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The Magic, The Memories, and Junk! April 1st Photo Report of a Non-Disney Owned Outlet Store

by on April 1, 2015 6 Comments

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MMM_JunkWait a minute… didn’t we just do this yesterday? No, Dear Reader, you are not having a case of Deja Vu. We are back for a brand new Outlet Report, except today we are going to travel outside of the two Orlando Premium Outlets that contain the official Disney Character Warehouse stores, and venture into one of the many Disney stores located off property. We’ve all seen them, because they are everywhere. International Drive… State Road 535… 192… if it’s a main road in the theme park corridor of Orlando, there are going to be these knock off shops. Almost all promise cheap t-shirts and Florida souvenirs, and its surprising just how much of the exact same merchandise is in many of the various stores. While I would strenuously recommend you stay away from any place offering you “free” or cheap theme park tickets, heading into these souvenir stores can be fun because you can find items you’d never see on Disney property.

We narrowed down the list of options and chose to spotlight Theme Park Outlet, mostly because we love the name. It is located in the Lake Buena Vista Factory Stores off State Road 535 (the exact location will be at the end of the article).

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Disney Dining: FoodQuest at DisneyQuest

by on April 1, 2015 2 Comments

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Walt Disney World is filled with unique dining experiences and everyone has their favorite. The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater at DHS offers a completely immersive atmosphere that simulates guests sitting in cars watching a movie at a drive-in in the 1950s. The Chef’s Table at Victoria & Alberts at the Grand Floridan takes elegance to the next level. Be Our Guest Restaurant at the Magic Kingdom allows guests to step into the world of Beauty & the Beast. At Kidani Village, Sanaa is filled with elements of African culture and allows guests to look directly out into the savannah. Where else can you dine in front of 5.7 Million gallon aquarium outside of Epcot’s Coral Reef?

We all have that special place. A venue that satisfies our craving for exotic food like Jiko…or where servers can have a bit of fun with guests like ’50s Prime Time or Whispering Canyon… or where a couple can have an romantic evening out together like at Artist Point.

Take a moment and mentally picture YOUR favorite place to have meal at Walt Disney World.

Got it?

Now think of the exact opposite.

Welcome to FoodQuest at Downtown Disney’s DisneyQuest.

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DisneyQuest. (Photo by Brandon Glover)

 

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The Six Worst Attractions at Walt Disney World According to Our All-Star Panel

by on April 1, 2015 31 Comments

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This week’s special April 1st edition of the SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Worst Attractions at Walt Disney World. Our All-Star Panel was exhausted after voting for the best attractions at Universal Orlando Resort and Walt Disney World, but we weren’t done with them yet. No, now it was time to look at the other side of the coin. What are the worst attractions at Walt Disney World? This exercise was a lot tougher than you think, because certain attractions jump to mind, but the more you think about it, the more others start to emerge. Did you know that the Leave a Legacy monuments are considered an attraction at WDW? Ellen’s Energy Adventure takes a lot of heat, but what about the #INCREDIBLESSuperDanceParty in Tomorrowland (and yes, that’s it’s actual name. It should get a vote just based on that.) This was going to be a true challenge so our all star, blue ribbon panel  was made up of  40 members comprised of some of the most exceptional people in the theme park community (a full list is available at the end of the article.)

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The numbers were crunched, and then re-crunched by the Saturday Six computers.

The Criteria: Each of the 40 experts voted on what they consider to be the six worst attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort. These attractions could be any ride, show, nighttime spectacular, or parade currently in Walt Disney World (including the water parks.) Each attraction listed would be awarded ONE point, except for the attraction that the voter ranked in his #1 spot – that received TWO points. 

When the results were tabulated we then reached out to the great wise man of the theme parks, Jim Hill.

Jim Hill – When Derek invited me to take part in this particular Touringplans.com story, I have to admit that I wasn’t all that enthusiastic. Mostly because — after over three decades of interviewing the people who actually build & design the rides, shows and attractions for the Disney theme parks — I know for a fact that there isn’t an Imagineer on this planet who gets up in the morning and says “I want to create something crummy today. I want to do something that disappoints people.” Every ride, show and attractions starts out with the best possible intentions. It’s just that — between the “Blue Sky” phase and Opening Day — somehow that ride winds up going off the rails for reasons that are completely beyond WDI’s control. So to counter all of the snark found in today’s article, I thought I might try and give you a bit of background on each of the attractions that wound up on the “Worst” list:

We got 40 Disney experts. We got Jim Hill. We got the a list of the worst attractions at WDW. Who’s ready?!

