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The Magic Kingdom is a draw like no other but its design in many ways never accounted for the massive crowds that are featured at the park nearly every day of the year.  Because of this Walt Disney Imagineers have had to come up with creative solutions to maximize the Magic Kingdom’s footprint whilst accommodating for ever-growing demand.  We’ve seen expansions to the park that have added capacity such as New Fantasyland.  Expansions that have made it easier to walk around the park such as the infamous Tangled themed restrooms and pathway that alleviated the traffic pain point at the entry/exit from Fantasyland into Liberty Square.  Other initiatives such as Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom were designed to pull guests out of the main thoroughfares and into the side streets and other forgotten spaces of the Magic Kingdom.  And yet none of these had much effect if any on the worst part of a day at the Magic Kingdom.  The stampede to see and then worse get home after the nightly showing of Wishes! fireworks at the park.  It is precisely this process that the Magic Kingdom’s “hub” redesign hoped to improve and now that the only thing left to complete are the renovated ramps to Cinderella Castle we can begin to draw conclusions about the project and what it means for your day and night at the center of the Magic Kingdom.  We’ll do this through a splendid photo tour of the area that encapsulates the beauty of the new Magic Kingdom “hub” along with its shortcomings.  With that we invite you to step onto the edge of Main Street USA and into a park you know and love but that has done some growing up in the past year.

 

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

It’s easy to get distracted by the Halloween decor but we are interested in so much more.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

You see, even before we have left the end of Main Street USA we encounter the expanded footprint of Cinderella Castle with its new wall and spires.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

There she is, Magic Kingdom’s new “hub” at times wonderful and sometimes I can’t help but feel something is missing.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Cinderella Castle is as beautiful as ever. A bit surprised the new castle spires don’t add too much depth when viewing the castle straight on.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The new Firework Viewing pads have proven quite popular both day and night. I certainly am not a fan, especially during the day because it can be an unseemly sight for varying reasons.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

This is the bread and butter of the new “hub” redevelopment. The outer ring. When it’s not consumed with traffic it makes traversing this part of the Magic Kingdom more delightful.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

For all that is “missing” in the center of MK’s “hub” it feels like it’s here in the outer ring. It’s a scenic stroll through a luxurious garden.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

In fact when looking inward towards the “old hub” it’s quite a beautiful sight, though it’s sparse and utilitarian when standing closer to the Partners Statue.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

On the outer ring you will find another wonderful change. No longer do the popcorn and ice cream stands protrude into the walking space of the “old hub” rather they now are tucked just enough out-of-the-way to make the experience just that much more satisfying.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

A family approaches the East (popcorn stand).

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The new stands are finely finished with the detail you’d expect.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Aha! Here the new castle spires do give Cinderella Castle that added depth and dimension we were looking for. Brilliant and probably my favorite new view in the MK hub.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Those light poles do throw off the forced perspective a bit but it still makes for an incredible photo-op especially as the Sun sets over the kingdom.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The brown fencing is much taller than the green fencing it replaced. It is more ornate and of higher quality but now it’s an aesthetic feature whereas before it mainly faded into the background.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The little green fencing wasn’t the only casualty of this Magic Kingdom “hub” renovation. The Plaza Rose Garden was removed in a rather curious decision.  In its place are flowers, shrubbery and large trees that also have the effect of covering the view into Tomorrowland.  It feels like Disney was compensating for what they took out in the center of the hub but perhaps over thought the room.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

That being said, this photo looking back towards the hub’s outer ring show’s the redevelopment at its beautiful best.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

This newly planted area still needs to grow in. You can see a cutout in the pathway presumably for a smaller food cart.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Neatly tucked away is the command booth for the stage shows in the new castle wall structure.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

This is a definitive upgrade over the prior building.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

A family plans their next move at the Magic Kingdom.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The Sun glows upon the castle with its last hour of light.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Golden Perfection.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The mighty castle spires.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

It’s not all about looks. Along with water fountains, critical emergency equipment is also available.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Very excited to see the new ramps into Cinderella Castle though I am afraid they will be much taller than they were before and I’m curious to see if it will change the feel of walking into the castle.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The new stone paving takes shape.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Cinderella Castle, still beautiful.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Do you think the new spires are a great addition to Cinderella Castle?

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Looking towards the outer ring can be quite enchanting with all the higher quality materials now in place and the wondrous trees in the background.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

On the other hand there are poles everywhere you look throughout the hub and they detract.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

I can orient the camera to miss the poles and grab a wonderful shot of nearly the entire footprint of Cinderella Castle’s reach but you aren’t getting these unobstructed views when in the park.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Very much like the castle walls and spires added a bit of weight to Fantasyland, they give just that much more presence to Cinderella Castle.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

This transition into Liberty Square is way too truncated now by the outer “hub” ring and I’m not a fan.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

During the day the second ring provides a nice leisurely walk to and fro in the Magic Kingdom but I don’t like that it funnels people away from the Partners Statue.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The Ice Cream stand sits on the West outer ring.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Calm and peaceful now but even with all this added space there would be gridlock here after Wishes! on this night.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

For as much as I appreciate the new more rich materials added to the hub and the new castle walls and spires, I can’t help but feel that the center of Magic Kingdom’s hub is now devoid of its traditional charm.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Even in this classic view, Cinderella Castle seems to be floating with nothing to ground it. Gone are the center hub trees in favor of viewing angles and in are lighting poles disguised by little that overpower Cinderella Castle’s forced perspective at times.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Here is a grand example. When I step to the fencing I can grab this amazing photograph with no obstructions. It’s the pristine, perfect Magic Kingdom as you’d expect, enhanced by a new outer hub ring.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

But when you step back you realize the reality of this scene is far different from my photographer’s eye. Lighting rigs that tower the heights of trees. Oversized lighting and speaker poles. And since all the benches are in Disneyland guests are left to lean against the railing or grab a seat on the walkway or on the side of the curb. It’s not a great look.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

More of the same. Lighting poles overpower the forced perspective of Main Street USA and guests have nowhere to sit because thus far Disney has not placed benches at the hub. Hopefully this changes.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

When the obstructions are limited you get some amazing views around the new hub like this one facing The Crystal Palace.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

I can understand the popularity of a rest space at the Magic Kingdom even if it’s glorified artificial turf but at the entrance to the park it just looks unseemly. And Cinderella Castle’s moat is all but gone thematically because the truncated version just doesn’t feel connected the way it did before. For me this sacrificed way too much for what was gained.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Pole-land.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Despite the barren landscaping at the center of the hub, Cinderella Castle is still an impressive sight and arguably more impressive than ever.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Towers everywhere.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Walt and Mickey’s backdrop is all the more grand.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Walt makes everything better.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

No place to put twinkle lights here.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The views onto Main Street USA are amongst my favorite in the new hub but again the poles do detract.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The truncated areas have allowed Disney to really focus on making some outstanding flowerbeds. This one here is a standout.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The area around the Crystal Palace is well served by the new Magic Kingdom “hub.”

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The moat is smaller but this is still a beautiful view.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Again larger trees around the outside of the hub will remove the rest of the Magic Kingdom largely from view.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

As the last light of day glances upon Cinderella Castle and its new spires we see the majesty of it all.

Magic Kingdom's "Hub" Gains Castle Walls and Spires

The hub is but the entrance into a kingdom of adventure.