Saturday Six

SATURDAY SIX: IN MEMORIAM Part 2 – A Look Back at Even More Things the Theme Parks Lost in 2017

by on December 16, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six MORE Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2017. Last week on the SAT SIX we took our annual look at what the theme park world lost in 2017. This year was unlike most though, as we lost even MORE things that just couldn’t go unmentioned as several have played a huge role in our collective Disney and Universal vacations over the years. So grab a box of Kleenex and get ready to pour out a 40 for some dear old friends, starting with…

# 6 – Old Port Royale

Old Port Royale was the main hub of Caribbean Beach and contained a food court, arcade, large gift shop, and the table service restaurant Shutters. The food court had several different stations, all set up like a Caribbean port town market. The entire food court, including the large seating area across the way, was very colorful. The nearby Shutters restaurant offered Caribbean fare, and while it wasn’t destination dining for your average Disney guest, it was more than acceptable for those staying at the resort.

Currently Caribbean Beach is going through a massive renovation that will include a DVC building that will allow guests a view of Epcot’s IllumiNations nighttime spectacular. Old Port Royale will be returning during the summer of 2018, and when it does it will be the area where guests also check into the resort (which was formerly done at the resort’s Custom House.) The reimagined Shutters will be coming back as well, this time with waterside dining.


Old Port Royale food court.


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SATURDAY SIX: In Memoriam – Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2017

by on December 9, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2017. As theme park fans, we’ve had a lot to be thankful for this year. However, as much as we all loved seeing projection mapping in The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle and Disney’s Happily Ever After, it wasn’t all good news. This year we had to say goodbye to several dear old friends. Today we pay our respects to some of those that we lost in the past year, starting with….

# 6  – Terminator 2: 3-D

Hasta la vista, baby.

Much like the Lord Almighty, James Cameron giveth, and James Cameron taketh away in 2017. While we theme park guests were blessed with the wonders of Pandora: The World of Avatar opening up in Animal Kingdom, we lost T2: 3-D – Battle Across Time at Universal Studios Florida. A stage show like no other, T2: 3=D was a breathtaking mix of a one-of-a-kind 3-D movie and a thrilling live action stunt show.

The overall attraction – including the preshow – tied directly into the Terminator Universe following the events of T2, making itself an unofficial sequel to the popular franchise. Unlike traditional theme park 3-D movies where the audience all looks at one screen, the massive theater had three connecting screens. Every guest in the audience had a great seat as a special effects bonanza took place in front of their eyes including a spectacular how did they do that?! moment of a motorcycle going through the screen. James Cameron is well known to be one of the hardest men to work for in Hollywood, but he gets the best out of everyone, and T2: 3-D has the high level quality you’re used to in a Cameron production. It featured all the main Terminator 2 stars, had an insane budget-per-minute-of-film that made the legendary Captain EO look fiscally responsible, and a Shaquille O’Neal joke that was still funny 10 years past it had any right to be.

On October 8th, the attraction went through its own time portal to the great attraction beyond. Goodbye T2: 3D, there may never be another one like you again.

10 bell salute for T2: 3-D. @Drubov of Inside Universal)

T2: 3-D. (photo by Michael Carelli

Inside queue has guests walking through Cyberdyne Systems. (photo by Michael Carelli)

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love The Christmas Season at UNIVERSAL!

by on December 2, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Reasons We Love the Christmas Season at Universal! When it comes to the Universal Orlando Resort and holidays, the one which they are most associated with is Halloween. Each year Universal’s signature event – incredibly popular Halloween Horror Nights – somehow becomes even bigger. Many theme park guests would associate the Christmas holiday with Disney. With Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom, Candlelight Processional at Epcot, and all the amazing decorations at various resorts (including the Grand Floridian’s Gingerbread House and the massive Christmas tree at the Wilderness Lodge,) WDW is loaded with festive Christmas spirit. However, over the past few years Universal has quietly put together a great Christmas package as well.

(photo by Mike Sperduto)

Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite holiday offerings at Universal, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular

During most of the year, no theme park can touch The Mouse when it comes to in-park shows. Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo – The Musical, and even Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage are crowd pleasers of the highest order. When the calendar hits December, Universal brings out some big guns that deliver in a major way. The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular is a must-see stage show presentation of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and it combines elements of both the beloved animated version along with the Jim Carrey live-action film. Meanwhile Seuss Landing becomes decorated to the nth degree, and you may even run into Whos in the land putting out even more decorations!

The Grinch. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who. (photo by Brandon Glover)

“Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores
Welcome Christmas Come this way”

The Grinch and Whos sing Welcome Christmas. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

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Ask It Results: Saturday Six or Outlet Report?

by on November 29, 2017

If there was only one Derek Burgan-based poll that you vote in for 2017, we hope this was the one you chose. (If it isn’t, let us know what other Derek Burgan-based polls are out there, because that’s creepy there’d be more than one, ya know?)

