Character Spot at Epcot has added televisions playing trivia and classic Disney cartoons to its long queue. It’s certainly more entertaining, but it’s still a very long wait if you don’t visit it during the early morning or evening just prior to closing.
Restaurants in the parks featuring McDonalds fries and food will no longer offer them. Some are closing briefly for minor overhauls while others are merely changing out their menu boards. All are reopening without McDonalds branded offerings.
From Disney PR: Chef Cat Cora and Disney are joining together to open an exciting new family dining restaurant at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort. Kouzzina by Cat Cora will feature a menu of Mediterranean-style cuisine that pays tribute to the chef’s Greek roots.
The restaurant, to be owned and operated by Disney, is scheduled to open by fall 2009 in the space currently occupied by Spoodles.
“I am pleased to welcome Cat Cora and her engaging new concept for Kouzzina to the Walt Disney World Resort,” said Jay Rasulo, chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “This collaboration between Cat and Disney represents a significant step in our ongoing commitment to offer unique culinary experiences and choices for our guests.”
A note for any annual passholders who may opt for the Birthday Fun Card while visiting WDW instead of the free birthday admission ticket. The card is only valid for merchandise once you leave the ticket window – if you want to use the value of the card to renew/upgrade your annual pass you must do so right then and there. Walk away and you can only use the card to buy merchandise up to its $75 value at participating locations. It is not good for ticket purchases once you walk away from the window.
Many of you are wondering how next month’s closure of Tomorrowland’s popular Space Mountain will affect our Magic Kingdom touring plans. We’ve been testing many alternatives including everything from just skipping Space Mountain to moving almost all of Tomorrowland’s attractions to later in the day.
For most plans the most effect strategy seems to be simply to skip Space Mountain and continue with the rest of the plan as written. This is especially true if Buzz Lightyear is also visited within a couple of steps of Space Mountain in the plan. The problem with most alternative routes is that Buzz’s standby wait times can be very long during days with large crowds, and FASTPASSes can run out. Thus, it’s best to visit Buzz in the morning, regardless of whether Space Mountain is operating.
Many thanks to the Unofficial Guide research team who slogged through the parks testing every wacky idea we could think of for this change.
The inferno barge from Illuminations is out for repairs for an undetermined length of time. The show will be running without its signature plumes of fire and brimstone for at least a few weeks. Earliest estimates are saying late March, others are saying mid-April before its return.
Episode 520 of the WDWToday podcast is available for download. Join host Matt Hochberg as he rubs elbows with American Idol’s best, live on the “Blue Carpet” during the premiere of the American Idol Experience.
A portion of a much larger overall IBM exhibit has opened in Innoventions West. The new offering is not really advertised or explained as it seems to be part of a bigger area that is yet to be revealed – but it is fun.
Guests enter an station with a backdrop and are asked to perform various movements to be captured on video by a nearby camera. Guests are asked to run, jump, and do a celebration dance.
They can then choose to accept their videos or have them retaken. Once confirmed, guests videos are uploaded and guests move to another station to see what they’ve created.
At the next station, guests get to play a video game with themself as the main character. They run through worlds that resemble retro side-scroller games such as Mario Bros and Sonic the Hedgehog. Each level moves forward in the history of computer technology and features nods to Epcot and it’s technological savvy.
So here’s the stitch: A group of our researchers recently explored the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure to give you low down on how to save the world in 90mins or less.
Recruits typically begin their adventure at either Innoventions East or West where they scan a park ticket, give their party size, and choose the number of communicators they’ll want to use. The sign-up process is guided by a friendly field agent.
The recruited agents then receive a FastPass telling them where to go and find a secret agent at an outpost at a specified country and time.
This country does not have to be the country which you play the game in. You can request to be sent to another country from that point if you want to explore a new location. These outposts can also begin the game for any walk ups if you didn’t hit the recruitment center in Innoventions or on the bridge to World Showcase. These stations are at nearly every country in World Showcase and all look alike.
At the field station, you’ll be signed up, given a phone, and told to wander away from the station to receive your instructions from Wade (to stay discreet).
We do have some comments and complaints. We were recommended a single phone for a party of four. Realistically, two people per phone is far more functional. Second, the Norway adventure isn’t very good. It requires racing around roughly the same small location from spot to spot (near the restrooms and quick service seating area) rather then involving the whole pavilion. You do cause some neat interactions with the pavilion, but it is just too closely confined to make it any fun. You run into other players constantly and can hear or see one effect mere feet from another. Thankfully, not all of the adventures are like this. We recommend Japan. Here’s a few highlights from the Norway adventure including puffs of smoke, raising flags, and talking statues.
To be honest, we don’t know how to Norway adventure ends. The finale was broken and the field agents seemed shocked to discover it was out of order. We think someone should be checking the effects on a regular basis. Here you can see two of our agent examining their own reflections in a broken screen:
This gave us some trepidation in recommending the Kim Possible World showcase Adventure to guests. A second attempt, Japan, made it clear why this will be a hit with Epcot guests.
The Japan adventure, reportedly the best according to CM’s who run the attraction, features summoning the elements from flowing water, wind chimes, glowing kanji, and flaming lanterns.
Did we mention the magical trees?
Or the evil baby robots?
Overall, the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure offers a good diversion in the park. The challenges are simple but engaging. We just don’t recommend the Norway Adventure until they rethink its logistics. We would like to see some sort of prize for completing the quest – like the posters given out for getting all of the passport stamps. Tossing your phone away in a secret bin is a bit anti-climactic.
The American Idol Experience will have a “world premiere” this Thursday and a grand opening on Valentine’s day. To tide everyone over until that happens – here’s a time lapse of the construction within the theater.