Disney groupies (*raises hand*) may recall that about a month ago Disney launched a mysterious website, the “Ghost Relations Department.”
The site initially advertised a limited edition (of 999,ha!) Haunted Mansion-related subscription box service. Details were sketchy, but the gist was that for the low low price of $199 you would get some sort of box filled with unspecified Haunted Mansion stuff, monthly for three months. The box promised to hold objects and artifacts related to the Mansion, as well as interactive element, and an unfolding mystery story. Potential purchasers were told that in order to have full access to the interactive elements, they would need to have an iPhone. (All the 999 subscriptions were claimed. The page below originally included a link to purchase on the Disney Store website, but the link is now gone.)
Because I have an unnatural compulsion to open my wallet for all things Disney, I bought this subscription service, not really knowing what I’d be getting.
Since I didn’t know exactly what I should be expecting or when it would arrive, I was a bit perplexed when a plain cardboard box showed up on my doorstep this weekend. There was no Disney return address or other source markings on the outer carton.
But as soon as I opened the box and saw the faux steamer trunk printing inside, I remembered what I had ordered.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Six “Easter Eggs” in the Magic Kingdom. Yes, we love the awesome rides, the incredible resorts, and the mouth watering restaurants at WDW, but the more trips we take the more we appreciate all the little details throughout The World. While most guests know of Hidden Mickeys, there are many other Easter eggs to discover, many of which are hidden are in plain sight. Today we are going to look at some of our favorite “Easter eggs” at the Magic Kingdom, so sit back, keep your head on a swivel, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – Mr. Toad in The Haunted Mansion
Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, an opening day ride at the Magic Kingdom that entertained guests in Fantasyland until 1998, was the first Disney attraction to have a failed online petition trying to save it. Since then, almost every single attraction that Disney and Universal have closed to make something new has garnered some sort of online support. There was even an outpouring of support for the Sorcerer’s Hat at DHS, an item which – at best – could be called an eyesore.
There are many of us who still miss Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride, and thankfully there still are a couple of references to Mr. Toad still at the Magic Kingdom today. One of these is located at The Haunted Mansion, and can be seen as you exit the building. There is a small pet cemetery on your left, and if you look towards the back, you’ll see a gravestone for Mr. Toad.
The Pet Cemetary outside The Haunted Mansion. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Mr. Toad. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Recommended supplements:The Unofficial Guide’s Disney Dish podcast with Jim Hill and Len Testa. Episode 92: The Save Mr. Toad Protests. To listen, click HERE.
Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. The new year has started off exactly where the old one left us: with Walt Disney World closing attractions. It has been a pretty cool month though, including a cool Star Wars runDisney race out in California (and Star Wars fans owe it to themselves to watch a great parody of Undercover Boss featuring Kylo Ren). Erin Foster took us inside Vanellope’s on the Disney Dream, and for those who don’t know, this is a complete Wreck-It-Ralph themed sweet shop (pinch us, we’re dreaming). And Guy Selga introduced us to Four Glorious New Ways to Kill Time at Disneyland, including the am I dreaming this, or is this realJungle CruiseSkipper School. 2016 is shaping up to be an incredible year.
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).
The first item this month made my heart grow three sizes (after double checking, that enlargement of the heart was actually due to eating the Pop-Tart Sandwich at Pop Century). Behold the Luigi’s Flying Tires hat! Anyone who has visited the Disney Dump has seen the remnants of this attraction, which opened with the debut of Cars Land in the summer of 2012 and was already closed by the ending of February 2015. Believe it or not, despite only being open for only 976 days, Luigi’s doesn’t even rank in the Top Five of Short Lived Disney Attractions. Originally $24.95, this baby could be sitting on your head for just $6.99. VIVA LA DISNEY OUTLETS!
After seeing this, I know how Indiana Jones felt seeing the Fertility Idol. (photo by Julia Mascardo)
Tsum Tsums returned this month! However it was mostly the ones we have seen in the past (including all seven of the dwarfs), but one that was new was this crying duck. I had literally no idea who this was, but found out it was the Ugly Duckling from a quick scene in Lilo & Stitch. That’s what we call a deep dive, and I love it. I actually dropped Loot Crate this month and started up the Disney Tsum Tsum Monthly Subscription Program, so starting in February I too will annoy you with unboxing videos (although my last one didn’t go so well).
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)
We are going to start off this month’s report with a story so uplifting that, if it was made into a movie, it could only star Kirk Cameron. When the Disney Outlet Store off of International Drive was shut down in June for a “refurbishment,” we were told it would be closed for three months and reopen in September. Well, September came and went and it still wasn’t open. October came and went and it still wasn’t open. November came and went and it still wasn’t open…
I made many trips past this closed Outlet Store during the Summer and Fall, not unlike Ralphie Parker hoping to find his Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring in the mail.
A funny thing happened in early December. I had bought tickets to go to a private event in Diagon Alley at the Universal Orlando Resort, which is close to the International Drive Outlets. I walked by the Disney Outlet, and found it still closed, but this time there was a sign on the door…
I recently went to the Disneyland Park for the very first time. As a frequent visitor to Walt Disney World since childhood, I was beyond excited to experience a Disney Park, particularly Walt’s park, as a first time guest. In fact, the very first thing I did when I arrived was to pick up a first visit button at Disneyland’s City Hall. But before I even passed through the turnstiles, I did my Disneyland homework so that I could avoid some of the rookie mistakes and maximize my time in the park. Even so, there were definitely some things that I either didn’t expect or which would’ve helped my day run more smoothly. So glean from my first hand experience fellow Disneyland Rookies and discover what I wish I knew before my visit to Disneyland.
