Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Magic Kingdom 2014

Two weeks ago my family and I arrived for a summer vacation week in Walt Disney World. Since our return home I've been sharing some of my photos here on the blog. I'm an indifferent photographer at best, and these days I no longer even carry a camera, just an iPhone. It is to be sure a great mobile phone but admittedly not the best camera phone out there. Still, I can't be expected to resist taking pictures in Walt Disney World--lots of them--especially in the Magic Kingdom, justifiably called "the happiest place on earth." In fact, within a few seconds of entering Main Street, USA, the gateway to the Magic Kingdom, I found myself affirming at the top of my lungs, "Walt, I'm home!" Remarkably, my family stayed with me.

Buying a balloon on Main Street, USA never seemed a great idea to me, but young children may have different thoughts. I suppose a distinctive balloon tied to a handlebar could be a reasonable way to identify a stroller. As you can see, you may now purchase a balloon featuring characters from "Frozen" (2013), Disney's latest megahit. Guests staying in Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge should be aware that these balloons are not permitted there as they pose a hazard to the animals.

Trolley tracks are still a feature of Main Street, USA, although we didn't notice any trolleys this time around. Heavy crowds would make a trolley impractical here much of the day.

Cinderella Castle is the focal point of the park. In front of it on the right you can see Partners, Blaine Gibson's statue of Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse.

Quite a bit of construction is currently going on between Main Street, USA and Cinderella Castle, which may seem odd as this area consisted only of landscaping.

The hub around Cinderella Castle is being expanded, hence the construction barriers. There will be more viewing areas for the light show and fireworks. Who's afraid of a big,  bad construction wall?

Hungry yet? That red pavement color looks great, but it was actually chosen to increase food consumption in the park.

No castle is complete without a moat.

Br'er Fox, Br'er Bear, and Br'er Rabbit welcome you to Splash Mountain.

Br'er Rabbit is featured on the sign over the Briar Patch store.

The Notorious Banjo Brothers and Bob provide musical entertainment in Frontierland.

The Haunted Mansion remains one of my favorite attractions.

A heron awaits the Liberty Belle.

The Liberty Belle passes by as the heron holds its pose.

Here is Big Thunder Mountain.

The Liberty Belle is in port.

Who wouldn't want to go along on Peter Pan's Flight? Pixie dust, please.
The Pinocchio Village Haus restaurant. These days, there aren't all that many reminders of Pinocchio in the park.

This is a good example of how the Disney parks create illusions. The window box below contains real flowers that you can walk right up to and see. The window boxes above are out of reach and contain artificial flowers that require much less maintenance.

No trip to Fantasyland is complete without a carousel ride.
The heart of Fantasyland
Image added August 28, 2014

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is a recent, very popular addition to Fantasyland. The 75 minute stand-by wait time is actually one of the shorter ones we saw here.

Disney's attention to ornamentation remains exquisite. This column is in Fantasyland.

Rapunzel's Tower is based on "Tangled" (2010).

Horseshoe imprints in the ground are another example of the park's attention to detail.

Heron on the water.

Letter holders. Are they luxury or necessity?

Backscratchers.  How do you choose just one?

Hmm.  It looks as if Disney has dropped the apostrophe in Br'er Bear.

Splash Mountain signage. Almost no one exiting the ride gets to see this image of Br'er Fox.

It seems to me that a greater proportion of rides are being allocated to FastPass+ holders. The result is longer lines at FastPass+ entrances, as seen here at Space Mountain. The FastPass+ lines do move pretty quickly though. Meanwhile, on the stand-by lines, a small change in the number of riders can result in large, sudden changes in the wait times.

This store in Tomorrowland has been there for as long as I can remember. It is one of the few Shakespeare references I'm aware of in Disney World.

An inspirational sign graces a Tomorrowland construction barrier.

With the Astro Orbiter closed for extensive refurbishment, Tomorrowland seems more starkly retro than ever.

Usually Disney conceals its renovations inside the park, but there is no hiding this large a construction area. The view is from the Tomorrowland entrance towards Casey's Corner across Main Street, USA. I find it very troubling that after all these years Disney Imagineers don't run their plans by me before beginning construction.
The large construction site will become an expanded hub in front of Cinderella Castle
Image added August 29, 2014

Cinderella Castle. At the top right, Tinkerbell's zip line is visible against the sky. Every evening Tinkerbell starts the fireworks show from here.

Jungle Cruise signage, another example of Disney's great attention to detail.

From the Jungle Cruise ride exit, a list of missing persons and missing boats. Let me know if you find anyone.

An animatronic dog faithfully guards the jailhouse key in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Inspirational T-shirt for sale at the Pirates of the Caribbean concession, $24.95.

A darkly humorous T-shirt is for sale at the Pirates of the Caribbean concession.

Baseballs on sale promote Tim Burton's "Nightmare Before Christmas" (19993). I'm in stitches.

Casey's Corner at the castle end of Main Street, USA.

Casey's Corner with its statues of Casey at the Bat on either side of the door.

The Contemporary Hotel has an elevated walkway leading to the Bay Lake Tower, left, an eyesore.

Here's a fine example of what can happen when the Imagineers fail to consult me. The sleek lines of the Contemporary Hotel, center, are blighted by the ugly Bay Lake Tower, left, alongside it.

Note:  If you haven't guessed, I have more posts about Walt Disney World.