We return to Magic Kingdom for another Walt Disney World progress report. We’ll cover the Super Bowl parade and crowds, TRON Lightcycle Run construction, more on the aesthetic overhaul of Tomorrowland, plus other recent and upcoming changes.
Let’s start by looking forward. Villains After Hours returns to Magic Kingdom this Friday, February 7, 2020. We’re actually fairly enthusiastic about this hard ticket party–so long as the low crowds it had last year remain. Read our Villains After Hours Review & Tips post for a recap, photos, and how much you can expect to get done.
Walt Disney World’s “strategy” of making evening Extra Magic Hours unpleasant (something covered in our Is Walt Disney World’s On-Site Advantage Disappearing? post) and pushing guests seeking low crowds towards upcharge events bugs us. Unfortunately, that ship has sailed–bemoaning it now is useless. If you want to enjoy low crowds and attractions with minimal waits, the After Hours events are your best option…
Unlike other hard ticket events, Villains After Hours is unlikely to impact crowds for regular guests in a significant manner. There will likely be more people in Magic Kingdom during the day on Friday because they’re attending the party after the park closes, by not by a significant number.
Normally, we advise readers to visit Magic Kingdom during the day on hard ticket event nights because the shortened hours lead to lower crowds. However, that’s not the case with Villains After Hours because Magic Kingdom closes at its regular time. Instead, our recommendation is to avoid Magic Kingdom on Saturdays…which is pretty much always our advice.
Villains After Hours is pricey, but we think it’s an infinitely better splurge than any number of other upcharge offerings, especially the dessert parties (even with alcohol added). It’s the most pleasant time to be in Magic Kingdom, and you can accomplish more in a few hours than a normal full day.
Even with Villains After Hours beginning this weekend, the highlight of this week is/was the Super Bowl parade in Magic Kingdom, featuring MVP Patrick Mahomes.
Hours after leading the Kansas City Chiefs to a dramatic victory in Super Bowl LIV, Mahomes headlined the celebratory parade, which was attended by a ton of Chiefs fans.
As a lifelong Detroit Lions fan, I’m more or less indifferent to the Chiefs. I can empathize with their fans, who have been denied a Super Bowl berth (let alone a championship) for so long. I think everyone assumed they’d win one back in the 1990s during the Elvis Grbac/Rich Gannon era, but they always came up short in the post-season after strong regular season showings.
Not quite the same as having your hopes dashed when Barry Sanders retired in his prime…or Megatron retired in his prime…or [insert one of the literal hundreds of ways it has been painful to be a Lions fan]. Still, I can recognize that the Chiefs organization and its fans deserved this.
Plus, I know there are a lot of Walt Disney World fans from Kansas Missouri, so we decided to head out to Magic Kingdom to see and photograph the Super Bowl parade.
This turned out to be one of my 5 worst ideas of the year. I know it’s only February, but I churn out some colossally bad ideas with regularity. It’s a talent, really. This being among the top/bottom five is really saying something.
Suffice to say, I won’t be doing this again until the Lions win the Super Bowl. The upside is that by the year 2085, I’ll have a hover-board to get above the crowds.
The Super Bowl parade always causes a spike in crowds at Magic Kingdom, but I’ve never seen anything like this. The parade route was among the most packed I’ve ever seen it–busier than most peak season holiday dates. I’d attribute that to a mix of the Chiefs fandom, the Super Bowl being in Miami, and this month simply being busier than normal.
It was fun to be part of the communal energy of the Chiefs fans, but it was also unpleasantly crowded. After Patrick Mahomes, I was probably the second-least excited person to be there. (At least he was getting a fat payday out of it!)
The elevated post-Super Bowl crowds could be felt throughout Magic Kingdom, not just along the parade route.
With that said, it’s been busier than normal for much of the last two months…and this is even by the “new normal” standard for January and February established in the last two years. We should probably do another crowd update discussing this trend.
In Tomorrowland, work continues to remove the embellishments and ornamentation added in 1994.
We’ve discussed our thoughts on this in several updates, including at great length in our The Trouble with Tomorrowland post, so I won’t rehash all of that here.
Sticking with Tomorrowland, here’s a look at construction on TRON Lightcycle Run towering over the TTA PeopleMover track.
This is the first major update we’ve done on this attraction’s progress since our TRON Lightcycle Run at Magic Kingdom: New Concept Art & Construction Photos post. Suffice to say, a ton has changed since then.
The entire track has been installed, the gravity building is almost totally enclosed, and significant progress has been made on the ground.
Although all of our photos from within Magic Kingdom, you can also see a lot of progress on the backside from the Monorail and Contemporary.
Here’s a look at the gravity building from the Barnstormer queue.
While this doesn’t look great right now, it seems like it’d be fairly easy to conceal this by simply relocating or extending some of the existing in queue canopies. Either way, it’s not like the Barnstormer is the paragon of themed coasters.
From the Tomorrowland side, the canopy over the outer loop should almost entirely conceal the gravity building. Maybe not from the PeopleMover, but from most common vantages on the ground.
The angle is slightly different than in Shanghai Disneyland, and the gravity building there is concealed from all but the most extreme angles. Personally, I don’t think this will end up being much of a slight lines issue in Magic Kingdom. I guess we’ll see, though.
Big Top Souvenirs in Storybook Circus near Dumbo is currently closed, and has been for at least a few days.
There was a minor fire in here at the end of last year, and it would seem that perhaps Dumbo got a little carried away putting it out, causing some water damage. No timeframe on when this will reopen.
Over in Fantasyland, work on the “it’s a small world” queue is now underway with construction walls covering the regular entrance and other openings. The attraction will stay open during the queue refurbishment–the entrance has simply shifted.
Work is expected to last for a month or more, and we have absolutely no clue what the refurbishment entails.
Back in Frontierland, work continues on the annual Splash Mountain refurbishment.
During our recent visits to Magic Kingdom, there has been a flurry of activity and visible progress on the attraction. Here’s hoping this is a more robust refurbishment than normal–Splash Mountain could use it!
Finally, a reminder that Walt Disney World has announced Pirates League will close permanently on July 27, 2020.
This seaside hideaway is in Magic Kingdom adjacent to Pirates of the Caribbean, and offers guests of all ages a “swashbuckling pirate transformation” that can include a hairstyle, facial makeup, and other special treasures & accessories. Guests may also choose a head-to-toe mermaid makeover.
That’s a wrap on this photo & progress report from Magic Kingdom. You might notice that we’ve gotten more sporadic with these updates. That’s intentional, and will likely continue. Going to Walt Disney World and focusing on what’s wrong, behind construction walls, etc., is not exactly fun and has a propensity to cause jadedness. It’s one thing at the resorts, but totally different in the parks. We’ll continue to bring you topical updates (both good and bad), but don’t expect construction updates unless they’re relevant to Walt Disney World vacation planning. Hope you understand.
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!
Did you attend the Super Bowl parade or watch the live stream? If you’ve visited recently, do you have any firsthand reports on January & February 2020 crowds you encountered at Walt Disney World? Thoughts on the TRON Lightcycle Run construction progress? Any other insights/commentary to add about other current projects in Magic Kingdom? Do you agree or disagree with our thoughts here? 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!