This weekâ€™sÂ SATURDAY SIXÂ takes a look atÂ Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2016. As theme park fans, weâ€™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 wasnâ€™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 withâ€¦.
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 ShowÂ 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.
A moment of silence for Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice….Beetlejuice. (photo by @Drubov)
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.
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.
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.”
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
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:
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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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 DVDÂ is a fun way to get excited for your upcoming vacation or even help you getÂ yourÂ Disney fix if you don’t have a trip planned.
Check out this page for more information. And, hey, thanks for supporting the blog.
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, Iâ€™ll walk you through the logistics and food/beverage I enjoyed during the event, which Iâ€™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 Fridayâ€™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 Iâ€™d expect of any upscale dining experience, so I was happy to see they hadnâ€™t been lost in the shuffle of it being a new event.
I was told to check in to the podium at The Waveâ€¦ restaurant around 6:30 PM (event start times will vary based on the time of Magic Kingdomâ€™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 Waveâ€™s lobby, where one of the blue alien-spaceshippy trippy rooms had been reserved for our group. If youâ€™re acquainted with these lounge areas, youâ€™ll know they arenâ€™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 â€“ a reasonable size that seemed intimate but not so small that you couldnâ€™t socialize with lots of different people.
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.
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.
My concern over theÂ 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.