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Will Liberty Square bridge repairs actually force the Mouse to reroute the Magic Kingdom's parades?

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Will Liberty Square bridge repairs actually force the Mouse to reroute the Magic Kingdom's parades?

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It was supposed to be one of the more authentic touches found in the Liberty Square section of WDW's Magic Kingdom. A recreation of Concord Bridge ...

Copyright 1969 Walt Disney Productions. All Rights Reserved

... AKA the Old North Bridge. Where -- on the morning of April 19, 1775 -- 300 to 400 colonials faced down 700 British troops. And according to Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn":

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled;
Here once the embattled farmers stood;
And fired the shot heard round the world.

 Copyright 1999 Minute Man National Historic Park. All Rights Reserved

Unfortunately, within just a few years of Disney World's grand opening, the Magic Kingdom's version of Concord Bridge had to be retooled. Mostly because the floats that had been built for "America on Parade" just couldn't handle the curved shape of this Liberty Square structure.

Copyright 1975 Walt Disney Productions. Alll Rights Reserved

So here we are -- some 33 years later -- and once again the bridge leading into Liberty Square is causing concerns for the folks who run parades through the Magic Kingdom.

 Photo by Max Schilling

So what's the problem? To be honest, this bridge is really showing its age. And during a recent safety inspection, Reedy Creek officials weren't happy with what they saw.

Photo by Max Schilling

Which is why they quickly threw some jacks & braces under this structure to stabilize it ...

 Photo by Max Schilling

... And during third shift, Disney has been setting up worklights and sending workmen under the Liberty Square bridge in an effort to make repairs. (In the photo below, you can actually see the temporary walkway that's been set up for the construction crew. Which allows them to safely reach the worksite without first tumbling into the moat).

Photo by Max Schilling

But then each morning -- after the crew has completed their work -- the safety inspector returns and checks that night's repairs. As he then attempts to determine if the bridge is indeed strong & stable enough to handle that day's load of traffic.

 Photo by Max Schilling

"And what if it's not strong enough?," you ask. Well, according to the emergency plan that Magic Kingdom management just put in place, long before that theme park would actually open for the day, the Liberty Square bridge would be completely blocked off. Barricades that would prevent any guest from gaining access to this unstable structure would quickly be thrown in place. And WDW visitors who wished to enter Liberty Square would then be directed into that part of the park via Adventureland or Fantasyland.

"But if the Liberty Square bridge gets shut down, what happens with SpectroMagic & the Disney Dreams Come True parades?," Well, that's when things get really interesting.

Given that both of these parades make use of the Liberty Square bridge as they travel from Frontierland to Main Street U.S.A. ... If that structure ever has to be shut down for safety concerns and/or so Mickey can make repairs, that means that Spectro & Dreams Come True will have to be rerouted. At least temporarily.

Which is why last week, Magic Kingdom officials ran a test. At 3 o'clock in the morning, they took three of the largest parade units (Among them was the Pirate ship from Mickey's Pirates & Princesses Party) and drove them up Main Street. Only instead of driving around the Hub and then heading over the Liberty Square bridge ... Halfway 'round the Hub, these units headed over the bridge between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland and then exited behind Mickey's Toontown Fair.

Obviously, there were concerns about clearance. Particularly around the Mad Tea Party. But that's why Magic Kingdom management had some guys from WDW's horticultural department on hand for this after-hours test. Just in case some tree branches needed to be trimmed back before those parade units could then pass on through.

But those three floats actually did make it from Main Street U.S.A. to Mickey's Toontown Fair without a single ding or scratch. So now WDW officials know that -- if they really have to -- they can safely run a parade along this temporary route.

Mind you, Disney will only do this (i.e. The rerouting of SpectroMagic and Disney Dreams Come True) if they absolutely have to. And even then -- given that they'll need a place to store those floats once the parades are over ... Well, as I understand it, Magic Kingdom officials won't even consider doing this 'til sometime after next week. Which is when Reedy Creek Emergency Services will be shutting down WDW's 1st fire station (Which is located out behind that theme park along World Drive) ...

 Photo by Jeff Lange

... and then shifting all of its equipment over to the resort's newest fire station (Which is also located on World Drive. Only this structure has built out behind Frontierland near the Grand Floridian Resort Hotel & Spa) ...

Photo by Jeff Lange

Once all of Reedy Creek's equipment has been cleared out of that old fire station, the folks who run the parades at the Magic Kingdom could (in theory, anyway) use this now-empty structure as a temporary base of operations. With that building's massive garage providing protective cover for at least some of the smaller floats.

