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Saturday, September 3, 2011

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom: A Mickey Mouse Review

If you visited Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom nearly 40 years ago, you may recognize the Mickey Mouse drama masks from the curtains of Fantasyland's Mickey Mouse Revue Audio Animatronic show. The attraction debuted at the Florida park in 1971, and closed in 1980. It was shipped to Tokyo Disneyland in Japan for that park's 1983 opening. The Mickey Mouse Revue had its last performance in 2009. In both Florida and Japan, the theater that housed the Mickey Mouse Revue now plays the Mickey's Philharmagic 3D show.

I found the Mickey Mouse mask pin set at a shop at Disney's Boardwalk Resort during my August 2011 vacation at Walt Disney World in Florida. I stayed at Disney's Yacht Club Resort from August 25th to August 29th. On this trip, I visited 6 Orlando theme parks in 4 days. How do you see everything in such a short amount of time? You don't.

Day One (Thursday, August 25, 2011): The Magic Kingdom

I woke up at 5:30 am to make sure I got to my 8:30 am flight to Orlando on time. I got to Disney's Yacht Club Resort in the early afternoon. The Yacht Club is a beautiful resort. I had not stayed on Disney property since 1994. It definitely has its advantages, and made the visit so much easier and pleasant. The front of the hotel has the bus stop to the Magic Kingdom and Downtown Disney. Walk out the back of the hotel and you'll find Disney's Beach Club Resort next door, plus the the walkways and boat launches to Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Boardwalk Resort, and the Swan and Dolphin Resorts.

Before walking to Epcot to pick up my 3 Day Park Hopper ticket, and walking through World Showcase and Future World to get to the monorails to the Magic Kingdom, I had to make sure I had my Mears shuttle reserved for my trip the next day to see a certain wizard and his new world. On my way through Future World, I stopped at the Land and saw that Soarin' had a 70 minute Stand-by wait. Yikes!

I don't know what time I finally got to the Magic Kingdom, but I know it was sometime after 3:00 pm, because the Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade was heading for Liberty Square.

One of my favorite things to see on Main Street, U.S.A. is the great window displays in front of the Emporium.
I can still remember a window with a scene from The Fox and the Hound on my first visit to the Magic Kingdom in 1983.

Walt Disney's first animated feature, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is a good way to start off the day at the Magic Kingdom.

I like that you can see Main Street in the reflections in the windows.

A Little Mermaid dark ride is currently under construction in Fantasyland.

For now, you can enjoy Ariel's adventures on Main Street.

Cinderella dances the day and night away.

Walk down Main Street to find Cinderella's Castle. You can't miss it.

Cinderella's Castle is even more spectacular at night.

One of my favorite souvenirs from this trip is a 1971 Map Magnet of the Magic Kingdom.

The park has changed quite a bit over the years.

Walt Disney World has some nice merchandise celebrating the resort's 40th birthday. I think it would have been great if they offered Disney character plush based on the toy designs from the Seventies.
It may be a nostalgia thing, but I have a soft spot for these retro 1970s stuffed toys of Mickey, Minnie and Pluto. These were made using a lot of hot glue. Today's plush toy technology could retain the appealing charm of the character designs and make the toys much more durable.

Originally, I wanted to go to the Haunted Mansion first, but because of the parade, I went to Adventureland.

There was no wait for Pirates of the Caribbean at all. This classic attraction (updated to include Jack Sparrow and other characters from the films) can handle large crowds. I made sure to get some pressed pennies on this trip.

Pirates of the Caribbean first appeared at Disneyland in California in 1967. It was not originally planned to appear in Florida. Instead, Frontierland was supposed to get a section called Thunder Mesa, which would have included a mine train and a cowboy themed Pirates style water ride called Western River Expedition. Magic Kingdom guests demanded to see the Pirates attraction featured on the Disneyland TV show, so in 1973 the Pirates arrived in Adventureland.

Thunder Mesa wasn't built, but the Big Thunder Mountain mine train opened in 1980. Western River Expedition wasn't built, but Splash Mountain was added to Frontierland in 1992.

After Pirates, I grabbed a Fastpass for Splash Mountain (the Stand-By wait was over an hour) and headed to the wildest ride in the wilderness, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.

After Big Thunder, I took the boardwalk path near the Rivers of America to the Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square.

The Haunted Mansion recently got a new optional interactive queue line. I did not see this queue on my trip. I am glad it is there to soak up some of the crowds.

Before this vacation, I had never bought any Vinylmation stuff. I love this Haunted Mansion clock pin.

