Walt Disney World (FL)

Video: Saying Farewell to DHS’s Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon

by on September 27, 2014

Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon

DHS’s Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon is now an ex-attraction. (Photos and video by Seth Kubersky)

The operating day has just ended at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and with it the sun has set on the final day for the park’s Studio Backlot Tour and Catastrophe Canyon. The behind-the-scenes tram tour, which saw its closing day of operations today (Saturday, September 27, 2014), ended its career a pale shadow of its former self. But the tour originally served as the thesis attraction of the Disney/MGM Studios park, much as Spaceship Earth is for Epcot and Killimajaro Safaris for Animal Kingdom.

What was once a multi-part, multi-hour tour that delved into nearly every aspect of old-school movie making had long ago been whittled down to a brief special effects water tank demonstration, followed by a tram ride through the park’s mostly dormant backlot. Even so, there were still glimmers of the epic original attraction to be found along the Studio Backlot Tour, especially in its explosive Catastrophe Canyon centerpiece, which continued to wow guests right up until closing day.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We Loved the 2014 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

by on September 27, 2014

MNSSHP2014_sign

Remember, click on any picture to see it in full size.

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We Loved the 2014 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. A few weeks ago we covered Villains Unleashed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and came away with more questions than answers for the future of that party. Now we are in Halloween season, and that leads us to another hard ticket event focusing on Disney’s “bad guys,” Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (MNSSHP) at the Magic Kingdom. Personally, I think this is the highlight of the Walt Disney World year with guests getting the best bang for their buck. The lines for attractions throughout the park are short or nonexistent, lesser seen characters are out for meet ‘n greets (such as Tarzan and Jane), the Dapper Dans get converted over to the Cadaver Dans, and you get to see a wide variety of costumes worn by guests (with several being almost Disney-level in terms of costuming).

The $64,000 question for most people is simple: is MNSSHP worth the price tag of $62-$71 per person? I think so, and here are six more reasons why….

 

# 6 – Unique Food and Snack Options Throughout the Park

MNSSHP2014_Snacks

Poison Apple and Candy Corn soft serve ice cream from Storybook Treats.

 

MNSSHP has always had a couple interesting food and beverage items exclusive to the party, including the mouth watering pumpkin spiced waffle sundae that made its debut at last year’s party. This year Disney has gone all out with a whole bunch of new treats throughout the park that are available only during MNSSHP nights, including at sit down locations such as Be Our Guest and Tony’s Town Square Restaurant. We were looking forward to the candy corn soft serve ice cream available at Storybook Treats, and it did not disappoint, especially with a bunch of candy corn at the bottom of the cup. There was also candy corn cotton candy, which was not as successful. Almost everywhere you turned there was a new treat or drink, including ghost cupcakes at Gaston’s Tavern, candy corn cupcakes at the Main Street Bakery, and a “Buggy Brew” at the Friar’s Nook, which looked like someone went to Diagon Alley and brought back a bunch of Fishy Green Ales. A major thumbs up overall for the variety of items, and let’s hope this trend continues at the upcoming Christmas party in a few weeks.

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Video: Saying Farewell to Epcot World Showcase Shows

by on September 26, 2014

Extinct Epcot World Showcase shows

The World Showcase Players are just one of the popular shows that closed this week at Epcot (photo & video by Seth Kubersky).

As you’ve probably already heard, Walt Disney World has given the pink slip to several popular Epcot World Showcase shows, which held their final performances this week. I spent a stormy Tuesday afternoon catching up with a few of these old favorites with one final viewing, and wanted to share some video of these now-extinct Epcot World Showcase shows.

Off Kilter, the popular Canadian Celtic rockers, were unfortunately off duty during my visit. But I captured closing-week performances from three of their compatriots: Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps, MO’ROCKIN, and World Showcase Players.

