Posts Tagged ‘Star Wars’

SATURDAY SIX Looks at STAR WARS in Walt Disney World

by on April 16, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at STAR WARS in Walt Disney World. While those of us in Florida may be mourning the loss of the annual Star Wars Weekends event at DHS, fans of Star Wars have a lot to be thankful for at Walt Disney World. Not only do we have Star Wars Land coming, but while we’re waiting for that to open a whole bunch of great attractions, events, and stores have opened to help satisfy our craving for anything and everything Star Wars. It’s a good thing too, because The Force Awakens has washed away the bad taste of the prequels and has the entire world back in the grip of Star Wars mania. Today we’re going to set our sights on our favorite Star Wars offerings in Orlando just like Luke used to bullseye womp rats back on Tatooine. So sit back, never tell us the odds, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – runDisney: The Dark Side

The folks at runDisney have done the impossible, they have made exercise fun. The popularity of the events continue to grow and lately Disney has started to outdo themselves with great concepts and spectacular looking medals for the runners (we’re looking in your direction Princess Half Marathon). Last year they introduced Star Wars events out in Disneyland with The Light Side series of races. This year the fun continues at Walt Disney World with The Dark Side.

The Dark Side fun started off at the Health & Fitness Expo held at ESPN Wide World of Sports, where runners got an opportunity to take pictures with Star Wars characters including Jabba the Hutt and BB-8. There was also a side array of unique merchandise available including t-shirts, hats, magnets, and even Dooney & Bourke handbags. However what makes runDisney events truly special is being able to run through the actual theme parks, along with meeting characters along the way. As a theme park fan, it is hard to beat running through EPCOT and seeing stormtroopers along with being able to take a picture with Captain Phasma after completing the run. The Dark Side may just be runDisney’s best even ever, and has us looking forward to more Star Wars races in the future!

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runDisney Star Wars: The Dark Side. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Star Wars Half Marathon shirt. (photo by Brandon Glover)

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Jabba the Hutt and Salacious B. Crumb meet their type of scum, the fearless and inventive runDisney fanatic @baztastic.

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! March 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on March 31, 2016

MMM positiveWelcome to the latest edition of The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! the longest running monthly look at the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. March came in like a lion, and stayed that way. Tickets for the grand opening of Shanghai Disneyland went on sale (and immediately sold out). Meanwhile, the delays and cost overruns in Shanghai Disneyland could be having profound effects on the parks we go to over here. The strangest rumor in the history of theme parks surfaced with a possible Guardians of the Galaxy overlay to the Tower of Terror. Walt Disney World started charging for preferred parking, SeaWorld said this generation of killer whales would be its last, and Universal announced it will be bringing in a new restaurant into CityWalk that will debut with the first ever E-Ticket milkshakes. We’re still reeling from all the news, and that’s not even covering the announcements of a whole bunch of new up-charge events that basically had theme park social media ready to grab pitchforks and join Gaston to kill the Beast. But the best thing that happened in the entire month was this unbelievably self-entitled article written by a college freshman that suggests kids and old people shouldn’t go to theme parks

Now while all of you were out riding Rock n Roller Coaster with Steven Tyler, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

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).

Our first item this week is our first ever Made With Magic piece of merchandise to hit the Outlets. These were the Mickey Ears that lit up with different colors to Glow With the Show during some of the nighttime spectaculars at the parks. I have no actual financial numbers to support my theory, but having been the parks many, many times and only seeing a handful of guests wearing these, I’m going to assume Disney took a complete bath on this idea. It’s an item that cost over $25, is heavier than a normal pair of Mickey Ears, and the person wearing it can’t even see it glow. The sign on the bin said these were originally $23.17, but I haven’t seen them for that price in the parks. They were reduced to $9.99.

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Glowing…glowing…gone!

Next up was a whole slew of Disneyland 60th Anniversary items. There were so many that I have to wonder if alleged Disneyland fans like Guy Selga, Tom Bricker, and Seth Kubersky have ever bought a single piece of merchandise in the parks. Here’s a Disneyland 60th Barbie. Originally $24.95, now $14.99.

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Where’s DCA Ken?!

This next one is straight up bananas. We’ve covered unusable giant erasers at the Outlets in the past, but this one takes the cake. A giant diamond ring eraser. This is proof that there was not a single idea was discarded as being “too crazy” for Disneyland 60th merchandise. Originally $12.95, now $7.99.

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This diamond ring did bring back fond memories of a classic piece of Burgan Fine Art entitled “He Said Yes!

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! February 2016 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on February 29, 2016

MMM positiveWelcome 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 openWe 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!

Now while all of you were out taking your kids to see Deadpool, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the quality Outlet coverage you expect deserve!

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.

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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.

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Pink Stitch Tsum Tsum.

I teased it last month, but now it is finally time for the grand debut of my first ever…

TSUM TSUM UNBOXING VIDEO!

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Movies to See Before Your Disney World Vacation

by on February 28, 2016

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Ready for a Disney Movie Marathon?

