Posts Tagged ‘special events’

Complete Guide to Universal Studios Mardi Gras 2014 UPDATED

by on March 12, 2014

Universal Studios Mardi Gras 2014 guide

Universal Studios Mardi Gras Grand Celebration starts on Feb 8, 2014.

Today we tackle one of my favorite theme park topics: the annual Universal Studios Mardi Gras Grand Celebration. Universal Studios Mardi Gras holds a special place in my heart because, back in the late 1990s when I worked in Universal Studios Florida’s entertainment department, I was a talent supervisor for the parade, and got to walk with it nightly. (I’ll never get “Iko Iko” or “Feet Don’t Fail Me Now” out of my skull.) So I’m thrilled to share Touring Plans’ complete guide to Universal’s bead laden bacchanalia, bringing you all the info you need to laissez les bons temps rouler!

[UPDATED 3/12/14: Scroll down for late-breaking news on the Mardi Gras extension and rescheduled Robin Thicke concert!]


Mardi Gras originated in the religious observation of “Fat Tuesday” (the literal translation of the name), which is the day before “Ash Wednesday” on the Catholic calendar, and the start of Lent’s 40 days of dietary restrictions. People would bid “farewell to flesh” with a “carnivale” where they would indulge in the meat and drink they were about to forswear. Mardi Gras is the New Orleans, Louisiana, variation on this tradition — which is echoed in other cities from Venice, Italy to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Over the centuries, the religious significance has been stripped away, and most Mardi Gras revelers attend for strictly secular reasons — namely, epic quantities of booze, beads, and bare breasts. About 20 years ago, Universal took a look at the festivities and said, “This will make a fine family friendly event,” and amazingly it is — minus the bare breasts, of course. But that doesn’t mean it’s inauthentic; much as Universal partnered with Macy’s for its holiday parade, Universal engages Blaine Kern Studios, the same company that’s been building floats for the real deal since 1947, to create the park’s parade platforms. And musicians and recipes imported from the Big Easy add to the French Quarter feel. Of course, the real Bourbon Street doesn’t have concerts from big-name recording artists after each parade, much less a high-speed roller coaster cruising by in the background.


Read the rest of this entry »

Photo Gallery: Disneyland Dapper Day February 2014

by on March 4, 2014

Do you ever look longingly at old photographs of the Disney parks, and wish you could time-travel back to an era when guests got gussied up in their Sunday Best before visiting the Magic Kingdom? Twice a year you can do just that, thanks to Dapper Days. The most recent retro fashion celebration occured at Disneyland Resort over the weekend of February 22-23, 2014. There’s been plenty of photos floating around online of the most recent Disneyland Dapper Day from inside the parks, which were flooded with flocks of fans wearing high-fashion outfits from the 1920s through 1960s. But there’s been little coverage (until now) of the Dapper Day expo and events held simultaneously inside the Grand Californian hotel’s convention center.

Dapper Day in the Parks

First, here’s a brief look at a few of the ten-thousand-plus Disneyland Dapper Day participatants who were on parade inside the parks:

Disneyland dapper day

The queue to ride the Mark Twain riverboat stretched all along the Frontierland waterfront.


Read the rest of this entry »

Disneyland Annual Passholder Sing Along Under the Stars Events Start Feb 5

by on February 5, 2014

Disneyland Annual Passholder Sing Along Under The Stars in February at Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree

Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree (seen here with holiday decor) will host Disneyland Annual Passholder Sing Along Under The Stars in February.

Drive-in movie theaters are sadly a distant memory in most of America, and the majority of us can’t jump on a Disney cruise just to watch a flick while floating in the pool. But this month, Disneyland Annual Passholders have a unique interactive opportunity to experience a Disney “second golden age” classic outdoors under the Anaheim night sky, thanks to February’s Disneyland Annual Passholder Sing Along Under The Stars screenings at Frontierland’s Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree.

Each week, a different animated musical film is shown, accompanied by hosted trivia and (of course) sing-along sections. Passholders even get free popcorn, coffee, and cocoa! The venue opens at 5:30 p.m., and the film starts at 6:30 p.m.. Space is limited, so secure a wristband by presenting your valid annual pass after 2 p.m. on the day of at Westward Ho! in Frontierland.

Here’s the schedule:

  • Beauty and the Beast: February 5 and 6, 2014
  • The Little Mermaid: February 12 and 13, 2014
  • Aladdin: February 19 and 20, 2014
  • The Lion King: February 26, 2014

It’s worth noting that events like these, which were formerly promoted under 2013’s “Limited Time Magic” banner, seem to have outlived that marketing campaign. You can find all the fine print on the Disneyland website.


Video Double Feature: Walt Disney World Talking Mickey & Jingle Cruise

by on November 16, 2013

Hey boys and girls, it’s movie time! Today on the Touring Plans YouTube Channel we have a very special video double feature direct from Orlando’s Magic Kingdom, featuring the new Walt Disney World talking Mickey Mouse and a Christmas twist to a classic ride.

Talking Mickey

Now you can do more than just say cheese with the Big Cheese at WDW — you can have a conversation!


