Welcome to Dateline Disney World! This week, we saw more movement on the New Fantasyland project, Big Thunder Mountain reopening, and lots of little things going on at the Magic Kingdom. We also saw the closing of a classic dark ride. Over at Epcot, there are lots of little things to report on as well. We've got around 100 photos to get to this week, so let's get started!

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Inside Dateline Disney World</center>
  • Magic Kingdom
    • Main Street Refurbishments
    • Fantasyland: Farewell to Snow White, More trees, Details popping up
    • Big Thunder reopens, lots of tidbits
  • Epcot
    • Epcot looking bare after the end of F&G
    • Phineas and Ferb, Brave, and more tidbits
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios
    • Fun Star Wars Weekends Advertisments
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Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!!



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Mending Main Street
A Scary Farewell
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This week saw the closing of Snow White's Scary Adventures at 40+ years of operation at the Magic Kingdom. Here is a little photo tour/tribute to the attraction!









Even on its next to last day of operation, it had posted 40 minute waits!













The loading area of the attraction:













The ride vehicle:



And some shots from on the ride. This was one of my favorites to photograph because the ultra dark environment made for a big challenge in nailing the shots.



















Who knows what will happen to the Seven Dwarfs Mine gift shop?



My guess is that it will stay since the Mine Train ride will be right across the way, but we will probably see next week when walls go up!



I am really quite saddened by the closing of this attraction. It was a quaint and charming Fantasyland dark ride that has been open since Day 1 all the way back in 1971. The fact that it is being closed to make way for a meet and greet is the real salt on the wound, too. While I understand the need for meet and greets, I dislike them, and it could have very easily been put in the New Fantasyland or kept solely at the Town Square Theater on Main Street. Here's to hoping the new Mine Train roller coaster is a worthwhile replacement to this Magic Kingdom classic!

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Construction Kingdom
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Lots of news to report on in the New Fantasyland this week, in particular over in Storybook Circus. The 2nd Dumbo spinner was testing when I was there this week!



It was a little odd that they were only letting the elephants go up to about the height of the construction walls, but it was good to see progression knowing that we are getting closer and closer to the targeted July opening.



Over at the Casey Jr. water play area, Disney has installed trees!





This comes as a nice surprise, as I thought this area was not tapped to have much foliage, and it looks great.











Disney has continually kept my hopes high and my interest in this Fantasyland project, and the addition of more and more foliage makes me very happy.

Over at the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, there hasn't been much more vertical construction, but I noticed more supports going down on an angle. They are the grey color, which means they should be for the hills that surround the attraction.



The new meet and greet area for Pooh and Tigger has been taking forever, but has showed signs of progress this week.



I'm pretty confident that all of the scaffolding is down on Prince Eric's castle at the Little Mermaid attraction:



Work continues on the Castle Wall that will divide old and new Fantasyland.





These shots are from the second floor balcony of Pinnochio Village Haus:











At the Beauty and the Beast area, work continues on Maurice's Cottage:



Detail on Gaston's Tavern is becoming more obvious:



And roofing has started to be installed on Bonjour! Village Gifts:



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This and That
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Big Thunder Mountain reopened over the past week with lots of effects working again, and lots of aesthetic upgrades.







It's nice to see water effects happening all around the mountain now:



All of the geysers are working now, and they've also received a new brighter color paint, and they pop quite a bit more than they used to.



Sadly, during the time I was in the park this week, I checked on Thunder Mountain three times to ride it and check out the changes to the queue, but the ride was down for technical difficulties every single time. Not a good sign for an attraction that just came back online after almost six months of refurbishment. And hopefully something that will be taken care of with the summer crowds coming in.

Speaking of the summer crowds, they are starting to come in at full force.



You know things are tight when the CM has to walk around with this sign!



To go along with the crowds, I noticed something I really did not like in Fantasyland. They've set up stroller parking right smack dab in front of its a small world.



I understand that families that have strollers need a place to park them, but this should not be it. It takes up literally half of the walkway in between iasw and Peter Pan's Flight, which was tight already. It becomes a crazy bottleneck, and will be even worse during the summer months unless something gets changed.

