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Special Report by Guest Writer Loren Javier - Walt Disney World Trip Report Sept 2010 Part Five
DisneyDan  Tuesday, October 26, 2010 12:32:32 PM

Hi all,

In this next part of his WDW trip report, Loren is going to tell us about his day at the Magic Kingdom.

This particular report about the MK was actually a lot longer, but I have split it up into two manageable parts. So, this part is just about his day at the MK, and the next part will be about the evening at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party.

Like Jon and I, Loren loves to take pictures, and all his photos from this trip can be found in his Flickr set here.

Part one of Loren’s report can be found here.

Part two here.

Part three here.

Part four here.

My commentary on this report will actually be a little different from the four previous parts. When Loren originally posted this part to his Facebook, I had made some initial comments to which he replied. I think his replies are valid responses and are worth putting here so that you get the full perspective on what he thinks. So, when I added the commentary to this part, I added in Loren’s after thoughts too. I hope this works and is not too confusing… we shall see what happens! I shall also make some additional commentary along the way that is along the lines of how I have been doing it previously.

Ok, so now I hand over to Loren…

When last we left off, we had left Disney's Animal Kingdom. The next day we headed over to the Magic Kingdom. We knew the park opened an hour earlier, so we thought with the need to park at the Ticket & Transportation Center (TTC) and take a Monorail over that we should get there early. Given the multitude of people in line an hour before Disneyland opens, I thought that if we got to the TTC an hour early, that we should be okay. Turned out we got the first parking space at the TTC and were amongst the first people in line for the Monorail. It was weird and I kept asking people if we had got it wrong about the Magic Kingdom having an Extra Magic Hour. But little by little people started arriving and soon we boarded the Monorail.

When we stepped through the turnstiles of the park, we were stopped at the tunnels under the station into the park. We waited for a bit and I took some pictures of the pumpkins they had out in front of the Train Station. Suddenly, Fire Chief Smokey Miller came out and told us that Mickey would soon be arriving on the train to greet us to the Magic Kingdom. Now who is Fire Chief Smokey Miller, you ask? He is one of a few characters from Main Street USA. I had learned from my friends Dan and Jon that these characters special to the park wander around Main Street to provide what some have called "streetmosphere". This is something I wish we had at the Original Park. Main Street has such character and it would be wonderful meeting people who "live" on Main Street as you stroll along.

Joining Smokey Miller were a choir of Main Street inhabitants that sang a few songs celebrating the arrival of Mickey and finally, Mickey and friends arrived aboard the Railroad. And with more song and dance, we were greeted to the Magic Kingdom and the crowds streamed through the tunnels. I actually also wish they had some kind of opening number at Disneyland. As charming as the countdown can be, there's something special about being greeted by Mickey himself. (Mickey also waves at the end of the night from the Railroad Station, facing Park side. He does this in DLP too. Although, he probably didn’t this night as it was MNSSHP. Of an evening they also have the “Kiss Goodnight”, but again, due to the Party that night, this was probably skipped over - Dan)

As we crossed through the tunnel, we were struck by the scale of Main Street. We were so used to the smaller, more intimate scale of the Main Street at the Original Park. But at the Magic Kingdom, everything was so much larger. It didn't feel as much like small town America to me, but something a little more gothic. I will say though, that I loved how Cinderella Castle seemed so large and majestic from the Magic Kingdom's Town Square. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE Sleeping Beauty Castle, but it does seem very small in comparison.

We saw the Horse-Drawn Streetcar coming out and we decided to take it down Main Street to the Castle.  Half way down Main Street, we were pleasantly surprised to be joined by the Dapper Dans who also greeted us to the Magic Kingdom. I thought this was a nice touch and something that I think would be a nice idea at the Original Park. We also noticed that the age ranges of the Dapper Dans are different in the two parks. At the Magic Kingdom the Dans skewed older. To me I think all Dans in both parks are talented, but I did notice that they tend to have older performers at Walt Disney World than at Disneyland. (Loren, when you say you wish they did this at DL, you mean the Dans joining you on the Street Car? I have seen them do this in DL and have a picture on my Flickr - Dan)

After getting off the Horse-Drawn Streetcar we walked over to Space Mountain. First of all, visually, I have to say I like the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland better than the Original Park. Unfortunately the Original Park has no cohesion of theme. While I might not have chosen the exact theme of the Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland (I would take the interior of Disneyland's Space Mountain - that retro-70s sci-fi look - and expand that all over the place), I at least respect that they have one theme that tends to run throughout all of Tomorrowland. Our original plan was to get a FastPass (which we did) for Space Mountain, but saw the wait was only 5 minutes, so decided to ride.

Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom is different in many ways from the one at Disneyland, but I have to say that I really like it. I don't like it better or worse than Disneyland because I think it's really different. If I had to describe it to somebody used to Disneyland, the ride itself feels like they had the track for Matterhorn Mountain and put it in Space Mountain. I thought it was really fun and I enjoyed the entry queue as well as the exit. Again, very different from Disneyland. I absolutely LOVE the 70s Space Port feel of Disneyland, but the Magic Kingdom has its charm. (I said - We think Space is better in DL. The MK’s original version of Space was better than the newer refurb version. The new version which you rode on this trip is a massive let down, and DL's is far better, in our opinion. Loren replied with - I actually do prefer Disneyland's Space Mountain, but overall I did enjoy the one at MK. Disneyland's just has the total package and entering the space port is just magical. Perhaps I had low expectations of Space Mountain and ended up enjoying it more. I replied finally with - you're right, Space at DL has the "everything" factor for sure. I personally love the integration of it with the arcade, store, Redd Rockett's, E.O, etc... Space in MK just sits on it's own and is, well, kinda dull looking.)

From Space Mountain, we walked into Fantasyland which, to me, seemed really weird. There didn't seem to be much of a transition. Suddenly we were abruptly at the Mad Tea Party. And it probably didn't help that the Mad Tea Party was separated from the next attraction by mounds of construction walls. It was interesting to see some of the concept art up on some of the construction walls and I am really excited to see what Fantasyland will turn out to be. It's about time that Fantasyland get a major renovation. (You have no idea how much I dislike this whole area! It is simply the worst area of any Disney Park. You can actually be riding the Tea Cups in Fantasyland and see and hear the noisy engines of the Speedway. The fact that the little snack place that is in Fantasyland faces Cosmic Rays is awful, and you can exit the Pooh ride and see the Speedway, really this whole area needs serious help - Dan)

We went on Peter Pan's Flight as this of course is a favourite at Disneyland and we were curious to see how it compared to Disneyland. Sadly I was really disappointed in Peter Pan's Flight. While it starts fairly similarly as we fly from the nursery and over London, once we get to Neverland, it seemed to be a mess.  First of all, there's something really magical about flying over a model of Neverland at Disneyland. At the Magic Kingdom you fly back and forth amidst a chopped up island that is just too hard to describe without you seeing it. Then when you fly past the scene where Wendy is walking the plank and Hook and Peter Pan are duelling, the scene is laid out strangely - I didn't even notice Hook and Pan fighting. It wasn't until we almost passed the scene and I glanced back that I realized they were there.

The one thing I also noticed about the dark rides at the Magic Kingdom is that they are not as dark as Disneyland's.  This reminds me that I totally forgot to say that we also rode Snow White's Scary Adventure the first night we were here.  So, since I'm talking about Fantasyland dark rides, I'll talk about it here.  This was also a complete disappointment because, for me, Snow White's Scary Adventure is actually scary at Disneyland.  At the Magic Kingdom, there were too many lights.  For example, during the scene in which Snow White is running through the scary forest, at Disneyland, you actually feel like you're running through a forest.  At the Magic Kingdom, it feels like you're in a car, riding through a forest in a dark ride.  The ride is actually longer at the Magic Kingdom, but, it definitely didn't make it better. (I said - I agree the Fantasyland dark rides are dire. Peter Pan’s Flight is especially awful. The one major thing they are missing is the “starry tunnel” and the glittery ship at the end. Did you also notice not just the scenes were different in the dark rides, but the models and animatronics were really bad too, and not so well kept? Loren replied with - I did notice the models and animatronics were really bad at Fantasyland. With the exception of The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, everything seemed vastly worse than Disneyland.)

