Archive for July, 2016

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

by on July 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. How long? Today marks the THREE YEAR ANNIVERSARY! What started out as a simple $1 bet between Len Testa and Laurel Stewart to see if they could take a simple Florida blogger and turn him into a two time runDisney medal winner/PizzaMania champion, has transformed into what many would consider the 9th Wonder of the Modern World (in terms of “people wonder why we keep writing it.”) The best rags-to-riches story this side of Cinderella, our monthly treks into Orlando’s Disney Outlet Stores have provided highs and lows (and then even more lows) in order to deliver you, Dear Reader, a glimpse into a world which very few have lived long enough to tell about. A sincere thank you to each and every one of you for taking the time to read this little article. Except Tom Bricker, of course.

Also, in an unbelievable gesture, we have been swamped with “congratulations” messages and telegrams from people around the globe and we’re going to print some of them here, so keep your eye out!

Now while all of you were saying goodbye to Dateline Disneyland (we’ll miss you Andy!) 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.)

As always we start off with any new Tsum Tsums and this month we only had one. I spent a couple seconds trying to figure out which Star Wars character it might be until realizing it was Black Widow from The Avengers. All Tsums have been reduced to $2.99.


Black Widow Tsum Tsum, but doesn’t that look like a lightsaber on her side?!

This is interesting. Last month I made a slight “faux pas” and identified the Mother Gothel Tsum Tsum as MULAN. All of a sudden, for the first time ever, a TSUM TSUM GUIDE FOR DUMMIES appeared showing people who each Tsum Tsum was and what movie they were from. I’m not 100% sure you can all blame my accidental racism for this chart, but I’m also too old to believe in coincidences.


Tsum Tsum For Dummies.

Speaking of things I don’t understand…


We wrote about Pokemon Go this week in the SATURDAY SIX (go ahead and read that masterpiece, don’t worry, we’ll be here when you get back) and honestly, the game makes absolutely no sense to me. Then again neither did “on fleek,”  gluten free desserts, or Universal’s Straight Outta Food Truck. For those of you who do play Pokemon Go, you’ll be glad to know you can catch various Pokemon at the Disney Outlets!


Pokemon Go! at the Disney Outlet Store. Reports are that people are going all around the globe to catch Pokemon but many are just catching the Zika virus. (photo by Julia Mascardo)

Was a little surprised to see these Magic Kingdom salt and pepper trashcans make their way to the Outlets. Originally $9.99, now $3.99 and I picked up the Frontierland and Fantasyland ones. This is one of those 50% bonkers/50% absolutely awesome items. Going to try to slip these into the rotation for our next dinner party and wait for one of my non-Disney neighbors to ask which garbage can has the salt.


Would have paid extra for the “Talking Push” variant.

Pretty sure this is the first appearance of a SHELLIE MAY item at the Outlets. This pillow pet was originally $29.95, now $9.99 and yes, I bought one. My secret shame.



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SATURDAY SIX News Desk: A 100% Serious Look at Recent Theme Park News From Disney and Universal

by on July 30, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is special one as we once again dust off the blue blazer and step behind the SATURDAY SIX News Desk.  If you’re like us you’ve been deluged with news lately. Many childhoods have been “ruined” because of female Ghostbusters, Justin Beiber – a noted Canadian – was offered $5 Million to perform at the Republican National Convention, and maybe most important of all Taco Bell created a Cheetos burrito. However we’ve been informed that a whole lot of stuff happened in the theme park world recently. So we took a page out of our old college playbook, guzzled down a dozen 5 Hour Energys, and pulled another all-nighter. We crammed as much information as possible into our brains so that we could  report back to you, Dear Reader, with all the relevant facts (and before we forget it all tomorrow). So sit back, know that you are getting all the news that’s fit to print (and plenty more that’s not), and let’s begin our countdown starting with…

# 6 – Universal’s Fast & Furious Supercharged Pushed Back to 2018?


Get your Coronas, baby oil, and English-to-Vin Diesel/Vin Diesel-to-English dictionaries ready, SUPERCHARGED is coming in 2018. (photo by Michael Sheehy and Matt Cleary)

While many people would scoff at the idea of the Fast and Furious franchise being an equivalent to Star Wars or Harry Potter, the box office numbers show that there is some smoke to that fire. To date the Fast and Furious movies are approaching four Billion dollars, which is about half of what SW and Potter have done, but F&F is picking up steam fast. In part thanks to F&F’s ethnically diverse cast, it appeals to demographics across the globe in a way that very few brands can. For example, in China Fast and Furious 7 opened to $182,000,000 while Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened to $52,000,000.

Universal announced that Fast & Furious Supercharged would be making its way to Universal Studios Florida in 2017, replacing Disaster and Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue. Walls were put up in front of the old attractions, and graffiti was spray painted along the walls teasing the upcoming Fast and Furious ride. Earlier this summer, the year “2018” suddenly appeared in the artwork, so it looks like Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon and Volcano Bay will be Universal’s major projects opening in 2017. Supercharged, with a cast featuring more six packs than a Budweiser plant, will headline Universal’s summer a year later. Hopefully this extra time will allow Universal to develop F&F merchandise that can approach the levels Disney gets with Star Wars and Universal gets with Potter, because that is one area the franchise is way behind in.

