Hello, and welcome to Dateline Disney World! This week, we’re talking about some major changes coming to the Hub at the Magic Kingdom, as well as the typical round of news. Let’s go!

Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!

Sidewalk work is still happening on Main Street, as well as exterior work near the Confectionary.

Casey’s Corner is open again, but some bad news came along with it.

Disney expanded the seating options for the restaurant, but it was at the expense of the awesome baseball themed bleachers as well as the screen that used to play old baseball themed cartoons.

There are two large hooks on that big wall, so hopefully a new screen will go up. If not, it is a big loss of one of the charming little details in the park.

Next up, there have been some confirmed huge changes coming to the central Hub of the park (the circular park in front of the castle which plays host to the Walt and Mickey (Partners) statue. There will now be two central ‘rings’ to the Hub, which will make for better guest flow, and to allow Disney to get FP+ viewing locations for parades and fireworks out of the way of normal traffic. Some of this work has started already with the clearing of some trees and handrails over near the Crystal Palace.

I’m really glad this fountain is still there, though.

The new Hub will also have lots of ways to get in and out, and will apparently include some nice topiaries, sculpted plants, and water features, very similar to that of Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris.

They have drained out the moat already, and many ‘boxes’ are scattered through the Hub in preparation for this project, which Disney says will be completed by 2015.

Judging by the concept art video and the ideas behind this, I am cautiously optimistic. It will be quite nice to get rid of the crazy bottlenecking in this area, and I feel like the new landscaping will probably be very well done, especially considering this is the central focal point of the park.

Work still continues near Liberty Square.

Lots of trees have been in bloom lately, it’s a lovely time to be in the park.

Walls up at Village Haus.

Old FastPass signage still covered by black tarps. I’d love to see these just get modified or taken down already.

Lots of artificial grass and flowers are being installed on the top of the Mine Train right now. It really makes a big difference in the landscape.

The track has had some scuffing and scratching from the trains. There are already some sections of track which have been (or are being) repainted.

King Triton has popped up near the Mermaid DVC kiosk this week.

Lots of mulch.

The crane behind Cinderella Castle has been around for weeks now.

Lots of Main Street Vehicles were running this week, which I love to see.

That does it for this week! What do you all think of the changes coming to the Hub? Like the way the Mine Train is starting to look? Let us know in the comments!!

If you’d like to support Dateline Disney World and you shop regularly at Amazon.com, please CLICK HEREbefore you do. It won’t cost you any extra, and it’ll help out the column!!

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]

  • Malin

    I don’t understand why the Magic Kingdom must add seating capacity for Casey’s when it has a perfectly good Counter Service Restaurant which sits empty most of the year just a couple of minutes walk away (Tomorrowland Terrace) which could be used for lunch at least even if WDW doesn’t want to lose out on revenue from the Fireworks Dessert Buffets in the evening hours.

    I like that Disney are adding more Parade viewing rather then taking away from the existing areas for Fast Pass + although poor timing and this should had been ready to go along with the debut of the new Parade. By the way will you be covering the debut of the Parade for MiceChat Cory?

    The foilage on top of the Dwarf Mountain is really looking good and the trees no longer look so bad.

    The Crane was recently used for that publicity shot with the 140 Characters to promote the next 24 hour party.

    • jon81uk

      It’s manpower in the kitchens that is expensive so operating one counter with extra seating is more efficient than opening up a whole separate kitchen at another location. Also many guests want hot dogs from Casey’s as there is a feeling a hot dog from elsewhere will taste as good!

  • danyoung

    Nope on the crane. They used a man-lift for that shot. The crane is a separate animal, used for work on the castle.

  • jcruise86

    “They have drained out the moat already, and many ‘boxes’ are scattered through the Hub in preparation for this project, which Disney says will be completed by 2015.”

    By 2015?
    Hiring Universal Orlando to oversee this construction project is the smartest thing WDW has done in a long time.

