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Photo TR: Exploring the 'new' Walt Disney World


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So I stopped by the Magic Kingdom with some friends for the first time in a while, surprised to see that many things have changed since my last visit (which really wasn't too long ago). Fantasyland's expansion is now well underway, with major wall work going on for both Belle's Village area and The Little Mermaid. Mickey's ToonTown Fair has officially closed for good, and while the main circus tent will be retained for the new area and The Barnstormer will be rethemed, the new realm that will become the Storybook Circus is also undergoing heavy work. Mickey and Minnie's homes have already been demolished, and the entire area has been walled off to minimize the view of the construction.

 

Also in effect is a series of minor adjustments to many of the park's attractions, buildings and lands. During the Spring Break rush, Club 626 has been brought back at the former Stitch's Supersonic Celebration stage/plaza, playing current and classic pop music with a live DJ plus space-suited Chip and Dale and of course, Stitch. The Tomorrowland Speedway is undergoing a slight lane-by-lane refurbishment to move the final turn into the station more tight, freeing up a little more space for the area that will soon host the dueling Dumbos.

 

Permits have been filed for the demolition of the Fantasyland Skyway building, set to be knocked down later this year. The purpose of this change is rumored to be related to the next-gen efforts to modify the ever-popular Peter Pan and its queue, to encompass the space currently used by the Fantasyland/Liberty Square transition restrooms, eventually becoming additional queuing space for the ride.

 

And the most publicized change comes in the form of the recent modifications to The Haunted Mansion and its queue. A new interactive section of the queue is being prepared to open soon, elaborating on the story and the characters hinted and largely referenced within the rest of the ride's canon. Inside, the ride's finale has been altered to feature new projections of the hitchhiking ghosts. Projection screens cover the portal where the three animatronics used to sit, as well as over the mirrors that previously displayed the figures hovering along with riders as they were followed towards the exit. The change is rumored to be simply temporary while the famous animatronics are refurbished and/or overhauled. Despite the negative publicity behind the change, I noted that it wasn't really that bad (though the people with me disagreed) and for something that is likely temporary, the quality of the projections isn't cheap or cheesy.

 

Here is a video from the changes to the Hitchhiking Ghosts.

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=MAH01552_hohg[/coastertube]

 

And although I didn't record this tonight, I was saving it for my new Disney trip report, so here's a look at the new castle projection show, The Magic, Memories and You!

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=00000_cmk4[/coastertube]

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Sooo good!

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The new promotional campaign is in full swing, and I like it!

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Over in Mainstreet, final work is underway to prepare the new Town Square Theater (formerly the Exposition Hall) for its new Meet & Greet experience).

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The new marquee was installed this week.

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Mainstreet is undergoing a general refurbishment, with the most current work surrounding the Confectionary.

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Take the tunnel!

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In the Haunted Mansion queue, the new interactive area is gearing up for an eventual opening. The new area sports a red canopy that contrasts the rest of the queue's standard green cover.

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The entrance (and presumably the exit) to the new queue will be under the left arch. The walls blocking off the area have a door and lock, indicating the possibility of soft openings in the future.

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See?

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Now for some classic observational photos... Nothing new. Just fun.

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Is this Haunted Room actually stretching?

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Or is it your imagination?

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Nope... It's actually stretching.

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Spring Break was in full effect... This was the sight directly outside of the stretching room.

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In the last major refurbishment of the ride, these nifty little blinkers were added to blend in with the wallpaper. I love 'em!

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The stairway scene is still extremely impressive!

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Leota still floats around, although her rainbow hair seems to have been toned down.

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And the ballroom scene looks great as ever!

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As does the graveyard!

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Some sort of work is going on with the "servant's quarters," a pass-through hallway typically used to take handicapped guests into the most accessible entry point for the ride.

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Oh Toad...

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Never noticed these walls at the Fantasyland Skyway building before...

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Say goodbye while you can.

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Work on the Beauty and the Beast section of the Fantasyland Expansion is well underway.