Anyway, after Peter Pan's Flight, we grabbed a FastPass for the ride (mainly because we don't have FastPasses for Peter Pan's Flight and thought it would be cool to have one) and then headed over to Mickey's PhilharMagic. Now if I remembered it correctly, I remembered this to be the place where they had the Mickey Mouse Review with Mickey and pals as an audio-animatronic orchestra and this used to be one of my favourite things in the Magic Kingdom. But I enjoyed Mickey's PhilharMagic as I enjoy anything with Disney music and I thought they utilized the 3D well. 

From Mickey's PhilharMagic we walked through Liberty Square and into Frontierland. We decided to try to go on the other two Mountains and headed first to Splash Mountain. So Dan threatened to beat me with a pillow if I didn't like the Magic Kingdom version better than Disneyland and I will have to be beaten with a pillow. This is not to say that I didn't like the Magic Kingdom one. I just didn't like it better. For me if I'm going on Splash Mountain, I want to splashed. On the Magic Kingdom I was slightly misted. The Magic Kingdom version is more like a dark ride with a drop. There are of course pros to this. It is easier to take pictures in the ride and to enjoy the scenery for sure. But the drama of the drop seemed to be lacking for me. I did like the tandem seating logs of the Magic Kingdom just because it's so hard for me to get in and out of the bobsled style logs of Disneyland. (I said - As for pillow bashing, well Jon and I will probably keep that promise! The scenes in Splash at MK are so far superior and the whole layout and setup of the ride is just better. Anyway, we shall have to agree to disagree I guess. Loren replied with - yes, we'll probably have to disagree about Splash Mountain. Although I didn't dislike the one at the Magic Kingdom and appreciated that I could enjoy the scenes much more there. I just think they're two different rides. MK is a dark ride with a drop while Disneyland is a flume ride with animatronics. I think I was also feeling really hot that day and was hoping to get splashed more. So, that could have been another leading factor to my feelings about it.)

After Splash Mountain we thought we'd try to go on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but it was temporarily closed. So we decided to come back later. We walked back into Liberty Square and we saw Donald Duck in his Davy Crockett outfit hanging out in front of the Diamond Horseshoe. We got our pictures with Donald and then went to watch the "Dream Along With Mickey" show in front of the Castle.

At Disneyland our Castle shows are much smaller in scale. There's the one with the Disneyland Band in which the characters come out and dance for a bit before being whisked away in the Fire Engine while Mickey and the rest of the Band march down the street. Then there's the Mary Poppins show. I love, love, love these shows. While they're regularly scheduled, they don't appear on the schedule and so if you're new to the park and you happen upon it, it's like a pleasant surprise. They do this because Disneyland is not designed for big shows in front of the Castle and to notify people of a performance would end up clogging up Central Plaza. But in the Magic Kingdom they can have these more epic shows and wow, this show was fun. It's an amazing production that offers guests an opportunity to see all the pre-1960s princesses and princes, Peter Pan and the Never Land gang, Maleficent and four of the Fab 5 in a musical celebration of the importance of believing in dreams. (Jon and I adore this show, and see it multiple times every trip. We both know all the words and actions, and often get strange looks from people standing near us while watching the show when they see us singing along- word for word! - Dan)

After the show we walked over to Adventureland to check out the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. As you might all know, the one at Disneyland has been converted to Tarzan's Treehouse which I still find to be charming. But it was great being able to walk through the original concept of the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. It's a much bigger tree than what is at Disneyland and feels like you've visited the set of the movie. I wish the water system were working because I always remember marvelling at that when I walked through it as a kid. We then went to check and see what Little Mermaid characters were meeting and greeting at the Adventureland Veranda. I was excited to see that Prince Eric was there, but they had closed the line already. So we had to come back later.

From there we headed over to Country Bear Jamboree which we were warned was going to be a disappointment and in bad need of repair. But to tell you the truth it seemed exactly the way I remembered it. In fact if there's an attraction that needs audio-animatronic upgrades more, it's the Carousel of Progress (which I loved). We had so much fun that we actually watched it again later in the day. (I said - either they have improved Country Bears some, or you were having a good day with it! Loren replied with - when was the last time you went into the Country Bears? I heard that they massively refurbed the audio-animatronics within the last couple of years. The animatronics just seemed more in sync with the soundtrack than Carousel. Although, don't get me wrong, I LOVE Carousel. I finally replied with - I have to admit it must be probably close to 2 years since we went in CBJ, but that's only because it was always so awful!! Though, I can't say we will be going in it at Christmas, or any time soon, as we went in the Tokyo one this summer (just because it was different), which means we have had our fill of Country Bears for the next couple of years)

