Though the Magic Kingdom doesn’t have large construction projects going on like those underway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom, this generally-consistent park has actually gone through a number of changes recently, including the addition of the all-new Happily Ever After and it looks like with attendance back on the rise and Pandora – The World of Avatar bringing more guests than ever to the resort, this park is making even more changes to help cope with rising attendance.
From the addition of new characters to a surprising schedule change, here are all the changes happening at the world’s most-attended theme park this summer.
1. The Festival of Fantasy moves to 2:00 PM this summer
The 3:00 parade has become such an institution at the Magic Kingdom that Disney has even created a line of merchandise themed around the classic tourist question “When is the 3 ‘o clock parade?” However, guests may actually need to ask this question soon, as Disney has confirmed that beginning in August, the daily Festival of Fantasy parade will be moving to 2:00 PM. It is not known whether this will be a permanent change, or something that Disney will test later this year while crowds are still high.
2. Stitch’s Great Escape to open throughout the summer
Though we were certain when Stitch’s Great Escape! moved to seasonal operation on October 2 2016, it was the beginning of the end for this much-maligned attraction, it looks like Stitch’s Great Escape! is more of a survivor than we thought, as this attraction will reopen once again next week, and resume daily operation all summer until August 19th. This is of course in response to what is expected to be record crowds at this park, and while we don’t expect this attraction to attract big crowds, it should at least relieve some of the pressure on Tomorrowland during its seasonal opening this summer before it closes again this fall.
3. The Country Bears move into Frontierland
It was announced earlier this week that Chip and Dale’s meet and greet location will be moving from Frontierland to the Town Square area of Main Street USA, effective immediately. However, in an interesting twist, it was revealed these characters will be replaced by some characters who haven’t been out meeting and greeting guests for some time: the Country Bears. Beginning this week, guests can see Big Al, Wendel, Shaker, and Liverlips roaming around Frontierland. These characters are not meeting in a specific area, but instead will be hanging around this area, meeting guests during sporadic times during the day. It is currently unknown if this is a permanent change or just for the summer.
4. Stitch meet and greet moves to Tomorrowland for the summer
In addition to the new Frontierland character additions, it looks like Tomorrowland will be getting a new resident this summer as well. Though Stitch has met fans infrequently on Main Street USA over the past few years, this character will be moving a bit closer to home this summer, and will be meeting guests daily near the Carousel of Progress in Tomorrowland throughout the rest of the season.
5. Summer refurbishment set for Splash Mountain
In a somewhat strange move, it has been announced that Splash Mountain at the Magic Kingdom will be going down for a lengthy refurbishment later this summer. The refurbishment is planned to kick off on August 28th and last over two months, reopening to guests on November 17th. This late summer closure is a bit unusual, both because of the length, and the fact that it is being done in summer instead of winter, when the attraction normally goes down for regular maintenance.
If we had to guess, we’d say that some of the animatronics inside this attraction will be getting some attention, as they have been displaying some substantial wear and tear over the past few years, and the fixes that are required would likely take a lot longer than just a week or two.
Though nothing about this upcoming refurbishment has been confirmed, we’ll be keeping an eye on the rumor mill in the next few months, as it seems quite likely that Disney is planning to do some major work on this attraction during its nearly three-month closure.
While the Magic Kingdom doesn’t really have a lot of major changes going on, it is clear that Disney is expecting big crowds to show up at this park over the summer, and is trying to make schedule adjustments to try and manage the potentially record-setting crowds that are expected to show up. Will you be visiting the Magic Kingdom at all this summer?
-Originally in Theme Park Tourist, May 23, 2017 by Amanda Kondolojy
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