LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. July 30, 2009 – Arriving before sunrise at Magic Kingdom, scores of Disney Cast Members spent several mornings in July chanting “stroke, stroke, stroke” along the Rivers of America as they competed in the annual Canoe Races Around the World.
A total of 75 teams from men’s, women’s and co-ed leagues in pro and recreational divisions paddled their way around Tom Sawyer Island before park open. Those with the best times, averaging around five minutes, advanced to the finals and had a chance to race against the clock in a championship round.
Hip-hop artist Big Boi, one-half of the Grammy Award-winning duo “OutKast,” poses July 24, 2009 with Minnie Mouse at the Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Big Boi (born Antwan Andre Patton) is scheduled to release his first solo album, entitled “Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty” in 2009. In addition to his work with OutKast, the Atlanta-based artist and producer has appeared on tracks by Beyonce, Jay-Z and Missy Elliott. In 2008 he collaborated with the Atlanta Ballet for a series of critically acclaimed performances.. He is visiting the Walt Disney World Resort on vacation this week. (Garth Vaughan, photographer)
A big tip o’ the ears to our lovely friends at the Disney Report who have obtained and posted a very highly detailed blueprint of a long rumored upgrade to Fantasyland (now removed). Personally, I don’t take too much stock in rumors and I think I have a talent for knowing what’s likely and what’s not and while I would never believe anyone if they told me what this design foretells, it does have some key elements that I’ve been ‘aware’ of myself. Most notably the fact that something big was coming to the Magic Kingdom alas the upper crust felt the park was being neglected so they started to shift focus to it, that the Little Mermaid was coming to Magic Kingdom (reportedly one of the conditions of being able to bring it to Disney’s California Adventure was to be able to replicate it in the Magic Kingdom to reduce costs) and that it (and/or something big) was finally going over the huge plot of land that once was the 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (and now hidden by lots of trees).
Mr. Smee, we thought we knew you. There was no doubt that once the Pirates League moved into town and started offering pirate makeovers that major changes would be afoot. Consider the following photo that compares Mr. Smee’s old look to his new look. Seams a bit different, don’t it? And who knew Mr. Smee lacked a belly button? He must have lost it in a battle with Peter Pan. He now also sports a more texture/plasticized set of eyebrows, a completely different mouth and all over has a more cartoony look, particularly with his eyes (and I think he might have had a nose job too). I might be going overboard when I suggest I think he even shrank a bit considering the height of his eyes compared with Hook’s nose (even more dramatic when it appears that Hook is even leaning forward in the old look photo while he’s standing upright in the new look photo).
For reasons unspecified, although presumably because of the proximity of the Monorail barn during the tour, ‘The Magic Behind our Steam Trains’ tour has been canceled through at least October 12, after which it will resume a Monday – Saturday schedule.
Guests who have already booked the tour are currently being notified of the change by Disney.
When a pirate approaches you and invites you to tour their newest recruiting station, you don’t say no. Well, you could say no, but it will be the second-to-last thing you’ll ever say (the last being ‘ouch’) — DVC they are not.
Located deep in the heart of the unforgiving jungles of Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland, the Pirates League offers a unique opportunity for the young and not-so-young alike to join the crew of the mighty Captain Jack Sparrow: explore exotic lands, meet new people and pillage and plunder them.
It seems that after having their fun in town, the crew set their sights (and canons) on the local office of the East India Trading Company. In fact, your first indication that you’re about to abandon all hope is a chunk of the fateful pirate ship outside, complete with the victorious canon. Let it be known that pirates are not without a sense of humor, however, as you can see that they put their own spin on the EIT Co. logo.
Hopeful recruits (shame on you all) will first check in at the Quartermaster’s Desk found right outside of the League and will be provided with a muster form for them to complete, specifying the desired options applicable for their package of choice. Sample photos of the options are also at the ready so that there be no surprises.
Last night, the Magic Kingdom previewed its spectacular Fourth of July fireworks program known as Celebrate America and fortunately we were right there in the middle of it all to capture it for you. While there’s no humanly way possible we could replicate the magic and the spectacle of it all, we hope that you enjoy watching the video as much as we did making it.
Embedded below is the playlist which will automatically play the second half once the first half is completed. If you prefer to watch a larger version on YouTube, you can access the playlist directly.
Unfortunately, because the attraction is not yet officially open, I cannot offer any photos inside the actual theater, but I can share images of some of the artifacts you can find inside the pre-show area, including the first ladies’ exhibit featuring dresses and other items from Elizabeth Monroe, Edith Roosevelt and Nancy Reagan.
I had the distinct honor of attending the naturalization ceremony which took place at the Magic Kingdom earlier this morning in which 1,000 immigrants (including 25 cast members) were sworn in as new citizens of the United States.
The ceremony, with keynote speaker actor Andy Garcia, was an incredibly moving experience as the new citizens were sworn in. The event also featured performances by Voices of Liberty and appearances by the Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps and Mickey himself. After the ceremony and group photo, the citizens and their friends and family made way to experience the newly enhanced Hall of Presidents (more to follow on that later).