02 May 2017

Explore and Laugh and Play Together

Earlier this year it was announced that the Magic Kingdom’s welcome show would be moving from the front of the park, on the Walt Disney World Railroad’s platform, up to the hub of the park with the majority of the action happening on Cinderella Castle’s stage. While logistically this made all the sense in the world to me, especially when considered in conjunction with security checks occurring in locations other than directly in front of the park, I felt my heart sink just a little bit. Would people neglect the railroad now that they weren’t going to be forced to wait for it with anticipation to allow them entry to the park? Would people even pay attention to the morning greeting now that they weren’t sandwiched in to a small corral awaiting those magical words?

As it would turn out, this new tradition couldn’t have been a more charming and warm welcome than if I had shaped it myself.

The show is filled with a host of characters that not only represent across the chronology of Disney film history, but they also, and perhaps more importantly, do a fair job of representing the many lands of the Magic Kingdom. That means this isn’t just characters who could fit in on Main Street, U.S.A. or princesses who call castles and Fantasyland home. Mickey presents this in such a way as to make guests feel valued, these characters wanted to come and see their old and new friends as they started their day. To top it off with the Fairy Godmother supplying a bibbidi-bobbidi-bit of her whimsical magic didn’t hurt either!

While there were the guests that took this opportunity to get as close as they could to the ropes that would drop for Frontierland/Liberty Square, Adventureland, Tomorrowland, and Fantasyland, I was amazed at how many found their way to the forecourt of the castle stage to watch the show, or who found other, slightly more shaded, corners of the area to watch the show from. In fact, I would estimate that the guests viewing the show far outweighed the guests who were looking to sprint off to a mountain or mine train. But this wasn’t the only way that guests surprised and delighted me.

From the moment guests walked through the gate, they were engaged in the most amazing activity: having fun with their families. With the park opening at 9:00am, guests were able to make their way down Main Street, U.S.A. beginning at 8:00am. There were no attractions that they could race off to, though shops and the bakery were definitely open for business, and they didn’t seem concerned in the slighted. It was as if they felt that they had been able to secretly gain entrance into the park and loved every minute of it. They took pictures, not just of the castle, but in every corner of the land. I heard giggles as parents raised up their toddlers like Simba for photographs, I saw people literally lying in the street for over-the-top poses, and no one, and I mean no one, seemed like their day was off to a bad start.

Guests were taking time to be together and share a moment, rather than rushing off to an attraction. They were huddling close together to capture a moment with the Partners statue, not to push through a crowd and jockey for a position closer to the tunnel rope drop of the railroad station. They were shouting to one another to come and take another picture in an area they maybe hadn’t seen before, instead of screaming for someone to come back or to get in their stroller. It was as magical of a moment as I have ever seen inside Walt Disney World, and it reminded me of what trips to the resort are all about when we get right down to it.

Kudos to Disney for seeing a problem, even if it had been present for a long time, and then applying the appropriate modifications. Main Street, U.S.A. is now filled with warmth and love and no one feels the need to rush past a touching moment with a loved one. I may miss that the fact that the Walt Disney World Railroad is no longer at the forefront of a morning of activity, but I would never wish to go back to the cramped greeting we had before. This new morning routine puts the magic back into the Magic Kingdom.

1 comment:

Debbie V. said...

Looking forward to enjoying this next April!