We return to Magic Kingdom for another park report. In this Walt Disney World update, we’ll take a look at current crowds, construction, changes, plus a sensational sunset and enjoyable evening in Magic Kingdom.
As has been covered previously, wait times are down 40% or more at Walt Disney World since the holiday season ended. We expect this trend to continue through at least early to mid-March 2021. Crowds have started to climb towards the end of this week, but Magic Kingdom was still averaging 25 minute posted waits heading into the holiday weekend. That’s still better than every month since last August.
However, as we’ve stressed repeatedly, all bets are off this weekend and throughout next week. We’ve already started spotting an increase in LSU and Saints shirts (no such love for the poor Pelicans!), and it’s safe to expect that to accelerate today and into the weekend. Hopefully we’re wrong, but our expectation is peak crowds this weekend and moderate to heavy beginning next Tuesday through the following weekend…
The good news is that even when Magic Kingdom is busy, it’s still possible to have a satisfying and productive day in the park. That’s especially the case this coming long weekend when the park is open until 10 pm. Arrive 45 minutes before rope drop and follow our 1-Day Magic Kingdom Itinerary, for starters.
Another key piece of advice for the coming week: embrace the midday break. Rather than going back to your resort, we’d highly recommend doing lunch outside the park–take a bucolic boat ride and enjoy a fantastic feast, which is also a great value for families.
Your goal should be to stay until closing, which requires outlasting the crowds. That can be difficult to accomplish if you spend the entire day in Magic Kingdom, so don’t feel bad about taking a break. Sometimes a respite from the crowds and chaos is necessary to power through the full day.
The point is that it’s not all doom and gloom if you’re visiting when Walt Disney World is busy. That’s true whether it’s this coming week or any time. Anyway, on with this Magic Kingdom report…
While EPCOT’s Flower & Garden Festival is always what garners the attention at Walt Disney World every spring, Magic Kingdom is also looking good.
Vibrant and varied flowers are taking over the planters on Main Street, including behind the Sharing the Magic statue, around Partners, and throughout the Central Plaza. Love these pops of color!
The solid yellow flower bed around Partners isn’t my favorite, but I’d give it a respectable 7/10. Looks pretty against the Royal Makeover of Cinderella Castle.
In my opinion, Disneyland typically has a much stronger flower game around its Partners statue. In particular, I’m fond of when they use something I call “sword lilies.” That may or may not be their real name, so here’s a file photo of what I’m talking about:
Whatever they’re called, I’m a big fan of these flowers. Roses are all the rage for Valentine’s Day, but how much of that is simply tradition? Maybe it’s time to mix things up and give these to the special person in your life. If you ask me–and you definitely shouldn’t–sword lilies are more unique, romantic, and objectively superior to roses.
As much as I might want to become an “inflorescence influencer,” flowers are like UFOs to me: I very much enjoy the idea of them, but also find them intimidating because there’s so much about them I simply cannot comprehend. My trepidations aren’t helped by the fact that I’ve gotten in a lot of trouble for accidentally killing and/or running them over with the lawn mower. (Flowers, not UFOs.)
You’re probably not here for my uninformed horticulture hot takes, so let’s turn to something that is in my wheelhouse: Country Bear Jamboree.
Between the spring flowers and Wendell, beauty really is all around us in Magic Kingdom!
Here’s a wider look at this area of Frontierland.
Not going to fixate on crowds, but it was a pretty quiet day in Magic Kingdom. Not quite to the degree of a week or two ago, but still better than October through December.
Splash Mountain didn’t receive its annual winter refurbishment this year, which might seem unsurprising given last summer’s announcement that that Splash Mountain will be overhauled to a the Princess and the Frog attraction at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. It would make some degree of sense to thus defer maintenance until that work begins.
However, there’s still no start date on that project, and it’s rumored to be after the 50th Anniversary. If that’s the case, Splash Mountain could be in rough shape by the time it goes down.
Hall of Presidents is still closed to add a President Biden Audio Animatronics figure. Walt Disney World hasn’t really said anything about the project (no surprise) and no reopening date has been set.
In our updated 2021 Walt Disney World Refurbishment Calendar, we offer speculation about the scope of this work, potential reopening date, what’s unlikely to change, and more.
Similar story over in Tomorrowland at the Peoplemover (minus the Biden part).
