In only two weeks, I’ll be boarding a plane to Amsterdam and leaving Orlando behind for a month-long European vacation — hopefully not the Chevy Chase kind. While across the pond, I’ll be exploring (and sharing with you, WiFi willing) some of the continent’s best theme parks, including Disneyland Paris. But my impending bon voyage means that my latest Best Week Ever visit to Walt Disney World will likely be my Magic Kingdom farewell until some time in October.
[Note: I realize that to people who don’t live in the Orlando area and only visit WDW every few years, the above sounds a bit ridiculous. But such is the life of a theme park writer, so try to suspend disbelief for the sake of this column.]
With that in mind, I documented this final summer stroll around Florida’s favorite theme park, in which I pulled off the amazing anti-achievement of only experiencing one single attraction during my entire afternoon. What ride or show did I pick for my final taste of the Magic Kingdom before departing the country? Read on and find out!
As one of the lucky people who gets to share real-time experiences at Walt Disney World through the TouringPlans Twitter account, I love the ability to share random thoughts and pictures with people from around the world. During Star Wars Weekends, while I was finishing up my day, someone asked through Twitter if I was going to use Periscope app to broadcast the Symphony in the Stars fireworks. Although I had never used Periscope before, and didn’t even have it installed, I agreed — just to see if I could make it happen. Well, less than an hour later, I was sharing some of the best fireworks that the Studios has to offer with dozens of online viewers. Since that time, I have shared live attraction videos, parades, shows, and other events with hundreds of viewers at a time. I’ve also watched the number of people using Periscope to broadcast grow substantially, both in the parks and around the world.
A screen shot from a Periscope broadcast of Illuminations shows some of the limitations of the app: lower-resolution video and portrait format instead of landscape. (Photo by Julia Mascardo)
Although streaming live video is not a new creation, Periscope’s ease of use for both broadcasters and viewers, combined with being a free service that does not flood the feed with advertising has made it instantly popular. At any given time, people from around the world are sharing what is going on in their lives, whether interesting or incredibly mundane. For example, as I’m typing this early one morning, someone is broadcasting a yoga class. Another person will write your name in Arabic as you watch. Morning network TV shows are broadcasting behind-the-scenes videos from the station. And then you’ve got someone broadcasting making morning coffee, someone opening a package they’ve received in the prior day’s mail, a person walking their dog, and even someone doing confessions about their previous night’s exploits.
From Disney itself, I’ve been able to see every parade, fireworks show, some attractions, and even just people walking around or eating a meal, all in real-time. Like any new technology, there’s still a bit of a learning curve, and some of my broadcasts have been more to test the limits of this system. Here’s some of the pros and cons I’ve found using Periscope.
Do you ever just sit and daydream about your favorite meals?
…Oh, that’s just me? Well, anyways…
One of my favorite parts of visiting Walt Disney World is trying out the different cuisines and restaurants on property. As I live in the Midwest, I’m limited in the number of times a year I can travel and satiate my palate.
So in an effort to get my Disney food fix, I’ve researched the internet and found recipes for two Disney dishes that I will be recreating for you today!
First up, Gratin de Macaroni which can be found at the France Pavilion in the World Showcase at Epcot.
The original Disneyland Band castle show has taken its final bow, but you can relive it with TouringPlans. (Photo and video by Seth Kubersky)
“Now it’s time to say goodbye” to one of the longest-running entertainment offerings in Disneyland history, as the Disneyland Band has disbanded, at least in it’s original form. Weeks ago, an “end of run” notice was filed with the musicians’ union that represents Disneyland Resort employees, notifying members of the historic 16-member marching band that they would have to reaudition for their roles (some of which they’d held for multiple decades) in a newly reorganized Disneyland Band, which will feature “a new sound” and “high-energy choreography.”
The classic Disneyland Band, which has been performing Americana classics since the park premiered in 1955, was originally expected to perform until the new one debuts at Disneyland’s official 60th birthday on July 17th. But (as reported by the “I Support Walt Disney’s Disneyland Band” Facebook fan page) the final performance of the full band under director Kurt Curtis was held on Monday, June 15.
