Hello, and welcome to Dateline DisneyWorld! This week, we will take a look at the ever changing landscape of the New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom, introduce to you a brand new Photo eBook of this year's Flower and Garden Festival, and take a look at the first Star Wars Weekend that happened a week ago at Disney's Hollywood Studios! That said, let's get started at the Magic Kingdom!

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Inside Dateline Disney World</center>
  • Magic Kingdom
    • Main Street Refurbishments
    • Fantasyland expansion: Casey Jr. testing, Trees!, Castle Wall Growing
  • Epcot
    • New Flower and Garden Photo eBook Available
  • Disney's Hollywood Studios
    • Star Wars Weekends Coverage

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Welcome to the Magic Kingdom!

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Mending Main Street

Every week, I head into the park hoping to see some sort of movement with these scrims on Main Street, USA.

Sadly, there has been none! I'm sure that as the summer season gets closer, Disney will feel more under the gun and attempt to get these refurbishments finished. The other night when I was in the park around 12:45AM, you could very clearly hear construction workers doing some heavy duty work on the bakery. Hopefully, they'll be wrapping up soon!

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Construction Kingdom

Every week, things change over at the New Fantasyland. This week, the most change I could find was over at Storybook Circus, so let's start there. This week, the Casey Jr. Water Play Area was testing its water features!

I thought these features would shoot water only, but they also spin in circles. Should be pretty cool to see motion on all angles in this part of the park once this area opens. The area that I used to stand on to take photos over the wall has been replaced, so no more photos of the full area, sadly. But, I could see through the mesh that is where that wall used to be, and they are definitely making rapid movement in getting this attraction done. Very exciting.

Behind the Casey Jr. stuff, a new building was being erected this week by construction crews.

Workers were putting it up in large pieces when I was there this week.

The new building seems to be circular in shape, which sounds a lot like a third circus tent, like was featured in the concept art way back when.

Moving on to the Little Mermaid, I noticed these colors on top of the show building, and they seemed brighter this week than they had before.*

Anyone else feel that way?

More scaffolding keeps moving to make way for the details of Prince Eric's castle:

Notice the "E" on the building in this close up shot:

There was a new crane I hadn't yet noticed in the area this week, but I think it might be for the Snow White ride as opposed to the Little Mermaid.

Speaking of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, there isn't much to report that can be seen with the pesky construction walls in the way, but workers have been there every day doing things.

Right in front of those walls, the repaving project that we reported on last week has wrapped up.

The pavement now goes right along with the theme of Storybook Circus.

Moving right along, the Castle Wall is growing and becoming more and more detailed every week.

I was lucky enough to find the second floor of the Pinnochio Village Haus open, so I ran up to take some photos of the wall from an elevated perspective.

Lots of steel.

Lots of workers and things happening on the ground level.

It's growing fast, and it's nice to see some of the detail go over the steel and plywood.

At the Beauty and the Beast area, I wanted to start with two photos that made me extremely happy.

Now, I'm not sure if these trees have been here for a while or not, but it really hit me this week how much of a difference they make. Really hoping the rest of the expansion follows the lead of this area and is lush and beautiful.*

This one part right to the left of the last two photos caught me off guard.

Hopefully something will be added there to cover up the back of the Be Our Guest restaurant building.

Speaking of Be Our Guest, more detail has shown up at the entrance of the restaurant.

Some other steel structure has popped up right near the entrance. I have no idea what it is, but hopefully we'll see in the coming weeks.

Details (and lightning rods) are becoming more visible at Maurice's Cottage.

Disney has also released a photo from inside this new meet and greet location:

Work also continues on Gaston's Tavern:

Love seeing these trees out there!

Roofwork was being done on Bonjour! Village Gifts this week:

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This and That

The menu changed recently at the Pinnochio Vilage Haus in Fantasyland:

It now features flatbread pizzas, which are significantly better than the infamous "robopizzas" that used to be served here.

The Liberty Belle returned from its refurbishment this week.

It was great to see the boat again, as she gives much needed life to the Rivers of America.

Riding the Liberty Belle also gave some great looks at Big Thunder Mountain, which is scheduled to reopen from refurbishment this weekend.

