Star Wars

The SATURDAY SIX Looks at the (possible) future of Walt Disney World and Universal

by on June 24, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the (possible) future of Walt Disney World and Universal!  As they do several times each month, TouringPlans’ own Len Testa teamed up with industry icon Jim Hill to record an episode of the Disney Dish podcast. This particular episode was going to be answering a listener question of character meet-and-greets in the park, but before they got to that question the two men discussed several major stories affecting both Walt Disney World and the Universal Orlando Resort. The two theme park titans discussed many rumored additions and changes to the two resorts, as well as giving reasons why they may – and may not – actually come to fruition. Today we’re going to take a look at some of the more important items, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – It’s GAME ON for Universal’s Super Nintendo World vs. Disney’s Star Wars Land

Universal vs. Disney. (art by Joel Carroll)

Many of us saw the recent groundbreaking of Super Nintendo World in Japan, and a lot of us have been waiting (not so) patiently for some news on what Universal and Nintendo have cooked up for Orlando. Universal waiting on announcing new projects is nothing new, in fact many insiders say the company got “burned” when announcing the original Wizarding World early, causing many guests to delay their Universal vacations until it was opened. Whatever the case, news on Nintendo attractions in America has been between slim and none until recently.

All of a sudden, the flood gates opened. Thanks to Twitter user Gary Snyder we got a look at the original pitch for a Nintendoland in Universal Studios Florida along with some pieces of concept art. In a word, these pictures were mind-blowing. Located in the area of USF that currently houses Woody Woodpecker’s KidZone, the new Nintendo area would replace everything except the E.T. Adventure (the only opening day ride still in the park) and the ultra-themed gift store,Spongebob Storepants.

Early draft of what could possibly be coming to Universal Studios Florida and how it would fit into the park. (photo via Gary Snyder)

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Ask It Results: Best Current Use of Star Wars

by on April 26, 2017

The results are in! Last week we asked you:

Which is the best use of Star Wars at Walt Disney World?

With special nods to the “All of the above” (read: Star Wars mega fans) and “None of the above” (read: Not Star Wars fans), here’s how the four choices did in our weekly poll, with more than 1,400 votes cast.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! March 2017 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on March 31, 2017

Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo came across some pretty interesting stuff in March including more Turkey Leg merchandise, the first Outlet appearance of a Metal Earth product, and even discovered more nefarious tricks from the eBay pirates  that haunt the stores. 

Ready to see what we found? Let’s go!

First up was this truly fantastic Jungle Cruise glass. This design is based off a print from one of my personal favorite Disney artists, Shag. I absolutely adore the retro style. Bought one of these and it is now my everyday juice glass. Originally $14.95, now $9.99.

Jungle Cruise.

This next item was a tough one to pass up. On one hand, it’s based around the old 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attraction, which is normally something I would buy no matter what just on principle. However, I’m not a fan of drinking out of these types of glasses, so ended up passing despite the great price. Originally $12.95, now $4.99.

20, 000 Leagues glass.

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The SATURDAY SIX Looks at Disney’s New Seven Hour STAR WARS Guided Tour

by on February 4, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Disney’s new Star Wars Guided Tour! One of the most underrated attractions at Walt Disney World are the guided tours available across property. Behind the Seeds at EPCOT is a true gem, Magic Kingdom’s Keys to the Kingdom is a must-do for hardcore Disney fans, and the Sanaa Cultural Tour at Animal Kingdom Lodge is a fascinating look at all the details in one of Disney’s best restaurants. In late 2016, Disney announced that a new seven hour tour based around Star Wars would be coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios at a price of $121.12 per person, not including cost of admission to the park.

Star Wars Guided Tour check-in. (photo by Meg Stump)

Star Wars Guided Tour credentials, where guests are separated into different planets. All theme park bloggers hail from “Mustafar.” (photo by Meg Stump)

To put seven hours into perspective, if you were to watch A New Hope, The Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi consecutively it would take less than six and a half hours (although watching the prequels back to back would probably seem like 100 hours). The price is also one of the highest of any tour that WDW offers, would there be value to be found? Thanks to an in-depth investigation by SATURDAY SIX editor in chief Megan Stump, we’re happy to report back the answer is a resounding YESToday we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite parts of the new guided tour, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – March Behind the First Order

One common theme you see among many of our favorite shows that go to Walt Disney World – including Full House, Step By Step, and last year’s Blackish – is that characters from the show end up joining Disney parades or other shows in the parks. I think this because there is a subconscious, or maybe even conscious, feeling by many people that they want to be part of the show. Guests who take part in the Star Wars Guided Tour get to live out their theme park fantasy by being a part of Captain Phasma’s march of the First Order. Guests meet up up with Captain Phasma and the gang as soon as they come onstage and you travel directly behind the stormtroopers as they make their way down Hollywood Blvd.

Captain Phasma leads the First Order. (photo by Meg Stump)

Guests doing the Star Wars Guided Tour follow directly behind the First Order. (photo by Meg Stump)

Where else can you be this close to the action other than the Star Wars Guided Tour? (photo by Meg Stump)

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Daisy’s Best Week Ever January 19, 2017: Sailing Away!

by on January 19, 2017

Hello, lovebugs! It’s never too early to get working on your new year’s resolutions. With that in mind, I started 2017 off with a cruise! We had planned to sail later in the year, but decided to move it up to the first Star Wars Day at Sea cruise for 2017! More on that later, but below you can see the ship model inside the cruise port. We arrived at roughly 11:15am on our day of departure and were boarding by 12:30pm, so we didn’t have much time to admire the decor.

It was a gloomy, rainy day outside. However, inside the Disney Fantasy it was beautiful and inviting. Even Goofy lined up to welcome us onboard! Maybe I’ve always been too early before, but I’ve never seen characters greeting guests. I also saw Belle later in the day clapping as guests started their vacations!

There’s so much more cruise fun to share! Please click to read more.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Disney Gifts Santa Can Bring Back to the North Pole (AKA The Best of the Disney Outlet Stores in 2016)

by on December 24, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is an annual tradition. Six Disney Gifts Santa Can Bring Back to the North Pole (AKA The Best of the Disney Outlet Stores in 2016). 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 three 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.)  In fact, we even had a very special Three Year Anniversary edition with some congratulatory notes from some very impressive names in the theme park community.

Now, 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, other Christmas gifts 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 – Glow With The Show Ears

Let it glow.

Our first item this week was the first ever Made With Magic piece of merchandise to hit the Outlets. These were the Mickey Ears that lit up with different colors to Glow With the Show during some of the nighttime spectaculars at the parks. I have no actual financial numbers to support my theory, but having been the parks many, many times and only seeing a handful of guests wearing these, I’m going to assume Disney took a complete bath on this idea. It’s an item that cost over $25, are heavier than a normal pair of Mickey Ears, and the person wearing it can’t even see it glow. They were reduced to $9.99. This pair of Ears is particularly garish in design.

# 5 – Hats that are “Big In Japan”

This next item I had been waiting for ever since they showed up at the regular Disney stores over two years ago. These hats where you look like you are wearing the carcass of a dead Disney character on your head and are next level bananas. Apparently these bonkers hats are huge over at the Tokyo parks, but to be fair they also line up for hours just for popcorn. Popcorn!  To be even more fair, if I were out there I’d be in line with them. Originally $21.95, these were reduced to $5.99.

Goofy hat.

Donald hat, as seen in the Art of Animation gift shop.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! September 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on September 30, 2016

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. Hard to believe it’s Fall already, and as a Floridian I mean that it’s literally hard to believe as it still “feels like” 100 degrees down here on a daily basis.

So what happened in September? Well, there was good news for many of us who waste way too much time on social media, as Disney is considering a bid to buy Twitter. Judging by the Mouse’s history of technology (go.com, Mobile ESPN, Epic Mickey, etc), once they take over Twitter it won’t be long before they shelve it entirely and move on to something else. Meanwhile over on the Florida roadways, which are the closest equivalent to a real Mad Max Fury Road experience as you can get, a huge WDW sign came crashing down. Those who follow Your Humble Author on Twitter go to see a look at what really caused the accident. Maybe the greatest news of the whole month though was that Sitch’s Great Escape is days away from going “seasonal” at the Magic Kingdom. This brings us one step closer to my dream being fulfilled as well as the chances of the attraction actually being re-themed to Wreck-It-Ralph (as rumored by Jim Hill on the Disney Dish Podcast.) Happy days are here again!

Now while all of you were passing your kidney stones the fun way Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

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 was a nice surprise as the 2016 EPCOT Flower and Garden MagicBands arrived. Featuring Figment, a Sorcerer Mickey topiary, Spaceship Earth and a monorail, you better believe I bought one of these. Originally $29.95, reduced to $14.99. Unlike the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Magic Bands, which seemed to still have 4,994 available out of the 5,000 made, there didn’t seem to be that many of the Flower and Garden bands.

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Flower and Garden MagicBands.

Next up, it was like I died and went to Tsum heaven, as not only were the Tsum Tsums still on sale for 99 cents each (original price is $5.95, and they are usually reduced to $2.99) but they had THE PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN collection! These included the “Dog with the Keys,” one of my favorite characters in Walt Disney World. In fact I had just bought a great plush featuring Pluto as that very same dog earlier in the month. This is legitimately one of the top five things I have ever seen at the Outlets.

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Pirates Tsum Tsums.

There was also “The Redhead.”

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Pirates Tsum Tsums.

The “Pirate Captain.”

