Posts Tagged ‘Imagineering’

Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever October 1, 2015: Six Things to Do During a Transatlantic Disney Cruise

by on October 1, 2015

Transatlantic Disney cruise

What do you do with all those sea days once you’ve sailed past the Rock of Gibraltar on a Transatlantic Disney Cruise? You have the Best Week Ever! (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Howdy folks, I just swam in from Spain and boy, are my arms tired! <Rimshot> If you follow the Touring Plans twitter feed, you are probably fully aware of — if not fed up with — my just-completed voyage across the Atlantic Ocean on the Disney Magic. The 11-day journey was certainly a Best Week Ever and a half, but I’m certain some of you are wondering how you can spend 6 straight sea days stuck in a giant floating hotel without jumping overboard. I had some apprehension before going aboard about being away from dry land for so many days in a row, but now I’m wishing the Disney Cruise Line had cruises to nowhere out of Canaveral, because my week on the water was more wonderful than any port of call (with the possible exception of Castaway Cay), thanks to the jam-packed schedule of activities and events and events you’ll find exclusively on DCL repositioning routes and other extended oceanic cruises. So, at the risk of stealing Derek Burgan‘s gimmick, here are my top six ways to while away your sea days during a Transatlantic Disney Cruise.


6. See a Movie or Twenty

Who wants to spend an expensive cruise inside a movie theater? I do! If you love Disney, you probably love movies, and there are few movie theaters on land that can compete with the Disney Magic’s Buena Vista Theatre. Over our 11 day journey, we averaged two movies a day, many in eye-popping Dolby Digital 3-D (the same system used in Star Tours and Escape From Gringotts, and far brighter and sharper than any multiplex) including Avengers: Age of Ultron Inside Out, and Ant-Man.


The highlight of the cruise’s cinema schedule was the multi-day marathon of the first six Star Wars films. Though screened in release order rather than episode or Machete order, these were the most recent versions created for the Blu-Ray release projected in stunning ultra-high-definition, making it the best presentation of the classic movies I’ve seen since ’77.

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Best Themed Restaurants at Disney World

by on February 23, 2015


The level of detail that Disney Imagineers put into the theming of the parks is astonishing. If I can be perfectly content just sitting in an area and soaking in all the details, then that to me is a wonderfully themed area of a Disney park. The same goes for Disney dining. Obviously, food quality comes first but with the premium that you’re going to pay at Disney, I always try to eat at restaurants that are immersive and give me that feeling that I’ve actually entered the setting that the Imagineers were trying to convey. If you have that same desire to be transported away during your next Disney dining experience then you’re in the right place. Below, you’ll find a list of my personal five best themed restaurants at Disney World. Each of these restaurants has excellent theming that will surely enhance your meal. Luckily, the food happens to be great at each of them as well.


5. Flame Tree Barbecue

Might have to talk to your kids about the birds and the...snakes?

Might have to talk to your kids about the birds and the…snakes?

Starting off our list is the only quick service entry and the only outdoor entry on our list. Located in Animal Kingdom, Flame Tree Barbecue is my favorite place to eat a meal outdoors in the parks. Animal Kingdom is already a beautiful park so it’s no surprise that Flame Tree lives up to its park’s reputation. There are both covered seating areas and more sunny areas that are overlooking the water with Everest in the distance. There’s also a beautiful pond/pool towards the back of the seating area as well. Along with the great views, the covered areas I mentioned before are cool looking and come complete with a surprisingly “real” Circle of Life theme. Each patio features a predator eating its prey, which shows that Disney can take the kid gloves off every once in a while without going over the top. When it comes down to it, Flame Tree has arguably the best counter service food and best outdoor seating areas in the parks, which make it my fifth most atmospheric restaurant at Disney World. Note: Flame Tree is currently closed during Rivers of Light construction at Animal Kingdom, though some of its seating is open and you can find your smoked meats other places in the park.

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Disney History: The Jungle Cruise

by on December 14, 2014

Copyright - Disney

Copyright – Disney

The Jungle Cruise is an iconic Disney attraction that promises danger, adventure, and a whole lot of laughs! Located in Adventureland at both Disneyland and Disney World, the Jungle Cruise was an opening day attraction at both parks and is still entertaining guests today with its witty Jungle Cruise Skippers, the backside of water, and the hilarious names for its steamboats, such as Senegal Sal and Congo Connie. But did you know that the original idea for the Jungle Cruise was very different than the attraction we know today? Did you also know that evidence for the original plan for the Jungle Cruise can be found in two other Disney World parks? Get your pencil and paper ready because for today’s lesson, we are going to brush up on some Disney History: The Jungle Cruise!

The Inspiration

When Disneyland was being built in the 1950s, Walt wanted to create an attraction that represented his True-Life Adventures series. It’s also been said that Walt was a fan of The African Queen, a 1951 film starring Katharine Hepburn and Humphrey Bogart, a mismatched pair who must sail a steamboat down the rivers of Africa. The two ideas morphed into a vision for an attraction where guests would sail down the exotic rivers of the world in a steamboat while observing live wildlife on either side. Naturally, this plan had to be modified when Disney learned that live animals would be difficult to contain, care for, and keep to script, so the solution was to install audio-animatronic animals instead. However, you can find a vintage poster for The African Queen at Hollywood Studios on Sunset Boulevard as it is a Hollywood classic, but also possibly a nod to Walt’s inspiration for the Jungle Cruise!