# 5 – At Comic Con Disney Announces Guardians of the Galaxy Attraction to a Mixed Near Unanimous Fan Reaction

After a one year break, Marvel Studios returned to the world famous San Diego Comic Con and dropped some major bombshells, including one for the Disney theme parks. After giving news on their upcoming film slate (including Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Thor: Ragnarok), Marvel brought out the cast for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.  At the end of the Guardians presentation, it was announced that a new attraction was coming to Disney’s California Adventure: Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout. As we wrote back in March (Looking at ways Disney can introduce Marvel to the theme parks) the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction would not be a brand new ride, but instead replace the Hollywood Tower of Terror. The reaction in Hall H was not what anyone would call overwhelmingly enthusiastic.


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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of July 29, 2016

by on July 29, 2016


I just got back from a fabulous weekend at Walt Disney World! It was great to finally get to experience Frozen Ever After and Soarin’ Around the World after successfully avoiding major spoilers for both! I say that’s a pretty impressive feat for me. (You know, especially given that I report on the news…) I thought both were well done and will certainly need to ride them a few more times to really suss out how I feel about both.

So, I need you to please tell me…how did we get to the end of July? Pretty soon (actually very soon for some areas) school will be back in session and we’ll be getting our costumes ready for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party! The outside temperatures aren’t indicative of that, but it’s all coming!

This week, see where Disney Cruise Line ranked in the Travel+Leisure’s 2016 Annual World’s Best Awards, learn about this quarter’s theme park injuries, and more. Let’s go!

In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors


So, it now appears that Disney is not interested in Egg Island in the Bahamas for Disney Cruise Line after all. Last week, the rumors indicated that they were deeply interested in the little island for potential use as a port.

The results of Travel+Leisure’s 2016 Annual World’s Best Awards have been announced and Disney Cruise Line was took second place in the Mega-Ship Ocean Cruise Line category.

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Summer Crowd and Wait Time Trends at Disney World

by on July 29, 2016

It’s been a challenging summer for Walt Disney World. If you go by America’s economic indicators, attendance should be strong: gas is cheap and getting cheaper, unemployment is below 5%, and stock markets are flirting with record highs.

But Disney is also facing some formidable challenges in getting people into its parks.  From the self-inflicted, sharp increase in admission earlier this year – the largest increase in at least 20 years – and a move to “seasonal” one-day ticket pricing that falls squarely on parents with school-age children, to June’s murder of Christina Grimmie, the Pulse Nightclub massacre, and fatal alligator attack at the Grand Floridian.

Based on our analysis of posted and actual wait times for rides at Walt Disney World, we think attendance is lower to this point in summer for Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and the Animal Kingdom, and higher at the Magic Kingdom, versus the same period in 2015. Overall, we think attendance is flat to slightly lower throughout Walt Disney World.

Here’s a breakdown by park. The date ranges are June 1 through July 24 for all graphs. We focus on standby waits, posted waits, and people in line between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., since this is the peak time for crowds.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Wait Times

Animal Kingdom Wait Times Summer 2015 and 2016

Every major attraction at the Animal Kingdom has seen its wait time drop in 2016. The average posted wait is down 2 minutes since summer 2015. In terms of people in line, it’s roughly a 7% decline, from 693 people in line per attraction in 2015, down to 646 people in 2016.

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Pop Flashback Friday

by on July 29, 2016

Pop Flashback Friday Photo Booth Props

Pop Flashback Friday Photo Booth Props

Visiting Pop Century Resort is always a trip back in time, as the resort is a tribute to the 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s and 90s. But there is now a new event on Fridays that celebrates looking back, Pop Flashback Friday.

My favorite part of the event is the Pop Flashback Friday photo booth, which is available throughout the day. Instead of an actual booth, this is a backdrop, found off the lobby and next to the entrance of the Everything Pop Shopping and Dining. The backdrop has the main logo for the resort, as well as each decade’s logo. It’s a fun picture even if you didn’t want to use any of the extras. Next to the backdrop, there is a table set up with props you can hold in your picture. The props include each of the decade logos, as well as several themed elements, such as a cassette tape and a mirrored disco ball. There is even a prop with the event hashtag, #PopFlashbackFriday, on it. Along with the props, there is a fun frame that matches the backdrop, with the resort’s hashtag. I think this photo spot fits perfectly with the theme of the resort, and would be a great permanent addition.

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New Musical Act Coming to the Germany Pavilion at Epcot

by on July 29, 2016

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

For months, I’ve been wondering what was going on with this little gazebo that was built in Epcot’s Germany Pavilion in World Showcase. It at first looked like it was just going to be for meet and greets, but as I got closer to examine it, it appeared to be a stage.

