Archive for January, 2017

The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! January 2017 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on January 31, 2017

Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando.

We have finished the first mƒonth of 2017 and if the rest of the year is like January, we’re in for a doozy. After many delays Rivers of Light Planet Hollywood Observatory in Disney Springs finally opened. Even though it is still not 100%  finished, you will be glad to know the restaurant somehow has three separate and confusing themes (although – to be fair – when one thinks about a turn-of-the-century observatory the first thing that comes to mind is Jim Carrey’s Riddler costume from Batman Forever, so they didn’t completely miss the mark). 

In other Disney Springs news, our long national nightmare is over as it was announced DisneyQuest would be closing its doors forever on July 3rd. A long rumored NBA Experience will be taking its place and I think I speak for many of us when I say I’m really looking forward to what replaces the NBA Experience in the coming years. We also can’t forget that January brought the Main Street Electrical Parade back home to Disneyland (even though many are still waiting for it every single night here in Walt Disney World, literally.) Hopefully when the MSEP ends its limited time run in June, it can make its way back here and bring with it all the cool merch and snacks it has out in California. Be Fair To Florida!

Before we start I would like to introduce a new member to the Outlet Team. Because myself and Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo have become too famous, we needed a person on the ground that nobody knows to be a mystery partner. Please welcome secret shopper Showcase Of Wishes to the fold.

Now, what did Julia, Showcase of Wishes, and I find when we did step into Mordor the Disney Outlet Stores? Let’s check it out!

First up we going to start off with what I call an “Outlet Experience” item. We’ve talked about these decorative hand sanitizers in previous reports. This month brought a 2016 branded version, and with it came a price tag that made me reach for my decorative Xanax holder. The price tag for the sanitizer read “$.00” with a reduced price of “$9.99.” I brought it to the register so they could scan what the price really was and saw that it was indeed $9.99. Keep in mind, these only cost $8.95 at the Disney parks. I knew from that point on this shopping trip was going to be a test of will.

Hand Sanitizer.

With the recent rollout of MagicBand 2s being shipped to guests as well as being sold in the Disney Parks, we are almost guaranteed to see a ton of original MagicBands make their way to the Outlets. This month brought some new designs, including everyone’s favorite dragon Figment. These bands were originally $29.95 and reduced to $22.99.

Three icons of the Disney Parks right there.

Readers of our sister series the SATURDAY SIX know how much we loved the recent EPCOT Festival of the Arts. In fact, we may have actually enjoyed it more than Food & Wine. However, speaking of the latter, the Appetizer Plate from last year’s Food and Wine hit the Outlets. Originally $6.95, these were reduced to just 99 cents. I bought a couple.

Food and Wine Appetizer Plate.

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DisneyQuest to Close for The NBA Experience

by on January 30, 2017

©Rikki Niblett

Almost a year and a half ago, Disney announced that the NBA Experience would be making its way to Disney Springs and that DisneyQuest would be closing to make way for this new one-of-a-kind destination. Then…we heard nothing. Not a peep. I honestly thought the idea was dead.

That is until today when Disney announced that they would indeed still be going forward with The NBA Experience and that DisneyQuest had a date when it would officially close for good. DisneyQuest, located on The West Side, will officially close on July 3. Leading up to its closure, the indoor theme park will still operate as usual, offering classic arcade games and unique interactive experiences, such as Buzz Lightyear’s AstroBlasters and CyberSpace Mountain.

As far as The NBA Experience is concerned, not much is known about what the basketball-themed complex will offer. We do know that it will feature hands-on activities that put guests right in the middle of the NBA action, and will create an immersive experience of both the game and its players. Guests will enjoy unique NBA video productions, a restaurant, and a store.

Stay tuned to the blog for more information about further announcements about The NBA Experience, as well as any further announcements regarding DisneyQuest.

The alternate reality of Disney World’s posted wait times (short, wonkish)

by on January 30, 2017

The alternate reality of Disney's posted wait times

I’m preparing for a talk with UCF data science students later this month on the statistical and machine learning tools we use for our Disney World wait time predictions.

After covering the basics – how we collect wait times, the hundreds of things we consider (everything from Extra Magic Hours to public school holidays, to the state of Brazil’s economy six months ago) – I wanted to say a little about how to handle the situation where you know in advance that Disney’s posted wait times will be wrong.

I’m comparing Buzz Lightyear’s actual wait times and posted wait times using the graph below. If the time you actually spent in line was exactly the posted wait time, every red dot shown below would fall on the black diagonal line.

As you can see, the red dots do not all fall on the diagonal. Some aren’t even close. The dot in the lower right that I highlighted is an example of someone waiting 5 minutes to ride Buzz Lightyear when the posted wait time said they’d wait 70 minutes.

