Hello, and welcome to [B]Dateline Disney World![/B] This week, brings news of some unfortunate cutbacks. The popular Magic Kingdom Extra Magic Hours and Country Bear Jamboree may be suffering changes which won’t be popular among fans. We will continue our coverage of the [B]New Fantasyland[/B] project and cover news at the [B]Magic Kingdom[/B], [B]Epcot[/B], and [B]Disney’s Hollywood Studios![/B]

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Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!!

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[center][size=5][b]Construction Kingdom[/b][/size]
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Starting as we always do on the left of this project, we saw a crane in place at the restroom/Tangled construction area this week.

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Workers were also on site adding a new structure.

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Over at the Castle Wall, we saw even more detail coming along on the walls.

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Notice the color differences and the spots taped off so they don’t get messy.

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On the left side of the wall, we even saw the first sign of new lighting! You can see underneath the arch, and also some lighting structures near the Beauty and the Beast area.

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On the right wall side, they are still behind the left, but moving along at a good pace, with detail popping up there as well.

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Workers were putting adhesive on these detail pieces and applying them.

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The first brick pieces have been put up on the right wall!

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It is starting to look quite nice, especially the hint of lighting we saw. Speaking of lighting, you can see in this terrible handheld night shot that they will be using a blue colored lighting package on the trees right behind the left wall.

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Over where Snow White’s Scary Adventures used to be, the walls have moved again, now making the narrow pathway closer to the carrousel instead of the ride, and the ride has been tarped off.

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At the Beauty and the Beast area, more work continues on Gaston’s Tavern, with the roofing seemingly done on the far left part of it.

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Bonjour! Village Gifts looking nice in the morning light.

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An arch all the way in the back of the area seeing some work done.

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These pieces that will be at the beginning of the bridge to the Be Our Guest restaurant finally don’t look like skeletons anymore.

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At the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, things don’t look much different.

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While it doesn’t look so different, there have been lots of workers there every day, and the crane has been in heavy use at the site.

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The exterior of the Little Mermaid attraction is looking great.

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Since nothing has changed here, I’m assuming this rock work is now completed.

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Not sure if they have added more palm trees here or not. You can notice part of the shipwreck boat from the front of the queue in the bottom left of this frame.

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In Storybook Circus, Dumbo’s Fastpass sign has been turned on.

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The third circus tent has also started to receive its skin.

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Here’s what it looks like from the Casey Jr. area.

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What all three tents look like from the Dumbo area.

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They need to still do work on the back of the tent.

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And as you can see by this shot, this tent looks to clearly not be round like the others, nor will the front of it be covered. It looks to be open air, which to me signifies either a shady place to sit, or the more likely option of a food and beverage location.

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This area on the pathway to Tomorrowland is serving as a temporary breakroom for Cast Members in this area while the construction is going on. Thankfully once the holidays roll around, it will be taken down and the pathway will look nice again.

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The Carolwood references in Storybook Circus are probably my favorite thing about the area.

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[center][size=5][b]This and That[/b][/size]
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The flags around property were all at half staff this week in honor of the terrible shootings in Colorado.

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This refurbishment right at the entrance has been walled off for quite some time. Hopefully it gets done soon.

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During the summer months, the wait times get very high. For that reason, I suggest anyone coming into the parks get there at rope drop. I took this shot in Fantasyland at about 9:15, and it was so nice to walk through there with not many guests at all.

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Now for some unfortunate news and rumors. It has been confirmed that in January, Extra Magic Hours at Walt Disney World will be shortened from three hours to two hours at night. I must say that this is sad news to me. The prices for tickets and hotels continue to go up as the years go by, and offerings continue to get cut. For some people who cannot make it here during the off times of the year, that last hour of EMH was a time where you could really enjoy the parks being nice and empty and take advantage of truly short wait times. The parks are also just a little bit more special at those times. Walking through the Magic Kingdom hub and Main Street at 3am is a really unique experience, and one that soon will be just a memory.

Also, we have a rumor from a trusted source in regards to this attraction.

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Now, this is just a rumor, but we have heard that during its upcoming refurbishment, the Country Bear Jamboree will allegedly be cut by about five to six minutes. The rumor states that NextGen could possibly be inserted here, and there is the possibility of the “Mama Don’t Whup Little Buford” section being entirely cut from the show.

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In my eyes, this is an absolutely terrible move. It starts back some time ago. Some of you may remember that the Country Bears used to put on a holiday themed show around Christmas time. It was awesome, and it eventually got cut. Now, they are considering taking part of the show out entirely? This is one of the true classic Disney attractions, where when sitting in the theater you can imagine being in 1970’s or 1980’s Walt Disney World, and shouldn’t be touched. Especially with something NextGen. For all I know, it could be something really cool, but I don’t think it is worth eliminating an entire part of the show. Seems very silly on Disney’s behalf, if true. It’s also weird to see, right after Disney made a tremendous move restoring the Tiki Room here to something resembling the original show (though that show also suffered some cuts). Hopefully this is just rumor and the refurbishment that is upcoming is just a great restoring and cleaning of the attraction.

