Attractions

Disney Parks Potential: The Jungle Book

by on October 21, 2014

© Disney

© Disney

Welcome back to Disney Parks Potential, where I take a look at some of Disney’s more underrepresented franchises and characters while coming up with interesting ways to integrate them into Walt Disney World or Disneyland. If you missed the first entry, which covered The Incredibles, you can check that out here. Today I’ll be taking a look at an all-time Disney animated classic, The Jungle Book.

When you hear that Jungle Book has no attraction presence at Disney World, you probably think, “Wait, that can’t be right.” I mean, with a park entirely dedicated to animals, it’s hard to believe that Disney doesn’t have at least one attraction based on The Jungle Book. That wasn’t always the case, however. When Animal Kingdom first opened, there was a show called Journey into the Jungle Book but it only lasted a year before being replaced by Tarzan Rocks! in the theater which now currently houses Finding Nemo-The Musical. Besides that short lived show, there haven’t been any further attractions based on The Jungle Book.

It’s not that Disney shies away from creating new experiences with older franchises and characters, so what’s the problem? I can think of a few reasons.  Maybe with The Jungle Book’s lack of a traditional Disney princess in it, Disney may see creating a new attraction based on the film as more of a risk than say The Little Mermaid or Snow White. Or maybe the princess thing isn’t a concern and it’s simply because The Lion King is Disney’s go to animal film. Whatever the reason may be, I think a lot of people would agree that Baloo and the gang need at least some love within the Disney parks.

More Baloo please.

More Baloo please.

So how to integrate The Jungle Book? You could go the traditional dark ride route but from what I surmised earlier, that might not be a likely bet. My idea might be on a smaller scale but I think it would be effective in gauging interest in further Jungle Book attractions. I think Mickey’s Philharmagic should include a new Jungle Book segment within the attraction. “Bare Necessities” and “I Wan’na Be Like You” are both classic Disney sing-a-long songs so either would be a fine choice for the music based 3D show. Also, it may not seem like it, but Philharmagic is over ten years old. Why not refresh it with some new musical segments for Donald to cause trouble within?

For those crying blasphemy because they don’t want to see a favorite song like “Part of Your World” or “Be Our Guest” replaced, I have a solution for you, and it comes from Star Tours: The Adventures Continue. That’s right, Star Tours! Star Tours gives guests a different experience every time by randomly showing different events and planets to travel through. Why can’t Philharmagic do the same thing? The attraction seems perfectly fit for it with a clear end point to each song before Donald is transported to the next Disney film. This would probably boost attendance on the attraction too while allowing new songs from films like the Jungle Book without cutting out the current crop of Disney films within the attraction. Everybody wins!

My Jungle Book parks potential idea may not be as ambitious as the previous Incredibles ideas but I think it could definitely be the start of a revitalization of the older Disney animated film. I want to know what you all think though. Do you want to see more of The Jungle Book within the parks? Leave a comment and until next time, this has been another entry of Disney Parks Potential.

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A Guide to Walt Disney World Attraction Vehicles and Seating: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

by on October 21, 2014

t_logo_fbWe recently brought you photo guides to the ride and attraction seating situation at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Completing the series is our guide to the attraction seating at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

And away we go …

The Boneyard

  • Seating capacity per row: NA
  • Seating capacity per vehicle: NA. Playground experience. More than 100 guests permitted entrance simultaneously.
  • Seating surface: There is very little seating here. There are few picnic tables where adults may sit, but these do not have sightlines on the entire play area.
  • Safety restraints: None
  • Boarding procedure: Walk into playground
  • Height requirement: None
  • Note: 1: Wheelchair and ECV users may ride into the attraction. Much of the attraction is inaccessible to guests with mobility issues. The attraction includes stairs, slides, and rope climbing activities.
  • Note 2: It is extremely easy to temporarily lose sight of your child here. There are cavelike areas and child-size tunnels. However, there is only one exit to the attraction. If you have an elementary age child, you may feel comfortable “guarding” the exit and letting him roam. Parents of preschoolers will likely want to closely supervise their kids to avoid minor injury or separation anxiety.
  • Note 3: The dig area is separate from, and typically calmer than, the slide area. If you need some unstructured chill time, head to the dig site.
  • Note 4: During warm weather, a water feature will be activated. Children may get wet.

IMG_6267

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Street Performers at Disney Hollywood Studios

by on October 16, 2014

Visiting Hollywood Studios but not a fan of the amusement rides? I’ve got a solution for you: Live actors mingling with guests throughout the park. Yes, walking (and even driving) about; interacting with you. We make it a point every visit to seek them out and enjoy their shenanigans, um I mean, their shows.

