1994 was also a time where there was not one but TWO successful professional wrestling companies in America. One was WWE (who is still thriving today) and the other was World Championship Wrestling (WCW). In a controversial move at the time, WCW started taping blocks of wrestling shows at Disney-MGM Studios. Because the park was still trying to be a working production facility for movies and TV, an action-adventure television show featuring Hulk Hogan was also filmed on location. That show: Thunder in Paradise.
How to describe Thunder in Paradise? Take Baywatch, strip away all the nuanced storylines and good actors, throw in a high tech speedboat in the vein of Knight Rider/Air Wolf and you pretty much have it. However, Thunder in Paradise does have one thing going for it that will appeal to readers of this fine article series: it shot almost all of its scenes at The World. Who among us doesn’t fondly remember Full House going to WDW? More recently Modern Family shot an entire episode at Disneyland, and it was great! It is awesome seeing the theme parks we know and love in a whole new context. So today we are going to look at some of our favorite WDW locations used in Thunder in Paradise. So sit back, tie that do-rag tight brother, and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – DISNEY’S GRAND FLORIDIAN RESORT
The pilot of Thunder in Paradise actually used the Loews Don CeSar Hotel in St. Pete, Florida as the base camp for Hulk Hogan and crew, but when the show was picked up for a series the following twenty episodes used Disney’s Grand Florida Resort. Fans of the Grand Flo are going to LOVE Thunder in Paradise as at least 25% of the entire series takes place inside or on the grounds of the resort. It’s incredible! You’ll see the lobby, the hallways, the rooms, and the Hulkster even has a dinner in Victoria & Alberts! A lot of scenes are filmed directly in front of the Grand Floridian, with the Scuttlebutt Bar N’ Grill being a major location for the show. The Scuttlebutt is where the Grand Flo’s Beaches pool bar now sits.
Hulk Hogan and WWE Hall of Famer Sting square off in front of the Grand Floridian.
A group of muscleheads (including Jim “the Anvil” Neidhart and Brutus “the Barber” Beefcake” playing tug of war in front of the Grand Flo. Should surprise no one who has read the Death of WCW book that the only person on the other side of this rope was Hulk Hogan.
The Grand Flo lobby. We’re this close to Mizners!
Hulk Hogan sitting at Victoria & Alberts. As he always said, say your prayers, eat your vitamins, and get up at 6AM 180+10 days out for your ADRs. Brother.
If you are planning your very first visit to Walt Disney World, and you’re like me, you’ve probably done your Disney homework on the parks and resorts. I’m sure you have lists of what attractions you want to see, what characters you want to meet, and I bet you even made those dining reservations the day you booked your trip, right? Still, despite all your planning and newly accumulated park knowledge, it’s still easy to make those Disney World Rookie mistakes. My goal today is to let you in on some tips and info that I wish I had known before my park visits to help your first time trip to Walt Disney World run a little more smoothly. I’ve already covered What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip to the Magic Kingdom; and so for today, I’m tackling What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip to Epcot!
The length of World Showcase is what I wish I knew before my trip to Epcot!
Two Parks in One
Epcot is one park, but it has two very different sections: Future World and the World Showcase. Future World was originally intended to educate visitors about the world and to be a showplace for new technology. However, Future World has suffered some criticism in recent years as many of its buildings sit empty and seems to be more representative of the past than the future. Still, Future World is home to some of the park’s most popular attractions such as Soarin’, Test Track, and the iconic Spaceship Earth. Epcot’s other section, World Showcase, sits towards the rear of the park and encircles the World Showcase Lagoon. This part of Epcot features eleven pavilions themed after different countries from around the world, as well as one for the United States.
What’s really awesome about World Showcase is that Imagineers went to great lengths to make each pavilion and its design both historically and culturally accurate, so you feel as if you’re in another country and also getting a sense of its history at the same time. Also, I absolutely love eating at the different World Showcase restaurants and shopping for souvenirs from around the world.
Nothing is quite so magical as meeting Mickey for the first time!
This is a continuation of our Back to Basics Series. Scroll to the bottom to see our other Basics posts.
One of the quintessential Walt Disney World experiences is participating in Character Meet and Greets. That magical moment when your child meets Mickey for the first time is right up there with their first spin on Dumbo or the first time blasting off on Space Mountain. Like most Disney adventures, I would also caution those adult-only travelling parties not to overlook character experiences as just for the little ones – you can still have a magical experience with Mulan or Aurora even if you’re in the over-18 set!