    Kidding. I hope that is is done by 2015 & that it looks beautiful! It is a park after all.

    • blondiemouse72

      Not sure using Underwhelming Orlando to undertake this project would be so smart.Their paths only carry 8 million pairs of feet a year this one needs to carry over twice that many

    • CaptainAction

      WDW is slow walking Dwarf Mound C Ticket kiddie coaster to try and compete with Universal opening of London, Diagon Alley, Gringott’s E Ticket attraction, and all the new stores and restaurants. Very sad.

      I think the same thing is going on here. Universal construction team is moving straight to Jurassic Park for the update and construction of new Skull Island Land with E Ticket King Kong ride w giant Skull Island animatronic bug attack.

      Maybe WDW is slow walking the new hub area to compete with Universal’s Skull Island E Ticket attraction and land. Again, pretty sad.

  • bigbrian-nc.com

    I’m hoping that where the two “fireworks viewing areas” come to the bridge that crosses the moat between Casey’s and the Plaza restaurant, that the areas will slope down in order to have a continuous path UNDER that bridge which would allow crowds to cross the park UNDER parades!

  • Haven

    Happy to hear about the Plaza remodel project, sorely needed on such busy days and will be a Godsend when parade times approach. Although I have always understood the “full scale” nature of this park compared to Disneyland, the plaza here always been gigantic to me. Perhaps this remodel will help break it down into more digestible outdoor “rooms” that feel more intimate to pedestrians and less like standing on the expansive lawn of a royal wedding.

  • OrangeFlash

    Does this mean an end to all hope for the return of the swan boats?

    • toonaspie

      ^ I think the hub changes would make it seem less likely.

      • villagecreator

        Especially since in all the released concept art, it shows the waterways no longer being fully connected. (The loading dock also seems to disappear.)

  • tooncity

    How can it take a YEAR, to re-route sidewalks, planters, curbs and landscaping????
    A year, REALLY? What is this Government work!
    The work, will look good when done, but a year to do it is simply absurd.
    This is a 2-3 month job at the most.

    • CaptainAction

      Well, WDW is actually being optimistic by saying it will this hub area will be ready in one year.

      This plan hinges on the Dwarf Mound opening and that STILL hasn’t happened yet.

      When Dwarf Mound gets around to opening, then the same two castmembers WDW budgeted for Dwarf Mound will move over to the hub area.

      These two poor guys are then working on the hub all by themselves again just like Dwarf Mound.

    • CaptainAction

      Well, WDW is actually being optimistic by saying it will this hub area will be ready in one year.

      This plan hinges on the Dwarf Mound opening and that STILL hasn’t happened yet.

      When Dwarf Mound gets around to opening, then the same two castmembers WDW budgeted for Dwarf Mound will move over to the hub area.

      These two poor guys are then working on the hub all by themselves again just like Dwarf Mound.

      • Trumpet

        Actually two guys seems abut right!

    • HollywoodF1

      If you look closer at Disney’s concept art, you’d see that this is a far more expansive project than you seem to understand. They’re building new bridges, new buildings, re-grading, large platings, and other infrastructure work.

      Something you may consider in the future is that you are questing Disney’s ability to build a theme park. That’s like questioning NASA’s rocketry skills. Really? Who are you, exactly?

      • CaptainAction

        This is not your father’s WDW.
        The current leadership at WDW has no close. They’ve been naked for 10 years now.
        You still imagine clothes?

  • EC82

    Every set of photos I see makes me think Disney REALLY doesn’t care about the appearance of its theme parks — it just wants the money. There is no excuse for half of the ugliness and disarray in these photos.

    • Aotphks

      I totally agree with you. I have not visited the new Fantasyland yet but it looks lovely. But I wonder if management’s perception is that only the Disney park fans notice the cosmetic details of the parks, where the majority of the visitors only run to rides. Maybe that’s why they are willing to sacrifice on the details and architecture of the park?

