In case you’ve been living inside the belly of an asteroid-bound space slug, The Force Awakens has ignited moviegoers and burnt down box office records ever since the long-awaited Star Wars sequel hit screens nationwide on December 17. Right now, there’s no better place in Orlando to celebrate The Force Awakens than Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which has spread new Star Wars stuff to every corner of the park. In this follow-up to my first look at the recently added DHS Star Wars offerings, we’ll check out additional attractions, edibles, and entertainment engineered to take you to that galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars Launch Bay and Chase Disney Visa Private Meet and Greet
Let’s start with a walk around Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which I originally broadcast on the Touring Plans Periscope channel.
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth, the long-running nighttime spectacular at Epcot, is beloved by many. But is it really that good? Let’s break it down.
Backstory: The first incarnation of an Epcot nighttime show premiered in the fall of 1982 and was called Carnival de Lumiere (no relation to the candelabra from the not yet conceived Beauty and the Beast film.) This small scale fountain show was replaced a year later by A New World Fantasy and that show was replaced yet another year later by Laserphonic Fantasy. Both of these shows used fireworks, lasers, lights, and projection screens on barges all set to classical music. The first version of the show actually titled IllumiNations began in 1988 and continued with some variations until 1999 when it was replaced by the current show Reflections of Earth. This version of the show was originally conceived as a signature attraction of the Walt Disney World Millennium Celebration but has been showed continuously ever since with the only variation being a special ending for the Christmas holiday season.
Touring Strategy: The show takes place at the center of World Showcase lagoon so it can be seen in full from anywhere around the lagoon, with the fireworks visible from many parts of Future World as well. The really good spots for IllumiNations do go early, however, especially in busier times of year. Without a reservation at a restaurant on the lagoon, your best walk-up locations to see IllumiNations are the raised area in front of the Italy pavilion and the area in front of the Yorkshire County Fish Shop in the United Kingdom pavilion. If these areas are being used for special events, consider the bridge between France and the United Kingdom and the area between Mexico and Norway. Just keep in mind that these locations can fill up by 45-minutes before showtime. If you don’t mind being partially blocked by a tree, a fence, or a guy taking selfies in front of you, then you can grab a location at pretty much any point before the show begins. (FastPass+ is not recommended but if you choose to use it, you will be positioned between the gift shops at the front of World Showcase and should arrive at least 20 minutes before showtime.)
Learn the best way to experience the Disneyland Forever fireworks in our new 60th Anniversary entertainment review. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)
Nearly two months after after Anaheim kicked off its Diamond Celebration, Disneyland‘s 60th birthday has officially arrived. By now, several members of the Touring Plans team — including Seth Kubersky and Guy Selga — have had a chance to experience the new anniversary nighttime entertainments from multiple angles, so in honor of Disneyland’s big day we’re sharing a sneak preview of the new reviews that we’re including in the upcoming Unofficial Guide to Disneyland 2016. If you missed our previously published Paint the Night coverage, check it out now. Then read on for our in-depth review of of the all-new Disneyland Forever fireworks:
As part of its Diamond anniversary celebration, Disneyland retired the popular Remember…Dreams Come True fireworks spectacular (originally created for the park’s 50th birthday) in favor of the all-new Disneyland Forever show. Created by extravaganza expert Steve Davison, who designed Wishes and World of Color, his latest production runs the full gamut of special effects: a rousing score, castle lighting, lasers, and an impressive flight from the fairy Tinker Bell – not to mention spectacular fireworks effects. After an introduction evoking the orange tree groves that originally covered Anaheim, the show sails through memorable musical vignettes from beloved Disney movies.
Today, I’m going to share my experience attending the Wishes Fireworks Cruise. I first went on this cruise in 2011 and again in September 2014. This most recent time, it was a birthday surprise for my dad. If you know me personally, you will understand just how hard it is for me to keep a secret. The cruise can be booked as early as 180 days in advance, but mine was booked about 90 days beforehand. That’s 90 whole days I had to keep my lips zipped…I barely made it! After a fun day at the parks and a delicious dinner at The Brown Derby (Yes, he was spoiled rotten!), we arrived at the Contemporary. We led my confused dad through the lobby and outside to the marina. He had no clue what this birthday surprise could be!
Summer is here, and by now hopefully everyone has had a chance to enjoy a fireworks display. I got a chance to enjoy the fireworks in a small Colorado town on the 4th of July. My friends’ house had a great view of the town’s fireworks display from their back deck, so all we had to do was sit down and enjoy!
