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SATURDAY SIX: In Memoriam – Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2016

by on December 10, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2016. As theme park fans, we’ve had a lot to be thankful for this year. However, as much as we are looking forward to the opening of Pandora and more Star Wars at Disney, or Volcano Bay and the upcoming Nintendo projects at Universal, it wasn’t all good news. This year we had to say goodbye to some old friends. Today we pay our respects to some of those that we lost in the past year, starting with….

# 6 – Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue (Universal Studios Florida)

While I was never the biggest fan of Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue, it did hold a special place in my heart because we got to see the Universal Classic Monsters – including Dracula, Wolfman, and Frankenstein – on stage. Outside of cameos in the underrated Horror Make-up Show and theming inside the Classic Monsters Cafe, these characters are not being used in the park. The live show, headlined by Beetlejuice, had been recently revamped with the addition of new characters (including the Phantom of the Opera’s daughter Phantasia) and a new set list of songs.

Originally, Universal stated that the show was going to close on December 2nd, 2015. However, the show got a short lived stay of execution and continued on until January 5th, 2016. Both Beetlejuice and its next door neighbor Disaster were closed to make way for the upcoming Fast & Furious – Supercharged attraction coming in 2018.

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A moment of silence for Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice….Beetlejuice. (photo by @Drubov)

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The great big Universal theme park in the sky. (photo by @Drubov)

# 5 – Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

DHS fans may want to get a box of Klennex ready, because you’re about to be in for a bumpy ride for the rest of the article. Speaking of bumpy rides (see what I did there) the Lights, Motors, Action! started its run in America as a “gift” from Disneyland Paris as part of the Happiest Celebration on Earth. This is why you should ask for a gift receipt when given something, just in case you want to return it. The Action! part of the stunt show was awesome. Guests got to see cars and motorcycles in a series of elaborate sequences that involved crashes, jumps, and even explosions. Unfortunately the “action” only took up about 7 minutes of the near half-hour show. Like a real movie set, a lot of time has to be spent setting up the next stunt. In 2011, the show added in a segment featuring fan favorite Lightning McQueen from Cars.

On April 2nd, the Lights, Motors, Action! show performed its last stunt. In its place will be the new Star Wars Land.

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Lights, Motors, Action! (photo by Brian Carey)

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Disneyland Snacks You Gotta Try

by on December 3, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Disneyland Snacks You Gotta Try! Longtime readers of the SATURDAY SIX know that we have a big case of the munchies going on 24/7. In fact, because of the articles on The 10 Gallon Challenge at Whispering Canyon and the E-Ticket milkshakes at Universal’s Toothsome Chocolate Emporium, this fine blog series is now the third leading cause of adult onset diabetes in America (and look out soda, we’re coming for you!) This week however we are gonna head across the country over to Guy Selga’s neck of the woods and check out the tasty treats at the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland. Despite having only two parks compared to our four here in Florida, the Disneyland resort is chock full of incredibly unique and delicious items that you can only get out in California. This week we are going to look at six of our absolute favorite snacks, so sit back, loosen your belt a couple notches, and let’s begin our list with…

# 6 Matterhorn Macaroon

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The Matterhorn Macaroon in front of the fabled Matterhorn itself. (photo by Brandon Glover)

If you go to Disneyland and don’t stop by the Jolly Holiday Bakery to get a Matterhorn Macaroon, you’re doing it wrong. A coconut macaroon shaped like the iconic Disney mountain, topped with white chocolate, and sprinkled with powdered sugar on top for an awesome snow-like appearance, the Matterhorn Macaroon is ultimate in synergy between theme park attractions and snacks. Oh, and it just so happens to taste GREAT.

# 5 – Mickey Beignets

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Mickey Beignet. (photo by Megan Stump)

Eventually we’ll be doing a blog on our favorite Mickey shaped food items, but one of our favorites is the sugary concoction found at the Mint Julep Bar or Cafe Orleans in New Orleans Square (the latter of which serves them with dipping sauces.) We often find ourselves stopping by Port Orleans French Quarter just to grab some beignets here in Florida, so seeing them in the classic Mickey shape in Anaheim brings two of our favorite things together in one. Now that’s synergy we can get behind. Even better, Disneyland also offers flavored beignets such as pumpkin spice during Halloween and peppermint for the Christmas season.

