Hello, and welcome to Dateline Disney World! This week, we’ll look back on Epcot’s 30th Anniversary, which was Monday. We’ll also take a gander at the New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, where more areas have been uncovered! Let’s dive right in!!

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Welcome to Epcot!

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[center][size=5][b]Celebrating 30 Years[/b][/size]
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This Monday was Epcot’s 30th Anniversary. The day started with the buttons and maps that you see above. It continued with very long lines for limited edition merchandise, much of which can actually still be found in the park today.

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The line started at MouseGear and went all the way into World Showcase.

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There were also presentations throughout the day and Disney used these to let everyone know.

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My group decided to do some classic Epcot attractions, and while in the Seas, we saw the divers doing their show. I haven’t seen them in a long time, which was pretty special considering the day we saw it.

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At 3PM at the American Gardens Theater, there was a “Nostalgia Moment” for the park. It featured Erin Youngs, Jim MacPhee, Meg Crofton, the Mariachi Cobre, and the Voices of Liberty.

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This guy has been in the Mariachi band since day 1, October 1, 1982.

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Same thing with this lady from the Voices of Liberty. Quite the accomplishment!!

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The “moment” was slightly lackluster given the presentations that happened in World Showplace, as there really wasn’t all that much to them. It was more or less a way of everyone saying they love Epcot. They then brought out lots of Cast Members and shot out some confetti.

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The night ended with a special tag of Illuminations. I did not photograph the show, but it was a very impressive tag, tons of fireworks, and a great way to end the weekend.

The EPCOT30 weekend was a ton of fun, with wonderful events set up by both Disney and non-Disney entities. Some website called MiceChat recorded some show with Communicore in the title in the Norway pavilion, and it was an absolute blast. Anyone ever hear of them?

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Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!!

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[center][size=5][b]Construction Kingdom[/b][/size]
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Over at the Tangled/new restroom area, the rock work keeps on moving right along.

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld1003-IMG_4604.jpg[/img]

On the other side, lots of things are new.

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You can start to actually get a feel for what this will look like, and as of right now, I’m optimistic. If anything, it will be better than the bathrooms near Peter Pan that are small and dingy.

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At the Castle Wall, there is really nothing new on the left side since it is all finished.

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I did notice this though, which seems like it could have been hidden in the theming a little bit better.

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On the other side of the wall, there are lights under the arches.

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Apparently this crest can move.

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Also looks like some infared stuff on the spires.

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At the Beauty and the Beast area, things are looking nice with the new forced perspective trees.

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Not too much to see at Gaston’s.

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Although, at Bonjour! there are some flowers in the planters, which are a nice touch, and give a nice village feel.

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At the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, things continue to grow outward.

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Lots and lots of steel.

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I don’t know what these new things are called, so I’ll use the very industry savvy “tall and spiky things”.

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Some stuff with probably be attached to these spiky things.

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Heading over to Storybook Circus, a lot of stuff has opened this week. Big Top Souvenirs is the first we’ll cover.

VIP parking.

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Going into the shop, it is pretty well done. Lots of Dumbo merchandise right when you walk in. It is really nice to see non-generic stuff here front and center.

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The cash wraps are very neatly done as cars for the animals.

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There is a station inside for eat hat stitching.

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The patterns in the carpeting are pretty cool, too.

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There are lots of ladder themed things in the shop, which makes sense given how tall the tent is.

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The popcorn lights lining the tent make for some great photo ops too.

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In the center of the shop, there is a large and round sweet shop.

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It’s great to see the Cast Members making things on site.

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One of the Cast Members was kind enough to pose for a picture so I could show you all the new costumes. Thanks to her!!

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Here is a little video walking tour of the shop I made while visiting.

Overall, I really like the shop. I would like to see a little less of the generic merch, which takes up a large chunk of the back, but I am glad that there is area specific stuff to buy, and that it is right up front. The treats look nice as well, and the CMs there have been great so far.

The other area that opened was the courtyard/snack area/fastpass distribution/Pete’s Silly Sideshow area.

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This will be a great place to sit and hang out!

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New food carts.

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More seating.

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Under the yellow tent, there is more seating, Fastpass distribution for Barnstormer and Dumbo, and a nice mural.

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There are more great references to Disney history on the carts, 55 for Disneyland.

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34 for when Donald Duck was created.

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And at this new cart, 13 could possibly be for the year Marc Davis was born.

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Here’s a walking video of the new area.