In this world where things can be high stress and depressing at times, having these brief glimmers on sunshine can brighten anyone’s week. For many of you, as evidenced by comments left in the articles, notes on Twitter, and the occasional fan letter made from cut out letters from magazines or newspapers, these articles are worth looking forward to every week (for Saturday Six) or once a month (for the Outlet report). This week, because I enjoy Sophie’s choice types of polls, we asked you:

Which of these TouringPlans blog features is your favorite?

Here’s your responses (with the understanding that although “Both” was the clear winner, even though it wasn’t a choice…).

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SATURDAY SIX: Fourth Annual Theme Park Turkeys of the Year

by on November 25, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is one of our favorites as we present the Fourth Annual Theme Park “Turkeys” of the Year. For Thanksgiving this week we took a look back at things both Disney and Universal fans should be thankful for, but today we are going to go the other way. Gather ’round as we continue the fine tradition of awarding six Theme Park “Turkeys” to the craziest, most outrageous, or just downright weird stories of the year, concluding with the coveted Golden Turkey award. Let’s kick off the ceremony with a situation that was “for the birds”….

# 6 – That Time Geese Pooped on Disneyland Guests and 911 Was Called

“1 if by sea, 2 if by land…3 if by air. ” – Paul Revere, probably

You thought YOU had a bad day at the parks? Back in June, a group* of geese took to the skies over Disneyland and rained down a hail of poop that was so dramatic that it brought police and firefighters to the park. Now, this may sound funny to you and me (and just about any other human on the planet,) but those with geese feces all over their rose gold Etsy Mickey Ears weren’t laughing. A total of 17 guests (11 adults and six minors) were defecated on, and to put that number in perspective only 15 guests are able to ride Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage per hour**.

This is why they ask you not to feed the birds people!!

Oh, the humanity! (art by Juliette Elton)

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SATURDAY SIX THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2017

by on November 23, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX  is our annual Thanksgiving Special and takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2017 was another great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday pre-planning to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts that we love so much. So, for one day only, we ask that all Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a brief moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with…

# 6 – The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle

While Walt Disney World has been putting together a stunning display of projection mapping at several of their parks (including one of our favorites, the Tree of Life Awakens shows at Animal Kingdom) Universal finally created a brand new show of their own using the technology with The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle. Using the iconic Hogwarts Castle as a canvas, this new show pays homage to fan friendly moments from the Harry Potter films and books. With references to the Yule Ball, ghosts singing, the flying Ford Anglia, quidditch, and even Weasley Wizarding Wheezes, fans of the Potter Universe are going to love this new Holiday event.  We here at the SATURDAY SIX headquarters will watch anything that has a John Williams score, and The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle is Universal’s first E-Ticket nighttime show worth going out of your way to experience.

The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.

The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.

The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle.

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Ask It: Saturday Six or Outlet Report?

by on November 22, 2017

It’s almost Thanksgiving, and I’m rather thankful for my fellow blogger Derek Burgan, who allows me such rare opportunities as photo model credits as Saturday 6 “Short Person in the Scene #1” and “eBay Pirate”, plus gives me a reason to wander around Disney Outlet stores, filling up my phone with blurry pictures of price tags. Derek is the criminal mastermind behind both the Saturday Six articles and The Magic, the Memories, and Merch! (aka The Outlet Report). Many readers mention that these are two of the articles they look forward to the most on the blog. So this week, we want to know.

Which of these TouringPlans blog features is your favorite?

  • Saturday Six (55%, 262 Votes)
  • Outlet Report (45%, 213 Votes)

Total Voters: 475

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The poll is live here and on Twitter, and we’ll have your answers next week. In the meantime, feel free to share what your favorite Saturday Six article is, or what your favorite item you’ve seen in an Outlet report happens to be, in the comments.

SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love FRONTIERLAND at Disney’s Magic Kingdom

by on November 18, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at FRONTIERLAND at Disney’s Magic Kingdom! When Walt Disney created Disneyland in 1955, the genre of Westerns in American pop culture was in its heyday. John Wayne was a giant movie star, Gunsmoke had just started on TV, and Disney itself had a giant hit on its hands with the Davy Crockett series. So it was only natural that one of the lands in the world’s first theme park would be based around the concept of the Old West. The original Frontierland in Disneyland contained few traditional attractions as we know today, and instead was a much more open concept that allowed guests to explore the wilderness  with – believe it or not – the use of stage coaches and even pack mules. Over the years the theme of Frontierland would evolve, including the additions of two of the most beloved rides in any Disney land. Today we’re going to take a look at our favorite parts of this incredible land in Walt Disney World, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Country Bears Jamboree

When Walt Disney World opened in 1971, there were no actual rides in Frontierland. The Walt Disney Railroad went through the area, there was a Davy Crockett canoe experience, and there was the Country Bears Jamboree. Now, if you were to go to the Magic Kingdom today, the one attraction that would never have a chance to be built is Country Bears. Even with massive changes to the show over the years, the show is what many guests would consider “politically incorrect.”  For me personally, Country Bears – along with Enchanted Tiki Room and PeopleMover – is one of my favorite things to do in any theme park because of its charm. Unlike what we are going through today, Country Bears doesn’t have an IP shoved into it in order to sell more merchandise. It is old school Disney at its best, amazing animatronics doing a show with humor and catchy songs. In fact, when Country Bears first opened it was so successful that it became the first original attraction in Florida to be replicated out in Disneyland. Pro Tip: Check your times guide and be around for the Hoedown Happening that takes places outside the Country Bears Jamboree. Here guests get to “hoot and holler” with Disney characters and Cast Members as they dance to music.

