Attractions

Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

by on May 10, 2016

TOWEROFTERROR

photo by Mike Sperduto

Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort share a number of the same attractions, such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Peter Pan’s Flight, “it’s a small world,” and many others. But if you think that these attractions are the same on both coasts, you would be mistaken. One of the many things I love about Disney is that they never do the same thing twice; and while the attractions that can be found on both coasts may share the same names and themes, they do have differences too. Hey, who doesn’t like variety, right? But you have to wonder, which resort has the best version of a popular attraction? Which Disney Park has the bragging rights? I’m about to find out in today’s showdown of Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror!

What is the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror?

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is a freefall drop ride housed in an Old Hollywood hotel and themed after the classic, psychologically thrilling television series, The Twilight Zone. The story is that on October 31, 1939, five guests of the Hollywood Tower Hotel were aboard the hotel’s elevator when lightning struck the building and sent them directly to the Twilight Zone. The attraction itself takes guests through the cobwebbed hotel, where something is clearly not right, and then aboard a maintenance service elevator to reach their rooms; but, along the way, they end up traveling to The Twilight Zone where their elevator drops over and over!

Tokyo DisneySea - Tower of Terror

Tokyo DisneySea – Tower of Terror

History

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror first opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios, in 1994 and was an instant success with guests. It even sparked a TV film in 1997 starring Steve Guttenberg and Kristen Dunst. In 2004, another Twilight Zone Tower of Terror opened at Disney’s California Adventure and featured a different exterior look, as well as a few modifications. In 2007, yet another Tower of Terror opened at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris. Tokyo DisneySea also has their own Tower of Terror, but it doesn’t carry the television series theme but its own unique story.

While there are several Tower of Terrors around the world, I’m zeroing in on the versions available here in the states to see which coasts boasts the best. I will be comparing the towers based on different categories, and the version with the most category wins will be our winner! Ready? Let’s do this.

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Best Worst Attraction: Poseidon’s Fury

by on May 6, 2016

Maybe you’re looking to step a foot off the (extremely) well-beaten path to get away from the crowds. Maybe you have an appreciation for the under-valued (or a defiantly contrarian attitude, generally). Or maybe it isn’t your first rodeo, and you and your family need an injection of something different and fresh at the parks.

Regardless of the reason, it’s time for you to enjoy the smaller, more neglected, and – let’s be honest here – less-polished offerings that Disney, Universal, and SeaWorld have to offer. It’s time to experience the Best Worst Attractions.

Poseidon’s Fury

Park: Islands of Adventure
Location: The Lost Continent
Opening date: May 28, 1999

Poseidon's Fury's exterior, at Islands of Adventure

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Washington DC: World War II Memorial Review

by on April 29, 2016

2016-04-03 at 06-07-40World War II was a pivotal period for many countries. For the United States of America, it represented a time – some would say the last time – when the entire country was united in a singular cause. The World War II Memorial represents this unity by lining the elliptical monument with 56 pillars representing the 48 states (at the time) along with the territories of Alaska and Hawaii, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

These pillars form the ends of the memorials oval, with 43-foot arches acting as midpoints for the curves. Each side represents a different WWII campaign, with the north being “Atlantic” and the south “Pacific.” In the center of the memorial is a 246-foot wide, shallow, fountain-laden pool. The walls of the memorial are inscribed with scenes depicting each stage of a soldier in the war, from troops being issued uniforms right through a handshake agreement of peace. The Freedom Wall is found on the western side, complete with 4,048 gold stars: one for every 100 Americans who died during the war.

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Experiencing A Magical Disney Moment + Video

by on April 26, 2016

Photo - Michael Dahlgren

Meeting Princess Rapunzel

You’ve heard about them…you may have even watched them on YouTube.

Magical Disney Moments.

*I’ll pause for effect*

You know what I’m talking about; Those special experiences where a Cast Member goes above and beyond to make a guest’s day even more magical. 

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Walt Disney World Relics and Tributes: The Magic Kingdom

by on April 20, 2016

relicsandtributesWalt Disney once said, “Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. It is something that will never be finished. Something that I can keep developing and adding to.” Imagineers have made sure that the Disneyland and the Disney Parks have stayed true to that intention throughout the years.

