Posts Tagged ‘Animal Kingdom’

The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! August 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on August 31, 2015

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. As you can see, thanks to a landslide vote, the Outlet Report is continuing despite it’s negative impact on my mental health (more on that later). However, no matter how crazy the Vineland Ave outlets make me, nothing can take away from the incredible month we had in the theme park world. The D23 Expo came with the announcements of Star Wars land, Toy Story Land, and more details on the incredible World of Avatar coming to Animal Kingdom. You can read both of my articles about the D23 news including one written BEFORE the convention and one written AFTER. Not to be outdone, Universal announced that it would be building a Fast & Furious attraction while getting rid of Disaster and Beetlejuice. Fast & Furious has actually quietly become one of the biggest franchises in Hollywood history. Furious 7 has made over $1.5Billion dollars this year and to put that in perspective Frozen made “just” $1.27Billion. What a great time to be a theme park fan.

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Our first item is actually one of my favorite things that I have ever bought inside a Disney park and it was at Star Wars Weekends two years ago. This Star Wars Bowling Set was originally $21.95, marked down to $12.99. The bowling balls are the Death Star and a thermal detonator, how great is that?

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Luke Skywalker could bullseye womp rats in his T-16 but can he hit a 7-10 split?!

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If we have to get a thousand bad Star Wars items just to get one great one, I guess I can live with it.

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Menu Monday: Rainforest Café Showdown

by on August 24, 2015

Rainforest CafeMy family and I are big fans of the Rainforest Café. During our travels across the country, we always make a point to visit this restaurant every chance we get. In the last few years, we’ve dined at the Rainforest Café in Disneyland, Las Vegas, Dallas, San Antonio, Galveston, and of course, Downtown Disney (Springs) and Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

What keeps us going back again and again? We are suckers for a good theme! The more immersive and detailed the environment, the more we love it. This, coincidentally, is one of the main reasons we repeatedly visit Disney World as well. There’s just nothing quite like escaping to another “world” whether it’s for just a meal or for an entire trip. During our summer vacation this year, my family and I had the opportunity to dine at both Disney World locations. Are you considering a visit to the “rainforests” of Downtown Disney and Animal Kingdom? Trying to decide which one is best for you? Then read on for the complete Rainforest Café Showdown; your adventure is about to begin!

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2015 Disney D23 Expo Predictions

by on August 12, 2015

D23expologo

This week marks the fourth ever D23 Expo, which is the exposition event for Disney D23 (the official fan club for The Walt Disney Company). Since 2009, and every second year after that, the event has offered fans the chance to come together and celebrate all things Disney while also getting a sneak peek at upcoming projects across the company’s numerous divisions including parks, film and even video games. With rumors swirling about possible announcements for quite some time now, speculation and anticipation are at a fever pitch. One of my favorite parts of any event like this is making predictions because a) it offers me the chance to brag about how right I was or b) laugh at how wrong I was. I can’t lose! With that in mind, here are my ten predictions for the D23 Expo.

©Disney

©Disney

10. Hollywood Studios Gets a New Name

Let’s get one of the big ones out of the way. Every Disney fan at this point knows that Hollywood Studios is getting a huge revamp. With the new changes will also come a new name for the park, which was previously revealed by Disney CEO Bob Iger after he got tricked by a young fan at the annual shareholders’ meeting. From everything I’ve read, the most popular new name appears to be Hollywood Adventure but at this point, it’s anybody’s guess.

Chance it happens: 90%

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Tips for Conference Goers at Disney World Who Are Too Cool for Characters

by on August 12, 2015

Q: Why do lots of people without kids visit Walt Disney World if they think it’s for the preschool set?

A: They’re getting paid to be there.

My first visit to Walt Disney World as an adult was for a convention. According to Disney Meetings, Walt Disney World is home to over over 700,000 square feet of meeting space. Six of Disney’s own hotels include convention space, and that doesn’t include the on-property Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin resorts, which add 329,000 square feet to that total. Hundreds of thousands of additional conventioneers visit Orlando each year to attend events at the Orange County Convention Center and many other hotels in the area. In other words, if you are a professional who hasn’t attended a conference in Orlando yet, you probably will soon.

