Walt Disney World New & Notes

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December 3, 2012 Magic Kingdom
and EPCOT Notes
The new sign on the Ferry side of the exit is missing for some reason. The project on the Guest Relations side of the gates is still going.
Is it just me or are the decorations
on these trees a little skimpy?
Christmas in the Kingdom The soldiers are everywhere
in the town square.
Santa is available for photos in the courtyard next to Town Hall.
No tree or garlands on Main Street because of the Christmas Parade filming this week. Trees at Main Street Station. I think these garlands on the back
of the castle are new this year.
They were filming something just off Main Street this afternoon. I guess the family is floating
in front of the castle?
It was odd not having background music playing because of the filming
The talking trashcan was rolling around on the Tomorrowland bridge. Aren't there enough princess attractions already? Jewelry featuring
Tahitian Terrace Restaurant.
The Seven Dwarves Mine continues to grow Looks like the HVAC is being installed for the station and indoor portions
The new construction wall looks so good! Why did it take so long to put up a nice looking wall when it was going to be there for years. There are now two places where you can look through the wall and
into the construction area and EVERYONE is taking a peek.
Here's a look through the boarded up mine entrance into the construction area.
The other window... ...and the view from it.

Kudos to Disney for taking advantage of the construction and improving the walls. Rather than ignore the construction, they're now giving guests a glimpse behind the scenes. Guests seem to love it, and it gets them excited about the new things coming rather than trying to hide a huge construction project.
The mesh for the rockwork
is going up quickly.
That's a lot of framework.
They're working inside the
tunnel as well as outside.
  Some sections of construction
wall are down on this side.
Building facades are starting to take shape on the back side of the mountain.
More of the buildings taking shape. Lots of new graphics on the walls
 as well now.
There are a couple of these preview artwork panels on the walls.
The other art panels feature the Seven Dwarves in scenes relating to the attractions around them.
The new fence looks so much better than the red/blue/green
construction fence that had been up for so long already.
A "popcorn seller" cast member doing pin trading with a
popcorn pin tray. Very clever!
The new restrooms are really coming along with the new Rapunzel
tower in place and a lot of the finish work happening.
The tower has really great details.
It looks really nice from Fantasyland, with much better forced perspective than the Beast's Castle.

It really looks like Rapunzel's tower is just about 10 feet too tall. It stands above the trees, and just making it a little shorter or moving it further back might do the trick.

Of course, in the movie Rapunzel's tower was in a secluded valley so it couldn't be seen by the outside world, so it doesn't really make sense to have it ABOVE Fantasyland either (let alone Liberty Square and Frontierland).
It seems a little too tall from Frontierland and Liberty Square. The ivy on the tower is a little too fake looking right now.
The paving in front of the new restrooms is coming along as well.
The new DVC wing of the Grand Floridian is coming along quickly.
Test Track reopens this week and has already had a soft opening to guests.
TT Trashcans The new queue area.
The new interactive design elements in the queue. More queue

The new version of Test Track is a big improvement over the old version, much more in keeping with the idea of EPCOT and looking at the future rather than just being a thrill ride with a weak story.
Boarding area On the ride
The cool looking new vehicles.
Revamped displays and interactive elements in the exit area.
October 24, 2012 Magic Kingdom
and EPCOT Notes
Watch for
Food & Wine 2012