This is the first article in my series on Character Meet and Greets, in which I will tackle every park and give you a run-down of who you can meet and where. I’ve decided to start with Epcot (this is traditionally the first park we visit on every trip – why not begin at the beginning?!), so buckle up for a tour of Future World and World Showcase and the characters who live there!
Entertainment in Epcot‘s World Showcase has gone through a tremendous evolution in recent years, and Canada’s Mill Stage has been an epicenter of that overhaul. It seems like only yesterday that we bid a sad farewell to Off Kilter, the long-running Celtic rock band, and welcomed (so to speak) the log-rolling Lumberjack show. Now the Lumberjacks are also long gone, and following a festive seasonal appearance by the Canadian Holiday Voyageurs, Epcot’s Canada pavilion has premiered another new act, which will fill the stage for at least the new few months. Even though they don’t even appear on park maps yet, we were at Epcot on January 15, 2016, to watch TradNation debut and capture their opening-day performance for you to enjoy at home.
TradNation has taken over Epcot’s Canada stage. (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)
TradNation is an acoustic musical ensemble that plays Québécois folk songs with traditional orchestrations. That means a whole lot of fingerpicking, fiddlin’, flute playing, and French lyrics, with percussion provided by a spirited step-dancer’s clacking feet. Even if you aced your high school French class, you may struggle to understand the singers’ Acadian-accented patois, but the humble joy they take in sharing their musical heritage is infectious in any language.
Much like the similar Quickstep folk band in the U.K., the TradNation entertainers feel authentic to the point of lacking the polish and stage presence we usually associate with a Disney theme park show; we’re not looking for matching spangled outfits, but this group looks like they just rolled out of Tim Horton’s.
Here’s our full video of a TradNation debut day performance:
With the Canadian Lumberjacks recently getting the axe, it opened up a spot for a brand new entertainment offering at Epcot’s Canada Pavilion. That new offering debuted today and the band is known as TradNation. TradNation is a musical family ensemble that will introduce Guests to a taste of the rich French Canadian heritage of Quebec.
The ensemble group is composed of musicians, singers and dancers and during their sets, they will perform in Quebecois tradition, showcasing not only traditional songs, but they will also perform original family compositions. Their music is designed to showcase the community experience that brings together friends, families, and neighbors.
TradNation will be performing five days a week on the Mill Stage in World Showcase.
Celebrate Hanukkah the Best Week Ever way at Epcot (Photos/videos by Seth Kubersky)
Halloween and Thanksgiving are done and gone and Christmas and New Year are still on their way, but Hanukkah is here right now! In honor of the Festival of Lights, I’m wishing a hearty Chag Sameach to my fellow members of the tribe with this Best Week Ever exploration of 2015’s Epcot Hanukkah celebration.
My visit to Epcot coincided with the third day of Hanukkah, and commenced with a spin of the cosmic dreidel that determines parking spots. I must have landed on Nun because I ended up just about as far as possible from the front…
Changes are occurring in Epcot’s World Showcase once again, as it appears that The Canadian Lumberjack Show will no longer be taking place, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The show, which was performed on The Mill Stage at the Canada Pavilion began in October 2014 and featured two lumberjack teams, clad in plaid who competed against each other performing tradition log show demonstrations.
The Canadian Lumberjack Show replaced the fan-favorite celtic rock band, Off Kilter. (And for those who are curious, yes Off Kilter does still perform, both in and around Orlando, as well as across the country. Matter of fact, I recently caught the band performing in Celebration for their Fall Festival and they were just as great as they were in Epcot.)
As a reminder, another band just ended their run in World Showcase. Seth recently reported that the Paul McKenna Band will no longer be performing at the United Kingdom Pavilion. A new accoustic group called Quickstep will be taking their place. In addition, Ribab Fusion has replaced B’net Al Houwariyate in the Morocco Pavilion.
I caught up with the quartet, who posted on Twitter that they are returning to Scotland to record an album, after a recent afternoon performance. They said that they have no plans to return to Walt Disney World after next week, so if you are a Paul McKenna Band fan you only have a few days left to see them without having to fly across the pond.
It’s fair to say that, although McKenna and company are talented performers who authentically represent their musical tradition, they never enjoyed the kind of cult-like popularity garnered by Off Kilter, the Canadian rock band that was controversially canceled prior to McKenna’s debut.
In case you never had a chance to experience the Paul McKenna Band in person, I’ve immortalized one of their sets on YouTube for posterity: