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:
A 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.
I 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.)
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 specialÂ area for that and it took no time at all.
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!
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.
This weekâ€™s Â SATURDAY SIXÂ takes a look at Six Reasons Weâ€™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 ofÂ looking back at some of the most memorable moments of the past year. Now we already covered some of the great things that happenedÂ during the past 365 days, and some of the worst as well, so today letâ€™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 weâ€™re here with the proof. So letâ€™s kick it off withâ€¦
# 6 – Universal Bans Water Bottles
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).
Take a vicarious Universal Orlando Star Wars Staycation at Cabana Bay with Best Week Ever (Photos by Seth Kubersky)
After my recent visit to New York City, I didn’t want my holiday vacation to end…and here at Best Week Ever, it doesn’t have to! Thanks to an amazing annual passholder discount, I was able to enjoy a single night Universal Orlando Star Wars staycation at Cabana Bay Beach Resort and celebrate the opening of The Force Awakens in CityWalk IMAX style. Don’t be jealous, because I’m bringing you all with me in today’s photo-filled recap.
I checked into Universal’s Cabana Bay Beach Resort on Thursday, December 17, amid the festive retro decorations in the value-priced hotel’s Mad Men-esque lobby.
In case you’ve been living inside the belly of an asteroid-bound space slug, The Force Awakens has ignited moviegoers and burnt down box office records ever since the long-awaited Star Wars sequel hit screens nationwide on December 17. Right now, there’s no better place in Orlando to celebrate The Force Awakens than Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which has spread new Star Wars stuff to every corner of the park. In this follow-up to my first look at the recently added DHS Star Wars offerings, we’ll check out additional attractions, edibles, and entertainment engineered to take you to that galaxy far, far away.
Star Wars Launch Bay and Chase Disney Visa Private Meet and Greet
Let’s start with a walk around Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which I originally broadcast on the Touring Plans Periscope channel.
Are you a Disney Park critic? I know, itâ€™s hard to be critical of anything Disney (at least I think so), but even I have to admit that Iâ€™ve experienced a few things that some parks donâ€™t do as well as others. Of course,Â thereâ€™s also a number of things that each park does very well! Today, Iâ€™m breaking down Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses beginning with a park that has expansions in the works: Hollywood Studios.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios first opened in 1989 and is all about the magic ofÂ the movies. If you’re up to date on your Disney news, you know that Hollywood Studios has had quite a year! Several attractions have closed for good while several new other offerings have made their debut. I’m talking about Star Wars Launch Bay, Path of the Jedi, and Club Disney here. The biggest Hollywood Studios news of the year, however, is that the park is gaining a much anticipated Star Wars Land and a Toy Story Land!
Now lets get to the Hollywood Studios strengths and weaknesses, shall we?
Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular will begin showing nightly at Disneyâ€™s Hollywood Studios on December 18. The fireworks show will featureÂ dazzling Star Wars-themed fireworks show set to the mesmerizing and infamous John Williams soundtrack, along with brand new music. The show will even feature details from The Force Awakens.
Guests who want to take things up a notch mayÂ participate in the Galactic Dessert Party, which is now currently on sale for Guests to book.
The Symphony in the Stars fireworks are beginning earlier than previous expected. The original start date was supposed to be January 5. Keep in mind that on December 31, aÂ New Yearâ€™s Eve fireworks spectacular will be performed instead. Also, never fear, Fantasmic! will still be presented nightly.