pics coming soon!
Aladdin's Carpets suddenly closed
for refurb out of the blue.
  There's an infrastructure project happening near the TTC.
Not sure if it's drainage going in or underground cables or something else?
Many of the shops have started changing over from Halloween displays to Christmas.
Work is going full tilt at Test Track and I've heard the new vehicles are testing after hours.
The pavement in front of  Electric Umbrella is being torn up for something.
The new meet & greet in France is done and looks nice with its art nouveau railings.
October 12, 2012 Magic Kingdom Notes
--Soft Opening of New Fantasyland--
Today the "new" Fantasyland soft opened for a dress rehearsal Overall nice first impression with the trees.
Lots of great touches and details throughout the area, but a lot of head scratching bad/weird ideas and choices. This is a three dimensional sign except for the candles (even though they are visible from all sides). Entrance to Belle's
The trees are nice and really needed Very cute looking facade. The popcorn machine came
back to its new home.
The gift shop was smaller than I expected, but nice overall. The faux wood isn't very well done. Maybe it needs a final coat of something, but it looks very fake.
They actually have some unique merchandise here. There's also a lot of the same stuff they sell everywhere in the park.
Cute overall, but... ...this is creepy and weird looking! Walk around Gaston.
The statue in the square Exterior of Gaston's Tavern Once again very bad faux woodwork.
The menu for Gaston's. The tavern is VERY small and cramped.
Seems like a poor design choice was made here when you see one dining room only has capacity for 24 guests and the other probably can hold less than 100 guests.
This is the bigger dining room.
The fire effect was really bad. True to form the Tavern is full of antlers.
This is the small dining room. More of the bad faux.
Looks more like a ren-faire.
The restrooms are hidden through the arch, much
like the ones over by Pinocchio Village Haus.
The water features are great and
add a lot to the atmosphere.
Be Our Guest was not open and won't be for a while longer.
The gargoyles are great features. The forced perspective on the castle isn't very convincing.
The doors to the restaurant are impressive looking.
The castle looks better from a distance than up close.
It really just looks like what it is, a small model of a castle.
Very un-Disney like to just plant a speaker in the middle of things rather than hiding it or disguising it.
The best part of the whole area is the sound of water everywhere and the trees.
It really brought some nature into Fantasyland that has been lacking for a long time.
Little Mermaid's entrance looks good overall.
The queue is really nice looking overall.
You get too close to the building facade
for the forced perspective to work right.
There's a Fast Pass queue though I don't see the ride needing it.
Some of the better details
are little ones.
This is one of the big problems I have with a lot of Disney's recent additions (Everest being the prime example). They seem to forget scale matters. The building facade has lots of details that are supposed to be "real life sized" but are scaled down for the forced perspective to work. So this railing would be about 3 feet in full scale, but is just as tall as the barrel tiles next to it (I guess they're super-huge tiles?)
The waterfalls are nice.
When guests are this close to the facade (about 20-30 feet away), the forced perspective just doesn't work The transition between French country and beachy themed Mermaid is kind of abrupt.
The winding queue is nice and secluded.
The waterfalls should help keep things a little cooler in the summer heat.
Kids seem to like the queue. Once inside a Scuttle animatronic greets us.
The interior queue is nice and tells the story inside the dome.
There are lots of nice details throughout the queue area
Entering the loading area the typical guest reaction was "it's the same ride as the Nemo ride"
More of the details. The typical omnimover loading area, but it feels like SeaWorld.
Entering the ride. Scuttle set's things up for the story.
It's very bright and you see the
other vehicles a lot on this ride.
Plunging under the water. Looking up to the water surface.
The first time we see Ariel.
The scenes are full of movement, but generally simple movement.
Most of the effects are simple like Small World's Dancing Arial.
This is the "improved hair" version of Ariel.
Going around the scene give a good chance to see it all.
The Ursula animatronic is really impressive.
The contrast of the CGI screen is kind of startling in the ride. Another place where the other guests vehicles are very visible.
My ride broke down right here so I got to see the animatronics go through their whole cycle several times. 
And we get the happy ending scene.
The fireworks projections at the end were well done.
Scuttle wraps things up at the end of the ride. Unloading area.
As you unload you can see the track layout on the control panel. Just outside is Ariel's Grotto
The Grotto area is nice, but the cartoony seaweed seems like a weird choice
The railings and fixtures are very reminiscent of Lost Continent at Islands of Adventure
and the 20,000 Leagues area that used to be here.
The Imagineers on hand were reminding everyone that this is still a work in progress, and overall it's a nice addition but it really doesn't seem to have added much capacity that is still needed in the park.