This unannounced refurbishment will soon eclipse a year, with no end in sight. It would be great if some upgrades were made to the show scenes during the extended downtime–that would be a perfect 50th Anniversary plussing–but we’re not getting our hopes up.
Lots of updates on Tomorrowland’s upcoming coaster in TRON Lightcycle Run Info: Opening, Construction Photos & Concept Art.
It’s still wild to me that this narrow area between the Space Mountain gift shop and Tomorrowland Speedway will be the main thoroughfare for accessing the blockbuster new attraction. I wonder how long it’ll be before this sees a walkway widening project.
Over in Fantasyland, work is being done to the queue of Peter Pan’s Flight.
This pushes the exterior line out into the narrow walkway in front of the Tangled toilets, but that’s no issue right now given low crowd levels. Even if it were a problem, we’re on board with more aesthetic refreshes to Fantasyland. The finished facade of it’s a small world looks fantastic!
On another optimistic note, the Rivers of America has been refilled.
Both the Liberty Square Riverboat and Tom Sawyer Island are now open again, and look great. Everything got a fresh coat of paint (or more) during the project.
Here’s a video Sarah shot offering a few “minutes of Magic.”
For years, we’ve gushed about the ambiance of the secluded walkway along the Rivers of America. We’ve always enjoyed serene strolls early in the morning or late at night along this boardwalk. The same is true right now any time of day; it’s just nice to be outdoors, enjoying the kinetic energy of Magic Kingdom.
Speaking of being outdoors and enjoying the kinetic energy of Magic Kingdom…that’s what we spent a lot of the early afternoon and evening doing.
In the photos that follow, you’ll see pretty much the same scene over the course of 90 minutes: from golden hour to evening.
During much of that time, Sarah sat by the opposite waterfall, behind Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, simply soaking up the sounds of Tomorrowland and the rushing water, while viewing the explosion of color in the sky.
It was tranquil and decompressing, with few passersby and only the occasional guest stopping for selfies.
Or so I’m told.
I’m like a rambunctious toddler with restless legs syndrome. I can’t sit still for long, especially when a beautiful sunset is enticing me to run all over taking photos.
Power walking around the park might not sound like fun, but that is my own version of decompressing. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten “in the zone” while taking photos at Walt Disney World, but it was nice to be back.
It makes me really want to take more evening excursions to the parks to focus on photography before Daylight Saving Time starts.
One of my personal challenges with these park reports is the photos. Some need to be illustrative, but balance is key. Changes and construction progress are worth showing, because you can’t exactly visualize that without seeing it.
However, I should be able tell you the wait time is 15 minutes at Space Mountain without a photo to “prove” it every time. Rehashing the same subjects over and over makes these less interesting for me to do and, presumably, the commentary suffers as a result. (Writing this feels eerily familiar…like I reminded myself of this out loud prior to the parks closing last year.) Regardless, it’s good to reflect and tweak the approach of these posts rather than falling into a rut.
EPCOT has become our go-to park in the evenings because parking and getting inside are less of a hassle (one of the weird byproducts of being a local; we used to love the anticipation-building approach to Magic Kingdom), but it’s hard to argue with Magic Kingdom at night.
This visit was a great reminder of that. We had a blast, leaving refreshed and excited, despite logging 10+ miles. We’ll definitely be making a point of more evening excursions to Magic Kingdom in the next month-plus while Florida’s weather is still nice and the park stays open after sunset. So stay tuned for a lot more golden hour and nighttime photos (and thoughts, I guess?) from Magic Kingdom. Just not this coming week!
Planning a Walt Disney World trip? Learn about hotels on our Walt Disney World Hotels Reviews page. For where to eat, read our Walt Disney World Restaurant Reviews. To save money on tickets or determine which type to buy, read our Tips for Saving Money on Walt Disney World Tickets post. Our What to Pack for Disney Trips post takes a unique look at clever items to take. For what to do and when to do it, our Walt Disney World Ride Guides will help. For comprehensive advice, the best place to start is our Walt Disney World Trip Planning Guide for everything you need to know!
Planning on visiting Magic Kingdom this holiday weekend or during Mardi Gras? If you’ve visited Magic Kingdom this month, what has been your experience with crowds and wait times? Enjoy a good sunset and nighttime visit to the park? Has this blog post inspire you to purchase sword lilies (or whatever they’re called) for Valentine’s Day? Thoughts about anything else covered here? Do you plan on visiting Walt Disney World this year, or are you sitting it out until 2022? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!