There’s excellent news about Walt Disney World character experiences, as extra are returning to Magic Kingdom this month and in February 2023. Right here we’ll cowl what’s coming again, Genie+ Lightning Lane additions, plus commentary about causes, implications and what’s nonetheless lacking.
Let’s begin with the excellent news, as a few meet & greets quietly returned to Magic Kingdom over the weekend. Again in Storybook Circus, the Meet Daring Disney Friends as Circus Stars at Pete’s Foolish Aspect Present is now again. Which means the meet & greets for Daisy Fortuna and Minnie Magnifique (on one facet) and the Astounding Donaldo and his daring stuntman pal the Nice Goofini (on the opposite facet) have reopened. These are wonderful, under-the-radar meet & greets, with enjoyable Easter Eggs within the queue and funky costumes–glad they’re lastly again!
The oblique reason behind that is probably the conclusion of celebration season at Magic Kingdom. Since August 12 of final yr, Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Celebration and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Celebration pulled plenty of performers to these laborious ticket occasions. That was an enormous a part of why City Sq. Theater and Princess Fairytale Corridor noticed wait occasions spike and Lightning Lane stock lower–these events had vital staffing necessities, and useful resource reallocation in consequence.
Protecting the momentum going, Walt Disney World has introduced that the final two main character experiences will return within the subsequent month.
First, Ariel’s Grotto will reopen January 22, 2023. That is the Little Mermaid meet & greet, with a location carved out close to the exit of the Beneath The Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid attraction in Fantasyland.
Following that, the Enchanted Tales with Belle will reopen February 19, 2023.
For individuals who are unfamiliar with it, Enchanted Tales with Belle is an elaborate character expertise (for lack of a greater time period) in New Fantasyland. When this attraction debuted a couple of decade in the past, it was much-maligned by Walt Disney World followers, a lot of whom criticized it as a waste of area or have been upset that it wasn’t a darkish trip.
It’s secure to imagine a lot of these critics do not need young children. For our half, we’ve been massive followers of Enchanted Tales with Belle since day one. Whereas solely youngsters and their dad and mom are more likely to love the substance of the expertise, everybody shall be impressed by the expertise utilized and parts of the storytelling.
Personally, I feel Enchanted Tales with Belle is a superb evolution of meet & greets–I simply want it higher blended the character part and storytelling with a little bit of humor. (Much like the Frozen Sing-Alongside, which works on totally different ranges.) Enchanted Tales with Belle is nice for its audience, however not fairly pretty much as good for all ages because it may very well be. (And adults essentially shall be within the viewers, since youngsters don’t go to Walt Disney World sans dad and mom.)
The Ariel’s Grotto meet & greet and Enchanted Tales with Belle will each be added as Lightning Lane choices to the Genie+ service on their respective reopening dates. This shall be along with the standby traces, which each character experiences may even provide.
This makes the already loaded Lightning Lane lineup at Magic Kingdom even higher. It’s already far and away one of the best park for the paid FastPass service at Walt Disney World, which is owing to raised capability than some other park–and at a greater diversity of points of interest. (Nonetheless inferior to Disneyland, however the one Walt Disney World park that’s even remotely shut.)
It has been some time because the FastPass+ days and rather a lot has clearly modified since. To one of the best of my recollection, each Ariel’s Grotto and Enchanted Tales with Belle have been medium-priority FP+ choices. My preliminary guess is that the identical will maintain true for Lightning Lanes.
We’ll replace our Magic Kingdom Genie+ Lightning Lane Rankings shortly after Ariel’s Grotto and Enchanted Tales with Belle return, however my intestine response is that each of those must be slotted above Princess Fairytale Corridor. These are each decrease capability and better demand than these devoted princess meet & greets. (City Sq. Theater additionally wants a downgrade in these rankings–that has fallen in precedence since celebration season ended.)
