Saturday Six

SATURDAY SIX News Desk: A Look At Recent Stories In the Theme Park World

by on January 13, 2018

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is a special one as we once again dust off the blue blazer and step behind the SATURDAY SIX News Desk. It has been a whirlwind of theme park related news lately. Our long national nightmare is over as “millennial pink” MagicBands are finally available, a Disney guest yelled “Lock Him Up!” at a Donald Trump audio-animatronic (to be fair the person who filmed everything in portrait committed the biggest offense of all,) and somehow Disneyland guests now have crazier donuts than us in Orlando. Be fair to Florida!

So – as usual – we took a page out of our old college playbook, chugged down a case of 5 Hour Energy, and pulled an all-nighter. That’s right, we crammed as much information as we could into our tiny 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 – Monorail Red goes “Suns Out, Guns Out”

You would have had to be living under a rock to miss this story, as news went viral with a video of a monorail running while a door was open. As we covered in a recent SATURDAY SIX, it has been a rough year for the Disney monorails. Actually more like a rough five years, if not a full decade. It’s one thing for the cabs to look dirty, or even for parts to fall off, but a monorail running with a door open seems like a whole bunch of safety features would have had to fail all at once. Walt Disney World has a wide assortment of vehicles available for guests to get to and from resorts, including the new Minnie Van service along with the upcoming gondolas, but it is clear some major TLC is needed to into bringing the monorail service back up to to the level it should be.

Artwork by EPCOT Josh. You can buy a t-shirt of this design by clicking here

Open door of monorail as seen on WESH.com

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SATURDAY SIX: Six Things We Can’t Wait To See in 2018

by on January 6, 2018

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Can’t Wait To See In 2018! 2017 was another unbelievable year in the theme park world (in some ways literally.) Containing a wide mix of The GoodThe Bad, and The Ugly, 2017 delivered in some major ways, including Pandora: The World of Avatar and Volcano Bay. For the most part 2018 looks to be a transition year in Orlando, as Disney prepares for the oncoming Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Universal moves chess pieces around for Nintendo, along with a possible third theme park on all the land it bought over the course of the last several years. That’s not to say nothing is coming in the next 12 months. In fact some really cool stuff is coming to our theme park world. Here’s some of the things we can’t wait to see, starting with…

# 6 – The “New” Old Port Royale at Caribbean Beach

Driving through Disney’s Caribbean Beach right now you’d think you had entered a war zone, but it won’t be long before the resort finishes its transformation. In 2019, the resort will offer a huge DVC location along with being the main hub of the Disney Skyliner transportation. This year Caribbean Beach will be bringing back a completely refreshed Old Port Royale. The massive refurbishment completely changes the look and feel of the original area, and will now be where guests check into the resort. Shutters will now offer waterfront dining, and the newly expanded Banana Cabana pool bar is going to be a great place to get a drink while you enjoy the Fuentes del Morro pool (one of the best themed pools at WDW.)

Old Port Royale. (©Disney)

Old Port Royale. (©Disney)

Shutters at Old Port Royale. (©Disney)

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Are Disney’s Hotels Going To The Dogs? A Review.

by on January 1, 2018

In October 2017, Disney announced that for the first time ever, four of its hotels on property would have dog-friendly rooms. As with just about every announcement Disney makes, the reaction online tended to skew towards “the sky is falling” mentality. Despite only separated areas at four resorts (Art of Animation, Port Orleans Riverside, the cabins at Fort Wilderness, and the Yacht Club) would accept dogs, you would have thought by the reaction that every Disney hotel at WDW would be turning into a Petco. Even the SATURDAY SIX had a little fun with some of the over-the-top reactions to the announcement.

Fun aside, as a pet owner myself, one of the reasons my family has preferred staying onsite at Universal versus Disney over the years is because most of Universal’s properties are pet friendly (only Cabana Bay doesn’t allow animals.) Our dog Sebastian is now 17, and we prefer not to board him anywhere. We decided to use the on-site Best Friends Pet Care to board Sebastian during a family trip in September. While we were more than satisfied with the location, amenities, and staff on Best Friends, we still didn’t like being away from our smallest family member for so long.