Country Bear Jamboree. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Country Bear Jamboree. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Bear claw marks inside waiting area of Country Bears. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love SEUSS LANDING at Islands of Adventure

by on November 11, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Seuss Landing! One of the original six islands that comprised Islands of Adventure when it opened in 1999, the whimsical Seuss Landing created an entire land from the works of Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel. With the area’s over-the-top designs and bright colors, Seuss Landing faithfully recreates the fantastical worlds created in treasured books such as The Cat in The Hat, The Lorax, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

Seuss Landing. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

For me personally, the works of Dr. Seuss worked in many ways like the best of The Muppets. Children like the fun characters and easy to understand stories, but underneath that there was another level that was targeting adults paying attention. Whether its skewering commercialism with the Grinch or showing the importance of environmentalism with the Lorax, Seuss was decades ahead of his contemporaries in using children’s stories to teach valuable lessons. Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite parts of Seuss Landing, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – The High the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride

One of my favorite attractions in all of the Universal Orlando Resort is The High In the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! Extremely reminiscent of one of my favorite Disney rides – the Peoplemover – guests board trains and ride along an elevated track. This allows for some extremely great views of the park. Even better, there are actually two different ride experiences depending on which track you choose to take. To top it off, the ride goes through the Circus McGurkus Cafe Stupendous quick service restaurant. Disneyland has Blue Bayou overlooking Pirates of the Caribbean, EPCOT’s  Garden Grill lets us look down into Living with the Land, and Universal has the Trolley. What we really need is more rides that go through restaurants (after this article please sign my petition at

It is also worth noting that the ride is based on the Dr. Seuss story of The Sneetches, and it could not be more relevant with today’s society.

The Hight in the Sky Seuss Trolley Train Ride! (photo by Michael Carelli)

Trolley riders get a chance to see Hulk roar by in the distance. (photo by Michael Carelli)

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love PORT OF ENTRY at Universal’s Islands of Adventure

by on October 28, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers Six Reasons We Love PORT OF ENTRY at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. One of my favorite places at either of Universal’s two theme parks doesn’t have a single attraction or show. Port of Entry is the first official “island” you experience when walking into Islands of Adventure (IOA) and I consider it the best entry area of any theme park in North America. The layers of detail throughout the area transports guests into a world that never existed, yet somehow feels completely real.

The Pharos Lighthouse. (photo by Michael Carelli)

You have passed the gauntlet of photographers and are now entering the fabled Port of Entry. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

The journey through this exotic land starts before you even hit the park, as the impressive Pharos Lighthouse stands tall outside the gates and the wonderful Ocean Trader Market theme plays in the background. I love the short walk from the Royal Pacific Resort to the park as this charming music grows louder the closer I get.

Once through the turnstiles, guests pass by the archway which promises “The Adventure Begins” and they generally make a beeline to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or quickly head over to the Hulk Coaster and Spider-Man at Marvel Superhero Island. With this edition of the Saturday Six we are going to make a plea to you, Dear Reader, to slow down on your race to the rest of the park and take a moment to take in the immersive land Universal Creative has delivered with Port of Entry. We are going to look through some of our favorite things and let’s kick off the countdown with…

# 6 –  The Love Birds

Sitting together along the walls of Port of Entry are two love birds.  These two birds actually took me a while to find myself, and I have combed over the Port of Entry many times. I had asked Team Members about them and even went to Guest Services and you would have thought I asked where the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was in the park. No one had any idea what I was talking about.

While I won’t spoil the fun in discovering where they are, I actually stumbled upon them when checking out another item on this list (there’s your only hint.)  There is a “coo-ing” playing over speakers in their area, and once you see them you’ll wonder how you missed them for so long. I would imagine this is a detail that 99.44% of IOA guests never notice, and that’s what I love about it. The term “Disney Difference” gets thrown out a lot when it comes to detail in theme parks, and while some may be wondering where the Disney Difference went at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I think they will find it in spades at IOA.

The Love Birds of IOA. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

# 5 – “Main Street Windows”

Getting a window on Main Street at the Magic Kingdom is one of the highest honors one can achieve at Walt Disney World. Whether it’s Disney family members Elias and Roy Disney, Imagineers Mary Blair and John Hench, or management like Lee Cockerell and Frank Wells, having your name in tribute on one of these windows is a theme park equivalent to having a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, except that they are much harder to attain and actually mean something.

Universal also pays homage to the people who helped create their resort in a variety of ways at both Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios FLorida, including window tributes. This particular window in Port of Entry is for “Codiga Adventures” and is referencing David Codiga, a former Executive Vice President of Universal Creative. Mr. Codiga’s most recent project was the High Roller observation wheel in Las Vegas, the world’s tallest ferris wheel.

Codiga Adventures – referring to David Codiga, one of the architects of Islands of Adventure. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

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