The new Disneyland Band will be slightly larger, and feature 2 members of the original ensemble, while the rest will be redeployed in smaller musical groups (at least through the Diamond Celebration). That’s why I’m so grateful I stumbled into the band’s midday castle show during my recent Disneyland visit. While the microphones weren’t quite cooperating, this complete video of the Disneyland Band castle show should give you an idea why these performances were popular for generations:
In less than a month, we should have our first look at the all-new Disneyland Band, and if you are a fan of modern-day drum corps choreography, you should probably be looking forward to it. If not, keep an eye out for former Disneyland Band members as they pop up in new spots around the parks.
Sindbad fans out there (both of you) may be wondering what’s changed with what can charitably called Universal’s most problematic production. While the show’s spectacular set has received a sparkly paint job and some new props, nothing has been radically changed on the visual side.
Of course, the scenery was never Sindbad’s big problem. It’s the shallow, self-referential script that was always the source of our issues with the stunt show, and (for better or for worse) the dialogue has remained about 90% unchanged.
Before we get to the main event, one element definitely is all-new. Ten minutes before showtime, an “assistant stage manager” selects a few volunteers from the audience to act out the story. Here’s a complete video of the opening day preshow:
Take a dino selfie at the new Raptor Encounter in Islands of Adventure’s Jurassic Park (photos and video by Seth Kubersky)
While Disney was loudly kicking off their Coolest Summer Ever promotion with bicoastal 24 Hour parties, Universal Orlando quietly opened a new attraction over Memorial Day weekend with little fanfare, as the new Raptor Encounter debuted in the Jurassic Park area of Islands of Adventure. Conventional wisdom says that, while Universal makes excellent thrill rides, Disney dominates the meet and greet experience. But much like the Transformers meet and greet in Universal Studios Florida, this innovative dinosaur photo op flips that expectation upside down.
The new Raptor Encounter is located outside of the Jurassic Park Discovery Center, in an unused area that was formerly the entrance to Triceratops Trail, a long-defunct walkthrough attraction. Guests approach a fenced-in holding pen that has been built to contain a live velociraptor, who has been trained just well enough to pose briefly for photographs between snaps and screeches.
Disneyland has a new fireworks spectacular, and I’m happy to report it’s a worthy successor to the long running and beloved Remember: Dreams Come True show. Disneyland Forever uses fireworks, lasers, projections, and music to take the viewer through a history of Disneyland and Disney’s animated features. The films represented in the show include classic animated features like The Many Adventures of Winnie The Pooh and Pinocchio, as well as modern features like The Lion King and Frozen. One of the highlights of the show is the projection technology used on Sleeping Beauty Castle and the buildings up and down Main Street. This means you don’t have to be standing directly in front of the castle to get a good view like the previous fireworks shows. Via the projections, Main Street buildings may be covered in honey during the Winnie the Pooh segment, or look like they’re submerged in water during the Little Mermaid segment. It’s a beautiful effect that works well. This also means you may need multiple viewings in different areas to get the full scope of the show.
Disneyland Forever premieres tonight at Disneyland. We now have video of a full performance on our YouTube channel. Let me know what you think of the new Disneyland Forever fireworks in the comments below.
The first of three new Disneyland Resort nighttime spectaculars premiered tonight at Disney California Adventure. ‘World of Color – Celebrate’ (there’s a dash in the name!) is the latest version of the popular water show in DCA’s Paradise Bay. Celebrate is hosted by Neil Patrick Harris, and boy Disney got their moneys worth with him because he’s in almost every scene of the show. If I had to rank the top four things you’ll see and hear in the show it’s 1) water, 2) color, 3) Neil Patrick Harris, and 4) the word celebrate. This time around the show flows a lot better and is less like a clip show, Neil Patrick Harris and Mickey do a good job of threading everything together. Plus it features a ton of Walt Disney, which we can all agree is a good thing.
World of Color – Celebrate officially premieres Friday, but if you can’t wait here’s our video of a full performance of the show, shot from the front row:
Disneyland’s new fireworks spectacular, Disneyland Forever, doesn’t officially premier until May 22. Guests leaving Disney California Adventure last night caught a sneak peek of the show from the esplanade between the two parks. The following video is of the complete Disneyland Forever fireworks show. Because this video was taken from outside the park you can not hear the music or see the projections on Main Street that will be a major part of the show.