I think I like these pins more than the actual Vinylmation figures.

Walt Disney World's Haunted Mansion has a fun new ending, featuring interactive Hitchhiking Ghosts.
I don't remember which Ghost I got.

It was time to head back to Splash Mountain. This is a big log flume ride based on the Brer Rabbit stories featured in the 1946 Disney film, Song of the South.

The host/narrator for this attraction is Brer Frog.

Brer Frog greets riders on the first lift hill of Splash Mountain.

The logs climb high up Splash Mountain, offering a good view of the park, then drop into the Audio Animatronic world of Brer Rabbit, Brer Fox and Brer Bear.

Here we see Brer Goose fishing, singing the song "How Do You Do?". You remember Brer Goose from Song of the South, right? If you don't, that's OK. Most people haven't seen Song of the South. But Brer Goose wasn't in the film anyway.
Brer Goose, like many of the characters in Splash Mountain, is from a Disneyland show called America Sings, which played at Disneyland in California from 1974 to 1988. When America Sings closed, the animal cast found a new gig as supporting characters for Disneyland's Splash Mountain.

Brer Bear and Brer Fox get outwitted by Brer Rabbit.

Splash Mountain is a special attraction to me because I know one of the Imagineers who worked on it. I even got a tour of the place before the ride opened!

Brer Frog sings "Everybody's Got a Laughing Place" while lounging on Brer Gator.

There is a jumping fish character in this scene that I have only seen working once (in 2004). I did not know it was there, so seeing it was a surprise. The fish wasn't working this time, either.

The log drops into total darkness, into a beehive, then drops us into the Laughing Place. Then Brer Fox catches Brer Rabbit.

Brer Fox can't keep his big mouth shut. Literally. This figure was broken.

Brer Rabbit is in trouble! The vultures are circling as we climb the last lift hill for the final big drop into the Briar Patch.
At this point, the ride shut down and the work lights came on. Some of the boats were stuck at the very top of the drop. Luckily, we were only stopped for a short amount of time.

Splash Mountain empties into a gift shop, which had some cool items. On this trip, I took pictures of merchandise that I liked, but knew I wouldn't be buying.

Here's a great shirt featuring one of Splash Mountain's Vultures. The Vulture character is one of the animals from Disneyland's America Sings show. The Vultures were in the Headin' West sequence of America Sings, and they sang "The End of Billy the Kid."

As you plunge down Splash Mountain's final drop, your photo is taken.

This photo frame is a great place to display your special souvenir.

After Splash Mountain, I visited It's a Small World.

The animal characters are my favorite part of the ride.

It was time for dinner, so I went to Pinocchio's Village Haus in Fantasyland. Visiting this restaurant is a tradition for me.

The menu here has changed a bit. This place used to serve burgers and fries, and now it has pizza and pasta. I got a personal pepperoni pizza. Yum!

Pinocchio's Village Haus overlooks the load station for It's a Small World.

I ate near that viewing location, by this mural. People were eating in front of the Monstro mural, so I did not take a picture of that.

I never knew this restaurant had a second floor!

You can eat inside or outside, upstairs or downstairs.

Here is the view from the balcony upstairs.

From here, you can see Fantasyland's expansion construction, Dumbo, Pooh, Space Mountain and the Seven Dwarfs shop.

One thing I had to do was say my goodbyes to Snow White's Scary Adventures.

I had experienced the original version of this ride, but not the 1994 upgrade.

The Witch played an important role in this attraction. Originally, Snow White was not even featured during the ride.

The version I remember was very dark. I think they really improved the experience.

I love the mural at the load station.

While waiting in line at Snow White's Scary Adventures, I got a picture of something you won't see much longer.

Here we see the Dumbo ride in front of the Beast's castle (the under-construction Be Our Guest Restaurant) taken from Snow White's Scary Adventures. Dumbo will soon move over near the Tomorrowland Speedway, and Snow White's Scary Adventures will become the location for a Princess Meet and Greet.

The line is moving quickly, and it's almost time to ride. Of all the Fantasyland dark rides, this line moved the fastest.
Before you board, you get a little preview of the ride, as the vehicles pass the Wishing Well.

After you board the vehicle, which moves rather quickly, you see Snow White.

The vehicles crash through some doors and enter the dark ride portion of this attraction, which is tough to photograph.

It's easy to get a picture at the end.

Dopey waves goodbye.

I'll miss you, Snow White's Scary Adventures!

