Hello, and welcome to [B]Dateline Disney World![/B] This week, we have continued coverage of [B]New Fantasyland[/B] along with news from both the [B]Magic Kingdom[/B] and [B]Epcot.[/B] Lots to talk about, so let’s get started!

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Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!!

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Here are the wait times at the Magic Kingdom from around 1PM on the day I visited. Manageable, but summertime is still lingering.

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[center][size=5][b]Construction Kingdom[/b][/size]
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Starting over at the left side of Fantasyland, the Yankee Trader gift shop received a picture scrim, and as with all of these, it looks very nice.

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I very much appreciate that Disney does this as opposed to just putting up a bland color.

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Work continued on the Tangled/new restroom area, with more wire coming in for the rock work.

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Here are some views of what is happening on the other side of the wall from the second floor of Columbia Harbor House.

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You can see above that a dome has topped off the steel of one of the buildings.

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Lots going on behind that wall, much more than it appears when on ground level.

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Here’s the dome from over by it’s a small world.

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Workers tending to the beginning of the rocks.

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And lastly, here is a shot from the other side of the Carrousel that shows how these new buildings will fit into Fantasyland.

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld815-IMG_1150.jpg[/img]

I’m taking a wait and see approach to how I like these additions, but the new restroom is definitely needed in that area, so I look forward to it being completed.

Over at the Castle Wall, we some even more progress as Disney pushes toward its November 19th previews.

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This looks like the final layer of detail.

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Close up of said detail.

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The tarps have also come down on every spire, and its definitely starting to look complete.

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Arches looking nice!

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Workers were doing detail work in the middle of the day.

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From down by Winnie the Pooh, you can get a real feel for the size of this wall. It is pretty large.

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Spire with Beast’s Castle in the background.

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I also walked over by where Snow White used to be to give another perspective on how this new entryway to New Fantasyland will look.

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld815-IMG_1156.jpg[/img]

Heading over to the Beauty and the Beast area, there was some work going on. They’ve added some artificial grass to some of the show buildings.

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Gaston’s and Bonjour! Village Gifts really look no different from this side of the walls, except the blue roofing in the background here is a little odd in my opinion. Maybe going with more “autumn” style colors like they already have would work better.

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Here’s Maurice’s.

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Over at the Beast’s Castle, there was some work being done. It really puts in perspective how small this castle is! Forced perspective is a really neat thing that Disney puts to use.

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We also saw some detail work here on these things that lead into the Be Our Guest restaurant.

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Work continued on the large hill for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train as well as some work on ground level.

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More and more steel gets put up every week.

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At the Little Mermaid, the theme this week is grass. Lots of it going on the show building.

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I think it looks great, and it explains the parts of the building that have been white for so long. They have these spikes that are now sticking out of the white parts, and the fake grass is being attached to them.

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I think it adds a nice layer to the show building.

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Over in Storybook Circus, work progressed on the entrance to Big Top Gifts.

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld815-IMG_1136.jpg[/img]

And Pete’s Silly Sideshow.

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The unannounced yellow tent also saw more progress.

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Anyone know if these trees are new? I can’t remember them blocking the tents last week.

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld815-IMG_1143.jpg[/img]

Also at the Circus, Casey Jr. went 101 the other day for some reason or another, which led for a nice opportunity to get photos of it with no people around!

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[center][size=5][b]This and That[/b][/size]
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The Liberty Belle was back in action this week after being closed all of last week.

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There is a new refurbishment project happening at the smoking section in the old Swan Boat landing.

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And over on Main Street, the Fire Chief drove down Main Street with two of his lady friends and took in a viewing of the show down at Cinderella Castle.

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld815-IMG_1089.jpg[/img]

It’s stuff like this that really adds charm to the park, and I commend Disney for seeing more and more of it lately.

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Welcome to Epcot!!

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[center][size=5][b]This and That[/b][/size]
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Over at the Living Seas (yes, I still call it that!), a new overhang was built in front of the attraction.

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld815-P8140001.jpg[/img]

It more than likely has something to do with NextGen/Fastpass+ rolling in soon.

[img]http://www.miceshots.com/usr/72/DatelineDisneyWorld815-P8140002.jpg[/img]

From the side, it looks very cool. But, when you look at it dead on, it completely blocks the building and is kind of an eyesore.

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So, I have mixed thoughts on it. It is sleek and will serve a purpose, but the way it blocks the really neat stylings of the Living Seas is kind of a let down.

Over in France, Disney announced some huge changes to the pavilion’s food offerings. Let’s start with the good. The current bakery, which is very small and congested is being moved into a new building extending out of the back of the gift shop. Walls have gone up here already.

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The new bakery will feature a bread oven as part of the show, and will add lots of room and seating, which is sorely needed.

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The old bakery will turn into a Glacier Ice Cream Parlor, which will be nice. It seems that aside from the typical chocolate and vanilla, glacier ice cream also includes more fruit based flavors as well, which should be unique and a nice offering. Now onto the bad.

