Walt Disney World (FL)

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.

beetlejuice1_drew

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

UNIVERSALRIP_drew

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.

LMA3_carey

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

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Disney After Hours Event Returns to Magic Kingdom

by on December 9, 2016

Disney After Hours

Event Guide from Disney After Hours in April ©Laurel Stewart

Earlier this year, Disney introduced a new special ticketed event at the Magic Kingdom called Disney After Hours. While the event didn’t see a lot of Guests overall, those who did attend said that it was one of the best experiences they’d had. So, Disney has decided to bring it back, with a few tweaks.

Disney After Hours will take place once the park closes on select nights in January, February and March. Event Guests may enter the park as early as 7:00 p.m. and will then be able to remain in the park for three hours past the scheduled closing time for the event.

Dates and times for Disney After Hours are:

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Photo Editing Now Available in My Disney Experience App

by on December 7, 2016

With the recent update of the My Disney Experience app, a new perk has been added for fans of Disney PhotoPass. And trust me, this perk is a long time coming. Guests can now choose to edit their photos in the app. You will now be able to customize purchased PhotoPass photos by being able to crop images, as well as add stickers and frames and save these images instantly.

So, I decided to play with the app and see how the process works.

First, when you open an image, you’ll need to select “Edit.”

My Disney Experience Photo Editing 1

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Animal Kingdom’s Rivers of Light Delayed to 2017 – Here’s Why

by on December 7, 2016

Disney announced yesterday that the Animal Kingdom’s long-delayed Rivers of Light show would be put off yet again, to some unspecified date in 2017.

I got a chance to see the full Rivers of Light show a couple hours later. And now I understand why Disney wants more time to work on the show.

The good news is that Rivers of Light has some great moments:

  • The pre-show includes “fireflies” in the trees and landscaping all around Asia and Discovery Island, while huge, projected shadows of elephants, lions, and other animals occasionally flit from tree to tree. It’s fantastic, because the fireflies and animals fit in perfectly with the setting. Disney should start using this now – there’s no need to wait for Rivers of Light.
  • The scene introducing the animal floats is a great bit of stagecraft, and one of the show’s early “wow!” moments. They’re introduced near the end of what I think is
    Rivers of Light animal float (tiger)

    One of the RoL animal floats. (c) Disney

    “Act I” of the show. At that point, your eyes are focused on four lotus flowers floating in the middle of the lagoon. The music stops, the lights go dark, and these technicolor animal floats come to life from a corner of the lagoon. It’s a great transition from one scene to the next.

  • Near the end of third act is a bit where blue and orange lasers are projected along the arc of a water screen. The effect is clear and colorful, and serves to set off the top part of the water screen.
  • Some of the images projected on the water screens are just perfect – there’s one scene where a peacock spreads its feathers out, and it’s scaled exactly right to fit into the fan-shaped water screen. Good color, good image, good show.

The other positive news is that Rivers of Light seems to fit the scope, scale, and theme of the park. It’s not an over-the-top production like Fantasmic!, because the Animal Kingdom isn’t the Studios. And the show writers mercifully stayed away from using Disney characters in the show, because the Animal Kingdom isn’t the Magic Kingdom, either. Animal Kingdom is its own park, and it looks like the show writers understand its theme and sense of place.

That said, the show needs work. Technical work and story work. Here’s a partial list of what I think needs attention:

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Testing Print vs App Magic Kingdom Touring Plans

by on December 7, 2016

Laurel and I spent this past Saturday in the Magic Kingdom. Our job was to see how much time you can save in line by following a touring plan on our Lines app, as compared to a printed touring plan.

The big advantage to using the app, of course, is that you can update your plan as you move through the park. That’s great if you want to add more attractions, breaks, or Fastpasses. It also means that we can update your plan to take advantage of unexpected short lines, and route you around any trouble spots that pop up. We wanted to see how much time that could save you in line.

Here’s the plan we both started with, taking us through lunch. We used the plans’ slower walking speed to mimic what a family with small children might experience.

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Free 2017 Disney Planning DVDs Now Available

by on December 6, 2016

Free Disney 2017 planning DVDs are available now.

Free Disney 2017 planning DVDs are available now.

This is a sponsored post. TouringPlans receives a commission on each free DVD requested through the ad in this article. The revenue goes to travel and research for our blog and site.

The Walt Disney Travel Company has released its 2017 planning DVD. The DVD is free to anyone who requests it. And even if you don’t have a DVD player (because it’s 2016, and who does?), signing up will get you a link to stream the content online.

The free DVD is a fun way to get excited for your upcoming vacation or even help you get your Disney fix if you don’t have a trip planned.

Check out this page for more information. And, hey, thanks for supporting the blog.

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TouringPlansTV: BoardWalk Inn – Dining and Amenities + Video

by on December 6, 2016

I’m finally here with part 2 of my BoardWalk Inn review!

