Of all the parks, the Magic Kingdom changes the least. Actually, I don't even know if that is true. The more accurate way of putting that would be to say "seems to change the least". While some are bigger than others, all of the parks go through somewhat regular changes.
With the Magic Kingdom, these changes tend to be something of a drop in a bucket. When the other parks get a new attraction or a major change is made, it seems like a much bigger deal, since they need the upgrades more. Of course, this statement is extremely skewed, as the Magic Kingdom is my favorite park.
Now that the biased statements and lies have set a promising tone for this Magic Kingdom update, we can begin. Since this park was last mentioned, a lot has changed. There have been new attractions and major changes to existing attractions. Despite these and any other changes that have taken place, the park never feels any different. The last time I think a ride changing has had a strong impact on the feel of the park was when the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea Submarine Voyage ride closed. It was such a unique attraction, and when that left, the atmosphere of Fantasyland changed considerably.
Okay, when I said "new attractions", that was another lie. There has been essentially one new attraction, the Monster's Inc. Laugh Floor. As long as you are not expecting an epic ride or ground breaking attraction, the Laugh Floor is a nice addition to Tomorrowland.
The Laugh Floor's concept is that instead of collecting children's screams for energy like they used to, the monsters now collect laughs. To do this, they gather an audience and perform stand up for them.
Trust me, I was as unimpressed by the concept of a CG character telling dumb jokes as you probably are. And much of the attraction is exactly that: monsters reciting jokes you would usually find on Laffy Taffy wrappers. What really makes the attraction succeed is its interaction with the audience.
I'm sorry if this ruins any long standing beliefs you may have, but the monsters in the attraction aren't real. While they are on screen, the people providing their dialogue are cast members in another room. The cast members are impressive, as much of the dialogue is obviously improv, as it is a live show and a good portion of that dialogue changes depending on audience reaction.
Speaking of audience reaction, the Laugh Floor uses the tried and true method that if something is funny once, it will be funny five times. Much of the humor comes from the comedians' consistently referring back to a few members of the audience. While the jokes may be funny, it's even funnier to see someone on a big screen who clearly does not want to be on there, or hear someone being interviewed who would much rather be not speaking into a microphone.
On our recent trip, I was given the incredible honor of being one of the audience members chosen to play the role of one of the Monsters, Inc. characters on screen. My character was Mike Wazowski, the one-eyed green monster. And by "play the role", I mean I put my hand over one eye to signify that I, like the real Mike, had one eye. My performance was breathtaking. I took far too much pride in this, since when you consider the attraction's turnover, there are probably five Mike Wazowskis per hour.
One major disappointment I had with the ride was that they removed one of their banners in the queue area. When I first went, they had this banner hanging from the ceiling:
As you can see, it is amazing. And yet when we went back on our last trip, it was gone. Granted, I'm sure the only people who noticed were me and maybe three other losers. However, how can you create something so awesome, and just let it go to waste? I wonder what they did with it after taking it down. Some lucky cast member probably has it hanging above their mantel.
This bizarre change is reminiscent of when the "HELP" clown was removed from it's a small world. A small, yet terrible change that serves to only ruin people's day.
I also was irrationally disappointed that I got nothing for my efforts. I figured I would get a sticker of Mike or something, but no. Oh well, see if I am ever willing to grace their screen with my incredible performance again. Okay yeah, I would.
And there you have it, the only new attraction in the Magic Kingdom. Bye!
Alright, I guess I should expound on some of the other changes, especially since they are rather significant.
The reasons they are significant is twofold. First, the changes themselves were pretty big and secondly, they were done to two of the most popular rides in the park.
The first change happened a while ago, which was the addition of Jack Sparrow to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride. I am a big fan of the first two Pirates movies, and the third wasn't very good, although their almost constant airing on USA and three different movie channels is starting to wear out their welcome even further.
Despite the fact that I am a bit burned out on seeing Pirates (and especially Jack Sparrow) related merchandise everywhere, the change is a good one. Sparrow's animatronic moves with alarming fluidity, and looks like a real person.
The other ride that got a major facelift was the Haunted Mansion. Fortunately, unlike Pirates these changes were not movie-related, so there is no Eddie Murphy animatronic running around. The whole ride got touched up, with many little changes to be found everywhere. Some of the changes are much more noticeable, such as now Madame Leona's crystal ball now floats in mid-air, which is a rather cool effect.
The most obvious change is what has become the stairs room, which is something of an approximation of M.C. Escher's idea. It essentially is a room with stairs everywhere, leading nowhere, as ghost footprints walk on them. The concept sounds pretty lame, but when you are going through the room, having them all around you is a bizarre sight.
The other change is the attic scene, but it's kind of dumb. You see portraits of a bride and groom, but when you pass by, the groom's head goes away. This is because the bride, who you see at the end of the scene, has cut his head off. This could be a cool idea, except the portraits look so goofy (no pun intended), the effect is somewhat ruined.
One not very surprising side effect of the changes to the Haunted Mansion was the incredibly long wait times. Normally, the lines were reasonable, but occasionally throughout the day they would just get ridiculous. The end of the line went past the left hand portion of the picture. Keep in mind, that brick building all the way in the back? That's where the ride is.
One final, incredible change to the Magic Kingdom is that you can now buy chocolate covered frozen bananas there. Making it even cooler is apparently people who buy them are part of an elite club, since they aren't even advertised as being for sale. Apparently some of the ice cream carts within the park sell them, yet they aren't on the sign. The only way to find out where they are is to follow the clues, ask around, and be prepared to do some legwork.
To ease the search, I will let you in on an exclusive: one of the frozen banana locations. They are following the "hide in plain sight" method, as this cart is in the exact center of the park. As you are heading up Main Street, it will be on the left when you reach the hub. Boo yah.
Speaking of food, one topic that needs to be discussed is the Disney Dining Plan. Basically, you are paying in advance, and get an allotment of different types of meals. The standard plan gives you a counter service meal (your typical cafeteria-style place), one sit-down meal, and one snack per day.
They have toned down what the plan gets you. When we first got it, the table service included an appetizer, an entree, a dessert, a drink, and tip included. Now, they don't include the appetizer or the tip. Regardless, what this adds up to is way too much food. The counter service desserts tend to be pretty crappy, but since it's included, you still wind up eating it. Every meal involves forcing down more food than you really want.
On this plan, you feel like more of a pig than usual. I don't know if this is the case for other people (although I'm assuming it is), despite the fact that we knew we'd have giant lunches and dinners, it didn't stop me from eating candy and ice cream all day.
The most amazing thing about the plan is what they consider a snack to be. There are plenty of reasonable options: a pretzel, an ice cream bar, a bottle of soda, and so on. But in the resorts, they have some ridiculous snack options.
Hungry? Now you can get rid of that craving by eating six bagels, or maybe a loaf of bread. Not in the mood? You can always eat a bag of hot dog buns. I am a bit disappointed they don't have Thomas' Toast-R-Cakes. Those are amazing, and I can safely say I would eat an entire package of them.
Got a bit of a sweet tooth? No problem! We've got just the snack for you: an entire box of donuts. If you're not in the mood for a box of donuts, no problem... you can always substitute an entire cake or an eighty four square inch danish.
I can't think of a better way to end this than with that ridiculous display of gluttony. In summary: the Magic Kingdom is still awesome, and even though I make fun of it I really think offering people twelve donuts as a snack is pretty awesome.
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