The DEFINITIVE GUIDE to the SIX WORST ATTRACTIONS at Walt Disney World.

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# 6 – Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show (13 votes)

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(photo by Brandon Glover)

 

Len Testa (Co-Author to the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and owns a Space Mountain Themed Kitchen) –  Let’s start this off by saying that despite having absolutely no driving or mechanical talent of any kind, I can watch car shows like Lionel Richie: all night long. I’ve seen every episode of Top Gear, including the rare pre-James May Series 1. And I’ll watch Two Guys Garage for hours, even though there’s a better chance of a Chevy small block v8 falling on me than me rebuilding one.

So you’d think I’d love the extreme driving of the Lights, Motors, Action! show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, right? Well, no. To quote Mr. May, it’s rubbish. Why? How? Let me count the ways.

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To be fair, it could be worse…

First, there’s the opening. It’s the best part of the entire show, and it’s two and a half minutes of excellent stunt driving, drifting, and automotive choreography. The problem is that this 150-second snippet shows virtually every key element of the production, which somehow continues for another half an hour. If LMA was CSI:Miami, you’d know in the opening credits that the butler did it, see how it was done, and then spend the next half hour watching everyone talk about the crime. Which you saw. In the credits. At the beginning.

Next, there’s the super-in-depth discussion of how each movie scene is set up, including multiple camera angles, cinematography, editing and special effects techniques. This may have been mildly interesting a decade ago, before every 8-year old in the audience had a GoPro, and a YouTube account. But today? Dear Lord, half the audience can edit videos on their cellphones. We get it. As philosopher S. Roy Hagar said in Das Beste aus zwei Welten: “That which is understood need not be discussed.”

And that leads into the third big problem with the show: the pace is slower than 60-weight motor oil in a Boston snowstorm. For every minute of action, there’s something like 3 or 4 minutes of talking. It’s like watching C-SPAN debate fuel economy regulations, without the tin-foil hat voicemails for entertainment.

But the show manages to get even worse by pandering to small boys via the Lightning McQueen segment. It’s obvious, dull, and vapid. You know what would be better? Putting cameras in the cars and letting the drivers talk while doing some stunts. Sure, you’d have to get drivers with personality, but I happen to know of a foursome that is seeking gainful employment. Might be worth a phone call.

JIM HILL (Jim Hill Media) - It’s important to understand that when the Imagineers originally proposed this outdoor arena show for the Walt Disney Studios Park at the Disneyland Resort Paris, it was supposed to celebrate the James Bond films. EX: The pre-show area was to have taken Guests through Q’s Lab. More to the point, this stunt show was to have featured Bond doing battle with some of the more memorable villains from this film franchise (i.e., Jaws, Oddjob). But when the Broccoli  family wanted The Walt Disney Company to pay a ridiculous high fee in order to use the James Bond characters in a theme park setting, the Imagineers were forced to drop all of the hi-tech spy stuff that would have actually made this arena show entertaining and then go instead with a generic stunt driving show that wasn’t tied to any film franchise. So no Bond equals bland.

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Olaf’s Frozen Escape! Coming to Magic Kingdom in 2016

by on April 1, 2015 36 Comments

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Do you hear that sound? It’s the sound of Disney fanatics screaming in joy! (Or maybe it’s sounds of disgust…) Why? Because Stitch is out and Olaf is in.

According to a leaked press release dated for next week, Olaf’s Frozen Escape! will be joining the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland. The updated attraction will find guests in a brand new interstellar attraction featuring the lovable snowman from Frozen, Olaf. This new attraction will see the popular and adorable character mistakenly captured by the galactic authorities who send him to a containment facility, where all kinds of mayhem breaks out.

According to the concept art, the Olaf! pre-show includes other characters from Frozen:

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Sven’s here too! (c) Walt Disney Imagineering

Download the full-size image (4500 x 2531 pixels, 7.8MB)

Once guests are seated in the round theater, they will receive a warm hug helping to encourage them to remain seated. The lights will dim and Olaf will appear right in front of guest’s eyes! Then, because he doesn’t have his personal snow cloud with him, Olaf starts melting, causing him to short-circuit the laser beams, therefore allowing him to be able to interact with guests. Read the rest of this entry »

The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! March 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on March 31, 2015 22 Comments

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MMM positiveThough the March Hare is about to leave us on the last day of this very month, you need not worry because the April Fool has arrived a day early and is here with a brand spanking new Outlet Report. So take a break from hunting for Easter Eggs at Epcot, put aside your souvenir mugs from the soft opening of Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, hold off on booking that breakfast reservation for Be Our Guest, and be sure to pick your jaw up off the ground because it’s still there from finding out the Magic Kingdom opened up Aunt Polly’s on Tom Sawyer Island earlier this week. 

