New Force Awakens footage is featured in Star Tours at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Star Wars Episode VII doesn’t open until next month, but the Force is already awake inside the Star Tours ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Unlike Disneyland, Walt Disney World won’t debut the Seasons of the Force special event (which replaces the long-running Star Wars Weekends) until January 5 (Launch Bay with displays and character greetings opens December 1), but one element of the event is already having its “soft opening” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. As of November 16, new Force Awakens footage has been added to DHS’s Star Tours attraction, and we were there on the first day to experience the changes.
Today, Disney made some major announcements regarding Star Wars in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
First, let’s start with the sad news. Due to construction at the park, Star Wars Weekends will no longer be taking place. Boo….
Ok, now that we have the bad stuff out of the way, let’s get to the good news. Starting on December 1, Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be able to enjoy more Star Wars experiences. The first will be the additional Star Wars: The Force Awakens scene for Star Tours: The Adventures Continue, which was announced at this year’s D23. During the opening months, everyone who rides Star Tours will get to experience the new adventure. After that, it will be random once again.
Here’s a glimpse at what you can expect to see with the additional scene:
Walt Disney World and the Disneyland Resort share a number of the same attractions, such as Space Mountain, Pirates of the Caribbean, “it’s a small world,” and many others. But if you think that these attractions are the same on both coasts, you would be mistaken.
One of the many things I love about Disney is that they never do the same thing twice; and while the attractions that can be found on both coasts may share the same names and themes, they do have differences too. Hey, who doesn’t like variety, right? But you have to wonder, which resort has the best version of a popular attraction? Which Disney Park has the bragging rights? Well, that’s what I’m going to find out beginning with an attraction that’s sure to bring out your competitive side in Disneyland vs. Disney World Attractions: Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin.
What is Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin?
Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin are dark rides where guests shoot at targets scattered throughout the attraction for points and to compete for high scores. The Magic Kingdom was the first to gain this type of Buzz Lightyear attraction back in 1998. There, it is known as Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin. Disneyland didn’t gain its version until quite some time later in 2005 and under a different name, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters.
Disneyland’s Astro Blasters is just across from Star Tours – The Adventure Continues
Location: Tomorrowland is where both versions of this interactive Buzz Lightyear attraction can be found. At Disneyland, Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters is towards the front of Tomorrowland and on the left side, right across from Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. At Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin is tucked a bit deeper into the land and has a bit more space around it than at Disneyland. The attraction can be found at the end of the main path from the hub into Tomorrowland and on the right, across the way from the Astro Orbiter attraction. Oftentimes, Buzz Lightyear is meeting and greeting with guests nearby, so keep an eye open!
One of my favorite annual events at Walt Disney World is Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Wars Weekends takes place Fridays through Sundays from mid-May to mid-June and has only expanded over the years.
Today fellow fans of the force can get autographs and photos with Star Wars characters and celebrities, watch the Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade and the Symphony in the Stars fireworks display, take in the Stars of the Saga Star Wars Celebrity Talk Show, and, for the kids, participate in the Padawan Mind Challenge and Jedi Training Academy.
There’s also Star Wars themed dining and shopping and even more events for the major fans! Clearly, Star Wars Weekends is true to its name as you need weekends to do it all; but what if, like me, you really don’t want to spend hours in line or have to live by your times guide. What if you just want to check out the event? Sure there are touring plans that work great, but is it actually possible to enjoy a day at Star Wars Weekends by flying casual? Last week, I decided to find out and went to the event on a whim with no plan, no FastPass+, and absolutely no agenda. As it turns out, I was still able to see and do quite a bit. So for today, I’m going to share with you Padawans how I had A Star Wars Weekends Experience Without a Plan.
I Visited on a Friday – I decided to check out the event on a Friday; and as Friday is still a work day, I found that the crowds and wait times weren’t quite as bad as what I could have experienced on a Saturday or Sunday. For example, The Great Movie Ride had only a 30 minute wait time on Friday while on Sunday, the posted wait time on My Disney Experience was 60 minutes.
Did you know that Disney World has a hit album of its own? The year 1989 was a big year for Disney World as guests enjoyed a number of new attractions, restaurants, and even new parks! In fact, a number of new sights and experiences that made their first appearance in 1989 are just as popular today as they were then. So let’s take a look at 1989: A Disney World Album to see what hits debuted at Disney World twenty-five years ago.
