This week’s SATURDAY SIX is our annual Thanksgiving Special and takes a look at Six Reasons for Theme Park Fans to Give Thanks. 2016 was another great year to be a theme park fan, and for this Thanksgiving we are going to take a quick break from all the turkey, football games, and Black Friday pre-planning to count our blessings and thank the parks and resorts that we love so much. So, for one day only, we ask that all Disney and Universal fans put aside their differences and spend a brief moment appreciating all the wonderful things that we can share together, starting with…
# 6 – More Muppets in Walt Disney World!
With two major expansions coming to Disney Hollywood Studios, many fans of The Muppets were afraid that the Muppets courtyard and Muppet Vision 3D would be bulldozed as Disney prepared for our new Star Wars overlords. It didn’t help that in 2014 Muppets Most Wanted underperformed at the box office (making $30M less than The Muppets film which came out in 2011) and The Muppets television show on ABC had a major creative shakeup halfway through its first season, ultimately being cancelled earlier this year. Muppets fans breathed a sigh of relief when Disney officially released their plans for Star Wars at the D23 Expo, leaving the Muppets area of the park untouched.
Then, appearing like an early Christmas present, came a whole bunch of incredible great Muppet news. In October, The Muppets entered the Magic Kingdom for a hilarious new attraction in Liberty Square. The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History is filled with the perfect Muppet humor that can appeal to both adults and children. Over in EPCOT, the Muppet Mobile Lab featuring Beaker and Dr. Honeydew returned after being gone for many years. Meanwhile, back at DHS, the restaurant formerly known as Pizza Planet was completely transformed into the Muppet-themed PizzeRizzo.
So Muppets fans – like myself – started the year fearing we could be seeing the end of The Muppets in Walt Disney World, but by the end of the year we have more Muppets than ever before. Long Live The Muppets!
The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History. (photo by Brandon Glover)
The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Welcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. February during a leap year, is there a better month on the calendar? We think not! Yes, Disney did introduce tiered pricing of tickets, but Your Humble Author did provide Tiered Payment Options. Thanks to the Disneyland 60 special (which surprisingly didn’t have much to do with Disneyland), we finally got some details on Star Wars Land. Speaking of Disneyland, it was rumored that DL guru Guy Selga immediately ripped up his annual pass after stepping through Hogsmeade Village during the Wizarding World’s soft open. We in Florida got news that the Dream Along With Mickey stage show, which ran for an amazingly long 68 years at the Magic Kingdom, is going to be replaced by Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire this summer. Just a whole bunch of win, and thanks to Leap Year we get an extra day to bask in it!
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).
First up, the newest Tsum Tsums to hit the store were from the Lilo and Stitch line, including this one featuring Lilo herself.
Lilo Tsum Tsum.
A little backstory on this next one. Two years ago this very month, I was finally brave enough to do my first “live tweeting” from the main TouringPlans twitter account. Everything went well until I went to a gift shop in Tomorrowland and commented on a Pink Stitch plush. Apparently I’m the only human being on Earth who didn’t know that was Stitch’s girlfriend Angel. That may actually be the last day I live tweeted from the TouringPlans account as well. Anyway, here is the Pink Stitch Angel Tsum Tsum.
Pink Stitch Tsum Tsum.
I teased it last month, but now it is finally time for the grand debut of my first ever…
This week’s SATURDAY SIX is a truly special one as we once again dust off the blue blazer and step behind the SATURDAY SIX News Desk. What a week. If you’re like us you’ve been deluged with #Blizzard2016 pictures, the Oscars dealing with a diversity problem, and Donald Trump being Donald Trump. However we’ve been informed that a whole lot of stuff happened in the theme park world recently. So we took a page out of our old college playbook and pulled an all-nighter, cramming as much information as we could into our brains so that we could report back to you, Dear Reader, with all the relevant facts (and before we forget it all tomorrow). So sit back, know that you are getting all the news that’s fit to print (and plenty more that’s not), and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – Pizza Planet Under Major Refurbishment. Coming Back With a New Theme?
Could Pizza Planet actually come back with a Muppets theme? (photo by Matt Cleary)
First, some backstory. For years Jim Hill, an icon of theme park media, has been telling the story of how the Muppets were originally going to be used in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. One of the things that never ended up coming to fruition was The Great Gonzo’s Pandemonium Pizza Parlor. Can you imagine a Muppet’s themed restaurant, with a kitchen run by the Swedish Chef, where Mama Melrose’s Restorante Italiano now sits? Dare to dream.
Now it’s time to put on the detective hat. Recently Pizza Planet at DHS closed down for a long refurbishment. What should have been a wonderfully themed venue themed to the world of Toy Story was instead one of WDW’s most bland restaurants/arcade. Back at the D23 Expo, Disney unveiled details of the upcoming Toy Story Land expansion. This new land is going to built on the other side of the park, so it would be strange to have a Pixar related restaurant (no matter how poorly themed) so far away from everything else. After the construction walls went up around Pizza Planet, WDW uncharacteristically put up a lot of humorous signs on the walls. Gags that are much more in line with the type of jokes you see in the building of say… Muppet*Vison 3D. In a recent edition of the Disney Dish podcast, Jim Hill said that instead of a Gonzo themed restaurant, we may actually see The Swedish Chef’s Cooking School.