The other dot I highlighted, in the upper left, represents someone actually waiting 65 minutes when the posted wait said they’d be there for 30 minutes.

The average difference between the actual wait time and the posted wait time at Buzz Lightyear is around 40% – roughly 8 minutes, plus or minus – out of 20 minutes (the average posted wait at Buzz). But as you can see, it varies. A lot.

Even a Crystal Ball Wouldn’t Help

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Love Main Street Electrical Parade’s Return to Disneyland

by on January 28, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Love the Main Street Electrical Parade’s Return to Disneyland! Beginning its original run in Anaheim all the way back in 1972, the Main Street Electrical Parade (MSEP) has entertained generations of guests on both coasts. Much like it’s a small world and the Electrical Water Pageant, the beloved MSEP has a nostalgic charm – along with a catchy soundtrack – that makes it special no matter how much technology has improved over the years. There have been variations of MSEP at Disney parks around the world, but Disneyland’s run ended in 1996. In the ensuing twenty years, that particular version of the show bounced around between Disney California Adventure and Walt Disney World. On October 9th, 2016, the MSEP turned off its last light in Orlando and began a cross country trip back home to Disneyland.

The Main Street Electrical Parade comes home. (photo by @hintofspy)

This past week the MSEP had its triumphant return in Disneyland and began a limited time engagement that is scheduled to end on June 18th. Now, we’re just glad the MSEP is back, but Disney also delivered a whole bunch of surprises that truly made our day. Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite parts of the MSEP’s return, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – The SNACKS!

Readers of this fine blog series know we like our snacks. No, we really like our snacks. So imagine our surprise when the MSEP’s return to Disneyland brought with it a whole slew of tasty treats! With designs based on some of the iconic MSEP floats, these snacks are some of the cutest we have ever seen. Ladybug macaroons, turtle creampuffs, cheshire cat cookies and more!

Where was this when the MSEP was in Walt Disney World?! BE FAIR TO FLORIDA!! (photo by Brian Pinsky)

Cute caterpillar snack. (photo by Brian Pinsky)

Cheshire cat tails. (photo by Brian Pinsky)

Electric Cotton Candy. We’re 90% sure this is safe to eat. (photo by Brian Pinsky)

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Planet Hollywood Observatory Now Open at Disney Springs

by on January 27, 2017

Planet Hollywood Observatory

©Rikki Niblett

After a very lengthy refurbishment, according to their Facebook page, Planet Hollywood Observatory located in the Town Center section of Disney Springs has now officially opened.

The restaurant features an eclectic menu, including sandwiches and burgers from celebrity chef, Guy Fieri. Sandwiches will include the Prime Time American Kobe-Inspired Burger, Turkey Pic-a-nic Sandwich, and a lobster roll. It also features some returning classics from the previous version of Planet Hollywood, like the World Famous Chicken Crunch. (Which are chicken fingers with a Cap’n Crunch cereal coating.) The rest of the menu will range from salads to  steaks and ribs. Oh and dessert will be out of this world, with incredible milkshakes, as well as an ice cream and gelato challenge. Take a look at the Planet Hollywood Observatory’s full menu here.

Inspired with a turn-of-the-century theme, Planet Hollywood Observatory will continue to feature rare Hollywood memorabilia. Inside, the restaurant will continue with the observatory theme with a high-tech planetarium with stars and constellations on the ceiling.There is also a massive 4,500-square-foot video wall that features state-of-the-art sound and media. In addition, Guests who visit the newly updated restaurant will be able to enjoy a drink while an interactive DJ spins today’s Top 40 and classic favorites on the main floor.

Speaking of enjoying a drink, there will be two bars for Guests to enjoy. First, at the Upper Bar, Guests can enjoy artisanal cocktails and a curated collection of libations. At Stargazers Bar, live entertainment will take place nightly on this outdoor patio that overlooks the Town Center section of Disney Springs.  At Stargazers, there will be 20 Florida craft beers on tap and 10 signature cocktails.

Of course, new merchandise has also been created and Guests who enjoyed their experience will want to stop by the gift shop to pick up a movie-themed souvenir.

Planet Hollywood Observatory is open for both lunch and dinner.

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of January 27, 2017

by on January 27, 2017

The winter blues have officially set in. I’m officially over it and am anxiously awaiting spring. I don’t know about you. Unfortunately, we still have quite a few weeks to go before that gorgeous sunny warmth sets in. Ugh.

This week, learn which movies were nominated for Oscars, find out more about Planet Hollywood Observatory, and more!

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

 

Could the Tomorrowland Speedway be the next attraction to be removed out of the Magic Kingdom? What are your thoughts about this potential rumor?