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Snow White's Scary Adventures will soon close down to be gutted and turned into a Disney Princess meet and greet.

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The Little Mermaid is also building up quickly.

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In the new interactive queue for Winnie the Pooh, Tigger's bounce area is still closed.

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The former entrance to Mickey's Toontown Fair has been walled off.

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The images adorning the wall tease at what is to come, but there is no guarantee that anything shown here will be present at the opening of the Storybook Circus, as the specific details for the area have not yet been announced.

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The Great Goofini has been confirmed, and is actually a rethemed version of The Barnstormer.

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It should be interesting to see how things progress through 2012.

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The sign for the former land still remains.

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The theming for The Barnstormer is also still in place.

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How much of the ride's station or queue will be retained is still to be announced.

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The Tomorrowland Speedway's Toontown turnaround is being taken in to provide for some extra Storybook Circus wiggle room.

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How long will we be able to see this still standing?

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Farewell Toontown!

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The Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor continues to get better as the show's system is more customized and the actors become more comfortable in their roles.

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It really has become a popular attraction in Tomorrowland!

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The sticker is much better than the banner that was hung here during the first year of the Laugh Floor's operation.

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Ok, so Tom Sawyer Island isn't new per se, but it is new to me. Believe it or not, before today I had never been on Tom Sawyer Island at the Magic Kingdom.

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I'm about to experience my last "first time" attraction to be offered at the Magic Kingdom. My brain 'sploded.

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You can probably figure out the joke.

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The Island gives a nice view of Frontierland!

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All of it, actually!

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"Welcome home! You've arrived!"

 

(Someone please grab this reference!)

Edited by jedimaster1227
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(Continued)

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Historical accuracy can be funny!

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A map of the island... It can be explored entirely in less than 20 minutes.

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Is this a real windmill?

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Didn't see much... Thanks for the over-hype Tom!

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Enjoying the view...

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Where are the pirate animatronics?

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Are we at Knoebels?

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I was distinctly disappointed by the lack of Injun Joe.

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At the top of the hill is a unique play structure for the kiddies.

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I didn't read much Twain, but I'll always remember this.

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Aunt Polly's wasn't open today.

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Here is the new interactive queue area for The Haunted Mansion.

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It looks like a mausoleum has been built...

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The bridge to Fort Clemens is currently being refurbished, but it is still open.

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They've managed the extend the queue quite a bit!

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Hey California! This one's open!

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It was cool to see a few animated figures in the fort as well!

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Several more animated figures!

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There's also a sketchy escape tunnel... Sketchy.

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You can't help but admire the view of Big Thunder Mountain.

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Hijinks ensued.

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Back on the mainland, there was a pirate camp in progress.

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El Pirata y Perico was recently renamed as Tortuga Tavern to better match the renewed Pirates brand.

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And it received a new entrance sign to help let guests know.

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Pirate Goofy was out in the Pirates queue meeting guests.

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And Jack Sparrow was doing his "pirate academy" show on the Adventureland stage.

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The Enchanted Tiki Room is still closed for refurbishment following the fire.

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A few weeks ago, the pre-show animatronics were pulled out of the coop. No word yet if they've returned.

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The re-opening date has been pushed back several times, but the show is expected to return by the end of March.

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In the meantime the entrance plaza for the show is pretty dead.

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The Adventureland entrance bridge is being rebuilt, so a temporary bridge has been built to the side of the Adventureland Veranda.

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Now that Toontown is closed, the Disney Princesses are meeting in the Adventureland Veranda.

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The inside looks a bit scrabbled, but it gets the job done.

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Club 626 has returned to the Supersonic Celebration stage for Spring Break.

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The DJ's booth is LED-lit, and pulses to the music.

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Stitch is out in the stage plaza meeting and dancing with guests.

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While no terribly busy, the guests involved seemed to be having a great time.

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A decent crowd considering the stage would otherwise be out of use at the moment.

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A fun little detail from the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover.