When counting down a trip to Walt Disney World, there are a number of things that need to be done from deciding how many suitcases to take, to setting a souvenir budget, to breaking in that new pair of walking shoes. But for me, there’s one more thing that I always have to do when counting down those last few anticipation-filled days, and that’s refreshing my memory and getting in the Disney spirit with a few movies! Kicking back with some popcorn to revisit a classic Disney flick, or even checking out a film for the first time, will only add to your overall Disney World experience. So go pop some popcorn and get ready for a movie marathon with my list of movies to see before your Disney World Vacation!

But first, let me explain how I came up with this list. Naturally, I included a number of Disney animated classics, even though it was really really hard to narrow down my favorites; but just so you know, I based my selections on what films I felt were represented the most at Walt Disney World or a huge part of Disney World history. Secondly, my list is not just Disney animated films, but also live-action Disney films and non-Disney films which are either represented in the parks or, again, played a big role in Disney history or as Imagineering inspiration! But as always, if you feel that I missed an important movie, or would simply like to add to the list, please do so in the comments.

Okay, are you ready for the list? Here we go…

Photo - Disney

Photo – Disney

Cinderella

Disney’s first princess film since Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella is one of the most beloved and important films Walt Disney ever made. The film’s release in 1950 was so successful that it revitalized the Disney Company after World War II and kick-started the decade in which we would get the first Disney Park: Disneyland. Why you should revisit Cinderella before your Disney World retreat is because the Magic Kingdom’s castle is called Cinderella Castle! Inside the castle, a sparkly mosaic tells Cinderella’s story and there’s even a themed restaurant, Cinderella’s Royal Table, where guests meet Cinderella herself and dine in a medieval, fairy tale setting. Characters from Cinderella are also known to meet guests around Cinderella Castle and throughout Fantasyland; and Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa offers a special character meal at 1900 Park Fare where Cinderella, Prince Charming, and her dysfunctional family meet with guests as they dine. All in all, Cinderella is an important film at Walt Disney World and is definitely worth a watch before you pass through the park turnstiles.

African Queen by IMDB

Photo – imdb.com

The African Queen

Why is this film my first pick? Well, believe it or not this 1951 classic, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn, inspired the Disney Park staple, The Jungle Cruise. Walt Disney saw this film himself and wanted to recreate the experience in his upcoming Disneyland Park. Although, he planned for guests aboard his boats to see live wildlife on the shores, just as the characters in The African Queen did! Of course, live animals wasn’t exactly doable at the time, nor would they be willing to appear and entertain when a boat passed by every few minutes; and so, the plan for live animals was scrapped in favor of one of Walt’s newest innovations: audio-animatronics. Walt’s vision for an attraction where guests could be entertained by live African wildlife was finally realized in 1998 when Kilimanjaro Safaris opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park. In this way, The African Queen technically inspired two attractions at Walt Disney World! This is why I encourage anyone going to Walt Disney World to check out The African Queen. While I’ve always loved the Jungle Cruise, seeing the film which inspired it gave me a whole new appreciation for this classic attraction. Tip: Look for The African Queen poster on Sunset Boulevard at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

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New Star Wars-themed Events Coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on February 19, 2016

So, Star Wars….pretty good franchise….am I right? Of course, I’m right! I know that there are those who are anxiously awaiting Star Wars Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. While you may be waiting a little bit before the land opens, I do have some fun and exciting news to share with you about some new experiences you’ll be able to enjoy starting soon!

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is quickly become Star Wars central and beginning on April 4, that fact will be ramped up even more, as new live entertainment will begin.

First, a brand new live stage show will debut called Star Wars: A Galaxy, Far, Far Away. This new show will celebrate all the iconic moments from the Star Wars stories. It will also feature characters from the universe including Kylo Ren, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and Chewbacca. Guests will be able to experience this show multiple times a day at the Center Stage, found in the main hub of Disney’s Hollywood Studios in front of The Great Movie Ride.

In addition, there will also be a daily processional called the Stormtroopers March. Multiple times a day, Guests will be able to march with Captain Phasma who will lead First Order Stormtroopers from the Star Wars Launch Bay to the Center Stage.

Perhaps the most exciting news though is that beginning this summer, a brand new fireworks spectacular will debut, inspired by the Star Wars saga. This blockbuster new nightly showcase will be unprecedented because it will include not only fireworks, but also lasers, light projections, as well as other special effects. Oh and don’t forget that incredible John Williams score.

©Disney

©Disney

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever February 11, 2016: Kylo Ren & Construction Walls at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

by on February 11, 2016

Kylo Ren Disney's Hollywood Studios

Visit Kylo Ren and check out DHS construction with Best Week Ever! (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

Ed – Sorry to break in right at the start, but I would like to announce that this will be Seth’s last Best Week Ever for the time being. While Seth is focusing his considerable talent on other things, we will have some new Best Week Ever authors. Look for the first new Best Week Ever later today…that’s right, double Best Week Ever week! Now, on to Seth’s wonderful week.

It’s been a little while since Best Week Ever took a look at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so I stopped by the park several times in recent days for an update on this in-transition attraction. Construction walls may be rising on a daily basis, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping the crowds from coming! We’ll look at some of the changes around DHS, culminating in an encounter with the newest patricidal Star Wars star, Kylo Ren.

