Dateline Disney World takes you to the Magic Kingdom this week where off season refurbishments are underway, the dwarf coaster continues to rapidly move toward opening day. Lots of photos to share today.

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Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!

Monorail service is still being suspended in the middle of the day.

While on the monorail, you can see some nastiness on the carpeting. Kind of gross.

Inside the park, Main Street refurbishments continue.

Vehicles were also out in full force this week.

The large crane for holiday light removal is still here.

Casey’s and its seating area are still closed.

There seem to be more and more of these every week.

Scrims still up in Adventureland.

Walls up to remove Jungle Cruise paper FP distributors.

Colored scrims now up at the Tiki Room.

The ride is still open though.

Some of our readers have asked about maintenance problems in this attraction. One animatronic, seen here, is missing an arm and is way below show standards.

But, the rest of the show seemed just fine, and I couldn’t find any other noticeable issues.

Splash Mountain is still down for refurb.

The walkway here in Liberty Square seems to be getting some big changes.

Low crowds!

I also rode the Haunted Mansion because I had seen some things on social media about that falling apart as well.

The major problem that I had during my ride was not effects, but rather 3 e-stops and some audio acting funky in a few places.

Classy way of covering old FP stuff here. . . not.

While Mansion and Tiki Room were both walk ons, Belle had a 75 minute wait. This is why more meet and greets get built, folks.

Time for Mine Train photos.

You can see here a new water feature and a lot of new trees.

Details are starting to show on the queue structure now also.

It’s actually starting to look quite nice. I’m ready for an opening date to be given.

Pavement being worked on in Fantasyland.

Main Street Phil has been used all over the place lately.

Cosmic Ray’s work continues.

I’d like to see some new paint here at Tomorrowland. It looks a little flat and dated.

And on the way out, this is still a great place off of Main Street to sit and have a soda or snack while getting away from crowds.

Well, that does it for this week! If you have any thoughts, we’d love to hear them, so please leave a comment below!

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  • red barchetta

    Thanks for the update; hopefully Haunted Mansion gets fixed up soon

  • Petchaurus

    Yes thank you. Always welcome a Disney World update. You never fail me Cory!

    The timeline for the mine coaster is a bit ridiculous. I don’t even dare to think when the Avatar project will finish. 2020? 😉

    • Malin

      The success of New Fantasyland and the upcoming Diagon Alley are likely the main reasons why construction has been slow on the Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster. It’s not the first time Disney has held back on construction for new attractions and it certainly won’t be the last time. People seriously need to stop criticising Disney’s long-term planning when it comes to new attractions. The reason Transformers was built in such a quick time-frame is down to Universal Management ignoring New Fantasyland and Antarctica threats until a year before then realising it needed something to compete against them quickly. And the 2027 joke has been done to death by several people here. It wasn’t funny the first time still isn’t funny now 😉

      • Wagi

        People have every right to question or criticize that long-term planning. Many of them had expectations that the Mine Ride would have been completed LONG before now, and may have planned their visits accordingly. None of us know for sure why it’s taken so long, but the fact still remains it has. And I actually thought the Avatar comment was both funny and appropriate. Guess I woke up on the right side of the bed.

      • Malin

        Disney announced at the opening of New Fantasyland that the opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train wouldn’t be until early 2014. People who based vacations around this attraction shouldn’t just assume when it will be opening. And I explained to you in the above comments why it has taken so long to complete. Also I guess if you found the comment funny you don’t post or usually read the comments section every week after each an article is posted. The same joke is featured by some wanna be comedian all the time. See Dateline Disney World, Kevin Yee and Orlando Parkhopper for reference.

      • CaptainAction

        You are the perfect demograhic target WDW is catering to.

        You don’t care if they build new rides or not.

        You think that if they do build a new ride, WDW should take all the time they need (many years) and will tell guests that they shouldn’t complain or notice.

        You are happy if WDW just stays open.

        You don’t mind all the increased pricing.

        You have excuses for WDW and criticism for all competitors. Universal’s accomplishments don’t count. Despicable Me – already had a building. Transformers – had been done in California. Springfield Land – built too fast. Diagon Alley – they took out Jaws. HD upgrade of Spiderman – still same ride. New Hogwarts Train – just more movie screens.
        WWOHP – only takes 5 minutes to see. Even though Universal did all this, except WWOHP, during the same time that WDW has been working on 1 kiddie coaster, which still isn’t complete.

