Recent News

American Idol Experience to Close at the End of August

by on August 15, 2014

American Idol Experience

©Disney

A few months ago, we learned that after five years, the American Idol Experience at Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be closing. The original indication was the attraction would have its final performances in January. That is not the case. It has been announced that the last shows will take place on Saturday, August 30, 2014.

The attraction, which is based on the real life hit Fox television show, has guests performing in front of a live audience. The audience then, much like on the show, votes on which performer was the best in their eyes. During the final performance of the evening, the winners from every prior show that day come back and perform in the finale. The finale winner receives a Golden Ticket, allowing special front-of-the-line access at any American Idol audition (if their age fell within the television show’s age restriction.)

Guests who have previously received a Dream Ticket will still have the ability to use those, as long as the American Idol TV show is still being produced and auditions are taking place.

The American Idol Experience debuted in 2009, and many of the performers on the American Idol TV show have actually previously auditioned and performed first on The American Idol Experience stage.

Disney has not announced its plans for the theater.

For those of you who will be down in Walt Disney World and who love this attraction, make sure you make a visit before the end of the month.

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American Film Institute Showcase at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Close

by on August 14, 2014

Disney's Hollywood StudiosThe shop and exhibit located at the end of the Studios Backlot Tour, known as the American Film Institute Showcase and Shop, will be closing on August 17.

The walk-through exhibit features many iconic movie props and unique costumes from past and present day movies. The current showcase is called “The Best in Film: AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies,” and features items based off of AFI’s “Greatest” lists.

The shop that is connected to the exhibit features collectible merchandise (including items that had previously been found at Sid Cahuenga’s, which closed last year to make way for a MyMagic+ Service Center). Merchandise for sale includes things like autographs, movie props, and more. The merchandise and collectibles will not be relocated and will no longer be available at the park.

The Studios Backlot Tour will continue to operate as normal at Disney’s Hollywood Studios; however, guests will no longer exit through this exhibit area.

Disney has not officially announced anything specific that will be taking over the space, but the company claims to be working on finalizing a new concept for the next experience to take residence in the venue.

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Capt. Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort Has Reopened

by on August 13, 2014

New Excitement at Disney's Polynesian

©Disney

It’s been closed for many months now, but Capt. Cook’s, found at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort has now reopened from its refurbishment. The quick-service location has seen quite a few changes. First, the ordering touch-screens are gone. The dining room area has also seen an overhaul, with a new brown color scheme, as well as fun Polynesian Resort-themed artwork adorning the walls.

Guests searching for Dole Whips will also be sad to learn they have not returned to this location. (The pineapple treat will eventually return to The Polynesian at a new location called Pineapple Lanai, which will be opening soon, but no specific date has been announced. Guests can currently still get their Dole Whip fix at the Magic Kingdom’s Aloha Isle.)

The lunch/dinner menu has also seen an update. Many items remain, and many new items have been added. (Unfortunately my Grown-Up Grilled Cheese didn’t make the cut…boo…) It does seem as though the menu is more extensive now. Menu items include:

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Memory Maker Now Captures On-Ride Video of Tower of Terror

by on August 13, 2014

Tower of Terror

©Disney

Have you ever ridden an attraction and wished that you could see your videotaped reaction of the experience? Well, now that’s a possibility at The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

You see, for the first time ever at a Walt Disney World attraction, guests who have purchased the Memory Maker photo package will be able to view and share their on-ride video from this thrilling attraction. The MyMagic+ technology has made it possible for guests who have both a MagicBand and an active Memory Maker photo package to receive an edited video of their experience on the attraction in their My Disney Experience accounts within 24 hours of riding it. This video can be seen and shared by any family or friend who you are linked to through your My Disney Experience account.

Keep in mind that you must have purchased the Memory Maker package for the video to show up in your My Disney Experience account. While having a MagicBand is essential in the video being uploaded automatically (thanks to the RFID technology found inside the MagicBand), guests who simply have a MagicBand but have no Memory Maker packaged linked to their accounts will not have the on-ride video uploaded to My Disney Experience.

