Posts Tagged ‘parade’

Magic Kingdom FastPass+ Parade and Fireworks Viewing Tips and Observations

by on April 17, 2014

FastPass+ parade and fireworks viewing tips

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.

 

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Complete Guide to Universal Studios Mardi Gras 2014 UPDATED

by on March 12, 2014

Universal Studios Mardi Gras 2014 guide

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Grand Celebration starts on Feb 8, 2014.

Today we tackle one of my favorite theme park topics: the annual Universal Studios Mardi Gras Grand Celebration. Universal Studios Mardi Gras holds a special place in my heart because, back in the late 1990s when I worked in Universal Studios Florida’s entertainment department, I was a talent supervisor for the parade, and got to walk with it nightly. (I’ll never get “Iko Iko” or “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” out of my skull.) So I’m thrilled to share Touring Plans’ complete guide to Universal’s bead laden bacchanalia, bringing you all the info you need to laissez les bons temps rouler!

[UPDATED 3/12/14: Scroll down for late-breaking news on the Mardi Gras extension and rescheduled Robin Thicke concert!]

Background

Mardi Gras originated in the religious observation of “Fat Tuesday” (the literal translation of the name), which is the day before “Ash Wednesday” on the Catholic calendar, and the start of Lent’s 40 days of dietary restrictions. People would bid “farewell to flesh” with a “carnivale” where they would indulge in the meat and drink they were about to forswear. Mardi Gras is the New Orleans, Louisiana, variation on this tradition — which is echoed in other cities from Venice, Italy to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Over the centuries, the religious significance has been stripped away, and most Mardi Gras revelers attend for strictly secular reasons — namely, epic quantities of booze, beads, and bare breasts. About 20 years ago, Universal took a look at the festivities and said, “This will make a fine family friendly event,” and amazingly it is — minus the bare breasts, of course. But that doesn’t mean it’s inauthentic; much as Universal partnered with Macy’s for its holiday parade, Universal engages Blaine Kern Studios, the same company that’s been building floats for the real deal since 1947, to create the park’s parade platforms. And musicians and recipes imported from the Big Easy add to the French Quarter feel. Of course, the real Bourbon Street doesn’t have concerts from big-name recording artists after each parade, much less a high-speed roller coaster cruising by in the background.

 

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons To Check Out Universal’s Mardi Gras 2014

by on February 22, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX covers Six Reasons To Check Out Universal’s Mardi Gras Grand Celebration. The Universal Orlando Resort knows how to throw a party and Mardi Gras is their wildest celebration of the year. Universal’s Mardi Gras brings in big name musical acts, authentic New Orleans food, and a party atmosphere like no other and on top of it all the price is included in the price of regular admission.  If you need more reasons than that to attend, here are an additional six.

Please remember to click on any picture to see the full size version.

IMG_2374

Daughtry (photo courtesy of Chad Evetts)

# 6 – The Concerts

The music acts that Universal books for the Mardi Gras Grand Celebration are second-to-none in the theme park concert world.  While the Epcot Flower Power series of concerts will be featuring acts like Paul Revere and the Raiders, the Village People and Chubby Checker – people  you may have literally heard a thousand times before – this year’s Mardi Gras concert lineup includes a mix of classic and contemporary artists. Daughtry, Barenaked Ladies, Weezer and The Roots are just a few of the musical acts that will be headlining this year’s event. There’s also country stars like Gavin Degraw, classic rock groups like Foreigner and Lynyrd Skynryd, and even a Christian rock band with Skillet. Whether it’s Nelly, Collective Soul, or Huey Lewis and the News, you can pretty much count on Universal delivering an act you want to see perform.

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Universal Studios Florida Mardi Gras 2014 Parade Video and French Quarter Food Photo Gallery

by on February 19, 2014

Opening night at Universal Studios Florida Mardi Gras 2014 parade food (photos & video by Seth Kubersky)

Opening night at Universal Studios Florida Mardi Gras 2014 (photos & video by Seth Kubersky)

Fat Tuesday may not arrive until March 4, according the the Catholic calendar, but Mardi Gras is already in full effect at Universal Studios Florida. Opening night on February 8 of Universal’s Mardi Gras 2014 celebration included a concert by American Idol star Daughtry, and the premiere of new Jules Verne-themed floats in the 2014 Mardi Gras Parade. Even intermittent rain didn’t diminish the considerable crowds who came out for Mardi Gras 2014‘s damp debut, though slick streets did ground the stiltwalkers.

