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Will the Liberty Square bridge repairs lead to an abridged version of Disney's "Dreams Come True" parade ?

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Will the Liberty Square bridge repairs lead to an abridged version of Disney's "Dreams Come True" parade ?

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Remember those proposed Liberty Square bridge repairs that I wrote about last month? Well, Magic Kingdom management has finally decided to go ahead with this construction project. Which is why they filed the necessary permits last Tuesday.

"So what happens now?," you ask. "Given the huge number of people that typically visit Disney World during June, July and August ... Well, that must mean that this Liberty Square bridge repair project is going to get underway immediately. So that the Magic Kingdom can then be ready to handle the summer crowds. Right?"

Not exactly. You see, WDW officials want most of this repair work to be done during third shift (So that the construction noise won't then have a negative impact on all those guests who'll be visiting this theme park during the day) ... More importantly, given that the Magic Kingdom has 13 nights of "Mickey's Pirate & Princess Party" scheduled from April 1st through June 4th ... Well, that really complicates this already incredibly complex situation.

To explain: On nights when the Magic Kingdom is open 'til midnight for one of these hard ticket events, that typically means that the very last guest isn't swept from the park 'til 1 a.m. And then when you factor in all of those days where cast members actually have to start cycling Fantasyland & Tomorrowland attractions at 7 a.m. Just so these rides will then be ready for all the resort guests who show up at the Magic Kingdom at 8 a.m. to take advantage of "Extra Magic Hours" ... That only leaves 6 hours during third shift during which any significant repairs can be made to the Liberty Square bridge. Which isn't nearly enough time.

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

And then when you consider the tens of thousands of people who'll cram into the Magic Kingdom on July 4th to experience Independence Day inside of that theme park ... To have the Liberty Square Bridge out of commission over that holiday could be disastrous. At least from a guest-flow point of view.

Which is why (according to my sources, anyway) Disney's going to attempt to get all of this repair work done from the second week of July through the first week of August. So that the Liberty Square bridge can then be back in place just in time for all those after-hours rehearsals for this year's "Boo-to-You" Halloween parade.

And speaking of parades ... Remember that after-hour test that was held at the Magic Kingdom last month? The one where WDW managers took the three biggest floats from Disney's "Dreams Come True" parade and then ran them through that theme park at 3 a.m. Just to see if it would actually be possible for these units to follow a new parade route through the Kingdom. Instead of driving around the Hub and then heading into Frontierland via the Liberty Square bridge, this floats hung a right at that bridge between Fantasyland & Tomorrowland and then exited this theme park through the Mickey's Toontown Fair gate.

Well, now that Magic Kingdom management knows that it's possible for these units to safely travel along with this alternate parade route, their main concern is the lack of suitable storage space out behind Mickey's Toontown Fair. Meaning that -- after they'd exited the theme park -- these floats would then have to sit outside, exposed to the elements for hours. Baking in the hot Orlando sun and / or being soaked by those torrential Central Florida rains.

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

And then when you consider that these units couldn't be moved back to the Magic Kingdom's float storage barns until after the very last guest had left that theme park for the night ... Which meant that the MK janitorial staff would have had to stay off the streets until those parade floats had been driven back through that theme park and then exited via the gate next to the Main Street firehouse ... You're talking about this Liberty Square bridge repair having quite an impact on the Operational side of things at the Magic Kingdom.

Which is why just last week, Magic Kingdom managers held another after-hours test at that park. This time around, they sent all of the "Dreams Come True" units -- except for the Castle float -- up Main Street and then had them park one by one in the Hub. And with that last unit dropped from the batting order, Disney's "Dreams Come True" parade actually fit into this space.

Which is why -- for several weeks during the Summer of 2008 -- Magic Kingdom guests may get to see a very unusual sight. In that the "Dreams Come True" parade could enter that theme park via the Firehouse gate, circle 'round the Plaza, drive up Main Street, circle the Hub, drive back down Main Street, circle 'round the Plaza again and exit via the Firehouse gate.

Mind you, given that "SpectroMagic" is almost three times as long as Disney's "Dreams Come True" parade is ... Well, that would mean that the Magic Kingdom wouldn't be able to run that nighttime parade while the Liberty Square bridge was being repaired. And running "Dreams Come True" back through that theme park at night really isn't an option. Given that the floats featured in this daytime parade don't feature any external lighting.