        If there are enough “WDW can do no wrong” folks to add to the theme park novice crowds then WDW will never have to change a thing and you and WDW will have each other in the theme park museumland. WDW can say, “Mission accomplished”.

      • Malin

        Oh Captain Action how truly ignorant and assuming you can be at times. I want WDW to build new attractions but I also understand and have a basic knowledge how business works for which I’m trying to educate to you now. Don’t confuse my explaining this to you as me defending Walt Disney World. Last year WDW had a good financial year with thanks to the success of attractions like Test Track and New Fantasyland. What sense would it make to open the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train when buisness is so good that it’s not yet needed. Diagon Alley is sure to be a crowd pleaser and it makes to perfect sense to hold back and give Guests visiting in 2014 even more reasons to return. Also you might not realise this but you will find all major amusement Parks will plan and time rides to open around a peak time like Summer. When you and others can understand this logic behind this then the sooner you’ll be able understand how things work in the Theme Park business. But I’m thinking you will ignore this because it works against the agenda you have towards WDW.

        I bring up very valid points against Universal for which you have failed to provide a decent response too! Does it not occur to you the reason why Universal is having to spend millions on new rides and why Investors and shareholders are not questioning them. It’s very clear and this is another business lesson for you to learn today that Universal is failing to compete with Disney for market share in Orlando. You live in this fantasy world where you seem to think Universal are treating and awarding fans with all these new rides. But failing to recognize the reasons behind them or the impact it’s going to result in when the Resort does capture some of that market share from Disney. Price hikes for resort rooms, overcrowded conditions and no need for further investment. Which will be a shame because so many of these video projected rides and simulators are going to look dated in 5-10 years. Although I guess Universal can just update the movies to a new format.

        Even with no new attractions Disney’s appeal will always be far superior to Universal’s based on what is currently at the Parks. Kilimanjaro where guests can have an up close and personal encounter with so many African Animals will always have more appeal and interest then a 3D simulator.

      • Folks, PLEASE be respectful of the opinions of others. We will NOT tolerate personal attacks here. If you can’t play nice, you will be removed from the conversation and possibly suspended from the site.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Transformers is also a clone of the existing attraction at other Universal parks, itself built on the Spider-Man ride system, so all in all, not entirely a unique experience (and one entirely monetized) across the Universal Parks empire.

        If one were to truly critique Transformers it would be location-wise, just plopped down in a building that now stands out in sharp contrast from the surroundings (unlike locating it by Men In Black in Sci-Fi Land, for example.) The outdoor queue doesn’t help, either.

  • totalorlando com

    Interesting, as I looked through those great pictures, everything looked a little ‘tired’.
    A little bit might have been down to the gloomy sky, but it did reveal a little reminder that the parks definitely need a constant refresh to keep them at their best.

    Maybe WDW needs to turn the money hose on soon?

    • That’s the problem. The money hose has just spent 2 Billion on MyMagic+. That puts quite a squeeze on everything else.

      • totalorlando com

        @Dusty I definitely agree, in the longer term, MyMagic+ will be a niche that will strengthen Disney and in turn provide better attractions, but in the meantime, as we witness a lack of faith in the development at the parks.
        Sure New Fantasyland is great so far, and with more to come, but guests who pay more, deserve more.

        Disney have only managed to get half of that part right.

  • Malin

    Excellent update Cory.

    Dis heartened to read reports that some of the classic attractions were operating with broken effects. Some of the blame has to go towards Management who will not allow enough down-time for the maintenance crews to fix and repair the attractions. WDW ride closures are so limited through out the year it’s truly amazing the attractions are not in a more worst state.

    75 minutes for Belle is not a sign the attraction is popular. I question what the attractions hourly capacity is vs the Mansion or Pirates.

    I love all the details going into the theming for the Mine Coaster. But the trees really look out of place. Hoping it won’t be so noticeable once the rest of the foliage is added to the coaster. Love the small water feature. Right now the coaster is surpassing expectations.

    Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom really is looking great with a lot of the recent changes. The complete makeover of the Pooh entrance to the new Tangled walkway and rest area. It’s really helped to refresh the entire area. But Tomorrowland is seriously the weak link. It looks dated and tired. It needs more then a bit of paint. Rest of the park looks good.

  • FerretAfros

    In the up-close photo of the castle, there appear to be extensions coming out of the building on either side of the clock. Have those always been there? What are they for? They look like they must conceal lights or something, rather than being architectural

  • M69

    Thanks for the update! Agree: Tomorrowland = dated. But then I do tend to like white utopian as a classic (mid-century) future that never goes out of style. Your photos make me excited for the day we head to WDW – – the waterfall and more trees and shrubs on SDMT look GREAT!

  • snidely whiplash

    “But, the rest of the show seemed just fine, and I couldn’t find any other noticeable issues.”

    Cory, I’m a fan of what you do, but you all too often fall into this negative commentary about unthemed maintenance scrims, chipped paint, etc (you get the picture) and act so… affected… by it. You live there – I used to live there – and you must admit it’s a huge property to maintain. It’s an amazing place, right? I just feel like you’re a little heavy-handed with your criticism sometimes.

    • I firmly disagree. Cory photographs the park and shows you what he’s seeing. He was defending the Tiki Room against claims that it has fallen into disrepair. Yes, he found a broken element, but the entirety of the attraction looked good to him. How is that heavy handed?

      Since WDW often doesn’t fix something until it gets noticed online, I REALLY hope Cory will continue to keep his eyes open and point out both the good and bad.

      Fans should never accept 2nd rate maintenance and quality at premium prices. When we stand up for quality and demand nothing less, we get a better product. Just ask any Disneyland fan. That’s why Disneyland operates at a higher quality level. The fans won’t tolerate anything less!

      Thank you Cory and GREAT JOB! ! !

      • snidely whiplash

        I said I was a fan, and I said “sometimes.” Jeez.

      • Country Bear

        Agree totally Dusty!

      • Malin

        Compare to some of the articles and views on MiceChat. Cory is the most mutual of people that regularly writes a weekly column blogging the Parks.

      • holierthanthoutx

        I think snidely whiplash has a point — this website seems almost entirely devoted of late to pointing out the problems and faults of all things Disney. That’s fine; it’s a legitimate topic for discussion.

        But to try to tell people that they can’t discuss the problems and faults of the website means that you’ve turned into exactly what you’re trying to prevent — a site that just gushes over every little thing, no matter how anyone else feels about it.

        I guess what I’m trying to say is, if you can dish it out, you need to be able to take it.

        What I look for in the park updates is information about things I might not otherwise know: new events, new attractions, park happenings, changing decorations, construction updates. I’m not really interested in seeing a photo of the one area of chipped paint you found in a 130-acre park.

        If you feel there’s a need for a blog devoted to pointing out Disney’s failings, why not create a completely separate blog in which the writers can point out faults to their hearts’ content? (Yes, I know that’s kind of Kevin Yee’s department. Maybe Cory could contribute?)

  • Amy VandenBoogert

    I’m going to sound really nitpicky here but… The Enchanted Tiki Room is a SHOW, not a ride.

    Sorry it just bugs me when people refer to attractions that are shows as rides. You’re just sitting there watching. You’re not in a ride vehicle or anything.

    *steps off soapbox*

    • Edward Allen

      Thank you. My thoughts exactly.

    • Malin

      In Disney term it’s consider an attraction. Go to the website or look on a Park map and you’ll find it listed under attractions. In fact the Disney World website refers to it under the category’s of Classics and Indoors.

  • ChrisNJ

    thanks Cory for your updates. You seem to be very fair in how you present what is great and what isn’t so great on a weekly basis. It’s clear to me you have a real emotional connection to the MK.

    Wondering if the railings on the Dwarf coaster are staying after construction. Hope not.

    The Belle attraction is really more than a meet and greet. As someone who can’t stand the usual meet and greets – this was a really fun thing to experience at least once. But I didn’t wait more than 15 minutes on my trip. I liked it more than the actual ride for Little Mermaid (LM waiting area is incredible though).