When Disney made the dog-friendly hotel announcement, we knew it was time to book another trip to The World.

Yacht Club. (photo by Brandon Glover)

Because the dog-friendly policy is so new, I expected there to be a lot of openings at the hotels. In my mind, not many people can adjust their Disney World vacation to include their pet. However, when I went to book the date I wanted, I found out all the dog-friendly rooms were booked. So I tried a different date. Same thing. A third date found the same results. My fourth date option finally had a room available at Disney’s Yacht Club. At Universal, the “pet fee” is $50 a night, but that fee is capped at $150 for length of stay. At Disney, the pet fee for AoA, POR, and the cabins at FW is $50 a night, but at Yacht Club it is $75. I do not believe that the price at Disney is capped at any point.

With the room booked, it was time for a road trip!

Sebastian ready for his first Disney hotel.

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2017 (No Matter How Hard We Try)

by on December 30, 2017

This week’s  SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Reasons We’ll Never Forget 2017 (No Matter How Hard We Try). With the new year upon us, it is time for another SATURDAY SIX annual tradition of looking back at some of the most “memorable moments” of the previous 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 – That Time Disney Wanted To Change The Name of DHS

Believe it or not, a lot goes into the actual naming of our beloved theme parks. You may think, “it can’t be that big of a deal,” but in 1999 when Universal opened Islands of Adventure, it rebranded the entire resort as Universal Orlando Escape. Many potential guests were confused by the new name, not realizing Universal had opened a completely new park, and instead thought they had just added some new attractions to Universal Studios Florida. The mistake cost Universal dearly, and weren’t on solid footing again until a decade later with the opening of the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios is currently going through a massive changeover. Originally created in the late ’80s solely to cut the legs out from the coming Universal Studios Florida, the park has completely moved away from its opening day purpose of providing guests a behind-the-scenes look at how movies are made. The “new” DHS will a lot more like most other parks, just a collection of cool rides, all having absolutely nothing relating an overarching theme for the park. So late this summer a survey was conducted to gauge reaction on some possible new names for the park. Names such as Disney Kaleidoscope Park, Disney XL Park, and Disney Storyverse Park were offered as options.  These names may seem odd to you, Dear Reader, but there is an actual industry term for them: next level bananas.

(photo by @MickeyViews)

If this part of the survey doesn’t have you remembering back to the “Itchy & Scratchy focus group“, nothing will. (photo by @MickeyViews)

I could sign off on this one. (photo by Rob Yeo)

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A SATURDAY SIX Look At Christmas Through The Magic of Movies!

by on December 23, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Christmas through the Magic of Movies! The SATURDAY SIX and movies go together like pepperoni and pizza, chocolate and peanut butter, and insects and lollipops (well, maybe not the last one.) We’ve done articles on Avatar, Star Wars, and even the Disney animated film library. This week we’re going to look at our favorite genre of Hollywood, Christmas movies. Every Thanksgiving we pull all of our Christmas stuff out of the garage, and among that junk those annual traditions is our treasured box of Christmas DVDs. Pretty much every night until Christmas itself you’ll find us watching timeless classics such as Muppet’s Christmas Carol, Elf, The Grinch Who Stole ChristmasEmmet Otter’s Jug Band Christmas, or Miracle on 34th Street. Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite Christmas films, several of which have tie-ins to the theme park world we know. Let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Now That Disney Owns DIE HARD, A Few Changes May Need To Be Made To The Christmas Classic…

The Die Hard franchise is famously known for television stations working overtime on “creative” ways to coverup the movie’s curse words. With Disney now in charge of the brand, there’s a chance something else needs to be made more family friendly: the film’s liberal use of guns. Readers may remember it was just two years ago this very month when Disney began to remove all guns from property. This new mandate included bubble guns sold at the outdoor kiosks. So while we still may have the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade and the cold steel wielded by Jungle Cruise skippers, you won’t find any guns at the gift shops (they all went to the Outlets, and we mean all of them.)