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Pirate Tsum Tusms.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on July 9, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Reasons We LOVE Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This July we’re celebrating Walt Disney World here on the SATURDAY SIX. While we looked at Animal Kingdom last week, today we’re going to turn our gaze over to the park which many insiders agree was created solely as a preemptive strike against the upcoming Universal Studios Florida, the one and only Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (photo by Brian Carey)

Right now Hollywood Studios is in the middle of a transition stage, as two mammoth properties in Star Wars and Pixar’s Toy Story have begun their major expansion inside the park. However, Hollywood Studios still contains some of the most unique dining experiences in any Disney park, amazing streetmosphere, several of WDW’s most thrilling attractions, and two of the best nighttime spectaculars in Florida. In short, we love Hollywood Studios. But what do we love most about this park? Well, sit back, grab a carrot cake cookie , and let’s start our countdown with…

# 6 – The Citizens of Hollywood

The dedication plaque for Hollywood Studios (originally known as Disney-MGM Studios) includes a line from former Disney CEO Michael Eisner that reads: “We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was – and always will be.” The dedication also refers to the park channeling classic Hollywood as a state of mind, rather than trying to pinpoint a specific time and place. Nowhere is this more evident than the incredible Citizens of Hollywood who roam the thoroughfare of the park. Completely committed to their particular character, the Citizens of Hollywood are an improvisational comedy troupe who have a lot of fun with guests and every interaction is unique. You’ll find policemen writing tickets, aspiring starlets auditioning for their big role, maintenance crews stumbling around a job, and much more. The Citizens, along with the evocative theming of both Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard, combine to wonderfully recreate the Tinseltown none of us ever knew but always imagined. Quality streetsmosphere such as the Dapper Dans at the Magic Kingdom or The Citizens in Hollywood Studios separate Disney from all their competitors, as no one else can even approach this high level of show.

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Citizen of Hollywood, Evie Starlight. (photo by Brian Carey)

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Ben Appetit and Dara Vamp. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party Has New Location

by on July 8, 2016

Star Wars Launch Bay - Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party

©Rikki Niblett

Are you planning on attending The Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party? Well beginning July 10, the dessert party will be taking place at the Star Wars Launch Bay in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Guests participating in the dessert party will check in at the Star Wars Launch Bay entrance. From there, they will be able to take part in photo opportunities, see the exhibits inside the Launch Bay, as well as take part in the character meet and greets. During the dessert party, Guests will get to enjoy Star Wars-themed desserts, like the R2-D2 and Darth Vader cupcakes, flatbreads, and dips. Guests will also receive a souvenir Chewbacca stein.

One thing to keep in mind is that the Star Wars Launch Bay will remain open to all day Guests, however, dessert party Guests will be given a wristband and will have reserved space at the base of the Cantina steps.

Once Guests have enjoyed their dessert party treats, they will be escorted from the Star Wars Launch Bay to the VIP viewing area for the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks show.

The dessert party costs $69.00 for adults (ages 10 and up) and $39.00 for children (ages 3-9).

The Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party can be booked now by calling 407-939-3464.

The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! May 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on May 31, 2016

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. It was a pretty big month for the theme park world, especially for one of our favorite parks: Animal Kingdom. For AK it was the best of times and the worst of times as the new restaurant Tiffins opened, and has drawn rave reviews across the board. Meanwhile, Jungle Book: Alive with Magic – the quickly produced show which is replacing the delayed Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular – is getting reviews so bad that even the theme park media who won’t say anything negative are having a hard time coming up with qualifiers to avoid saying this show has major issues. Meanwhile over in Disney Springs; the Town Center opened with Sprinkles Bakery and the Disney run D-Luxe Burgers is getting a big thumbs up from us. Also open? The Lime parking garage, making the area –  which was once the absolute worst place on property to park at  – now the best. Let’s not forget the next time you are in the BoardWalk area to check out the incredible new ice cream shop Ample Hills Creamery. Not only is there an ice cream flavor exclusive to WDW with Sally Sells Sea Shells (orange marshmallow ice cream with chocolate sea shells mixed in) , but we can highly recommend the Ooey Gooey Butter Cake and Peppermint Pattie as well. 

Now while all of you were out at Disney World with Chewbacca Mom, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

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).

I’ve been searching a long time for the very worst example of Disney Vinlmation and this month I think I finally think I found my holy grail with this one featuring Mike Wazowski. Originally $12.95, now $3.99

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If he had two eye’s he’d probably poke one out so as not to see this.

Speaking of Vinylmations, here is a a two pack featuring Marvel characters. Each comes with Loki along with another character. There is no one in the theme park community who loves Marvel more than I (I’ve been a comic book collector for much longer than I have been going to theme parks) but because of the standard Mickey Mouse mold these look a little too goofy for me. Originally $24.95 EACH, these were marked down to $6.99. I just realized that if you were going to collect these, the best case scenario is that you’ll end up with 16 Lokis and that’s the one character you can’t trade because everyone else will have him too.

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Marvel.

Here are two of the characters from the Attractionistas line, which pretty much crosses Barbie with Monster High dolls. Each of the characters is based around an attraction and these two are for Space Mountain and Jungle Cruise. I think it’s a neat idea. I’d love to see GI Joe style action figures created for attractions. I’d be all over that. Originally $24.95, now $9.99.

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Attractionistas.

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