The Queues Are Narrow – One of the surprising differences for me between Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Park was how much narrower the queues are on the West Coast. When waiting in line for Peter Pan’s Flight, the Storybook Land Canal Boats, the Matterhorn Bobsleds, and others, I felt squeezed in and very close to the guests on either side of me. This is something that I haven’t experienced as much in the queues at Disney World. Part of this could be due to the fact that Disneyland has less space to work with; but I think it’s something to note if your a first time guest, especially if you have fidgety little ones in tow.
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.
Hi, Everyone! Welcome to the Best Week Ever here at Tokyo Disney Resort! As some of you might have guessed, my vacation last week was to a far flung Disney destination. While I could never give any real summary of the parks in just one post, I wanted to share a few of my favorite photos from the trip.
When we visited Tokyo just six months ago, I thought it would be my only trip there for awhile. However, when we started planning a vacation to Disneyland we realized that it wasn’t much more to head back to Tokyo. When factoring in airline miles, the fact that everything is cheaper, and a good conversion rate, it actually saved us money to head back to Tokyo!Well, that was until we changed our flights to arrive a day early and found out there were no hotels in the city! (oops) We ended up having to pay $700 for a night at the Disneyland Hotel. While the hotel and view were amazing, the price was incredibly hard to justify. So learn from my mistake and book that hotel first. On the positive side it means I have this room tour to share. What do you think? Is it worth it?
There is a lot more Tokyo Disney to share so be sure to click to read more!
This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at the Six Best Attractions at Walt Disney World. Hot off the heels of our All Star Panel getting together and voting for the Six Best Attractions at the Universal Orlando Resort, it was only natural to take a look across the street and get to the bottom, once and for all, of what the six best attractions at Walt Disney World were. But this is The World after all. The Vacation Kingdom. The most popular theme park resort on Earth. So naturally we had to go big. We contacted 25 experts for Universal? Well we’re getting 50 for Disney! And after negotiations that took so long that Disney could have taken down two Sorcerer’s Hats in the same time, we finally heard back from some of the most well known names in the Disney Universe. An all star, blue ribbon panel made up of members from some of the best Disney podcasts (Disney Hipsters, WDW Today, Radio Harambe, and the Mighty Men of Mouse), the most amazing Disney photographers (including Tom Bricker, Morgan Crutchfield, Brandon Glover, and Dirk Wallen), the greatest Disney bloggers/authors (Epcot Explorer, Sam Gennaway, FoxxFur, and Jim Hill), the nicest Disney fans we know (Scarlett Litton, Daisy Lauren, and Drunk At Disney), the meanest Disney fans we know (Tom Corless and Josh Humphrey), legitimate members of the Theme Park Media Elite (Orlando Sentinel’s Dewayne Bevil, Attraction Magazine‘s Banks Lee and Matt Roseboom), and the only guy in the entire world who admits to liking Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Matt Hochberg).
SATURDAY SIX staff tabulating votes.
But that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Maureen Deal of Autism at the Parks? Here. Gary Bruckner, creator of the Frost Bitten Rum Cider at the Dolphin’s Todd English bluezoo? Here. Fan Favorite Disney Twitter accounts? How about Mearn, Mark Diba, and Adam Roth. Not to mention both Jenn and Tim Tracker! They’re ALL HERE, and many more.
The Criteria: Each of the 50 experts voted on what they consider to be the six best attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort. These attractions could be any ride, show, nighttime spectacular, or parade currently in Walt Disney World (including the water parks.) Anything that was holiday exclusive – such as the Boo to You! parade, Happy HalloWishes, or the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights – were not eligible. Each attraction listed would be awarded ONE point, except for the attraction that the voter ranked in his #1 spot – that received TWO points. The votes were then sent to a top secret location in Florida and counted no less than 22 times. (We’ve had some problems in the past. We can’t apologize enough, Mr. Gore.) The results are in, and we now proudly present….
The DEFINITIVE GUIDE to the SIX BEST ATTRACTIONS at Walt Disney World.
# 6 – Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (12 points)
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. (photo by Tom Bricker)
Laurel Stewart (TouringPlans Disney Cruise Queen) – Opening Date – 1980: Big Thunder has it all – story, visual puns, theming, great effects… a bluegrass soundtrack. It’s not as great a coaster from a technical standpoint as Expedition Everest (Yeti aside, which it turns out, was a mechanical overreach on Disney’s part) or Rock ‘n’ Roller coaster. And it’s not a thrill ride by any means – there are more intense coasters all over Orlando. But this one is Disney at its best. It anchors Frontierland in a way that I don’t think Disney has come close to in years with the exception of Everest in Animal Kingdom’s Asia, which I think is its successor (and my would-have-been number one pick except that the ride is way too short). Because it opened in 1980, I never had to worry about the height requirement and was able to ride it from the start. Which I did, because I LOVE ROLLER COASTERS. On the other hand, my younger brother may have been tricked onto it when I told him it was “just a train ride, like the one at Main Street.” Suffice it to say, I have plenty of nostalgia for Big Thunder and love it just as much today as 35 years ago. And if you don’t take my word for it, take it from the French. Big Thunder Mountain is by far the most popular attraction at Disneyland Paris. And the French are never wrong. Just ask Jerry Lewis.
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!