Hello, and welcome to Dateline Disney World! This week, we’ll take a look at the busy holiday crowds, construction at the Magic Kingdom, and the status of a classic attraction. Lots to talk about.

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Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!!

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With the holiday crowds here until a little after New Year’s Day, the waits for attractions have been substantial.

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The walkway between Mermaid and Storybook Circus was also open this week to help handle the large crowds.

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For someone like me who enjoys just walking the parks, these crowds aren’t too big of a deal, but for those who are into riding all the attractions (as I’d assume most of the guests are), make sure you have a solid plan of attack for your day, or else you might only end up riding 3 or 4 attractions in the day!

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[center][size=5][b]Construction Kingdom[/b][/size]
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Construction still continues in Liberty Square even though Yankee Trader has already come out from scrims looking fresh and new.

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The Tangled tower looks quite nice against a blue sky.

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Over in the new Tangled area, we’re seeing some new details popping up, things that seem like final touches.

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Once this area opens up, the restrooms near Peter Pan will close and be removed for the long rumored interactive queue area there.

Progress continues on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, with even more steel being added to the outside of the attraction. It just keeps getting bigger!

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld1226-IMG_8739.jpg[/img]

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New mesh for rock work.

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Not much different on the houses/cottages.

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A view from the peek a boo walls.

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In my quest to show the internet folk who can’t make it to the park the size of this project, here are some different angles that will hopefully give some ideas on what this will look like when finished.

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No sign of any changes at the old Snow White building where the meet and greet is going.

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[center][size=5][b]This and That[/b][/size]
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I got the chance to see one of the clown performances at Storybook Circus this week.

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The clown scared a few of the kids, but got mostly laughs from the rest. The show wasn’t bad either. I know many folks were really sour to hear about this, but I don’t think it is a huge intrusion. Live performance in the parks is an important thing, and I’m alright with this one.

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Podiums are popping up for Fastpass+ everywhere, like here at Winnie the Pooh. (for more information on Fastpass+, please check out our info guide)

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It was crowded enough to have the Friar’s Nook open in Fantasyland, a rarity!

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The lines are still very long for the Merida meet and greet, even if half of the people in line just refer to her as ‘Brave’.

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I don’t know when this happened, but there is now face painting near the restrooms by Space Mountain in Tomorrowland.

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Apparently during the busy seasons, Disney rolls out Fastpass for Carousel of Progress. I understand the crowds being large, but when I went in to see the show this week, it played to half of a theater, if that. So in my eyes, doing this whole Fastpass thing, even if it is the “Surprise Fastpass”, is unnecessary.

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I had been asked by a few readers to check out the status of this classic attraction, with some rumors saying that it was essentially in disrepair. Here are some photos I snapped this week, and I’ll let you all be the judge.

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Visually, I thought the show was in pretty good shape. The AA’s were moving fluidly, and nothing seemed all that bad, with maybe one light bulb out, and the floors being a little dirty. My biggest issue with the attraction when I rode was the audio. It was all sorts of out of balance. The room where you load with just the CoP sign had audio that you could barely hear, and the in the finale room, the balance between the members of the family was very off. The mother, father, and son were also all very scratchy like they needed a replacement speaker for their AA set. A few of the rotating sets on the left and right of the stages were very loud and creaky when they rotated, which distracted from the show, and made it obvious that something was changing there. Even though it only showed to a half full theater, the show still got lots of laughs and it seemed the guests, even the little ones, enjoyed it when they walked out at the end. That tells me that this attraction still has legs to it, and is deserving of some critical TLC in the areas I mentioned. Considering this is one of the attractions that led the way for much of what Disney does today, I don’t think that a little love and refurbishment is too much to ask for. Perhaps even some updating is in order. What would you like to see?

With the NextGen entrance plaza opening on the right hand side of Magic Kingdom, this building on the left also came out from behind the walls it was behind for a few months.

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Lastly, here are some views from the monorail of the Grand Villas at the Grand Floridian.

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Starting to get a frame that resembles the resort it will be a part of.

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Well, that wraps things up for this week. Have you ever visited the parks during this busy season? Do you feel some change and upkeep is needed at Carousel of Progress? Would you like to share your battle plan for New Year’s Eve at Disney World? 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]