Derek Burgan will be back in the coming weeks with a couple Mardi Gras-themed “Saturday Six” columns, but until then I wanted to bring you a virtual taste of the festivities.

First, a quick correction to our earlier Complete Guide to Mardi Gras. The original parade route map published on Universal Orlando’s Mardi Gras Parade page was incorrect (it has since been fixed). The parade actually makes a loop, entering and exiting at Esoteric Gate near the Horror Make-Up Show. Here is the corrected map (click to enlarge; the Mardi Gras Parade route is the red dotted line):

Mardi Gras Parade Map

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Details About the Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade

by on January 22, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

The Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade has been rumored to begin its run in March, but I can now officially report that March is indeed the starting month for this fantastic new parade that will roll through Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

In addition to this tidbit of information, the Disney Parks Blog has been giving some great sneak peeks of the upcoming parade, including a look at the new Maleficent float. This fantastic steampunk-style mammoth of a dragon is 35 feet in length and reaches 26 feet above the parade route.

If you want to learn more about this parade, make sure to check out this video, which shows fantastic details about The Little Mermaid float, the Brave float, and the Peter Pan float.

According to Steve Davidson, Creative Director of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Creative Entertainment, the premise of this new parade is that the “characters exploded out of Fantasyland and said ‘Come to our new land. Come help us celebrate.’”

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Universal Orlando Holidays: Your Complete Guide to Grinchmas and the Macy’s Holiday Parade

by on December 12, 2013

While Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights, and other seasonal entertainment at Walt Disney World seem to get the lion’s share of publicity this time of year, visitors to Orlando shouldn’t overlook Universal Orlando‘s holiday offerings. Universal Orlando holidays might not have quite the nostalgic lure of Mickey’s merrymaking, but Universal’s options are every bit as expertly produced, and have the benefit of all being included with regular park admission (unlike the extra-cost “hard ticket” nighttime parties at the Magic Kingdom).

Universal Orlando’s holiday lineup, which kicks off the first weekend each December (unlike Disney, which starts Christmas almost before Halloween is over) and continues through the Saturday after New Year’s Eve, consists of two main components, described in detail below.

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Countdown to Gone: A Look Back at the Final Performances of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ Infamous Parades

by on April 25, 2013

Frozone Counts Down to Fun for the Last Time

On April 6, 2013, Disney’s Hollywood Studios ended its two Hollywood Boulevard parades, Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! and Disney Channel Rocks!, after almost two years. Both shows were met with contention since their debuts – the first very short and not meeting guest expectations in comparison to its predecessor, Block Party Bash, and the second not very popular with Disney fanboys and guests above the age of Disney Channel’s tweenage audience.

All that being said, I really enjoyed Disney Channel Rocks. Not because of the content, but because of the energy these performers bring to the show. In the 4 years I’ve lived in Florida, to quote Henry Higgins, I’ve grown accustomed to their smiling faces, whether it was in one of the main parades or these pep rally block parties the Studios throws in front of the Hat, and I will miss not seeing them anymore in my visits. And as you can see from these videos and photos, many others showed up to show their appreciation on the final day, even managers and coworkers from around the Studios.

At this time, nothing has been announced to replace these two parades in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Rumor has it that Disney is clearing off Hollywood Boulevard to make way for construction of a new project, perhaps Disney California Adventure’s Red Car Trolleys or even removing the other infamous Studios eyesore – the big blue Sorcerer’s Hat. What do you think? What would you like to see in a potential new addition to the Studios, or would you like to see something old come back? Personally, I miss Block Party Bash and would love to see something that interactive come back.

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A Disney World Parade Primer

by on August 29, 2012

Disney trips planners often go to great lengths to arrange their days to include a parade viewing: scoping out a spot, camping out on the curb, and repeatedly asking cast members the well worn question, “What time is the 3 o’clock parade?”

Mickey and Minnie always celebrate in the parades.

While there may be good reason for some guests to plan their time around some parades, other guests might have a happier vacation if they work in a few more rides, or a nice long nap, during the parading part of the day. To help make your decision process as smoodge easier, here’s a handy dandy run down on the Walt Disney World parade situation.

How many different parades are there at Walt Disney World?

Well, it depends on what exactly you count as a parade, but currently there are four regular parades, plus the special parades at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and Very Merry Christmas Party. I’m leaving the Magic Kingdom’s Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! Street Party off the list because, while it is paradesque, it mostly ends up being stationary.

Can you describe what each parade is like?

I’ll do my best…

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