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!

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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]

  • MikeT1975

    Cory, couldn’t agree with you more on CoP. Last time I visited in 2008, I felt a chill down my spine watching this for the first time in years – as if Walt was speaking directly to me. It truly is a masterpiece and the only crime is the lack of attention it has received to improve the experience. Still, Country Bears got an audio upgrade recently and I wonder if that is in the cards for CoP…?

    I wonder how other people would feel about “plussing” this attraction? It seems like sacrilege to merely suggest changing the first three scenes in any way, but perhaps returning the fourth scene – the “near future” – back to Walt’s original vision would be a nice change. Though, it would have to be handled with tongue-in-cheek reverence, seeing as how we are fifty years past the script of the original World’s Fair version of the attraction.

  • ParkerMonroe

    The original idea for the Carousel was to showcase innovations that happened during 1900, 1920, 1940, and then 1960 (which worked great for the 1964 World’s Fair).

    Unfortunately, this became dated very quickly – so it was necessary to update the final scene. I believe the most recent update was sometime in the mid-90s… so that leaves us with a 50 year leap between scenes three and four.

    I’ve always though, redo the last three decades (rather than just the last scene). Maybe the redo should show innovations that happened during 1925, 1950, 1975, and 2000. Sure, the last scene would already be dated looking… but, that’s the point. If you lock in a specific year you never have to worry that your final (which is supposed to showcase “the future”) will become ridiculous.

  • Eric Davis

    Here is what I think. Can we just give the Carousel of Progress to the Walt Disney Family museum.

    That way it could be restored to the original version, and it could become the museum piece it deserves to be.

    At this point TDO will not invest enough to make this attraction relevant enough. As I cannot see this attraction becoming a people eater again, unless the story is seriously redesigned to make it more marketable to today’s audiences.

    • mondo

      Good idea, but I think a new building is needed to make it a functional show

  • Malin

    First I’d like to say thanks to Cory for braving the crowds to provide an excellent column this week.

    Some mix thoughts here. I think the extensive work being carried out on Liberty Square is positive and great to see… And praise must also be shown for providing the Clown Streetsmophere in Storybook Circus. This area of New Fantasyland is aimed at the younger generation. So to have a cute show being played out, offers something for families to enjoy together.

    The negative has to be Carousel of Progress. Simply no excuses. Disney should be doing more to preserve this classic Walt Disney attraction. Its a fun show and one of the few attractions offering zero wait during this time of the year. I’d like to see a full refurbishment in the near future on the scale of over recent ones done for Country Bears and the Tiki Room. I agree its still has life left in it and just needs better promotion. Why not place more information up on why this attraction is so important to Disney’s history and legacy. I’d hate to see props from the show donated to the Archives or Family Museum. This show needs to be seen performing to the public. The way it was originally designed.

  • jmuboy

    Here is my completely outlandish, yet very easy with a little money, idea for CoP.

    Move it to EPCOT. Its a perfecdt acctraction for that park. Here is how it would work.

    The Communicore / Innoventions Plaza Area becomes “Progress City”

    Progress City tells the story innovation and inventions and how they have changed our lives and how they will continue to impact our lives.

    Gut the Innoventions exhibits in East Innoventions where Backstage Magic used to be. The back side of the building near Universe of Energy might have to be opened up/demolished to allow for a new round theater profile to fit properly in the facility. Relocate CoP here to this now empty space. Reuse all the CoP show parts, AA’s, props, set pieces, theater seats, etc from the CoP that can possibly be reused/rehabbed. We want the show to be as authentic as possible. Restore all the scenes so they are fully functional. The final scene / theater would thank guests for coming and invite then to see how we continue to make progress and see what new inventions “companies are creating to make our lives easier even today”

    So in Progress City the CoP tells us where inventions of the past have taken us and made our lives better and Innoventions tells us where inventions and innovations of the near future will take us. The whole area would tell a cohesive story pretty easily and in Disney terms inexpensively. This would also allow CoP to stay “frozen in time” as it is and yet still be relevant to the story it was telling.

    Also:
    1 – Electric Umbrella becomes Innovator’s Cafeteria. As part of a minor face-lift to the facility huge digital screens will be added throughout highlighting famous innovators through time and their most famous creations / inventions.
    2 – Pin Central becomes Progress City Pin Traders (gotta pay for moving the CoP somehow)
    3 – All Innoventions Exhibits are consolidated into the West Innoventions Building. Addition space would come from either the long empty hall on the south end of the building or moving Cool Zone to a new facility (Coke Cool Zone would work better in World Showcase anyway in one of the dead areas between pavilions. It could go where Refreshment Port is for example.
    4 – Fountain View Starbucks, Character Spot and Mouse Gears all stay pretty much as is.