With a little Disney Magic, we can make one scene in particular more “family friendly.”

Die Hard. (art by Matt Cleary)

Die Hard. (art by Matt Cleary)

# 5 – Meanwhile, Universal Prepares To Deliver A New Gift For Its Fans

Like Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story, each of us had that One Special Gift we always wanted growing up. For me, it was a Han Solo blaster.

For theme park fans, our precious theme park rides of years past have been pushed aside for 3-4 minute “experiences” that must be based around an intellectual property. On Christmas Eve, our silent wish will be for the rides we used to get.

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SATURDAY SIX: IN MEMORIAM Part 2 – A Look Back at Even More Things the Theme Parks Lost in 2017

by on December 16, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six MORE Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2017. Last week on the SAT SIX we took our annual look at what the theme park world lost in 2017. This year was unlike most though, as we lost even MORE things that just couldn’t go unmentioned as several have played a huge role in our collective Disney and Universal vacations over the years. So grab a box of Kleenex and get ready to pour out a 40 for some dear old friends, starting with…

# 6 – Old Port Royale

Old Port Royale was the main hub of Caribbean Beach and contained a food court, arcade, large gift shop, and the table service restaurant Shutters. The food court had several different stations, all set up like a Caribbean port town market. The entire food court, including the large seating area across the way, was very colorful. The nearby Shutters restaurant offered Caribbean fare, and while it wasn’t destination dining for your average Disney guest, it was more than acceptable for those staying at the resort.

Currently Caribbean Beach is going through a massive renovation that will include a DVC building that will allow guests a view of Epcot’s IllumiNations nighttime spectacular. Old Port Royale will be returning during the summer of 2018, and when it does it will be the area where guests also check into the resort (which was formerly done at the resort’s Custom House.) The reimagined Shutters will be coming back as well, this time with waterside dining.

 

Old Port Royale food court.

Shutters.

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SATURDAY SIX: In Memoriam – Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2017

by on December 9, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Things We Lost From the Theme Park World in 2017. As theme park fans, we’ve had a lot to be thankful for this year. However, as much as we all loved seeing projection mapping in The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle and Disney’s Happily Ever After, it wasn’t all good news. This year we had to say goodbye to several dear old friends. Today we pay our respects to some of those that we lost in the past year, starting with….

# 6  – Terminator 2: 3-D

Hasta la vista, baby.

Much like the Lord Almighty, James Cameron giveth, and James Cameron taketh away in 2017. While we theme park guests were blessed with the wonders of Pandora: The World of Avatar opening up in Animal Kingdom, we lost T2: 3-D – Battle Across Time at Universal Studios Florida. A stage show like no other, T2: 3=D was a breathtaking mix of a one-of-a-kind 3-D movie and a thrilling live action stunt show.

The overall attraction – including the preshow – tied directly into the Terminator Universe following the events of T2, making itself an unofficial sequel to the popular franchise. Unlike traditional theme park 3-D movies where the audience all looks at one screen, the massive theater had three connecting screens. Every guest in the audience had a great seat as a special effects bonanza took place in front of their eyes including a spectacular how did they do that?! moment of a motorcycle going through the screen. James Cameron is well known to be one of the hardest men to work for in Hollywood, but he gets the best out of everyone, and T2: 3-D has the high level quality you’re used to in a Cameron production. It featured all the main Terminator 2 stars, had an insane budget-per-minute-of-film that made the legendary Captain EO look fiscally responsible, and a Shaquille O’Neal joke that was still funny 10 years past it had any right to be.

On October 8th, the attraction went through its own time portal to the great attraction beyond. Goodbye T2: 3D, there may never be another one like you again.

