Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Restoring The Magic Kingdom - Part 1: 2007-2009

If you have been to the Magic Kingdom within the past four years the above graphic should be an extremely familiar sight. Since at least 2008 the Magic Kingdom has been home to an exhaustive amount of construction walls. In a time when most people feel the need to pick out all the little issues wrong with the Magic Kingdom, it's also a perfect time to point out all the work that is currently being done to help restore this beautiful park.

Below is a comprehensive timeline of all the various refurbishments that have been completed, or are still being worked on. It includes attraction refurbishments, facade repaints, bridge replacements, and pathway repaving. Many people see these construction walls during a visit, or see photos of them online, but never acknowledge the work that's been done or is being done. Hopefully this detailed list will help you appreciate the park even more on your next visit.

2007-2008 Refurbishments & Additions

The Magic Kingdom restoration project really took off in 2007 and is still ongoing today. Liberty Square is where it all began, with the Haunted Mansion refurbishment bringing new "life" into the most iconic Magic Kingdom attraction.

June - September 2007: Haunted Mansion
In 2007, the Haunted Mansion went down for an expansive refurbishment. In addition to general maintenance, such as fixing the Doombuggy's audio problems, new scenes and props were added. Among the additions was a brand new Magic Kingdom exclusive scene, the Endless Staircase. This new scene was based after original artwork and features a series of staircases, heading in every direction. Along the staircases are candelabras which get blown out by ghosts (you can see their footprints as they walk along the staircases).

Photo of the closed Mansion from Sorcerer Radio

The Mansion also received some exterior work, such as a brand new extended red canopy and a fresh coat of paint. Inside, even more changes were made. The portrait above the fireplace was digitally enhanced to make it even clearer. The gallery had a major audio upgrade and the addition of some new sound effects. The moving-eyed portraits that previously watched you after getting in your Doombuggy were moved to the loading area. New portraits with a "ghost" effect that occurs when the lightning flashes were added to previous moving-eyed portraits. After the Endless Staircase scene, new blinking eyes were added and fade into the spooky wallpaper.

Other changes to the Mansion came from Disneyland, such as making Leota float. The attic scene was also redone with new portraits and props playing on the storyline of the new bride, Constance. The bride audio-animatronic was also updated. Many other figures and scenes throughout the Mansion were touched up with new paint, giving the attraction a nice refresh.

March 2008: Liberty Square Facades
Heritage House, the shop next to Hall of Presidents went behind themed scrims while the facade received a fresh coat of paint. This was among the first facade to be refurbished. Check out photos here.

March 2008: City Hall Facade
Also in March, City Hall in Main Street, U.S.A. went behind themed scrims while it too received a fresh coat of paint. Photos can be seen here.

August 2008: Liberty Square Bridge
In summer of 2008, the Liberty Square bridge was completely replaced. The previous bridge received tremendous wear and tear from park guests and parade floats. The new bridge was built stronger to handle all the traffic.

Liberty Square bridge construction

August 2008: Liberty Bell
General maintenance was done to the Liberty Bell in Liberty Square.

Walls around the iconic Liberty Bell

August 2008: Liberty Square Repaving
The red pathway along the parade route in Liberty Square was repaved.

Before & after photos of the Liberty Square paving

2009 Refurbishments & Additions

This year saw a variety of refurbishments and additions, most notably the Space Mountain refurbishment. Various Fantasyland facades were repainted and changed in preparation of the Fantasyland Expansion, which officially began construction in Spring 2010.

January 2009: Golden Oak Outpost Replaces Frontierland Fry Cart  
The smoking area adjacent to the Frontierland Fry Cart went behind walls in March 2008 in preparations for what would eventually become the Golden Oak Outpost. The Frontierland Fry Cart, which did not officially close until September 2008, served McDonald's fries and soft drinks. While just a little fry cart, it had a really big storyline, attached to other parts of Frontierland.

Photo from
With the rush of prospectors passing through Frontierland in search of gold, lots of folks in town started looking for ways to cash in on all the excitement. Back in 1853, ol' McDonald (who had a farm, ei-ei-o), a potato farmer, decided to set up his cook wagon on the hill under the big oak tree, just off the main trail. To drum up interest in his French fried delicacies, McDonald even came up with a catch phrase and posted it on the front of the wagon: "There's gold in them thar fries!" (with a symbol of a golden arch to emphasize the fact).

Business was booming for a couple of good years, right up until the great flood of 1855. Legend has it that white men disturbed the spirits of the mountain by removing gold from Big Thunder, causing all sorts of havoc from earthquakes and avalanches to storms and floods. In fact, the nearby river rose so much, the water reached right up to McDonald's wagon on the hill. The wagon survived, but when the water receded, the wagon started to go with it. It slid down the hill, crashed through a fence (and sharp-eyed guests could see the poorly repaired fence), and got lodged in the mud down below.

