News and Views around Walt Disney World-third week of March, 2014

News and Views around Walt Disney World-third week of March, 2014

St. Patrick’s Day began a bit breezier than normal and very overcast.  Even before we reached the park today there was a Tornado watch posted for the area of the Disney Parks. Pulling into the parking lot at Magic Kingdom I see there are a lot of cars here today.  The monorail is down so we have to pick a bus or ferry boat for our transportation to the Magic Kingdom.  The Lime Monorail is back in service after having a middle of the night mishap with some other monorail equipment that ran into it. There were no guests involved in the incident and the repairs were significant enough that one of the cabs had to be replaced.  There was one available to be painted and replace the broken one.

Let’s take the Ferry Boat. At the dock we can see men working on finishing the second ferry boat dock. The Captain tells me the docks are supposed to be available mid-April. It will make it possible to have more than one boat docked at one time.  There are three ferry boats operating today and one has to hang out in the lake waiting for the one loading or unloading guests at the dock.  You can’t miss the construction going on at the Polynesian Resort from here. The boardwalk is continuing to be built but what stands out are all the roofs waiting to be used on the shore.  There are two of the bungalows being built near the Grand Floridian side.  These are going to be very special accommodations.

Inside the Magic Kingdom as we walk down Main St. toward Cinderella Castle and come to the Castle hub, we see a lot of construction walls up, some with printed material that looks like a hedge on the bottom and blue sky toward the top. The Hub area has some major changes in store in a plan that will bring more fireworks viewing areas and landscaping changes.  Looking toward Cosmic Ray’s we can see that the construction covers that were over the windows are gone and the seating is now open! So on those hot days that are coming we will be able to enjoy more indoor seating with air conditioning at this popular dining spot. There is still no water rushing over the rocky falls here in Tomorrowland, the Castle hub area, and the Castle moat.  There are workers, ladders, big equipment down there though.

Coming past Cosmic Rays, heading toward Fantasyland, we pass Cheshire Café.  I notice a new sign in the window for two new gourmet cake cups: Queen of Hearts Strawberry Shortcake and White Chocolate Rabbit. The Queen of Hearts Strawberry Shortcake, $4.19, is ribbons of strawberry sauce, vanilla icing and vanilla cake topped with a swirl of vanilla icing, red sprinkles and a Queen of Hearts card made of icing.   The White Chocolate Rabbit, $4.19, is layers of white chocolate icing, vanilla cake and a bunny topper, complete with ears. These are very sweet treats.

Coming around Mad Tea Party we can see that the 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride has more landscaping completed. There is literally one small piece of scaffolding left on this side just below the only piece of the mountain that I can see still needing some more plantings. There are some small parts of the mountain with new construction walls concealing them from our sight, mostly around the Dwarfs cottage.   Looking through the sneak peek windows we can see workers cleaning up all around the base of the ride.   This is exciting! Walking around the Fantasyland wall and across into New Fantasyland we can see more sections of walls have come down.  In front of this revealed rock wall is a pair of trash cans but doesn’t give us a view of the ride. Walking on we see some more of the ride revealed. We can see more of the track from here and it looks like twisty fun. Check out the photos below. Now imagine flying down that track in this very special coaster that has ride cars that rock like a cradle while moving down these twisty up and down tracks. Can.Not.Wait.

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I am thirsty, want to run into Gaston’s Tavern, the “manliest of manly taverns places”? I am having a LeFou’s Brew ($4.19). Every time I have one of these I enjoy it even more.  It is a frozen apple juice base that has marshmallow flavoring then topped with a whipped passion-fruit “foam”. It may look alcoholic, but it is not.

It’s raining. A lot. Let’s duck into Cosmic Ray’s and see what the inside seating looks like.  Same tables and chairs but bench seating has been added.  There is still an area toward the kitchen area that is hidden behind construction walls. Today it is really nice to have inside seating rather than the outdoor balcony seating. We can see the back of one of the walled off areas from Main Street.  Not sure what is going to happen there yet.  There are a lot of poncho-clad guests lined up in the Castle hub and Main Street waiting for the Festival of Fantasy Parade.  It turns out on really rainy days like this the parade cast members wear raingear over their costumes.