  • michael darling

    That little mountain is looking fantastic. I’m glad they are doing it right. It’s got to stand the test of time, sitting as the center of Fantasyland for years to come. HOWEVER, at the moment, it looks a bit like a Christmas tree lot up there. I don’t know many trees that the branches go so perfectly in a triangle downward to the ground (except my trees I finally took down a few weeks ago). Gripe, gripe, gripe.
    I love Fridays, to see all Corey’s photos. I see progress, I see construction, I see changes for the better. Yep, I’m the demographic Disney wants, and I’m proud of it. That’s why I visit MiceChat.

  • Edward Allen

    Regarding meet and greet………………….I think characters are fun and add something to the park experience, but I have two main objections: (1) they seem to be an extremely cheap way to “add an attraction” or at least give the impression that a formal meet and greet is the same as a ride or even a theater-style show. Come on, there are “attractions” and then there are ATTRACTIONS. Dressing someone up in a costume does not an attraction make. (2) Disney used to be about the whole family doing something together, and these Princess type meet and greets specifically target only preteen girls and serve the split the family. No self respecting boy would be caught dead waiting in line to “meet a princess”. I know there are other meet and greets that are less female specific, but the entire concept feels very lame to me.

    • tcsnwhite

      Excuse me… “No self respecting boy would be caught dead waiting in line to “meet a princess”. ” Are you even aware of how that comes off? This is exactly the kind of thinking that is so repressive, judgmental and limiting in our society…not only to those that don’t fit the socially constructed mold of ‘what it is to be a man’…but also for those who think they do, or have to (most of whom are not even consciously aware of that).

      There’s nothing wrong if a male (of any age) wants to meet the princesses, or do things or like things that aren’t perceived and accepted as ‘typically masculine’.
      Not to mention, plenty of boys also grow up with the classic fairy tales…and yes, do want to meet those characters at the parks.
      And plenty of them grow up to be just fine men – full of self-respect and security for themselves…no matter who and what they are.

  • danielz6

    I got no problem with meet and greets, if the demand is there then kudos to disney for supplying. I think fantasy faire is a great addition to Disneyland. However, I am of the opinion that a meet and greet should never be in lieu of an actual attraction. They have so much space where new fantasyland is and to open that new land with only a copy of DCA’s mermaid ride was a cheap out imo. Beauty and the beast deserves to have a ride of it’s own.

    • OperationsSupe

      While I agree with wanting to have seen a Beauty and the Beast attraction built, I disagree with your opinion on the Voyage of the Little Mermaid. Yes, DCA had it first, but I think that although it may not be completely unique, it is an amazing dark ride. I remember the first time I rode it, I was pretty impressed with the theming. Especially because if they really would have wanted it to be cheap, they wouldn’t have built such an elaborate facade and queue, which is way above DCA’s.

      In terms of the Beauty and the Beast meet and greet, I will probably never go to it, but from what I have seen online, it is much more than just walking up to a painted backdrop to pose with some characters. It is much more of an experience with the mirror and animatronics that really bring it to life for kids. Besides, the Be Our Guest restaurant is also a noteworthy addition in terms of the extent of a themed dining experience.

  • Aotphks

    Just an opinion here, but this article claims he reason why meet and greet attractions like Belle’s are built is because of long lines, like the 75 minutes wait time on that particular Belle meet.
    Is that really so? I thought the reason why the lines at those meet and greet attractions are long is because they are very low capacity attractions that require extra time for groups of visitors to take their pictures with the characters. In my own experience with my kids, they are not interested in having pictures with characters unless they are readily accessible or roaming freely around the park, so that has saved us a lot of time and allowed us to do other things that are not time consuming. However, i will say that the true reason why Disney is building such meet and greet venues is because they are cheap to build and cost efficient to operate plus they bring in a source of retail revenue.

  • DisneyNuts

    Loved the update, as I loved all the others! The SDMT is looking great, and they have apparently made significant progress than when we were there the 24th of January. I think the trees looked great and I have no doubt the rest of the mountain will be filled in beautifully.

    There are a few points I did want make which relate to some of the comments:

    (1) Disney doesn’t do “rides.” According to Marty Sklar, as referenced in his book “Dream It, Do It!,” the Disney nomenclature describes them as “attractions, experiences, and adventures.” (which I believe Marty Sklar initiated in some of the first written publicity for Disneyland). After hearing a younger Imagineer at a meeting refer to something as a “ride,” Marty wrote a very lengthy memo (a copy of which he included at the end of the book) to remind people of this point. He believed that this is what set Disney apart from other amusement parks. By the way, it was a great book and I plan to reread it, as he there are many life, business, and leadership lessons throughout.