Just your average Citizen. - Courtesy of Disney

Just your average Citizen. – Courtesy of Disney

The Citizens of Hollywood

The Citizens of Hollywood, or Streetmosphere characters as they are otherwise known, are characters that perform every day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can usually find them on Hollywood and Sunset Boulevards. The characters range from aspiring actors to directors and even to police officers. They perform a variety of skits that generally have us rolling with laughter and are a great source of family-friendly entertainment. The skits are always different because the crowd they are interacting with constantly changes.

A Brief History:     Streetmosphere has been a part of Hollywood Studios since its opening day in May 1989. The entire idea of Streetmosphere was created by C. McNair Wilson, who would later become an Imagineer at Disney. Wilson was one of the directors of a street theater company, SAK Theatre, which performed at renaissance festivals throughout the country. In 1982 Disney Imagineers asked the group to perform in the Italy pavilion in Epcot. They were quickly extended to performing in the United Kingdom pavilion and then Future World. By 1985, they were performing 45 shows-a-day in Epcot in four different locations. That year they were brought into the plans for the upcoming Hollywood Studios Park as part of the planned 2-hour Backstage Tour show. Once Disney decided to go in another direction, Wilson still was inspired to make SAK part of this expansion. Wilson presented a collection of 40 characters that would make the guests feel like they were actually in Hollywood. The Disney executives were won over and presented Wilson with a budget for 23 characters.

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A Guide to Walt Disney World Attraction Vehicles and Seating: Epcot

by on October 14, 2014

t_logo_fbWe recently brought you guides to the ride and attraction seating situation at the Magic Kingdom and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Next up is our guide to the attraction seating at Epcot.

Keep those hands and feet inside the vehicle at all times …

FUTURE WORLD

Captain EO, Imagination Pavilion

  • Seating capacity per row: Several dozen.
  • Seating capacity per vehicle: NA. Show-style attraction. More than 100 guests per show.
  • Seating surface: Lightly padded chair with armrest.
  • Safety restraints: None
  • Boarding procedure: Walk into theater
  • Height requirement: None
  • Notes: Wheelchair and ECV users may ride directly into the theater. Some of the special effects can only be experienced when seated in the attraction chairs. Guests wanting the full attraction experience may want to transfer to the standard seating if possible.

IMG_8329

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons Halloween Horror Nights is Better than Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party

by on October 11, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons Halloween Horror Nights is Better than Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. Now, before we start, this is not an article that’s trying to sell you on the idea that MNSSHP is not good, as we wrote several weeks ago that we love it, and it’s definitely the best Halloween event in town that you can bring the whole family to. That said, Halloween Horror Nights brings some elements to the table, which Disney could learn from in terms of over delivering to its guests. While HHN may not be for everyone, if you are a regular reader of the Saturday Six it’s probably for you and today we’ll look at the reasons why. Please remember that clicking on any picture will open it up in full size, and let’s count ‘em down…

# 6 –  A night at HHN is completely different than any other experience you’ve had at Universal Studios Florida

HHN_DieIn_Glover

Mel’s Drive-In becomes Mel’s DIE-In for HHN. (photo by Brandon Glover)

 

For anyone who has gone to MNSSHP you know that the one of the bigger differences between a party night and any other night is how well Main Street, U.S.A. is decorated. Unfortunately, outside of The Haunted Mansion, that’s where the level of theming stops. All the lands of the park are the same (albeit with wonderful candy stations) and all of the attractions are the same, just with less people going on them. That’s where I find the value in a MNSSHP ticket. You can do all the E-Ticket rides like Space Mountain and Big Thunder without having to worry about FP+ or standby lines as almost everything is a walk-on. Halloween Horror Nights on the other hand completely changes the dynamic of Universal Studios Florida. There are scare zones and seemingly hundreds of scare actors thoughout the entire park along with 8 haunted houses, none of which are available to non-party going guests.

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Friday Face Off – Aging Attractions

by on October 10, 2014

Running a theme park has to be a dicey experiment. The more a park works to stay current, the older the older attractions tend to look. While many attractions retain their charm throughout the years, many others tend to feel dated pretty quickly. Attendance drops, lines decline, and parks decide to refresh the attraction through refurbishment, rebuilding, or demolition. Today, let’s look at a few Disney and Universal attractions, and throw them down in a Friday Face Off – Aging Attractions. Universal’s Jurassic Park River Adventure vs. Disney World’s Dinosaur and the recently-deceased Maelstrom.

Here to save the World?

Here to save the World?

First, I’ll beat the dead horse that was Maelstrom. Relax, people. Relax. Don’t get me wrong: I’m disappointed that Maelstrom will be re-created into a Frozen attraction, but I don’t think it’s any great loss. Those crying over its demise will no doubt rue the day that Captain EO eventually is mercifully put out of its misery.