 

First, let’s take a look around Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the first week of February. This is a typically moderate time of year according to our Crowd Calendar, but I encountered some long lines around DHS, especially on February 8th:

 

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Disneyland Star Wars Half Marathon Recap

by on January 25, 2016

medalsA few months ago I got the hair-brained idea that I should participate in the Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend at Disneyland Resort. Last weekend, I followed through on that crazy scheme and came away with three medals and a new appreciation for Disney athletes!

The weekend started for me on Thursday evening, after I flew in and made it to my hotel on Harbor Boulevard. I was able to walk right across the street to the bus terminal and esplanade of Disneyland without any issues, and then mosey through Downtown Disney as I went to pick up my race bib and register.

rugI have heard many reports of long lines and insane crowds during bib pickup, and that was why I wanted to get that done during the last hour of opening on Thursday. My planning was rewarded with no line at all to pick up my race bib, and no queue when I wanted to look at the official Disney merchandise for the event. (These lines were much longer the next day, when I stopped in for one of the presentations.)

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The race bib pick-up and Rebel Challenge photo spot.

Because I was participating in the Rebel Challenge, I also had to get my picture taken so that it could be verified later that I had indeed participated in both races and finished. (This process went very smoothly on Sunday after the half marathon, I must say!) Then I headed upstairs and grabbed my shirts – one shirt for the 10K, one shirt for the Half Marathon, and one shirt for the Rebel Challenge. I decided to switch the size after I got a good look at them, and there was a special area for that and it took no time at all.

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Disneyland Season of the Force Videos & Photo Gallery

by on January 17, 2016

Disneyland season of the force videos photos

Celebrate Star Wars at Disneyland with new Season of the Force videos and photos.

With the latest Star Wars movie breaking the all-time domestic box office record less than a month of its release, it’s pretty clear that the Force is wide awake all over America, but nowhere has the film’s impact been more evident than inside the Disney parks. I’ve already covered the newly added Star Wars attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, and recently I had the chance to fly west and compare Orlando’s offerings to their Anaheim analogues. While in California, I captured this gallery of Season of the Force videos and photo gallery to give our Disneyland-deprived readers a taste of the Happiest Place on Earth’s take on a galaxy far, far away…

 

Season of the Force Crowds

The first thing to know about Season of the Force is that the crowds are strong with this one! Even though the days of my Disneyland visit were predicted to have moderate attendance, Tomorrowland was packed from open to close, only becoming busier as the afternoon and evening continued. If you want to experience all the popular attractions that are part of Disneyland’s Season of the Force, get there at rope drop or be prepared to wait in line!

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Disneyland’s Rivers of America Closing Day Videos

by on January 15, 2016

Rivers of America closing

Take your last cruise around Disneyland’s Rivers of America until 2017 with closing day 4K videos. (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)

January 10, 2016 will be remembered as a momentous day in Disneyland history, not only because it saw the permanent closure of Big Thunder Ranch, but because it marked the end of Frontierland’s Rivers of America in its current form. This scenic area of the original Magic Kingdom all all its attractions, whose designs date back to Walt’s day, will be out of service until April 2, 2017, at the earliest. When the Rivers of America reopen, it will have been downsized to accommodate the arrival of Star Wars Land, with the water rerouted along a shorter circuit. The next few years will be an exciting time of expansion at the Disneyland Resort, but before we blast into the future it’s appropriate to pay tribute to the past. If you you couldn’t make it out in person before the long reconstruction begins, relieve the Rivers of America closing day with these exclusive videos.

 

S.S. Columbia and Mark Twain Riverboat Closing Sailings

On the final day before the Rivers of America closing and lengthy refurbishment, I tried three times to board one of the big boats that ply the waters, and was turned away each time because of capacity crowds. That should give you an idea how popular these normally sleepy attractions were with fans saying farewell. I never did get aboard the Columbia that day, though I did capture photos of its final crew coming into port.

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2015 (No Matter How Hard We Try)

by on January 2, 2016

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2015 (No Matter How Hard We Try). With this being the first edition of the SATURDAY SIX for 2016 it is time for our annual tradition of looking back at some of the most memorable moments of the past year. Now we already covered some of the great things that happened during the past 365 days, and some of the worst as well, so today let’s look at six theme park stories that fall into a different area. Events that are almost hard to believe actually happened, but we promise they did, and we’re here with the proof. So let’s kick it off with…

# 6 – Universal Bans Water Bottles

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Bringing a Dasani into the park? You just may be doing some hard time! (photo by Matt Cleary)

Monday, February 16th. A day that will live in (theme park) infamy. This was the day when the Universal Orlando Resort mysteriously banned guests from bringing water bottles into the resort. No official reason was given as to why the new procedure was put into place, and after a huge social media outcry, the ban was lifted by Thursday. No advanced warning was given, so guests showing up to the parks found out at the security bag check at the parking garages that bringing bottled water onto property was not allowed. This caused lines at bag check to grow frustratingly large (which – as it turns out – was just foreshadowing for events later in year, but we’ll get to that later).

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