Fantasyland had some nice pressed pennies of Snow White and two Dwarfs.

Snow White also has a gift shop, the Seven Dwarfs Mine.

Was this always the name of this shop? In a few years, Fantasyland visitors will get to ride a new Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Coaster which will be located near this shop.

While in Fantasyland, I also visited Mickey's Philharmagic 3D film.

There was no time for the Tea Cups, but I had to get a pin of the Dormouse.

This character is in the middle of the action at Walt Disney World's Mad Tea Party.

Up next was Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. The wait time for this was not bad. The new games installed in the queue line seem to be well received.

Then it was on to Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin. My score was decent for once.

I look so serious here. I'm concentrating!

It was now time for Disney's Electrical Parade. I watched this from the Adventureland side of the Hub.

This is actually Disneyland's Electrical Parade, which was refurbished for Disney's California Adventure. Missing was the Dumbo's Circus segment.

When Pete's Dragon appeared, I heard several people in their twenties ask if Elliot was Puff the Magic Dragon or Mushu from Mulan. I had to tell them who he was. On this trip, I got a Hasbro Disneyland/Walt Disney World Park Series 10 Collector Pack. I felt the figures in the bag, and got a pack with Elliott, Summit Plummet (from Blizzard Beach), and the Expedition Everest coaster train. The Elliot Electrical Parade pin is from my 2008 visit to the Disneyland Resort, though I did see one for sale this time at Walt Disney World.

Here is part of the Pleasure Island Pinocchio unit of the Parade in front of Cinderella Castle, headed towards Liberty Square. I don't think this segment was in Florida's original Electrical Parade.
To finish off the day, I had an Orange/Vanilla Swirl Dole Whip at Aloha Isle in Adventureland. So tasty, and maybe the only thirst-quenching ice cream I've had.

Since Friday was going to be a big day, it was time to leave. I would return to the Magic Kingdom on Sunday, August 28th.

Up next: I'm off to see the British wizard!


  1. Dan, what a terrific trip report (and historical info)! I visited last March and basically walked the same footsteps as you. Your pics of the Snow White window displays remind that I still have some posts to do from that visit.

    I ate upstairs for the first time too at Pinocchio's Village Haus. Shot video of the SWSA facade from there also (but that was before the construction walls were placed where they are now). Glad you got to ride SWSA before it goes away. I don't care what some folks say...I still feel it's an awesome ride and wish it wasn't being closed.

    Looking forward to hearing about your experience with Harry, Hermione and Ron.

  2. Thanks, A Snow White Sanctum! I guess great minds think alike.

    I agree with you---Snow White's Scary Adventures is awesome and shouldn't be closed. I think Florida's version is better than the one in Disneyland in California.

  3. I am going to Disney World this week! I am so excited! I love those old toys! My cousins and siblings had thoughs. They even had a giant Pluto and Pooh! I doubt I can afford, or would be able to bring one back. LOL.

  4. DinosaurPrince: I know you'll have a great time! I did not have any of the Seventies Walt Disney World plush toys, but one of my neighbors had a smaller version of 70s Pluto (I really wanted that!). Have fun on your trip!

  5. Excellent trip report, Dan! I love the comedy and tragedy Mickey pin from the MM Revue...and also that magnetic map from 1971.

    Darn those early WDW guests that complained about the absence of POTC. If they had kept their mouths shut, the park might have gotten the Western River Expedition. Instead it got an abbreviated version of POTC. Too bad. :-(

    I'm glad you were able to see and photograph the Snow White attraction before it's gone. I do wish it could stay and coexist with the new Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride.

    Thanks for sharing your trip and your photos with us! I'm looking forward to hearing (and seeing) more from your trip.

  6. Thanks, TokyoMagic!

    Maybe Disney could make a movie based on Western River Expedition, then the Magic Kingdom might finally get the ride.

    I agree with you about Snow White. If Disneyland in California can have a mini-Alice in Wonderland "land", Florida should be able to have a Snow White mini land with the Mine Train and Scary Adventures, too. It sounds like the Mine Train will be a totally different experience.

  7. Dan, I have thought that exact same thing about a Western River Expedition "movie"....it's probably the ONLY way they would ever build that attraction. And of course the movie would have to be a success. And Johnny Depp would have to be starring in it.....along with animated Pixar characters.

  8. TokyoMagic!: I almost wrote "Disney could make a movie based on Western River Expedition starring Johnny Depp"---but I thought they wouldn't do another ride with a Johnny Depp character. But I bet they would!