As discussed in our Disney’s Hollywood Studios February 2019 Update, we’re going to be taking a different approach with these going forward, making them a hybrid construction update and atmospheric photo reports. Think of the new style as quasi trip reports with construction photos in them for some reason or another.
No better place to give this a test run is Magic Kingdom, which is looking absolutely spectacular for spring. Flower beds throughout the park have been freshly-planted, most construction walls are down (save for the corner of Tomorrowland), and the park is generally looking spiffy.
Our visit for this update came after the Princess Half Marathon. Road restrictions throughout Walt Disney World had just lifted, but for some reason or another, the park was a ghost town as we entered just after rope drop.
While I didn’t think much of it at the time, there wasn’t a single bus dropping guests off when walked past those stations. Calling that atypical is an understatement–even when we leave Magic Kingdom well after park closing, there are typically several buses just ‘hanging out.’
We later found out that the road closures didn’t all end on time, and that there were “other issues” post-race. No clue what those could’ve been.
This is according to a Cast Member we overheard at Crystal Palace, who also said that they were still seating guests with ADRs for around 9 a.m. at nearly noon.
I didn’t talk to this Cast Member or inquire elsewhere for an explanation, and we’d normally know better than to rely upon stray comments from frontline Cast Members. However, this passes the smell test give the total lack of crowds we observed for the first couple hours Magic Kingdom was open.
The above was shot just after 10 a.m.; both Liberty Square and Frontierland had large swaths of pavement that were entirely empty. In fairness, these are the last areas of Magic Kingdom to get ‘busy’ any morning, but this dearth of crowds is still rare.
My favorite walkway in Magic Kingdom, totally empty.
I spent an inordinate amount of time photographing this pathway, as I’ve never seen it like this during daytime hours. I have a ton of night photos like this, but no morning ones.
An empty park was hardly necessary for this photo, but I liked the way the morning light was hitting the mist.
That book is beautifully-photographed, and is simultaneously stunning and depressing. It’s the latter because it shows how there’s less of an emphasis on horticulture now than in the late 1980s, when it was published.
The point of this tangent is that this is the closest to “Garden Book Form” I’ve seen Magic Kingdom in quite some time.
Granted, I think we missed the optimal spring time last year, so I can’t say whether Walt Disney World has upped its game in the horticulture department this year, or if we just haven’t timed visits well the last couple of years. Either way, the park is looking beautiful.
My biggest regret is that I only brought my Sony mirrorless camera rather than my Nikon. More and more, I’ve been leaving my camera bag and just taking the camera with a lens (and in this case, another pancake lens in my pocket).
After our holiday-time experiences at Disneyland last year with hellacious lines at bag check, I’ve been spooked, I think. This is totally irrational, as Walt Disney World never has bag check lines that bad.
I’m not completely sure why I’m sharing this, but I feel like perhaps writing it down will commit me to make a concerted effort to remedying this irrational desire to leave the camera bag behind.
Anyway, moving along…
With pretty much everything being a walk-on, we had our pick of attractions.
Naturally, we chose to start our day by rope-dropping the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover.
Before you guffaw at our “error,” I should point out that the longest line(s) we’ve waited in this year have been for the PeopleMover.
Pretty much every attraction we enjoy most either has FastPass+ (in which case we only do it with that or around park closing) or is unpopular and rarely has a wait. The PeopleMover used to occupy the latter category, but the lines for it have been getting worse and worse of late, which we covered in our last update.
Of course, the PeopleMover also functions as a decent option for construction photos of the Tomorrowland construction projects.
We were totally going to buy a helicopter for such purposes, but we accidentally blew our chopper budget on character ice cream cones. I have zero regrets.
Here’s a look at the Tron Lightcycle Power Run construction; this area continues to grow, with a huge plot of land backstage being visible from the PeopleMover.
It’s difficult to tell when you’re viewing static photos that mostly just look like dirt, but work is really moving quickly on this project. The target date for this has always been “in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary,” which is October 2021. I’m starting to wonder if there’s a desire to have it done well before then.
Tomorrowland Speedway also remains closed while track work is done there to accommodate Tron Lightcycle Power Run.
I can appreciate that this is an important, rite of passage Walt Disney World attraction that should not close permanently. Nonetheless, I really wish something more significant were being done to it. Both from an aesthetic perspective and in terms of modernizing the vehicles.
Over in Fantasyland, there are walls up around Castle Couture.
I assume this is some preventative maintenance and facade work, but that’s just a guess.
For the first time in ages, we witnessed the Sword in the Stone ceremony!
Some history on this ceremony: it used to be performed by Merlin and was a regular thing. It wasn’t a huge thing, but like so many Walt Disney World ‘magical moments’ left a lasting impression on those who participated. That was discontinued in 2006, if I recall correctly. Since around 2012, these performers (who arrived with New Fantasyland) have done it on intermittent occasion. Late last year, the Sword in the Stone disappeared for refurbishment, returning in mid-December.
I’m not sure whether the Sword in the Stone ceremony has returned post-refurbishment as a regular thing, or if we just got lucky with an intermittent performance. I sure hope it’s the former.
All in all, it was a great day in Magic Kingdom. We had the park almost totally devoid of crowds for the first couple hours it was open, got to eat a lot of ice cream, and were able to enjoy/photograph some pretty flowers. Naturally, the crowds did show up and by midday the park was both hot and crowded…but hopefully we have another chance or two to experience both low crowds and nice weather in Magic Kingdom this year!
What do you think about springtime in Magic Kingdom? Like the flowers and ‘classic formula’ of the park, sans seasonal decor? Thoughts or insights about current construction projects in Magic Kingdom? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing your feedback—even when you disagree with us—is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!