Archive for December, 2015

Zootopia Sneak Peek to Take Place Beginning in January

by on December 31, 2015



Are you excited to see the latest release from Walt Disney Animation Studios, Zootopia? I have good news! You’ll soon be able to catch a sneak peek at both Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Guests will be able to catch the preview beginning on January 21 at the Bug’s Life Theater with in theater effects at DCA and at in the theater at the end of One Man’s Dream at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Zootopia takes us into a world that is populated by animals, living together in habitat neighborhoods like ritzy Sahara Square and frigid Tundratown.

Zootopia is opening in theaters on March 4.


Changes for Disney’s Hollywood Studios Begin in January

by on December 31, 2015

We all knew that changes would start at the beginning of the year at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and it appears that Disney isn’t going to be resting on their laurels. In order to prepare for the expansion, two character meet and greets will be ending in the park, plus a restaurant will see a lengthy refurbishment too.

First, beginning January 4, Guests will no longer be able to meet with Phineas and Ferb or Lightning McQueen and Mater. These two meet and greets were found in the backlot area.

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! December 2015 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on December 31, 2015

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. In fact, with this edition of MMM Your Humble Author is completing the greatest month in the history of theme park blogging. In December we had the 25 Drinks of Christmas countdown (featuring the Nautilus at Grog Grotto, Deathly Hallows at WWOHP, Candy Apple Cotton-Tini at T-Rex Cafe and more), SATURDAY SIXES on the best souvenir cups at WDW along with Indiana Jones references in Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, our annual IN MEMORIAM – Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World, and the inaugural 12 Days of a Theme Park Christmas. Of course readers of this fine column will enjoy Six Gifts Santa Can Bring BACK to the North Pole (AKA The Best of the Disney Outlet Stores 2015)

Now while all of you were out buying the wrong gift for your loved ones, Outlet Intern Julia Mascardo and I were hard at work to bring you the 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)

We are going to start off this month’s report with a story so uplifting that, if it was made into a movie, it could only star Kirk Cameron. When the Disney Outlet Store off of International Drive was shut down in June for a “refurbishment,” we were told it would be closed for three months and reopen in September. Well, September came and went and it still wasn’t open. October came and went and it still wasn’t open. November came and went and it still wasn’t open


I made many trips past this closed Outlet Store during the Summer and Fall, not unlike Ralphie Parker hoping to find his Little Orphan Annie Decoder Ring in the mail.

A funny thing happened in early December. I had bought tickets to go to a private event in Diagon Alley at the Universal Orlando Resort, which is close to the International Drive Outlets. I walked by the Disney Outlet, and found it still closed, but this time there was a sign on the door…


Wait, is that a sign on the door?!

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Seth Kubersky’s Best Week Ever December 31, 2015: Surviving Magic Kingdom Holiday Week Crowds

by on December 31, 2015

Do you love ginormous crowds of people, endless seas of strollers, and triple-digit wait times? If so, you’ve picked the Best Week Ever to visit Walt Disney World. But even if you are allergic to all of the above, it is actually possible survive the madness of Magic Kingdom holiday week crowds, and even enjoy a visit to America’s most popular theme park during the busiest week of the year, with the proper preparation.

In contrast to my relatively calm Christmas Day at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, my December 29 visit to the Magic Kingdom came smack in the center of 2015’s winter peak season psychosis. I braved the Magic Kingdom holiday week crowds in order to share with you a first-person perspective on navigating Disney when attendance is at its most extreme.

Without that professional motivation, I’d normally avoid Walt Disney World on days when our Crowd Calendar hits 10 out of 10, but many visitors don’t have another option due to work and school schedules. If the busy holiday week is the only time your family can visit WDW, I hope my experiences will help educate you about the perks and pitfalls of a peak season vacation.


Magic Kingdom Holiday Week Parking

As any Magic Kingdom veteran knows, simply arriving at the park is an adventure in itself; that’s doubly true during peak holiday weeks. My day of queuing began around 9 a.m., many yards before the Magic Kingdom parking toll booths.

Magic kingdom holiday week crowds parking


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Mulch, Sweat, n’ Shears Band to Play House of Blues at Disney Springs

by on December 30, 2015

hob_8_head2Have you been missing the rockin’ rhythms of Mulch, Sweat, n’ Shears since they played their last show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in October? Fear not fans of guitar solos, hair metal, and general great times for Mulch is back…sort of.

On January 8, 2016, the band formerly known as Mulch, Sweat, n’ Shears will begin their post-Disney life under their new name, American Martian. They also begin their post-Disney life…at Disney, since their first show will be at the Orlando House of Blues at Disney Springs. The concert will be starting at 7pm and there is no cover charge! If you were a fan of Mulch or are simply a fan of top-quality rock and roll, do yourself a favor and get out to the House of Blues in Orlando.