However, not everyone visiting central Florida wants to be immersed in Mickey and pals. If you are visiting Walt Disney World as part of a business trip, you may be worried that your visit will be a nightmarish cacophony of cartoony characters.

Chef Mickey

I promise, you can avoid this guy entirely.

You can certainly get your fill of characters in Walt Disney World if that’s your thing, but you can also avoid them entirely. This post will explain where to stay during your trip to maintain an oasis of calm in Mickey Central as well as how to fill your leisure time in Walt Disney World without getting too much pixie dust on your clothes, and where you can have a dignified, character-free meal.

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever August 6, 2015: Animal Kingdom Shows

by on August 6, 2015

Animal Kingdom Shows Best Week Ever

Experience two top-rated Animal Kingdom shows in this Best Week Ever (photos y Seth Kubersky)

For this edition of Best Week Ever, I was inspired by Derek Burgan‘s recent Saturday Six, in which he lauded two Animal Kingdom shows as the top live entertainments that Walt Disney World has to offer.

Though a fan of both his picks, I had not seen either selection in several months, so I decided it was time to visit Animal Kingdom again and see how these acclaimed shows are holding up.

 

Welcome to the Animal Kingdom parking lot! You can see Avatar construction just behind the tree line.

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Wilderness Explorers Overview

by on July 14, 2015

Head under this majestic sign to enter the wild Magic Kingdom.

Head under this majestic sign to join up as a Wilderness Explorer.

Animal Kingdom is undergoing a season of change, and one of the first things that was introduced was the Wilderness Explorers game. Animal Kingdom has a rather unfair reputation as a half day park, but if you’re interested in seeing everything, it will take you a full day, especially with the relatively early closing time for most of the year.

While that early closing time will change soon with the new nighttime entertainment options, the very nature of the park makes it ideal for a more leisurely day, using your touring plans to get where you need to go quickly to allow you truly enjoy the animals. In addition, the Wilderness Explorer game is completely interactive, with a go at your own pace that makes it great for weaving it throughout your day and allows you to play across multiple visits. Not only is the game entertaining, it is free to all park guests; and since you receive actual things to keep, it makes for a fun and free souvenir.

Let’s look at the game more closely!

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever June 25, 2015: Rainy Day at Animal Kingdom

by on June 25, 2015

best Week Ever Animal Kingdom

Rain or shine, it’s another Best Week Ever at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (photos by Seth Kubersky)

The humidity percentage and heat index have both been hovering around one hundred in Orlando, so where better to spend an “Africa hot” Best Week Ever than in Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Kidding aside, Animal Kingdom holds a special place in my heart, since it’s the first Disney park I ever got to attend before its official opening date, and it remains to this day the most beautifully landscaped of Mickey’s American parks.

Unfortunately, Animal Kingdom is probably also my least-often-visited WDW park, partly because there are only three rides there that I consider must-dos. While I love the Broadway-style shows at DAK, and the animal walkthroughs are truly world-class, it’s inevitable that thrill attractions are what I first focus on when picking a park to attend, and that’s one area in which Animal Kingdom lacks — at least until Avatar-land comes online in 2017.

Happily, there are a number of improvements coming to Animal Kingdom before then, so I headed out on an overcast Friday afternoon to explore the newest one.

My day started out on an awkward foot, as only one tram was servicing the parking lot when I arrived. By the time it finally arrived and transported me to the entry plaza, I practically had to sprint past the front ticket booths…

 

…Through the touchpoints…

 

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Disney World Attractions in Need of a Revamp

by on June 3, 2015

Escape the heat by enjoying the Carousel of Progress.

One of the aspects that I feel truly separates Disney Parks from other theme parks is the presence of “classic” attractions. By classic attractions, I mean those that might not have state of the art technology by today’s standards, or cost the size of a small island, but remain relevant, charming, and downright fun years or even decades later. Attractions like Splash Mountain, The Haunted Mansion and Pirates of the Caribbean are just a few examples of these that come to mind. As brilliant as Disney Imagineers are, there is an occasional attraction misstep from time to time, which is inevitable.

