Caribbean Jerk Chicken Sandwich. There are a few sandwiches still being sold for $5.99, including an Avocado BLT, but the rest of the menu is $6.49.  The sandwich size has also shrunk. It is bad enough to raise the prices, but to cut favorite sandwiches and the size of all the sandwiches is not appreciated.  Another thing I noticed is that there are hardly any of the items like lettuce and tomato, or avocado on the sandwiches.  Which may not bother everyone, but since I ordered the Avocado BLT it was very noticeable that these items were in very short supply on my sandwich.  Having stickers to identify the sandwiches without requiring someone opening and handling them first would be appreciated as some of the sandwiches ordered by my party have been on the menu forever but did not have an identifying sticker.  This was one spot on Disney property where you could get an affordable sandwich.  This makes me sad. What is your favorite Earl’s Sandwich? Is it still on the menu? The menu shown on the WDW website and even the Earlofsanwichusa.com is not up-to-date. If you are looking for your favorite sandwich, you may be out of luck. They offer a discount for Annual Passholders but if you are also a member of AAA use it because it is 15% the other is only 10%.

A new menu is also visible at Trilo-Bites at DinoLand, Animal Kingdom.  They are officially offering the Pulled Buffalo Chicken Waffle Sandwich, served with Apple Slices $9.19. It has been offered off and on over the past few weeks and we finally have the chance to order it today.  It is not a round waffle, as served at Sleepy Hollow in the Magic Kingdom, but a large square waffle folded in half. It had crunchy pieces of Buffalo Chicken, fresh arugula, a sauce that was a mix of Blue cheese flavor and mayonnaise on a waffle. This is a very filling sandwich!  You may want to accompany it with one of the new Frosty Milkshakes offered here, in Strawberry, Chocolate or Vanilla, $4.49.  This is a thick milkshake that is difficult to drink through the paper straws at Animal Kingdom so pick up a spoon when you grab some napkins for your sandwich.  What is interesting about the menu is that last week the menu did show the Pulled Buffalo Chicken Waffle Sandwich, and the milkshakes but no waffle sundae.  Guests had been getting waffle sundaes here for quite some time and as of this second week in April, they have been put back on the menu, $5.59.  I later tried a Macaroni and Cheese Hot Dog at Restaurantosaurus that was ok, it comes with French fries for $8.99. It was a large sandwich, but the description says it has “creamy macaroni and cheese and tasty bacon bits top our delicious hot dog served in a fresh bun with your choice of apple slices or French fries” and as you can see on the photo, there are not quite enough bacon bits to taste. I would like to see more of an ingredient when it is so prominent in the item description on the menu, especially when it involves bacon.

You may have noticed Animal Kingdom hours stretching into the late night hours. I just experienced one of those nights recently.  After enjoying a 6:15 dining time at Yak & Yeti my party strolled over to Expedition Everest for our last FastPass+ of the day.  They had already closed down the FastPass+ line so it did not matter that we had them.  Everyone was in the same line and the wait was just over 15 minutes. I would have preferred the FastPass+ shorter wait I was supposedly guaranteed to have when I was given this FastPass+ time.  I don’t know if this is true of other FastPass+ times at other attractions that night.  We were walking back through Asia and saw Kali was no longer open, none of the shows were open, the carts and kiosks were closed, it was like a dead zone as we were the only guests walking through Asia and Africa.  The Cast Members were in the street in Harambe to steer guests away from the area unless they were going to Tusker House for a reservation.  We walked back across Discovery Island where we saw Cast Members straightening up merchandise and talking to one another as there were no customers around.  We walked all the way to the exit without seeing another guest.  I am not sure what the point is for having an entire park remain open and then not have things open to do.  I am leery of being steered to these late night FastPass+ times at Animal Kingdom again since they did not keep that open.  It is not worth standing in line at a FastPass+ kiosk and then have to stand in line again at the attraction I had a FastPass+ selection for.  Until there is more going on there, I will not plan on being at Animal Kingdom past the afternoon either.  This is a great park during the day when the animals are out and the FastPass+ system is adhered to.

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.