    • CaptainAction

      Meanwhile over at Universal, the gigantic construction team is wrapping up Diagon Alley and London land with E Ticket Gringott’s attraction.

      This massive construction team is then relocating immediately to Jurassic Park Island for a NEW project! Jurassic will receive a much needed refresh and the back part of the island will become Skull Island from the King Kong movie. This E Ticket attraction will be amazing and open in less than 18 months.

      Cue all the WDW Can Do No Wrong Folks for giant sigh. These guys don’t care if WDW ever builds a new anything again but they just really want Universal to stop making new attractions and lands and restaurants and resorts because it’s embarrassing for their lazy castmember friends to keep getting their rears handed to them.

      The answer for them isn’t for WDW to step it up, but that Universal needs to stop creating so that WDW doesn’t look so incredibly lazy.

      • Trumpet

        I think what it is happening is that WDW management believes that the new hub is a major project. It is cosmetic detailing, and while will look nice is nothing to really get your hopes up. It would be like repaving a street and adding another land either side. Helpful, but not ground-breaking.

  • yoyoflamingo

    My favorite part of the Confectionary scrim that I noticed when we were there last week is it is Halloween themed – the characters are wearing Halloween costumes and there are Jack o Lanterns in the window!

    Cautiously optimistic is the best way to describe the hub changes. Sad to see pieces of the moat go, but Disney’s recent track record for cosmetic changes seems to be pretty good, so we’ll see…

  • Aotphks

    Glad to see improvements are coming to a park that has outgrown demand. I just hope the final result will be cosmetically appealing as well as practical.
    One comment though on the newly expanded dining area inside Casey’s. I’m quite pleased to see that bleachers type seating and TV monitor go. The last time we visited, that area was always congested with people sitting there loitering and watching cartoons while those of us in need of seats to eat had to stand there or be forced to eat somewhere else. Plus, without an actual table where you could spread toppings your hot dogs.. well, it was just cumbersome to prep your food for consumption. So this is a HUGE improvement IMO.

  • Skimbob

    WDW’s hub is huge compared to DL. I kind of liked all that open area. Hopefully they will do a good job. The mine train is looking great. Disney has done an excellent job in designing the new FL even if it took longer than it should have.

  • nbowa579

    Hub changes are definitley needed. Being in the park last July after watching Wishes, it was mayhem trying to make it up main street over into Tomorrowland. Tour groups were out in full force and it was clearly evident that something must be done to fix these flow issues. Kudos, Disney for recognizing this need.

    And to everyone complaining about Disney’s lack of new attractions in comparsion to Universal, why don’t you just stay at Universal? Maybe it will help with Disney’s capacity issues and they won’t need to redo the hub because there will be significantly less people in the park. Oh wait…


  • imagineer97

    Not gonna lie, but changing the hub DOES seem like a colossal waste of time, money, and construction crews.

  • Klutch

    I’m wondering if Disney is just surrendering the older guests to Universal and focusing on families with small children. Everything they’ve done at WDW over the past several years is for little kids; and mostly little girls. That must be where the money is. So Disney is going there and staying there.

    Of course, the exception would be Epcot. I love Epcot. But Epcot seems happy to focus on the older crowds with expensive festivals; very little investment with immediate, big returns. The spreadsheet guys must be overjoyed. Just let Epcot age ungracefully until it’s little more than a festival center. Rip out the remaining attractions and use those huge pavilions for indoor demonstrations and shopping.

  • tcsnwhite

    The new hub design, esp. in the video model, actually looks well done. It is sorely needed, even with losing the original design and waterways. I think if the proper attention is given to really planning the landscaping well, it will be a real deciding factor in pulling this project off right (besides well planned new walkways, which are also badly needed).

    Construction walls may be ugly, but how else do you get the needed work done without cutting off whole sections of a theme park that operates 365 days a year?

  • stitchfanocala

    If the Dwarfs Mine Ride attraction is already needing paint work, it tells me that the ride me be awfully bumpy. Not a good sign.