[center][size=5][b]This and That[/b][/size]
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The refurbishment at Sir Mickey’s is all done, and the crane is gone, so I’m assuming the Castle Lights are also fully installed.

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The scrims came down on the old Swan Boat landing.

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Some refurb work happening on the bridge from the Hub to Cosmic Ray’s.

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld1003-IMG_4669.jpg[/img]

Some of the turnstiles are under walls. I’m assuming this is for RFID and NextGen installation.

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Also, some work is being done at the Pinnochio Village Haus.

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And lastly, the new park maps feature Splash Mountain.

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld1003-IMG_4621.jpg[/img]

Well, that wraps things up for this week’s Dateline. How do you feel about how Disney celebrated Epcot’s birthday? Are you signing up for a Cast Member or Annual Passholder preview of New Fantasyland? Let us know in the comments!!

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If you enjoyed the column, especially the photos, and you want to check out more photos and tutorials on Disney photography, please check out my photo site, [URL=”http://www.DisneyPhotographyBlog.com”]Disney Photography Blog[/URL]. And if you like listening more than reading, you can hear us talk about Disney and photography on my podcast, [URL=”http://www.ISO5571.com”]ISO5571[/URL]

  • ParkerMonroe

    I believe the aforementioned “tall spikey things” are the supports that will eventually hold up the rockwork facade.

    • Cory Disbrow

      That was the notion I got too, but until they go up, all we can do is speculate!

  • Fantastic update Cory.

    The fact is that WDW did not even come close to doing enough for Epcot’s 30th. This should have been a year of rebirth for the park. Where is the redevelopment of the central plaza in Future World? Why wasn’t a new country added to World Showcase? No new attractions or shows? Why?! Epcot is as stale as ever. It is a park I love, but it is clear that the WDW suits don’t give a crap about doing what is right. They absolutely 100% failed Epcot’s 30th.

    A few D23 events and a special 5 minute tag to the end of Illuminations for one night is the cheapest and least invasive thing they could have done. WDW management should be ashamed of themselves and Burbank should be asking lots of questions. If the suits in Florida can’t use a major milestone as a way to freshen up a park and drive prolonged new business, then perhaps they need new suits.

    This is not just a question of budget, because nothing was seriously proposed to begin with. The 30th was simply forgotten until the last minute and then park officials started to scramble when unofficial sites like MiceChat began announcing events to fill the void.

    I spent the last week mostly at Epcot. And while I had a GREAT time at the 4 events MiceChat planned to celebrate the park, I couldn’t help but wonder where were the new attractions, banners, expanded anniversary shows and Food and Wine Festival. A monkey in a zoo could have planned a more spectacular celebration than Disney came up with.

    So, here we are a week later and Epcot’s 30th is over. What a waste of potential nostalgia. 18 months of celebrations should just be getting started. If this isn’t the final nail in the coffin for WDW management, it should be! The 30th was an embarrassing failure that the folks at Disney’s competitors are all laughing about.

    I’m sick to my stomach that Disney flubbed this golden opportunity so badly.

    • jcruise86

      So, Dusty, you DIDN’T like the way WDW honored the 30th anniversary of EPCOT?

  • Showoffca

    Walt loved the number 13 … in fact when he built Disneyland, he was allowed to choose the address number for the park as there was nothing around yet at that time. He picked 1313 Harbor Blvd.

    • Cory Disbrow

      Very cool. That would certainly make a great reason for the number 13 showing up on that car then.

    • MickeysImagination

      Walt amy have liked the number 13. The 13th letter in the alphabet is M. Disneyland’s address is 1313 Harbor Blvd, so one could assume the address is MM Harbor Blvd. and our favorite Mouse has the very same initials.

      Coincidence?

      This Mouskespirator says it is not coincidence.

      🙂

      Justin

  • SpectroMan

    I understand where Dusty is coming from, though these days I’m conditioned not to expect much of anything for FL anniversaries. The 50th should be better.

    What would have actually impressed me the most was year-long banners with that nice retro 30th logo placed throughout the park. That goes a long way in showing the companies’ pride in their product while also subconsciously reminding the average guest how much history the park has. Those banners would have ended up in millions of photos – great free advertising.

    • jcruise86

      Disney could save money during Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary, by just having the slogan, “Celebrate Disney Parks!” at all of their American parks.