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No more houses left!

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Widespread construction in the area should start soon.

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The back path to Toontown has also been blocked off.

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For the Spring Break rush, the Tomorrowland Terrace is open again.

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A nice sight to see!

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1/2 of the menu...

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And the other half.

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The Town Square Theater is looking good!

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I can't wait to see the building lit up at night!

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When did you come in? They only very, very recently made the Town Square Theater sign change...which does in fact look fantastic at night.

Edited by A.J.
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Was Donald's Boat finally removed? The last Youtube update (through the scrims and over the walls from the train) I saw from MouseSteps showed the boat still in place but the houses demolished. Looks like they are wasting no time back there....sort of sad to me because Mickey's House has always been there in some shape or form in all my previous visits. Our upcoming September trip will be different not having an area back there to walk through. I'm sure the new circus will make things up though with more permanent theming.

 

Great update...glad to see that this park is getting sooo many updates! Main Street was under some tarps as well as part of Peter Pan's Flight's exterior) during our previous 2010 trip. I hope a lot of the walls will be down (minus the Fantasyland expansion) come our upcoming September trip. Since you're a local, I hope you'll be able to provide more in the coming months!

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I'm very impressed by the improvements (they've already) made to Pooh's queue. If that's any indication of what we can expect from the rest of the Fantasyland expansion, then I'm pretty excited about it!

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Lens-flare makes pictures better.

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When did you come in? They only very, very recently made the Town Square Theater sign change...which does in fact look fantastic at night.

 

I got to the park at around 2:00 pm and left around 6:00 pm.

 

When did they start serving lobster rolls at Tomorrowland Terrace? And if it's been a while, how did I miss that??

 

I think that is a new item on the menu, but considering the location is only open for seasonal operation, I've seen a new menu each time the place has reopened.

 

Was Donald's Boat finally removed?

 

Yes, the boat has been removed.

 

Did they replace the fireworks show at the castle with the slide show, or do they have both?

 

The Magic, Memories and You! starts approximately 14 minutes before Wishes and finishes a minute or so before the fireworks show starts. Both are still shown at night.

Edited by jedimaster1227
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Thanks for clarifying about Donald's Boat. They seem to be wasting no time on getting the Toontown stuff out. Are those two remaining tents staying or are they being removed altogether and replaced with two identical tents at the same spot? I've been hearing a mix of both from other sites so I was wondering if you heard anything as well. I heard that those current tents weren't in the best of condition in the first place.

 

I did catch the "Magic, Memories and You" show on You Tube. Looks pretty good. Can't wait to see it on our upcoming trip this year!

 

I hope you'll be able to get lots of updates on all of this over the coming months. I'm glad to see that this park is getting a lot of tender loving care.

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Let me repeat what I say at least twice a day -

 

The Electrical Parade runs at 9 and 11.

The Magic, the Memories, and You runs at 9:45 and 10:30.

Wishes runs at 10.

 

I've been here too long.

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So I went back to the Magic Kingdom yesterday to see what had changed in a week, and surprisingly, it was a lot! Spring Break crowds were out in full effect, pushing the originally announced park hours from an 11:00 pm closing to it staying open until 1:00 am. Progress on the Fantasyland expansion is speeding right along, specifically in the former Toontown area/future Storybook Circus.

 

More changes have been made to Haunted Mansion's finale, revealing IR cameras along the former mirrored hallway where the hitchhiking ghosts would follow you. From the looks of it, the projections are here to stay, but with the aid of these new cameras, the images will actually react to riders uniquely, not just floating over them like the old system did.

 

One more change of note from last week... As many know, The Enchanted Tiki Room: Under New Management was closed a while ago due to a fire that reportedly caused damage to attic of the attraction, supposedly also affecting one of the main animatronics from the show as well. The date for the attraction to reopen has been pushed back several times now, and no official statement has been made to point in either direction, but a new sign has appeared in front of the attraction sporting the look and feel of the original Tropical Serenade attraction with no mention or reference to the new management to be seen. Rumors have been around for quite some time that the attraction could return to its previous form in honor of the park's coming 40th anniversary, but again, nothing official has ever been said to prove that this is more than salt. Time will tell, but the rumor definitely seems to be gaining traction with each delay and each hint.

