With the announcement of Downtown Disney’s conversion to Disney Springs, many were hopeful and excited about the changes to the shopping and dining district. One place that I think most people thought would be on the chopping block was Planet Hollywood. The restaurant has consistently poor reviews and well, let’s face it, Planet Hollywood’s are a thing of the 90s. However, with the announcement of Disney Springs also came the news that Planet Hollywood was staying. Granted not in the same form; it was to be converted into what will eventually be called the Planet Hollywood Observatory.
The details were released that the restaurant will see a complete redesign on the outside, with a gorgeous new brick exterior, a new water tower (built from the neon sign that is currently present), and an expanded outdoor terrace and bar. The look is much less gaudy than what is currently there.
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:
As a non-Florida resident, my trips to Walt Disney World are not as frequent as I’d like. And when I get the opportunity to get to my favorite place on earth, I plan every moment of every day and pack in as much pixie dust as possible. It’s not uncommon for me to only get 4-5 hours of sleep a night as I open and close parks and fill the days with finely-tuned Touring Plansand FastPass+ reservations. These trips usually end with me in a Disney-induced coma on a plane heading back to the southwest, but completely content. I imagine it’s what marathon runners must feel like. Yeah, it can be painful, and sometimes you wonder if you’re insane for committing to this, but afterword it’s such a triumph and you can’t help but feel proud for all you’ve accomplished.
It’s vision that brings us all joy. Photo by Michael Dahlgren
When I was presented with the opportunity to be in Orlando for a work conference, my heart simultaneously leapt and crashed all at once. What a great excuse for an impromptu Disney trip (especially with a flight and 2 hotel nights paid for)! But then I looked at my budget, there’s a reason I didn’t have a Disney trip in the works already – I was already over-extended and committed to other trips this year. But how could I be in Orlando – so close to the House of the Mouse and NOT go?! The mere idea violates my very nature as a Disneyphile. I confided my disappointment in friend who kindly suggested, why don’t I just pick one park to go to for a day? That suggestion is almost more unnatural. One park? How can I choose one park? That’s like choosing a favorite child! I love them all! Choose the classic innocence and magic of Magic Kingdomover the food and culture of Epcot? Or the details and natural beauty of Animal Kingdomover the stomach churning thrill rides of Hollywood Studios? No, no – there’s no way to pick just one park! The thought then occurred to me, I could do the four-parks-in-one-day challenge. But with only one day to dedicate to parks, I couldn’t be cheated that way. And I know that there’s no way I could only do one or two attractions in each park and pass by everything else without knowing I’d be right back to really do the park justice. And the time spent traveling between parks would take up too much precious time. So, that ruled out four park hopping.
The most coveted theme park award of all… The Golden Burgy.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX presents the Inaugural 2015 Theme Park Awards. This weekend, while the rest of the world is preparing for The Oscars and spending hours watching awards given to films they haven’t even heard of, let alone watched (not to mention the outright Best Picture snubs of Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America: Winter Soldier), readers of this column will be able to see their favorite theme park attractions get the attention they deserve. The Golden Burgy, theme park media’s highest award, is being handed out to the rides, shows, restaurants, and experiences that truly stood out over the past year.
Just as the Academy Awards hand out their lesser prizes before the main show, we’d like to present two of our minor awards before we get to the big ones. First, a Golden Burgy goes to the Holy Land Experience in the category of Best Theme Park Food Pun for their Garden of Eaten Chicken Salad Sandwich. Interestingly enough, Holy Land had all the nominees in this category including JerusaLamb, Land of Milk (no honey,) and My Cup Overflows Souvenir Refillable Cup. The category of Biggest Theme Park Free Fall experience was the tightest race of all the nominees. Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens was the favorite to win, but the coveted Golden Burgy instead went to SeaWorld’s stock price. Now that’s a drop.
With those out of the way, allow us to present to you the Inaugural SATURDAY SIX Theme Park Awards, starting with…
# 6 – Best New Ride Experience – Diagon Alley’s Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts
The rotunda inside Gringotts bank includes an incredible view. And this is just the queue! (photo by Tom Bricker)
What else needs to be said about Universal’s newest E-Ticket attraction? The queue for Escape From Gringotts is one of the best in theme park history, loaded with magical details from the Harry Potter films. There are incredible goblin animatronics and million dollar chandeliers hanging above that make the Gringotts Bank lobby almost an attraction by itself.