In fact, the Walt Disney World Resort has been changing and growing a great deal in the past few years, such as the addition of New Fantasyland at the Magic Kingdom and re-imagining of Downtown Disney to Disney Springs, and prepares for new openings like the Rivers of Light show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park and the Frozen Ever After attraction at Epcot. But oftentimes, to gain something new, something has to be given up and past attractions must make way for new ones, such as in the closure of attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in preparation for Toy Story Land and Star Wars Land. Fortunately, Disney has a tradition of honoring its history while in the business of creating that great, big, beautiful tomorrow, and oftentimes through little tributes and details and even the recycling and reimagining of familiar icons.

I recently took a trip to the Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom to uncover some of these tributes and relics from the park’s past. I tried to avoid including those that many fans already know about–such as the windows on Main Street, U.S.A. or the picture of Mr. Toad handing over the deed to Owl at The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh–in hopes that you may discover something new and maybe get a little dose of nostalgia in today’s Walt Disney World Relics and Tributes: The Magic Kingdom.

snowwhitevultures

Snow White’s Scary Adventures Vultures

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the Magic Kingdom’s newest attraction and one of the crown jewels of New Fantasyland. This attraction is incredibly detailed and a ton of fun, but one of the things I appreciate about most is its number of tributes to a former Fantasyland attraction: Snow White’s Scary Adventures.

Snow White’s Scary Adventures was a classic dark ride and one of the park’s original opening day attractions. It sadly closed in 2012 due to New Fantasyland; but it’s sister attraction, by the same name, is still operating at the Disneyland Park today. It’s never easy to lose an attraction, especially one with so much history, and I suppose Imagineers felt the same way because there are a number of relics and nods from Snow White’s Scary Adventures hidden in and around this coaster.

The Vultures

When walking around the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, or while aboard your gently swinging mine car, look up and you might see two menacing vultures. Do they look familiar? They used to be part of Snow White’s Scary Adventures! Imagineers recycled these feathered scavengers for the park’s newest Snow White-themed attraction; and in doing so, made a piece of the past work for the present.

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Best (and Worst) Attractions to Get Stuck On

by on April 6, 2016

Thankfully, I had the good sense to bring some reading material along just in case I got stuck

Thankfully, I had the good sense to bring some reading material along just in case I got stuck

It happens. You’re right in the middle of an attraction, and everything just grinds to a halt.  Sometimes you’re down for a few seconds, sometimes it’s several minutes, and sometimes you actually have to be evacuated from the ride.  I was talking with someone in line on a recent trip, and he relayed a story where he spent an hour at the crest of the big drop on Splash Mountain before eventually having to walk off of the attraction without experiencing its climax.  To me, that seems like a pretty awful way to spend an afternoon, and it got me to thinking — what are the best and worst attractions at Walt Disney World to find yourself so stuck that you actually have to exit the ride using your feet? This article attempts to answer this pressing quandary that I suspect most of you had never bothered to contemplate before.

Here are the parameters of the challenge: you’ll be in the midst of the ride, and then at either the most or least optimal moment, the ride will stop moving, although the effects and show elements other than motion will continue to work. You’ll thereafter spend 30 minutes plus whatever time it take to get you rescued in that spot, and then you’ll either be ushered out by Cast Members, or extracted from the ride if necessary. Shows that you could just stand up and leave do not count (i.e., you cannot get “stuck” at Hall of Presidents). Also, you should assume that any momentum-based ride (e.g. roller coasters) is going to come to a natural resting place, such that you won’t be stuck upside down or in the middle of a steep hill.

So, without further ado, let’s go!

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SATURDAY SIX: Looking at ways Disney can introduce MARVEL characters into the theme parks

by on April 2, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Ways Disney Can Introduce MARVEL Characters into the Theme Parks. Yes, April Fool’s Day was yesterday, but believe it or not the this-can’t-possibly-be-real news stories started earlier last week when word started getting out that Disney was considering a Guardians of the Galaxy overlay to the Hollywood Tower of Terror attractions in Disneyland and Walt Disney World. You may be thinking, “No way! That’s insane!” but on the latest episode of the Disney Dish podcast, Jim Hill and Len Testa lay out exactly why Bob Chapek (chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts) at least wanted to explore this very idea.

