4 Quiet Changes Happening This Summer at Walt Disney World Attractions

As reported by Theme Park Tourist:

So far, it has been a slow summer at Walt Disney World. However, despite the downturn in guests so far this year, Disney is continuing to tweak operations at some of its attractions to ensure that things are running as smoothly as possible for the remainder of the summer at the resort. If you are planning on visiting Walt Disney World in the coming weeks, here are all of the changes happening around the resort you should know about (that you might not have originally noticed!)

1. Living With the Land changes FastPass+ tiers at Epcot

Earlier this year Epcot moved slow-moving agricultural boat ride Living With the Land into the first tier of FastPass+ reservations for Epcot. Though this made some sense at the time (Soarin’ was still down for refurbishment and Frozen Ever After didn’t exist yet), this attraction has been languishing in Tier 1 since these two attractions were added to Epcot’s tier 1 FastPass+ options, with the vast majority of guests choosing to experience Soarin’ Around the World, Test Track, or Frozen Ever After instead of Living With the Land.

Unfortunately, this had a debilitating effect on this attraction, as guests who wanted to experience Living With the Land with a FastPass+ reservation had to redeem three FastPasses before they could make a reservation for this attraction, as first tier reservations only become available again after two second tier FastPass+ reservations have been used. The result was a perpetually empty queue with almost no one stopping to experience this attraction over the past few months.

However, it looks like this attraction might actually get some foot traffic again in the near future, as Epcot has bumped Living With the Land back down to tier 2, effective immediately, joining Mission: Space, which was also recently moved back down to tier 2 as well (and also got a subsequent bump in guest activity). Hopefully the same will happen with this attraction, which is all-too-often outshone by Soarin’ at The Land Pavilion.

2. The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic to begin admitting guests to theater closer to showtime

The Discovery River Theater at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (which is currently home to The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic), will be making some operational changes in the coming days that will affect all guests. Instead of allowing Stand-By and FastPass+ guests to line up at the theater over an hour before showtime, from July 19th through the 25th (and possibly beyond), this theater will only allow guests to start loading in just 20 minutes before the 9:00PM show.

Though it looks like this show likely won’t be around for much longer, Disney might be making this change in an effort to gauge how a later load time will affect crowd levels around this attraction ahead of the (hopefully soon) debut of Rivers of Light. Though we’re still waiting for an update about this long-delayed project, the presence of a potentially limited-time test during the final days of the Jungle Book: Alive with Magic is hopefully a positive sign that Disney is planning something for this theater beyond the reported Labor Day closure of the current show.

3. New animals join the Affection Section at Rafiki’s Planet Watch

One of the most popular areas of Rafiki’s Planet Watch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the Affection Section, which allows guests to get some hands on time with friendly animals like sheep and goats. Interestingly, it looks like a few days ago, this attraction got some new avian additions that guests will be able to get up close with, including Ameraucana chickens, silver leghorn chickens, and naked-neck turkens.

According to Orlando Parks News (which first reported on these new additions earlier this month) Amereaucana chickens are known for laying blue eggs and have a very outgoing and social nature (which sounds perfect for the Affection Section), and leghorn chickens are a slow-growing “heritage” breed that is currently “recovering” from endangered status. Finally, naked-neck turkens are actually chickens, but their interesting name comes from the fact that these birds were originally thought to be a cross between turkeys and chickens. This species’ naked neck is due to a random genetic mutation that causes the over-production of a feather-blocking module.

4. Interior signs removed from Frozen Ever After queue

Though we’ve talked a lot about the new Frozen Ever After ride at Epcot’s Norway Pavilion, the queue for this attraction is also pretty impressive, bringing the world of Arendelle to life against a nighttime backdrop, with storefronts, soft lighting and even a recreation of Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post and Sauna that guests can walk through (and even see the big guy himself, if only for a moment or two).

Though there are a lot of fun story-related details for fans to take in as they wander through this pre-ride area, one of the small ways that this queue brings the world of Frozen to life is via posted flyers and clippings that fill guests in on what has been happening since this events of the film (spoiler warning: the Duke of Weselton is still prohibited from entering the kingdom).

However, even though these additions were very charming (and provided something fun for guests to look at during this attraction’s often multi-hour wait times) it looks like a few guests have been getting a little bit too excited by these queue elements, and have been ripping at them and damaging them in the days since Frozen Ever After opened. Rather than replace these signs, it looks like Disney has instead decided to remove them from the queue entirely to prevent further damage to the queue. Though this is certainly an understandable decision, it is still very sad to see this pre-show area lose some of its personality all because of the bad behavior of a handful of irresponsible guests.


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Don Korta
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