Disney Has Changed Several Magic Kingdom Rides. Here’s How…
The next time you visit Walt Disney World, you’ll notice some differences.
Magic Kingdom has finally reopened, but park officials had to modify several experiences to make them safer for guests.
Here are eight Magic Kingdom attractions that Disney has changed due to the pandemic.
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
I’ll start with an unheralded ride so that I can make a few other points.
Magic Kingdom attractions now feature several safety measures to maximize guest protection during the pandemic.
Hand Sanitizer stations are readily available, encouraging guests to clean their hands before and after rides.
Simultaneously, cast members wear protective face shields and wipe down high-touch areas to protect customers.
Attentive guests will notice at least some modifications like these on every ride. However, some attractions require even more changes.
On Prince Charming Regal Carrousel, Disney has numbered the horse rows and added directional arrows on the surrounding ground.
To avoid haphazard selection of horses, cast members now guide riders to one of these rows.
So, the boarding process finally has order and structure, which is a welcome change. It’ll break the hearts of a few horsey-loving kids, though.
Peter Pan’s Flight
Several months ago, I discussed the challenges with interactive line queues.
Peter Pan’s Flight exemplifies the issues that Coronavirus causes at Disney theme parks.
The brilliant line queue encourages guests to huddle together and create magic. Imagineers created several wall tricks for precisely this reason.
Unfortunately, congregating in one area is problematic during the pandemic.
So, Disney has limited park attendance and altered line queues.
Specifically, on Peter Pan’s Flight, you’ll cut through the Darlings’ bedroom so quickly that you won’t have time to play with the shadows and lights here.
For this reason, Disney has disabled many of the Imagineering tricks in this room.
The decision is understandable since park officials want you boarding the ride quickly rather than standing in that bedroom and interacting with butterflies.
Pirates of the Caribbean
Disney employs the same safety measures on many attractions.
At Pirates of the Caribbean, you’ll notice floor markers just inside the building.
These rectangles indicate where guests should stand to maintain social distancing.
So far, these guidelines aren’t applicable. During cast member and annual passholder previews, crowds are minimal.
Guests wind up walking on the ride or waiting for a few minutes at most. Presumably, the situation will gradually change in the coming months.
Until capacity increases, the line markers only apply toward the front of the line. Before then, you’re continually walking rather than standing in one place.
The other noteworthy change on Pirates of the Caribbean involves seating.
Disney skips every other row to ensure social distancing. In fact, some families get an entire boat to themselves.
I’ve been riding Pirates of the Caribbean since the 1980s, and I’ve never had my own boat before. The current situation provides a rare opportunity for guests.
Many months ago, I mentioned that the most fabulous parts of waiting in line at Haunted Mansion have become hazardous.
The high-touch interactive queue elements encourage guest participation, which means plenty of grouping in these areas.
So, Disney had to deactivate them. The current line queue skips much of these activities entirely.
We don’t know yet what Disney will do when crowds dictate the opening of these sections.
Based on other ride decisions, particularly Peter Pan’s Flight, I’d expect that the modified lines prevent these interactions.
Of course, that’s not the most significant line change.
The Stretching Room is no longer an elevator. The walls won’t rise to display more of the line queue.
Instead, velvet ropes display the path through The Stretching Room to the Doombuggies.
Yes, the Ghost Host’s introductory narration is unavailable at the moment.
Of course, you can still study the stretched paintings as you walk through the room…but it’s just not the same.
Thankfully, the full ride is unchanged. So, there’s that.
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train
Obviously, outdoor roller coasters don’t require many changes.
The CDC has confirmed that outdoor environments provide greater safety than indoor areas, especially ones in tight spacing.
So, Disney’s in great shape with the ride itself.
However, Imagineers had to modify the line queue.
When Seven Dwarfs Mine Train debuted back in May of 2014, its interactive elements received rave reviews.
Over the years, Disney phased out some of them, but the spinning barrels have remained popular.
As a reminder, guests who get the barrels moving fast enough receive a reward of one of the Seven Dwarfs projected on the ceiling.
If several guests work in unison, they can all activate their barrels, causing Snow White to appear.
Well, you can put two and two together on this one. Park officials don’t want people spinning barrels right now.
Disney has deactivated these interactive features for now, which is the right decision.
The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
This ride suffers from the same problem as Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.
Even though the ride itself occurs indoors, it’s safe enough that Disney didn’t need to change anything.
However, the line queue doubles as a children’s playground, and that’s…not great.
Ergo, Disney has eliminated access to the treehouse and the garden areas for now.
The entire Rabbit’s Garden area is on the other side of the line queue rope, preventing guests from playing with anything.
Of course, there’s a chance that neglectful parents will look the other way as their children try, but I expect cast members to monitor this spot carefully.
Also, I should mention that all these attractions with interactive line queue elements have added another layer of protection.
Disney’s placed hand sanitizer stations close to these interactive elements, just in case someone forgets and does something stupid.
Among the Magic Kingdom attractions, one has the most extensive demand during the reopening week.
Disney recently confirmed that Splash Mountain will receive a new theme, The Princess and the Frog.
Most analysts expect Disney to change the attraction early in 2021, the attraction’s standard winter closure timeframe.
So, everyone wants to ride the original version of Splash Mountain as often as possible before the update occurs.
For this reason, Disney’s monitoring social distancing on this attraction carefully.
The lines at Splash Mountain are the most extensive at Magic Kingdom right now. I don’t expect the situation to change anytime soon.
The changes in the attraction demonstrate Disney’s concern. Most importantly, Imagineers have altered the grand finale.
You won’t experience as much splashing as you reach the climax of Splash Mountain.
Coronavirus concerns have forced Disney to reduce drenchings.
For many, this change qualifies as an improvement, as you can now ride Splash Mountain without fear of getting soaked.
At most, you’ll get a few drops on you…most of the time.
You’re still dropping at high-speed downhill into the water, which means that you’re never totally safe from a dousing.
Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
Finally, we should discuss one of the most worrisome parts of Magic Kingdom.
For months now, several people like me have loudly wondered how Disney would operate indoor shows.
After all, I’ve already discussed why the CDC believes that they’re potentially dangerous.
Fortunately, Disney has taken the matter seriously and utilized several smart tactics while operating show-based attractions.
Floor markers remind people where to walk when entering the building, and a hand sanitizer station is close to one of the entrances.
Cast members station guests in socially distant formations. Nobody sits right in front of someone else.
Instead, guests in the front row will sit several feet to the right/left of the ones in the second row and so on.
Also, some benches have signs requesting that guests not sit on them.
The result of these measures is that the theater is barely one-third full during the show…if that.
So, you’ll feel like you have the mechanical birds to yourself!
Obviously, everybody loved Magic Kingdom the way that it already was.
However, Disney deserves a lot of credit for making such smart changes behind the scenes while the parks were closed.
You’ll feel safe during your next Magic Kingdom visit, and that’s what matters the most.