This didn't stop ol' man McDonald, though. He just laid down some planks so folks wouldn't get their boots muddy, and he has kept right on selling his delicious French fried potatoes to this day.

There was also a sign placed nearby that proclaimed, "Same location since '53." The "53" was scratched out and painted over with a "55." Not only did this help support the story, it was also a reference to McDonald's history. Brothers Dick and Mac McDonald opened their original restaurant in San Bernardino, Calif., in 1953. Kroc, who pitched the idea to the brothers of expanding their restaurant into a franchise, opened his first location in Des Plaines, Ill., in 1955.
-Storyline from Wade Sampson's Disney and McDonald's on MousePlanet 
After the Disney and McDonald's contract ended, Disney decided to expand the cart and menu. The Golden Oak Outpost officially opened in January 2009 to a much larger menu, serving chicken sandwiches and chicken nuggets. The more chicken-based menu served as an alternative to the burgers offered at Pecos Bill's Tall Tale Inn & Cafe, located just across the path. This new stand was named after the Golden Oak Ranch, a Disney movie studio in California.

July 2009: Hall of Presidents Refurbishment
In November 2008, Hall of Presidents closed for refurbishment. Another presidential election meant that it was time to add the new president into the show. However, Walt Disney Imagineering took the opportunity to enhance the entire production of this Magic Kingdom exclusive show. In addition to President Barack Obama's audio-animatronic, the show received a new narrator, Morgan Freeman, along with all new digital projectors. In this new production, President Abraham Lincoln recites the Gettysburg Address and President George Washington has a speaking role. Here are a few videos regarding the refurbishment.

July 2009: it's a small world Facade
The facade for it's a small world receives a new coat of paint.

July 2009: Pinocchio's Village Haus Facade
The facade and roof of Pinocchio's Village Haus receives a new coat of paint and repairs. Photos of this can be found here.

September 2009: Tomorrowland Transit Authority Refurbishment
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority closed in April 2009 for a several month refurbishment. In August, guests saw new multi-colored LED lights being tested along the track, but they ultimately were not used when the attraction reopened in September 2009. A month later, in October 2009, the attraction received a new narration spiel, similar to the original "tour" style.

October 2009: Seven Dwarfs Mining Co. & Friar's Nook  Facade
The facades for both Seven Dwarfs Mining Co. Shop and Friar's Nook receive a new coat of paint ahead of the Fantasyland Expansion. Photos of Seven Dwarfs Mining Co. can be found here.

November 2009: Space Mountain & Tomorrowland Skyway Demolition
Space Mountain closed in April 2009 for a several month refurbishment. The Tomorrowland Skyway Station right next to it was demolished and the restrooms were refurbished beginning in November 2008.

New green Space Mountain sign

When Space Mountain reopened, it featured an all new blue and green theme, presumably to move away from the FedEx orange. Graphics throughout the attraction updated the storyline, giving Magic Kingdom's Space Mountain the "Starport Seven-Five" name. The Starport Seven-Five station is just one of the many across the galaxies. A new interactive "NextGen" queue was installed where guests are instructed to collect items using three light-up touch-sensitive buttons on the railing. The loading platforms were completely enclosed to make the attraction darker. Above the loading platform, outlined with a bright blue neon strip, are skylights looking into outerspace where you can see spaces stations floating around. The actual rockets were repainted to remove the glow in the dark strip, making the attraction completely dark.

New Starport Seven-Five loading area

On-ride photos were also added to the attraction, which guests can view when they get off. The post-show was updated with new graphics and designs based around space travel. The entire attraction has many hidden "easter eggs" that honor Imagineers and other Disney locations around the world. Other Space Mountain updates have occurred since the attraction re-opened, but they will be included in Part 2 of this article.

Coming Soon - Part 2: 2010 - 2012
Well, that about wraps it up for 2007-2009. As you can see, this is only the beginning. These years saw the big attraction refurbishments with Haunted Mansion, Hall of Presidents, and Space Mountain receiving large renovations. Their focus will soon turn towards general facade painting, interactive queues, and prepping Fantasyland for the forest-themed expansion.

I hope you enjoyed this post! This is only the beginning of what I have planned for 7 Seas Lagoon.

1 comment:

  1. Great overview! I always loved the story behind that fry cart. It was one of my first glimpses into how much detail was put into even the most insignificant thing in the park. Looking forward to more. - @thatsostelle/@happyplaceblog