Tom Corless’ 1/5-1/16 WDW Photo Report (Includes American Idol Experience and Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure Coverage)

I’ve finally returned from my 12 day excursion to the Walt Disney World with a ton of photos to share of the latest happenings around the vacation kingdom, including an in-depth look at the two biggest new attractions of 2009. With so much to see, let’s get started:

These photos are not in chronological order, but are ordered by location, so let’s start in the Magic Kingdom.

The Disney Dreams Come True Parade continues to operate without the Mickey Mouse float until the new Celebrate Disney Dreams Come True Parade debuts January 23

It appears that the castle float will return in the new parade, thanks to the latest changes to it

“Celebrate Today” replaces “A Kingdom of Dreams”

The characters remain in the Year of a Million Dreams outfits until the new parade debuts

The Galaxy Palace Theater getting ready for demolition during the early part of my trip

The rotating numbers on the Carousel of Progress sign have been replaced with a small sign containing the year

Construction of Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration continues to engulf Tomorrowland

The restrooms between Merchant of Venus and Mickey’s Star Traders are closed for refurbishment. Who is that guy smiling?

Waiting for the final performance of Dream Along with Mickey on January 5th, the show returns with some changes on the 21st

Year of a Million Dreams banners remained up at this point

One of my favorite WDW shows of all-time, Dream Along with Mickey

The exterior of the Hall of Presidents is being refurbished while the show makes some major changes for a July 2nd debut

A large construction wall has appeared in front of the Magic Kingdom

It goes up to the security area

Appears to be some groundskeeping work

Year of a Million Dreams banners finally disappear, once again revealing the famous plaque

Removal of the Castle Dreamlights is being done during park operating hours

A large crane imposes on those great pictures many hope to take

The height of the crane is pretty impressive, as are these workers high in the sky

The castle forecourt stage has been stripped of most of it’s set pieces during the absence of a stage show

The turret with the raising mechanism remains, but the Year of a Million Dreams banners in the background do not

The large signage of the Galaxy Palace Theater slowly disappears

Some more work going on throughout Tomorrowland

The Buffalo Wing cart has been replaced with a Corn Dog cart

The exterior of the Skyway building being freshened up for the debut of Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration next month


A few days later, only the columns remain outside (what was) the Galaxy Palace Theater

If they’re weren’t enough walls in Tomorrowland, Sonny Eclipse is on vacation

All signage that he was here, were gone

Until the next day, when this popped up

The crane did come down during some rainy weather a few days later

Hard to walk anywhere in this park without seeing construction walls

The crane raises again later in the day

This crane has closed down this passage in Fantasyland

The Country Bear Jamboree is looking pretty good, most of the bears have a fresh coat of fur

The show also sounded much better than in years past

The new Golden Oak Outpost in Frontierland is behind schedule, but is coming along nicely

Splash Mountain was closed for some general maintenance during all of my trip :(

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe is also getting some TLC on the roof

The first Celebrate Today banners are up in the Rose Garden of all place

I have never seen anyone attempt to hold this many seats. And the cheerleader groups wonder why frequent visitors don’t like them…

We now move over to Epcot, where I was able to test the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure

If you don’t want me to spoil this attraction for you, you may want to skip ahead to our Hollywood Studios photos

The large monitor on top of these walls inside Innoventions displays clips and a synopsis of the Kim Possible program

The missions begin when World Showcase opens

After the park opens, you can pick up a ticket which will tell you a location to pick up your Kimmunicator device

Some disclaimers on the back of the ticket

A piece of the United Kingdom mission is not quite ready for use yet

A “hidden” cart at the International Gateway serves as the pick-up location. Each mission lasts about 20-25 minutes and you can ask for a particular country if it’s not too busy

I then picked up my Kimmunicator (or modified Verizon LG phone), and headed for my first mission in France

I was instructed to look up at the Eiffel Tower so I could have my picture taken. I did get some interesting looks from surrounding guests…

Another scene had a device pop out of a lamp in a store window

Another window contained a bookshelf that I had to use the Kimmunicator to scan for fingerprints

This camera plays a rather large role in the finale of the France mission, however, each country has different tracks that lead to the end result

You are then instructed to drop the Kimmunicator in a secret drop box

Each country has a unique box with this seal

Following France, I moved to the United Kingdom mission

Upon activating a hilarious mating call, you can find a hidden message on a butterfly

Upon activation, this screen and the audio-animatronic soldier come to life

This window is supposed to be the hideout of villain Duff Killigan

Using some leftover pieces from the Hydrolaters of the Living Seas, the window fills with water

Another disguised Kimmunicator drop box

Next it was of to a mission in China

As we reported a few weeks ago, this figure inside the Warrior exhibit nods his head

The different tracks in each mission are broken up by assignments

Your Kimmunicator even sets off this large bell

As well as activates this illuminating table that reacts to the date of birth you enter on the Kimmunicator

One of the highlights has to be the Jade Monkey that rises from the water upon your request

The instructions on the device are in-depth, making sure first time visitors will no get lost during a mission

China’s drop box

Another look at the fantastic Verizon & LG Kimmunicator

A Kimmunicator pick-up location in Norway. There is also one in the Italy pavilion

Next, I tried the Norway mission

You are asked to get your picture taken by a lamppost in front of this so…

you can appear on the cover of Viking Fashion Monthly!!!

