Tag: magic kingdom

Back to Disney!

After 408 days away (our last visit was February 29, 2020), we finally went back to Walt Disney World yesterday.

Dave and Toni in front of the castle at Walt Disney World
A great castle pic! (WDW allowed visitors to take their masks off for outdoor photos as of 4/8/2021).

We live a few hours south of Orlando, and as Passholders who usually visit once a month or so. So the year and change away was hard on us. And while we have a lot of friends who went back once the Parks reopened in July, for us the right decision was to wait until we were fully vaccinated. That’s a personal decision for each person to make, and just what fit our specific situation. We missed Disney a LOT, though, so when we hit our fully inoculated date at the end of March, and we planned a one-day trip back to the Magic Kingdom as soon as we could. (We adhered to ALL safety protocols the entire time we were there, and wouldn’t dream of doing otherwise.)

So many things different, and so many the same. It’s still Disney. I still loved being on Main Street. I still got to ride two of my favorite rides, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin and Haunted Mansion. I still shopped (we call our Disney haul our “loot”), coming home with a very cool Haunted Mansion blanket and a celebratory new Pandora charm. But I will say, it was harder than I thought it would be to not be able to see people’s faces. To not be able to smile at Cast Members and see them smile back. More practically speaking, it was also hard to wear a mask in the humidity all day.

On Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin
My score was pathetic, a measly 241,000. I am SO out of practice.

The worst thing for me, though, was the lack of Fast Passes. I can’t express to you how much I miss being able to plan out my three favorite rides of the day. Lines are long and despite what some will tell you, it’s not just because they’re socially distanced. (I actually saw zero social distancing going on in lines. The markers are there on the floor, and Disney reminds you to stand on them. No one was doing so on the rides we were on. I don’t know whether this was an unusual occurrence or not, but it shocked me.) The line for Winnie the Pooh was wrapped around to Cosmic Ray’s. If you’re familiar with the layout of Magic Kingdom, you know that’s pretty far. Some people say they’re glad that Fast Passes are gone for now, but I can’t imagine why. Spending that much of my Park day in a line is a waste to me. I can’t wait until FP+ comes back.

One change I do love are the Character Cavalcades. While under COVID safety protocols, Disney has suspended regular parades and fireworks. Instead, randomly throughout the day and in different locations in the Park, you’ll see a Character Cavalcade instead. These are such fun. Short, just a couple floats maybe, unannounced, but all the more fun for that. We saw three in the time we were there, plus a performance from the Dapper Dans up on the train platform.

Character Cavalcade at Walt Disney World
Character Cavalcades are fun!

These, I hope are here to stay. I love the longer parades, of course. Festival of Fantasy is beautiful. But it does sort of jam up Magic Kingdom for a big part of the day, every day, what with people staking out viewing spots sometimes hours in advance. I wouldn’t want to see it go away, but maybe it should just be once a week or something like that, with the smaller Cavalcades every day? Just a thought.

We weren’t at the Magic Kingdom very late, because of the long drive home. We probably spent more time in the car than in the Park. But it was worth it just to be back. Yes, the masks are hard, mobile ordering can be a bit hectic, and it’s harder to get dining reservations right now because not everything is open. You still need to be careful, even with a vaccine, by washing your hands, wearing your mask, using sanitizer, and trying to keep a little distance. But on the other hand, I got to see Mickey. I got lots of compliments on my Dole Whip dress. And when a Princess Cavalcade went by, the Fairy Godmother saw me waving at her and blew me a kiss. If that doesn’t make your day, I don’t know what will.

Watching Happily Ever After fireworks from inside Cinderella’s Royal Table

We love the fireworks show at Magic Kingdom, Happily Ever After, and we’re always looking for new and different ways to view the show … especially since that front-of-the-castle mob scene can be exhausting! We’ve tried watching from Fantasyland, from the deck of California Grill, from ‘Ohana at the Polynesian, and soon will be attending the dessert party at Magic Kingdom. This last trip, though, we tried something outside the box: we had dinner at Cinderella’s Royal Table during the show.

To start with, some tips on how to watch Happily Ever After from the castle. Once you pick a day to go, find out what time Happily Ever After is scheduled for that night and then try to get a reservation for Cinderella’s Royal Table for dinner shortly before that time.  This can be a tough-to-get reservation, so you have to make it a priority when you can make dining reservations 180 days before your trip. Once you get the reservation, make sure to re-check that timing of the fireworks show when it gets closer to your trip. Times can change, and you’d need to make adjustments.

Cast Members will start roping off access to the castle as much as an hour before the fireworks show, so leave yourself plenty of time to get to Cinderella’s Royal Table, which is located in the rear of the castle. We had been shopping on Main Street, for example, and at 8 PM started heading to the restaurant. Front and side entrance to the castle was already roped off, and we had to go around the long way either through Liberty Square or down by the tea cups, and for the most part, you’re going against the crowdflow. We had plenty of time to get to our 8:30 reservation, but were glad we’d left early. Even when you reach the back, you’ll need to let them know you have a dining reservation or you won’t be let into the roped-off area around the castle. At your reservation time you’ll be checked in and taken in to meet Cinderella, and then escorted up to your table. For an ideal view of the fireworks, you’d want to be seated at the windows.

fireworks

Watching Happily Ever After from our table at Cinderella’s Royal Palace.