Disney also released a sample on-ride video.

I suspect this is just the tip of the iceberg and additional on-ride videos will be coming down the pipeline in the near future.

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My Disney Experience Brings Needed Improvements For Making Advanced Dining Reservations While in the Parks

by on August 12, 2014

My Disney ExperienceHave you ever been in Walt Disney World and suddenly come to the realization that you are hungry? You aren’t just hungry, but instead you are starving and want a full meal to satisfy your appetite. One little caveat…while you want to enjoy a nice table service meal, you currently have no Advance Dining Reservation scheduled.

So you open up the app because you want to see what restaurants have availability in the near future, but the app says that reservations are unavailable. (At least over the next hour. Search for times after the initial hour or, so and you’ll see that some restaurants clearly have availability.) You know that  not every restaurant can be booked up for the next couple of hours, but you cannot see any availability to be able to make an ADR. So you are stuck either going door to door to the different table service locations to find one to dine in, or you are stuck eating counter service. It’s so frustrating! (This happened to me on my last trip actually, so I speak from experience. Can you tell?)

Well, beginning tomorrow, all that changes! You see, starting on August 13, dining reservations can be made via the My Disney Experience app for iOS devices or via Disney’s website for any available seating up to 20 minutes in advance! (Yay!)

Future enhancements are planned to include the same booking feature via the My Disney Experience app for Android devices.

This is great news for those who may be looking for a last minute reservation, because – let’s be honest – you never know when a craving will hit while you are at Walt Disney World. It will be nice to know that I now have the option to satisfy more easily that desire for a good table service meal.

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Disney Partners With Pandora Jewelry

by on August 12, 2014

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©Pandora

Pandora is coming…and I don’t only mean the Pandora associated with Avatarland.  Instead I mean that PANDORA Jewelry will be coming soon, as the company has entered into an alliance with the Walt Disney Company.

Beginning this November, a collection of PANDORA’s 14k gold and sterling silver charms will go on sale featuring many of Disney’s favorite characters, like Mickey and Minnie.

The initial line that will be found at PANDORA stores will consist of 25 styles. There will also be 16 additional styles that are only going to be sold at Walt Disney World, Disneyland Resort, Disney Vacation Club properties, and on the Disney Cruise Line. Additionally both Uptown Jewelers in the Magic Kingdom and La Mascarade d ‘Orleans in Disneyland will unveil unique PANDORA retail sections.

“We’re looking forward to the opportunities ahead through our alliance with PANDORA,” said Tiffany Rende, senior vice president of Disney Corporate Alliances and Operating Participants.”In addition to debuting a new line of PANDORA Jewelry at retail level that we know will be a fan favorite, we are collaborating on other product lines and guest experiences at our domestic Parks and Resorts.”

The agreement will last for 10 years and will also include a sponsorship of the Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks spectacular, Wishes.

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Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 8/11/14

by on August 11, 2014

Hello again! My notepad is full of lots of little things I’ve jotted down lately that you all should know that may influence your next trip to Walt Disney World, so here we go!

  • Beginning with the refurbishment news, It’s Tough To Be A Bug at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was supposed to reopen today, however, it would appear that work is taking much longer than initially thought, as the refurb was recently extended. It will now last at least a month and a half longer, reopening on September 28.
  • The Astro Orbiter will also see an extended refurbishment; however, its extension isn’t for nearly as long. The attraction’s extra refurb work is only for an additional week; it is also now supposed to reopen on September 28.
  • Staying in the Magic Kingdom, the “Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It” street party will see an amended schedule for the following dates: August 12, 13, 19, 20, and 29. On those dates, performances will only take place at 5:40 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
  • While it was recently announced that The Yankee Trader was being converted into a Haunted Mansion gift shop, it appears that the refurbishment will be more extensive than originally thought. The store is now scheduled to reopen on January 1. Also, (and lending more credence to the rumor that the new gift shop will offer on-ride photos from the Mansion), the Haunted Mansion will be closed from December 1-19, reopening on December 20.
  • The First Aid Center at the Magic Kingdom has temporarily relocated from Main Street, U.S.A., to the lounge next to Space Mountain until August 19.
  • During this year’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party nights, a brand new event will take place. Called Club Villain, guests will get the chance to dance and mingle with a few infamous Disney villains at The Diamond Horseshoe. It is currently unknown which specific characters will be participating in this dance party.