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Welcome to Epcot!! And bonus points to those of you who can name where this week’s welcome image comes from!

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[center][size=5][b]Re-Track[/b][/size]
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I took a spin on the monorail this week to see the progress on the exterior of the Test Track building. Here it is!

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Lots of torn up concrete, and lots of material in place to start making some changes. Hopefully soon, Disney will give us a little bit of an update on the attraction, since they haven’t really said anything about it since April or May.

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Welcome to the Studios!!

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[center][size=5][b]This and That[/b][/size]
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As you can see above, the stage and all of its control booths from Star Wars Weekends and the 4th of July are now gone, and it looks much better there, even for those who aren’t fans of the hat. So much less clutter in the center of the park without all of it.

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This week, Disney announced that the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will be on display from November 9th through January 4th, 2013. This is always exciting news, as I feel the lights are awesome and make it worth hanging around at the Studios at nighttime. It also helps even out crowds a little bit during the busy holiday times.

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Well, that wraps things up for this week’s Dateline. How do you feel about the Extra Magic Hours cutbacks and the rumors of the Country Bear Jamboree changes? Do you also find yourself wondering about details for the new version of Test Track? 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 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]

  • gKaR

    Thx for the latest updates 🙂 Going to WDW in september. Have been many times before, but still, its always special for me and my partner when we revisit. Enjoying the “build up”, although i do hope Test Track gets finished ahead of schedule. Go WDW builders Go!

  • gKaR

    btw. I hear ya about the extra hours, but can understand if theres so few people there, makes little sense to open. Was never a fan of the Jamboree Show anyway, so wont be sorry personally if it goes completely. Updating rides is a good thing, as long as it retains its “Disney Magic” Having said that I’d be gutted if they removed parts of Splash Mountain, so i do feel sorry for fans of the show. Best not pay attention to unfounded rumor. Lets see what happens.

    thx again for the updates and site loving it 🙂

  • mratigan

    Thanks
    They need to make a 5th gate and have about the history of the parks and put the long gone rides there
    And the pic is the imagination pavilion

  • Fairy Godmother Travel

    NOOO–I love the Country Bears and hope Little Buford will stay around a little longer (and still need to be whupped!). I really miss the Country Bears Christmas show–it was a nice old fashioned offering. . . and who can forget Baby New Year?

  • WDW1971

    I must say I am so looking forward to seeing the Fantasyland expansion. From the outside it looks beautiful and probably some of Imagineer’s best work. Can’t wait to see it! I’m thinking it is going to be even more beautiful than Cars Land.

  • SFDisneyfan

    Maybe I missed this in past coverage, but has anyone noticed that the two ending scenes for the Little Mermaid ride in Florida look like they have been tweaked from the version at DCA?

    I was looking at photos today on this blog: http://orlandoparksnews.blogspot.com/2012/07/hollywood-studios-update-minor_26.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OrlandoThemeParksNews+%28Orlando+Theme+Parks+News%29 and noticed that the model for the ride has two very different mockups for the last two show scenes on the ride.

    I have been on the DCA version a dozen times since it opened, and the scene where Ursula gets her due has always underwhelmed!!!! The first time I rode the ride, how they had depicted Ursula barely registered.

    It was even more of a “wait that’s it?” moment than the endings to the classic dark rides in Fantasyland.

    The layout for the finale scene also appears to be changed from the DCA one.

    Anyone know if this model accurately reflects how the ride will be laid out?

  • MiceChat Staff

    Thanks for the info Cory! Nice work.

  • yoyoflamingo

    If the Country Bears are being cut by 5-6 minutes it’s going to have to be more than just Little Buford, which is only about 30 seconds – a minute. I’m hoping this is still just a rumor however.

    Looking forward to seeing the construction in person in a little over 2 weeks!

  • Timekeeper

    Well, in the case of the tiki room, why it was cut down to what you see now was because of the previous placement, (UNM) so that’s why the fountain element is not there, so that’s why it’s shorted (also has the same problem with the missing “Offenbach” number in Disneyland’s Tiki Room, it being a timing issue.) I hope the rumor is falsified in the case of the Country Bears, because the show looks really great as it stands, it being the original and the only location in the USA, the only other location being Tokyo Disneyland, with it’s holiday changes.

    Timekeeper

  • Disneycraft

    Hiya i’ve just joined this evening from the uk and want to say how much i enjoyed reading your article ! I can’t believe they might alter country bear ! I think this attraction screams ‘disney’ more than many others and feel it would be wrong to alter it . Hope they just give it a dust !