Prepare yourself for a trip to not just one, but BOTH Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando (physical addresses for both are located at the end of every edition of MM&M.) That’s right Dear Reader, I did the impossible and braved the I-4 traffic and horrendous parking situations at both outlets, for YOU.

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Our first stop is the Disney Outlet closer to Universal at the end of I-Drive and was surprised to see the first ever Tsum Tsums show up. I’ve seen them before at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney, but never felt compelled to buy one at $6 a pop. That said, unlike Vinylmation, I can definitely see the cuteness factor and why people would want to collect them. The only Tsum Tsums available were the seven dwarfs and only the ones pictured below. Of course I bought them all.

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5 My Disney Experience Mistakes—and How to Avoid Them

by on March 31, 2015 32 Comments

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Disclaimer: While I am a Cast Member, the following is based on my own experience and does not necessarily reflect the policies of the Walt Disney Company.

If you’re reading this blog, you probably like to plan ahead. The introduction of My Disney Experience has provided us with so many ways to fine-tune your vacation before you even arrive. But if you’re not careful, My Disney Experience can cause problems for your vacation before it even starts. Pay close attention to these tips so you’re well prepared for your Walt Disney World vacation.

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Sign in to start planning, but beware…

1) You don’t have a ticket for each person.

Each person needs to have park admission in order to get into the park and to make FastPass+ selections. If only some people on your account have park admission, you will only be able to select FastPasses for that many people. So if you select FastPasses for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train and to meet Anna and Elsa for your ticket, anyone else in your group who does not have tickets will not be included in the FastPass.

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Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto Soft Opening Photos and Video

by on March 31, 2015 10 Comments

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Trader Sam's soft opening

Mystery, adventure, and lots of rum await at the Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto soft opening. (Photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

It took a couple days longer than originally expected, but WDW’s hotly anticipated Trader’s Sam Grog Grotto soft opening finally began on Saturday, March 28th. Of course, we were on hand when the new watering hole’s doors opened for the first time, in order to bring you these photos and video (it’s a tough job, but somebody’s got to do it). So grab a bottle of rum and take a virtual visit to the Polynesian Village Resort‘s trendy tiki bar, minus the long line or hangover.

Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar in the Disneyland Hotel has a loyal following, and its east coast cousin looks to be a hit right out of the box, based on the crowds attending the Grog Grotto’s initial days of operation. For the first day of soft opening, some guests got in line 5 hours early, and by an hour before the 4 p.m. scheduled opening there were already well over 100 people waiting.

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Disneyland Crowd Calendar Report – March 22 to 28, 2015

by on March 31, 2015

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Last week, crowd levels followed the pattern predicted by the Disneyland Crowd Calendar with the exception of Thursday when we saw lower crowds than expected. Resort-wide the crowds never reached a full ’10’ but also never dipped below a level ‘8’ (other than on Thursday). Spring Break crowds kept the parks’ thrill rides quite busy all week.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Disneyland Resort Crowd Report:

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Universal Crowd Calendar Report – March 22 to 28, 2015

by on March 31, 2015

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A cold front that swept across Central Florida last week kept wait times significantly lower than the same period in years past. The Crowd Calendar predicted crowd levels at ‘7’ or above but we saw many days with crowd levels as low as a ‘4’. More local residents that normal, many of whom were on Spring Break last week, may have decided not to visit the parks.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Universal Orlando Resort Crowd Report:

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Disney World Crowd Calendar Report – March 22 to 28, 2015

by on March 31, 2015 1 Comment

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A cold front in Central Florida last week kept the Disney World crowd levels lower than the crowd calendar predicted. Local residents on Spring Break who planned to visit the theme parks may have chosen to remain at home rather than head to the parks and battle the March chills. Crowds were still significant however, with many days reaching levels in the upper part of our scale – plenty of ‘6’s, ‘7’s and ‘8’s.

Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week on the TouringPlans.com Disney World Crowd Calendar Report:

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