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A Few Walt Disney World Downtown Disney News Notes

by on March 21, 2014

If you’ve visited Downtown Disney lately, you know it’s a sea of construction. You’ve got it in the parking lots, you’ve got it taking place throughout the shopping district: it’s just everywhere. Granted, it’s all to make for a better experience when Disney Springs officially unveils. And I have to admit that it’s still a fun atmosphere to visit, shop, and dine in even while everything is taking place!

Today, I thought I’d bring you a couple of news notes about things that are taking place at Downtown Disney:

  • For those who may have missed my earlier announcement, the mega dining complex that was Pollo Campero, Bodie’s All-American, and BabyCakes NYC has now closed to guests. Guests looking for BabyCakes treats can still get them in many resort food courts and at the Gardens Kiosk at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
  • The parking lot is still quite a mess at Downtown Disney. If you are staying on property, try taking the bus. It may be the easiest way to get around. However, if you are driving, be aware that certain lots are closed. Those include parking lots E, F, G, H, I, J, and K. Your best bet is to park over by Cirque du Soleil.
  • A brand new shop/outdoor kiosk has opened up on the Marketplace side! Called Happy Hound, this kiosk sells accessories for your pets, including leashes, glamour collars, food bowls, outfits, jackets, and squeaky toys!
  • It appears that a brand new Food Truck Park is being built at Downtown Disney. This new permanent home for the four food trucks introduced last year s being built on the West Side near Bongos Cuban Cafe. It is expected to be unveiled sometime in the summer. Currently, the Food Trucks can be found Wednesday through Sunday near Cirque du Soleil and House of Blues.

That’s gonna do it for this edition of News Notes! Thoughts?

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Disney Parks To Hold Global Celebration Honoring the 50th Anniversary of “it’s a small world”

by on March 21, 2014

IT'S A SMALL WORLD AT THE 1964 WORLD'S FAIR 50TH ANNIVERSARY

©Disney

This year marks a momentous occasion. We will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the happiest cruise that ever sailed – “it’s a small world.” The attraction originally opened in 1964 at the New York World’s Fair and was a tribute to peace.

To celebrate the attraction’s debut all those years ago, a global event will see guests and Cast Members at Disney Parks around the world unite and sing the famous song.

On Thursday, April 10, hundreds of voices from Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Tokyo Disney Resort in Japan, Disneyland Paris in France and Hong Kong Disneyland Resort will sing the unforgettable theme song. Throughout the day, Disney Parks also will sponsor Google Hangouts that invite people from around the world to participate in the anniversary events.

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Mark Hamill Will Appear At Star Wars Weekends for the First Time

by on March 20, 2014

Star-Wars-Weekends-2005-Logo49848807

©Disney

Did you all just hear that collective gasp? No…it wasn’t because of a busted March Madness bracket…it’s because for the first time ever, Mark Hamill (otherwise known in the Star Wars saga as Luke Skywalker) will appear during Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The actor will make his debut during the fourth weekend of Star Wars Weekends, June 6-8.

Fans will have the opportunity to see him in the daily “Legends of the Force” Star Wars-themed motorcade and in a featured talk show, which will likely be held at the Premiere Theater. (The location isn’t official, as of yet. Just speculation on my part.). Hamill will not participate in any autograph signings.

Could this be a great indicator of how amazing Star Wars Weekends will be this year? We’ve already learned that there will be a new fireworks show this year. Only time will tell as to how Disney’s acquisition of Lucasfilm will further enhance these fantastic fun-filled weekends.

This year, Star Wars Weekends will take place during five consecutive weekends (Friday-Sunday), from May 16 to June 15.

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2014 Disney Dining Plans Increase In Price

by on March 19, 2014

Disney Dining PlanDisney has been pretty good lately at quietly increasing prices. First Walt Disney World park admission prices increased with little warning last month, and it appears Disney is at it again. Though, this time instead of raising ticket prices, it has seemingly increased the price of the Dining Plan, as all three Disney Dining Plan prices appear to have seen a small uptick.

Here is a look at what you can expect now when purchasing the Disney Dining Plans:

Quick-Service Plan
Adult 10+: $41.99
Child 3-9: $16.03

(Increased from $39.64 for Adults and $15.75 for Children)

The Quick Service Dining Plan allows each guest to get 2 Quick Service Meals per day. For Breakfast you’ll receive an entrée or combo meal and a non-alcoholic beverage. For Lunch and Dinner you’ll receive an entrée or a complete combo meal, dessert, and a non-alcoholic beverage. You’ll also get 1 Snack Option per day, and 1 Refillable Mug per person for the length of your stay.

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Maleficent Sneak Peek Coming To Walt Disney World and Disneyland

by on March 18, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

The upcoming movie Maleficent premieres in movie theaters around the country starting on May 30, but those who are anxious to learn more about this film will soon be able to do so at both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts.

Starting April 18, a special extended sneak peek will take place at Disney California Adventure in the Bug’s Life Theater and at Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the ABC Sound Studio (the former location of Sounds Dangerous). The preview will be shown daily.

This is similar to what took place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios last year, when Disney was promoting The Lone Ranger.