First up is a complete ride-through of the Jingle Cruise, which (as Morgan Crutchfield recently reported) is the new holiday overlay of the classic Jungle Cruise attraction:

Read the rest of this entry »

Tickets almost sold out for Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Gingerbread House Workshops at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney

by on November 12, 2013

Ralph Brennan Jazz Kitchen Gingerbread House Workshops 2013

Tickets went on sale yesterday (November 11, 2013) for this year’s Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen Gingerbread House Workshops at Disneyland’s Downtown Disney, and seats are already almost completely sold out. Spots for the December 15 and 21 worshops are gone, but you can still purchase tickets for the first session on December 14.

Here’s how Ralph Brennan’s describes this popular seasonal activity:

The workshop kicks off with the induction of all participants as ‘chefs for the day’ with artfully self-designed chef’s hats. Next, Chef Darrin Finkel leads an interactive demonstration on the proper assembly of gingerbread houses. Next, the good stuff…Decorating your gingerbread house with several handfuls of Holiday candy personally procured by Santa’s elves. Finally, in the spirit of the season and in recognition of the participants’ hard work, Santa will pay a surprise visit and hand out commemorative gifts to all attendees.

Read the rest of this entry »

Former Imagineer Tony Baxter to receive Main Street Window at Disneyland on November 1

by on October 29, 2013

Tony Baxter

Tony Baxter at D23 (Image courtesy Disney)

Imagineer Tony Baxter, the creative mind behind iconic Disneyland attractions like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Splash Mountain, and the Indiana Jones Adventure may have retired from the Walt Disney company earlier this year, but his presence in the parks is far from forgotten. That will be permanently assured this week, as a window above Disneyland’s Main Street, U.S.A., honoring Tony Baxter will be unveiled this Friday, November 1.

As reported by the Orange County Register, Baxter is scheduled appear in Disneyland park this Friday morning for an 8:30 a.m. unveiling ceremony, which was originally announced at August’s D23 Expo. Anyone with a valid park ticket may attend; the park officially opens at 9 a.m. that day, but the turnstiles will open at 8 a.m. to accommodate those attending the ceremony.


Disneyland Annual Passholder Event with Dave Bossert on Oct 24

by on October 19, 2013

Disney animation producer Dave Bossert

The Walt Disney feature animators who originally occupied the Magic of Disney Animation attraction at WDW’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios park were furloughed well over a decade ago. But, for one next week at least, a member of Disney’s animation team will appear at the sister attraction across the country.

On Thursday, October 24, Annual Passholders can attend a free session with Dave Bossert, Producer, Creative Director and Head of Special Projects for for Walt Disney Animation Studios. Bossert will tell behind-the-scenes tales and give “a close-up look at the new Disney Animated app.”

The 45-minute presentations will be held at 3pm, 4pm, 5pm, and 6pm at the Disney Animation attraction in Disney California Adventure’s Hollywood Land. Required registration must be done in person at the attraction on the day of the event, staring at park open. As always, a valid annual pass is required, and space is limited.


Viva Navidad Holiday Celebration Starts Nov 15 at Disney California Adventure

by on October 11, 2013

In an effort to appeal to Southern California’s sizeable Hispanic population, Disneyland Resort announced yesterday that it is expanding its popular Holiday offerings with a new “Viva Navidad” celebration at Disney California Adventure’s Paradise Gardens.

The festivities, which will occur several times daily beginning on November 15, will feature the Three Caballeros (Panchito Pistoles, Jose Carioca, and Donald Duck) along with Mickey and Minnie. Also keep am eye out for Mr. and Mrs. Claus, plus some 12-foot-tall “mojiganga” puppets. In addition to the entertainment and kids activities, which are included with admission, ethnic food will be available for purchase.

Viva Navidad will continue daily through January 6, 2014, and will be joined by a Three Kings Day observance at Disneyland Park on January 3-6. Feliz Navidad!


Observations from Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights 23: October 4, 2013

by on October 9, 2013

Okay, I admit it: I’m spoiled.

Usually when people talk about Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Florida the first thing they mention (after the gore and booze) is the huge lines. But this year, I lucked out. So far, I’ve been on an “RIP” guided tour, attended during exclusive annual passholder hours and “Stay & Scream” early entry periods, and made full use of my “Rush of Fear” and “Frequent Fear” unlimited Express passes. As a result, I’ve been able to experience all eight of the event’s haunted houses at least five times each so far this season, with an average wait time of under 15 minutes.

All photos by Seth Kubersky

But last Friday (10/4/2013), I wanted to experience how “the other half” lives and see the event from the perspective of an ordinary guest. Is it possible to arrive at the front gate on a moderately crowded night without any special line-cutting passes and still have a good time at HHN? Let’s find out!

Read the rest of this entry »

Free “The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad” Screening for Disneyland Annual Passholders on 10/3/13

by on October 1, 2013

Sleepy Hollow may be a hot new television series from FOX, but Disney told Washington Irving’s tale of the Headless Horseman long before Kurtzman & Orci got in on the act. If you are an Anaheim Annual Passholder, you can relive the 1949 animated anthology The Adventures of Ichabod and Mr. Toad this Thursday inside Disneyland’s Main Street Opera House.

Screenings are at 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. on October 3. A valid Disneyland AP is required, and space is limited, so you must register in person and retrieve a wristband beginning at noon. See here for full details on this “Limited Time Annual Passholder Magic” event.