Plus…. Trolley Car Café now open for business at Disney’s Hollywood Studios,
Update on lunch opportunities at Be Our Guest Restaurant,
We begin the February edition of the WDW Radio Newswire at Magic Kingdom Park, where there are several exciting bits of news to report. Let’s begin in Fantasyland, as the queue of Peter Pan’s Flight has recently seen quite a few changes and upgrades. A major portion of the area is now fully enclosed, and several fun, interactive elements are now in place. Standby line Guests will now find themselves magically whisked away into the storybook world of Peter and the Darling children. In the first enclosed section of the queue, we see beautiful framed artwork lining the walls. The pictures depict several classic animated scenes from the movie, including a beautiful arial shot of London. Next, we turn a corner and find ourselves fully immersed in the experience, as we are now outside the residence of the Darling Family! First we see silhouettes of Mother and Father as they prepare for their evening out. Nana’s even out on patrol! (no tears for Nana, it’s a warm night, she’ll be alright) Shortly after this outside scene, we find ourselves actually entering into the Darling home. We make our way inside and immediately find ourselves in a hallway, individual portraits of each family member adorn the walls. We soon emerge into the children’s nursery. This is where the interactive elements take center stage. The nursery comes to life right before our eyes as Tinker Bell flutters around making playful mischief. As you wind through the nursery, Tink is right there with you, knocking into objects and hiding in chests, water pitchers, and drawers (all thanks to the aid of projectors). It’s also here in the nursery area where Guests can pass the time by playing interactive shadow games like ringing a bell or catching a butterfly. And speaking of shadows, it’s also here where we are visited by the shadow of Peter Pan himself! As we exit the nursery, Tinker Bell makes one last flyby for a final sprinkling of pixie dust. Then it’s time to board our ship, and we’re off to Neverland! Disney has done a fantastic job with these interactive queues in years past, and Peter Pan’s Flight is no exception. The state-of-the-art projection elements and the visuals of the Darling home and nursery literally bring the story to life before you’ve even stepped foot onto the attraction itself, serving as the perfect precursor to the whole experience. This is certainly a shining example of “plussing” things at Peter Pan’s Flight, as the queue is now playful, entertaining, fun, and sure to make the standby wait times far more exciting!
Continuing in Fantasyland, let’s stop by Be Our Guest Restaurant now for some news on the restaurant’s quick-service lunch policy. For almost a year now, Disney has been testing a form of advance dining reservations to combat the massive lunchtime crowds at the restaurant. The test was only open to resort guests, and initially was by e-mail invite only. It allowed the opportunity to book a lunch reservation for Be Our Guest online up to 30 days in advance, and the test run proved quite successful. As of Wednesday, February 25th, advance dining reservations will be available to book for anyone who wishes to do so! Lunchtime hours run from 10:30am to 2:30pm, and you’ll even have the option to pre-order your meal online 30 days in advance all the way up to 5 minutes before your reservation time! For those who do not wish to pre-order, there will be kiosks inside where you can choose and order your desired meal.
Before we depart Fantasyland, I’d like to give a quick update on Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid. The attraction is in the midst of its first-ever refurbishment, as it was shut down for repairs on Monday, February 2nd. A re-opening date has been set for Saturday, March 7th, which will put the total downtime for Ariel and her aquatic pals at just under five weeks.
Time to follow the hub over to Liberty Square now for some more news on the refurbishment front. It looks like the Liberty Square Riverboat will be taking a short hiatus this summer, as the boat is scheduled to be docked for minor repairs on Tuesday, August 4th. The Liberty Belle will resume its course along the Rivers of America on Tuesday, August 11th, leaving the total downtime for the giant paddlewheeler at exactly one week.
Continuing in Liberty Square, it’s time to make a stop by the Liberty Tree Tavern. The tavern is set to see some significant downtime this year for refurbishment, as a closure has been set from Monday, July 6th, through Friday, November 20th. If these dates ring true, we’ll be looking at a total downtime of about 4 1/2 months. But hey, I’m sure the refurb will exude the tavern’s colonial elegance better than ever once it’s complete, and I’m very happy to see the closure will not affect Fourth of July Weekend crowds wishing to enjoy the ambiance of the beloved sit-down restaurant.
Time to follow the hub over to Adventureland now for the Rumor of the Month! For this one, we make our way over to the old Adventureland Veranda, as the rumor mill has been ablaze lately with the possibility we may be seeing a new sit-down dining experience at the location! But that’s not the best part, as the proposed theme for the restaurant would be the nearby Jungle Cruise attraction! You read it right. There’s a real possibility we may get a Jungle Cruise-themed restaurant at the old Adventureland Veranda! The kitchen for the veranda was a shared space with Liberty Tree Tavern, and when the veranda shut down, the tavern claimed the entire kitchen area for itself. This could be one reason the Liberty Tree Tavern is facing a 4 1/2 month closure, as speculation points to the length of the tavern’s closure being due to potential kitchen upgrades. Could this massive kitchen overhaul be taking place in lieu of the re-opening of the veranda space? Time will tell!
Time to park-hop over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios now, as the Trolley Car Café is officially open for business at the corner of Sunset and Hollywood! Trolley Car Café is the third in-park Starbucks location on property, joining Main Street Bakery at Magic Kingdom park and Fountain View at Epcot. In addition to Starbucks coffee, the café also features a vast and delicious array of baked goods. There’s a grab-n-go case inside the location as well, and during the morning hours you’ll find a nice variety of breakfast sandwiches to choose from. The theming inside the café is fantastic, as the photos, maps, switchboards, and props all bring that Big Red Cars era/Golden Age of Hollywood to life.
Before we wrap things up at DHS, I’d like to update the progress of the de-construction of the giant Sorcerer’s Hat. Work has been ongoing on the removal of the massive icon since early January, and as of the writing of this article about 90% of the hat has been de-constructed. All that remains now are the skeletons of the hat brim and mouse ears, and these pieces should be removed within the next week, officially restoring the view down Hollywood Boulevard to its original glory!
Well, that’s gonna do it for the February edition of the Newswire, but I’ll be back again next month with lots more news, notes, and happenings from Walt’s beloved Florida Project!
Be sure to let comment on what you think about the rumored Adventureland Veranda/Jungle Cruise restaurant rumor!
Don Myers covers news and recent events in Walt Disney World. He has been enamored with the World of Disney since his first trip to WDW in 1986. As they say, the rest is history! Don was also a contributing writer for Celebrations magazine, submitting over 30 articles and 7 cover stories for the publication.