This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at STAR WARS in Walt Disney World. While those of us in Florida may be mourning the loss of the annual Star Wars Weekends event at DHS, fans of Star Wars have a lot to be thankful for at Walt Disney World. Not only do we have Star Wars Land coming, but while we’re waiting for that to open a whole bunch of great attractions, events, and stores have opened to help satisfy our craving for anything and everything Star Wars. It’s a good thing too, because The Force Awakens has washed away the bad taste of the prequels and has the entire world back in the grip of Star Wars mania. Today we’re going to set our sights on our favorite Star Wars offerings in Orlando just like Luke used to bullseye womp rats back on Tatooine. So sit back, never tell us the odds, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – runDisney: The Dark Side
The folks at runDisney have done the impossible, they have made exercise fun. The popularity of the events continue to grow and lately Disney has started to outdo themselves with great concepts and spectacular looking medals for the runners (we’re looking in your direction Princess Half Marathon). Last year they introduced Star Wars events out in Disneyland with The Light Side series of races. This year the fun continues at Walt Disney World with The Dark Side.
The Dark Side fun started off at the Health & Fitness Expo held at ESPN Wide World of Sports, where runners got an opportunity to take pictures with Star Wars characters including Jabba the Hutt and BB-8. There was also a side array of unique merchandise available including t-shirts, hats, magnets, and even Dooney & Bourke handbags. However what makes runDisney events truly special is being able to run through the actual theme parks, along with meeting characters along the way. As a theme park fan, it is hard to beat running through EPCOT and seeing stormtroopers along with being able to take a picture with Captain Phasma after completing the run. The Dark Side may just be runDisney’s best even ever, and has us looking forward to more Star Wars races in the future!
runDisney Star Wars: The Dark Side. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Star Wars Half Marathon shirt. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Jabba the Hutt and Salacious B. Crumb meet their type of scum, the fearless and inventive runDisney fanatic @baztastic.
Disney groupies (*raises hand*) may recall that about a month ago Disney launched a mysterious website, the “Ghost Relations Department.”
The site initially advertised a limited edition (of 999,ha!) Haunted Mansion-related subscription box service. Details were sketchy, but the gist was that for the low low price of $199 you would get some sort of box filled with unspecified Haunted Mansion stuff, monthly for three months. The box promised to hold objects and artifacts related to the Mansion, as well as interactive element, and an unfolding mystery story. Potential purchasers were told that in order to have full access to the interactive elements, they would need to have an iPhone. (All the 999 subscriptions were claimed. The page below originally included a link to purchase on the Disney Store website, but the link is now gone.)
Because I have an unnatural compulsion to open my wallet for all things Disney, I bought this subscription service, not really knowing what I’d be getting.
Since I didn’t know exactly what I should be expecting or when it would arrive, I was a bit perplexed when a plain cardboard box showed up on my doorstep this weekend. There was no Disney return address or other source markings on the outer carton.
But as soon as I opened the box and saw the faux steamer trunk printing inside, I remembered what I had ordered.
So – as usual – we took a page out of our old college playbook, chugged down a case of 5 Hour Energy, and pulled an all-nighter, cramming as much information as we could into our tiny brains so that we could report back to you, Dear Reader, with all the relevant facts (and before we forget it all tomorrow). So sit back, know that you are getting all the news that’s fit to print (and plenty more that’s not), and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – That sound you hear? KONG IS COMING.
As Donald Trump would say, it was a yuge week of King Kong news over at the Universal Orlando Resort. As theme park merchandise fanatics, we loved that a whole bunch of new merch arrived for the upcoming Skull Island: Reign of Kong attraction. Then, Universal dropped a bombshell with their reveal of the incredible ride vehicles along with a couple other tasty tidbits: This would be Universal’s first trackless ride system, and the vehicles would be “driven” by one of five characters. While Universal hasn’t released an official opening of the attraction yet, we have a sneaking suspicion we may hear something around the time the Syfy show Face Off features an entire episode (the season finale no less) dedicated to creating characters for the attraction. Stay tuned Wednesday, March 30th at 9PM EST on Syfy.
Universal’s Kong is almost here, but Disney has Avatar and Star Wars in the near future…. (photo by Matt Cleary)
# 5 – SeaWorld Admits to Ordering Employees to Spy on Animal Rights Groups
Readers of the SATURDAY SIX may remember one of last year’s annual Turkeys of the Year awards went to a SeaWorld employee who was caught spying on the animal rights group PeTA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals). At the time, SeaWorld management was shocked, SHOCKED at this behavior and put out the story that the employee had gone rogue. Fast forward to this month and during another disastrous investor’s conference, SeaWorld CEO Joel Manby admitted that employees did go undercover in animal rights groups and, more importantly, did so per order of the company.
Believe it or not this was the most “wow” SeaWorld story of the week until the atomic bomb the company dropped Thursday morning announcing they were ending the breeding of Killer Whales and will also be ending all the theatrical shows featuring orcas (to be replaced by exhibits).
