Now that we’ve had the opportunity to step foot inside Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom before both parks officially reopen on July 11th, we’ve been processing everything sight, sound, and smell we’ve just experienced for the first time in many months!
And now that we’ve had some time to let everything sink in, we’re here to tell you about the top three things that really shocked us!
There’s IS Such a Thing as Being Too Early
While many of us are used to arriving at the Disney World theme parks WELL before they officially open so we can park and get to the gates in time for rope drop, we might’ve jumped the gun a bit yesterday!
We were following our pre-closure routine of hopping in our cars and driving to theme parks early thinking we’d be allowed in. But when we arrived at Magic Kingdom around 7:45AM yesterday (the park had a 9AM open), there was a big ol’ traffic jam at the park. It seems we weren’t the only ones who had the same bright idea of gettin’ an early jump on the day!
Many people ended up waiting on the sides of the road or in the McDonald’s parking lot (if heading to Animal Kingdom) because Disney wasn’t even allowing guests to sit and wait in the parking lot. Disney is really trying to avoid crowding, so you may not get into the parking lot of in front of the entrances as early as you’re used to.
We’ll check back in and let you know what transportation is like at Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s official reopening tomorrow, but for now, even though it goes against almost everything you know about Disney World (and is probably deeply embedded in the fiber of your being), you might want to plan on arriving much closer to the park’s opening time.
We were allowed into the parking lots at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom both about half an hour before park opening. With the theme parks operating at a significantly reduced capacity, you don’t need to hold onto your “beat the rush” mentality for the time being — there’s not going to be as much of a rush to beat! Instead, you might get stuck like we did IN the morning rush, but if you wait just a little bit, you’ll have a much easier time arriving at the parks. From what we’ve experienced so far, once you’re inside, you should still have plenty of time to enjoy everything with significantly shorter wait times in most cases!
Check out all the different types of transportation we used to get around yesterday at Disney World!
Splash Mountain Mania
While we never waited more than a few minutes to ride anything this week at Magic Kingdom or Disney’s Animal Kingdom, including some big-name stuff such as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Space Mountain, and Flight of Passage, the same can’t be said for Splash Mountain — or rather, it’s gift shop.
The demand to go inside the Splash Mountain store yesterday was so high that the virtual queue was activated and it was over a 24o minute wait when we checked! So, if you’re looking to snag some Splash merchandise, you may want to make it one of your first stops.
Ever since Disney announced its plans to retheme Splash Mountain with a new storyline and characters from The Princess and The Frog, people are adamant about enjoying this original version of the attraction one last time. Don’t worry — Disney hasn’t announced when Splash Mountain will be closing for refurbishment, but a lot of guests aren’t taking any chances!
We’re actually really curious to see if the Splash Mountain store’s virtual queue will surpass Rise of the Resistance’s wait time when Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopens next week! 😉 Initially, Disney had announced a virtual queue for the Rise of the Resistance would not be returning. However, it appears they’ve changed their mind, and they will, in fact, be reinstating a modified virtual queue for Rise of the Resistance after all.
One of the biggest changes we’re still wrapping our brains has nothing to do with enhanced safety measures like physical distancing or wearing a face mask all day. For us, having Cinderella Castle look so different is going to take some getting used to. While it’s still totally recognizable, and regal, and STUNNING — it’s pretty jarring when you first experience it in person! And depending on the time of day it is, the light strikes it differently and it can appear very, VERY pink!
We’ll see over time how we feel about the change, but as polarizing as Cinderella Castle’s new look might be, we were pretty thrilled to witness this little part of its history yesterday. Disney’s scenic painters were working on the castle as we walked by and we noticed some huge hand-painted numbers were written on each of the bricks!
Normally, Disney would never let such a behind-the-scenes moment like this slide, but since they’ve promised to keep the castle uncovered during its refurbishment and they appeared to be working frantically to finish the castle (maybe even in time for this weekend?), they showed us a peek of their process!
Now we know how THEY KNOW what shade of gray paint to use for each brick. Cinderella Castle was literally a giant paint-by-number painting yesterday!
We’ll be attending the grand reopening of Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kindom tomorrow so we’ll let you know whether the paint-by-numbers have been covered up — or not! Until then, check out some of the new Character Cavalcades and entertainment offerings we’ve already experienced at Disney World here!
On a quest to quench your thirst? Find out where to find water in a newly-reopened Disney World here!
Did you attend either of the Annual Passholder previews this week at Disney World? Tell us what surprised you the most in the comments below!