Copyright 2008 Disney. All Rights Reserved

Now keep in mind that this is the Mouse House that we're talking about here ... Which means that -- this time next week -- there could be an entirely different plan in place as to how the Magic Kingdom will be handling the Liberty Square bridge repair work. But as of right now, it looks like the bulk of this after-hours construction work will be done in mid-July and early August. So please take that info into consideration if you're planning on visiting WDW this summer.

Speaking of the Liberty Square bridge ... After that last story ran on JHM, there were a number of readers who wrote in to me, asking if it was still safe for their families to cross this Magic Kingdom structure. Let's let one company insider -- who I'll call Bok -- have the last word here:

"To make sure that the Liberty Square bridge will stay up until all of these repairs are completed, Disney's engineers have really over-compensated. Right now, there's so much wood and bracing under that bridge, Godzilla himself could jump up & down on the thing and it wouldn't fall down.

So tell your readers not to worry. As of right now, the Liberty Square bridge is probably the safest thing on all of property."

Sooo ... Any comments on this new Magic Kingdom contingency plans? Which will (in theory, anyway) allow that theme park to run an abridged version of Disney's "Dreams Come True" parade this summer while the Liberty Square bridge is being repaired.

Your thoughts?

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  • Really the floats are great and all but why not just use the Stars and Motorcars Parade or just have a parade with characters and add a bunch of characters we rarely see like Hercules and Mulan and have a floatless parade?  That way you don't have to worry so much about routes and space for housing floats and guests get something different and unique to talk about.  They seem determined to make this a nightmare when it could be an opportunity.

  • While I would agree with going floatless...well...I imagine visibility is a huge concern.

    Let's imagine that everyone at the front of the crowd is sitting on the curb.  Behind them would be a line of people standing.  Behind them...well...more people standing without any further elevation.  And without that further elevation, there might be problems seeing something that isn't elevated above the crowd level.

    Add to that the tendency to want autographs and pictures...and what started as having characters stroll down Main Street could quickly become chaotic.

    Could they possibly use the Main Street Vehicles for a parade?  Would these provide enough visibility?  And also, if you put different characters on both sides of the vehicles, you'd essentially get to see something different as it made its way back down Main Street...

  • If the bridge is so stable right now, and can accommodate Godzilla, why are they not running the parade floats over it?  

    Is there any need to change the route?

  • Why not throw up a quick steel building to house these things in behind FL?  If they can make the right turn toward the teacups work, it sure seems like a superior route, from a show perspective.

    When in cyberspace visit http://www.plausible-impossible.com

  • I don't quite get this.  I understand the need to close the bridge and reroute the parade, but to me the solution seems obvious.  Erect a temporary awning over the maintenance road behind Toontown Fair.  Early in the morning, close down Floridian Way (the road that runs behind the MK from the Grand Floridian to N. World Drive) and drive the floats to Toontown.  The parade then leaves Toontown for the hub, and finishes the parade route as normal.  Disney could even skip the awning and just run the floats over in the middle of the day.

  • I agree with Moonliner.  Why is it so difficult to slowly have the parade travel the perimeter road behind the Magic Kingdom?  The only real traffic back there is from cast members and 95% of the public doesnt even know that raod is back there.  Just move the parade from the normal storage facilities to Mickey's Toon Town and run it run Main Street or have the parade run up Main Street and exit Toontown and the return them to their regular storage facilities.

    If that's not possible then option number two would be to run the 3 o'clock and then run the parade back down Main Street at 6 o'clock.  This would be especially beneficial if they can not run the SpectroMagic Parade as Jim suggests may happen.  It's summer, there will be enough daylight until at least til 8 o'clock, and the temporary parade route to Toontown will be considerably shorter so this will give more people an opportunity to see the parade.

    Additionally, outside the timing of the music, why can't an abbreviated version of SpectroMagic be run around the hub and back down Main Street instead of stacking everything up around the hub in order to run the whole parade?

    What do any and all of these options mean logicistically?  Are there sensors embedded in the alternatate parade route and are there speakers out by the Tea Cups so that guests can hear the parades soundtrack?

  • I'm just glad to here that they are willing to do this work at night. That in itself is a change from past practices when they wouldn't want to pay the overtime. Sure there's problems, but they'll find a way to work around them.