You can tell they are getting close when water effects are working in the queue again!

Still some caution tape and work being done at what looks to be the handicapped accessible entrance.

Disney has gone in and cleaned up a lot on this attraction during its refurb. The track used to look terrible, and many of the track ties were missing. That is all changed now, and the track looks fantastic.

Disney has also flip-flopped where the standby and Fastpass entrances are:

Very excited to hit up the wildest ride in the wilderness very soon!

Over at the construction behind the Yankee Trader gift shop, things are happening, and look different every week.

No real vertical construction yet, but lots of earth moving, and lots of vehicles prepared to make things happen.

On a final note at the Magic Kingdom, it is becoming obvious that we are getting close to the busy summer months when its a small world has a 25 minute wait on a Wednesday at 12:30pm!

Lastly, on the monorail back from the Magic Kingdom, construction at the new DVC wing at the Grand Floridian has been progressing rather quickly.*

Last week, we barely saw anything vertical happening, and this week, that has dramatically changed.

Before heading over to the Studios to check out Star Wars Weekends, here's an announcement on a brand new photo eBook brought to you by my other website, Disney Photography Blog!

<blockquote><blockquote><blockquote>Epcot in Bloom!

Starting today, Epcot in Bloom: 2012 Flower and Garden Festival is now available from Disney Photography Blog. Epcot in Bloom is a photo eBook that will take you on a full tour of the International Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot created by myself, Ryan Pastorino, and Adam Hansen. The book is available as an instant download PDF which you can view on your computer, iPad, iPhone, Kindle and any other mobile device!

If you have never had the chance to visit Epcot during this festival, then Epcot in Bloom will show you all the details that make it a great event. Epcot is always a great spot for photography, but during the Flower and Garden Festival it somehow becomes even better! If you have enjoyed the photos that I am including in Dateline Disney World, then you will be sure to enjoy this book!

Epcot in Bloom features over 100 jaw dropping photos of this year's International Flower and Garden Festival. There are also captions with fun facts about the festival, photo tips on how to make your photos just as excellent, and more!

Epcot in Bloom can be purchased for just $8.00 starting today. We are excited to have a special offer available only to readers of Dateline Disney World! You can receive 20% off by entering the coupon code: DATELINE during checkout. This is a limited time promotion that is only available for readers of Dateline Disney World and is the lowest price being offered for the eBook!

Take advantage of this special 20% off promotion by visiting our Epcot in Bloom product page!

For more information and to see other samples from the eBook, visit our Epcot in Bloom product page on Disney Photography Blog. Don't forget to use the promo code: DATELINE to receive 20% off!

[ Check it out! ]</blockquote></blockquote></blockquote>

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Welcome to the Studios!

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Star Wars Weekends

Star Wars Weekends is upon us, and with it comes the chaos that Star Wars fandom is known for.

Large crowds, indeed. The characters are out in full force all day during SWW, at meet and greet locations, wandering the Backlot, and on the different stages taunting guests.

The merchandise is one of the biggest reasons Star Wars fans come to DHS for this event, so there is plenty of it. The line to get into the main merchandise tent easily reached an hour to an hour and a half this first weekend!

They even rolled out Darth Vader cupcakes at all counter service food locations!

The Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade is always a big hit with guests.

It's a great opportunity for guests to see all their favorite characters in one place.

Celebrities also get in the mix, like Ashley Eckstein and Ray Park.

To wrap up the night, Disney and Star Wars present Snig and Oopla's Hyperspace Hoopla. This highly entertaining event is essentially a large scale dance off between Star Wars characters. The Emporer danced to "Mama Said Knock You Out", Darth Vader and Boba Fett danced to Alien Art Farm's rendition of "Smooth Criminal", and Chewbacca got down to LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It". The show is an absolute blast. It is hilariously entertaining, and if you have the chance to check it out over the next few weekends, I highly encourage it.

Well, that's going to wrap it up for this week's Dateline. There are lots of things going on at the resort! Are you glad to see lots of foliage and detail in the New Fantasyland? Dying to check out Hyperspace Hoopla over at Hollywood Studios despite the wild crowds? 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!