What’s 10 years? When you’re young, it seems like forever. For me, now solidly in middle age, 10 years can seem to pass in the blink of an eye.
In theme park terms, a lot can happen in the span of a decade. Take the 10-year period of 1989-1998, when Walt Disney World opened two theme parks: Disney-MGM Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom; two water parks: Typhoon Lagoon and Blizzard Beach; and a dozen resort hotels: Disney’s Yacht and Beach Club, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter, Dixie Landings (Port Orleans Riverside), Disney’s Vacation Club Resort (Old Key West), All Star Sports, All Star Music, Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, Disney’s Boardwalk Inn and Villas, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort, Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa and Caribbean Beach Resort.
No one can expect that kind of progress over the next 10 years. But combining what we know is coming to Walt Disney World with the needs and opportunities at Disney’s Florida park can provide some clues to what we can expect to see in the year 2025.
In this, the first of two posts, we will look at the theme park experience. In part two, we’ll look at future resorts and transportation changes.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom: By 2025, Pandora – The World of Avatar is eight years into its existence and has been bolstered by three sequels to the highest-grossing film of all time produced by James Cameron. This land, along with the Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular and the evening version of Kilimanjaro Safaris, have transformed Disney’s Animal Kingdom into a full-day park, increasing its attendance past Epcot. A year after the opening of Pandora, Expedition Everest was taken down for an extended refurbishment in which the dormant Yeti was finally restored to its full glory. Meanwhile, a re-imagined DinoLand USA has just opened, taking its cues from Pixar’s “The Good Dinosaur” and including a kid-friendly dark ride alternative to DINOSAUR.
Disney’s Hollywood Adventure?: As strong as attendance is at Animal Kingdom, it’s still behind Magic Kingdom and, yes, Disney’s (insert name here for the renamed park). Star Wars Land has had a Potter-esque impact on this park, jumping attendance so much that an expansion of the five-year-old land is already in the works. With the continued success of the new Star Wars films, shows and games, Imagineers have even more material from which to draw. The addition of Toy Story Land has also spurred further Pixar expansion talk that could either be a version of Radiator Springs Racers or the long-rumored Monsters Inc. Coaster. Meanwhile, Aerosmith has company on Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, as other artists are enlisted for the pre-show and soundtrack, which rotates throughout the day to give riders different experiences.
[This post originally ran in November 2014, which is when the Bloom family celebrated Thanksgiving in the Magic Kingdom. Wherever you are, have a Happy Thanksgiving. If you are not in the United States, you can go ahead and enjoy your day too.]
There are many choices for Thanksgiving dinner at Walt Disney World. Most every resort restaurant has some option, and within the parks many of the sit down restaurants offer a Thanksgiving meal. We decided to do something a little bit different. We brought our own Thanksgiving dinner into the Magic Kingdom.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX is our annual Thanksgiving Special and takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2015 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 planning to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts we love so much. So, for one day only, we ask that all Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with…
The selfie stick ban was definitely a controversial move to be sure. Universal had earlier become more strict on preventing selfie sticks on rides, but Disney outright stopped people from even entering the park with them. Now we joked earlier about only kids and narcissists using them, the truth is that selfie sticks have become increasingly popular across almost all demographics. While people using selfie sticks inside the parks can be a nuisance, they were starting to become a serious safety factor on attractions. You may have seen what is called an Envelope of Protection as Imagineers test out the attractions. This device makes sure that all the attractions are safe for every rider, basically simulating the possible reach of every guest in the ride vehicle. This is why while it may seem like your may lose your arms in Space Mountain if you hold them up during the ride, but in actuality you are nowhere close to hitting anything. What the Envelope of Protection doesn’t take into account though, is guests holding on to anything that extends their reach.
Ok theme park fans, it’s time to talk turkey! If you want to have the Best Week Ever at Walt Disney World, common wisdom says that the Thanksgiving holiday isn’t the most stress-free time to visit in terms of attendance. In fact, the last week of November can be one of Orlando’s busiest seasons, right behind Christmas Week and Spring Break. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t have a great time in the parks this week, as long as you go in armed with some advice from your friends at Touring Plans, plus a whole lot of patience. To prove the point, I recently spent an afternoon elbow-to-elbow with Magic Kingdom Thanksgiving Week crowds to bring you this turkey day travelogue. Hopefully you won’t find it too fowl!