This Disney World water park opened on June 1, 1989 and has charmed guests for years with its scattered, windblown theme. The story behind the park is that a typhoon swept through and turned a tropical paradise upside down as evidenced by the leaning buildings, shipwrecks, and other odds and ends strewn about in a rather amusing fashion. The icon of the park is a shrimp boat, the “Miss Tilly,” which the storm left perched atop Mount Mayday. The centerpiece of the park, and probably its biggest claim to fame, is the Typhoon Lagoon Surf Pool. It is one of the largest wave pools in the world releasing 6 foot waves every 90 seconds! In my opinion, this pool is worth a visit to Typhoon Lagoon alone. Believe me, once you’ve spent some time here, you will be ruined on any other wave pool anywhere else for life. Although, there is more to be enjoyed at Typhoon Lagoon, such as the thrilling Humunga Cowabunga slides, the relaxing Castaway Creek, the Crush n’ Gusher water coasters, and so much more. Typhoon Lagoon also is famous for Shark Reef, where guests have the opportunity to snorkel around a shipwreck with bonnethead and leopard sharks, stingrays, and schools of fish. What makes this experience even better? Your snorkeling equipment is free with the price of admission! While some guests prefer the incredible wintry theme and thrills of Blizzard Beach, Typhoon Lagoon’s laid back, tropical atmosphere and incredible surf pool makes it my favorite of Disney’s water parks.
Welcome back to Disney Parks Potential, where I take a look at some of Disney’s more underrepresented franchises and characters while coming up with interesting ways to integrate them into Walt Disney World or Disneyland. If you missed the first entry, which covered The Incredibles, you can check that out here. Today I’ll be taking a look at an all-time Disney animated classic, The Jungle Book.
When you hear that Jungle Book has no attraction presence at Disney World, you probably think, “Wait, that can’t be right.” I mean, with a park entirely dedicated to animals, it’s hard to believe that Disney doesn’t have at least one attraction based on The Jungle Book. That wasn’t always the case, however. When Animal Kingdom first opened, there was a show called Journey into the Jungle Book but it only lasted a year before being replaced by Tarzan Rocks! in the theater which now currently houses Finding Nemo – The Musical. Besides that short lived show, there haven’t been any further attractions based on The Jungle Book.
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.
Outside 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.
Staying on property during your next Walt Disney World vacation? Then you should absolutely be taking advantage of Disney’s Extra Magic Hours, which offer resort guests the opportunity to get to a park early or stay late. Simply show that you’re staying in a Walt Disney World resort and you can have fun in the parks beyond the normal operating hours. And if you’re using our Personalized Touring Plans, you can also extend your plan hours for both morning and evening Extra Magic Hours. As stated, Extra Magic Hours are offered both in the morning and the evening but for now we’re going to concentrate on some of my favorite Evening Extra Magic Hours attractions. While not every attraction is operating for Extra Magic Hours, some of the best and most popular attractions across Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are open to resort guests. Unfortunately, as of this writing, Disney’s Animal Kingdom does not offer evening extra magic hours. Perhaps that could change with the eventual opening of the park’s new Avatar Land but for now, park guests will have to get their Extra Magic Hours fill at the first three Walt Disney World theme parks. So without further ado, here are my top Evening Extra Magic Hours attractions for each park.
Amid the hoopla over the grand re-opening of Disney California Adventure, it’s easy to forget that the competition across town recently opened a fantastic new attraction of its own. Here is a preview of our review of Universal Studios Hollywood’s stunning new Transformers simulator, which will appear in the upcoming 2013 edition of The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland.
Transformers—The Ride 3-D
Our Rating: 5 stars
What it is: Multi-sensory 3-D dark ride
Scope and scale: Super-headliner
When to go: The first 30 minutes the park is open or after 4 p.m.
Special Comments: Must be 40″ to ride; single rider line is available
Duration of ride: 4 1/2 minutes.
Average wait time per 100 people ahead of you: About 3 1/2 minutes
Disneyland Park is widely praised for having the highest density of highly-themed attractions of any American amusement enterprise. But one area in which the original Magic Kingdom falls behind some of its younger siblings is in the theming of its queue lines.
Back in Walt’s day, the “switchback” queue was an innovation, encouraging face-to-face interaction between strangers waiting in line. Today, with many guests engrossed in their digital devices, people need something more enticing that other humans to hold their interest. Hence, the highly-detailed holding area, filled with scenic elements and effects engineered to import the backstory information riders need to fully enjoy their imminent adventure.
Currently, the world’s top themed queue environments can generally found in Disney parks outside of Anaheim, such as Expedition Everest at WDW’s Animal Kingdom, or Journey to the Center of the Earth at Tokyo’s DisneySea. And while this article only touches on the original Disneyland Resort gate, Radiator Springs Races may make that list once cars Land at Disney California Adventure opens in June. But the Happiest Place on Earth can still lay claim to a few top-flight queues.