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=MAH02050_36pd[/coastertube]

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The main tent formerly home to the Toontown meet and greets will be retained for use in the Storybook Circus.

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The main entrance sign for the tent has not yet been taken down.

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Despite being back at full capacity with all lanes refinished, the Tomorrowland Speedway still had a rediculously long line.

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The turn around was taken in a bit to widen the space available for Storybook Circus, and is now completely refinished.

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Goofy's Wiseacre Farm is still intact.

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The former entrance to Toontown is about to go under the knife...

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Looks like the concrete is about to be ripped up.

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There's a great big beautiful tomorrow!

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Construction on the Beauty and the Beast area has continues to progress.

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One of the restaurant's roofs is taking shape.

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Another new structure has gone up this week.

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An overview of the Be Our Guest restaurant.

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it's a small world had a full queue today...

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No more visible work has begun on the former Skyway building, but it is expected to be removed in the near future.

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Despite the rumors of soft openings for the new queue, it did not open at all on this day (it had opened briefly the day before).

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Ravenscroft

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Correction to the last update: The main queue's cover is red. The new, interactive portion has a green cover.

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In the week since my last visit, this section of the main queue has changed drastically.

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A new dividing fence has split the queue area in half. The left side leads to the interactive queue while the right goes directly towards the ride. When open, the guests will be able to choose which way they would like to go, which will likely help the guest flow of the queue even more.

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Early guest reports on the new experience have been mostly positive, claiming that the new experiences bring in new and old tributes and pieces of the Haunted Mansion canon into play in unique ways.

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Here is where the left side splits off into the new area...

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And here is where guests will merge back into the main line.

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Another expected merge point for the new queue area.

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By midday, they were still painting the new area, evidencing the fact that it wouldn't be open today.

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Time for some more interior pics!

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They really did fix up the stretching room in the last major refurbishment... It looks so great!

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Eerie...

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Just some normal paranormal activity...

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The ballroom scene continues to hold its place as one of the most impressive dark ride scenes ever conceived.

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"Call me sentimental, but I still miss the screaming."

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A better look at the new projections in front of the old animatronic hitchhiking ghost scene.

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A few months ago, a ghostly-hand-projection was added to pass over the backs of the doombuggies, pointing guests towards the moving platform exit.

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It looks like the former wheelchair loading hallway is being expanded.

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A fun picture from inside Pirates of the Caribbean.

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Never stops impressing me...

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And it never gets old...

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And Jack Sparrow could only make it better!

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Not too long ago, Disney opened a new operation known as The Pirates League in a former storeroom of the Pirates gift shop. Much like at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, guests can receive makeovers of different tiers to turn themselves into pirates and wicked wenches.

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I had never been inside before, but it was a nice surprise to see how heavily themed the boutique was.

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Guests of all ages were partaking in the experience.

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It looks like Goofy will be meeting guests here for a while!

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Still no external progress at the Tiki Room preshow.

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I wasn't sure if Larry needed one of these...

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Interesting...

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Very interesting...

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I can't wait to see what happens when the attraction reopens (in whatever form it does)!

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The work on the Adventureland bridge is still ongoing.

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Posts have gone up for the land's sign.

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It's been tremendously busy here, but this wasn't the worst we saw it during the day.

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Disney's Move it, Shake it, Celebrate it! Street Party is still going strong...

Edited by jedimaster1227
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(Continued)

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Not just busy because of the parade, but because of the Spring Break crowds.

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The parade's run has reportedly been extended for the foreseeable future, citing its popularity.

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We were at the park from opening til close, spending time all over the park, but much of the time was spent in Tomorrowland.

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Streamers from the parade were stuck in the tree after the show...

