News and Views Around Walt Disney World this week: third week of December 2013

News and Views Around Walt Disney World this week: third week of December 2013

Christmas is next week, where do you want to go today? Magic Kingdom!! It is dressed so beautifully for the Holidays how can you not want to go there? Disney Blog reports that there are “more than 15 miles of garland, 1300 Christmas trees and 1314 wreaths” decorating all of Walt Disney World this year, with New Fantasyland being decorated for the Holidays for the first time.


Small World is open now after its refurbishment.  We can see that a new FastPass entrance has been added at the far left end of the attraction.  Another ride receiving a new FastPass entrance is Aladdin’s Magic Carpets in Adventureland, Magic Kingdom.  Pirates of the Caribbean just celebrated their 40th anniversary on the 15th. Pirates is one of the last rides of which Walt Disney directed the design.

Other things we are going to check on here is the 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride construction work continues and the train has been running the track sometimes in the evening, without test dummies yet. The finishing touches to the top of the mountain are rapidly getting completed which have led some to speculate the ride may open in the next few weeks.  If you peak through the two viewing windows you will see the reality of the pit the ride is in.  There are some trees that have been placed but the rest is still mud.  There is still much to be done so don’t expect it to open within weeks here.  This ride is one of a small handful that will be seen from all sides so there is still a lot to be completed. It is exciting that we are getting closer though! If you walk around this attraction the way I do to see what changes I can spot, you may run into some circus-style street performers such as a plate spinner who likes to enlist guests into his show.

We can now get into the balcony of the Pinocchio Village Haus and eat some tasty flatbread pizzas while taking in the view of Fantasyland.  This is a great place to look over Fantasyland, the Castle, even the new 7 Dwarfs Mine Ride.  There are only a small handful of tables up here though. (In a way I hate telling you all about it because I probably won’t get to sit up here again!)

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 There is a Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party several nights this week but on Saturday December 21 the entertainment from the party is now added to the park for regular day guests. We are going to take in the Dream Come True Parade because it is going to be retired in January 2014.

Can we go ride Splash Mountain? It is warm today and it would be great to cool off a bit on the ride. Splash Mountain is going to be closed for major refurbishment starting January 5, 2014 through an unannounced time in March. It looks like we will not be alone as the queue is full today.   I am going to miss this ride, how about you? Will you be visiting the Magic Kingdom to ride it?

Let’s go to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and see what’s going on there this week. We can take one of the Disney buses directly to Hollywood Studios now from the Magic Kingdom.   We can see on the Times Guide, found at the entrance, and head toward the Streets of America that a new Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special will be open for six shows a day, starting Saturday. It is located in the Premiere Theater on the Streets of America.  It is a little hard to find as there is no large signage to help you identify it. There is a small sign outside the building that identifies it as a location under renovation but does not name it as the Premiere Theater. The Comedy Warehouse Holiday Special is open December 21, 2013 through January 5, 2014   The park is fairly crowded today, but not unbearable.  I see Phineas and Ferb are out for meet and greet wearing Santa hats and knitted scarves around their necks. They are one of the best meet and greet any time of the year. The set is fun and upbeat with music playing and everyone dancing and posing.  They make it a very fun experience.  Just down the street from them is Lightening McQueen!  Oh wouldn’t we all like to have one of those in the driveway?

Heading on down this back street we arrive at the entrance to the Streets of America section of Hollywood Studios.  We don’t want to miss meeting Santa Goofy!  Turning down the Streets of America we are entering the land of the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.  During the day it is still fun to see how many strings of lights there are all over everything here. Some cute vignettes are a wooden soldier wearing a waist apron and grilling burgers, including the smell of grilled burgers.  There is a Pretzel Garden kiosk on the left that sells a variety of pretzels (Cinnamon Sugar, Jalapeño Cheese, Cream Cheese, or Mickey shaped), cheese sauce, and a Holiday special of churros served with chocolate dipping sauce in an R2D2 container. You can also purchase glazed almonds, glazed pecans, souvenir Holiday mug of Hot Cocoa, bottled water, Coca Cola bottled beverages, Samuel Adams seasonal draft or Bud Light draft. You don’t want to miss this area at night.  It is an over the top Christmas light spectacular complete with Christmas songs and even snow falling.  If you are feeling scrooge-like, take a stroll through here in the evening and it should cure it.


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I really want to get a copy of The Art of Tangled and The Art of Frozen for my very artsy kids as Christmas presents and I heard they were both on the shelves at the Magic of Disney Animation Gallery shop.  Passing through Pixar Place I see a long line at both Toy Story Midway Mania and the meet and greet area across the street. .  There is a new Joffrey’s Coffee stand in Pixar Place where you can get some of Disney’s official coffee.   A green Army Man is on the street giving a high five to a young guest.  Disney magic crosses over the child’s face and his expression is priceless.  This is why I love this place.