Disguised as famous YouTube personality Tim Tracker, Shamu himself was able to go completely unnoticed within the PeTA ranks. (photo by Michael Sheehy)
This week’s SATURDAY SIX presents a brand new concept for us. The first Saturday of each month we are going to give a quick preview of some of the coolest things going on here in the theme park world in Florida, as well as those out there in California. We present to you Six Reasons March is Going to be AWESOME. Now it is going to be hard to top February considering we finally received details on Star Wars Land, had the soft opening of the Wizarding World West, saw the start of Universal’s Mardi Gras, and let’s not forget my personal debut as a YouTube sensation, but I think March just may be able to top it. So sit back, make sure you are wearing something green, and let’s start off with…
# 6 – Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar Has Actual Souvenir Mugs! (Disney Springs)
Our long national nightmare is over. Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, one of the coolest new additions to Disney Springs, finally has more souvenir mugs in stock. The Hangar Bar opened last September, and it debuted having a menu filled with pictures of unique souvenir mugs. There was only one catch: none of the mugs were available. Late in the year, the awesome Cool-headed Monkey mug arrived but nothing else. In March 2016, the clouds lifted, and new souvenir mugs are now in stock! Added to the list of available mugs are Reggie’s Revenge and the Hovito Mojito.. The cool mugs, unique stirrers (including a python snake and a blowdart), and a multitude of coasters make the Hangar Bar one of the best places at WDW for collectors.
The Hovito Mojito. (photo by Dirk Wallen of @WDWNT fame)
# 5 – Zootopia Opens
Having just made its national premier yesterday, Disney’s newest animated film Zootopia is already wowing both critics (with a shockingly high 98% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes) and audiences alike. Since Disney bought Pixar, the two companies have seemed to go in opposite directions. The once flawless Pixar has been criticized for churning out sequels and even produced its first ever “flop” with last Fall’s The Good Dinosaur. Meanwhile Disney animation has been killing it with an incredible run that includes Wreck It Ralph, Big Hero 6 and the world wide phenomenon Frozen. Early reaction to Zootopia by the fans are overwhelmingly positive, and right now you’ll be able to catch the two main stars of the film at both the California and Florida parks. If the box office of the film matches the height of that audience score, we just may see more Zootopia in the parks sooner rather than later.
Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde posing with a true character, the SATURDAY SIX’s own Megan Stump.
Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. February during a leap year, is there a better month on the calendar? We think not! Yes, Disney did introduce tiered pricing of tickets, but Your Humble Author did provide Tiered Payment Options. Thanks to the Disneyland 60 special (which surprisingly didn’t have much to do with Disneyland), we finally got some details on Star Wars Land. Speaking of Disneyland, it was rumored that DL guru Guy Selga immediately ripped up his annual pass after stepping through Hogsmeade Village during the Wizarding World’s soft open. We in Florida got news that the Dream Along With Mickey stage show, which ran for an amazingly long 68 years at the Magic Kingdom, is going to be replaced by Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire this summer. Just a whole bunch of win, and thanks to Leap Year we get an extra day to bask in it!
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).
First up, the newest Tsum Tsums to hit the store were from the Lilo and Stitch line, including this one featuring Lilo herself.
Lilo Tsum Tsum.
A little backstory on this next one. Two years ago this very month, I was finally brave enough to do my first “live tweeting” from the main TouringPlans twitter account. Everything went well until I went to a gift shop in Tomorrowland and commented on a Pink Stitch plush. Apparently I’m the only human being on Earth who didn’t know that was Stitch’s girlfriend Angel. That may actually be the last day I live tweeted from the TouringPlans account as well. Anyway, here is the Pink Stitch Angel Tsum Tsum.
Pink Stitch Tsum Tsum.
I teased it last month, but now it is finally time for the grand debut of my first ever…
For some people, dinner, candy, flowers, or jewelry may be the go-to gifts for Valentine’s Day, but if your significant other is a Disney fan (and a trip to the world isn’t in the cards for this year), there are many other options for gift ideas available in parks or through the Shop DisneyParks app. Here are just a few favorites.
Mickey and Minnie Antenna Topper
Is there a cuter couple in the world than Mickey and Minnie? This Valentine’s Day topper is $5.95 and can be found in stores and on the app.
Duffy and ShellieMay Valentine’s Day Bears
If you are a Duffy fan, you’ll find these “beary” cute. These 9″ plush bears are sold as a set for $35 and are available in stores and on the app.
Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. The new year has started off exactly where the old one left us: with Walt Disney World closing attractions. It has been a pretty cool month though, including a cool Star Wars runDisney race out in California (and Star Wars fans owe it to themselves to watch a great parody of Undercover Boss featuring Kylo Ren). Erin Foster took us inside Vanellope’s on the Disney Dream, and for those who don’t know, this is a complete Wreck-It-Ralph themed sweet shop (pinch us, we’re dreaming). And Guy Selga introduced us to Four Glorious New Ways to Kill Time at Disneyland, including the am I dreaming this, or is this realJungle CruiseSkipper School. 2016 is shaping up to be an incredible year.