Unfortunately, Cinderella’s Royal Table does not take seating requests of this nature. As we and every other person who asked was very politely told, it’s simply not possible due to the fact that almost everyone would make this request. You’ll still be able to see from a great many tables in the restaurant, but the window spot is definitely best. You’ve just got to cross your fingers and hope for a little pixie dust on this one. Here’s a bit of information, though — there are a number of two-person-only tables at the windows. At least one or two four-tops as well, but because of the small, angled space, it seems like the restaurant tries to take advantage of every bit of space and sort of crams those tables in there. So if you’re just a party of two … you might stand a better chance. Still not a guarantee, though — we saw couples seated at four-tops elsewhere in the restaurant.

When Happily Ever After begins, the princesses leave the dining area and the music and voiceover from the show is piped in to the restaurant. The fireworks begin and you have a truly magical view.

Some of the fireworks are shot off behind Fantasyland and you have a perfect view of those here. Others shoot off from the castle itself, literally right above your head! It isn’t too loud but it can be dazzling.

fireworks

Obviously, you miss the castle projections that are part of what tells the story of Happily Ever After — you’re in the castle they’re being projected on. I certainly don’t recommend skipping those entirely, so catch the show with a clear view of the projects another time. But if you’re looking for a different experience, I very much recommend this one.

A bit of video from the show — you’ll hear a lot of “Oh mys!” from a young lad seated nearby. We were all glued to the view.

Walt Disney World 45th Anniversary products releasing this month

Magic Kingdom celebrates its 45th Anniversary on October 1, 2016. Some great news for Disney fans who like to shop: in commemoration, there are some exciting new 45th Anniversary products releasing this month at  Magic Kingdom and, for select items, the Shop Disney Parks app.

Two new Dooney & Bourke handbags in a special 45th Anniversary design will premiere through the Shop Disney Parks app on September 15, and will be available for purchase at the Emporium on Main Street, U.S.A. starting September 22.

45th Anniversary Dooney & Bourke

New Magic Kingdom 45th Anniversary commemorative items out at Disney this month! Click To Tweet

More from the Disney Parks blog:

Many of the logo products, including apparel, open edition pins, home goods and more, will be released in select locations at Magic Kingdom on September 22. Best places to check for these logo items include the following locations:

Main Street, U.S.A. – Emporium
Tomorrowland – Mickey’s Star Traders
Storybook Circus Area – Big Top Souvenirs
Frontierland – Briar Patch

We will be releasing several items on October 1 at the Emporium. Guests and Annual Passholderswill find “I Was There” shirts. We will also have a limited edition pin (edition size of 3,000), and a limited edition retail MagicBand (edition size 4,500).

45th Anniversary shirts and pin

New Festival of Fantasy Parade Dining Package offered at Disney World

New at Walt Disney World: a Festival of Fantasy Lunch Package at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant!

Festival of Fantasy

This package includes lunch at Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and a voucher to enter a special viewing area for the parade. This is a prix fixe meal priced at $45 for adults and $17 for children, plus tax and tip. For those on the Disney Dining Plan, it is one table service credit to attend.

New at Walt Disney World: a Festival of Fantasy Lunch Package at Tony's Town Square Restaurant! Click To Tweet

Previously Disney World offered a similar package for the Main Street Electrical Parade, which concludes its run on October 9, 2016.

You can book this package now, for parades October 10, 2016 and forward.

Disney’s Festival of Fantasy Parade is offered daily at 3PM at Magic Kingdom. Admission to Magic Kingdom is required and not included in the price of the dining package.

Meet Belle at Liberty Square this month

Belle in her gownThere’s a limited-time character meet and greet going on for Memory Maker customers only in Walt Disney World this month, August 2016 — drat, I’m super sorry to be missing this one! Belle is my favorite princess.

From August 7th to the 31st, Memory Maker customers can meeting Belle in her formal gown at Heritage House at Liberty Square, in the Magic Kingdom. There is no FastPass for this experience and it is for Memory Maker customers only.

Belle will be available daily for at the following times:

  • 11 AM – 11:40 AM
  • 12 PM – 12:40 PM
  • 1 PM – 1:40 PM
  • 2 PM – 2:40 PM
  • 4 PM – 4:40 PM
  • 5 PM – 5:40 PM

At WDW Aug 7 - 31, Memory Maker customers can meet Belle at Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom. Click To Tweet

More information:

Disney PhotoPass Service will offer a character experience at Magic Kingdom Park for Guests who have a Memory Maker or Memory Maker One Day entitlement, including Annual Passholders. The Guest with the Memory Maker or Memory Maker One Day entitlement will need to have his/her MagicBand or Park Ticket scanned prior to entering the character experience to verify that he/she has purchased one of the two products.

Update: This limited-time event is set to coincide with the DVD re-release of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast.