Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World. This week we’ll be visiting the Disney Marathon at Epcot, stopping by Disney’s Hollywood Studios to check on the hat, and finishing up at Magic Kingdom. Ready for some fun? Let’s go! 🙂
So why would I include a photo of the Walt Disney World maingate entrance? You might recall that last week I recommended getting to the parks extra early this weekend because of the Disney Marathon. I’ve always enjoyed getting in extra early and getting ahead of the crowds during race weekends, but it had been years since I showed up at 11am. Well, showing up that late meant that traffic stopped right where I took this photo! I decided to tough it out this year so I could share what it looks like with you guys. Click to read more if you’d like to see why you should get there early!
Unless you’ve visited (and driven!) on a race weekend you might not understand why there is such a delay getting into the park. Well, traffic has to go down to just one lane to allow room for all the runners. I have so much respect for these folks, it was raining and cold but here they were at mile 22! While it did take me a whopping 40 minutes to inch my way to the Epcot main entrance, at least I was in a warm car.
Despite getting to the park at almost noon, the race was still in full swing. Cheering could be heard all over the park and runners had a clear path through roughly half the park. You might be at home wondering why on Earth someone would visit with all this commotion in the park. Well, at noon Test Track had a 20 minute wait! Soarin’ was a little longer at 45 minutes, but the line was still shorter than you’d expect. Everything else in the park was walk on! Marathon weekend is always the best for visiting Magic Kingdom and Epcot.
One thing to be aware of is that you will have to wait to cross the running path. They never let the lines get too long, though. It’s pretty easy to get around the park and absolutely worth the slight delay to take advantage of those short lines! Pictured below are about 100 people waiting at the crosswalk.
In addition to the short lines, check out the views in World Showcase! Even before 11am you sometimes can’t get such wide open views on a normal day. These are also great, wide open spots to watch the race and cheer for the runners. At this spot you’re on the last mile and runners are starting to have fun. I saw lots of people stopping for a beer to carry over the finish line. I even saw one guy with a beer in one hand and a margarita in the other! 😀
Speaking of margaritas, when is the last time you’ve seen no wait at all outside of La Cava del Tequila? This photo was taken at 12:30pm and this might be the only time I’ve been by that I haven’t seen a wait! This is a stark contrast to just a few weeks ago at Christmas when the lines for Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros stretched all the way out into the streets!
Now, I normally don’t feature photos of strangers because I think it’s just creepy. However, just this once I hope these two will forgive me. I couldn’t resist featuring Dreamfinder and Figment! I saw lots of great costumes but this was my favorite. Plus, major kudos to these two for keeping up their costumes even through the rain. If these two ever read this you were awesome sauce! Have you ever visited during the marathon? What did you think? Did you see any great costumes?
Next let’s hop over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to check on the progress at Starbucks. It looks like it’s so close to opening. As you can see from the photo on the left, it looks like they’re ready to open up the gates. The photo on the right was taken through a tiny slit in the paper on the window. As you can see, there’s a lot setup in there. Remember, you can click on any image to see it larger.
And now for the real reason for our visit, the hat! While it has been further dismantled since my visit on Sunday, here is our last view of the hat intact. I was so excited when I heard the hat was going to be removed, but seeing it behind walls was bittersweet. It wasn’t until I saw it that I realized I never hated the hat, I just missed the Chinese Theater! Part of me wishes they could just relocate the hat somewhere else. What do you think? Am I alone?
The construction walls notably feature the Earful Tower and attraction posters of the few things left to do in the park. I thought the below photo was a good one to share for history. This is the last time these three icons will be seen in one photo. I’m very excited to see what the future will bring for the Studios and I’ll be sure to keep you updated at the hat comes down one piece at a time.
Back on the Streets of America things are much slower these days. It doesn’t look like they’ve started taking down the Osborne Lights just yet, but with them going dark it’s empty back here. Hopefully the changes coming will bring something more popular to the area. Rumors are flying that this was the last year for Osborne Lights at the Studios, but time will tell. Where do you think they should put the lights next year if this isn’t an option?
Below is the empty space that once housed Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Frozen Snowground. Was I the only one blindsided that it closed on January 4th? I didn’t realize that this was a temporary spot and it was always packed despite the crummy location. I’m very hopeful that this is a sign of construction coming to improve the park very soon!
On my way back to the front of the park I noticed a billboard for Inside Out. So far the limited previews haven’t sold me on seeing this one, but I’m sure I will when it comes out in June. Have you heard anything about this film? Are you excited about it? Maybe I’m just getting old! 😉
Back at the front of the park, the American Idol theater is now sitting vacant again. The large screen out front is just being used to list showtimes around the park. Does anyone else remember Superstar Television? I really wish they would bring back a modern version of this classic in this space.
So what do we do on a light news week? What else? Shopping! Heading into the studios I noticed a new 2015 Sorcerer Mickey. Below right are some really fun Muppets hats, they aren’t new but can be hard to find so I wanted to show them off. Everything pictured below retails for $24.95. Which is your favorite?
Below are tons are new Magicbands that are now available for sale. Ironically, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the best place to find all the new Magicband designs. The large emporium style store and the photography store both have all the latest and greatest. Maybe they just haven’t come out with the right character yet, but I have no interest in buying a Magicband. What do you guys think? Who is buying these?
These sweatshirts win the weirdest new item of the week. The fabric felt high end but what do you think of the design? They almost looked screen printed with photos of Mickey and Minnie plush. At $49.95 I expect these will be at the outlets soon. (As I’m sure Derek will report, all the Christmas clothing that was in the parks a few weeks ago is already at the outlets!)
Of course, the next big holiday is Valentine’s Day. So far the only merchandise I’ve found are the items you see below. Minnie and Mickey are each $16.95 and Duffy is $20.00. While the Mickey and Minnie look recycled from previous years, I don’t remember the Duffy. All of the sudden they seem to be releasing a Duffy with every holiday. Did he get popular while I wasn’t looking? 😉
Now let’s hop over to the Magic Kingdom where half of Uptown Jewelers is hiding behind a wall. This is one of my favorite shops and I almost never visit the park without stopping by. While I don’t like circulating rumors, I’ve heard from more than one person that this will be a retail Pandora store. I’m a big fan of the brand so I’m hopeful this is what’s moving into the space. Fingers crossed and I’ll report back when it opens.
Also in this space are gobs of Haunted Mansion Dooney & Bourke purses. It seems that Disney has finally kept up with the demand of these bags. Or maybe they’ve finally priced them so high that they aren’t flying off the shelves? In any case, if you were hoping to get one of these on your next trip they are still here.
Over at Memento Mori (the new gift shop by the Haunted Mansion) this new figurine is available and retailing for $95. I can’t be trusted with breakable things or I might be tempted by this, especially since it lends itself to being the first in a set. I would think they’d release figurines of the other three stretching posters. Memento Mori is still a gorgeous gift shop and much easier to get into these days. I haven’t seen a wait to enter since Christmas.
I wanted to finish up this week with a little dark ride photography. I know I’ve included photos similar to the one below in the past, but I think I finally got this one right. This Ariel in particular tends to have crazy eyes! After multiple attempts I think I might have caught her only good angle. Does anyone have requests? I tend to hop on my favorite rides over and over but I’m always happy to take requests of anything you guys would like to see. Are you homesick for your favorite ride? Let me help! 🙂
Lastly, we haven’t visited it’s a small world in a while so I thought I’d share a few photos from our ride on Friday night. We had a boat almost entirely to ourselves so I didn’t have to worry about my shutter snap bothering people. I know it isn’t the “latest news”, but who can resist smiling when you look at these?
That’s everything for this week. Now let’s see what you can expect if you’re visiting next week.
Crowd Calendar: Crowds will be pretty tame this week but expect a little jump for Martin Luther King Junior Day and the weekend prior.
Weather: Highs in the low 70s and lows in the 50s? It’s another week in paradise!
Remember: Have you made your dining reservations for July 3rd and 4th? Magic Kingdom will present their holiday fireworks on both nights so be sure to plan ahead. There’s still lots of availability if you’ll be in the area over those dates.
Here’s my top tip for this week: While I always share the weather, it’s worth noting that you just can’t trust the forecast here. Earlier this week we left for Universal dressed for the high to be 65 degrees with sunny skies, but by the time we got there (not even an hour later) the forecast had updated to a high of 57 degrees with rain! We weren’t prepared for the swing in weather so we had to skip our visit. Be sure you come prepared for anything this time of year!
Do you have any news I missed or any requests for coverage next week? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below, and thanks so much for reading! I’m wishing all of you the Best Week Ever, until next time!