Sorry about the slow last week on Wandering in Disney. I was sick and then had a busy weekend. Back to our regular scheduled programming!
When starting this blog, the writers here decided that we never wanted to just regurgitate press releases and news out of the Disney Parks. There are certain blogs that do that, and I don’t think it adds anything of value to the Disney Blogosphere as a whole. Still, we found it somewhat difficult to react to news and figuring out how ‘big’ the news has to be to get its own specific blog post. With that in mind, I wanted to try out a new type of blog post today. If the format works, I may try it every few months. So, what is that format? I’m going to go through each U.S. Disney Park and talk about their most recent news and then give a few opinions where applicable. We’ll start on the west coast!
Disneyland’s 60th Anniversary celebration rolls on amidst construction walls popping up around Frontierland, New Orleans Square, and Critter Country. While Disneyland clears the way for Star Wars Land, there are a few temporary attractions added to the park.
The Disneyland Railroad is stuck in the station for the next year but they do have some cars and stations out to explore. While this obviously isn’t as good as riding the actual train it does offer some unique views into the Lilly Belle car and a few stations. There are also train conductors around that are available to answer any questions. Like the railroad, the Mark Twain River Boat is docked but available to board. The boat is very interesting to walk around on and there are many details waiting to be found.
I think these temporary options are a great answer to the massive construction coming to Disneyland. While they aren’t anything worth buying a special ticket for, it does help offer something unique to frequent park-goers. I think little entertainment options like this are part of what makes Disneyland so unique and special, adding these in definitely helps the intimate feeling of the park.
There are several temporary Star Wars attractions in Disneyland still, in the Launch Bay and Hyperspace Mountain. The latter is much more popular and well received than the former.
Everything else at Disneyland is still rolling along outside of the changes going on at the Rivers of America. Paint the Night and Disneyland Forever are still immensely popular and more than worthy of that popularity. Even with construction, Disneyland is thriving and looks fantastic.
There isn’t as much going on in DCA in the way of construction. Soarin’ is gearing up for a new film and has a unique schedule. Grizzly River Run is down for its yearly refurbishment but will be opened back up in about a week. Aladdin left the Hyperion Theatre last month to make way for a Frozen stage show coming in June. Subsequently, the Frozen sing-along thankfully will see its end in the coming months. The first time I saw that show, I thought it was fine. The second time I saw it, I despised it. I’m excited to see what they replace the sing-along with.
The only real large piece of news as of late is the opening of Luigi’s Rollickin’ Roadsters in Cars Land. I haven’t been on this attraction yet, but Disney Tourist Blog has a nice review of the attraction. Luigi’s brings the long-awaited debut of the trackless ride system to the U.S. Disney Parks. This ride system is featured in some loved international attractions like Mystic Manor and Pooh’s Honey Hunt. While Luigi’s isn’t on nearly the same scale as those attractions, it looks to be a fun, little attraction that will continue to boost one of the best theme parks lands.
Moving over to the east cost, Magic Kingdom has been adding capacity in the way of dining recently. Prior to Christmas the Skipper’s Canteen Restaurant opened in Adventureland. The Canteen is supposed to emulate a restaurant a local watering hole for Jungle Cruise skippers. The theming and menu in this restaurant were ambitious and exciting. Unfortunately, Skipper’s Canteen hasn’t had a ton of success. The menu may have scared some guests off and Disney curiously only opened the restaurant to walk-in guests. While I do like that idea in theory, it is counterintuitive to the crazy amount of planning Walt Disney World pushes on guests. I think the restaurant may find more success once they allow advanced dining reservations.
Disney also has added the Diamond Horseshoe to the Magic Kingdom Table-Service options. While it’s still to be seen whether this is just a seasonal enhancement, it’s nice that Magic Kingdom is finally addressing one of its biggest needs.
Frankly, not a lot is going on in Epcot. Flower & Garden Festival in the park recently opened and looks as beautiful as ever. In World Showcase, Norway is gearing up for the opening of Frozen Ever After. I’ve let it be known, like most other Disney fans, that I’m not a huge fan of this attraction being added to Epcot. I’m not going to rehash that now. What I will say is that I’m fairly worried about how that attraction and pavilion will handle the crowds that will surely come to ride it. Even with Frozen popularity slightly decreasing, an attraction featuring every young girl’s favorite princesses will have absurd lines. Add in the attraction having a low capacity and Epcot’s lack of rides for kids then this could really cause problems. Time will tell as the attraction opens in May or June.
I’m not going to spend anytime here, as I wrote a post about his park a few weeks ago. Check that out here.
While all of the other parks are going through moderate changes, Animal Kingdom is on the verge of a minor relaunch. For years, the park has closed as the afternoon turned to evening. There wasn’t a plan on how to showcase the animals and environments after dark. Starting in April, that all will change.
Last week Disney announced that Rivers of Light, Animal Kingdom’s new nighttime spectacular, will open April 22nd. Along with it there will be several nighttime parties going on in Discovery Island and Africa. There will be live music throughout the park, as well as other entertainment. The parties and show will be enhanced by experiencing classic Animal Kingdom attractions after dark. Kilimanjaro Safaris has had the biggest change as they were trying to figure out how to showcase the animals once night falls. The whole attraction will be lit up as if you were experiencing the safari at sunset. There will also be a brand new signature restaurant opening in the next few months.
These changes will finally rid Animal Kingdom of the unfair ‘half-day park’ reputation it has. While AK could still use another attraction or two, the theming throughout will be augmented by these new offerings. With Pandora opening next year, Animal Kingdom is becoming one of the best theme parks in America. In my opinion, it is already the most unique. Animal Kingdom has quietly added quality areas throughout the park over the last few years and now is ready for it’s breakout party. I can’t wait to experience the new offerings there.
That does it for the news round-up! Let me know in the comments if you like this format of post and would like to see more of them in the future. Also, let me know if you would change or add anything to this style of post. Thank you for reading!