    • Eric Davis

      I would love to see this happen.

    • LOVE this concept. You’re hired!

      The sets can be placed on three rotating platforms (a large one for the center and smaller ones for the two side stages behind the scrims). Therefore, the show can take place in a smaller and easier to maintain theater which doesn’t rotate.

  • JiminyCricketFan

    What MK needs is a great new E-ticket attraction that would attract the whole family. The Dwarfs coaster is just a kid’s ride, that will only attract younger children. (It even might be too thrilling for the younger set.) Disney has to realize that it is completing with Harry Potter now. While plusing of COP would be nice, Disney management has to see the big picture an come up with a longer term plan. There is no vision for the park, only maintenance. There have been some wonderful Disney movies which could inspire a great attraction or experience. (Why there is not animated objects in the Be Our Guest restaurant mystifies me. That was a missed opportunity at a great attraction/restaurant) Tangled had boats in it and could be a great boat themed ride. But the biggest need is a major E-ticket that has the Wow! factor. Instead of going for the charm, Disney needs to go for the Wow!

  • Eric Davis

    I remember when Splash Mountain opened at MK and at DLR, everyone young and old was talking about it.

    I would love to see the kind of generation bridging attraction built again.

  • martinjbell1986

    Radiator Springs Racers and Cars Land in general has that WOW factor. Definitely worth the trip across the country to see, since it’s gonna be a while if at all till it comes to Florida.

  • SpectroMan

    Thank you, Cory, for taking the time to get those AA closeups. Everything looks pretty good, but I have to agree the sound is DEPLORABLE on this attraction. The song is clear, but the voices are so low it’s no wonder people try to walk out – they can’t hear what’s supposed to be going on. And those speakers! I bet many are 1975 originals. Ridiculous. It’s time for a Country Bear/Tiki-level refurb, including updating the final room to today and/or beyond.

  • ayalexander

    I have never seen the Carousel of Progress in person but have seen many videos on it uncluding footage of contruction and testing… from the latest videos/photos of it in the year 2012… I think this great attraction can use some minor touch-ups that make it more relatable to today. Such as in the “Present” scene… they should update the clothing to match that of todays modern conservative clothing. Maybe even the musical score in the scene should have a modern sound to it without distracting too much from the original show. Perhaps even some updated animation to some of the AA’s would help for a faster motion. I can also see a little bit of lighting touch-ups to make the lighting a little more interesting. I think this is a great attraction and is still a well-kept tribute to the original AA’s that made our favorite attractions possible… I want my kids to be able to see the show but that won’t happen if they give it the same treatment as America Sings by keeping its theme dated!

  • Trumpet

    Great Update Cory

    I think that CoP needs some TLC to bring it up to standards. However, it should be moved to the Disney museum to that it can a reminder of hat was there beofre. Magic Kingdom needs new and exciting rides, which, at the moment, despite being a nostalgic ride, it is dated.

    The Mine Coaster is looking great and I can’t wait for it to be it to be finished.

    Thanks Again Cory and I look foward to seeing your updates in the New Year. Have a great year

    Trumpet

  • Park Hopper

    A short while back I read a book, “The Life and Times of the Thunder Bolt Kid,” which was about growing up in the 1950’s. One of the things the author talks about is “appliance conversations.” That’s when people stood around talking about refrigerator capacity, electric stoves vs. gas, Frigidaire vs. GE, etc.. Of course I wasn’t around during the 50’s, but after reading this I remembered that my parents and grandparents used to frequently have these kinds of conversations. It goes a long way toward explaining the popularity of the original Carousel of Progress.

    Today, neither I nor anyone I know has protracted conversations about our stoves and dishwashers. What we do talk about are our smart phones – I phone vs. Android – what features they have – how glitchy they are… I’m sure you’ve had many such conversations yourself.

    If they were to do a new Carousel of Progress type attraction, perhaps it would be more relevant to do it on the history of electronics, from the room sized adding machines of the 1940’s to the smart phones of today and beyond – and the affect on the typical American family.

    That might have more traction with the audiences of today. But they’d have to do it with something a little slicker than rotating platforms, limited AA’s and scrims.

  • JCSkipr79

    THIS shoulda been DLs 60th present. Close it at MK and send it to a park that DESERVES and RESPECTS it and has a maintence team that will actually make it look new. Just bring it back. Have the second floor turned into a new Progress City sponsered by Siemens. Really…

    • Malin

      Did Disneyland not originally give this attraction away to WDW. Why should it now deserve to have it back?

  • Disneylandfan85

    Looks like the Carousel of Progress needs all the help it can get. While they’re at it, they should update the finale scene yet again.