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Bistro de Paris is going under the knife. I have never eaten there before, but from speaking to some people who have, they say that it is a very elegant experience, and a top notch Walt Disney World eatery. The wait staff wore tuxedos, the area was dimly lit, and had a very classy feel to it. This week, Disney announced that they are going to “brighten” the place up a bit to make it less “stuffy” and more “family friendly”. When I see those words, I get a little nervous. It feels like they will be dumbing down the restaurant a bit. No more tuxedos for the waiters, probably brighter colors, etc. With there being so many restaurants in Epcot that have a more family friendly feel (like Le Chefs de France which is IMMEDIATELY downstairs from Bistro), it seems silly for them to take one of the hidden gems that was very classy and changing it. It makes me quite sad that I never got to eat in the original version of the restaurant, as it likely will not be anywhere near the same when it reopens later this year.

Well, that wraps things up for this week’s Dateline. What are your thoughts on the drastic changes in the France pavilion? Do you like all the artificial grass going up on the show buildings in the New Fantasyland? Let us know in the comments!!

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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]

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  • Fantastic article Cory. Though I’m absolutely crushed that Bistro de Paris is going to become yet another casual family restaurant. It was the finest theme park restaurant in Orlando. It was unique and special, and fancy, and perfect for a very special occasion. Now we’ll have families in shorts complaining that the food is too French. Blech!

    • Cory Disbrow

      I’m very nervous there will be some sort of burger/fries variant on the menu once it reopens.

  • planetsix

    The overhang at the Living Seas almost looks like a Whale’s fin diving down under! lol

    great article!

    • Double_Duck

      Well, that overhang is no fluke…

  • Irving

    Great update!…I’ll be there in a month, and anticipation groooows when I see these wonderful updates…wow!!

    Thanks Cory!

  • jcruise86

    Outstanding update, Cory! THANK YOU!

  • Malin

    I’m really enjoying all the updates Cory. The Magic Kingdom is really starting to shine again. The Fantasyland work is very detailed and some of the smaller projects are much needed and will look great once completed.

    • Cory Disbrow

      Yes, it really is looking nice. If you compare the park to about a year or a year and a half ago, it looks significantly improved. And I think the New Fantasyland is setting a new benchmark for detail and quality in that park, particularly the styling and theme on the Little Mrmaid building. I can’t say enough how wonderful it looks.

  • NatdRat

    So sad about Bistro. Though I too never had the chance to dine there it seemed like a nice taste of elegance in the World Showcase. Guess Disney is limiting fine dinning to only the resorts now.

    • Cory Disbrow

      To be honest, it wouldn’t be a problem if they were keeping the fine dining only at resorts if it weren’t so hard for some guests to get to those resorts. If you don’t rent a car, it’s a relative nightmare to get to a place like Animal Kingdom Lodge to enjoy Sanaa or Jiko!

  • ParkWalker

    Um… Fantasyland is lookign great. But, to those of you excited about The Little Mermaid ride, get ready to be disappointed. At California Adventure it’s a ghost towm to get folks on this really average dark ride. It has all the magic of a toy store window in Omaha.

    • In my opinion, the Little Mermaid ride is a solid Fantasyland darkride. If folks are expecting Winnie the Pooh or Snow White, they’ll be pleasantly surprised. But if they are expecting an E-Ticket (based upon the beautiful show building it resides in), they will be hugely disappointed. The DCA version is a huge people eater and is actually quite successful. But it isn’t commanding long waits. A high capacity omnimover is exactly what Fantasyland needs at WDW. I think this one will do just fine. But I am expecting some backlash due to the extravagant show building which may outshine the ride inside.

    • disneyohno

      Hey I’m from Omaha lol thats not nice lol

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  • Park Wise

    Great pictures–thanks for these updates!

  • Garthilk

    I can’t help but wonder, in the picture of them putting the grass in. What kind of fake grass is that? Who makes it?

  • wdwprince

    I ate the Bistro de Paris for the first time last year. It was an amazing experience. Food, service and view of Illuminations couldn’t were all exceptional.

    This video is a tribute to my dad who passed away months before this video was shot. I was going to see him and my mom during trip. Since he had passed, I envisioned going to the park and having this dinner with a view of the fireworks to honor him.

    Things happened exactly how I pictured it. I didn’t even have to ask a waiter to be seated by the window.

    At least I got to experience Bistro de Paris while it was still top notch.

    http://youtu.be/2S6hCs9aH4o

    • wdwprince

      Typo in the first line. I ate at the Bistro de Paris. I did not eat Bistro de Paris. That would have been way too filling.

  • Timekeeper

    Well, I recall being there and eating there, seeing the servers in tuxedos, gee, it’s also making me blush trying to remember that.

    Timekeeper

  • danyoung

    Excellent update. I’ve enjoyed many fine meals at the Bistro, but the restaurant is rarely even half full. I can understand Disney making the place a bit more accessable to the average folk. From what I’ve read they’re going to keep a pretty nice menu, so I’m looking forward to seeing what they do with it.