    (2) The Meet and Greets are very much an attraction in my opinion. While not everyone’s cup of tea, they are certainly the focus of many park goers, of varying ages. I think the primary target for those attractions are young girls, who, if they are like my daughter was, will want to do nothing else but see the princesses and then go back to the hotel to play with their princess doll. (That did not happen, by the way, as her ticket was expensive, so we pulled her along to everything else). However, I have seen young boys (preschool and early grade school age) in line for the princesses, as well as adults (young and old). I think those of us who are fortunate to have been to the parks multiple times may forget how magical that first (and sometimes only) trip can be, and the magic for many is not really complete without meeting and greeting a character in the flesh, especially after you see how in character, and fun, they really are.

    (3) As for the Storytime with Belle attraction/experience (not sure how its classified actually), it is way more than just a Meet and Greet, but I do agree with Cory in that its consistent popularity probably does translate to the overall popularity (or need) for Meet and Greets in general. I don’t know how many of the commenters have experienced the attraction for themselves, but it is a great testament to the creative abilities of the Imagineers, and if you consider yourself a fan of their work, I suggest you give it a try. The artistry of Belle’s house and Maurice’s workshop is simply beautiful, and the technical effects are surprising and amazing. It really is fun to watch your family members (not just your kids by the way) participate in a reenactment of the Beauty and the Beast story. No, nobody is being transported in a car or some other coaster-like vehicle, but I think it’s a fun and unique way to immerse park-goers into one of Disney’s greatest animated films, as do many others if there is still a 75 minute wait on a slow day.

  • danyoung

    >75 minutes for Belle is not a sign the attraction is popular.<

    Of course it is. It's not a sign of total throughput. But when people see that there's a 75 minute wait, and they get in line anyway – well, that's a popular attraction.

    • Malin

      We are talking in the context of pulling in capacity numbers rather then if people are willing to stand and wait 75 minutes. Also what’s not taken into consideration is how much FastPass + is slowing down the lines.

      • AaroniusPolonius

        Regardless of whether or not FastPass+ is slowing down the lines, regardless of whether or not the Belle House enhanced meet and greet acts as a great sponge soaking up guests (like the super-high-capacity Mermaid does, for example,) a wait time (and line) of seventy-five minutes in FEBRUARY most certainly indicates popularity for the attraction.

        One can easily critique the idea of a character meet and greet, elaborate and enhanced or simple and basic, as an attraction that is of far less worth, value and interest than a bona-fide ride. I’m in that camp: I’m not in the market for meet and greets, especially if there’s a line or wait. But, clearly, obviously, plainly, there’s a market for numerous Disney visitors specifically for these meet and greets, or (a) Disney wouldn’t keep trotting them out, elaborate, simple or otherwise and (b) those meet and greets wouldn’t command wait times of more than an hour to experience them.

        This is where I feel that a lot of Disney criticism falls flat; the thesis presented is that rides and attractions that I don’t like personally, or that the group of enthusiasts that I most associate with don’t like as a cohort, those rides and attractions aren’t being built and thus, they aren’t worth it and they are a sign that Disney is going downhill. But that’s an untruth; that’s using personal and anecdotal “evidence” to support a thesis not born out in either attendance numbers nor attraction popularity. It’s very “Fox News” in its way: say something enough so that some people will believe it to be factual.

        What’s worse, is that an ongoing decade plus critique of Disney Parks from the Eisner/Pressler era regarding poor themeing, cheap budgets and a lack of Disney magic in said attractions is actually addressed. Which is to say that while I’m not really into the meet and greets Disney is building, they’re all superlatively elaborate and themed. There’s real effort and expense in each of them, certainly in the most recent (Belle/Princesses/Frozen/Circus ‘Toons, etc,) where the powers that be went above and beyond to create an immersive, elaborate unique environment for folks to meet and greet these characters.