American Martian (formerly Mulch, Sweat, n’ Shears)

Where: House of Blues Orlando at Disney Springs

When: Friday, January 8, 2016 from 7-11pm

No Cover Charge (free!)

American Martian flier

Additional Details About New Year’s Eve at Walt Disney World

by on December 30, 2015



New Year’s Eve is rapidly approaching and as we say goodbye to 2015, there are a few things you should know about celebrating at the theme parks of Walt Disney World. Disney is the ultimate party atmosphere on New Year’s Eve, so you want to make sure to get the most out of your experience. Here’s what you should know, both in general and park by park:

General Tips:

  • If possible, eat at off-peak times. Avoid dining from noon-2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m.
  • Stay in the parks after midnight to avoid the rush to the parking lot.

Magic Kingdom:

  • There will be two fireworks show on December 30 and 31: Holiday Wishes New Year Celebration – 6:30 p.m. and Fantasy in the Sky – 11:50 p.m.
  • Guests will be able to experience special dance parties on both December 30 and 31. One in Frontierland from 7:00 p.m. until 2:00 a.m. and one at the Castle Stage from 9:30 p.m. until 2:00 a.m.
  • Complimentary cookies and cocoa will be available for Guests on December 31 from midnight until 1:00 a.m. at Columbia Harbour House and at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe.
  • Hats and Horns will be distributed on December 31 beginning at 4 p.m. in the following locations, while supplies last:
    • Near Splash Mountain
    • Near Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid
    • Tomorrowland Speedway
    • East FastPass+ viewing lawn

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Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom

by on December 30, 2015

Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom

Enjoy Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom without getting out of your pink bunny pajamas. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

No matter which park you pick, the Christmas holiday is one of the busiest times to visit Orlando. But if you must attend a Walt Disney World theme park during the peak travel system, I discovered that you could do worse than spending Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom.

Animal Kingdom may seem like a strange Christmas Day selection, since the park is positively Scrooge-like in the seasonal cheer department when compared to the other WDW parks. There’s nothing at Animal Kingdom on the scale of Magic Kingdom’s Holiday Wishes, DHS’s Osborne Family Spectacle, or Epcot’s Holidays Around the World; there isn’t even an Animal Kingdom Christmas parade anymore.

But that lack of seasonal draws made Christmas Day at Animal Kingdom a great idea, if your plans included enjoying attractions without asphyxiating in capacity crowds. This may change after Avatar arrives, but as the least-attended Walt Disney World park Animal Kingdom was a relative oasis for those seeking a smidgen of elbow room.

On my way into Walt Disney World property on Christmas morning, road signs advised that the Magic Kingdom was closed. Over at Animal Kingdom, however, there were acres of empty parking spot. Since this lot is the easiest of the four parks to get in and out of, consider using it when heading to one of the other parks on peak days.


For Christmas 2015, the entrance to Animal Kingdom was decked out with the usual giant tree, and new security scanning stations. Unless you are one of the few folks randomly selected for scanning, the new procedures appear have little to no effect on your entry speed.

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Star Wars Galactic Outpost Now Open at Disney Springs

by on December 29, 2015

Star Wars Galactic Outpost

Move over D Street, the Star Wars Galactic Outpost has arrived at Disney Springs. (Photos by Seth Kubersky)

With over $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales in only 12 days, it’s safe to say that The Force Awakens has woken up consumer demand for Star Wars. We’ve already covered the wide array of Star Wars merchandise now available inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Watto’s Grotto and the Star Wars Lauch Bay Cargo store, but there’s now a new option for those without a theme park admission. The D Street store it Disney Springs‘ West Side, which had already given much of its shelf space over to the galactic franchise, is now gone entirely, and has become the Star Wars Galactic Outpost.

Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine Begins at Hollywood and Vine in January

by on December 29, 2015

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

A few months ago, Disney announced that Hollywood and Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios would offer special themed dinners called Minnie’s Seasonal Dine. We recently experienced Minnie’s Holiday Dine and now we’ll have Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine beginning January 4 and lasting until March 20.

Minnie serves as the host for this event and she is inviting all of her friends to join her as she hosts a fabulous dinner party celebrating the glamour of Hollywood! Characters will be dressed to the nines in their glitziest costumes, plus there will be unique music, décor, menu items, table activities and takeaway gifts.

The cost is $46.99 for adults ages 10 and up and $27.99 for children ages 3 to 9 (plus tax and gratuity).

Guests may choose to add the Fantasmic Dining Package to this meal. The cost will be $53.99 per adult and $42.99 per child, plus tax and gratuity. In addition, some dining plans accepted.

Breakfast and lunch will still be Disney Junior Play ‘n Dine and will still feature Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates, and Handy Manny.

For more information and to make reservations, you can call (407) WDW-DINE.

Underrated Attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park + Video

by on December 29, 2015

Photo - TouringPlansFor this week’s Trivia Tuesday, I’m going to discuss some underrated attractions found in Animal Kingdom park at Walt Disney World.

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