After our third day split between Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot, our second-to-last day at Walt Disney World was Magic Kingdom day. Sarah and I had quite a bit of work to get done, so it was a bit of a late start, too.
It may seem like Magic Kingdom day would be a poor time to not rope drop the park. After all, attractions like Peter Pan’s Flight, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Space Mountain, etc. etc. etc., all develop long lines and it’s difficult if not impossible to score FastPass+ for all of them.
However, my parents’ Magic Kingdom priorities are not the same as the vast majority of guests. Instead, they wanted to Walt Disney World classics like Country Bear Jamboree, Carousel of Progress, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover, and Hall of Presidents. Gee, I wonder where they got such good taste in attractions. (Err, maybe that’s the other way around…)
We’ll start with (what I think is) an interesting comparison of changing light, and how that impacts photos. These were all taken in the span of maybe 10 minutes, while my parents shopped on Main Street…
This is a pretty standard view of Cinderella Castle rising above Main Street with clouds behind it. A normal scene in Florida.
This is only a couple of minutes later, and is a much rarer sight. Notice that Cinderella Castle is brightly lit, which isn’t altogether unusual on its own, but also that it has thick storm clouds behind it. The sun had peaked out from behind the clouds to illuminate it. I like the contrast.
That view was short-lived, as the cloud cover further thickened, totally blocking the sun. I don’t like this shot at all. It looks flat and bland as compared to the previous one.
Just thought that’d be interesting to illustrate how light can dramatically change how a scene looks in a photo. Note that these photos would look substantially the same if taken with an iPhone, so it’s something to be mindful of even if you’re not a “serious” photographer.
After those photos on Main Street and perusing some shops, we ended up rope dropping Country Bear Jamboree. Technically, we didn’t ‘rope drop’ it since we arrived around noon, but it was still the first thing we did.
Obviously, they loved Country Bear Jamboree. My parents aren’t chumps; they recognize a witty, brilliantly-written attraction when they see it.
Afterwards, my mom lamented the fact that Disney hadn’t done more with the Country Bears, suggesting they’d be perfect for a hotel. Please, no one tell her what almost was.
The next stop was Splash Mountain. Not for the attraction, but for the Briar Patch gift shop. We visited a lot of gift shops.
Following that, we did Haunted Mansion. This was one of the more notable uses of the Disability Access Service Card. This took us away from the main queue into a tight hallway near the exit. It seemed odd for such a tight space to be used, and it was a convoluted and uncomfortable process.
The same thing occurred with ‘it’s a small world’, where Cast Members seemed to have a very haphazard way of dealing with those using the card.
Our experiences using the Disability Access Service Card were all over the place. For some attractions (Frozen Ever After and Toy Story Mania come to mind), Cast Members couldn’t have been more accommodating, and were incredibly helpful and friendly.
In other cases, the process was cumbersome and Cast Members treated us almost as a burden. It’d make sense that these things would go hand-in-hand, as the ADA retrofit on these attractions made the process unpleasant for guests–but also for them. I can imagine that this is a hassle for them, but they should still do a better job of making guests feel welcome.
For older Magic Kingdom attractions, I don’t think there’s any easy solution. Rebuilding the queues simply isn’t feasible, so these are always going to be at least somewhat convoluted. What could be improved is the guest service, perhaps with specific Cast Members, well-versed in policy and with high-service marks, devoted to Disability Access Service Card guests.
Given the number of people perpetually in line at these attractions, I don’t think allocating a Cast Member to Disability Access Service Card access, exclusively, at each attraction would be unduly burdensome.
After this, we did the Little Mermaid dark ride. I still can’t recall the name of this without looking it up. The Disney California Adventure and Magic Kingdom versions each have different names, both of which are equally cumbersome and forgettable. What happened to the good ‘ole days of succinct attraction names?
On the plus side, Disability Access Service Card access here was incredibly smooth, and the Cast Members were once again great.
We then headed over to Tomorrowland, hyped for Carousel of Progress and the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover. Both were down. This sort of threw a monkey-wrench into our plans. Rather than criss-crossing the park for Pirates of the Caribbean or Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, we decided to go the ‘less-walking’ route, and wait it out.
We got ice cream from Auntie Gravity’s (speaking of names–I’ve always thought the pun game here is strong), grabbed tables over by Space Mountain, and waited. And waited.
The tables by Tomorrowland Speedway aren’t exactly the most pleasant place to relax in the park, so we wandered back along the path that connects Tomorrowland to Storybook Circus.
This is such a peaceful path and even though there are rarely many people on it, it amazes me that there’s ever anyone on it. It’s a path I don’t think you’re going to find unless you’re deliberately looking for it or you get really turned around. (Be honest: how many of you didn’t even know this path existed?)
It was quite pretty back along the path, with flowers in bloom along the edge of the Speedway and nice views of Space Mountain.
We were closing in on the end of the day for my parents, so I was really hopeful Carousel of Progress and the Peoplemover would be back up and running, but they were not. For most people, this probably wouldn’t be a big deal, but Carousel of Progress was up there for them as one of the top ‘must dos’ in all of Walt Disney World. We could skip just about every headliner…we couldn’t skip Carousel of Progress.
Sitting around waiting wasn’t going to make it open any sooner, though. Instead, we decided we’d return to Magic Kingdom the following day (for at least part of the day) as there were still several attractions they wanted to do, and realistically, they couldn’t do it all that day. On Page 2 we’ll continue with sunset at the Grand Floridian, front-row Wishes, and more…