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).
The first item this month made my heart grow three sizes (after double checking, that enlargement of the heart was actually due to eating the Pop-Tart Sandwich at Pop Century). Behold the Luigi’s Flying Tires hat! Anyone who has visited the Disney Dump has seen the remnants of this attraction, which opened with the debut of Cars Land in the summer of 2012 and was already closed by the ending of February 2015. Believe it or not, despite only being open for only 976 days, Luigi’s doesn’t even rank in the Top Five of Short Lived Disney Attractions. Originally $24.95, this baby could be sitting on your head for just $6.99. VIVA LA DISNEY OUTLETS!
After seeing this, I know how Indiana Jones felt seeing the Fertility Idol. (photo by Julia Mascardo)
Tsum Tsums returned this month! However it was mostly the ones we have seen in the past (including all seven of the dwarfs), but one that was new was this crying duck. I had literally no idea who this was, but found out it was the Ugly Duckling from a quick scene in Lilo & Stitch. That’s what we call a deep dive, and I love it. I actually dropped Loot Crate this month and started up the Disney Tsum Tsum Monthly Subscription Program, so starting in February I too will annoy you with unboxing videos (although my last one didn’t go so well).
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)
We are going to start off this month’s report with a story so uplifting that, if it was made into a movie, it could only star Kirk Cameron. When the Disney Outlet Store off of International Drive was shut down in June for a “refurbishment,” we were told it would be closed for three months and reopen in September. Well, September came and went and it still wasn’t open. October came and went and it still wasn’t open. November came and went and it still wasn’t open…
I made many trips past this closed Outlet Store during the Summer and Fall, not unlike Ralphie Parker hoping to find his Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring in the mail.
A funny thing happened in early December. I had bought tickets to go to a private event in Diagon Alley at the Universal Orlando Resort, which is close to the International Drive Outlets. I walked by the Disney Outlet, and found it still closed, but this time there was a sign on the door…
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Disney Gifts Santa Can Bring Back to the North Pole (A/K/A The Best of the Disney Outlet Stores in 2015). Some readers of this weekly column may not know that we also have The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! where every single month for over two years we have braved the insanity of the Orlando Premium Outlet parking lots to cover the two Disney outlet stores (more info on them – including addresses – are at the end of the article.) While some Christmas dreams do come true, such as Ralphie Parker getting his official Red Ryder BB gun and Your Humble Author getting a Han Solo blaster back in the day, others deserve to go straight to the Island of Misfit Toys. Today we will take a look at some of those very items, starting with…
# 6 – Olaf Rain Gauge
What’s always fascinating when you come across a particularly awful piece of merchandise is taking a minute and realize how many people must have said “yes” for this product to actually exist. To imagine that no one up and down the line from concept, to drawings, to prototypes, to production, to anywhere in-between said “have you lost your minds?!” I for one want to bFe in the meeting where this Olaf Ran Gauge was pitched. Who was the intended audience for it? What planet exists in the multiverse where an adult who cares about a rain gauge would want one Frozen based or a kid who loves Frozen so much needs a rain gauge. This item joins Mickey’s Personal Disney Assistant and goes directly in the Outlet Hall of Fame.
(Photo by Mark Diba.)
Olaf had a heck of a year at the Outlets, including this “media case.” I promise you, Dear Reader, that if I ever decide to leave this mortal coil I will write a note explaining my reasons and leave it tucked away in this case.
Olaf media case.
# 5 – Mickey and Minnie “Chestburster” Shirts
Can someone explain to me why anyone would wear this type of shirt? I don’t understand because I love the classic look on the front of the shirts. In fact, back in April I almost bought what I though was a great Chip and Dale shirt, only to discover the next-level bananas backside.I guess we are supposed to believe the characters are gripping your back and sticking their head through your body like a Xenomorph from the Alien movies. That mistake did teach me a valuable lesson: no matter how good the front of a Disney t-shirt looks, always check out the back. Always.
Everyone has their favorite Christmas traditions. For some it’s a dramatic reading of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas, while for others it is the 24 hour marathon of A Christmas Story. Many of us enjoy reading the famous poem 12 Days of Christmas, even going so far as to figuring out how much all those items would cost (imagine if they were bought at a theme park!) This year we are starting a new tradition on the blog with a look at the 12 Days of a Theme Park Christmas. Get close to your loved ones, slip on an ugly sweater, drink a big sip of egg nog, and let’s begin with…
TWELVE CLOSED ATTRACTIONS
This is a busy time for the Disney Dump as many attractions have been added to the pile. A great time to invest in construction walls though!