It’s incredibly difficult to determine what’s going to resonate with audiences at any one moment, let alone ten, twenty, or fifty years from now. For a variety of reasons, some attractions just don’t age well and feel outdated rather than classic. Most of the time those attractions are replaced (see most of Disney’s California Adventure) but other times, they remain. Below, I’ve listed some attractions that I believe fit this description. These aren’t outright bad attractions per se, but they are ones that have the potential to be really fantastic with a revamp or retheming.

Without further ado, here are some attractions in need of a “tune up” along with what could be done to make them better and my suggestions for what attractions to go on instead.

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Where to Find Walt at Disney World

by on May 17, 2015

Walt and Mickey

Walt and Mickey

When comparing the Disneyland Resort to Walt Disney World, one of the biggest differences that always comes up is that Disneyland was Walt’s park while Walt never lived to see Disney World completed. While this is true, that doesn’t mean you still can’t find Walt’s attractions and touches on the East Coast. So keep reading to discover just a few of many places where to find Walt at Disney World!

The Hub: One of the most popular places to take a photo at the Magic Kingdom is in front of the statue of Walt and Mickey with Cinderella Castle in the background. Known as the Partners Statue, it’s appropriately positioned at the center of the park known as the Hub, where paths branch off towards the different lands of the Magic Kingdom. Just seeing the statue at the end of Main Street, U.S.A. and at the park center brings it all back to Walt and his most famous creation, Mickey Mouse.  The Hub has undergone some changes lately, but you can still find statuettes of other characters that contributed to Walt’s success, such as Goofy, Donald, Minnie, and more.

101_3519Main Street, USA: Did you know that you can find Walt even before you enter the Magic Kingdom? When approaching the park entrance, you will probably hear a train whistle and the clang of a bell from up above as a train pulls into Main Street Station. This is because Walt loved trains! The Main Street Train Station, along with Main Street, U.S.A, provides guests not just a look at what Walt’s creations, but what was in his heart. Trains were one of Walt’s hobbies and he spend his free time planning and constructing a miniature train that he and his guests could ride on in his backyard. He called it the Carolwood Pacific Railroad. Once you enter the park, you have to pass under the Main Street Train Station; but I encourage anyone who’s interested in learning about Walt to check it out. It’s filled with nods to railroad history and Walt’s passion for this vintage form of transportation. Main Street, USA was inspired after Walt’s hometown of Marceline, Missouri. Walt loved growing up in Marceline and wanted to recreate his memories of the town in his park. He even included a few odes to his family and Imagineers in the names found on the windows above the street. Fun Fact: Walt has two windows of his own. One of them is on the Main Street Train Station and faces out at the entrance while the other is above the Plaza Restaurant and faces Cinderella Castle!

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! April 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on April 30, 2015

MMM positiveThe end of April is upon us, and thus comes the second – yes, second – Outlet Report of the month. That’s right, on April 1st, when you were wondering whether or not the Motorola selfie stick was real or if Olaf was truly replacing Stitch’s Greatest Escape, we gassed up the Merch Mobile and headed down State Road 535 to cover a non-Disney owned Outlet Store (don’t worry, we grabbed an extra bottle of Xanax for the road rage.)

Since that day a lot has happened. The BOATHOUSE opened at Downtown Disney, offering a S’mores Baked Alaska that is surely going to be near the top of our next article spotlighting outrageous eats at Walt Disney World. TouringPlans’s own Daisy Lauren did her must-read Best Week Ever from Tokyo Disneyland Resort (you’ve got to see the picture of the Chandu Tail from Tokyo Disney Sea.) And one crazy person even wrote about all the special events that WON’T be coming to Orlando anytime soon (although who wouldn’t want to go to A Celebration of Twister?!)

Enough jibber jabber! Who is ready to hit the Outlets? Remember that clicking on any picture will open a full size version of it (don’t say we didn’t warn you).

Our first item is one I had speculated we could be seeing after the Mickey Mouse kitchen clock magnet made its way to the Outlet last month. This Stand-By Entrance timer magnet was marked down to $3.99. I’m pretty shocked to see this already because I don’t think it came out that long ago and it is a very clever idea. I guess people just want to use the FP+ of the kitchen (AKA the microwave.)

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The timer can only hold times up to 99 minutes and 59 seconds, so it is definitely not the Anna and Elsa Timer Magnet which goes up to six hours.

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