Hello, and welcome to Dateline Disney World!! This week, we’ll take a look at the Holiday season arriving at the resort, as well as the ongoing construction and refurbishment projects at the Magic Kingdom.

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Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!!

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[center][size=5][b]Tis the Season[/b][/size]
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The Holiday season has arrived at Walt Disney World, with the first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party happening tonight! The Magic Kingdom is decked out for the holiday, and it’s a great time to be in the park.

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Earlier in the week, the Hub was still in Halloween mode, while Main Street was ready for Christmas. Now they both match!

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It is incredible how it isn’t even Thanksgiving yet, but just walking through the park hearing the music and seeing the decorations makes you feel like Christmas is only days away.

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Decorations are everywhere on Main Street.

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Photopass location setup until the big tree comes in.

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The Candy Cane Garden is back again.

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Make that 46 now!

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Inside the Emporium, there are tons of holiday souvenirs for purchase, and the theme of the store is now heavy towards the holiday.

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Fancy ornaments!

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Window displays are also starting to switch over, but they aren’t all done yet.

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The Train Station is also dressed up, although I really wish they could find a way to remove that awful memories decor.

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Advertising for the parties right when you arrive at the park.

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The Halloween colored flowers have been yanked and the new Christmas colors have arrived.

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Heading into Frontierland, there is some slight theme for the holiday.

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The meet and greet at the Rivers of America has some stuff up too.

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Liberty Square has the exact same style of decorations as Frontierland.

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I’d really love to see the rest of the park get more of a holiday treatment. Maybe not even so much ride overlays, but just festive decor would be awesome. Seeing a tiny bit in Liberty Square and Frontierland is encouraging, but I’d like to see more!!

[center][size=5][b]Construction Kingdom[/b][/size]
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Aside from the holiday excitement, construction keeps happening at the park as well.

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The new restroom area is progressing at a very fast rate.

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Over in New Fantasyland, the only holiday-like thing I think you’ll see is these snow capped trees at the Beast’s Castle!

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At the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, lots of things are happening. These stairs went up, but they look only temporary to me.

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On the other side of the mountain, we are definitely starting to see some curves, and the beginning of the rock work, which is very exciting!

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It is also clear that some sort of building will be on this side, the side that faces Mermaid.

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Note the three windows already cut out.

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Heading into Belle’s Village, Gaston kept making his way into my photos.

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They’ve added umbrellas here for some much needed shade outside of Gaston’s Tavern.

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Heading into the Be Our Guest restaurant for a quick minute.

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I was lucky enough to have a lunch at the restaurant this week. It was an interesting experience to say the least, with both good and bad things to report. I’ll start with the bad. It takes quite a while to eat here. With the new touch screens that they are using at lunchtime, many guests were confused, and the line to wait for food got quite lengthy, and didn’t move very fast. They also seemed a little understaffed at the screens, so there weren’t a ton of Cast there to help people who were confused. Have in mind that this is during what they call a dress rehearsal, and then imagine what this could be like once it is fully open to the public. Yikes.

On to the good now. As most of you know, the theme and detail of this place is superb. As I was eating, it was hard to remember that I was having a counter service meal here! The idea of doing the hybrid style dining was really a great one. The service was top notch, as well. Although this is counter service, when your food is brought to you, you are treated like you are dining at a table service restaurant. Very nice. Eating on china with real silverware is a big plus as well. Now let’s talk about what I ate. I had the grilled steak sandwich.

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I had thought this would be similar to a cheesesteak. To my happiness, I was dead wrong. It was a full strip steak on a roll! It was very tasty, with a nice seasoning. The bread was crunchy on the outside, and soft on the inside. And the fries were, well, Disney fries. Overall though, much better quality than all of the Magic Kingdom counter services places, with possibly the exception of Columbia Harbor House. That said, combining the theme, hybrid dining style, and different menu, I have to say this is the best counter service in MK, and should prove to be a smash hit when it opens.

[center][size=5][b]This and That[/b][/size]
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The wall came down outside Magic Carpets of Aladdin this week. I couldn’t notice any differences.

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Near the Jungle Cruise, something is going on where the junior jungle boats used to be.

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There have been rumors of making this a place for handicapped accessible boats for the JC, so this could be it.

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I saw this sign outside Haunted Mansion this week. Has anyone ever seen it before?

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Refurb is done at Pinnochio Village Haus.

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Also, signage went up for the Princess Fairytale Hall at the old Snow White location, and it is claiming to open in 2013.

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It still pains me to know that this won’t be Snow White anymore, but just another meet and greet. Sigh.

Well, that does it for this week’s Dateline. Are you going to brave the lines for the Be Our Guest restaurant? Coming down to enjoy the holidays at WDW? 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]

  • Barbaraann

    The Christmas decorations look wonderful. Although, I do remember the days when Christmas wasn’t unveiled until after the Thanksgiving holiday was over. Not sure if that was ever true in the Themepark world. Christmas is a big deal, of course, because of the religious holiday and the commercial side of it.

