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Saying Farewell to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

by on November 30, 2015

By now we’ve all heard the news that this is the last year for the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This popular dazzling light display has been a favorite among Disney guests for 20 years. It’s hard to part ways with this festive frolic of  millions of lights (over 5 million in fact). Yet, on the horizon we have a (hopefully) splendid Star Wars Land to look forward to.

I recently got to participate in the Disney Parks Blog Meet-Up at the Osborne Lights. The meet-up was only open to 500 guests, so you can imagine how cool it was to experience the Osborne Lights with so few people. This experience gave me an opportunity to cherish many of the moments and features that one must enjoy when saying farewell to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.


(Photo by Brandon Glover)

The Canopy 

I’m sure I am not the only one who simply adores the canopy of lights located on the San Francisco Street. I remember when this canopy was located on the original backlot; I was a kid then and I wished my neighborhood had such a covering of lights. Walking underneath a blanket of Christmas lights is simply enchanting.

A few years ago this canopy was made all the more magical when the red lights were changed into LED lights that are programmed to display patterns, shapes, and simple images. I highly recommend that you stop and stand under this canopy for at least one of the songs to which the lights dance, “What’s This?” from Nightmare Before Christmas is a good one.

(Photo by Brandon Glover)

(Photo by Brandon Glover)

(Photo by Brandon Glover)

(Photo by Brandon Glover)

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Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses: Animal Kingdom

by on November 30, 2015 4 Comments



Are you a Disney Park critic? I know, it’s hard to be critical of anything Disney (at least I think so), but even I have to admit that I’ve experienced a few things that some parks don’t do as well as others. Of course, there’s also a number of things that each park does very well! Today, I’m breaking down Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses beginning with a park that’s somewhat in transition right now: Animal Kingdom.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park is still a new park when compared with the other Disney World Parks and perhaps the most difficult to explain. What you should know right off is that Disney did not intend for this park to be a zoo, but rather a new type of theme park where the entertainment and is living and breathing. Animal Kingdom opened for guests appropriately on Earth Day in 1998 and is currently home to more than 2,000 animals and currently in a transition as construction continues for new nighttime entertainment and the addition of Pandora – The World of AVATAR.

So let’s start with Animal Kingdom’s strengths, shall we…

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Animal Kingdom AtMousePhere: The Music of Asia

by on November 29, 2015 2 Comments

Photo Courtesy Brian McNichols

Photo Courtesy Brian McNichols

There are many sections of Disney’s Animal Kingdom where music is blissfully absent. Because the Animal Kingdom is such a large theme park, it would be hard to fill in every single space with music and not be a huge bother to people and animals, so the engineers didn’t even try!

I am thankful for that. In a park like the Animal Kingdom, natural sounds should be allowed to dominate. When going from one attraction to another, the music tends to get softer (or mute completely) the further from an attraction, restaurant, or village you go.

Copyright 2010 Claire NatIn the Asia section of the Animal Kingdom, one word can describe the music: authentic. This isn’t music from Japan or China in Epcot transferred over (although there are other areas in the Animal Kingdom where music is taken from other parks). This music takes us into the other areas of Asia through instrumentation and rhythms – places like Nepal, Bangladesh, and India.

The fictional town in Animal Kingdom’s Asia, called Anandapur, is more spread out than the neighboring Animal Kingdom village of Harambe. The songs that you hear are much quieter and blend in more than Harambe’s pop sound. Read the rest of this entry »

SATURDAY SIX: Second Annual Theme Park Turkeys of the Year

by on November 28, 2015 15 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is one of our favorites as we present the Second Annual “Turkeys” of the Year. For Thanksgiving this week we took a look back at things both Disney and Universal fans should be thankful for, but today we are going to go the other way. Gather round as we continue the tradition of awarding six Theme Park “Turkeys” to the craziest, most outrageous, or just downright weird stories of the year, concluding with the coveted Golden Turkey award. Let’s kick off the ceremony with a Disney snack no one saw coming….