All of those are comparatively vital developments that would bode effectively for each different meet & greets and character eating experiences. As has been famous in different posts on a number of events, Walt Disney World has been experiencing a ‘princess scarcity.’ That is one massive cause why meals with face characters–Akershus, 1900 Park Fare, Bon Voyage Breakfast, and even the traditional Cinderella’s Royal Desk–have been sluggish to return.
Whereas casting necessities fluctuate, we’re however a bit stunned that the above meet & greets would return earlier than increasing meal companies on the aforementioned eating places. The latter immediately generate income, whereas the previous are extra supporting gamers, for lack of a greater time period. They’re not devoted meet & greet places, simply places in Magic Kingdom the place characters have traditionally appeared.
There’s extra excellent news for these hoping to see the still-shuttered eating places or lacking meal companies return. Disney Packages introduced final week that the long-awaited return of character performer roles has returned to the Disney Faculty Program.
Functions at the moment are open for these character performer position auditions. Nevertheless, Disney Faculty Program contributors gained’t be in these positions till the Fall 2023 season. Clearly, that’s a good distance off–that means there’s no quick aid from Faculty Program contributors. (In equity, that’s in all probability in regards to the time they’ll be urgently wanted–proper across the time MNSSHP and MVMCP return once more.)
Lastly, let’s check out the leisure that was eliminated for the official Walt Disney World web site a number of months in the past:
- Pandora Drummers – Swotu Wayä
- Pandora Rangers
- British Revolution
- Jeweled Dragon Acrobats
- Serveur Amusant
- Residents of Hollywood
- Jedi Coaching Academy
- Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
- Voyage of the Little Mermaid
- Residents of Predominant Avenue
- Predominant Avenue Trolley Present
- Meet Alice in Wonderland on the Mad Tea Celebration
- Meet Gaston at his Tavern
- Meet Tinker Bell at City Sq. Theater
In the end, it’s nice information that extra Magic Kingdom meet & greets are being restored. This may convey the park near regular as in comparison with pre-closure, not less than by way of character experiences. Ariel’s Grotto and Enchanted Tales with Belle have been two actually massive ones.
Nevertheless, there’s nonetheless extra to be restored to hit 100% at Walt Disney World. Based mostly on credible rumors we’ve heard, a few of that is by no means coming again. Some reveals and leisure acts will probably obtain oblique replacements or reimagined successors. Others are probably simply gone for good, with no replacements (direct or oblique) contemplated.
Our hope is that that is one factor that Walt Disney World administration revisits within the months to return whereas evaluating methods to enhance the visitor expertise. Decreasing leisure, characters, and streetmosphere is short-term pondering for a enterprise unit that must be extra fixated on long-term well being. It’s as if Walt Disney World is teetering on the precipice of insolvency, at the same time as the corporate boasts about how per-guest spending is hitting report highs.
Charging extra and providing much less could be one technique to obtain short-term targets, however there are actually long-term destructive penalties to that method. This has been our perspective every time leisure has been reduce for the final 5+ years, nevertheless it feels well timed to reiterate at the same time as characters are being restored, as the corporate is actively on the lookout for methods to undo a few of the previous harm proper now. Walt Disney World persevering with to revive leisure is a superb repair that may enhance goodwill and visitor satisfaction, whereas demonstrating to followers that administration “will get” what makes the parks particular.
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What do you consider these Enchanted Tales with Belle and Ariel’s Grotto reopening in Magic Kingdom? Are you optimistic or pessimistic about WDW restoring “quickly unavailable” leisure as performer availability improves, or suppose that’s irrelevant? Suppose the character performer roles returning to the Faculty Program bodes effectively for extra being restored (e.g. Seven Dwarfs) to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Celebration and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Celebration? Anxious that Walt Disney World may by no means get again to 100% by way of leisure? Any questions we may also help you reply? Listening to your suggestions–even while you disagree with us–is each fascinating to us and useful to different readers, so please share your ideas under within the feedback!