Planet Hollywood Observatory is getting so close to officially opening. Guy Fieri is an integral part to the menu offerings for the restaurant and was recently in town promoting his dishes. Also take a look at the newly redesigned interior

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Sneak Peek of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Live Action Film at Disney Parks

by on January 27, 2017

Beauty and the Beast

©Disney

As a child of the 90s, I have to say, I am super excited about the upcoming live action version of Beauty and the Beast. While Ariel got me into the Disney princess phenomenon, it was really Belle who was most like me, as I too always had my nose in a book.

If you, like me are anxiously awaiting this film, I am happy to tell you that if you’ll be visiting either the Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resorts, you’ll soon be able to catch a sneak peek.

At Walt Disney World, beginning February 10 through March 26, at One Man’s Dream in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guests will be able to catch a preview scene from the film. In addition, two iconic props will be available for Guests to view – the yellow ballroom dress and the magical rose.

In addition, at Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage, a performer will invite a father and daughter from the audience onstage where they will be able to participate in a magical moment prior to the show in which the performer will sing to them a new song from the film.

Over on the West Coast, at Disney California Adventure, beginning February 10, the preview of Beauty and the Beast will be presented in 3D with special in-theater effects at the Sunset Showcase Theater in Hollywood Land. There will also be special props from the film available for Guests to view.

The film preview will last approximately eight minutes.

Beauty and the Beast will be released in theaters on March 17.

Theme Park Classroom: Magic Kingdom American History Lesson Plan Part II

by on January 27, 2017

Walt Disney World is known for its magic and entertainment, but did you know that the ultimate vacation destination is also educational? As an educator, and a huge fan of Walt Disney World, I see the Disney Parks as the ultimate classroom and a pixie dusted learning experience. If you’re a homeschool parent or interested in how your kids can learn while on vacation or during the summer months, take a look at this latest installment of Theme Park Classroom: American History Lesson Plan for the Magic Kingdom Part II.

Subject: American History

Grade Level: 4th-12th  Note: Children learn in different ways and at different speeds and no lesson or lesson plan is ever one size fits all. Please use this plan as an outline, or a source of inspiration, and tailor it to meet your child’s needs, abilities, and age level.

Supplies: Park Map, Smart Phone, Notebook, Pen/Pencil

Itinerary: Liberty Square

Learning Objectives

  1. Understanding of Colonization
  2. Motives for the American Revolutionary War
  3. Reason for Paul Revere’s Ride and the Liberty Tree
  4. Life in the Colonies
  5. Understanding of the Declaration of Independence
  6. Understanding of the United States Constitution

Lesson #2: What Caused the War?

©Disney

Content:

After Europe sent explorers to the New World, colonization became the new focus. People left Europe for the New World for freedom of religion, economic opportunities, or simply for adventure! There, they lived and created communities, but all under the rule of their home countries. England eventually had thirteen colonies in the New World.

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A Guide to Universal Mardi Gras 2017

by on January 26, 2017

Thousands of plastic beads patiently wait to be tossed into the hands of eager park guests. Spicy Cajun food will soon be devoured. Parade performers practice endlessly, waiting for their time in the spotlight. Universal Mardi Gras 2017 is about to begin!

With more consecutive nights than ever before, Universal Mardi Gras 2017 looks to be a bit different than years past. There’s lots to see and deux so check out this guide to make sure you don’t miss a beat!

This year Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras is a little shorter than before, February 4 to March 24, 2017. However, this year is different because the parade, special food, and other festivities will bring the best of the Big Easy every single night through March 24, 2017.

French Quarter Courtyard – Food and live bands

One the best features of Universal Mardi Gras are the bands brought in from New Orleans itself that perform in the French Quarter Courtyard (in the New York area of the park near Revenge of the Mummy and across from the soon-to-open Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon). Many people aren’t aware that these authentic bands perform in the French Quarter Courtyard, but they are a real treat and straight from the land of the Big Easy, so check them out.

Here’s the line up:

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Julia’s Best Week Ever, January 26, 2017: Artsy Parksy

by on January 26, 2017

Over dinner on Friday night, it occurred to us… we haven’t been inside a Walt Disney World theme park all year. Between long work hours, visiting family, Girl Scout cookie sales, and other scheduling fun, our park time has been non-existent. Last weekend, while my husband was on call, I was watching with delight all the coverage of the Epcot Festival of the Arts. We cleared out our schedules and made our way over to Epcot to see what there was to see.

When the Festival of the Arts was first announced, I heard a lot of people talking about how it was some sort of money grab and would be a thrown-together event. The first weekend coverage was very positive, and so I went in with high hopes.

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