After Country Bear Jamboree, we walked next door to the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe. I enjoyed the food mainly because it had a grand fixin's bar. But for all intents and purposes, it's a burger place with an American Tall Tale theme. The place was packed though, but had much more seating than a restaurant at Disneyland. After I ate I darted around the restaurant to take pictures of some of Pecos Bill's souvenirs from such Tall Tale greats as Paul Bunyan, Davy Crockett, and John Henry. (I actually really like Pecos Bill’s and find the food to be a little different here. It’s about the only place you can get BBQ offerings, and I particularly love the pulled pork BBQ burger - Dan)

After lunch, we headed over to Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to see if it was open...and it was. The queue area is much different than Disneyland and you end up boarding the train from underground. The ride itself seems longer than the one at Disneyland and has more scenes along the way, but,I still prefer the one at Disneyland. Sometimes for me, less is more. (It’s been a while since I rode this in MK, but I don’t recall it being underground. Maybe what you mean is that you go up into the queue, then at the end go back down the stairs to the loading area, which I guess would make it street level in the end. It’s just that when I think underground, I think in a cave! - Dan) 

From Big Thunder Mountain Railroad we headed off to Pirates of the Caribbean. I like the way they have their queue which is much longer than the one at the Original Park but, the ride itself was pure disappointment. First of all the one at Disneyland starts with a nice slow ride down the bayou and then you go down two drops that transport you into the world of pirates. At the Magic Kingdom, you're just propelled into the attraction and there is one drop that's randomly placed. But none of the drama is there. Of all of the attractions at the Magic Kingdom (save the Enchanted Tiki Room, which I'll get to soon), this had to be the worst adaptation of an original Disneyland attraction. (You’re quite right, this is a very poor adaptation indeed. The one in DLP is excellent, and the DL one is equally as good. DL’s lacks the neat queue area, but DLP has the neat ride similar, but still different to DL’s, but has an awesome queue area, even better that MK’s. Of the four Pirates I have ridden on, I like DLP’s the best - Dan)

After Pirates, we went to get a FastPass for Jungle Cruise which again, we wanted to get because there is no FastPass for Jungle Cruise at Disneyland. We then walked past the cute Tikis spitting out water and thought that was a fun idea. Then I wanted to check and see if Ariel and Prince Eric were meeting at the Adventureland Veranda. Nobody was there and I looked around to see if I might get a time to come back. A couple of parents were waiting and told me they'd be back in 20 minutes and told me that if I wanted to see them, I should wait because the line closes within a couple of minutes of it opening. This proved to be good advice and I was able to finally meet my first prince in person! (I am shocked that Eric was your first Prince! Just goes to show the poor show at DL, although I know what happened later, so you’re not quite so Prince-less anymore! - Dan)

After getting our pictures with Ariel and Prince Eric, we decided to head over to the Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management). Last time I was here they had already installed the new attraction and I remember thinking it was a travesty. And true to my memory, it was. First of all the attraction lacks the wonderful Tiki Garden with the pre-show featuring the Polynesian Gods. For me this pre-show is just as wonderful as the original attraction is itself. At the Magic Kingdom they feature a couple of barker birds called William and Morris who get people prepared for the show. It's a quaint little pre-show, but believe me, I'd rather have the Original Park's pre-show any day. We got seated and the show starts very similarly to the way the original one does. Then suddenly Iago, the parrot from Aladdin, and Zazu, the secretary bird from The Lion King, announce that they have taken over management of the Enchanted Tiki Room and it all goes down hill from there. Instead of the Hawaiian War Chant, we get the birds singing "Hot, Hot, Hot." And we get a culturally offensive goddess of disaster named "Uh-Oa". I mean,seriously? Ugh... it was awful, awful, awful and truly makes me appreciate the Enchanted Tiki Room at Disneyland even more! (The Tiki Room in Florida is a real mess for sure. Tokyo’s is interesting with the Stitch adaptation, but somehow the Original still has it for me too. But if I had to pick Stitch or Iago, I’d pick Stitch!- Dan)

