Welcome back to this brand new edition of Walt Disney World Newsworthy Notes! (Crowd cheers…ok…maybe not…but a girl can dream.) This week has been very fruitful with little tidbits to share with you all; I’ve got lots of refurbishment news, details on Be Our Guest Restaurant, new information on Avatarland, and more!
Wow! There are a lot of refurbishments that have been scheduled for Walt Disney World. Let’s start at the Magic Kingdom. First, for those traveling in the summer, you will unfortunately not get to experience Pirates of the Caribbean. The attraction, which has been riddled with problems lately, will be seeing a 4+ month refurbishment, from May 11 through September 25, reopening September 26. No word on what the refurbishment will entail, but it is certainly necessary. There will also be a two day refurbishment of Stitch’s Great Escape in early March, March 1 and 2. The attraction will reopen on March 3. For those visiting Disney’s Animal Kingdom for barbeque, you’ll have to wait a little longer, because Flame Tree Barbeque’s refurbishment has been pushed back to last until April 22, reopening April 23. At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it would appear that Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show will be closed for a refurbishment from April 20-24, reopening on April 25. Also, Voyage of the Little Mermaid will be closed September 7-10, reopening on September 11. You can always keep up with the latest refurbishments on our refurb page.
So I don’t usually share the videos that Disney posts, but I will if I find them particularly newsworthy…like today, where they posted one hyping up Avatar for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It’s nice to finally see some more information about the project. The new concept art shown in the video is quite gorgeous, but what really impressed me was when they finally showed some of the bioluminescent aspects. It almost reminds me of being under the sea, seeing a unique type of illuminated coral. These additions will certainly make Animal Kingdom a destination once the sun sets. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, check out the video:
First, check out this view from the entrance of the Disney’s Hollywood Studios! You can almost see what this will look like once the hat is completely removed. While it was sad to watch it come apart, in the end I’m glad it’s gone. I can’t wait to see the last pieces removed and this view restored. What do you think now that it’s coming together? Do you still miss the hat?
Want to see more fun from all around Disney World this week? Click to read more.
This fellow from the Festival of Fantasy parade is terrifying, and awesome. Read on to hear more about the parade!
Okay, trivia fans! Today we’re going to look at some fun facts about the Orlando home of the main mouse! The sheer size of the entire Walt Disney World resort means that a lot went into the creation, and also that it provides tons of opportunities for number crunching and trivial knowledge. For example, did you know that the resort covers approximately 40 square miles? If you’re not able to wrap your head around what that means, the normal comparison is that it’s about the same size as San Francisco. No wonder you’re tired after walking all day!
As you likely know, the Walt Disney World resort is divided up into four theme parks, a shopping area currently being reinvented and renamed Disney Springs, and a variety of resort hotels. To make it easier to keep all the fun facts straight, the numbers will be divided up into five categories: General, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.
Star Wars Weekends are rapidly approaching; we are only 3 months away from Weekend I! This year the event takes place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on weekends (Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) from May 15 through June 14.
Star Wars Weekends dates for 2015 are:
Weekend I: May 15-17
Weekend II: May 22-24
Weekend III: May 29-31
Weekend IV: June 5-7
Weekend V: June 12-14
The excitement is ramping up as new details are starting to trickle out about this year’s events, like that fact that once again performing hosting duties each weekend will be character actor, James Arnold Taylor, who voiced Obi-Wan Kenobi in “Star Wars: Clone Wars.”
In addition to his general hosting duties, he will also be hosting the “Stars of the Saga” talk show, where he will interview some of the many celebrities that appear during Star Wars Weekends. The “Stars of the Saga” show will be taking place in an all new venue this year, the Theater of the Stars, allowing for more Guests than ever to experience the show. (The Theater of the Stars is where Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage is held, however don’t despair Beauty and the Beast fans! The show will still also be performed in the Theater of the Stars during Star Wars Weekends.)
Many people dream of walking the red carpet, hearing people shouting at them “Who are you wearing?” and seeing that beautiful golden statue in front of their eyes. Well, while I can’t guarantee you’ll ever get to experience taking part in the Oscars, I can guarantee you’ll get to experience a really neat and unique opportunity. You see, for a limited time, until February 22, Guests who visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to see and take a photo with a gorgeous Oscar statuette.
The opportunity is being billed as the “My First Oscar Moment” and will be taking place during park hours inside The Magic of Disney Animation building. To find the photo opportunity, guests need to head to the location where Minnie Mouse meets (the section marked “Drawing Room”). The room has been taken over temporarily by the “My First Oscar Moment” experience, so Guests will be able to find Minnie in the hub area.
