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If you’ve been to the Magic Kingdom in the past few years you’ve likely experienced the gridlock that happens around the park’s “hub” throughout the day but especially after the nightly Wishes! fireworks show.  The masses attempt to go each and every way all at once and what ensues often is just short of dangerous.  Most are trying to get out of the park and back to their hotels.  Others can’t wait to squeeze out more fun in the Magic Kingdom’s lands after the crowds have diminished.  And still others seem to be going in directions that to an onlooker don’t quite make sense.  Needless to say something had to be done to fix that situation for Disney guests and cast members who were struggling just to keep order.  The massive reworking and expansion of the Magic Kingdom’s “hub” has already begun to rectify many of the issues outlined above and there is still yet more work to be done on that front.  Yet while that project continues on, another side project both literally and figuratively, has been simultaneously in progress and ties in directly with the work at the center of the theme park.

 

For as long as I can remember the Main Street USA bypass has been in use in order to alleviate the overcrowding issues that often face the Magic Kingdom.  Of course this used to be reserved for the parks busiest days but as the years go by it feels like almost every day is a busy day at the most visited theme park in the world.  Hence the bypass is becoming a way of life at the Magic Kingdom and since it gave guests a view into the wilds of the backstage areas of the park, it was always a jarring experience for those used to only seeing the best of Disney themed “magic.”  Then I started to see glimpses of theming appear on the backs of Main Street USA’s buildings and knew the days of drab walks to escape the crowds might one day become a thing of the past.  Now, though not quite yet finished the process of lightly theming the bypass has given the Magic Kingdom something it desperately needs for crowd control without totally sacrificing guest experience in the process.  The theming isn’t all I hoped for but it is a substantial upgrade from what was there before and so I’ll take this first step in the right direction for an area of the Magic Kingdom that is now used so often it might as well be on the park map.

 

Follow Me Through the Bypass
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Entering the park, you are directed between Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and The Chapeau.

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No one is going to mistake this for Main Street USA but it’s a world of difference already from what it used to look like here.

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The smaller green fencing lives on and this area clearly carries Main Street USA’s theming while transitioning into the newly finished areas around the “hub.”

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A beautiful look back onto Main Street USA and the view you will have when exiting the park from the bypass.

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This is a people mover if you’ll pardon the pun and cast members will insist you keep on moving.

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There are never enough views of Cinderella Castle, so we ever so briefly stopped and stared.

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The pathways now feel like a proper theme park area, are well-lit and many times over, more welcoming.

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Some final touches like plants are missing but you can see the speaker installations to provide for that good ol’ Main Street USA soundtrack.

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It’s not exactly what many were hoping for but major improvement it is.

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Make a wish.

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Light and simple but nice theming.

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Clearly there is work to be done but this gives you a sense of how terrible this was before (if you can block out the faux brick out of your mind).

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These signs provide a bit of the Main Street USA story.

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Disney font heaven.

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Simply wonderful color.

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Established in 1893.

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The view when entering the bypass from the entrance near The Plaza Restaurant. It’s a work in progress but you get a sense that this project isn’t meant wow with beauty but rather provide an escape valve for the park that isn’t unseemly.

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The transition continues and we’ll just have to wait and see how everything turns out to be but for now I say, yay! It’s totally better than yesterday.