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Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes – 9/25/14

by on September 25, 2014

Who’s ready for more news? I’m back with more for you today! Here we go:

  • There has been a change to the Disney Gift Card Program. New Disney gift cards can now only be activated with a minimum amount of $15. (The previous minimum amount you could load on a new card was $5.) Guests who are re-loading a gift card may still do so with a minimum of $5.
  • The FastPass+ kiosks outside of Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin at the Magic Kingdom are officially closed. Guests looking to book a FastPass+ reservation will now be directed to the FastPass+ kiosk location near Stitch’s Great Escape.
  • The rules for visiting Walt Disney World have been updated. The biggest change seems to focus on those who are e-cigarette smokers, who are now asked to smoke in designated smoking areas.
  • For those of you who read my previous article about Tower of Terror getting on-ride videos, you’ll have noticed that I mentioned that it was likely just the beginning. It turns out that I was completely right, as it another attraction has already received the on-ride video treatment. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is the next attraction that will capture your ride experience while you are on the attraction. Much like the Tower of Terror ride video, when you ride the attraction with a MagicBand and a linked Memory Maker, you will have your photo and video automatically associated to your My Disney Experience account. Here is the sample video giving you a peek at what to expect.

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Disney Life Hacks: Five Things I Will Never Forget To Pack Again

by on September 25, 2014

t_logo_fbPacking for your Disney vacation doesn’t have to be a stressful part of your planning, and there are plenty of checklists to help you do it. You’ll usually remember to pack sunscreen, bathing suits, and toothbrushes, but what about the things that you might not have thought to put in your suitcase? Money-savers like ponchos and glow sticks from the discount store or gum (which isn’t sold anywhere on Disney property) are among the things most often suggested by Disney Parks veterans, but I’ve got five more things to pack for Disney World.

Trust me on this – it only takes one experience to learn the hard way! Here are a few of the things you shouldn’t leave your home without:

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Taking a Pal to Disney World

by on September 25, 2014

Francine8

Thank you for posing with my stuffed chipmunk!

Ed. – today we’re running two articles with ideas for silly things that can make your trip to Walt Disney World even more fun. Has your family ever done anything like this? Talk about it in the comments.

There once was a Walt Disney World cast member who was selling balloons on Main Street USA. Suddenly a girl comes up to her and asks her if she could take a picture of the cast member holding her stuffed chipmunk, who also happens to be holding a plastic Mickey balloon. The cast member obliges, and the girl walks away with the chipmunk, ready to add more pictures to the chipmunk’s adventure in the Magic Kindgom.

Some of you might have very similar experiences as me. Not only do we take family and friends to Walt Disney World, we also take pals to help commemorate the adventure. For some, it’s Flat Stanley. For others, it’s some other special pal. For me, it’s Francine, a stuffed chipmunk.

Taking a pal like this to Orlando is a great experience. It allows us to photograph things in different ways, and create adventures for our pals that we couldn’t do with real people.

But what is the point of it all? Why bring anything in the first place? Well, first I’ll explain my story.

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Daisy Lauren’s Best Week Ever: September 25, 2014 with Food & Wine

by on September 25, 2014

1Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World! This week we’re spending a blustery morning at Animal Kingdom, making a rare trip to Universal Orlando for a behind the scenes tour, and visiting Epcot to enjoy the Food & Wine Festival. So who’s ready for a super fun week? Let’s get going! :)

I’m always a fan of visiting Animal Kingdom in the rain because the animals love a good shower. However, this weekend was a bit of an exception. Normally rain passes quickly here, but Saturday morning it looked like there was no end in sight! Even the animals seemed to be hunkered down for the storm. The entire first half of the safari all we saw was a sleeping rhino! The poor driver, he kept rattling off facts, but you could tell he was having a tough time. Luckily, a group of giraffes came to our rescue, and the safari improved from there.

Lots of female elephants were out. They love the rain, and I was hoping to catch one taking a bath, but they were all above water munching on some breakfast. Want to see how cute they were? Well, you’ll have to click to read more!