During the opportunity, Guests will get to walk the red carpet and pose with the Oscar statue, against a signature backdrop similar to one you’ll see the actual Oscar winners pose against, just moments after they win the golden statue. Guests are encouraged to post their unique photos to social media using the hashtag, #Oscars.
The 87th Oscars are airing this Sunday, February 22, on ABC at 7:00 p.m. ET/4:00 p.m. PT and will feature host Neil Patrick Harris.
We continue this journey to find the best counter service restaurants in Hollywood Studios. Hollywood Studios has to be one of the hardest counter service options to track because the menus and prices tend to change for each season. Add in the continuing construction, and things are bound to change. Before your next trip to the Studios, be sure to check out the latest menus for options and prices either at the Touring Plans menu page, or at the official Walt Disney World menu page. With that said, most of the menu staples will stay consistent. If a counter service location offers burgers and sandwiches, you can expect for it to be consistent, but you may find an updated price or a new “gourmet” option available. If you missed previous entries, be sure to read all about the best counter service options in Magic Kingdom, as well as in Animal Kingdom. To refresh your memory, here is the grading scale I’ve used to determining how each counter service location has earned it’s ranking:
Value (portion/cost ratio) = 10 points
Flavor = 10 points
Originality = 5 points
Atmosphere = 5 points
Grand total = 30 possible points
Sunset Boulevard Restaurant Row
Catalina Eddie’s, Rosie’s All-American Café, and Fairfaxe Fare are all located on Sunset Boulevard near Tower of Terror.
It may seem like cheating, but due to the proximity of all of these options in the same area. They can easily be viewed as one dining location with multiple options, similar to the concept of the food court at your local mall. Catalina Eddie’s, Fairfax Fare, and Rosie’s All-American Café are all situated at the end of Sunset Boulevard, near the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith. Because of this prime real estate by two of the park’s powerhouse rides, and the fact that the three restaurants share the same seating area, this place gets packed quickly. It’s often a spot for families to gather and wait while a portion of their party experiences one ride or the other (or both). Because of this, finding an open table is tricky, and it gets busy early in the day and stays that way. The best plan of attack is to find a table before ordering food, then go in shifts to the location that appeals to your taste buds while another holds the table while you order. Never leave a child alone, but if you’re traveling with a several adults or teenagers, this is the best strategy.
On Friday night when we decided we needed a Disney style dinner we’d originally set out for Beaches & Cream Soda Shop. This is an awesome spot for a casual hamburger, but unfortunately it was packed when we got there and reservations weren’t available. With the My Disney Experience App we were able to find a table available at Tokyo Dining over at Epcot. We spent a little time strolling through the Beach Club on our way there. Wow, it’s beautiful! I haven’t stayed at this hotel since I was a kid. Look at it now!
So who wants to visit Tokyo Dining with me? Click here to read more!
Jenna, an awesome reader of the TouringPlans blog, told me how she traveled to Walt Disney World with her family, ranging in ages 2-82 years old. She expressed how the group wanted to stay together the entire time, but it was hard to think of different attractions the whole group could do together and enjoy.
After hearing Jenna’s story, she inspired me to put together this list of activities and attractions that would appeal to a group of all ages.
You’ll notice that I did NOT include any attractions where a guest would have to get in and out of an attraction vehicle. I did this for two reasons:
A. You won’t have to worry about height restrictions!
B. If someone is confined to a wheel chair or electric scooter, that person will not have to stand or do any walking to get on the attraction.
Just like every day of this vacation, we woke up early and grabbed a quick breakfast at Landscape of Flavors at Art of Animation before heading off to the bus stop. Although this resort only has one bus stop and it is often very busy, they seem to have a limitless supply of buses, because we never had to wait for more than about 5 minutes. Once on board, it was standing room only for the short drive to Hollywood Studios.
Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World. This week we’ll be visiting Disney’s Hollywood Studios for all the latest updates, stopping by Downtown Disney for a little food truck action, and finishing up at Magic Kingdom. Ready for some beautiful, blue Florida skies? Let’s get moving!
Early Saturday morning we set out for Disney’s Hollywood Studios. I knew with the holiday weekend and awesome weather that we’d be facing a crowd. You can see from the photo that it wasn’t too crowded when we arrived, but that changed fast. Speaking of fast, check out the progress removing the hat! I can’t believe how fast it’s coming down. In the bottom right hand side of the photo you can see the actual top of the hat behind the construction wall. It’s so much bigger than it looks! Want to see what other fun stuff we found this weekend? Be sure to click to read more!