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Julia’s Best Week Ever, December 1, 2016: Thanksgiving Time Out

by on December 1, 2016

2016-11-24-10-37-09Most years, Orange County Public Schools gives kids the entire week off for Thanksgiving so that everyone can travel. This year, because they want school to end in May (!?), they decided to hold school on Monday and Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. No travel for us, and no one coming in town, so we got some fantastic family time. How much can we cram into one holiday weekend? Come along and find out!

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

by on November 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.

November has come to an end and so kicks off Your Humble Author’s favorite time of the year. In fact we started early as just last week we had TWO editions of the SATURDAY SIX, a special Thanksgiving edition going over What Theme Park Fans Have To Be Thankful For in 2016, and the fan favorite 3rd Annual Theme Park Turkeys Of The Year.

While it seemed to fly by, we actually had a bunch of interesting things happen last month. For those wondering just how many dessert parties Disney could make in one year, the correct answer was “infinity” and we just got our latest with the debut of Tiana’s Riverboat Party. Unlike traditional dessert parties offering “preferred viewing” of parades and fireworks, the view of the Festival of Fantasy parade from onboard the Liberty Belle reminded me of Bob Uecker’s “front row” seat.

What started as a next level bananas rumor from the Grand Poohbah of TouringPlans, Len Testa, came to fruition just days later with the Kingdom Cabanas in Tomorrowland. This is one of those things you can’t tell your non-theme park friends or coworkers because upon hearing the details they may try to get you committed to a mental institution.

Great news for those of us who felt EPCOT’s International Food & Wine Festival was just too short, as next year’s edition will run for a new record of 75 days. But wait, there’s even more festival dates coming as 2017 brings us the brand new EPCOT International Festival of the Arts! That’s right, from January 13th through February 20th guests will see Disney attempt to “combine visual, culinary and performing arts from around the world.” Whatever that means. I wish someone would take my idea of a festival built around the foods you can get a state fairs. I’m talking the most unhealthy foods in the entire world: fried candy bars, beer battered pretzel coated cheese curds, and bacon wrapped bacon.

Now, while all of you were trying to open up a lemonade stand in the EPCOT parking lot, 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 is, as always, my unhealthy addiction to Tsum Tsums. Tsums were STILL just $0.99 (for the third month in a row) and now they were BUY 2 GET 1! Unfortunately I had pretty much all the ones they were offering, but there were a couple new ones to the Outlet.

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Buy 2 Get 1 Tsums!

Both came from the Star Wars line of Tsum Tsums, including this Han Solo.

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Han shot first.

And here is Jabba Desilijic Tiure, more commonly known as Jabba the Hutt.

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Jabba the Hutt Tsum.

The next item was a shocker for me. This Hippabore toy was the absolute FIRST item of Star Wars: The Force Awakens merchandise to make an appearance at Walt Disney World last year. Who knows why anyone in the world would buy one, even the die-hard Force Awakens fans, but here we are almost a year and a half later and they are just now hitting the Outlets. Originally $27.99, now $14.99.

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This was the creature Finn drank water next to in the trough.

Next up was one I did get, the Tie-Fighter Popcorn Bucket. The wings of this thing fall off if you just look at it hard enough, and it holds approximately 32 pieces of popcorn, but like I’m not not going to buy this. Reduced to $7.99.

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Popcorn bucket.

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SATURDAY SIX THANKSGIVING SPECIAL: Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks in 2016

by on November 24, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX  is our annual Thanksgiving Special and takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2016 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 – More Muppets in Walt Disney World!

With two major expansions coming to Disney Hollywood Studios, many fans of The Muppets were afraid that the Muppets courtyard and Muppet Vision 3D would be bulldozed as Disney prepared for our new Star Wars overlords. It didn’t help that in 2014 Muppets Most Wanted underperformed at the box office (making $30M less than The Muppets film which came out in 2011) and The Muppets television show on ABC had a major creative shakeup halfway through its first season, ultimately being cancelled earlier this year. Muppets fans breathed a sigh of relief when Disney officially released their plans for Star Wars at the D23 Expo, leaving the Muppets area of the park untouched.