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We rode the Walt Disney World Railroad for the first time since Toontown's closure. It's now-two-stop tour provides great views of Big Thunder Mountain.

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Such a fun ride!

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On the backside of the Fantasyland Expansion, minor construction work has begun alongside the Railroad.

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Not sure what it is or what it means, but it is here...

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You can see the outlines of the new buildings through the scrims, but at least for now, WDI doesn't want you seeing the raw construction from the train.

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Pulling up into the old Toontown Station to briefly refilled the steam engine, the entire area is walled off. The same covered station that was here a week ago is now gone completely.

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The train's narration has been updated to reflect the expansion, and when stopping to refill, the conductors announce that guests can see what's to come by looking to their right, at the billboards.

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The themed steam station remains, at least for now.

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The new Fantasyland will be very different from what we've got now...

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The backside of the Barnstormer also remains untouched.

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Both tents will be kept for use in the Storybook Circus, though their purposes have not yet been announced.

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The signs in the Tomorrowland/Toontown paths have not yet been taken down.

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When the former Tomorrowland Skyway building was remodeled, the trees along the backside of Tomorrowland were removed. Now, riders of the railroad can get a glimpse at my favorite land without leaving their seats.

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The new marquee for the Town Square Theater is now secure in its new home, and has lit up at night consecutively since its installation.

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Clips have been installed on the building's columns to secure the future banners that will be hung when the refurbishment is complete.

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The new Mickey Mouse meet and greet is still being worked on, but will be the first meet and greet to have its own Fastpass system.

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Club 626 wasn't extremely popular during the day, but later in the evening, we saw a stark contrast.

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An overview...

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During our ride on the Tomorrowland Transit Authority Peoplemover (that's the full name now), the ride stopped briefly and the work lights came on. Not uncommon, but very neat!

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Another look at Belle's section of New Fantasyland.

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While his new meet and greet is finalized in Main Street, Mickey is greeting guests in Tomorrowland. He is also doing brief stints daily in the Hall of Presidents lobby.

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It may be a little hard to see, but this little dugout is where guests see Mickey.

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Workers were consulting each other atop the show building for The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Undersea Adventure.

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Initial work on the "retaining walls" that mark the divide between Fantasyland and the Fantasyland Forest has gone vertical.

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The castle's backside is currently being refurbished...

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A little detail I hadn't noticed before...

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Work on the path on the backside of the castle leading to Frontierland is also ongoing.

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And this wasn't the worst wait time of the day...

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The steps on the Castle Forecourt Stage have been painted to look like the surrounding bricks. They were previously distinguished with a different look before the paint.

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It blends in pretty well, right?

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Tortuga Tavern was open for business today!

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Here's the menu of the renamed location.

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Some details I hadn't noticed before...

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And an area of the quick service location I hadn't seen before.

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A little nook that reminded me of New Orleans Square's Court of Angels at Disneyland Park.

 

I miss California!

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One last piece of theming remembers the former name...

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Despite it being open, the location is still undergoing some work.

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Over in Adventureland, the stroller parking area was completely redone with new wooden boards.

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The power of the Disney Princesses!

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In a matter of hours, more progress had been made on the Adventureland sign.

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Not anything like our earlier visit, Club 626 was hoppin'!

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Stitch and Goofy were up on stage for the festivities. Chip and Dale were out in the earlier show.

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Wave your hands in the air!

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They played a great mix of music for all tastes, and had some interesting video playing in the background!

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On an unrelated note, they have chicken parmigiana at Pinocchio's Village Haus.

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I will be going tomorrow to check out the Haunted Mansion interactive queue, however when you rode HM were the hitchhiking ghosts at the end working? The last 2 times I've been on it they have been just projected on a curtain instead of the usual effect.

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Thanks for the updates, Adam.

 

The new Mickey Mouse meet and greet is still being worked on, but will be the first meet and greet to have its own Fastpass system.

I haven't followed along too close, but is there any chance that this will, or will eventually use the "talking" Mickey technology they tested at DL?