Hey, remember last week when Ariel waved to us from her grotto in the Magic Kingdom? Well, take a look as we round the corner to head to the Gallery…She is waving to us again! Sebastian, Flounder and her Dad are there too.  Ariel is so friendly!  Ok, I bagged both books which is awesome.  There are a few more copies of each if you want to get them too.  You will find a large collection of The Art of series here along with hand drawn pictures of many Disney characters, prints of paintings, statues, models, how to draw books, DVD’s, Jim Shore products, needlework kits of the Castle and other Disney scenes, and a fairly decent collection of pins.  Don’t miss the drawing class if you have time because it is a treasure back here.  You are taught how to draw a Disney character in less than thirty minutes.  It is magical how the Disney artists take a group of people, many of whom would not consider themselves artist, and teach them how to draw a recognizable character in that amount of time. You get to take your drawing with you too.  There is a large area of meet and greets in this attraction and some interactive games as well.  It is amazing how much is happening back here and how few guests wander back to discover it.  Take in the show with Mushu (from Mulan) where you learn what it takes to make an animated film, then stroll through a display of the latest Disney film complete with story drawings, concept art, and sculpted characters used by the artists making the film.  Currently there are items from Frozen here.

Hollywood & Vine restaurant has offered some great characters for their breakfast and lunch buffets that have delighted children of all ages for thirteen years.  They just announced that Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First will join Handy Manny and Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates beginning January 26, 2014.  Children can meet them and join in a dance with them.

Epcot has a new snack (1 snack credit) found at the Refreshment Port near the entrance to World Showcase that is a cross between a croissant and a doughnut, called a Cronut.  Looking across the lake I see the Spice Road Table is yet unopened.  Disney just delayed the opening from late 2013 to early 2014.  There is a sign up now! Are you coming to the Candlelight Processional this year?  The speakers this week are James Denton, Edward James Olmos, and Trace Adkins. Next week they will have Trace Adkins, Stephen Curtis Chapman, Blair Underwood and Amy Grant.

Animal Kingdom is making news of its own this week.  They are conducting a test of the Fast Pass+ program where all guests can use their Magic Bands, if a Disney resort guest or their RFID plastic tickets if a day guest, to use the system.  Paper Fast Pass tickets are ceased for this week as they explore this first use by regular day guests.  You can reserve up to three Fast Passes a day, once in the park for day guests, or ahead of time for resort guests. If you participated in this system tell us what you thought of it.  Don’t miss the Jingle Jungle Parade at 3:45 each day this week.  You can get a photo with your favorite Disney characters in their Holiday attire throughout the park.   The Festival of the Lion King will be moving to a new location in Africa and its final appearances in the current location is January 4, 2014.  It will reopen in its new location, but not for six months. So go and enjoy the music and dancing in this very entertaining rendition of the Lion King.  While back in Camp Minnie Mickey on your way to the Festival of the Lion King check out Chip and Dale’s Christmas tree, along with the giant acorns are gingerbread houses

Other places around the World making news: the Palm Course has reopened and it is beautiful! You will love the challenging redesign of this course and the extensive landscaping on each hole. Resort guests have free transportation from their resort to the golf courses and their return trip also.  The weather is perfect for golf so go enjoy a round on this exceptional course.

Downtown Disney: Babycakes has gluten and dairy free gingerbread people and gingerbread houses. While down there head over to one of the four food trucks open near Cirque du Soliel.   Disney is going all out to bring you some quick service, great tasting food, so don’t forget they are down there. They are close to Disney Quest where the food options are not that great, and it could be a less expensive quick meal prior to hitting the movies or the bowling lanes. The House of Blues will soon be offering quick service barbecue items, but it is still under construction behind a wall.

At the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex this week was a Disney Pin Trading night from 6 to 9PM.  It was very well attended and the unique pin for this event was one with an image of Walt Disney, the other pin was one of Merlin that will be released to the public later this month.  There were members of the team that designs Disney pins and Vinylmation in attendance, some signing their work and others were available for answering questions. Pins and Vinylmation that will be released in the next few months were also presented for viewing. This is a free event that takes place a few times a year. If you have pins, Vinylmation, or Sorcerer’s of the Magic Kingdom cards that you would like to trade there is no cost for setting them up at a table or for just roaming through and trading with those at the tables. You will see some amazing collections!  Come join the fun!  The date for the next pin trading event was not announced.

Note about Christmas Day: Historically the Magic Kingdom is full to capacity around 9AM each Christmas day.  If you have a meal reservation for that day be sure that you are inside the park and plan to stay there at least through your mealtime.  If you leave there is no guarantee you will be able to get back in the park, even with a reservation.  If you find yourself outside the Magic Kingdom, have a plan B in mind which would include which park to try to get into next.  It is Christmas so if you have young children keep in mind what they would like to do.  Is it Animal Kingdom which does have several things for children to enjoy, or Hollywood Studios where your older children can ride the thrill rides while grandparents can visit American Idol Experience? Or maybe Epcot to visit and eat in different countries after enjoying Test Track or Soarin’? It may even be warm enough for Blizzard Beach. Don’t forget your resort pool for a relaxing swim before your Christmas dinner.  A round of Miniature Golf for the whole family could be a fun and relaxing alternative to the busy parks. You know your family, what would be the best way for you to enjoy Christmas Day at Walt Disney World? Tell us what you think you would do.

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.