After the Enchanted Tiki Room I noticed my batteries were dying. So I had to go find some. By the time I got my batteries it was time for the parade. I was excited to see this because it wasn't "Celebrate! A Street Party" which, for anybody who knows me, I find to be the worst thing Disneyland has ever done and I constantly go into City Hall to complain about how awful it is. Now while it’s not the greatest parade ever, I LOVED seeing characters I don't normally see - the Genie, Abu, Jiminy Cricket, the Beast, to name a few. The only thing was... while I got new batteries... toward the start of the parade, I realized that my memory card was already full. Thankfully I had uploaded the previous photos the night before, but I spent a bunch of time trying to madly delete pictures while, at the same time take pictures. Sadness... (For the passing Guest, one who visits once in a lifetime, or even once every few years, it's an ok parade - not wonderful - just ok. But for people like Jon and I who are there fairly often, this parade has well and truly had it's day. This is its third incarnation of the same thing, and has been around for just about ten years now. Not to mention the fact that even before this parade, some of these floats had been used for many, many years - like the Crystal Castle float, which is at least 25 years old!! It needs blowing up and the remains buried in a desert somewhere! - Dan)

After the parade we went to ride the Peoplemover. Last time we went during the night, so we wanted to experience it during the day. Yup still as fun. Boy do I miss the Peoplemover! And from there we went to ride the Liberty Belle Riverboat on the Rivers of America. It's weird... with all the land they have, you'd think that the Rivers of America would seem more majestic. At Disneyland the Rivers of America almost seems to be a character at the park. Here it just seemed like any other water way. The load and unload system at the Liberty Bell was interesting. You actually load on to the second floor and unload on the first floor. At first we were confused because when we boarded and looked up there was only one other floor. Then we realized what had happened. The ride itself on the Liberty Bell was nice and quaint. It has its own scenes along the Rivers of America. Overall, I enjoyed the ride on the Rivers of America. (The Rivers of America are definitely far superior in DL than MK, and the Mark Twain in DL is more ornate than MK’s Liberty Belle, too - Dan)

After the Liberty Belle, we went over to the Jungle Cruise and use our FastPasses... which we didn't need since the line was so short. In fact the Cast Members were not prepared for people who actually were going to use the FastPasses. LOL! Now I have to say that I enjoyed the Jungle Cruise at the Magic Kingdom.  Again not better or worse than Disneyland. I liked it about the same. In many ways it’s similar, but it’s laid out differently and they have different scenes. One thing I appreciated about the Jungle Cruise here is that the Skippers are allowed to veer off script and do improv. Sadly at Disneyland they're supposed to, for the most part, stick on script. For me I think the improv keeps the attraction fresh because it can be different every time.

From the Jungle Cruise, we crossed back into Liberty Square and saw the Hall of Presidents. Again, sorry Dan... but I LOVED the Hall of Presidents. In fact I actually wept. It was so inspirational to me and I loved the way they ended with a speech recited by Barack Obama. And it was amazing seeing all the Presidents standing together. Although one funny thing about watching the Hall of Presidents... talking about Cast Members not trying to be in character, the host for this attraction at the time sounded like they were fresh from the Jersey Shore. I couldn't help but laugh when they were doing the introduction because it just seemed so out of place. But as for the attraction itself, I would definitely watch this every time I came to the Magic Kingdom. (I said - well like I said before, not being American may sway my opinion slightly, but I do know Jon also feels the same, and he is American. Loren replied - it might have something to do with my job being a little more political and to see politics presented in this way was a little more inspiring than how it feels on a daily basis. But as you will read, I have massive love for America Adventure.)

After the Hall of Presidents we walked over to get our bracelets for the Halloween Party and then we went to the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor. I really had no idea about what this attraction would be like. I just had this feeling I was going to dislike it. But I have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised by it. The attraction is somewhat similar to Turtle Talk with Crush, only it features the Monsters, Inc. characters and visitors can submit jokes. Kurt actually submitted one and got it read. Overall I thought it was fun and clever.

After the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor, we rode Space Mountain again and then tried to go on Carousel of Progress, but we came to the sad realization that it was closed and would be closed for the Halloween Party.  Wah! So where did we decide to go again? Country Bear Jamboree! Still fun!

After Country Bear Jamboree, it was close to 7:00 pm and the start of Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party which I had bought tickets for.

We are going to leave that there, and you can find all about Loren’s evening at MNSSHP in the next part coming soon!


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