Violating the first rule of holiday touring, I showed up at the Magic Kingdom not at rope drop, but at high noon, just as park attendance should be reaching its peak. Much to my surprise, I was parked not in outer Siberia, but in the Zurg section of the Villains lot, right night to medical parking. From here I could walk to the TTC as easily as taking the tram, a nice treat on a busy day.
There is a lot of spirited debate in the Disney community comparing Walt Disney World to Disneyland Resort, with passionate opinions on both sides of the issue. Indeed, there have been plenty of articles comparing the two parks on this site and others, and our very own Savannah Sanders has an ongoing series comparing attractions at the two resorts.
The following is objectively true: Disneyland is smaller, has fewer parks, fewer hotels, and fewer restaurants than Walt Disney World, and versions of most of the major Disneyland attractions can also be experienced in Orlando. Accordingly, a common misconception seems to have developed among Walt Disney World veterans that Disneyland is a “lesser” park and there’s no reason to go when you could go to Walt Disney World instead. The oft-cited fact that “Walt walked there” isn’t enough to convince them to try out the original park.
The reality, however, is that the World’s smaller, older sibling has merit — a lot of merit, in fact — and is very worthy of a visit. Moreover, far from providing you with an excuse to skip Disneyland, your familiarity with Walt Disney World makes it an even betterdestination than for someone who had never been to either park. I’m going to take this a step further, however, and tell you that if you’re an Orlando veteran, you need to get to Anaheim and take in the original at some point for reasons that have nothing to do with which place is “better” or the footsteps of one Walter Elias Disney.
Beginning December 1, and throughout the holiday season, Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be able to move it and groove it at the Center Stage in front of The Chinese Theater where a DJ will be on hand spinning the perfect holiday mix. Guests may also have the opportunity to dance with some surprise Disney friends. The dance party will occur nightly from 5:00 p.m. until park close.
As a reminder, beginning December 5, Guests can also participate in Club Disney which will be a spot where Guests can join Mickey and friends on the dance floor in a club-like environment with a DJ spinning Radio Disney tunes and the floors and walls will feature images from Disney animation features.
Looks like this holiday season there will be plenty of places to dance the night away at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Changes are occurring in Epcot’s World Showcase once again, as it appears that The Canadian Lumberjack Show will no longer be taking place, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The show, which was performed on The Mill Stage at the Canada Pavilion began in October 2014 and featured two lumberjack teams, clad in plaid who competed against each other performing tradition log show demonstrations.
The Canadian Lumberjack Show replaced the fan-favorite celtic rock band, Off Kilter. (And for those who are curious, yes Off Kilter does still perform, both in and around Orlando, as well as across the country. Matter of fact, I recently caught the band performing in Celebration for their Fall Festival and they were just as great as they were in Epcot.)
As a reminder, another band just ended their run in World Showcase. Seth recently reported that the Paul McKenna Band will no longer be performing at the United Kingdom Pavilion. A new accoustic group called Quickstep will be taking their place. In addition, Ribab Fusion has replaced B’net Al Houwariyate in the Morocco Pavilion.
How Did the Disney World Crowd Calendar Do Last Week?
Crowds at Walt Disney World looked busier than expected on Sunday and Monday last week but otherwise within a reasonable range of what the Calendar predicted. Magic Kingdom and Epcot had the biggest surprises of the week. Epcot in particular showed some wait times much higher than we have seen recently, partly due to some mechanical issues at Test Track and Soarin’. Again last week we saw some wild swings in wait times depending on the day at Animal Kingdom. That park saw crowd levels of ‘1’, ‘3’, ‘4’, ‘6’ and ‘7’.
Let’s look at how the crowd levels stacked up each day last week:
Disney Springs keeps changing and adding new things to help round out the refurbishment of the shopping and dining district.
The first big change is that the expansion of World of Disney is now complete. This 6,000 foot expansion’s goal is to help to make things more convenient for Guests to shop. The expansion includes wider aisles, a centralized check-out location, a new information center, a new shop entrance, three additional rooms for Guests to shop in, updated displays, and great new ceiling murals featuring Disney and Pixar characters.