1. This week, Walt Disney World introduced big changes to the daily opening of Epcot. They’ve essentially eliminated “rope drop.” Of course the park still has a moment at which it opens. But the practice of allowing guests to go through the turnstiles early and gather at the Innoventions plaza until the official opening time has ended. They’ve also eliminated the brief opening show that included characters from the Epcot Character Meet & Greet spot, the free roaming Test Track vehicle, and the Family of the Day. This change also applies to the International Gateway entrance – something to keep in mind on crowded days at Epcot where the dash for a Soarin’ Fastpass is critical, as the walk from the International Gateway across to Soarin’ is a bit longer than the walk from the main entrance. In place of the Rope Drop show appears to be a “Good Morning” announcement in each of the languages of of the World Showcase countries, followed by an, “Are you ready?” and a streamer blast over the crowd, which is being held at the entrance turnstiles until the official opening time (usually 9:00 a.m.).

2. Installation has already begun in Walt Disney World of kiosks which will serve as game elements for the new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game in the Magic Kingdom Park. The game is set to open in early 2012, and will feature Merlin the Magician recruiting guests to become apprentice sorcerers. Recruited guests will then use maps and clues to help defeat an army of Disney Villains. Only limited details have been released so far, but Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is looking like a melange of Kim Possible’s World Showcase Adventures (without the specialized hardware requirement); The Sword and the Stone movie; and the Kingdom Keepers young adult novels. The game is generally thought to be an effort to help draw traffic away from the construction-congested Fantasyland area.

3. Thanks to this weeks participating Dis Dads – Paul Hajjar, with another excellent Top 5 Tuesday installment, Mark Pratt for help brainstorming the Villains Tournament, and Joshua Haas for his work editing the podcast.

4. Disney photography maven Tom Bricker has an excellent blog post out today over at TouringPlans.com, about the best viewing spots for the Wishes fireworks display. What really sets Tom’s article apart are the terrific photos from the various locations he’s discussing – they really drive home the points that he makes and allow a direct comparison in a way I’ve never seen presented before.

5. A HUGE thank you to all of our supporters, readers, and listeners. In the couple of weeks, Disdads.com has crossed the 1,000 published comments threshold and the Dis Dads Podcast has crossed 8,000 total downloads to 1,550 unique listeners. The number of “official” Dis Dads is now over 650. Numbers like those encourage all of us who work on the website, the podcast, and the message board. Thanks again for joining us on this Dad-centric Disney journey.

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