That’s gonna do it for this edition of Newsworthy Notes. What are your thoughts?

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The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights Dates Released

by on August 11, 2014

Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

©Disney

While it may well still be sweltering outside, the time has come for us all to start thinking about…Christmas. That’s right, nothing says preparing for the Holiday Season like knowing the second you step outside, you’re going to need to take another shower. However, for those who are eagerly planning a vacation for November/December, this is, of course, one key piece of news you’ve been waiting for.

You see, the dates for The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, which takes place annually at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, have been released! This season’s event is scheduled for Friday, November 7, 2014, through Sunday, January 4, 2015. (Note that – barring changes to park hours – they will be unavailable on December 10 since the park is scheduled to close at 6:00 pm.)

The dazzling showcase of festive lights takes place on The Streets of America. Guests marvel as they walk along, gazing up at the beautiful lights, made even more spectacular when they start to blink and dance to the musical tracks.

In addition, introduced last year and continuing this year, guests who purchase Glow With The Show ears will see them interact with the lights as the ears have been programmed to light up, both matching the colors of your surroundings and flashing to the beat of the holiday music.

For those who are unaware, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights started modestly in Arkansas as each year, Jennings Osborne and his family set up an elaborate collection of holiday lights. Over time, the collection of lights grew until 1995, when the lights were brought to Walt Disney World Resort.

The event is included in the price of your admission to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Be Our Guest Restaurant Testing New Standby Line Process

by on August 10, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

A test is taking place currently at the Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest Restaurant. During this test, which is only during the venues counter service lunch, guests will find Cast Members near the restaurant who will give them a paper ticket with a return time. (Hmmm…this sounds familiar….) That return time indicates when you will be able to come back to order and enjoy your meal at the restaurant. A limited number of standby tickets are available each day; once these tickets run out, that’s it for the day.

This is similar to tests that have recently taken place at Princess Fairytale Hall to meet Anna and Elsa and Soarin’, and a similar process is currently utilized at both The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow and “For the First Time In Fovever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” at Hollywood Studios.

Guests who are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel may still make a FastPass+ reservation for lunch and pre-order their meals. However, keep in mind that this is still supposedly an invitation-only option. (Though I’ve also heard that it is open to all guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort. Your mileage may vary.)

The lunchtime test is taking place for the foreseeable future, with no end date announced. Dinner at Be Our Guest remains a table service meal where dining reservations are quickly snatched up, and no procedures are changed for that meal.

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Frozen Summer Fun: Should You Book The Premium Package?

by on August 7, 2014

Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package Credentials

Frozen Summer Fun Premium Package Credentials

To continue cashing in on Frozen mania, Disney announced earlier this summer that Walt Disney World would be offering special events at Disney’s Hollywood Studios as a “Frozen Summer Fun” event running from July 5 to September 1, 2014. Also announced was a Premium Package, which includes a dessert party and priority access to some of the events. The premium package sold out quickly. Don’t worry about getting left out in the cold though – Disney added more dates for both Summer Fun and the premium package – extending summer to September 28 and adding the premium package to the following weekends: September 5 – 7; September 12 – 14; September 19 – 21; and September 26 – 28, 2014. Interestingly, the price for the package has also increased with the new dates – to $69 for adults, and $39 for children. The following is a review from earlier this summer, before the price increase. Call (407) 939-1939 to book. Official information about the event is on Disney’s web site.

TouringPlans bloggers Kylene Hamulak and Julia Mascardo both booked the package separately and attended on different days. Kylene also had the opportunity to experience all of Frozen Summer Fun on a different day without the Premium Package. Here are their impressions.

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