Will Pizza Planet return from it’s refurbishment as a Muppets themed restaurant? Time will tell, but it is almost assuredly not coming back as Pizza Planet and for that we can all be thankful. To stay up to date on this story follow the boys over at WDWThemeParks.com.
Well, you did it. I hope you’re happy with yourselves. We weren’t the first to pass that way, but soon we’ll be the last, because Maelstrom, the troll-tastic boat attraction located in Norway at Epcot, is officially closing its doors on October 5th 2014 to make way for a new themed area celebrating “Let it Go.” But as sulky as I and others may be about it, it makes you realise something. The Tower of Terror at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Test Track at Epcot. The bag check line at the front gate. There are a lot of Disney World attractions that people tend to think of immediately before any others, and for good reason. They’re big, flashy, exciting, and Patrick Warburton’s voice is like buttah. But it’s easy to get stuck on the big ticket thrill rides, or just the attractions with the most flash and that new magic smell and think of the rest as “filler.” Kids can basically be dazzled by just about anything, but teens and adults are harder to win over if something doesn’t involve at least three inversions and an animatronic yeti. Most of the time, when people talk about Disney World attractions, there’s a handful that always get brought up, and some that, well, just don’t as much as they should. Here’s a list of just some of the best, most underrated Disney World attractions the parks have to offer, and why you should make every effort to catch them on your trip, too. As for the most overrated attractions, well… that’s a whole ‘nother flame war, and my flame-retardant suit is in another castle.
And hey, when you’re done reading and you’re back from your trip, make sure you fill out the Unofficial Guide Walt Disney World Survey to help refine our ratings and our information for the future. Teens, nobody but us needs to know you really thought Wishes was the most spectacular thing ever… your cool, detached demeanor is safe with me.
Disney’s Maelstrom at Epcot’s Norway Pavillion
Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress – Is it cheesy? Yes. A little goofy? Sure. But this 21 minute long animatronic show located in Magic Kingdom is still one of the most impressive things Disney World has done. Guests sit down in theater style chairs on a revolving floor that takes them through a series of scenes following a family through the seasons, and through the years. The characters don’t age, but the emphasis here is on, well, progress. Little things, like how the icebox works, the cost of food, travel times, all of it is presented in such a way as to provide a great example of how much things have changed. All of this is narrated and acted out by a series of remarkably well articulated animatronic folks. (Still not as creepy as CGI Jeff Bridges.) Most amusing of all, the most “recent” era the show will take you through is going to feel pretty recent indeed thanks to new technology like the Oculus Rift and even “smart” ovens, despite being something the show clearly intended to be futuristic. Light-hearted, silly, and yet still relevant and interesting, it’s a great way to relax. Just don’t expect to get that song out of your head anytime soon.
There are many reasons why the Disney Parks stand apart from other theme parks around the world, but one of the biggest has to be Disney’s incredible attention to detail. You can see the extra mile in the form of details just about everywhere on Disney property, from attractions to parade costumes to resorts to transportation to even the bathrooms! Personally, I love the details. They are not only appealing to the eye and fun to find, but almost always meaningful to the history of an attraction or to the story the Imagineers are trying to tell. For today’s post, let’s take a look at the hidden details of Hollywood Studios!
Casablanca Crate at Hollywood Studios
Near Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner at Hollywood Studios, look for a stack of wooden crates near the water. If you take a closer look, you may recognize who the crates are being shipped to and where they have been shipped from! This crate is being sent to Rick Blaine at Rick’s Cafe Americain in Casablanca, Morocco! Sound familiar? We also found crates being sent to a Scarlett O’Hara at Tara and even one belonging to a Charles Foster Kane! Few guests know about these particular hidden details and it’s really easy to walk right past them, so keep your eyes open.
Details around Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular
Hi, everyone! Glad you’re able to stop by for a look at the beautiful, sunny weather at Epcot on April 5, 2014! I have a lot to show you, including the new Muppets Scavenger Hunt that just started today. As always, I have lots of photos and video to share. If you were hoping for a look at the Flower & Garden Festival you can look here, this week is more about random fun in the park. Of course, this time of year you almost can’t take a photo without capturing some lovely flowers. So why don’t we start there?
Pretty, aren’t they? But just so you don’t miss the full experience, I grabbed a few seconds of the tram ride in. Doesn’t it feel like you’re really there? 🙂
All attendees age 3 and older must have a valid Disneyland annual pass, and entry wristbands will be distributed on a first come-first served basis starting at 3pm outside the theater. The screening begins at 8pm, and lasts about 90 minutes. Space is limited, and late arrivals will be denied entry. Season's greeting!