# 6 – Animal Kingdom Poop Snacks

This June at Zuri’s Sweet Shop in Disney’s Animal Kingdom four new snacks debuted that were made to resemble animal droppings. That’s right, poop. The Match The Species snacks featured food designed to look like Elephant, Hippo, Giraffe, and Cotton Top Tamarin poop. You have to give credit where credit is due, that’s a unique presentation.

The snacks became an instant sensation on Disney social media, and quickly made the rounds to mainstream media. The poop snacks were pulled from the shelves in less than two weeks. Disney officially said that they were just a test and were not coming back, but several sources claim that the reason they disappeared so fast was because of the numerous complaints by guests who didn’t find the snacks amusing.


The Match The Species poop snacks at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. (photo by Brian Carey)


For a limited time, you too could eat simulated Giraffe poop. (photo by Brian Carey)

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of November 27, 2015

by on November 27, 2015 1 Comment

ICYMIDid you go out Black Friday shopping or did you choose to sleep in today? I enjoyed the comfort of my bed this morning personally!

This week, there is an explosion of Star Wars fun, such as a Pentatonix performance, Star Wars audition tapes, and more!

In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors


To celebrate thankfulness during this Thanksgiving Week, Good Morning America created unforgettable experiences for two hometown hero families who went above and beyond to help others serving in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Air Force overseas.

Take a look at one of the oldest Walt Disney cartoons ever created…this one is almost 100 years old.

I didn’t know this was a thing, so I wanted to share it with you all! Did you know that you can ask the TSA your questions via Twitter? Read the rest of this entry »

Acoustic Band Quickstep Debuts at Epcot’s UK Pavilion (with Video)

by on November 27, 2015 2 Comments

quickstep Epcot UK

Quickstep performs on their debut day at Epcot’s UK Pavilion (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

The revolving door of World Showcase entertainment continued to spin during Thanksgiving Week, as Epcot welcomed a new musical group days after saying goodbye to two shows. Only days ago, the Canadian Lumberjacks swung their last axe and log-rolled right out of the park, and the week before we bade farewell to the UK pavilion’s Paul McKenna Band. To fill the void in that quadrant of the park, Walt Disney World premiered Quickstep in Epcot’s UK pavilion on Thanksgiving Eve, and we were there to capture one of the group’s debut day performances.


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A look into the future: Walt Disney World 2025 – part 1

by on November 27, 2015 4 Comments

What’s 10 years? When you’re young, it seems like forever. For me, now solidly in middle age, 10 years can seem to pass in the blink of an eye.

In theme park terms, a lot can happen in the span of a decade. Take the 10-year period of 1989-1998, when Walt Disney World opened two theme parks: Disney-MGM Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom; two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach; and a dozen resort hotels: Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, Dixie Landings (Port Orleans Riverside), Disney’s Vacation Club Resort (Old Key West), All Star Sports, All Star Music, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Caribbean Beach Resort.

No one can expect that kind of progress over the next 10 years. But combining what we know is coming to Walt Disney World with the needs and opportunities at Disney’s Florida park can provide some clues to what we can expect to see in the year 2025.

In this, the first of two posts, we will look at the theme park experience. In part two, we’ll look at future resorts and transportation changes.



Disney’s Animal Kingdom: By 2025, Pandora – The World of Avatar is eight years into its existence and has been bolstered by three sequels to the highest-grossing film of all time produced by James Cameron. This land, along with the Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular and the evening version of Kilimanjaro Safaris, have transformed Disney’s Animal Kingdom into a full-day park, increasing its attendance past Epcot. A year after the opening of Pandora, Expedition Everest was taken down for an extended refurbishment in which the dormant Yeti was finally restored to its full glory. Meanwhile, a re-imagined DinoLand USA has just opened, taking its cues from Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” and including a kid-friendly dark ride alternative to DINOSAUR.