Did you hear about Anna and Elsa? They will be moving to Magic Kingdom in April and you will be able to visit them at Princess Fairy Tale Hall which means you can get a FastPass+ to see them. For now you can still see them in Norway from 9AM until 6PM.  They have a lot of fans so expect to spend quite a bit of time in line to see them. You can purchase Frozen merchandise in the shop next to them.  If you read the Disney Parks Blog today you would have seen a story on the Animation Academy at the Magic of Disney Animation attraction in Hollywood Studios where you can learn to draw one of the Frozen characters or many other Disney characters in a 20 minute class taught by a Disney Character Artist.  The artist featured in the article is Brian James Fichtner who has been coming to Disney World since he was a young boy and has been drawing just as long.  You can also find a tutorial that Fichtner did on Olaf from Frozen.  Do you want to draw a snowman? Check out the tutorial on the blog, or come visit the Animation Academy yourself next time you are at Hollywood Studios. Downtown Disney Marketplace is having a launch party for Frozen being released on DVD March 18.

There is a DJ Dance Party, a backdrop for photos, some contests, giveaways and the chance to take Frozen home with you to watch over and over.  I tried going to Downtown Disney over the weekend and just gave up. The parking lots are so messed up and I couldn’t get into the satellite parking either.  If you can get to Downtown Disney via your resort bus or boat, please, please do that. It is easier for you and for all the rest of us not staying on property. There is a large section of the parking lot where the construction of the first parking garage is. Now there is the other large section of parking closed off to begin the second parking garage.  There is a large amount of the remaining parking available for valet only. The satellite parking across the street is your best bet, just follow the signs, and hope it is not full before you can get in.  Allow at least an hour prior to your movie time or meal reservation just to find parking and get to your destination on time. Tonight was the last night for Downtown Disney’s Mighty St.Patrick’s Day Festival albeit under a very rainy sky.  In Epcot the beer stand at United Kingdom was serving up the green version! It was fairly quiet in Epcot this evening and the crowd level was low compared to last night.

Both water parks have been closed early today due to the weather and we are under a tornado watch so I am heading out. I am not worried about safety in the parks at all as I know Cast Members have been trained to get Guests to safety if there is a Tornado in the area.  Guests would be quickly moved into storm shelters if the need arises. Disney has great radar and guest safety is number one in importance to them.

On a food note: I have made a couple of trips to Animal Kingdom with the purpose of trying a waffle sandwich made with buffalo chicken that was supposed to be added to the Trilobites food stand. I have no review to share with you because they have not had them the days I went, even though the second time was a day I was told they would definitely have them.  They also could not tell me when/if it will make the menu. They could tell me it was available yesterday.  Hmmm. So, if I ever see it there, I will let you know it is.

Dowtown Disney has much going on these days in the form of construction. The causeway between T-Rex and Rainforest Café is moving along nicely. Did you hear what happened at the T-Rex? On the 17th during regular operating hours one of the giant fish tanks exploded pouring water on many patrons in the area of the tank.  St.Patrick’s Day luck played a part in this story though, staff in the restaurant included the man responsible for maintaining the fish habitats was waiting tables and took it upon himself to jump into the tank to save the fish while management helped guests escape the rest.  Many meals were comped and I was told guests were very surprised by what happened but no one was hurt.  CNN reported that all the fish were saved. In spite of the jokes that fish is a special of the day, these were specialty tropical fish that you would not be eating.

There are construction walls almost everywhere it seems.  The new Starbucks that will be at World of Disney is progressing.  On a sad note for those of us who like Pollo Campero and BabyCakes Bakery they will be closing for good on March 19.  There is no word on them opening in another location within Walt Disney World.  I stopped for a farewell snack of Spicy Empanada and Sweet Plantains and they were delicious. We have not heard what is going to replace this location yet.  The first parking garage has the second story being constructed, and the large section of parking next to it is not blocked off from use so that the second parking garage could be started.  Across the street at the Hess Station there are long construction walls next to it and no signs as to what it will be.  On down the road just a little, next to Typhoon Lagoon there is a large clearing and construction trailers and machinery busy but no announcement given on what Disney is doing with this land.   World of Disney had a young lady in one of their front windows being transformed by a Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo Fairy Godmother into a princess.  She looked like she was thoroughly enjoying the process.

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.