Magic Kingdom Update – January 2019

We’re back to Magic Kingdom to continue our January 2019 Walt Disney World construction progress and random park updates. We’ve got a range of status updates on the Railroad, Speedway, Tron Lightcycle Power Run, Haunted Mansion, Space Mountain, and more.

It’s also an interesting update because it’s the first one since August without a seasonal celebration in Magic Kingdom. As much as we love Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, it was nice to enter Magic Kingdom last week and not see pumpkins or garland for the first time in 5 months.

Without any holiday-driven agenda for our visits (aside from Minnie & Mickey’s Surprise Celebration at Magic Kingdom, which we’ve covered separately), what we did at Magic Kingdom was pretty random. This photo update will likewise be pretty random, with around 20 photos and observations about a multitude of stuff we’ve seen in Magic Kingdom over the last week or so…

Let’s start with the biggest construction project, which is Tron Lightcycle Power Run (or whatever the Walt Disney World version of the roller coaster ends up being called). This construction area continues to grow, with a huge plot of land backstage being visible from the PeopleMover.

This is a huge area, and if Shanghai’s show building is any indication (and it should be), this attraction will use much of the space between the Walt Disney World railroad tracks and World Drive, which runs alongside the eastern border of Magic Kingdom.

Here’s a look at the progress:

Both the Walt Disney World Railroad and Tomorrowland Speedway tracks are partially torn up. The latter is expected to re-open before the start of the busy summer season, while the return date of the Railroad is anyone’s guess–it could be as far as 2 years away due to the way the attraction’s canopy will overhang the railroad.

During that same Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover ride, Space Mountain had its lights on, and I got some photos, which follow. I would recommend scrolling quickly if you don’t want to see how the sausage is made…

Due to being frequent fliers on the PeopleMover, this is something we’ve seen more times than I can count, but it was the first time I thought to get photos.

To be honest, it’s something I wish I had never seen. I’m a total sucker for the attraction, which still has (had?) a sense of mystique from my childhood. Oh well, I guess.

Speaking of the PeopleMover and attractions breaking down, it feels like the TTA is being held together with spit, glue, baling wire, duct tape, and chewing gum. Actually, it has felt that way for a couple of years, but it seems to be getting worse.

There’s now downtime not just every day, but almost every hour. There are literally more problems than I could list here–and those are just the ones about which I know. A lot is already down in Tomorrowland, but this attraction is urgently in need of an extended refurbishment.

When Space Mountain finally resumed operations several hours later in the day, we jumped into the standby line and did the ride with minimal wait. Still the best Space Mountain in the world.

While in line, I noticed this sign, which is new to me. Space Mountain seems like a great candidate for a single rider line, but so far there’s no signage out front.

Continuing in Tomorrowland, there’s another refurbishment at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe being done in phases.

Walls are going up Bay by Bay inside the restaurant, and some of the windows are tarped over.

From what we’ve heard, Sonny Eclipse and the seating area reopened over the weekend (after we took these photos, of course), but work remains ongoing.

This restaurant has seen a much needed increase in its seating capacity via an ongoing project over the last couple of years, and our assumption is that this will continue ahead of the Tron coaster addition. Disney has recent experience with Plazma Ray’s Diner, which expanded capacity in a similar manner.

In the Space Mountain gift shop, you can now purchase the greatest phone case ever.

There’s also one with Figment. In other news, I soon will by carrying two phones–not because I have a cool and mysterious job, but because I’m a super dork.

It’s January, and that means one thing at Magic Kingdom: the return of the infamous crane, ruiner of family Christmas card photos.

Contrary to the widely held belief that this is a Disney conspiracy to ruin photos, it actually serves a functional purpose, too. It will be used to take down the Dream Lights from Cinderella Castle over the next few weeks.

The roughly month-long refurbishment of Peter Pan’s Flight continues, with a finish date of February 2, 2019.

It’ll be interesting to see whether this is just routine work, or if we’ll get some new effects out of it. Lots of potential given changes that have been made to other versions of this ride.

Heading over to Memento Mori, there’s some new or new-ish merchandise…

There’s also a lot of Hatbox Ghost stuff.

I’m not sure if this is just spillover from Disneyland or because there’s a market for it in Florida…or maybe it’s just a cool-looking character that sells well, even without context?

Sticking with Haunted Mansion, there are new lighting effects in the portrait scene, with the visuals being much more vibrant and pronounced now.

It impresses me that Haunted Mansion continues to receive love and attention. I’m not convinced all of the changes in the last decade have been actual improvements, but Imagineers are definitely batting over .500, with most of the big changes being good ones.

Speaking of improvements (or rather, the need for them), Jungle Cruise is one of several attractions in Magic Kingdom with several broken effects. Our skipper poked fun at this with a couple of amusing jokes, but really, there’s no excuse for it.

The reason things remain broken is because management feels they can get away with it, which is the same reason we’ve seen cost-cutting at a time when Parks & Resorts is posting record numbers. Walt Disney World vacations are expensive–and only getting pricier. We as fans should hold WDW to the standards they set for themselves rather than making excuses for them.

Changing gears, the photo above features the moonrise on the night of the super blood wolf moon. It was a beautiful night in the park. Brisk winter air, the glow of Magic Kingdom’s lighting, and the glow of the moon hanging in the air. Perfection.

Like an idiot, I didn’t bring my tripod to Magic Kingdom to capture this great atmosphere, so these handheld shots will have to suffice.

In other positive news, Main Street vehicles were out at night!

Every once in a while, I see photos of this on social media, but I think it was the first time I’ve seen it in person. These cars add so much kinetic energy to Main Street, and I’d love to see them out more often at night. It’s the best time for a ride, and even though I know this isn’t everyone’s “speed” for enjoying Magic Kingdom, I think they are fantastic–and something that adds to the experience even of guests on Main Street who don’t ride. It’s a great way to end the night…and this Magic Kingdom update.

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!


Thoughts or insights about current construction projects in Magic Kingdom? Thoughts on what’s in need–or not in need–of maintenance or a refurbishment? 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!

33 Responses to “Magic Kingdom Update – January 2019”
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