Marathon champion Grete Waitz speaks to you from the bushes behind this statue to brief you on the mission

Hard to see here, but the gods of Norway make you aware of their presence by sending smoke into the air

It appears that the viking ship play area was removed for some Kim Possible elements

The Norse gods raise a flag

You’ll also use you Kimmunicator to scan images, such as this poster

This sign in the Maelstrom attraction exit reveals…

a hidden screen that reveals what is happening at the fashion show that you were to destroy

My favorite mission had to be the one that takes place in Mexico

This Animales Fantasticos exhibit…

Darkens to reveal a secret emblem

There’s also an animatronic parrot that reveals the villains plans

These piniatas reveal a secret code

This Dia De Los Muertos doll comes to life and gives you more information on the mission

While not visible in this picture, the rocket you are to destroy actually leaves the volcano and crashed behind the temple

The drop box outside Mexico

The final mission I attempted was Germany

This village reveals the evil plans of a villain, with the clock activating as the eyes of the villagers turn red and they become zombies

This beer stein display plays a song to help you in your mission

This cuckoo clock also delivers a message

As does this large nutcracker

The finale is one of the best the attraction has to offer

The large doors open and a German clock doll chases the villain with a hammer. Activating this scared a number of guests in the area, making this a ton of fun :)

The German drop box

Moving away from the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure, the Fountain of Nations is under refurbishment

Moving to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Sorcerer’s Hat is closed for painting and electrical work

Amazing what a pair of paint rollers can do

The lighter color looks nice. You can also see some new paint on the moon

Some areas ready for paint

The Brown Derby and the small vendor across from it prepare for a new awning cover

The former Golden Age Souvenirs at the exit of the Superstar Television Theater is now an american Idol Experience merchandise location

The store opened a few days before any soft openings for the show

The Brown Derby (as well as all other table service restaurants at WDW) is offering a new “Celebrate Today!” Dessert

The Sorcerer’s Hat a little later in my trip

Even though Pal Mickey is no longer sold, the Darkroom still has this ad in the window

The Premiere Theater is getting ready for ESPN the Weekend

This billboard behind Pixar Place now has an ad for the NBA on ESPN

The Backlot tour is closed for refurbishment through March

The Bolt billboard behind the Great Movie Ride now features Bedtime Stories, which was an excellent film by the way

Could it be?

A soft opening of the American Idol Experience at 4:00, I’ll be there!!!

I was a little late to catch the audition process

A nice touch outside the audition area, you can get a picture with an American Idol background

Since the refurbishment will take a few weeks, these signs were placed outside the walls on the Sorcerer’s Hat

These stars were also added

The new covering has made it to the Brown Derby awning

Work continues on Stage 1 at the end of Pixar Place

Time for the American Idol Experience

That’s when it really opens, but you can catch some shows before then

I decided to watch Block Party Bash from the queue. This parade is great from any angle :)

An MC comes out to warm up the crowd, along with a camera man

They then make their way into the crowd to record some footage for the show

Ryan Seacrest then appears on the monitors to tell you about the audition process and what you are about to experience

These are the initial audition rooms

If chosen, the contestants move on to a room where they can pick a song and practice singing it

Contestants then have to perform for the producer

If the producer gives them a thumbs up, then its to the stage they go

When the videos done, a cast member reminds guests that only still photos with no flash are allowed, not even audio recording is permitted

The stage is the most amazing part of the experience, using cutting-edge lighting to bring that made for TV feeling to life

The judges desk is on the stage along with the trademark Coca-Cola cups

The contestant seats are there for every show, more of them for the finale show which will feature 8 contestants

The MC then returns to pump up the crowd and get them ready to be part of the show

He shows the crowd different ways they can get into a song

The MC then asks a guest to leave their seat for a moment so he can explain the voting system

The stage then turns to black with the bright white lights remaining for a rather dramatic effect

Ryan Seacrest then comes on to deliver the shows defining line, slightly altered for this attraction: “This is the American Idol Experience!”