    • Cory Disbrow

      Banners going throughout the park would be a nice touch, and something that would not cost them a ton of money. I too have gotten used to them not doing full fledged celebrations anymore, but kind of pine for them. I remember the excitement before a trip during things like the 25th anniversary and the Millenium Celebration, and it would be wonderful to experience that feeling again.

  • Reddog

    Unfortunately, they cannot hide the bright red box on the castle wall. It’s an emergency switch and it has to be in plain view and easily identifiable.

    • Cory Disbrow

      Yes, it clearly has a purpose. It’s just sad to see it right in the middle of something that is so hyper themed and detailed. A necessary evil.

    • crlachepinochet

      To my eye, it looks like an “E-stop” button… but what’s it for? There’s nothing that moves near the castle wall to my knowledge. Could it be for the fireworks in case of a fire?

    • MickeysImagination

      It appears to be a fire alarm box, hence the red color. By code it cannot be hidden and must prominently display the red background around the red button. It is possible that some local code would allow the switch box enclosure to be recessed, with the red faceplate being enough exposure. What I will further add, this is within Reedy Creek Improvement District and I would believe they are still using the EPCOT Building Code in all of its glory; perhaps someone close to RCID and the available codes can shed more light. The EPCOT Building Code is fairly stringent on fire safety.

      -Justin

  • SFDave

    Seems like the WDW management is saving money for the DHS remodel, I hope! That park is getting very stale. I love Epcot but it needs desperately something new. They have all the WOC technology why not do something in the lagoon there? Extra pavilions have been rumored for years. I think Australia would be great but its on again off again all the time.

    • Cory Disbrow

      I genuinely think that Disney is putting all of its efforts into the DHS 2.0 project and whatever will happen with Avatar over at DAK. Sadly, this puts Epcot on the back burner. I think that the folks at Disney think that the Test Track re-do will be enough to satiate guests for the immediate future before they can focus their energy on something entirely new for the park. Whether or not it will remains to be seen!

  • Disneykin Kid

    I like that they’re paying tribute to classic characters like Humphrey, Lambert, Hippo etc, but the inevitable question for people who see these signs will be – where is the attraction for these characters? Also in your Big Top Souvenirs video, there is someone yelling, is this a cast member or customer? If it’s a cast member hawking something, it’s very annoying.

    • Cory Disbrow

      Agreed 100%. I thought that Pete’s Silly Sideshow could be a great place to have some “typical” Disney characters along with some of the classic, less used characters. But instead, we just have the Epcot character spot with circus attire.

      As for the screaming in the video, it was a group of teenage girls who didn’t (sadly) have a mute button. It was definitely not a cast member, thankfully!

    • WorldLover71

      Where’s Bongo the CIRCUS Bear? I love Humphry but I think they put the wrong bear in this area.

  • tcsnwhite

    I’m still wondering when WDW is going to update is outdated, badly designed, and just plain old live entertainment-as in parades, stage shows, spectaculars, etc…?

    I know Steven Davison and team at WDI-CE were working on some sort of massive daytime parade for MK, and supposedly some major updates or complete re-staging of Fantasmic!…but the years go by, and nothing is done. They are still basically running leftovers from other parks that are a sad shell of their former self (BPB), or stuff from 2001 like the MK and AK’s daytime parades…and Epcot as NO live entertainment spectacles other than the outdates ROE?

    Not to mention the design standards of WDW’s entertainment is HORRIFIC. Where are these folks from, the 1970s?
    Take a look at what Steven and his Creative Ent. team have done for DLR, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and now Paris… and compare to WDW’s QUALITY. For WDW being the cash cow, flagship Disney global resort…it’s pathetic.

    For a management team that doesn’t want to spend money on updating the outdated WDW…live entertainment seems like a total no-brainer. Even DLR relied on live ent. when it was going through it’s rough patches.
    If they can’t even do that to keep the parks a bit fresher in time when they don’t want to spend on attractions…then there’s a real problem.

  • Ravjay12

    Fantastic update as always! It is a shame that they couldn’t get the re-themed Test-Track ride open in time so at least they had something for the park’s 30th. A new country also would have been cool, but they just spent billions on their other theme parks to give them a much needed boost that Epcot doesn’t really need right now. Hopefully now that management has seen that the great work they’re doing in Fantasyland will be a hit with guests, maybe they’ll make the same investment in Epcot in the future

  • KCmike

    I always heard he picked the number 13 because the letter M is the 13th letter in the alphabet. MM stands for Mickey Mouse.