The new castle walls separating the new and old Fantasyland areas look good, but they play really bad (and loud) fake bird calls. I found this kind of weird and hopefully it gets changed over time. The spires all have flags on them now.
The Seven Dwarves Mine is still a work in progress.
Work is really coming along
on the new restrooms.
The rocks are looking more
complete now as well.
I've heard Country Bears renovation
is coming along well.
The Fast Pass area is all open now.
Silly Sideshow is now open and running for photos.
Inside the tent
With all of the Storybook Circus now on line, it seems strange that the interactive Dumbo queue is not open yet. Since it's essentially an elaborate McDonald's Play Place with TGIFriday's beepers, its odd that they haven't opened it.
This weird structure was up at the front gate. It looks like it just has cameras mounted on it, and I wonder if it's some kind of test. There's a construction wall up
at this end of the turnstiles.
I'm guessing this is some
kind of upgrade happening.
The new Alice themed water play structure is open at the Grand Floridian.
The tipping hat bucket is really small but makes a nice splash.  
The Grand Floridian wing is making good progress.
October 1, 2012 Magic Kingdom & EPCOT Notes
A new sign has been added near the Ferry side exit gate. The old Swan Boat dock is out of rehab wrappings now.
Doesn't look like anything has changed overall. More of the rockwork structure is going up on the lift hill roof New circus themed popcorn
wagon has been added.
The finished portal with the lights on. The Big Top Souvenirs shop is
now open and looks nice.
The center is a candy
and drink counter.
Dipping fresh caramel apples The circus wagon cashwraps are really nice looking.
If there's any problem with the store it's that it's too crowded with fixtures even when the crowds were light. The "center ring" is designed to look
like canvas stitched together.
There are frozen drinks
available at the counter.
Another of the circus wagon cashwraps.
There's Dumbo and Storybook Circus merchandise available inside as well.
More Dumbo stuff The tent looks really nice. The "back" entrance.
Another view as it gets darker. The meet & greet area isn't open yet, but will exit into the shop. This covered area offers seating as well as Fast Pass for Dumbo and Barnstormer.
New hot dog and pretzel carts offer food in the area when they're open. Spaceship Earth is all set with the new Fast Pass (you can see how much it needs it).
Work is still going full speed at Test Track. So the new "cabin" in front of Canada is a DVC booth with stuff to amuse the kids while the parents get the sales pitch.
Watch for EPCOT 30th Anniversary and Food & Wine Festival pictures coming soon!
September 28, 2012 Magic Kingdom
and EPCOT Center Notes
Busy night at Magic Kingdom with the Halloween Party. Looks like Christmas is almost here
with all the lights up on Cinderella Castle.
The gingerbread cookie mix
has arrived in stores.
This light-up Leota snow globe is new Construction wall up at Magic Carpets...maybe for Fast Pass?
The new Fast Pass pods are in
place at the Haunted Mansion.
The Haunted Mansion cart has
been moved back over to the
exit in a new cutout in the wall.
Not a lot of visible progress
since our last check in.
More finishing details are in place on the new walls. The "Be Our Guest Restaurant"
sign is now up.
New snow covered trees are up
near the Beast's Castle.
The beginnings of the framework for the rockwork
on top of the mountain is now in place.
The new Storybook Circus portal appears to be complete now.
Construction walls are down around the tents now with the opening day scheduled for Sunday the 30th.
The area is really colorful with all of the posters in place.
I understand that the calliope
 is supposed to be
an interactive element.
I didn't realize there was a dining area,
but apparently that's what this patio is.
More of those circus posters featuring lesser known Disney characters.
The signage is all very big and colorful.
Crews are still hard at work on the new DVC wing of the Grand Floridian.
The structure seems to be coming along, with walls going up soon.
The clearing of the brush on the island in the Lagoon seems to be complete
There's something going on in the middle of the island...what's under that tarp?
The Four Seasons is now
visible above the trees.
The entrance gates are almost completely repainted blue. Much better than the pink. Big crowd at EPCOT for the
opening of Food & Wine today.
Watch for Food & Wine Festival 2012 and
EPCOT 30th
pictures coming soon!
Test Track is still a work in progress.   The Food & Wine Festival Center.
It's hard to see but all of the food stands have LONG lines.
September 14, 2012 Magic Kingdom
and Disney's Animal Kingdom Notes
There seem to be construction walls all over Animal Kingdom. And lots of nets...
This seems like a strange solution to the structural problems the Tree of Life is having
The structure obscures a lot of the animal carvings which are the point of the Tree of Life.
I guess unlike the Swiss Family Tree, this one wasn't built to last
Construction scrim One of the best parts of the Tree was all the pathways around it, some of which are now blocked off Supposedly Camp Minnie Mickey's days are numbered now...
With the amount people pay to
stay on site, you'd think
they'd put more buses on.
The Fall/Halloween decorations in front of the Liberty Tree Tavern
are really nice.
The new restroom village is coming along nicely.
The rocks are getting their concrete layers now
The HVAC system is going
into the buildings
Can't wait to see the finished product The lights are going up on
Cinderella Castle.
It's mid September and already time for Christmas decorating! The new wall looks good and those stupid coats of arms are gone!
One criticism is the scale of the chandeliers doesn't work
on the smaller arches, especially after dark.
New Fast Pass machines going
into the Pooh queue
It seems like every day the construction walls move again! Seven Dwarves Coaster
Mountain going up! The lift hill and first drop are now in place!
The track looks huge in proportion to the mountain
It seems strange to me they put the track in after the structure went up around it
The window in the tower was moved and the original location is being filled in. Still working on the grass above the giant Cinnabon Still some bald patches on this end
No more progress made on the Storybook Circus portal They added a (pretty) lightning rod to the Fantasyland Station, but it blocks the view of the weathervane. Those will be the prime rooms with the Magic Kingdom view!