SATSIX_GOTG

Guardians of the Galaxy Hotel. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

SATSIX_GOTG2

Bellhop Groot. (photo by Matt Cleary and Mike Sperduto)

Public reaction to the Guardians of the Galaxy overlay was – to put it politely – overwhelmingly negative. In fact, because of the virulent reaction there is almost no chance this overlay makes it to Florida, but never say never when it comes to the Tower of Terror in Disney’s California Adventure. We here at the SATURDAY SIX headquarters were at first taken aback by this idea, in part because the Tower of Terror took first place in our poll on The Greatest Attractions at Walt Disney World. But then we got to thinking. What if Disney did try to think “outside the box” when it came to introducing Marvel characters in the theme parks? More importantly, how could they do it in the cheapest way possible? We think we have some ideas. As luck would have it, six ideas. So sit back, put down your copy of the Spider-Man Clone Saga, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – Howard the Duck takes over Stitch’s Great Escape

Remember how we mentioned that Tower of Terror came in first in our expert’s list of Best WDW Attractions? Well, guess which attraction took first place in our poll on Worst WDW Attractions? You guessed it: Stitch’s Great Escape. What do you get to overlay one of the all time worst reviewed theme park attractions? Why one of the all time worst reviewed comic book movies. Please welcome Howard the Duck. To put into scale how poorly received Howard the Duck’s movie was, consider that the recent Batman V Superman film took a beating by the critics, scoring a miserable 29% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Howard the Duck sits at 14% fresh.

We have to hurry on this one though. Howard the Duck had a cameo in the recent Guardians of the Galaxy movie. When the Guardians team up with the Avengers in the Infinity War (which is expected in either part 1 in May 2018 or part 2 in May 2019), he may be considered part of the Avengers extended family. If that happens, he could become off limits to the Orlando parks thanks to Universal’s contract with Marvel.

SATSIX_howardtheduck

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The Future of Universal Orlando (2016-2017 edition)

by on March 13, 2016

One of the most exciting aspects of a Universal Orlando vacation – besides all the thrill rides and the ever-more-expanding selection of butterbeer products, that is – is the constantly changing nature of the resort; with $500 million being poured into all three domestic Universal parks each and every year by parent company Comcast, there’s bound to be a few new additions practically every time you turn around.

The Universal globe

While terribly exciting, this can also make planning your next sojourn terribly frustrating. When is the optimal time to visit? What will give you the best bang for your vacationing buck? Will there ever be a time when construction walls won’t dot the landscape as far as the eye can see? (That one’s for your picky Aunt Millie.)

While we can’t definitively answer questions that are so inherently subjective to both your and your family’s desires, we can sketch out the next several developments that will be popping up over the course of the next two summers.

Enjoy, and please let us know when you think you’ll next be slipping past all those bulldozers and cranes.

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Disney World it’s a small world Attraction Adds Personalized Farewell

by on March 9, 2016

Without much ado, it appears that Untitledit’s a small world” at Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has added an interactive farewell screen. Jeremy Stimpson on Twitter has notified us that his party was named personally as it exited the ride today. We don’t know yet if this is permanent or all of the mechanics of it, but take a look at that photo to see what it looks like right now.

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The Best of Walt Disney World for Babies

by on March 1, 2016

TouringPlans logoWelcome to Part 1 of my new blog series – The Best of Walt Disney World! Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the top picks in attractions, entertainment, and experiences for various groups of travelers visiting the Walt Disney World theme parks.

How is this going to help me with my planning, you ask? Great question! Here’s how…Maybe you’ve always traveled to “the most magical place on earth” as a couple and now you’ll be taking your new baby, maybe this time grandma and grandpa will be joining you, or maybe this is your very first visit. No matter who you’re traveling with, I’ve got you covered with The Best of Walt Disney World series! And here’s how it will work…In each post, I’ll give you a rundown of the must do’s from each park along with some key information about that particular attraction or experience and a link in case you are looking for even more in-depth details.

Now that we’ve gotten all of the basics out of the way, let’s begin Part 1 of The Best of Walt Disney World with the tiniest of travelers – babies!

So if this is your first time taking a baby with you to Walt Disney World, you may have heard people say there is no reason to bring them. They won’t be able to ride anything! Let me reassure you that is simply not the case. There are plenty of things for baby to experience at Walt Disney World. In fact, as long as there isn’t a height restriction, your little one is permitted to ride. My youngest son has been enjoying a wide variety of attractions and shows at the parks since he was just six months old. Please read on for a full list of The Best of Walt Disney World for babies!

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