10 bell salute for T2: 3-D. @Drubov of Inside Universal)

T2: 3-D. (photo by Michael Carelli

Inside queue has guests walking through Cyberdyne Systems. (photo by Michael Carelli)

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SATURDAY SIX: 6 Reasons We Love The Christmas Season at UNIVERSAL!

by on December 2, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Reasons We Love the Christmas Season at Universal! When it comes to the Universal Orlando Resort and holidays, the one which they are most associated with is Halloween. Each year Universal’s signature event – incredibly popular Halloween Horror Nights – somehow becomes even bigger. Many theme park guests would associate the Christmas holiday with Disney. With Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom, Candlelight Processional at Epcot, and all the amazing decorations at various resorts (including the Grand Floridian’s Gingerbread House and the massive Christmas tree at the Wilderness Lodge,) WDW is loaded with festive Christmas spirit. However, over the past few years Universal has quietly put together a great Christmas package as well.

(photo by Mike Sperduto)

Today we’re going to take a look at some of our favorite holiday offerings at Universal, and let’s kickoff the countdown with…

# 6 – Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular

During most of the year, no theme park can touch The Mouse when it comes to in-park shows. Festival of the Lion King, Finding Nemo – The Musical, and even Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage are crowd pleasers of the highest order. When the calendar hits December, Universal brings out some big guns that deliver in a major way. The Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular is a must-see stage show presentation of How The Grinch Stole Christmas, and it combines elements of both the beloved animated version along with the Jim Carrey live-action film. Meanwhile Seuss Landing becomes decorated to the nth degree, and you may even run into Whos in the land putting out even more decorations!

The Grinch. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

The Grinch and Cindy Lou Who. (photo by Brandon Glover)

“Fahoo Fores Dahoo Dores
Welcome Christmas Come this way”

The Grinch and Whos sing Welcome Christmas. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

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Ask It Results: Saturday Six or Outlet Report?

by on November 29, 2017

If there was only one Derek Burgan-based poll that you vote in for 2017, we hope this was the one you chose. (If it isn’t, let us know what other Derek Burgan-based polls are out there, because that’s creepy there’d be more than one, ya know?)

In this world where things can be high stress and depressing at times, having these brief glimmers on sunshine can brighten anyone’s week. For many of you, as evidenced by comments left in the articles, notes on Twitter, and the occasional fan letter made from cut out letters from magazines or newspapers, these articles are worth looking forward to every week (for Saturday Six) or once a month (for the Outlet report). This week, because I enjoy Sophie’s choice types of polls, we asked you:

Which of these TouringPlans blog features is your favorite?

Here’s your responses (with the understanding that although “Both” was the clear winner, even though it wasn’t a choice…).

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SATURDAY SIX: Fourth Annual Theme Park Turkeys of the Year

by on November 25, 2017

This week’s SATURDAY SIX is one of our favorites as we present the Fourth Annual Theme Park “Turkeys” of the Year. For Thanksgiving this week we took a look back at things both Disney and Universal fans should be thankful for, but today we are going to go the other way. Gather ’round as we continue the fine tradition of awarding six Theme Park “Turkeys” to the craziest, most outrageous, or just downright weird stories of the year, concluding with the coveted Golden Turkey award. Let’s kick off the ceremony with a situation that was “for the birds”….

# 6 – That Time Geese Pooped on Disneyland Guests and 911 Was Called

“1 if by sea, 2 if by land…3 if by air. ” – Paul Revere, probably

You thought YOU had a bad day at the parks? Back in June, a group* of geese took to the skies over Disneyland and rained down a hail of poop that was so dramatic that it brought police and firefighters to the park. Now, this may sound funny to you and me (and just about any other human on the planet,) but those with geese feces all over their rose gold Etsy Mickey Ears weren’t laughing. A total of 17 guests (11 adults and six minors) were defecated on, and to put that number in perspective only 15 guests are able to ride Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage per hour**.

This is why they ask you not to feed the birds people!!

Oh, the humanity! (art by Juliette Elton)

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