Triumphant Returns We Anxiously Wait for at Walt Disney World
We’re getting back to normal as a society. Thanks to the prevalence of vaccine doses in many areas, the pandemic’s reign of terror is nearly over.
Once we’ve reached or at least approached herd immunity, Walt Disney World may return to the place that we’ve loved for nearly 50 years now.
During my recent visit, I took some notes about a few things I miss.
Here are eight triumphant returns we are all awaiting at Walt Disney World.
Test Track Car Construction
Several attractions cannot operate their full line queue features. Doing so would violate social distancing practices.
As such, we’ve sacrificed plenty of pre-show entertainment at Walt Disney World during the pandemic.
A terrific example involves the waiting area for Test Track at EPCOT.
Previously, guests would spend part of their wait building a theoretically ecologically friendly vehicle to use during the ride.
In reality, we’d all build the fastest car possible…and then try to add some Nitrous Oxide after the fact.
Who cares about improved miles to the gallon when you can drive slightly faster, right?
Alas, most vehicles ended up looking like the Batmobile as created by Barney Gumble after an all-nighter at Moe’s Tavern.
We didn’t care, though. We loved our automotive abominations. Currently, we walk by the creation stations but don’t get to use them. It’s cruel.
I cannot wait to return to building a better Frankenstein car.
Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon
Okay, one Disney water park returned in March. Disney’s Blizzard Beach has reopened to the public after a year-long absence.
However, a sense of mystery still exists about Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon.
You may recall that it closed for renovations in January of 2020, before the pandemic.
At the time, the move seemed like standard winter behavior, as Disney usually leaves one water park closed at this time of year.
Park officials had promised “additional refurbishment work and enhancements” beyond the norm for seasonal enhancements.
So, we had high expectations for Typhoon Lagoon, but then the pandemic occurred. Now, we’ll just be thankful to have it back.
If Disney had planned significant improvements, they’re unlikely to happen for a while. But reopening the most popular water park in North America is enough.
The Disney Dining Plan
I don’t want to start singing Cinderella here – the band, not the Disney Princess – but you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone.
I realized this during my most recent visits, as we couldn’t purchase the Disney Dining Plan either time.
With so many restaurants closed, Disney isn’t offering this plan. And its absence crushed me!
During those trips, I learned what meals cost! In the past, I’ve thought of them as “one entitlement each,” not XX dollars.
When I paid with a credit card, I thought about the cost more than I ever have with the Disney Dining Plan.
With that program, I just pay once for the plan. Then, everything feels free while I’m on the trip.
I know that’s some voodoo math, but it’s really how I perceive the Disney Dining Plan. So, I need it back!
Frozen Ever After
Here’s a small but significant downgrade at Frozen Ever After.
Since we don’t have FastPasses right now – something missing that I haven’t decided I want back – I stood in line for the attraction.
Historically, I’ve primarily used FastPasses here, thereby skipping the clever theming.
When I have walked through the line, my favorite part was always Oaken’s Sauna, which includes several Imagineering tricks.
A digital window here leads to plenty of hijinks. Alas, that door attracts too much of a crowd. So, Disney has disabled it. And I reaaaaally missed it!
The little touches like this are what make Disney visits unforgettable. Speaking of which…
The Haunted Mansion Line Queue
Look, Haunted Mansion embodies everything exceptional about Disney theming. This Omnimover attraction always satisfies.
However, I admire the line queue almost as much as the attraction.
The music, the tombstones, and the murder mystery all build intrigue for the ride itself. Sadly, none of that’s available right now.
That’s not even the worst part, though. And you know where I’m going with this.
Disney has had to cut out The Stretching Room experience for the time being.
Don’t get me wrong. The decision is entirely understandable. It’s a small room indoors where cast members have asked guests to huddle together. Eek!
Still, The Stretching Room sets the tone for everything that comes next. Without the Ghost Host’s initial narration, everything feels…less.
I’m counting down the days until the full Haunted Mansion experience returns.
Disney park capacity maxes out at 35 percent right now, although I expect that number to increase very soon.
Until then, operating all Walt Disney World restaurants simply doesn’t make sense.
So, many of my favorite places haven’t reopened yet. I fully understand the why of it, but the situation still drove me crazy this trip.
I literally walked through the ‘Ohana hosting area, but the restaurant was empty!
Similarly, I sat in Akershus and caught my breath, as Disney currently uses the space as a Relaxation Station. But I want my Princess character greetings!
For that matter, I even miss the less significant restaurants like ESPN Club and Casey’s Corner.
I’m counting down the days until I can eat fatty foods here again.
Here’s one you may not have thought about, but it bothers me.
For a brief time, the NBA played basketball games that mattered at ESPN Wide World of Sports.
Other than that wonderful period, Disney’s sports complex has sat unused for a calendar year.
Disney hosts dozens if not hundreds of youth sports competitions each year.
With the ESPN complex not allowing guests, we’re being robbed of the joy of competition and the laughter of children.
The symbolism here seems impossible to ignore.
We need kids playing games at Walt Disney World again. It’s that simple.
Oh, and the return of Spring Training would be nice, too.
The Stormtrooper Scene
Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance set a new standard for Imagineering excellence.
Perhaps the best demonstration comes during the Stormtrooper scene. It’s an open area that features more than 50 Stormtroopers!
Obviously, Disney didn’t build something that massive in scale, just for guests to walk past on their way to the next thing.
There’s an integral storytelling aspect to this room. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t know it right now.
In fact, you’ll get rushed through the Stormtrooper scene so quickly that you’d better have your camera out ahead of time.
Otherwise, you’ll get overrun by the crowd as you try to take a snapshot on your way out the door.
This room now falls into the category of “Blink, and you’ll miss it!” That’s suboptimal.
Guests ready their phones before 7 a.m. every morning to book a Boarding Group for Rise of the Resistance.
They deserve the entire experience.
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
You know the deal. Tomorrowland without the Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover feels like an NFL stadium without an NFL game.
Seriously, what’s the point?
Okay, you may feel that Space Mountain matters a bit more, and I respect your (incredibly wrong) opinion.
For me, the PeopleMover embodies Walt Disney’s lasting vision for his theme park empire.
Uncle Walt wanted to revolutionize travel with PeopleMover trams. In a better world, they would transport guests across modest distances.
The entire plan for Progress City centered on this premise. And while we never got that EPCOT, Imagineers did build the PeopleMover.
We need the Tomorrowland Transit Authority back. And that day will signify a better tomorrow.