On a side note, I truly believe that Disney Cast Members are punitively placed to work there. I mean, how COULD this be such an epic failure? Spielberg? Coppola? Space? Michael Jackson? Dancing? Puppets? I can remember being there in 1986 – sporting the mullet, most certainly, and seeing the preview posters for the upcoming Captain EO film, and being disappointed that Captain EO didn’t premiere until that fall. We were out of the Disney World environment until 2009, when we saw Honey, I Shrunk the Audience. Then we returned in 2013 for our visit to the Return of Captain EO. Let me tell you how that trip went.

When we entered the queue area, we encountered the most seriously working – and for the most part completely clueless – Cast Member employed at the Disney World property.

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A Guide to Walt Disney World Attraction Vehicles and Seating: Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on October 6, 2014

t_logo_fbWe recently brought you a guide to the ride and attraction seating situation at the Magic Kingdom. Next up is our guide to the attraction seating at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Buckle up …

Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage

  • Seating capacity per row: Several dozen
  • Seating capacity per vehicle: NA. Show-style attraction. More than 100 guests per show.
  • Seating surface: Metal bench with back
  • Safety restraints: None
  • Boarding procedure: Walk into theater
  • Height requirement: None
  • Note 1: Wheelchair and ECV users may ride directly into the theater.
  • Note 2: This theater is outdoors. It is shaded, but it may be hot during summer months and is occasionally impacted by severe weather.

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Video: Saying Farewell to DHS’s Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon

by on September 27, 2014

Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon

DHS’s Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon is now an ex-attraction. (Photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

The operating day has just ended at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and with it the sun has set on the final day for the park’s Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon. The behind-the-scenes tram tour, which saw its closing day of operations today (Saturday, September 27, 2014), ended its career a pale shadow of its former self. But the tour originally served as the thesis attraction of the Disney/MGM Studios park, much as Spaceship Earth is for Epcot and Killimajaro Safaris for Animal Kingdom.

What was once a multi-part, multi-hour tour that delved into nearly every aspect of old-school movie making had long ago been whittled down to a brief special effects water tank demonstration, followed by a tram ride through the park’s mostly dormant backlot. Even so, there were still glimmers of the epic original attraction to be found along the Studio Backlot Tour, especially in its explosive Catastrophe Canyon centerpiece, which continued to wow guests right up until closing day.

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A Guide to Walt Disney World Attraction Vehicles and Seating: Magic Kingdom

by on September 23, 2014

t_logo_fbThe seating situation on Disney World rides and attractions is a cause for concern with many guests. Physical constraints, size, and family configuration are all reasons why you might have issues with the attraction seating. For example:

  • I’m a single parent with two small children, will I be separated from them on rides?
  • I’m a plus-sized person, can I fit into the ride vehicles without embarrassment?
  • My knees are bad, will I have to step up or down to get into the ride vehicles?
  • I’m in a wheelchair, do I have to transfer out of it to go on the rides?
  • I have a large party, how will we be split up when visiting the attractions?
  • I have balance issues, will the attraction vehicle be moving while I’m trying to board?

To answer these questions and more, here’s a photo guide to all the vehicle and attraction seating at Walt Disney World. Pull down on that lap bar, we’re going for a ride…

MAIN STREET USA

Walt Disney World Railroad

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Disney World Planning Challenges: Tough-to-Get Reservations—From FastPass+ to Dining

by on September 17, 2014

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Sign. Photo by Katie McNair

Photo by Katie McNair

Even with lots of research, some aspects of a Walt Disney World vacation are—let’s just say—resistant to planning. In fact, they can seem like downright mysteries to first-time vacationers and expert Disney World planners alike. A major challenge when planning a Disney World vacation is successfully reserving tough-to-get experiences that become available for booking at unpredictable times initially, book up extremely quickly, or both. Although there is no surefire way to snag these reservations, there are some ways to improve your chances.

First, though, it can be helpful for you to have a bit of background on the experiences that have given or are currently giving planners the most difficulty.

Hard-to-Get Reservations

Photo by Sarah Graffam

Photo by Sarah Graffam

Currently topping the list of difficult-to-get reservations are FastPass+ reservations for Meet Anna and Elsa at Princess Fairytale Hall and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Magic Kingdom. In addition, obtaining reservations at Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest Restaurant can be a real challenge.

Experiences that have proven difficult for guests to book in the past and that can still present a challenge in some cases include FastPass+ for popular rides like Epcot’s Soarin’ and Test Track as well as Toy Story Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, FastPass+ for parades and nighttime shows, FastPass+ for shows at special events such as Star Wars Weekends, reservations for the Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package, reservations at Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Dessert Party, and, the original most-difficult-to-get reservation, dining at Cinderella’s Royal Table restaurant.

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