        So even when Disney does something RIGHT, which is to invest in these environments and take them to another level, they’re critiqued for doing something WRONG, which is to create meet and greet attractions that I personally don’t like or which the group which I most readily associate with don’t like. That doesn’t lend validation to the argument, and to points where Disney still needs to improve, expand and dynamically change. It makes those who see the RIGHT in the elaborate meet and greets go on the defensive, and thus, no matter what valid points one might make, they aren’t received, processed and debated rationally. It’s hard to see clearly when one has one’s guard up.

        I’m sure the next big Disney takedown will be the Dwarf Coaster. One can easily critique that it took Disney 400 years to actually build the thing. One can easily note the cynicism behind the launch date, perhaps designed to steal some news from the Potter expansion over at Universal. But, from all aspects, the ride itself looks to be quite elaborately themed and expensively budgeted. It looks like the world’s most elaborate expression of the kiddie coaster ever. Now, it might not be an attraction that personally appeals to some or a group of folks who want other attraction experiences at theme parks, but the coaster at least looks like Disney-Done-Right. No doubt, it will be trounced as Disney-Done-Wrong.

  • waltopia

    Sorry, but those are the fakiest looking trees ever, and paint for grass is hopefully not a finished look.

  • Skimbob

    Thanks for the great update. I think the mine train will look as good as everything around it once it is done. I am still a little confused when people call it a kiddy ride. My understanding from the producer is that it will be a fast paced ride with new technology being implemented on the tilting mine cars. I don’t consider that a kiddy ride. It might not be an E ticket but at least it should be a D ticket. One should never plan a trip around a possible ride opening date since we all know things never ever go according to plan.

    I think the big reason Disneyland is so much more ahead of the game is that they have more regular guests and they are there more often than a lot of the people that go to Walt Disney World. I always feel like I have travelled to another country when I go to WDW because I hear a lot more different languages. A lot of these people will rarely ever go more than once a so they are excited with what they see unlike those of us who travel there all the time and expect more from the parks than the average guest. I am not saying it is right for TDO to just let things slide I think they just believe they don’t have to work as hard to impress guests.

    • Country Bear

      I also agree that the mine train ride will be very nice when it’s finished. However, D23 is stating that it is an E Ticket attraction and that’s how it’s being sold. So I hope they have something pretty spectacular inside that small footprint to back up that marketing plan. Otherwise there will be a great deal of criticism towards WDW as they are selling a 5 dressed up as a 9. It could garner the same type of feedback that the Jingle Cruise earned as an “overlay”. When you use terms like “E Ticket” or “Overlay”, Disney itself has defined what you should expect from those labels.

      I hope they don’t undercut their own standard.

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  • CaptainAction

    Yes, if they are marketing this as an E Ticket there needs to be something very special that we can’t see or E Ticket doesn’t mean what it used to.
    A loose quote from Princess Bride to WDW execs, “That term E Ticket you keep using…I don’t think it means what you think it does”.
    They will also need to keep those pine trees trimmed to their current hieght because if they grow any taller they will make the dwarf mound look very small very quickly.

    • Bartattack

      I don’t think the trees on the mountain are real… to avoid having to trim them.

  • thebear

    Thanks for the update, fair and informative, as always. My family and I just returned yesterday from a trip to WDW. While I didn’t notice any maintenance issues with the Haunted Mansion, what I did have a problem with was the fact that they weren’t closing the door from the 1st room into the stretching room until well after the room started “stretching”. I know the room doesn’t really move like at Disneyland but I still consider it bad show.
    This was our first experience with the Magic Bands. I had no glitches at all and really enjoyed them. Already having your fast passes booked before you arrive really changes the way you spend your day and I know it really cut down on our criss-crossing the park all of the time. Not having to hold my familys park tickets and room keys and fast passes and getting them out all of the time was nice. I did hear some complaints from day visitors that they waited over an hour in a fast pass + line to get their fast passes booked. If you’re heading over there, do not get in the first FastPass+ line that you see. Shorter or no lines are found in other places around the parks. Hopefully the $ for this has been spent and they can start doing some more touch up. A lot of work was definitely going on but several areas need some love, especially the Fantasia miniature golf course. It is completely run down with worn out or missing carpet and looks completely messy with leaves and bird droppings all over. I would love to see Eric head over there and show everyone some pictures. It is very expensive and will not go back until it is repaired and I have an AP so I can play for half price.