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I returned to the Magic Kingdom yesterday to catch up on the week's latest progress, and to attempt to see the new Haunted Mansion queue with my own two eyes. Unfortunately, the interactive queue was still closed for Imagineer tweaking, but surprisingly enough, the animatronic hitchhiking ghosts at the end of the ride had returned, looking better than ever!

 

[coastertube]http://www.themeparkreview.com/coastertube/play.php?vid=MAH02238_r56z[/coastertube]

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The new gift shop built as the exit for the upcoming meet and greet for the Town Square Theater will be called Curtain Call Collectibles.

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New wait time displays have been installed under the new marquee.

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With two installed, one will likely be for Mickey Mouse and the other for the Disney Princesses. The Fastpass Distribution point will be located near Tony's. It has been noted that late Fastpasses will not be accepted for this attraction.

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You stay classy, Fastpass!

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Kodak will remain as a sponsor for the new meet and greet location.

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Tony's Restaurant is still under wraps (although it is still open) during the Town Square refurbishment.

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What's this?

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This is actually a themed cover installed to disguise the new high-definition projectors used for the Magic, Memories and You! castle projection show.

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The temporary bridge to Adventureland is still open...

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That being said, the new Adventureland bridge has reopened and new props are added daily to further theme it.

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I love the look of it! Do you?

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Definitely a nice touch!

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Still pulling in the lengthy wait times here...

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Fresh concrete was also poured in the area recently. I don't believe it is finished yet, considering how raw it seemed to look and feel. Plus, dust was flying through the wind from it, which made for an odd walk towards Pirates of the Caribbean...

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No changes out front, but there have been some guest reports of hearing "Let's all sing like the birdies sing" coming from the exit of the attraction.

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Work of some kind continues on the pre-show coop...

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Further proof.

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Not open today...

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A minor detail that is probably overlooked.

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The Haunted Mansion interactive queue was closed again during my visit.

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But the tarps around the queue have come down, revealing some great looking refurbished sections of the main queue.

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Whispering busts are a part of the interactive queue, supposedly telling the stories of how they met their fatal ends.

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Imagineers were out and about conducting further work on the queue. During our time here, they seemed to be focusing on the sailor's tomb.

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The handicapped access sign has been lit with a fittingly eerie red.

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With the tarps down, it could be seen that the new graveyard had been greatly expanded, with new and old tombstones scattered along the hill.

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The new tombstones add some extra humor and tie in some of the characters from the ride into the queueing experience. Ezra for example, is one of the three hitchhiking ghosts.

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Some more stones... Phineas Pock is related to another Pock whose poetry will be featured in the new interactive queue.

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Always clever...

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The signature Leota tombstone has returned to the graveyard as well.

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The visible corner of the show building was also aged slightly to better fit the rest of the theming of the building.

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Work continues on the changes to the handicapped access path for the ride.

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A better glimpse at one of the new busts.

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While it is hard to see it all over the fence, the level of detail in the new area is clearly present.

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Maybe next time, I'll actually get to see the area for myself.

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The sailor's tomb features bubbles and water effects, some of which could be seen during our visit.

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The drowning sailor actually sneezes, unleashing a splash of water from the top of the tomb.

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A better look at the new organ...

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Another glimpse of the new graveyard on the hill.

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The projections are still up in the old mirror scene...

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Something I hadn't noticed before--the two projections turned to look at each other before returning their glances at the guests.

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Progress continues to be made in New Fantasyland.

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And we have our first signs of rock work!

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A good number of trees have been placed along the edge of the fences to prevent guest from seeing the raw magic at work.

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The Barnstormer's lift hill has been uncovered.

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Nothing different here, right?

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Actually, the Toontown sign is now gone!

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It looks like the old farm building will remain.

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It almost looks like the building has been repainted, or at least freshened up.

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It wouldn't be a bad thing for the building to remain. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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It will certainly be interesting to see what happens next!

Edited by jedimaster1227
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