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Menu Monday: Dining with an Imagineer

by on December 1, 2014

“Why are you going THERE again?” If you get asked this question about your vacations to Disney, you completely understand the frustrations. As veterans to the parks of Walt Disney World, we get asked this about once a year minimum. But, my answer is unequivocally because there is something new to experience every time. Whether it be old standard attractions such as Astro Orbiter (which I will get on one day), or completely new shows or parades that Disney has just introduced, you can never do it all.

The famous Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios.

The famous Brown Derby at Hollywood Studios.

We try to make each repeat trip to the World a new adventure. Yes, we have our favorite “must dos” that are a part of every trip we make, such as Pirates of the Caribbean at Magic Kingdom, a caramel apple oatmeal cookie from the Karamel Kuche in Epcot’s Germany, or a performance of Mulch Sweat n Shears at Hollywood Studios. But we always try to find new Disney magic as well.

For our last trip to Walt Disney World we decided that meeting an Imagineer was high on our priority list, as we had never done it before. Disney has a great program called Dining with an Imagineer. This experience is a lunchtime event. It is a very intimate setting with only 10-12 guests (aged 10 and older) in attendance, plus the Imagineer. It takes place at the Hollywood Brown Derby in Hollywood Studios, and comes with a 4 course meal served in the private Bamboo Room. It is not offered every day; only Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Because it is a dining event, you can make reservations for it starting on your 180 day window if you have a resort stay booked.

Needless to say, the morning that our 180 day window opened we were on the computer trying to secure our reservations for the elusive event. Since opportunities and number of seats for this dining event are limited, this was the first priority of that morning. Pixie dust was on our side, and we scored two seats for the day we wanted. Now the long wait began until our trip and this new experience.

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Disney Parks Potential: Why The Incredibles Needs A Bigger Presence In Walt Disney World

by on October 3, 2014

Ever feel like some of your favorite Disney characters are underrepresented at Walt Disney World or Disneyland? Me, too! That’s why I’m starting a new series of articles here at TouringPlans Blog called “Disney Parks Potential,” where I’ll take a look at one Disney character or franchise that I feel isn’t being used to its Disney Parks potential (That’s where the name comes from!). From there, I’ll share my ideas on how I think Disney can best integrate these characters into one or more of the parks, which will then probably secure me a sweet job as a Walt Disney Imagineer if all goes according to plan. But enough about my unlikely career goals. Let’s get into my first Disney Parks Potential selection, which is The Incredibles.

IncrediblesOutside of merchandise, character meet and greets and a dance party in Tomorrowland, The Incredibles really don’t have much of a presence in Walt Disney World. For a Pixar film that many would argue is the best of the bunch, this seems like a huge missed opportunity. The need for more of The Incredibles in Disney World is even greater considering that Disney isn’t allowed to utilize Marvel superheroes within the park due to the previous licensing agreement with Universal before Disney acquired Marvel in 2009. Hopefully we’ll get new attractions sooner rather than later now that a much requested sequel to the original film has been announced, but for now my ideas will have to suffice.

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Former Imagineer Tony Baxter to receive Main Street Window at Disneyland on November 1

by on October 29, 2013

Tony Baxter

Tony Baxter at D23 (Image courtesy Disney)

Imagineer Tony Baxter, the creative mind behind iconic Disneyland attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and the Indiana Jones Adventure may have retired from the Walt Disney company earlier this year, but his presence in the parks is far from forgotten. That will be permanently assured this week, as a window above Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A., honoring Tony Baxter will be unveiled this Friday, November 1.

As reported by the Orange County Register, Baxter is scheduled appear in Disneyland park this Friday morning for an 8:30 a.m. unveiling ceremony, which was originally announced at August’s D23 Expo. Anyone with a valid park ticket may attend; the park officially opens at 9 a.m. that day, but the turnstiles will open at 8 a.m. to accommodate those attending the ceremony.


Disneyland’s Long-Lost Hatbox Ghost Reappears at D23

by on August 9, 2013

Disneyland’s original Hatbox Ghost (photo courtesy Doombuggies)

There haven’t been any blockbuster surprise announcements out of this weekend’s D23 Disney fan expo yet, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t gems to discover inside the Anaheim Convention Center. The “Journey into Imagineering” pavilion, hidden behind a facade recreating WDI Glendale offices, holds one of D23’s most ghoulish delights — a modern Audio Animatronic reincarnating a favorite attraction’s most infamous former resident.

The Hatbox Ghost was one of the original inhabitants of Disneyland’s Haunted Mansion, but was removed from the ride’s attic scene shortly after opening because of technical problems with his disappearing head effect (not, as the urban legend claims, because he scared a guest to death). Lost to theme-park lore for decades, he’s seen a merchandise revival in recent years, but this is the first time Imagineering has revealed an operating animatronic — based on the same AA100 architecture as PoTC’s Auctioneer and Mr. Lincoln — of the fabled figure.

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