But we're talking contingency plans here, people. Stuff that the Magic Kingdom will do only if it's forced to. For now, WDW executives are just hoping that all of the repairs that need to be done to the Liberty Square bridge can be done on third shift.

And if not ... Well, I guess Disney will cross that bridge when it comes to it.

(Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Your thoughts?

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  • Interesting article, I've been walking over this bridge for years and I'd never stopped and taken a good look at the theming.  I had no idea that it was based on an actual historical bridge.  Thanks again for drawing our attention to the details.

    In terms of the parade, getting the floats along the new route is just one thing.  Managing the crowd flow / cast members during the parade is another massive job that needs considering.  How would they practice this?

  • My thoughts? You want my thoughts?

    My thoughts are .... if WDW management wasn't so disgustingly cheap and would actually (GASP!) MAINTAIN the parks in the manner they deserve to be maintained, we wouldn't have bridges that are a serious safety risk to guests and might have to be shut down.

    In fact, I find this entire story disturbing. You mean I've been wheeling my kids over a bridge in DISNEY WORLD that's a safety hazard and could have collapsed out from under us at any time??

    Nice ... hope you put aside the extra nickels you saved from skimping on maintenance all these years. You're going to need them to pay off all the people who sue the shorts off you after you dump them in the Castle moat!

  • Uh, no, Pickstar, that's why the bridge is being inspected every night -- so that guests aren't going to be dumped in the castle moat.

  • Interesting. They sure are taking their time fixing this. I was there in September 2007, and noticed the temporary supports they had put in place. It looked rather scary considering as many as they had put in there. But, then I didn't even think about it being used by the parade floats.

    Makes me wonder, what exactly the issue is with the bridge. It would appear that the main supports are sinking, because they didn't really appear dilapidated.

  • LtPowers said:

    "Uh, no, Pickstar, that's why the bridge is being inspected every night -- so that guests aren't going to be dumped in the castle moat."

    Yeah, it is NOW after they discovered the thing was structurally unsound!! That's closing the barn door after the horse is gone.

    And I think by now we've all learned that "inspecting" things is no way to ensure people don't get hurt. That bridge that collapsed in Minnesota a few years ago had been "inspected" a bunch of times ... how'd that work out??

  • How many Hannah Montana make overs will it take to raise the money to fix the bridge?

  • What does this do for their "security and safety" system?  Remember them "pucks" that  were put in the concrete so that each float can be monitored and all floats stopped if one stops or veers off course?

  • Pickstar:

    Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? You make some of the Pixar-whiners around here look pretty upbeat.

  • Priesman said:


    Did you get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? You make some of the Pixar-whiners around here look pretty upbeat."

    What, exactly, does that mean? What does this have to do with Pixar? I hardly think it's being "whiny" to expect Disney to actually maintain a base level of safety in their parks.

  • On a non-safety-related front...

    I've always thought it was dumb to run these fantasy-based parades through Frontierland/Liberty Square.   They should just reroute these things Fantasyland permanently.

    ' Bird


  • Why don't they just like, you know, fix the bridge?   lol   Surely it doesn't take that long to close and fix/renovate the bridge?

  • You're telling me that the corporation that built Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, and the Tower of Terror can't come up with the time, the money, or the manpower to fix a wooden bridge?  A Bridge that doesn't really appear to be that long, or tall, or wide?

    This is a task that should take HOURS. Not days, weeks, or months.

    Puh - leese. Is this really news?  Is the re-routing of a parade truly information that people other that those actually visting the park that day need to know. Did you all know that sometimes fireworks are canceled due to wind? ...

    If its that much of a problem... I say replace it with a steel replica. ... OVERNIGHT. Problem solved.

  • Oh yeah ... and don't tell me that they need to keep that bridge for some kind of nostagic or historical significance. I'm still wondering when they are going to put "Great Momments with Mr Lincoln" back where it goes in California.

  • Years of neglect thankfully  in Anaheim Greg emmer did a good job of mantaining attractioins and buildings.. Hopefully orlando will get some sense knocked into them

  • I was just there last week.  I was confused why we didn't see any float parades go through the park.  They did two "Family celebration parades" that basically involved a marching band and cast members getting guests to participate (it was nice).  Now I understand why they didn't have the float parades.  They must be holding them off until they get this work finished.

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