    I visited Disney World in 2007 at Christmastime and had a great time. Perhaps I can do that again, although I hate plane travel in the Wintertime.

    Thanks for all the wonderful photography, and the progress on Fantasyland. I am excited to see that during my up and coming trip in April.

  • They are holding the first Very Merry Christmas Party already???!!! That is just insane and wrong. For goodness sake, they should at least wait until the week before Thanksgiving. This is nuts and not at all in keeping with the season.

    And I agree with you that the other lands need at least some decoration. On the one hand, they want to start charging for Christmas parties as soon as possible, but on the other, they don’t want to really spend much money decorating the park. Opportunistic and cheap. Magic Kingdom’s Christmas is really disappointing and underwhelming these days. I wasn’t impressed when I was there a few years ago. In fact, the parks were so crowded and the decorations so disappointing that we don’t plan on ever doing the Christmas season there again.

    • Nocturne

      Your post sounds like you are auditioning to play the Grinch at Universal. There is no written rule when people are “supposed” to decorate for Christmas. I know that there was a custom of decorating after Thanksgiving but that may just be a family custom now. Organizations have been pushing Christmas earlier for years now. This is nothing new. And even if it was SO WHAT? People love Christmas time and everyone can agree that the Holiday season is so wonderful when stores and theme parks get into the spirit. If you don’t like that they start early, then don’t visit. It’s plain and simple. There are plenty of people willing to pay for Christmas in November. Why shouldn’t Disney provide this to them? This is not going to change any time soon so it would be great if we could can the early decorating rants because it won’t make a bit of difference.

      • Sorry, but for the price Disney charges, they need to offer better than this. And it’s just outright wrong for them to turn early November into a PAID Christmas event. You can almost here the folks in Team Disney Orlando rubbing their greedy little hands together and cackling. If it makes ME the Grinch that I expect more respect of a sacred holiday, I’d much rather be a Grinch with integrity than be an apologist for something that’s clearly wrong.

    • jcruise86

      Isn’t Universal starting Grinchmas on Dec. 1?

      Christmas before Thanksgiving is obnoxious
      and makes the holiday season tedious & commercial,
      and less special & classy to me.

      It’s like getting a hut fudge sundae for breakfast and knowing that you’re getting the same treat for lunch and dinner. Yuck.

      Or as Shakespeare put it, “If all the year were playing holidays, to sport would be a tedious as to work.”

      • You are most correct. Universal waits until it’s really the Christmas season. They deserve props for that.

      • Amy VandenBoogert

        Even the brand new Christmas Town event Busch Gardens is doing this year (which is also a separate ticket, nighttime event) doesn’t even start until November 30th. I gotta agree with Dusty… Christmas comes earlier and earlier every year. I started seeing Christmas stuff in store in AUGUST. That just isn’t right. One holiday at a time, you know?

        That being said, I’m going to the WDW Christmas party next week and I’m looking forward to it as I’ve never been to it before. I think I’ve only been at the parks a couple times in my life when Christmas decorations have been out.

  • JCSkipr79

    What’s surprising is that even in the glory days, MK never decorated beyond Main Street either. The Frontierland and LS garland started maybe 6yrs ago. It’s the decimation of MKs Christmas ENTERTAINMENT options that has ruined Xmas at MK

  • indianajack

    Disgusted with the new signage where Snow White used to be. Another classic ride ripped out, like Toad, for an inferior (vastly inferior since it’s not even a dark ride) meet ‘n greet. They could have put that anyway such as Fantasy Forest and left Snow White alone. Disney Orlando are such cheapskates, the park needs more capacity!

  • Pingback: Disney’s New Fantasyland adds whimsical, personal touches – Detroit Free Press | Mouse House Online()

  • GhostHostJeff

    It makes sense to start the Christmas season when they do. It gives people more time to visit and experience the resort while it’s decorated. If they waited til right after Thanksgiving or the week before you would definitely see more unmanageable crowds during the month of December.

  • jcruise86

    I don’t like the garlands going back and forth across Main Street. On any other Main Street in America this would be excellent, but at the Magic Kingdom it blocks the view of my all-time favorite Disney sight: Cinderella’s castle.

  • SpectroMan

    The funny thing about decorating early is that they’ll ALWAYS play it off as “In order to satisfy guest demand” and “Our holiday activities are extremely popular with our guests so we strive to make them available longer”

    in other words, they’re sick of complaints at City Hall. Silly, but true.

    Princess meet & greet = valuable dark ride wasted space. I can’t wait to see exactly how “temporary” it looks in there. If the tracks are completely gone and drywall is up separating out rooms, we can be assured there’ll never be a ride in there again.