Disney’s Hollywood Adventure?: As strong as attendance is at Animal Kingdom, it’s still behind Magic Kingdom and, yes, Disney’s (insert name here for the renamed park). Star Wars Land has had a Potter-esque impact on this park, jumping attendance so much that an expansion of the five-year-old land is already in the works. With the continued success of the new Star Wars films, shows and games, Imagineers have even more material from which to draw. The addition of Toy Story Land has also spurred further Pixar expansion talk that could either be a version of Radiator Springs Racers or the long-rumored Monsters Inc. Coaster. Meanwhile, Aerosmith has company on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, as other artists are enlisted for the pre-show and soundtrack, which rotates throughout the day to give riders different experiences. Read the rest of this entry »

#TBT: Thanksgiving Dinner at the Magic Kingdom

by on November 26, 2015 9 Comments

[This post originally ran in November 2014, which is when the Bloom family celebrated Thanksgiving in the Magic Kingdom. Wherever you are, have a Happy Thanksgiving. If you are not in the United States, you can go ahead and enjoy your day too.]

There are many choices for Thanksgiving dinner at Walt Disney World. Most every resort restaurant has some option, and within the parks many of the sit down restaurants offer a Thanksgiving meal. We decided to do something a little bit different. We brought our own Thanksgiving dinner into the Magic Kingdom.

WDW Pilgrims

WDW Pilgrims

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SATURDAY SIX THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2015

by on November 26, 2015 2 Comments

This week’s SATURDAY SIX  is our annual Thanksgiving Special and takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2015 was another great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday planning to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, we ask that all Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with…

# 6 – Selfie Stick Ban at Walt Disney World


no_more_selfie_sticks_pamphlet_sethIf you noticed any #Millenials or narcissists wearing black armbands this summer, it was because after banning selfie sticks on Disney attractions earlier in the spring, Walt Disney World completely banned the use of selfie sticks at the parks. Seemingly out of nowhere, the edict came down right after another high profile news story of Disney California Adventure’s California Screamin’ roller coaster being stopped mid ride because of a guest using a selfie stick. On June 26th, WDW guests were given a pamphlet at the parking plaza explaining the selfie stick ban, signage was displayed on the walkways to the parks along with bag check explaining the new policy.

The selfie stick ban was definitely a controversial move to be sure. Universal had earlier become more strict on preventing selfie sticks on rides, but Disney outright stopped people from even entering the park with them. Now we joked earlier about only kids and narcissists using them, the truth is that selfie sticks have become increasingly popular across almost all demographics. While people using selfie sticks inside the parks can be a nuisance, they were starting to become a serious safety factor on attractions. You may have seen what is called an Envelope of Protection as Imagineers test out the attractions. This device makes sure that all the attractions are safe for every rider, basically simulating the possible reach of every guest in the ride vehicle. This is why while it may seem like your may lose your arms in Space Mountain if you hold them up during the ride, but in actuality you are nowhere close to hitting anything. What the Envelope of Protection doesn’t take into account though, is guests holding on to anything that extends their reach.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever November 26, 2015: Magic Kingdom Thanksgiving Week Crowds

by on November 26, 2015 5 Comments

Ok theme park fans, it’s time to talk turkey! If you want to have the Best Week Ever at Walt Disney World, common wisdom says that the Thanksgiving holiday isn’t the most stress-free time to visit in terms of attendance. In fact, the last week of November can be one of Orlando’s busiest seasons, right behind Christmas Week and Spring Break. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great time in the parks this week, as long as you go in armed with some advice from your friends at Touring Plans, plus a whole lot of patience. To prove the point, I recently spent an afternoon elbow-to-elbow with Magic Kingdom Thanksgiving Week crowds to bring you this turkey day travelogue. Hopefully you won’t find it too fowl!


Violating the first rule of holiday touring, I showed up at the Magic Kingdom not at rope drop, but at high noon, just as park attendance should be reaching its peak. Much to my surprise, I was parked not in outer Siberia, but in the Zurg section of the Villains lot, right night to medical parking. From here I could walk to the TTC as easily as taking the tram, a nice treat on a busy day.


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