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Disney Savvy Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

by on September 24, 2014

Cinderella Castle - A Glass Slipper Vacation

Cinderella Castle at Christmas

Ed. – We realize it’s still over a month until Halloween, and you haven’t even ordered your Thanksgiving Turducken yet, but tickets are already on sale for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party. Enjoy the Food&Wine-aweenThanksmas season and have a Happy New Marathon Weekend.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is a popular, hard ticket event at Disney World where guests can enjoy holiday festivities and the Christmas spirit at the most magical park of them all, the Magic Kingdom! The party is scheduled for select dates throughout November and December. In addition to the festive atmosphere, but also a series of holiday performances and activities to enjoy. Like what? New this year is the lighting, or rather freezing, of Cinderella Castle by Frozen’s Elsa! The party also offers character dance parties, Holiday Wishes, Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, character meets, and so much more. To help you maximize the Disney magic, I’ve got a little early Christmas present:

Disney Savvy Tips for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party

Plan for the Cold - Contrary to popular opinion, Florida is not warm and sunny all year long. In fact, it can get very chilly at Disney World during the holiday season, especially at night. The past two times I attended Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, I’ve needed several layers or even a coat to keep warm. When your party date draws close, check the extended forecast or monthly average temperatures for an idea of how to dress.

Watch the Once Upon a Christmastime Parade from Main Street – Many guests have their own opinions for where to watch the Magic Kingdom’s Main Street Electrical Parade; but for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, I encourage everyone to find a spot on Main Street, U.S.A. for the popular Once Upon a Christmastime Parade. Why? Main Street, U.S.A. is the only location in the park where fake snow drifts down from above as the parade passes by, creating a picture-perfect winter wonderland! Spots along the parade route go quickly, so claim a space early!

Prepare for Rain - During my first Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party experience, it rained the whole night! Myself, along with most of the party guests, just donned a poncho and braved the damp, but there were few changes to the party due to the inclement weather. First of all, some elements of the parade were removed for safety purposes. The main floats were still included, but some of the characters and dancers were not. Whenever the weather isn’t cooperative, Disney does their best to carry on the night as planned, but some performances and live entertainment can be cancelled, delayed, or altered. It’s just something to prepare yourself and another reason to check the forecast.

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Walk Disney: Jogging Trails of Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa

by on September 24, 2014

The Walk Disney series will provide a description and review of activities that can be done while walking the grounds at Walt Disney World resorts. You can find maps of all the resort jogging trails in Krissy Murphy’s excellent article  from last year.

A great jogging trail provides you with sensory details that encourage you to move forward and rewards you for your hard work. The beautifully crafted jogging trail at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa does just that.

Saratoga Springs Trail

Just look at what awaits you on your run!

While the jogging trails map of Saratoga Springs indicates that there are two jogging trails, there exists only one main trail that can be halved. When looking at the map, the longer version includes a trip around the Congress Park area. The map shows that the larger version of the trail is 1 mile, but my GPS enabled pedometer app measured it at 1.5 miles total. The shorter version was both .75 miles on the map and in actuality. A busy street, Broadway, cuts through the trail and will cause exercisers to cross it at least two times on a single trip around the longer version of the trail.

My wife, Kelly, and I began at the Springs-Carriage House corner and started walking clockwise around the jogging trail. The serene views of the pond immediately came into view, and once we got just a few feet past the Carriage House walkway, there was nary a person in sight. The paths were wide enough for a solo jogger to comfortably run past two walkers going the other way, but on our mid-afternoon walk, that issue never arose.

When we came to the beautiful bridge that divides the lake, the jogging trail indicated that we make a left to go around the lake, thus extending our walk. The bridge looked inviting, but we wanted to stick to the designated plan.

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When NOT to Go to Disney World Guest Relations

by on September 24, 2014

Guest Relations is a mythical place where any question can be answered and any problem can be solved. These magical powers attract many guests with a variety of concerns and issues, many of which are not solved quickly. This often makes Guest Relations long and slow-moving. So when you see a queue of people wrapped around City Hall, check this list and see if your issue can be solved somewhere else.

Disney World Guest Relations

You don’t always need to wait at Guest Relations. Photo By Todd Perlmutter.

Upgrading Tickets

If you decided to upgrade your ticket, head to the vacation planning booths–the ticket sales booths at the entrance of the parks–on your way out of the park. There are virtually no lines at the vacation planning booths after noon and they can upgrade your ticket just as well as Guest Relations.

Exchanging Old Ticket

Tickets purchased before 2004 don’t expire, but they need to be converted to the new RFID media (the ticket cards or MagicBands) before being used. Even unused A to E ticket books can be converted into a Magic Kingdom ticket, though they are worth much more than the $105.44 cost of a Magic Kingdom ticket. The conversion can be done at the vacation planning booths.

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