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Robert Niles

Tuesday theme park news round-up: Avengers run through Disneyland, and changes are coming to the Magic Kingdom hub

Published: February 25, 2014 at 6:44 PM

RunDisney today announced its newest running event: an Avengers half-marathon weekend at the Disneyland Resort in California. The November event will be the third annual running weekend at the Disneyland Resort, joining the Disneyland Half-Marathon in August, and the Tinker Bell Half-Marathon Weekend in January. RunDisney's first Marvel-themed weekend also will be the first character-themed Disney running event not targeted specifically toward women. (The other character themed event, in addition to the Tinker Bell weekend, is Walt Disney World's Disney Princess Half Marathon, which completed this past weekend.) Of course, any Marvel-themed RunDisney event would have to happen as Disneyland, as the Universal Orlando deal prevents Disney from including its Marvel characters inside the Walt Disney World theme parks. Registration starts online on March 25 for the event, which happens Nov. 14-16.

Alice in Wonderland ride
Ditch these tarps, please!

Also in Disneyland news, the park confirmed again today that its Alice in Wonderland ride will be getting its long-awaited exterior makeover, closing March 9 for an extended refurbishment that will last through summer. Alice in Wonderland joins Big Thunder Mountain, It's a Small World, and the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage on this year's extended refurb calendar, though Thunder's in testing and could be returning any day now.

Wrapping up on the West coast, Disneyland also welcomed the semi-annual "Dapper Day" this past weekend, when thousands of park guests go old-school by dressing up in what a previous generation called "their Sunday best" for their trip to the parks. (Way back when, many people dressed up to visit Disneyland. Or, at least, they dressed up relative to today's, uh, rather casual apparel standards.) Dapper Day is coming to Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom on March 9. If you're interested, you can get convention-rate discounted tickets to the MK that day via the Dapper Day website.

Looking for another Orlando-area ticket deal? SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa are offering $50 weekday tickets, now through May 5. You must use the ticket by that date, and U.S. residents must purchase them in advance via the parks' websites or by calling 888-800-5447.

Of course, the best discount is getting something for free. U.S. rail service Amtrak grabbed some attention this week for okay'ing a couple of writers' pitch to give them free tickets to write while traveling on Amtrak. That inspired Gawker to come up with some alternate travel-related "writer's fellowships," including the "The Six Flags Over Georgia Ninja Roller Coaster Distinguished Writer Fellowship" for seeking a "creative jolt" to "write provocative reflections on the illusory distinctions between up and down, left, and right." (And thanks for the link, guys!)

Finally, work's getting underway for some changes to the hub at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom. The plans apparently call for filling in the section of the old Swan Boat waterway between the Crystal Palace and the Tomorrowland Terrace, creating space to help lay down a second pavement ring, with a wider circumference, surrounding the existing hub roadway. That will create more paved space for people standing (or sitting) to watch the nightly fireworks, and provide some crowd control relief after those shows. On busy nights in the MK, audience control cast members have created makeshift pathways through the grass on the hub to hep exit the large crowds. This refurbishment will create additional permanent pathways around and exiting the hub, including two pathways leading from the new outer hub ring to the alternate exits on either side of Main Street USA.

Update: Disney's just posted a video:

Replies (14)

Published: February 25, 2014 at 10:39 PM

Does that mean more trees are being cut down at the MK hub?
Annette Forrest

Published: February 26, 2014 at 2:15 AM

Robert -- can you possibly draw a picture of the hub updates with the swan boats thing and add it to this article? I just can't quite picture this. Does this mean the moat is going to go away? I don't understand what they are doing. Thanks!
Kelly Muggleton

Published: February 26, 2014 at 4:23 AM

Someone tell me when I can FP+ my walk across the new pavement please! :-) hahahaha I couldn't resist!
TH Creative

Published: February 26, 2014 at 8:54 AM

First of all that was some GREAT SNARK from Ms. Muggleton.

(Chuckle x 2)

The in-fill of the Swan Boat canal is very telling and may well be linked the recent ticket price increase. Magic Kingdom attendance may be trending to a point of intolerable. The arrival of the Dwarf Mine Train and the new parade will either (at a minimum) sustain or (at a maximum) exacerbate the situation.

From an anecdotal perspective, my CM friends tell me that MK has been very crowded virtually every day this year.

Adding some cred to that report are the current, planned the closing time set for these WEEK DAYS (!!!) coming in March:

Thursday, March 6 (11 PM)
Tuesday, March 11 (1 AM)
Wednesday, March 19th (12 AM)
Monday, March 24 (12 AM)

When the park was originally conceptualized (almost 50 years ago) I wonder what the designers assumed its annual attendance would be?

Brian Bauer

Published: February 26, 2014 at 9:37 AM

WDWMagic has a mock up of what the new hub should look like. Basically they are adding a larger ringed pathway in between the old pathway and the waterway.
Orrin Carstarphen

Published: February 26, 2014 at 9:37 AM

This issue only further illustrates the need for new lands/ rides at the other 3 parks sooner rather than later. New additions to these areas would hopefully draw some of the crowding away from the Magic Kingdom.
TH Creative

Published: February 26, 2014 at 11:08 AM

Who made the mock-up?
Brian Bauer

Published: February 26, 2014 at 11:12 AM

@Orrin. Not only are they doing this, they are also building a (better themed) access path behind Main Street and building a 2nd ferry boat dock. Although I wonder if that last one has more to do with the unreliable monorails as opposed to an increase in guests.

@TH. I think it was a WDWMagic member, not something official.

TH Creative

Published: February 26, 2014 at 11:22 AM

I asked because I notice the pathways to the Swan Boat Dock and through the rose gardens have vanished.
Rob Pastor

Published: February 26, 2014 at 11:42 AM

The mock up on Magic was just a guess using the info Disney provided. It wasn't mentioned as official or insider knowledge.
Robert Niles

Published: February 26, 2014 at 11:57 AM

My graphic skills are rubbish, I'm afraid. But, yeah, a second ring around the existing hub ring, with two paths dropping from the second ring to the two backstage access points on either side of Main Street.

The elimination of the old pathway to the former Swan Boat dock is the first step in clearing the area for the new path construction.

M. Ryan Traylor

Published: February 26, 2014 at 3:52 PM

What is taking BTMR so long?
Brian Bauer

Published: February 27, 2014 at 3:25 PM

So it looks like that previous rendering was pretty close. I really like the castle additions.
Rob Pastor

Published: February 27, 2014 at 3:50 PM

Lots of concrete, not much grass, in the new Disney rendering. The plus is that there's lots more footage for Fireworks viewing areas.

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