The rain is about to cover the
Grand Floridian
There's still more clearing on the island in the Lagoon.
Not sure why they're clearing the brush, but they seem to be clearing too much in some cases since the island
is supposed to serve as a visual break between the hotels.
September 11, 2012 Magic Kingdom,
Grand Floridian Construction and EPCOT Notes
Today was the 11th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the United States, and all the flags at Disney were at half staff in remembrance.
This was also opening night for Mickey's Halloween Party.
Light crowds now that it's September... The wrap on Yankee Trader is huge!
A look over the walls at the construction area... A bridge is in place so I guess there will be a new water feature
The frames of the rockwork are really starting to take shape
Overviews of the project area Can't wait to see it all done!
So, Yankee Trader is still open during the construction but... ...there's only one door.
That seems kind of dangerous and possibly illegal if there was a fire.
The stairway at Pinocchio's has been walled off now Overview of the new gateway There was a concrete pumper on site working on the Mine area
Looks like the start of a peak on the new mountain Lots of structure in place at the center of the area,
but apparently no track has been installed yet.
Palm trees now in place in front of the Little Mermaid The grass is still being installed More new trees in place
around the Circus tents 
More of the portal structure is up The trees seem awfully close to the tent... A tent facade is being added
to the pump house for the
Casey Junior play area
There was some kind of promo or commercial shoot taking place in Storybook Circus The "families" were waiting
here between shots
Then they waved at the train as it came into the station
There was a LOT of equipment out there for the shoot. Around the railway they seem to be replacing some rails.
For the MNSSHP they seem to have set up an Alice themed trail The stuff they setup along the path was cute...
...but for $65 a ticket for the event there should be better decorations than two dimensional cutouts.
As I left Magic Kingdom at 3:40 the banners were going up
People in costume started arriving early in the afternoon I'm guessing because it was 9/11 the patrol boats were on high alert. This one kept going between the ferries and the small boats Work is still going full tilt at the
new Grand Floridian building.
Fancy construction walls! The crews were hard at work all over the site.
Amazing how fast a project for DVC goes up in comparison to a new attraction...
Lots of construction walls up! The new play structure More walls ready to go up
The main pool area was getting walled off today The lounge is getting renovated too
Just construction all over at the Grand Floridian right now! This HUGE spider was hanging out over at the Polynesian The monorail interiors need some cleaning or updating...ewwww!
The front of Test Track is all torn up Looks like new cables going into
the turnstile area at EPCOT
Some cool retro merchandise
I never noticed this timeline in the back hallway at Inoventions West
It needs updating for the 30th anniversary this year!
Halloween stuff at Mouse Gear I love Phineas & Ferb, but they don't belong in EPCOT...
Supposedly this is a new
character meet & greet going in
(just what we all needed!)
I'm guessing this will be a permanent food stand in front of Canada Food & Wine kiosks are getting setup
Hawaii (I think?)    
    I think this Florida booth is new
  Concert lineup  
My favorite country...CHEESE!!! South Africa?  
    Modern land? I have no idea...
September 5, 2012 Magic Kingdom Notes
The new DVC wing of the Grand Floridian is up to five stories tall now, which I guess is as tall
as it will get since the other buildings of the hotel are five stories tall.
They're doing some clearing on one of the islands on the Lagoon.
There's a chipper out there and a clearing straight across the island.
The Swan Boat landing is now completely wrapped.
No idea what's happening with this. Not much progress has taken place on the grass installation. The Seven Dwarves Mine building is really coming along.
That's a lot of roof going up. The Storybook Circus portal is up, but there's still a lot of work to do.
The signs are looking really good all around the Storybook Circus
Two of the "new" style Fast Pass machines are in front of Dumbo. So nice to see the crowds thinned out now that summer is over!
The path has been re-routed to the back side of the new castle walls. Really cool new views! It's all coming together now.
I can't wait to see the finished product. Scrims are up on Philharmagic and Pinocchio Village Haus
The wall looks good with the arches and light fixtures, but these coats of arms look a little cheap.
Overall nice details. Looking back towards the
shops and restaurants.
The roof line on the new restrooms is taking shape, looking like a small village.
I don't know what this dome is but I think it could be a windmill. I have a felling these roofs will be thatch once it's complete. Another rehab taking place in Frontierland/Adventureland.
The remote control boats are closed and it looks like the water
has been drained as work begins on the Jungle Cruise area.
Despite just being a couple of days into September, the Magic Kingdom is in full Halloween mode.
Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party starts in less than one week.
The decorations look to be all the same ones used last year
Fall colors and pumpkins are everywhere...even though it was 92 degrees today!
All of Main Street is decked out.
Some of the decorations are showing their age and are fading or looking worn
Of course the decorations will be in place for two months, then change to Christmas in November
The interiors of the shops have plenty of Halloween merchandise
Lots of new stuff for 2012
There's a lot of Haunted Mansion themed products this year
Liberty Square is also decorated and Heritage House is converting to a Halloween store.
Giant pumpkins and fall leaf garlands are everywhere
Lighting towers are in place along the parade route As the sun sets it looks even more Halloween-like
Now we just need the weather to cool off to make it really feel like Halloween in Orlando!
August 29, 2012 Downtown Disney Notes
The EPCOT Flower & Garden topiaries are setup in Downtown Disney for some  reason.  Work is still continuing on the "new" volcano at the Rain Forest Cafe. 
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