The stage lights go crazy once the line is delivered and the contestants names are displayed

Our host then makes his first appearance

The three contestants are introduced

The stakes of the show are gone over again (reminding us of a Dream Ticket that can not be awarded until the first official finale show on February 14th)

Then the judges are introduced

I thought the third judge (very similar to a certain mean-spirited judge on the real show) was very funny

The first contestant is then brought out

Based on how a contestant answers, their favorite American Idol performer will give them some advice

Each song performed has been individually programmed into the stage, making each song a different experience

This first performer was pretty good

2 out of 3 judges agreed about his performance of “Walking in Memphis”

The second contestant had a video package put together of her audition process and her thoughts, very similar to the packages seen on the TV show 

The host then spoke to her for a few moments

She performed “Ever, Ever After” from Enchanted, A Disney song performed by an Idol winner

Notice the camera men who film the entire show

She wasn’t great, but some of the judges were very nice about it… except for one

The third contestant had a sit-down interview sponsored by Coca-Cola

We can guess that some of the bill for this attraction was covered by Coca-Cola, who has worked with both American Idol and the Disney Parks for quite some time

They then play the footage recorded out in the queue of the guests who were instructed to chant the performers name

This contestant was very good

All of the judges loved him

All 3 contestants were then brought to the stage

But before we can vote, we have to dance to a Jordan Sparks performance of “I’ve Got the Music in Me”

The video was recorded throughout Disney’s Hollywood Studios

They also cut to the crowd (that is supposed to be dancing) at multiple points during the video

The video also features a ton of DHS performers, including “Mulch, Sweat, and Shears”

The finale features Jordan Sparks, the studios cast, and some of the park’s more recognizable vehicles

Guests are then reminded of the contestants and the number to vote for them

Guests are then given a set amount of time to vote

The host then plays the Seacrest-like games as we wait to hear the results

And a winner is crowned!!!

The entire cast then takes center stage for the farewell

A look at the voting bar on the armrests between the rather tight seats. This system needs a change, too many guests couldn’t even see the number they were hitting on the short armrests full of numbers

A screen on the back wall that displays the words to each song for the performers

A blurry shot of the production area in the back of the theater

I think this is a great attraction, but I fear that it won’t last. Enjoy it while you can, I expect this attraction to vanish in 2013 when the contract expires.

We now move on to Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The McDonald’s sponsorship of Dinoland U.S.A. has come to an end

Most of the area is now sponsored by the fictitious Dino Institute

These Dinos are no longer digging the Big Mac

As reported earlier, the McDonald’s food vendor knows as Petri-fries was replaced with Trilo-Bites in November. This locations sells drinks and Turkey Legs

While the Pocohontas show is still gone, she is now making appearances outside Grandmother Willow’s Theater

We now move to Disney’s Contemporary Resort, where the new Outer Rim bar is under construction

There is also a Bay Lake Tower sales location behind the Fantasia shop while the observation deck outside is closed

Stormalong Bay is closed through April 15th

We now turn our eyes to one of my favorite aspects of WDW, Merchandise!!! Here are the three new Gallery of Light pieces

Look forward to a Haunted Mansion piece later this year

All of the 3 inch Vinylmation pieces were sold out just days after release, only this 9 inch remain. The urban series will be released very soon

Two of the four Star Wars limited edition big figures remain

A new Bambi and Thumper big figure is now available. I just had to buy this :)

These new miniature clocks are now available, there is also one that features the Partners Statue

While the Tote Bag has been a frequent offering for months now, the Monorail Jump Drive was new

New Happy Birthday Stitch plush

2009 Merchandise

Some very strange soap for sale at the Frontierland Trading Post

Surprising stuff for a Magic Kingdom store

Club Penguin merchandise now for sale at the Briar Patch

“Celebrate Today!” merchandise

New shopping bags

They don’t say a word about “Celebrate Today!”

More “4 Parks, 1 World” stuff

I’m really hoping for a framed picture of this, it’s one of the best pieces of artwork I’ve seen

These buttons play a phrase from a designated character when pushed. They look like the Staples Easy Button

Bobble head pens!!!

The new “Celebrate Everyday!” napkins. Anyone else confused with this name yet?

Valentine’s Day merchandise

Along with a Winnie the Pooh plush that looks like it was made in the 1980’s

I’ll end this report with a very cool banner released for the holiday

I hope you all enjoyed this report, we worked really hard to get this pictures to you in a timely fashion. Even though we had some great coverage of them, expect more details on both the American Idol Experience and the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure as they become available and we draw closer to the official openings of both 2009 attractions. For full in-depth reports on both of these attractions, be sure to tune into episode 77 of the WDW News Today Podcast that will be released on Sunday. See ya real soon!!!