Who’s excited for Maleficent?

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D23 Expo Returns To Anaheim in 2015

by on March 18, 2014

D23expologoToday, Disney held its annual shareholder meeting in Portland, Oregon. During it, they announced quite a few bits of news (like that we should look for a Cars 3 and Incredibles 2 to hit movie theaters in the future), but one of the most interesting aspects was that they officially announced that they will once again be holding the D23 Expo in 2015 at the Anaheim Convention Center. This will be the fourth ultimate Disney fan event and will take place August 14-16, 2015.

For those who are unaware, the D23 Expo highlights each of Disney’s wonderful worlds. They will all come together to celebrate what’s new and what’s on the horizon for theme parks, television, music, games, and films, including Pixar, the Muppets, Star Wars, and Marvel.

Highlights planned for D23 Expo 2015 include:

  • The 2015 Disney Legends Ceremony-honoring the talented men and women who have made significant contributions to the Disney legacy
  • Treasures of the Walt Disney Archives-a collection of one-of-a-kind assets, props and costumes curated by the Walt Disney Archives

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Four Seasons Orlando Announces Dining Concepts Under New Executive Chef

by on March 18, 2014

Four Seasons OrlandoFour Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World is in full preparation mode for its August opening and has just introduced its Executive Chef as well as several dining concepts. Chef Fabrizio Schenardi has joined the resort’s opening team and will oversee the culinary operations for the five on-property restaurants as well as in-room dining and catering culinary operations. Schenardi has worked for the Pelagia Trattoria at Tampa Hotel International Plaza; the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort and Spa in Dana Point, California; Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel, in Los Angeles, California; and numerous other fine properties around the world. He is from Rivoli, Italy, and speaks English, Italian, French and Spanish. He received his Culinary Arts Diploma from the Instituto Alberghiero Ravizza in Torino, Italy and specializes in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine.

What kind of dining will Four Seasons Orlando at Walt Disney World and Chef Schenardi bring guests? Five concepts covering everything from a world-class steakhouse to family-style Italian have been announced.

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Frozen’s Anna and Elsa Moving To Magic Kingdom

by on March 14, 2014

Anna and Elsa from FrozenYay! No more standing out in the blazing sun at the Norway Pavilion!

With lines commonly running from two to three hours, even seeing as long as five hour waits, Disney has decided to move Anna and Elsa from Frozen out of the Norway Pavilion in Epcot over to the Magic Kingdom to meet with guests.

The sisters will be relocated to the Princess Fairytale Hall in Fantasyland starting on April 20. This means that guests will also be able to make FastPass+ reservations to meet the sisters. (Keep in mind, this will likely be the hottest ticket in town. FastPass+ reservations are going to go extremely quick for the opportunity to meet these two.)

With this change, Cinderella and Rapunzel will continue to greet guests at Princess Fairytale Hall. (And if rumors are correct, these two will likely be greeting guests together now. Anna and Elsa will likely be greeting with a visiting Princess. These are just rumors, as of now.)

Also, keep in mind that Anna and Elsa’s meet and greet opportunity will last only until the early evening. After that time, other visiting Disney Princesses will be available to greet guests.

I could see this change coming from a mile away. The Norway Pavilion has become crazy crowded since this meet and greet opened up. With summer rapidly approaching, and with the lines being as long as we’ve seen, I’m not surprised that Disney wanted to find an indoor location for people to wait to meet these two. I visited the pavilion on my most recent trip in February twice, at two different times of the day (early afternoon and early evening), and the area was just packed.

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PotterWatch: New Hogwarts Express Details Released

by on March 14, 2014

Exciting new Hogwarts Express details revealed by Universal Orlando.

Exciting new Hogwarts Express details revealed by Universal Orlando.

As even the most unobservant Muggle probably already knows, Universal Orlando is opening a major expansion of their hit Wizarding World of Harry Potter attractions this summer, and one of the most anticipated elements of the additions is the new Hogwarts Express train, which will link the existing Hogsmeade Village in Islands of Adventure with the new Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida. Today, Friday March 14, Universal is releasing new Hogwarts Express details, and thanks to Touring Plans’ friend Jim Hill we are happy to be among the first to bring you the news, including some details you won’t find in the official press release.

Here are some exciting new officially confirmed facts about the upcoming Hogwarts Express attraction:

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Epcot Premieres New IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party

by on March 12, 2014

IlluminationsToday Epcot introduced a brand new offering called the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party.

Here, guests are able to partake in a complete selection of desserts and sparkling wines in a prime reserved location for viewing IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. The dessert party location is Showcase Plaza, which is along the water between the Friendship Boat docks nearest Future World, facing the American Adventure Pavilion. (This dessert party is similar to the Tomorrowland Terrace Fireworks Party that’s currently being held in the Magic Kingdom.)

Dessert options include tiramisu from Italy, vanilla pot de crème from France, shortbread cookies from the United Kingdom, baklava from Morocco, sugar-dusted cronis (croissant doughnuts) with strawberry sauce from America, and a selection of delicious ice-cream treats.  Also available for guests will be lemonade, coffee, teas, sparkling wine from Washington State and Prosecco from Italy.

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