Here, I delve into the dining options, pools, recreation and amenities.

You’ve all been so patient, so I won’t keep you waiting any longer.

Check it out below!

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Highway In The Sky Dine-Around: A Memorable Monorail Meal

by on December 6, 2016

Private fireworks viewing overlooking Magic Kingdom ends the Highway In The Sky dinner.

Private fireworks viewing overlooking Magic Kingdom ends the Highway In The Sky dinner.

Last week, Disney announced a new upscale special dining event modeled after the popular “monorail crawl” many Disney fans love, called the Highway In The Sky Dine-Around progressive dinner. Offered Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays (with a short break for the holiday season), this event highlights dining offerings at Disney’s Contemporary, Polynesian Village, and Grand Floridian Resorts in a four hour experience priced at $150 plus tax per person (gratuity included, no discounts of any kind offered).

I was lucky enough to book a spot for the first night of this event last Friday on a whim. As it turns out, there really was a bit of luck involved here, as the event is already nearly sold out through the initial booking period currently running through March 2017 (sporadic parties of 1 and 2 are available on select dates as of the date of this article)! Here, I’ll walk you through the logistics and food/beverage I enjoyed during the event, which I’m sure will change over time as this event settles into permanent status, but it will give you a good idea of how it all works and whether it would fit your dining preferences.

Booking and Arrival

First, a few notes about booking: Many guests attending Friday’s dinner noted that some Cast Members assisting in booking by phone had no clue what the event was (which can sometimes happen with new events). I was able to book online directly through the Disney site without hassle (by searching for the Highway in the Sky event page). On Thursday, I received a call from a Cast Member confirming my attendance and checking if I had any food allergies or accessibility concerns, as the event includes a set menu and several sets of stairs and standing throughout. I was also reminded that valet parking was included at the Contemporary Resort. All of these items were touches I’d expect of any upscale dining experience, so I was happy to see they hadn’t been lost in the shuffle of it being a new event.

I was told to check in to the podium at The Wave… restaurant around 6:30 PM (event start times will vary based on the time of Magic Kingdom’s fireworks on any given night). Several Cast Members were around to welcome me, and once all the business was settled, I was led into the lounge area in The Wave’s lobby, where one of the blue alien-spaceshippy trippy rooms had been reserved for our group. If you’re acquainted with these lounge areas, you’ll know they aren’t particularly huge, so I was curious to see how big our dining party would actually be. As everyone filtered in, the group grew to about 25 guests – a reasonable size that seemed intimate but not so small that you couldn’t socialize with lots of different people.

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New Rogue One-Inspired Star Wars Experiences for Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on December 6, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

For Star Wars fans, Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been the place to go and that trend only continues going forward.

Guests who are excited for Rogue One: A Star Wars Story will soon be able to see AWR (Advanced Weapons Research) Troopers, specialized Stormtroopers with dark armor. These new Troopers are the bodyguards of Director Krennic in the upcoming film. These AWR Troopers will appear in the Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away show beginning December 16.

For those who want to visit the Star Wars Launch Bay, you’ll now be able to see new props from Rogue One including a Shortrooper Blaster, Director Krennic’s Imperial Shuttle, a Death Star model, a U-wing gunship and more. In addition, additional behind the scenes footage will be added to the film called “Meet the Makers” that’s shown in the Launch Bay Theater. The 10-minute film celebrates the creation of the Star Wars saga and includes exclusive interviews with the directors, writers, producers and other key players responsible for the series.

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Review: Thanksgiving Weekend at Walt Disney World

by on December 5, 2016

thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

If you’re familiar with the TouringPlans Crowd Calendar, you know that major holidays at Walt Disney World can be intense when it comes to lines and crowds. But this year, I abandoned all logic and spent Thanksgiving with my family at Walt Disney World. I survived, but would I do it again? Read on for my Review: Thanksgiving Weekend at Walt Disney World.

November 23rd

My concern over the holiday crowds and never ending lines wasn’t limited to the confines of Walt Disney World. Actually, I was more concerned over what awaited me at my local airport since my family and I were flying into Orlando the day before Thanksgiving. One of the busiest travel days of the year!

Fortunately, our Frontier Airlines flight was scheduled to depart at 7:00 A.M.; and while the queues for security had already been extended, we made it through with plenty of time to spare and with no delays.

I was shocked when we found that there were no lines for Disney’s Magical Express at Orlando International Airport. Maybe because it was still early in the day? Or maybe Disney was more than prepared for the holiday rush? Regardless, we walked right on our bus bound for Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort. We had never stayed at the French Quarter as Port Orleans Riverside is the Moderate Resort we gravitate to; but, thankfully we loved the French Quarter! It was smaller and more intimate, yet never once felt crowded or chaotic.

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