Here is my personal top 5 favorite pre-attraction areas inside Disneyland Park. Please add your own nominees to the comments below!
5. The Haunted Mansion
The Haunted Mansion was the last attraction Walt had direct input on, and is justly regarded as an essential example of the Disneyland experience. The Omnimover ride vehicles and elaborate ghostly effects inside the ride certainly are a big element of that, but the attraction’s brilliance begins long before you board your Doombuggy. After entering the Southern Gothic mansion’s front gate, you’ll pass a pet cemetary filled with witty monuments to departed furry friends. Upon crossing the threshold, you’ll enter the infamous “Stretching Room,” and encounter your “Ghost Host” (voiced by the immortal Paul Frees). And there’s still the corridor of transforming paintings and seemingly-shifting statues to traverse before your voyage into the netherworld really begins. As a bonus, during the Halloween and Christmas holidays the exterior and interior are adorned with decor inspired by Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas.
4. The Disneyland Story presenting Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln
Since this theater presentation is rarely full, most guests see it without having to wait more than a few minutes in its Main Street lobby. But it would be a mistake to miss the mini-museum that makes up this attraction’s pre-show, and not only because it it blissfully air-conditioned. Start by examining the exhibits dedicated to the development of Disneyland, especially the lovingly-detailed model of the park as it looked on opening day. The retrospective video starring Steve Martin and Donald Duck shown here was originally created for the park’s 50th anniversary in 2005, but is still well worth watching in full, with a wealth of historical footage. Next, move on to the inner pre-show room, home to a stunning scale model of the White House (made by hand, based on the original blueprints) and maquette miniatures of the Spirit statues found in Epcot’s American Adventure. Finally, a second video fills you in on the origins of the Mr. Lincoln show, and Walt’s personal interest in Honest Abe. By the time they enter the main theater, patrons who have seen all the pre-show has to offer will have a much fuller understanding of the historical importance of this still-impressive patriotic performance.
3. Roger Rabbit’s Cartoon Spin
Based on a film franchise that the Disney corporation seems to have largely forgotten, Cartoon Spin is a hybrid between Mr. Toad and the Mad Tea Party that doesn’t have a lot of fans among Unofficial Guide reviewers. There are some nifty effects, and it’s certainly more detailed than some of the classic Disneyland dark rides. But some of us feel that it falls short because the spinning makes for a chaotic, incoherent experience. Still, one strong suit everyone can agree on is the elaborately detailed queue line. A tour of the seamy side streets of Toontown, visitors get to see a landmarks like the Ink & Paint club (knock on the door for an interactive surprise) and a Dip-making facility. Roger Rabbit’s queue is often overloaded, and its Fastpasses are disconnected from the rest of the park, so I often skip the line when I ride, which is a shame.
2. Star Tours: The Adventures Continue
The original Star Tours queue was among the first with first-class theming, featuring an authentic-feeling Star Wars spaceport complete with animatronics of C-3PO and R2-D2. When Imagineering refreshed the ride in 2011, they upgraded the already-amazing queue as well. A razor-sharp hi-def screen in the initial room now broadcasts a steady stream of saga references, and a pair of wisecracking security robots in the second room spout side-splitting inside jokes about Lucas and Disney characters. Even the pre-boarding safety video was beefed up (some dodgy CGI aside) with some droid-based humor. (Classic Star Tours fans, fear not for the original pre-show’s distinctively coiffed narrator; she and her hair can still be glimpsed in the new film.) Best of all, when you use Fastpass at this attraction (a must on busy days) you still get to experience all the same sights as the standby line.
1. The Indiana Jones Adventure
This one wasn’t even close. More than a decade an a half after its debut, Disneyland’s Indiana Jones attraction still has no real competition for the “best queue” crown on the West Coast (though Universal Studios Hollywood’s new Transformers ride is making a run for it). Only Unversal Orlando’s Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey has truly surpassed Indy effort in completely immersing guests in a complete world before they board. The journey from Adventureland into the Temple of the Forbidden Eye feels like an epic (and lengthy) adventure in of itself. Born of the necessity to get guests beyond the park’s berm and into the former parking lot where Indy’s show building was constructed, the extensive line effectively builds anticipation for the groundbreaking ride at the end. Treacherous tunnels, decorated with dangers such as spiked celings and realistic-looking bat guano, sport interactive elements that (when working) will prompt surprised smiles; just be sure ignore any “don’t touch” signage. There are even ancient codes on the walls that you can learn to decipher. Frequent guests will often use the single rider option to board quicker, skipping the queue, but this is one line that every theme park fan needs to wait in at least once.