Hello, and welcome to [B]Dateline Disney World![/B] In this column, we’ll be reporting on some things going on at the [B]Magic Kingdom[/B], share some photos of a gift shop that will turn into a meet and greet at [B]Disney’s Animal Kingdom[/B], and also show some photos of the newest wing of [B]Disney’s Art of Animation Resort[/B]. Lots to cover, so let’s get started!


Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!


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Over at the area where the new restrooms and Tangled meet and greet location are supposed to be going, we have finally seen some vertical construction this week.



There is a large crane on site, and it is nice to finally see some movement going on here after weeks of earth moving.




Also in the Magic Kingdom, the Fastpass machines for Stitch’s Great Escape are completely removed, and seem to have been overtaken by wheelchair parking. This was a nice move since those FP machines were barely used and now there is some extra room for wheelchairs and strollers.


On to Animal Kingdom!


Welcome to Animal Kingdom!


[center][size=5][b]This and That[/b][/size]

I must say, I am not a fan of these dance parties popping up everywhere. One would think there is enough to do in the park that we don’t need bumping club music to make guests happy. Oh well.


Last week, we reported that the Beastly Bazaar gift shop would be turning into a character meet and greet in what seems to be the first move in getting ready for the Avatar project. So, here are some shots of this gift shop.



They serve some cold food to go with the merchandise.


The shop has cool details, which hopefully will stay.


Before this week, I had never stepped foot in this store, which in my eyes makes it a prime candidate to be replaced with something else. That said, the shop is quite a bit larger than it looks from the outside.



I’m not sure how many characters they will be able to fit in here, but at least a few will work!



Another reason for them to gut this place is the fact that they sell merch that can be found almost anywhere on property.




Over at the Grand Floridian, construction is continuing on their Disney Vacation Club expansion project. These shots were taken from the monorail and the monorail platform at the Transportation and Ticket Center.



Seems like in certain sections, they are already getting up to the third floor of the massive building.

And lastly, over at Disney’s new Art of Animation Resort, phase two opened up on Monday. Phase one was the Finding Nemo wing, and phase two is the Cars wing.




It seems like Disney tried to make a mini Cars Land out of this area. Lots of ‘spots’ from the movie and lots of opportunities to pose with the characters.



The billboard for Radiator Springs sits at the entrance.


As does the Hudson Hornet.


On the way in, you find Ramone and Flo.





Going clockwise around, you next hit Luigi’s Casa della Tires.





Then it’s Fillmore’s:



We then reach the Wheel Well Motel with Lightning McQueen:



Of course, you can’t have Cars without Mater.




And in the center of it all, is the Cozy Cone Pool, which is made to look like the Cozy Cone Motel.





The cones are actually cabanas in which families can set up and have some shade while enjoying the pool.




And lastly, the outside of the buildings are made to look like artist sketches of the characters coming to life.


Overall, I feel that the Cars wing was much cooler and FAR more photogenic than the Finding Nemo wing. The pool at Nemo may be larger and better, but I enjoyed the colors and the many photo opportunities with the entire Cars family better. The next installment will be the Lion King wing, which I’m really hoping Disney does the best, since I feel it is one of their best offerings. There has been lots of coverage on this resort. And I will say again, this resort is very cute, and it is quite nice for the price. But, DO NOT be fooled by the aggressive marketing to think that it is anything above a value resort. The moderate and deluxe resorts at Walt Disney World will still offer nicer rooms and a better theme. But, Art of Animation is most definitely a league ahead of the other values, the Pop Century and All Star Resorts.

Well, that’s going to wrap things up for this week’s WDW coverage. Did you check out our New Fantasyland update yet? If not, you can check out all the Magic Kingdom New Fantasyland news HERE.

Do you enjoy the Art of Animation Resort? Are you excited for Avatar and the fact that things are starting to happen? Let us know in the comments!

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 other website, [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].