The Magic Kingdom debuted a new “pre-opening” welcome show yesterday, so I had to stop by and check it out. The new show replaces the railroad station welcome show that’s been a hallmark of the Magic Kingdom opening for many years now.
The new show takes place in front of Cinderella Castle now, rather than the area right after you enter the tapstiles at the front of the park.
I arrived early and hopped on the ferry boat. Above is the scene as we pulled into the Magic Kingdom at 8:00am sharp.
As Disney had allowed guests into the park at 8:00am, the tapstiles and the area behind them were empty by the time I arrived here at 8:05am.
Under the old opening procedure, you’d see ropes here blocking the entrance to the tunnel. It was wide open today.
Main Street USA wasn’t exactly uncrowded, but it was certainly better than the “mosh-pit” that occurred under the old opening process, where all the guests who had been held at the entrance were ushered into the park behind a rope.
The Emporium was open for business, as were the other shops along Main Street.
Still 45 minutes before the 8:55am pre-show in front of the castle, and 50 minutes before the park opens.
A quick look back down Main Street toward the train station at the relatively low crowds. Christmas decorations were still up on January 9th.
Since some RideMax plans (but certainly not all of them) call for visiting the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at opening, I paid particular attention to the crowds near the pathway to the right of the castle which leads to the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and Storybook Circus areas. No crowds here at this point, though by opening time the area would be very busy.
Another view down the pathway, with the teacups off in the distance.
Above is the scene here at just after 8:30am, which is probably about as late as you should arrive if you want a position near the front of the 7DMT rope. Note that Cast Members were holding guests here, nearer the hub, rather than back by the rope itself.
8:55 rolls around, and the pre-show has begun. I’m viewing it from the area near the 7DMT pathway, so it wasn’t exactly an up-close view…
…but still, I don’t think I was the only one who found the show pretty underwhelming.
With a final “Bippity, Boppity, BOO!”, the park was officially open for the day.
The old “countdown” is gone from the new welcome show, though we did get a brief shot of fireworks.
I made my way with the crowd to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, just to see how the crowds flowed, then bailed out of line to get this picture. Still very large crowds here.
As I made clear above, I’m not the biggest fan of the welcome show itself. It doesn’t pack a lot of punch, and the old show was a much nicer way to start the day, if you’re ONLY comparing the shows themselves.
I will say, though, that I REALLY (REALLY!) like the new opening procedure overall. It’s much nicer to simply stroll down Main Street at a leisurely pace, rather than get jostled around and have your heels stepped on in a huge crowd smashed behind a rope. Sure, if you’re heading over to Seven Dwarfs Mine Train you still have to deal with those issues for that portion of the walk, but you also had that problem under the old procedure.
Of course, the upside of a not-so-great welcome show is that it makes it easy to wait closer to the 7DMT rope and not feel like you’re missing out on something. Under the old system, you sort of had to choose between being close to the entrance tunnel — and a better shot at leading the crowds down Main Street — or waiting over nearer the center of the crowds for a better view of the welcome show. The new castle welcome show makes this choice much easier, in favor of the quicker access to the attraction areas of the park.
Note that for those of you using RideMax plans that have 7DMT listed right at opening, we’ve updated the in-plan “tip” there to take into account the new opening procedure. Just check your plans again from either your phone or desktop, and you should see the new advice listed.
Before leaving the park, I took a quick stroll over to Frontierland. As usual, it was much quieter over here this early in the day.
So long for now!