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Characters come to the rescue at the Magic Kingdom

Jim Hill

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Characters come to the rescue at the Magic Kingdom

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Here on the Web, we just love to complain about what the Walt Disney Company does wrong. Particularly when it comes to corner-cutting at the Parks.

But today ... Well, I thought that we might try and do something different. Which is talk about a time when the Mouse actually had the opportunity to cheap out ... but opted instead to spend more money than was necessary in order to provide a better Guest experience to those folks who recently visited the Magic Kingdom.

 
Work continued earlier this week on the Fantasyland side of this span

Case in point: The work that was being done earlier this month on the Liberty Square bridge. These all-too-necessary repairs really threw a monkey wrench into the daily operation of that theme park. Forcing the rerouting of foot traffic through the Magic Kingdom. Not to mention the cancellation of the twice-nightly presentation of "SpectroMagic."

Which obviously had a significant negative impact on a lot of people's WDW vacations this summer. Which is not the sort of memory that Mickey likes to send people home from Orlando with.


The Magic Kingdom piled on the daytime pyro to make up
for the missing "SpectroMagic"

This is why Disney called in the characters to try & save the day. Realizing that Guests would miss seeing Pluto & his pals as "SpectroMagic" rolled by each night, the Magic Kingdom scheduled extra performances of that theme park's castle show, "Dream-Along With Mickey." The stars of Pixar were also pressed into service with additional daily presentations of "Woody's Cowboy Camp."

This -- in addition to staging extra character meet-n-greets down in the Town Square area in the late afternoon / early evening -- meant that people who visited the Magic Kingdom during the month of August actually got to see more live entertainment, had more opportunities to interact with the characters than the typical WDW Guest did.

 
Minus its Crystal Castle float, the "Disney Dreams Come True"
continued to roll daily through the Magic Kingdom

"But ... But ... But," I hear you sputtering. "What about that truncated version of the 'Disney Dreams Come True' parade? They actually cut one of the larger floats so that this parade would then fit on Main Street U.S.A. Not to mention that quick up-and-down, once-around-the-Hub parade route. So how can you possibly view something like that as being a positive, rather than a negative?"

Okay. I know. That's obviously less show than Magic Kingdom visitors get when they usually visit that theme park. But when you factor in the weeks of after-hours tests & rehearsals, just to make sure than this abbreviated version of the "Disney Dream Come True" parade would actually work. Not to mention the money spent on additional signage in order to help guide Guests around the Liberty Square bridge construction as well as make them aware of the new temporary parade route. You're talking about an awful lot of money that was spent on trying to lessen this project's negative impact for Guests at the WDW Resort.


Signs like this were scattered around the
Magic Kingdom to make Guests aware
of the temporary new parade route

Now this is money that the Mouse didn't have to spend. Given the dozens of rides, shows and attractions that were in perfect working order over the past month, there was still plenty to entertain all those Guests who visited the Magic Kingdom in August.

But Disney World knows that it's always going to be held to a higher standard. More importantly, WDW officials know that people now expect to see a parade whenever they visit the Magic Kingdom, that they count on being able to see the characters whenever they tour that theme park. So if meeting that Guest expectation meant that the Company then has to spend a little extra money on after-hours rehearsals and/or staffing additional Meet-n-Greets during the month of August ... So be it.


Workmen put the finishing touches on the Adventureland side of the Liberty Square bridge

"But why August?," you ask. "Why did Disney have to do the Liberty Square bridge repairwork right at the height of the summer season?"

The answer to this question can be found in the photo posted below. Look closely behind Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy. What do you see draped all over the lower walls of Cinderella Castle?


See those strings of lights hanging directly behind Mickey
& Minnie? That means that Christmas is already on
its way to the Walt Disney World Resort

That's right. Those are the twinkle lights that will be used to help light up this Disney World icon over the holiday season. Even though it's not quite Labor Day yet, the Magic Kingdom is already heavily into prep for this year's Christmas celebration. Which is one of the more popular (more importantly, profitable) times of the year at the WDW Resort.

It's time to face facts, folks. These days, what with "Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party," "Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party" as well as all of the other hard tickets that are now held at the Magic Kingdom, there really aren't all that many slow times of year at this theme park anymore.

 
The abbreviated version of the "Disney Dreams Come True" parade makes its turn
 around the Hub and then retraces its steps down Main Street U.S.A.

Truth be told, Disney really struggled this year to find a time when they could do the Liberty Square bridge repair project. They carefully reviewed the Magic Kingdom's entire operating schedule before they finally settle on one extremely narrow three-week-long window in early August. Which was bracketed on one side by by the busy summer months, pre-sold dates for "Mickey's Pirates & Princess Party" and on the other by those after-hours, in-park rehearsals for "Mickey's Boo-to-You Halloween Parade." Which actually have to get underway by the middle of next week.

I know, I know. Today's article differs significantly in style & tone from the stuff that you typically read here on JHM. But every so often, I think that it's important to recognize that -- while the Walt Disney Company is a corporation that, like every other business out there, likes to turn a profit -- the Mouse still tries to keep Guest expectations in mind. And with situations like this, when the Liberty Square bridge repair project was obviously going to have a negative impact on those folks who visit the Magic Kingdom during the month of August, Disney did everything it could to help mitigate that impact.

 
This way around the Liberty Square construction

So what are your thoughts? Are you happy with what Walt Disney World did to try & lessen the negative impact that the Liberty Square bridge repair project had on the Magic Kingdom? Or do you think that the Mouse should have done something different here? Something that wouldn't have disrupted the vacations of the hundreds of thousands of people who visited WDW this August?

Your thoughts?

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  • I say, thanks for writing a wonderfully positive article! It's something we need a lot more on the net I think, we all love Disney for the extra touches and positive things, so why only talk about bad things?

    The bridge needed to be done some time, so better sooner than later!

  • Kudos to WDW for doing the right thing...

    & kudos to Jim for pointing it out.

    Nice job!

  • I think they did well with this solution.  Thumbs up!

  • The only problem I had with the way Disney handled the bridge repair is that the construction was in plain open view at several times.  Probably couldn't really be avoided but still not Disney look as well.

    My and I spent a day on Main Street and had a wonderful time.  The extra character times helped us get some autographs we were missing like Chip n' Dale's girlfriend and Prince John.  Good times!

  • I enjoyed this little positive tidbit in general, but I wish you would take your readers dislike of the hypothetical, sputtering, perpetually stunned reader that you rely on from time to time in your articles to heart.  It's fine to occasionally use the device of posing a question you think the readers may have in the voice of a reader so that you can then answer it, but no one likes being portrayed as someone so unable to recover from the shock of your latest revelation that he or she cannot start a sentence without first stammering out "But..but..."  The article was fine otherwise, but please show their intelligence and retire Mr. "But...but..." as of now.

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