Then, appearing like an early Christmas present, came a whole bunch of incredible great Muppet news. In October, The Muppets entered the Magic Kingdom for a hilarious new attraction in Liberty Square. The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History is filled with the perfect Muppet humor that can appeal to both adults and children. Over in EPCOT, the Muppet Mobile Lab featuring Beaker and Dr. Honeydew returned after being gone for many years. Meanwhile, back at DHS, the restaurant formerly known as Pizza Planet was completely transformed into the Muppet-themed PizzeRizzo.

So Muppets fans – like myself – started the year fearing we could be seeing the end of The Muppets in Walt Disney World, but by the end of the year we have more Muppets than ever before. Long Live The Muppets!

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The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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PizzeRizzo at DHS. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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PizzeRizzo. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Clever rat. (photo by Brian Carey)

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A Very Short Survey About The Price Of A Touringplans.com Subscription

by on November 21, 2016

take_survey_iconIf you have a spare minute, we would greatly appreciate your responses to this very short survey about the price of a touringplans.com subscription. Really, it has only four questions and will take less than two minutes. The survey is intended for current subscribers to Touringplans.com.

You can find the survey here.

Your responses are confidential and the results are for information purposes only.

 

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons You Need to Check Out SeaWorld Orlando

by on November 12, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons You Need to Check Out SeaWorld Orlando! While no one loves Walt Disney World and Universal more than us, it is always good to remember just how many incredible things there are to do during your Orlando vacation outside of the Big Two. Last year we covered Busch Gardens Tampa, which has only gotten better with the debut of its Cobra’s Curse roller coaster (a fantastic family coaster in the vein of Disney’s Seven Dwarfs Mine Train) and today we are going to take a look at one of the most well known parks in the Orlando area, SeaWorld.

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SeaWorld Orlando. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Located conveniently near both Universal and Walt Disney World, SeaWorld is in the process of building itself back up after several down years following the debut of Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade Village, and the release of the controversial film Blackfish. A new management team is in place, and the company hasn’t made any what were they thinking mistakes in a long time. SeaWorld, much like WDW, Gatorland, and Wet ‘n Wild, is quintessential Orlando, and has been a part of family vacations for decades. Today we’re going to list our favorite reasons on why YOU need to make SeaWorld a part of your next trip to Florida. So sit back, stay out of the splash zone, and let’s start with…

# 6 – Mako and Manta

Thrill ride fans are blessed in Orlando with some truly great coaster experiences in rides such as Space Mountain and Expedition Everest along with Universal’s Revenge of the Mummy and The Incredible Hulk, but SeaWorld is home to two of possibly THE best roller coasters in town. The newest attraction at SeaWorld is Mako, the fastest coaster in town. Its not kidding around, as a hypercoaster Mako is built on raw speed and delivering multiple moments of weightlessness that coaster junkies crave. If you have the need for speed, you must ride Mako. SeaWorld also did an amazing job with the entire area surrounding Mako, as it gives more of a Disney/Universal feel in terms of an immersive experience.

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Mako! (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Objects in picture are higher than they appear. MUCH higher! (photo by Mike Sperduto)

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Mako. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Meanwhile Manta just may be Your Humble Author’s favorite coaster. It all begins with a wonderful queue where you pass through an elaborately designed aquarium. The ride itself has the rider in a unique position where after loading the seat positions itself so the guest is facing the ground. While this position is to simulate riding under a stingray as it swims the ocean, it feels more like you are flying like Superman through the sky and is a wonderfully unique experience. While it may not have the big drops or intense speed of Mako, a ride on Manta is like no other and makes us smile from ear to ear.

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Manta. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

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Manta. (photo by Mike Sperduto)

# 5 – Animal Interaction

One of the absolute best parts of SeaWorld is that it allows guests to get up close and personal to a wide array of animals. Whether it is feeding sea lions, touching a dolphin, or even being able to be just feet away from a swimming manatee, SeaWorld connects us to a world that normally we can’t be a part of. There is a running theme of conservation throughout the park which can actually show the impact we can have – both positive and negative – on the marine life around us. Whereas the message of Kilimanjaro Safaris at Animal Kingdom can be a little abstract to those of us in Orlando, SeaWorld works directly with the environment and animals of Florida.

