Hello, and welcome to this week’s Dateline Disney World! We are into the new year now, and that means it’s refurb season. I was going to visit a different park this week until a pleasant surprise brought me back to the Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom. Let’s see what it is!

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Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!!

If you look closely in that shot, you may notice something. The “Let the Memories Begin” banner that has been up for a few years now has finally been taken down. This was one of my main reason for visiting MK this week. Here are lots of photos of one of the most photographed areas of the park.

Sure, the shrubs may not be level, and the grass might be rather dead, but those issues should be fixed soon. Here’s hoping it stays this way, as I really love the classic entrance, you know, the way it was designed . . . without all the extra marketing.

Refurbishments have also started all over the park in typical January fashion.


No more Christmas.
Also, no more afternoon parade, as it ended its run (finally) last weekend.

Casey’s Corner is closed as is its seating area.

The Aladdin meet and greet area and adjacent gift shops are all down for refurbishment.

The Jungle Cruise is “jingling” no more.

Walls up at the Tiki Room.

Fair-weather restaurants like Tortuga Tavern are closed again since they are no longer needed to handle crowds, even though I would appreciate the more unique food offerings to stay open year round.

With no parade running, these walls are up in Frontierland on the parade route.
Splash Mountain is down for its annual clean up.

This time they are visibly doing work right off the bat.

Frontier entertainment.

Weekly Mine Train photo time.

Finally, this project REALLY feels like it is moving quickly.

The normal stand for Maurice’s popcorn in New Fantasyland was missing this week.

Cosmic Rays outdoor seating area is going to be glassed in and have air conditioning added to it. I’m torn on this, AC is great in the summer, but there really is nothing like a Cinderella Castle photo from here with a nice breeze during the off season.

Heading out of the park, more Christmas window displays are back to normal.

That does it for this week. I swear, I won’t be reporting from MK next week unless something huge happens there! Which park would you like me to visit next? What do you all think of the removal of that ugly banner out front? Happy to see so many refurbishment projects happening at once? Let us know in the comments!!

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  • Bill

    Great update! Go visit Animal Kingdom and/or Downtown Disney next week!

  • Malin

    Great news about the “Let the Memories Begin” banner being removed. Now lets continue this trend by removing the Giant Hat at the Studios. MiceChat claimed on Tuesday that WDW close Splash Mountain down each winter to save on cost. Appears not this winter with all the scaffolding starting to come up around parts of the structure.

    Camp Minnie-Mickey is closed and the Park has some new changes including new meet & greet locations and a new dance party in trial. I think this is where to visit next week.

    • almandot

      Scaffolding doesn’t mean much. It’ll sit around WDW structures for months at a time without anything going on. That’s not to lend credence to the claim on Splash mountain or vice versa but it’s been known to happen plenty of times.

      • Malin

        Like what’s currently happening with the Mine Coaster 😉

    • LoveStallion

      Giant Hat won’t go anywhere so long as licensing disputes continue with MGM/TCL/Everyone.

      • OprylandUSA

        Not true. That’s apocryphal.

  • Retrolane

    What’s with the green on top of the rock work on the mine coaster? Are they putting up a minigolf course there 😉

    • OprylandUSA

      They could be planting real grass up there. I’ve seen planter’s mesh that’s green like that before that is designed to hold grass seed down so it doesn’t blow away.

    • BC_DisneyGeek

      I had the exact same thought. Missed revenue opportunity?

  • Erik Olson

    Thanks, Cory!

    Can you break down what is actually closed? Obviously, Splash will be down for a while, but I am seeing wait times on Tiki and JC and wonder what will be open for my trip the 17th – 22nd.

    Best wishes for a fantastic new year.


    • At the moment, the follow attractions/restaurants/shops are closed (there may be others that Cory can fill in the blanks on):

      – Agrabah Bazaar – Scheduled to reopen on Feb 2nd
      – Casey’s Corner – Scheduled to reopen Feb 15th
      – Splash Mountain – Scheduled to reopen March 21st
      – Tomorrowland Speedway – Scheduled to reopen Jan 12th
      – Tortuga Tavern – Seasonal

      Am I missing anything folks?

      • Erik Olson

        Thanks! Looks like we might get to ride the Speedway.

  • micenv

    Thanks for the update. Since we’ll be there in mid-March, we would sure appreciate an update on Animal Kingdom–what has closed because of construction. Is the Lion King show going to continue until their new location is ready? First time for the grand munchkins, so we’d hate to miss it.

    • ti2gr

      The Lion King show is already closed. It will reopen later this year when the new theater is ready in Africa.