I did notice that something was missing. While the display was an impressive sight and had a variety of fireworks, there wasn’t really any plan to the show. One shot went up. BOOM! Another shot went up. BOOM! Oh – here’s a change of pace – two going off at the same time! BOOM BOOM! The only time the show really ratcheted it up was at the end, when the sky was smothered with all of the fireworks they had left.
Was your viewing of fireworks the same as mine? Did you feel like it was missing…well…a little Disney magic?
Planning a family Disney vacation is full of anticipation and excitement. You save money and plan meticulously for months to have that perfect, magical experience. However, it’s often underestimated how quickly things can go from exciting to scary for the youngest Disney guests. Navigating four theme parks with a little one can be a bit overwhelming, especially if you don’t anticipate what may trigger a reaction. Here we look at ways of preparing kids for Disney vacations.
I’ve seen kiddos get freaked out by 3 main things:
Mickey and characters (they’re bigger than you think!),
Fireworks (sure they’re pretty, but man are they loud!), and
There are a few things that you can do in advance to prepare your youngster for the magical world of excitement that awaits!
Buzz and Woody are big, even for adults!
Meeting Disney Friends:
Kids see Mickey, Minnie, and all of their favorite characters in movies and on TV, but it really doesn’t prepare them for how large they are in real life. One way to help prepare young kids to these large friends is to expose them to some local “life size” characters like at Chuck E. Cheese or mascots at any local sporting event. This is a great test run to see how a youngster can handle these larger than life characters. It’s also a way to help them sort through any anxiety they might have, so when they meet Mickey it won’t be so overwhelming. If they already love Chuck E. Cheese, then you can cross this concern off your list!
Last week I visited Epcot to find out if IllumiNations is worth your FastPass+. This week I thought I’d share some information about the Wishes FastPass+ viewing. Obviously, this is one of the hottest FastPass+ options in all four parks, often not even showing available 30 days in advance. The viewing location is in the Rose Garden and gives guests enough room to comfortably spread out and sit in the grass. If you’re lucky enough to score this viewing spot, then you’ll be able to also watch Celebrate The Magic from here. Without a doubt this option will get you the best view while waiting the least amount of time for the show.
However, if you check out the photo to the left you can see the view from the Rose Garden is slightly obstructed and off to one side. I’m not saying this is a bad view at all, but I don’t know that it’s worth tying up your 3rd FastPass+ all day long. What if I told you there was a less popular FastPass+ that would give you an even better view?
Get a VIP view with FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing areas at the Magic Kingdom (photos by Seth Kubersky)
Welcome to the future of fireworks and parades at Walt Disney World! In recent weeks, as the final rollout of FastPass+ has concluded in the Disney World parks, I’ve been sharing my experiences using the system as an Annual Passholder at Epcot, as well as at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Since my last post, FastPass+ has been fully implemented for all Disney World guests, including day-guests not staying on Disney property, and I’ve finally had the opportunity to experience one of the most controversial aspects of the new system. Without further ado, here are my FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing tips, based on my personal observations at the Magic Kingdom.
Festival of Fantasy FastPass+ Parade Viewing
When the features of FastPass+ were first announced, the private reserved viewing areas for parades and other spectaculars were the aspect I was most skeptical (even cynical) about. Personally, such performances are usually very low on my priority list during a park visit for several reasons. Most of the parades had grown quite stale to me from years of over-exposure, I have an aversion to spending valuable touring time staking out a spot of asphalt just to get a good view, and I can’t abide being crammed like sardines in the crowd that accompanies the procession. So I would normally use that time to take advantage of marginally shorter queues at my favorite attractions. If I did want to see a parade, I’d typically walk up a minute or so before it started, and make do with a partial view blocked by the sea of shoulder-sitting small-fries in front of me. With a limit (soon to be lifted) of only 3 FastPass+ reservations per day, I couldn’t see myself “wasting” one on something like a parade when Space and Splash are beckoning.
This is currently the closest you can get to Anna and Elsa from Frozen without a mult-hour wait for their meet & greet.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year (at least according to that ubiquitous song) and there’s no holiday season quite like a Disneyland holiday. In the past, I’ve experienced Disneyland it all its seasonal splendor during Halloween, Valentine’s Day, Easter, and Fourth of July. But until last week, I’d never visited the Happiest Place On Earth during Christmas time, and as an Orlando resident I was blown away by the quantity and quality of seasonal celebrations. As we enter the final weeks of the peak holiday season, here’s my personal top five favorite aspects of Disneyland’s 2013 special offerings to distract you from the epic E-ticket queues.
Seasonal Sweets and Treats
Christmas is no time to go to Disneyland on a diet, as I discovered an insatiable need to sample the limited-time seasonal snacks offered and nearly every quick-service counter.