Unlike IOA’s Forbidden Journey’s “best of” trip through the first four Potter films, Escape From Gringotts places guests directly into events from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II. Ingeniously showing a movie scene from another perspective, Escape From Gringotts takes Universal’s motto of Ride The Movies to the next level.
Worst New Ride Experience – Being attacked by bees on Rip Ride Rocket
“Oh the humanity!” Swarms of bees attack riders on Universal Studios Florida’s Rip Ride Rockit. (photo by Mike Sperduto and Matt Cleary.)
While just a minor blip on the radar in 2014, the story of Rip Ride Rockit having a minor problem with bees was enough for us to envision the plot of a new horror film.
For Valentine’s Day lunch we couldn’t think of a better place than Kona Cafe. The food is wonderful and the setting is comfy and casual. Traffic was worse than we’d anticipated so we made it to the podium exactly on time for our 12:30pm reservation. Of course, that meant we had to wait about 15 minutes for a table. They seemed quite short staffed with several empty tables despite gobs of people waiting outside. It was nice to have the tables next to us open, though. Our appetizer of potstickers ($8.49) were super yummy and came out so quickly they beat our drinks!
Want to see what we ordered? Be sure to click to read more!
It’s been a while since I’ve been here with Newsworthy Notes! Glad to see you again for another update of minor, yet important Disney news! Things have been piling up on my desk, so it’s time to share with you all once again.
Starting at Downtown Disney, many of the newly announced shops have opened to the public. Guests can now browse through Chapel Hats, APEX by Sunglass Hut, The Art of Shaving, and Sanuk. Erin McKenna’s Bakery’s signage is up and one would expect it to open officially within the next week or so. Also expected to open next week on Monday is Havaianas.
Let’s head into the parks, shall we? In the Magic Kingdom, the Tomorrowland Arcade, located at the exit of Space Mountain, has closed abruptly. Many think it’s in relation to the recent (and supposedly vaguely written) law that bans internet cafes. (This law could have the opportunity to potentially be applied to video game arcades that dispense prizes or provide winning tickets, which many of Disney’s arcades in both the parks and resorts did.)
Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Walt Disney World. This week we’ll be visiting Magic Kingdom to see how things are looking, stopping by Downtown Disney for some shopping, and finishing up at Animal Kingdom. The weather has been just beautiful for two weekends in a row and I can’t wait to share it with you.
It isn’t often I’m stopped in my tracks on the way into the park, but this weekend it happened! Check out that photo on the left. It isn’t edited at all, it was really that bright and beautiful here last weekend. We’ve had the most amazing weather lately! Pretty soon the bone melting heat and daily monsoons will return, but for now it’s perfection. Ready to head to the Magic Kingdom? Click to read more!
According to The Orlando Sentinel, we have an official listing of some of the new stores that will take up residence of The Landing section of Disney Springs. They include:
APEX by Sunglass Hut - Sells high end sunglasses with a focus on sports. These are the perfect sunglasses to wear when getting out there, being active.
Art of Shaving – A high-end shaving products store, including aromatherapy-based grooming products and elegant shaving instruments. This brand is concerned with getting you that “perfect shave.”
Chapel Hats – Offers hats and headwear that are perfect for a night on the town or maybe even that special event. They don’t offer your traditional baseball cap, instead they sell headwear like fedoras, Panama hats, pork pies, and even top hats. They also offer a selection of beautiful hats for women, such as derby hats, floppy hats, and more.
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!
It’s fresh and creamy, it’s cold and sweet, it’s literally paradise in a cup. It’s a Dole Whip! If you haven’t heard, this treat is as popular as some characters and attractions at Disney World and has the long lines to prove it. For those of you who haven’t sampled this famous Disney treat; and for those of you, like myself, who are craving one right now, check out this Tribute to the Dole Whip!
So what is a Dole Whip? A Dole Whip is pineapple-flavored soft-serve and the perfect blend of sweet and tang; but I must warn you, it’s addictive! In fact, during one of my trips to the Magic Kingdom last year, I waited in a thirty minute line for a Dole Whip and even got a sunburn in the process. But hey, I have no regrets. It was totally worth it!
Unlike other popular sweet treats at Disney World, like Mickey Premium Bars or cupcakes, Dole Whips can’t be found just everywhere. For many years, Captain Cook’s at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort and Aloha Isle in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom were the only locations where this snack was offered.
Fortunately, it seems that Disney has taken pity on us Dole Whip-crazed guests, and I’m glad to report that there are now more places than ever to enjoy a Dole Whip while at the Walt Disney World Resort. Let’s take a look at a few of the old, as well as the new, shall we?