AS always, one of my little pleasures is going to the Super Target mere minutes away from WDW, and in the heat of the moment..deciding to go to the MK just because the afternoon weather was cool and the sky was light blue. Helping me make my decision was having my camera in the car as well..
So, after my visit to Target, I found myself driving into the MK's parking lot. Much to my surprise, the MK was opened till midnight today. How often does that happen lately?
Sailing across the Seven Seas Lagoon.. I can't think of a better way to arrive at any Disneyland park, especially when the air is cool and the waters are calm.. oh yeah... and some young brats running around on the ferry's deck making unnecesary noise too. Oh well.
Upon entering the MK, the floral Mickey seems bare.. maybe because I got used to seeing the nice halloween decor that sat here for most of sept and Oct. This area in fact seems in major need of some holiday cheer, so.. bring on some Xmas decor to the floral Mickey face please!
Main Street however, was a different story. All the decor was up, except for the Xmas tree being placed to the right side of the castle, where it will sit until Regis and Kelly come into town and video tape the Xmas parade. Then the tree should move to it's rightful place in Town Square, where it belongs and looks better.
I could not help noticing some new decor in the Town Square gardens.. some Nutcrackers, toys and even a locomotive. Nice props, for the MK, but still a bit blah when you compare to efforts elsewhere, but honestly, I do appreciate the new stuff greatly. I just wished there was a bit more to it than just static displays with no lights on them. I know the MK can do better, and hopefully will.
The park today was rather busy (not TDL jammed packed) but busy enough for cleanliness to suffer a bit. More on that in the inevitable photos coming up. (Warning: if spilled body fluids disturb you, skip the photo album, but then, you will miss the castle lights).
I took my place in front of Cinderella Castle at 5:45pm, in time for new "Cinderella's Holiday Wish", a new illumination show at the castle stage.
Mickey and the gang come out to greet guests and admire the holiday decor around the the Hub and Main Street, but wait! They realize the castle still looks drab and undecorated, unlike TDL's. A fist fight breaks out and Minnie blames Mickey for that oversight. With all that racket going on, Fairy Godmother shows up and asks everyone why the commotion? Her beauty rest was disturbed, and she is fit to be tied.
Minnie blames Mickey for not decorating the castle for the holidays.. More fist fighting breaks out, and "Speak to my laywer!" threats are exchanged.
Fairy Godmother goes into "Oh Dear!" mode and reminds the characters that this is Cinderella's Castle and she should be the one to decide on how to decorate it for the holidays. (On a side note, we all know it's Charming's Castle, and Cindy just married her way to the royal suite..but whatever) So, Fairy Godmama calls upon Cinderella, who magically appears on stage with Charming (the ever faithful 2nd banana who speaks nothing), and asks Fairy if there is a reason for her being there with Mickey and the gang. Fairy G tells her about the castle's drab condition and the lack of holiday decor and asks Cinderella... "If you had a wish, how would you like to have the castle decorated?". Cindy responds she has always liked her (free-gift) glass slippers' sparkle, and would love to see that reproduced on the castle.
Faster than you can say "we agree!", everyone likes the idea and Fairy G goes into action. With a little Bibbidi and a little Bobbidi, the castle transforms into an ice palace, with a BBB on the first floor.
END OF SPOILERS...maybe.
So what did TDLFAN think of all this?
Yours truly was too busy picking up his jaw off the floor and recovering, much less being able to offer an opinion that can match the feeling of raw glee and emotions I felt upon witnessing such magical sight AT THE MK NO LESS!!!
One word to describe the Castle's Dream Lights: STUNNING!!!
This holiday display elevates the MK experience to a new heights, and instantly becomes the prime example of what many of us have been arguing about for the last few years or so. Disney "magic" is not about a cruise ship, or about extra magic hours, nor is it about fastpasses or free giveaways, or even about staying overnight on property. Disney Magic is about stirring the senses to a point where the harshest of critics can melt with glee and shed a tear of joy, like I did at the MK this evening. I was rocked to my Disney fanatic core.
Ok.. so there really weren't fist fights on the castle stage, and those animated/talking rubber heads still freak me out a bit, and the whole storyline is velveeta at best... but when Fairy Godmother pointed her wand towards the left turrets, causing a strobe effect over that area that enhances the illusion of a magic spell as the castle starts to light up.. Then she points the wand to the right with similar results, then upward to the castle's top.. I was already reaching for me kleenex box. It was just beautiful, and I was proud for this place to be my hometown Disney park. The gasping of the fellow audience members was priceless. Comments like "the most beautiful castle I have ever seen!!" and "OMG! This is gorgeous!" could be heard around me. Like me, others were equally impressed. TDL park.. for once, eat your heart out!
Once the Illumination show was over, the castle lights stayed on, and I was pleased to see they have been programmed to have a certain color intensity movement that gives the castle a sparkling and animated feel to it, if very subtle. Add to that the regular color-changing spot lighting and the experience is further enhanced. My only complaint was seeing the castle lights go out for the 6:30pm DAWM show (that's "Dream Along with Mickey" show).
While the lights were on...there was a bit of traffic congestion around the castle and rightfully so, since many were trying their best to photograph the display from all different angles available.
Needless to say, TDLFAN rates this a resounding 5***** visual delight. With the added color lighting and the sporadic strobe lighting, the MK's castle has never looked better. Hard to believe we used to call this castle the Pepto Abysmal castle just a decade ago.
This technical light display also reminds us of what's needed in the MK. It;s the little things that cam make a big difference at the MK. Many technical upgrades and effects would be welcomed all over this park, and especially in some of the rides that have been left to become dated for way too long. It's the little things like this that matter the most. I mean, I can't even believe I am gushing over a bunch of lights thrown onto the castle but hey! Credit where it's definitely due. I sure hope the powers that run the WDW resort keep the momentum going.
So my recommendation is to get your arse in gear and head to the MK ASAP! While you do that, I am going to be at DLP on turkey day to check their Castle lights as well. Look for me there in Paris. Trust me, you won't be disappointed at all with the MK Dream Lights this Christmas, but maybe some of you refuse to be regardless and that's OK.
Here are some photos from my short evening time visit at the MK. Hope you enjoy, and the warning I issued up above is still in effect. It would not be a true TDLFAN "quality control" visit if I didn't point out where the pixie dust has not been sprinkled. Or was that where Uncle Joe's remains have?
Anyways.. enjoy the photos.
Shameless plug: My Xmas photos from TDL and TDS are now avail in the Tokyo section as well. Coming next week: DLP's Xmas pics (I hope). Keep an eye out for that.