  • michael darling

    Corey, we always appreciate your hard work. That Tortuga Tavern closing due to crowd levels is the kind of thing that makes the park look ‘boarded up’. So much real estate in the MK is devoted to huge sprawling restaurants, traversing behind multiple facades, and when it’s closed, a LOT of a land is ‘closed’ so to speak. So you walk past that, it’s closed, you turn the corner and the Golden Horseshoe is closed. Lots of closed doors.

    THAT BEING SAID (griped about)….I’ve not BEEN to the MK in over a year, so……everything I just wrote could be incorrect. I’m going by spotty memory.

    As for the ‘grass’ above the Mine Train hills. It looks JUST like Ariel’s hills did before they inserted the faux grass. I imagine that’s what’s coming. Right?
    It is AWESOME to see the Dwarf’s Cottage!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Can you do us a favor, Corey? forget those peepholes, and stick your camera up above the fence and take some shots where they DONT let you see! Thanks again for your reports.

  • KCmike

    Thank goodness those ugly banners/signs are gone from the Magic Kingdom entrance. They were such an eyesore. I hope the Mine Coaster is the crowning jewel that the new Fantasyland so badly needs. WDW is do for a homerun.

    • CaptainAction

      Dwarf coaster HAS to be crowning jewel of New Fantasyland.
      There really isn’t anything else.
      Sad what a miss that area is.
      I’m sure most folks were like us when we heard about New Fantasyland. After so many years, finally deciding to enlarge that very crowded area, we imagined that if WDW didn’t build new attractions that they would at least put in copies of Alice, Casey Jr, Pinocchio, Storybook Land Canal, maybe return Mr. Toad, etc.
      Then we heard Snow White was being torn out. WDW was putting another Dumbo next to the other?!? Then we road the very uncreative Little Mermaid and saw all the revenue centers.
      If memory serves, Dwarf Mound was a response to all the guest outrage and wasn’t even originally planned.
      When is the last time WDW wowed any of us with an attraction?
      When did we last walk of a WDW attraction and say, “How did they do that?”
      Soarin’ was cool but not that creative.
      Universal has taken this mantle up now. King Kong 3D in the tunnel (Kong pulls the last car off your tram and it’s dropped, with guests and all), Spiderman, WWOHP, coming Gringott’s ride, perhaps the Hogwarts Train (from what I’ve heard from castmembers), even elements of the old Posiedon’s Fury.

  • M69

    Great report! Love the pics! And agree: thrilled to see the marketing gone. New coaster – and wider vistas and bigger castle – make the husband push for WDW sooner than later. This over USO|IOA (but not instead of Xmas at DLP.)

  • animatronic

    Great update. The front entrance looks o much cleaner without the trashy banner….

    Can you go to Epcot next week?

  • airick75

    MIne Train construction is going on two years now, right? It seems like such an after-thought at this point. I wonder if this was the anticipated timeline or if there’s been some behind the scene’s drama.

    • CaptainAction

      Begining year 3 of construction.

      Are they trying to compete with new Diagon Alley by going slow or as of late, just being cheap with rides.
      Stores, restaurants, snack stands, and photo revenue booths go up in a matter of weeks at WDW.

      Rides are scrapped, postponed, cancelled, or take 3 years (even c ticket attractions) to complete.

      If WDW is holding back the Dwarf Mound opening to try and compete with Diagon Alley, then WOW?!? The WDW execs are in De Nile alright.

  • SpectroMan

    Thanks Cory! Love the entrance sans any dumb banner. I, too am torn on the glassed in A/C section at Cosmic Ray’s.

  • Country Bear

    Thanks Cory, great update.

    I’m a little concerned that peoples expectations for the Dwarf Mine Train are too high. It’s not that big of an attraction so it will likely be over in about 90 seconds. Now I see that D23 is marketing it as an E-Ticket attraction. Unless there’s something in that mountain that will shock all of us. I’m sure it will be of high quality, but an E-Ticket?

    I would love to see you look at what’s new or happening at Animal Kingdom as that seems to be the least covered park (there’s probably a reason for that). Any changes on Disco Yeti or Avatar construction?

    Keep up the great work.

    • CaptainAction

      I have same concerns Country Bear.
      It’s hard to imagine that it could be longer than 90 seconds in that small area. If it’s 90 seconds that would probably be good news.
      Do you think it could be shorter than 90 seconds?
      Such a shame to trade 20,000 Leagues, Snow White dark ride, and all that land for all those revenue centers and the very disappointing Mermaid ride. I still remember our family of 5, from ages 9-51 all getting off the ride and looking at each other with, “That’s it?” looks on all our faces.
      Fantasyland is always so packed that it at least needed remakes of the dark rides from Disneyland.
      Very sad.

  • QPerth

    Thanks for the good news of that long overdue pointless banner Cory. I good update as usual!!
    Thanks for bringing it to us =)