Now in case you have not heard, some very interesting things have been happening in the world of central Florida theme parks. It is, to put it lightly, a damn good time to be a fan of theme parks. When they compete with each other, we win, as each park will try to design more awesome attractions than what their competitor has lined up.
Which brings us to the mayhem that is unfolding as we speak. If you were watching the Winter Olympics, you certainly saw this commercial maybe eighty times:
Now, we didn't go to Universal this trip (the ad says that the park will be "coming this spring" but according to a recent press release, "Spring" = "The middle of June" -- and I feel bad not warning my fellow airplane passengers of this), but I have seen Hogwarts Castle from the road, rising in the air like a giant middle finger right in Mickey's face.
Now, here's the fun part. At the D23 Expo (a huge convention for Disney fans; it's surprising that there was never anything like that before), Mickey essentially countered with this bigger, and even ruder gesture in Universal's face:
So as I visited Magic Kingdom this time, I was on the lookout for (a) evidence of construction and (b) things that might not be there next time we go.
Construction in the Magic Kingdom must be interesting to work on. They need to work on a project without destroying the illusion of being in a magical land. They probably work mostly at night. They hide their progress well; you wouldn't know that Cinderella Castle was being worked on unless you looked very hard.
The construction here in Fantasyland is a little easier to make out. This view will be radically different in a few years.
Now so far the biggest point of contention in Disney message boards, regarding the Magic Kingdom expansion, is
Now Toontown is basically a place for people to meet the Disney characters in a predictable spot. It's niche is gradually being overtaken by the old Emporium building right when you enter Main Street. (This building was the site of one of our best serendipitous moments. I went in hoping to see a different animated mural -- this one does exist and shows off all the significant moments in Disney history -- and wound up meeting all manner of Disney characters. It was raining, so the Magic Kingdom was practically empty, and we got lots of attention. So I can't ever not say that I was hugged by a bunch of people in furry suits on my B-day. )
Tellingly, we saw no characters at all in Toontown. So, instead, here is a photo of me in Minnie's house. Note the Notorious Birthday Button.
Sketch of the Day! Now, in all my journeys to WDW, I have never ever tried a Dole Whip. This time, I went well out of my way to rectify this glaring oversight.
I was listening to Episode 24 of the very nice Sci-Fi Saturday Night podcast and was delighted to hear them give a shout-out to the Comicbook Artists Guild (they were actually giving away some art we had donated during the October Boston Comicon as a contest prize. Still, very cool.)
I feel incredibly bad for all the animation fans in New Hampshire.
I also watched "$9.99" and... well, about fifteen minutes in, I had to ask myself what will henceforth be known as the "Only Yesterday" Question: Would I have watched this entire movie if it were live-action? It is, essentially, one of those "just a bunch of things that happened" movies -- but it's all stop-motion animation. I can't even say whether I liked it or if I can recommend it. I will say this: it is weird in ways you would not expect a stop-motion existential film about just a bunch of stuff that happens to be... if that makes any sense.