  • I still don't understand why, with careful planning and serious prefabrication, this renovation should take as long and be as disruptive as it seems it will be. I also do not know why if the bracing is as strong as the insider claims there is such a rush to do this during PEAK summer season instead of waiting for lesser crowds and holiday periods to do the work and/or why it wasn't done during the January doldrums. This isn't about engineering--its about management. Its all well and good for the entertainment/parade types to try all these various schemes out when faced with a problem, but why are they faced with it in the first place? As for those "pay no attention to that bracing behind the curtain" comments....I'll bet the folks at Southwest said that just before the FAA made them ground 30-some-odd planes for lack of inspection. Methinks they dost protest too much....and that if they're in this much of a hurry to fix the bridge that they're willing to do it in the MOST disruptive time of the year it is far worse than they're letting on.

  • My thoughts exactly, JohnWayne.  The urgency that is being placed on this project says it all.  Why not just do the repairs in late August/September/Early October? If repairs take too long, they could always re-route the Halloween parade instead of attempting to justify repairs during summer by saying it needs to be ready for the Halloween parade. The Boo-To-You parade would make more sense running through Toontown anyway with the amount of kids and Halloween things going on over there during the party.

    What? Disney is willing to completely cancel one daily parade and make fairly drastic changes to another so that they can practice for a seasonal parade that doesn't even run every night?

    It just doesn't add up.

  • I hope I'm not the only one who's amused by this... because this is EXACTLY how life works at Disneyland. There backstage access road is not accessible for parade floats because of the Monorail and train tracks, so on a one-parade day, the floats ALWAYS have to stay parked in the open until the park clears. DCA and the WDW parks don't have the same problem (I assume they opened Disneyland and realized "oh crap, we should have done x-y-z!"), but it's something we deal with every day out here.

    And we actually DID the turn-around-the-hub-and-drive-back thing for a few days back before the 50th anniversary... they built a giant lap pool down Main Street for an Olympic swimming promo event, and the Parade of the Stars floats came out from Small World, circled around the Hub, and drove back up to Small World. Weird, but it served its purpose just fine. And it was better than having no parade.

    I don't consider cutting the Crystal Castle to be "making fairly drastic changes" by any means. That thing has been around for decades, and it's either A) time for a makeover so it doesn't look like the tired old crystal castle or B) time to make a new castle float entirely!

    Oh wait, it's time for a new PARADE! We thought we had it bad with Parade of the Stars sticking around for five years, but I can't fathom having to live with the snowglobes (or lack thereof) for even longer! Sheesh.

  • TweedlDum9...yes, but...the difference in weather is the issue. WDW's semi-regular afternoon monsoons and the general humidity of their version of sunshine can play hell with float frills and colors. At Disneyland that's usually not much of an issue (though I speak as somebody who was in the park on that fateful day when a hailstorm shut down the skyride buckets and the Anaheim Fire Dept. had to come in with a hook and ladder and cherrypick the guests out of them one by one.)

  • It is truly amazing how complex it all seems just because of a Little bridge repair. Surely, they can come up with temporary fixes to what seems a minor problem in the scale of things. Everyone has hit on ideas here. The down time inconveinence to the Guests appears minimal so what are they worried about.  What happened to all of Disney's great engineers and thinkers? Reroute and simplify during the smallest window of time posible.

  • Why not do two parades a day?

  • I have to side with Disney on at least one point here. If ANYTHING is wrong with the bridge, I for one, am glad they shut it down.


    Because of the incredibly sue-happy mentality of the public these days it is is Disney's best interest to shut it down until it's fixed.

    If someone can sue because their coffee was actually hot, then can you imagine if someone got a splinter from a Disneyland bridge? Heck, if someone heard a creak when they stepped on a plank I'm sure they could sue because they 'felt' endangered.

    And I find it sad and trivial that we are actually debating and questioning a parade ROUTE!!!

    We Disney fans must have it real good when we can spend time debating that path that a PARADE takes. Or WHEN they should (in our uninformed opinion) do repair work.

    Thanks TweedlDum9 for an INFORMED opinion.

  • What I find amazing is the fact that Jim thinks this bridge is worth not just one story, but two.

    With all the other INTERESTING things he could be writing about (Spaceship Earth rehab, Disney building residential homes on WDW property, the Disney Stores being sold back to Disney) we get two stories on a bridge.

    Seriously ... this is pathetic ...

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