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Dolphin Encounter. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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“Pardon me, coming through.”
“Pardon me.”
“Pardon me.
(photo by Mike sperduto)

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Julia’s Best Week Ever, November 10, 2016: Walking in a Winter Summerland

by on November 10, 2016

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This fall, my daughter has been taking golf classes after school, and absolutely loves it. As a treat, we decided to spend some time over at Winter Summerland putting her skills to the test for some mini golf.

With Blizzard Beach closed for refurbishment, and arriving not long after they opened, we found that the parking lot was just a bit empty.

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Later we realized that we had parked in the Blizzard Beach lot instead of the Winter Summerland lot. Oops. Even so, it was just a short walk to the chalet to check in. Winter Summerland has two courses — a Snow Course and a Sand Course. We decided to go with the snow course, and were told that it would be less than a 10 minute wait until we could get started.

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Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort to Offer Private Water Taxi

by on November 8, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Disney is looking for ways to provide additional transportation options for Guests, therefore, they are now offering a private water taxi from Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort.

This new water taxi offering will take Guests directly to any destination around Seven Seas Lagoon for $20 each way, per family. (Do keep in mind that return service must be booked separately and this private boat ride may not be available from the Magic Kingdom.)  Each boat will be able to accommodate up to 10 passengers. The private experience is based on availability from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. and to make a reservation, Guests should call the the Grand Floridan recreation line at 321-318-8212.

To access your private water taxi, Guests should visit the Marina at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, located next to the Sugar Loaf building.

This option may come in handy when attempting to get from one resort to another, especially for something like dining reservations.

The water taxi is not replacing current transportation options, but is instead being offered in addition to current offerings.

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SATURDAY SIX 2016 Election Special: A look at how Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton as President could affect Walt Disney World

by on November 5, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is a very special 2016 ELECTION SPECIAL – a look at how a President Trump or a President Clinton could affect Walt Disney World. We are mere days away from a historic election here in the United States. While many are concerned with the outcome of the election and how it will impact things like healthcare, national security, and taxes, we here at the SATURDAY SIX only care about the most important issue at stake: theme parks. We commissioned an all-star, blue ribbon panel made up of political experts, former imagineers, and futurists to give us a blueprint of what could happen. Unfortunately, none of them showed up. So instead we’re going to present to you OUR thoughts of what could happen to Walt Disney World depeHnding on how YOU vote on November 8th (although, for some of you the voting date is November 28th.) Whether you’re a shill for Hill or belong in a basket of deplorables, we have the result you don’t want to see. So sit back, proudly display your I Voted button, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – IF TRUMP WINS: We’re going to build a WALL around EPCOT’s Mexico Pavilion and THEY’RE going to pay for it

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Sorry La Cava, but we need to protect our borders….and Arendelle’s too. (photo by Daisy Lauren and  Matt Cleary)

When Donald Trump announced his candidacy for President on June 16, 2015, he made a bold promise. “I would build a great wall, and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me, and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border. And I will have Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” Donald himself has estimated this cost to be in the range of 10-12 billion dollars, while others have estimated it would be closer to 25 billion. With that type of money at stake, we’ll probably see Disney expand the monorail to the Port Orleans resorts before Mexico pays for this wall. However, a great way The Donald can save face is by actually building a wall around Mexico…the Mexico Pavilion at EPCOT! While it may be hard to get the actual Mexican government to write a check, we feel confident that we could shake a few pesos out of La Cava del Tequila and the Three Caballeros to get this done.

# 5 – IF CLINTON WINS: Princesses to switch their dresses for smart and stylish pantsuits

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Princess Power! (photo by Matt Cleary)

A couple months ago there was a brouhaha in the Theme Park Universe because of something thought unfathomable by many Disney fans: the company changed Jasmine’s meet and greet outfit. For too long Disney Princesses have been forced to wear their iconic dresses no matter the occasion, and if we have our first woman in the White House it is high time to change that! No longer will Ariel cruelly be forced to wear scratchy sea shells as a top, because now the entire Disney Princess wardrobe will consist of smart and stylish pantsuits! As strong, courageous, and powerful women, each Disney Princess will rock these outfits like nobody’s business (attire.)

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