There was some concern on Disney fan forums this week about the Pet Cemetery not being at the Haunted Mansion exit anymore. Rest assured, they are still there, and Mr. Toad is still in the Kingdom!



Over in Tomorrowland, there are some walls up near Stitch's Great Escape.



It probably has nothing to do with the attraction, but we can only hope they're evicting Stitch and putting something worthwhile there!

Construction is moving at a feverish pace on the new DVC wing of the Grand Floridian:







Every time I ride by on the monorail, there is something new going on there, it's really moving along.

While at the TTC, i noticed these great advertisements for Star Wars Weekends:





I love seeing creative and funny advertising around the resort. Now let's head on the monorail to Epcot!

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Welcome to Epcot!



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No More Flowers
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The Flower and Garden Festival is now gone, and there are only certain pieces of it left, as seen here:



Almost all the topiaries are gone, and there are lots of bare patches and pathways that are blocked off throughout the park:







It looks so bare, and it makes me miss Flower and Garden immediately!







But, there are some spots where the flowers are gone and it still looks wonderfully beautiful.



I was VERY glad to see the Cars topiaries gone from Japan. The area looks much cleaner now.



And of course, Spaceship Earth always looks great, and it was nice to see the focus of the central plaza put back on the geodesic sphere:





If you miss the Flower and Garden Festival like I do, I suggest checking out my other site, Disney Photography Blog's new eBook, Epcot in Bloom: The 2012 International Flower and Garden Festival. It is an instant PDF download you can read on your iPad, iPhone, Kindle, Nook, Computer, or any other mobile device. It has over 100 photos of the highest quality along with fun facts and photo tips. And as a Dateline Disney World reader, you can get a 20% discount by using the coupon code DATELINE at checkout. So check it out!

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This and That
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Kim Possible is now closed to make way for Phineas and Ferb and walls are up and Cast Members are out to deflect guests who go near the areas:





These CMs had a bunch of pins to trade to those looking to play Kim Possible.



A new Brave sand sculpture is up and behind it construction was wrapping up for The Highland Games tournament that will run from today until July 8th.





They are pushing this movie to the moon, and I think it will be a big money maker for Disney.

We have had drought conditions in the central Florida area, so some of the fountains have had to be turned off in the parks.



It is sad to see as it makes the show quality less, but laws are laws, and we have to deal with it.

The Sounds Like Summer Concert Series acts are now listed outside of the America Gardens Theater.



There has been some arguing on the internet when it comes to the state of the Morocco pavilion, particularly the Fez House.



Some say the show quality is declining and that Disney is doing nothing about it.



And some say that the way it is designed is rich to Moroccan culture in that only God is infallible and nothing can be perfect unless God made it.



I'm not entirely sure which side to lean towards, as there are cases for both. Let us know in the comments what you think! Personally, I don't think Disney stuck to the theme entirely when they put this "Made in China" sticker on the tiling



Walls are up on Norway at the Maelstrom attraction:



The ride is still open though, and commanding lines as it normally does as the ride in World Showcase that has the longest lines.



On a final note, can these things just come down already so we can get a clean view of Spaceship Earth? I mean, really, it's about time.



Well, that's going to wrap it up for this week's Dateline. Lots going on. Are you upset that Snow White is closed in favor of a meet and greet? What are your thoughts on the show standards in Morocco? Have you been on Big Thunder Mountain since it reopened? Let us know in the comments!!

If you enjoy the column, especially the photos, and you want to check out more photos and tutorials on Disney photography, please check out my other website, Disney Photography Blog. And if you like listening more than reading, you can hear us talk about Disney and photography on my podcast, ISO5571.

Don't forget to visit some of the other great content here on MiceChat, like Dateline Disneyland and Orlando Parkhopper. You can find all of our featured columns by visiting the front page at MiceChat.com.

Thanks for reading this edition of Dateline Disney World. We hope you enjoyed it, and we hope you'll check back every Friday for more WDW news and photos!

-Cory