Though construction is going strong at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on both the Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land projects, Pandora: The World of Avatar is less than a year away from opening at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Epcot has been confirmed to be on the cusp of a new renaissance (at least in Future World), one park that has always had a reputation for consistency throughout the years is the Magic Kingdom.
However, even at Walt Disney World’s original theme park, change seems to be in the air, as a new opening procedure is set to debut in just a few days, a beloved show is cancelled (but will be replaced , plus a recent trend looks like it will continue in 2017…
1. A new phased opening procedure will be coming to the Magic Kingdom in a few days
Walt Disney World parks have been testing phased openings in various forms over the past few years, and for the most part, this procedure has worked really well. And though phased openings have been in place at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom for some time now (and even intermittently at Disney’s Hollywood Studios), Disney has never really employed this tactic at the Magic Kingdom, holding guests at the front gates of this park right up until opening.
However, it looks like Disney is finally ready to switch up the opening procedure for this park. Beginning January 9, 2017, guests will now be allowed to enter the Main Street, U.S.A. area of the park earlier than the park’s scheduled opening time for shopping at the Emporium and breakfast at the Main Street Bakery. Guests with early morning dining reservations for breakfast at Be Our Guest and the Crystal Palace will also be able to enter with these guests, and can see a Cast Member about walking farther into the park for their dining reservation.
It is unknown how soon Disney will be opening the gates to this park for guests, but based on the procedure in place at Epcot we’d imagine that the park will be letting guests in about thirty minutes before opening. And speaking of park opening, it looks like the show that has been welcoming guests to the Magic Kingdom that will be changing soon too.
2. A new welcome show is set to debut in front of the Cinderella Castle
One of the most storied traditions at the Magic Kingdom is the park opening show. Currently, guests who wake up early are able to see a short show at the Magic Kingdom Main Street USA train station featuring their favorite characters welcoming them to the park. However, now that the Magic Kingdom will be allowing guests in before the park officially opens, it looks like this train station show is unfortunately being canceled, and will have its last performance next week.
However, the good news is that Disney will be debuting a brand new show actually inside the park, now that guests will be able to hang out on Main Street USA prior to park opening. Beginning next week, a new welcome show will officially open the park for the day on the Castle Forecourt Stage (the same place where Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire is performed). A Royal Herald will appear at park opening to deliver a proclamation and welcome a few familiar characters to the stage, officially opening the park so “the magic can begin!”
Though we’ll be sad to see the current welcome show go (and we’re assuming that the catchy medley that plays every morning will soon be relegated to our memories and YouTube videos), this new location for the opening show makes a lot more sense. The previous show was a lot of fun, but it was often very hard to see as guests often pushed and shoved to be the first to get into the park while this show was going on, making it hard to watch. This new location should offer much more viewing space, while letting guests eager to get to their first FastPass+ reservation the ability to bypass this show completely.
3. Upcharge events at this park will be even more widespread in 2017 than they were in 2016
2016 brought an unprecedented amount of upcharge experiences to the Magic Kingdom. This past year has seen the introduction of $700 rental tents in Tomorrowland, $50 upcharge dessert parties that include obstructed views of the Festival of Fantasy parade, and a “premium” travel option that allows guests to pay more to travel faster between Walt Disney World theme parks using backstage buses all over the past few weeks.
And love them or hate them, it looks like these upcharge experiences will continue into the new year, and will even be expanded. In fact, in 2017 Disney is even bringing back its controversial Disney After Hours event, but this time with a lower price point. Beginning early next year, a ticket for this event will cost $119 plus tax for ages 3 and above, $30 less than its original price point. Like before, event attendees can enter the park at 7:00 PM and then stay until three hours past the scheduled park closing, all while enjoying unlimited complimentary ice cream novelties, popcorn, and soft drinks. Here are the dates in early 2017 that this event is scheduled to take place:
- January 20 and 27
- February 2, 9 and 16
- March 2 and 9
While upcharge experiences have always been an option at Walt Disney World, it seems like these types of premium experiences are becoming more and more common, especially at the Magic Kingdom and 2017 will see even more implemented around the Magic Kingdom, as Disney tries to expand the offerings as much as possible at the most attended theme park in the world.
What do you think of these changes coming to the Magic Kingdom in early 2017? Are you planning on visiting this park in the new year? Let us know in the comments below!
- Originally published in Theme Park Tourist By Amanda Kondolojy, Friday, December 30, 2016 05:19
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