Well, now, after months of wondering, I can share that it is indeed a stage and it will showcase a new musical act – the world famous yodeler Margret Almer & The Bavarian Band. This new act will bring spirited and authentic music to Germany’s gazebo.

Margret Almer & The Bavarian Band is now performing at the Germany Pavilion five days a week.


Flying Fish Reopens August 3

by on July 28, 2016

The Flying Fish has been closed for refurbishment for the past few months, but I bring news that it will be reopening soon! Reservations for the popular BoardWalk Resort restaurant open tomorrow, July 29 for dates beginning August 3.



The entire interior has been completely redesigned. Diners will be welcomed to a sophisticated space that pays homage to the golden era of seaside boardwalks. The refreshed interior will feature an all-new onstage kitchen and gorgeous dining room. The tone of the restaurant will be reminiscent of the sea with fantastic architectural accents and a gorgeous chandelier.

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The Muppets Are Coming to the Magic Kingdom

by on July 28, 2016

The Muppets Present… Great Moments in American History


Are you a fan of The Muppets? Then you will want to make sure to visit the Magic Kingdom this fall when a brand new live show will debut. This show, called The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History will feature your favorites, including Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggie, Fozzie, and Gonzo. Oh yes, and it wouldn’t be a patriotic show without Sam Eagle. This new show will take place in Liberty Square outside The Hall of Presidents.

The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History  will see the characters presenting historical tales such as the midnight ride of Paul Revere and the signing of the Declaration of Independence, presented in the fun and irreverent way that only the Muppets know how to do best. The characters will pop up throughout the day to share their own spin on how the founding fathers and the birth of our nation occurred. This show will also feature a song created especially for it.

Honestly, I have no idea what to expect from this new show. It is the Muppets after all, so anything will be possible with their zany humor. I guess I’ll just have to wait until it debuts in October to really find out what kind of high jinks the characters will get into! One thing is for sure, I’m positive it will be a salute to mostly America.

23 Ways an Adventures by Disney River Cruise is Different from a Disney Cruise Line Ocean Cruise

by on July 28, 2016

During the month of July I had two back-to-back Disney cruising experiences, 7-nights on the Disney Cruise Line (DCL) Magic ship touring the Baltic countries, followed immediately by 7-nights with Adventures by Disney (AbD) on their new AmaViola Danube river cruise. This quick switch from one type of cruising to another gave me a terrific window into the differences between the two modes of travel. Here’s a rundown.

1. It’s the Destination, not the Journey.

There have been times I’ve booked DCL cruises without a particular destination in mind. I wanted someplace, anyplace, warm on the right dates at the right price. The fact that the cruise was going to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, or Mexico was immaterial; it just needed to fit in my kids’ vacation schedule and be priced right. For me, it was about experiencing the ship, getting a little sunshine, and being lazy during endless days at sea. For a quick three-nighter, I might not even get off the ship.

By contrast, the AbD Danube River cruise is all about where you’re going. The reason to cruise is to see the sights of Europe. There are no sea days and there’s not much to do on board during the day. Instead, when you’re on a river cruise, you are literally steps from historic sights, quaint cafes, magnificent artwork, and lush landscapes. The draw is off the ship rather than on it.

Touring Bratislava, Slovakia.

Touring Bratislava, Slovakia.

Viewing Budapest at night from the upper deck.

Viewing Budapest at night from the upper deck.

Vienna's Schonbrunn Palace.

Vienna’s Schonbrunn Palace.

Even while on board the ship, you feel like you're part of the city.

Even while on board the ship, you feel like you’re part of the city.


2. Ownership of the Ship.

Disney owns the Disney Cruise Line ships. They have exclusive use and have them fitted and decorated to exactly their specifications. You’ll see lots of Disney touches on board: hidden Mickeys in the upholstery, Disney-themed entertainment, costumed characters, and so on.

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Julia’s Best Week Ever, July 28, 2016: Summer is too Short!

by on July 28, 2016

Like most parents, I had all sorts of plans for my daughter over summer break. There would be play dates, arts and crafts, vacations, local field trips, and so much more. There would be time to read books and learn as much as possible. We’d go surfing tidal waves, creating nanobots, or looking for Frankestein’s brain. Finding a dodo bird, painting a continent, or driving each other insane. (Thanks for setting such high expectations, Phineas and Ferb. We almost nailed that last one, though.)

Locally, school starts on August 15, and needless to say, many of the plans for greatness never happened. And with the start of school looming ever closer, I decided it was time to play hooky from work and spend a mommy and me morning at the Magic Kingdom.

We got up at the crack of dawn to try and make it to the 8 AM rope drop. With the monorails not running, we boarded a ferry boat right at the stroke of 8—not bad at all, all things considered. It was a beautiful summer day, with blue skies and not a cloud on the horizon.

2016-07-21 08.08.24

I try not to take pictures of other people when I’m in the parks, but I had to snap this one on the way over. Seeing this young girl, not much older than my daughter, seeing the castle for the first time and being so amazingly excited as it got closer and closer—that’s what this whole experience is about.

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