3 Things to Do in Disney Parks If You Love Sneak Peeks of Construction

With the ongoing construction of Cars Land in Disneyland and the Fantasyland expansion in Walt Disney World, it’s an exciting time for Disnerds. I love getting the scoop from Disney about what’s being planned and hearing the reactions of fans on podcasts and blogs. For example, today on the Disney Parks Blog they posted a photo of a large item under a tarp that they said was for Fantasyland. They later revealed it was one of the centerpieces for the new double Dumbo.

Although seeing photos is great, there’s nothing like seeing the work in progress for yourself. Disney is good about protecting the magic by blocking guests from seeing off-stage, and I usually appreciate that, but not when I want to see what they’re working on! So, for today’s slightly tongue-in-cheek post, here are three things to do in Disney Parks if you love sneak peeks of construction.

1. Stand on things

Benches, railings, you name it… if it’s near a construction wall and you can stand on it, go for it! Obviously I’m not recommending anything that’s likely to cause you to injure yourself or get in trouble, but sometimes it’s just too tempting. My brother and his family were in Walt Disney World last week, and he was kind enough to stand on a railing by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh to get this video for me of the Fantasyland construction.

2. Ride tall attractions

When the construction walls are too tall or a whole section of the park is inaccessible, standing on things just won’t work. That’s when tall attractions are ideal, because even Disney can’t block the view from the sky.

For the Fantasyland construction, Dumbo is the ride of choice. I took these photos from Dumbo last October (2010). Compare them to the video to see how much has changed in the last year!

Construction of new Fantasyland in October 2010Construction of new Fantasyland in October 2010

For Cars Land, Mickey’s Fun Wheel is great. It moves slowly, and you’re 150 feet in the air. The only problem is that you’re basically in a cage, so you have to position your camera between the bars to take pictures. Also, be sure to choose a stationery gondola to avoid unexpected movement. Here are some photos I took back in February 2010 when Cars Land was little more than some piles of dirt. I also got a shot of World of Color and The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure under construction.

Cars Land construction in February 2010Cars Land construction in February 2010World of Color and The Little Mermaid construction in February 2010

3. Visit preview centers

This is the way that normal people learn about coming attractions. In Disney California Adventure, guests can see videos, models, and concept art at Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar. When I was there last, they were featuring Cars Land, The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, and World of Color.

Walt Disney Imagineering Blue Sky Cellar (February 2010)Cars Land preview at Blue Sky Cellar, February 2010Cars Land Groundbreaking photos at Blue Sky Cellar, February 2010The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure preview at Blue Sky Cellar, February 2010World of Color preview at Blue Sky Cellar, February 2010World of Color viewing area model at Blue Sky Cellar, February 2010

Unfortunately there’s no Blue Sky Cellar equivalent in Walt Disney World. Thankfully we have the Internet and fan events to sustain us. I wasn’t able to go to the D23 Expo back in August, but I’m thankful to the bloggers who took photos of the massive model of new Fantasyland displayed there.

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So, be honest. Who else tries to get sneak peeks of coming attractions at Disney Parks?

6 Things to Do in Walt Disney World If You Love Vintage Magic Kingdom

It’s October 1, 2011, and it’s the fortieth anniversary of Walt Disney World. Twitter and Facebook are all abuzz, and the Disney Parks Blog has been posting a wealth of delightful vintage items, like the original Magic Kingdom park map (actually more of a newspaper).

1971 was a bit before my time, but I am a nostalgic at heart, and I love old school Disney experiences, especially in Magic Kingdom. (After all, my favorite attraction is Carousel of Progress.) While I agree that the Parks need to grow and change over the years, I appreciate that there is still at least one original attraction in every land, so today we’re going to go land by land and talk about an original attraction. If there was more than one original attraction still there, I chose one that you might be tempted to overlook.

So, here are six things to do in Walt Disney World if you love vintage Magic Kingdom.

1. Main Street U.S.A.: Walt Disney World Railroad

This attraction (yes, it is an attraction, not just a transportation option) was originally a D ticket (75 cents) to ride. Walt Disney loved trains, and just like Disneyland, there was no question that Magic Kingdom would be surrounded by a train. Board at Main Street U.S.A. and take the Grand Circle Tour. And if you’re inspired, learn more about Walt’s love for trains from the Carolwood Pacific Historical Society.

2. Adventureland: Swiss Family Island Tree House

This attraction is an old-school shout-out to the glory days of Disney live action films. Skip up the stairs to the charming “Swissapolka” tune and enjoy pararamic views of the Magic Kingdom. This attraction was originally a B ticket or 25 cents to experience. (You have to be ambulatory to enjoy this attraction, so if that’s an issue, feel free to substitute an excursion on the Jungle Cruise, another opening day attraction.)

3. Frontierland: Country Bear Jamboree

Bears, bluegrass, and blood on the saddle—what more is there to say? If you didn’t get the “blood on the saddle” reference, it’s been too long since you’ve visited the Jamboree. This show was originally an E ticket attraction, costing 80 cents (junior) or 90 cents (adult) to see. Even if the music isn’t your thing, it’s dark and air-conditioned and you’re sitting down.

4. Liberty Square: The Hall of Presidents

Another attraction that many now consider just an air-conditioned place to sit and nap, but it was originally an E ticket attraction. I’ll admit that as a child I thought it was boring, and it isn’t a must-see attraction for me on every trip, but do yourself a favor and experience it at least once. It’s a descendant of “Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln” and an important development in the history of audio-animatronics.

5. Fantasyland: It’s A Small World

My view of this attraction (originally an E ticket) changed forever when I heard Lou Mongello’s interview with Richard Sherman, one of the Sherman Brothers who wrote so many of the songs we associate with Disney. Hearing him recite the lyrics of “It’s a Small World” . . . wow. It’s not a cheesy, repetitive children’s song to him; it’s an earnest call for peace. If you listen to the Sherman interview and want more insight into the history of this attraction, listen to Lou’s interview with Alice Davis.

6. Tomorrowland: Tomorrowland Speedway

This attraction, descended from Autopia at Disneyland, was originally called “Grand Prix Raceway” and cost a C ticket (50 cents) to ride. The track has been lengthened and shortened over the years, but it’s still essentially the same experience. You might feel a bit silly going on it without a child, but just embrace it—it’s an opportunity to drive hands-free! My favorite memory of this attraction was riding with my then three-year-old nephew, who said afterwards, “I was driving so crazy I almost went somewhere!”

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These attractions are easy to do in one day, and none of them should have long queues.

So, were you around for Magic Kingdom’s opening day? What are your favorite memories on these classic attractions?