Category: News

A Weekend of Goodbyes

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In order to prepare for the future of Disney Parks, the weekend of April 2, 2016 was chalk full of closures of some popular (or not-so-popular, depending who you consult) attractions. I had so wished to be there in person for the finale shows, but between fighting a cold and the consistent rain on Saturday, it just wasn’t in the stars for me this time. Since I wasn’t able to be there in person, I decided to look back and reminisce on what just closed and what is ahead. Let’s jump right in, shall we?

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Over at Magic Kingdom, the popular castle stage show, “Dream Along with Mickey” had its final performance after nearly a 10 year run. The show is being replaced with “Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire” which will feature Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Daisy and Goofy and some of the newer Disney friends from Tangled, The Princess and the Frog and of course, Frozen. Really not hating, I just wish Cinderella had something to do with her own castle again as it seems she is always getting the boot to Frozen lately. I mean, I know that Frozen doesn’t have an attraction of its own or anything coming…oh wait.

Enough of the snark, back on the topic of Dream Along with Mickey, I will admit, I only saw the show a handful of times as when I was vacationing at WDW, and I never really stopped to take it in with so many other attractions to get to, plus I will admit, I thought it was dare I say, childish to “Dream Along with Mickey.” BUT after  setting aside time to actually watch it, I now kind of regret not seeing it more because it really was a well executed show. I think what I learned to love most about it was that is was classic Disney. Mickey and the gang were in their classic outfits and original squad of princess royalty (Cinderella, Snow White and Aurora) and their main squeezes were there too. Not to mention, Peter Pan and some classic villainous friends joined in the fun. The message of Dreams Come True and taking a dream with you wherever you go also hits home. I hope the new show has just a catchy of a tune and a heartwarming message as well. You will be missed Dream Along with Mickey, I am sorry for taking you for granted!

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While Mickey led the chant of ‘Dreams Come True!’ one last time, over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, an entire portion of the park was closed down and walled up to make way for the new Toy Story and Star Wars themed lands. The 11 year run of Lights, Motors, Action stunt show came to an end as were the nearby Streets of America. The Honey I Shrunk the Kids play area was also closed down as was the quick service location, Studio Catering Co. The Mike and Sulley meet and greet was also shut down, I am sad I never too the opportunity to meet them! Hoping they show up somewhere else, perhaps the Magic Kingdom near the Laugh Floor.

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Not taking into account the Osborne Lights, out of everything that closed this weekend at DHS, I will most miss Lights, Motors, Action. It was always exciting and amazing to see the stunt drivers perform, but there is a lot of space back there that will need to be utilized, but I will miss walking through the Streets of America and hearing the cars zip by. And while the show was hard to catch with only 2-3 performances per day and with it being all the way in the back of the park, I will miss seeing the good ol’ fashion stunts and pyrotechnic finale, but I guess I can get my stunt fill at yet another performance of Indiana Jones Epic Stunt spectacular to fill the void.

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The Streets of America, while a fun concept for the 90’s, was now just a large area of very empty real estate, aside from Christmastime when the Osborne Lights were dazzling and dancing, there was really nothing going on there anymore, especially after the popular band Mulch, Sweat ‘n Shears ended their run. Lately, it seemed besides the holiday season, the only time I really stepped foot in the Streets of America was to get from Muppets Vision to Toy Story Mania or to catch a rare performance of Lights, Motors Action.

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Now The Osborne Lights were like nothing I had every experienced before. It was truly Christmas magic and I could sit on the curb of the Streets for an eternity taking it all in. However, I think I mourned the fact the Lights were not returning this holiday season when they shut them off for good so the fact that Streets are now officially gone doesn’t sadden me that much. I guess what I am trying to say in this rambling is that I will miss the Osborne Lights immensely, but not the “Streets” if that makes any sense whatsoever.

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^^LIES^^

And so, the period of rebranding Hollywood Studios is among us. I am looking forward to see what is to come and while it will be years before any guests can step foot in these new lands, it nice to see that one of my favorite parks is getting the refresh it deserves.

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Progress City…Get Excited

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What an amazing time to be a fan of the Disney Parks!! The internet has been a buzz all week with all the new  and exciting expansions coming to Walt Disney World in the next few years thanks to all the announcements made at the D23 Expo. I absolutely cannot wait to see all of the new attractions, restaurants and entertainment that is coming our way! Sorted by park below, you will find my two cents as always as well links to official Disney Parks Blog articles regarding all the new gizmos and gadgets a plenty!

Magic Kingdom:

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Jungle Navigation Co., Ldt. Skipper Canteen (Jungle Cruise Themed Restaurant) — YES YES YES!! I have been saying for a while that my beloved Magic Kingdom Park needed a new table service offering that was outside of the princess theme. Skipper Canteen sounds amazing and just what Adventureland needs! I cannot wait to see more details about the menu and decor. Jungle Cruise is such a fun ride, so to carry that theme to the restaurant setting sounds like such a fun meal! I am ready to make my ADR’s now!

Epcot:

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Soarin’ Around the World – While I love the original Soarin’ and soundtrack, a Soarin’ Around the World film makes so much more sense for Epcot, plus the film will now be digital and another theater is being built which should help with the wait times. I hope the soundtrack is just as good and I wouldn’t be the least bit sad if they kept the original music. If they also want to find a way to incorporate oranges, I would be all for it too!

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Frozen Ever After Attraction – I know lots of people are on the fence about this one because they removed the popular Maelstrom ride to build it, but the renderings of this attraction look beautiful & I cannot wait to get the Norway Pavilion back! Frozen fans will also get to meet Anna & Elsa in the new neighboring Royal Summerhus cabin. Be sure you FastPass+ this one once it opens because I cannot even fathom what the wait times will look like! More Frozen Ever After

Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Star Wars Land – This one was the BIG kahuna that everyone was waiting for. A whopping 14 acres of land has been put aside at both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to make Star Wars Land a reality, making these expansions the largest in park expansion to date. I cannot think of a series that spans through so many generations and with the new movies coming out, Star Wars fever is going to get real. I cannot wait to see the attention to detail that they will put into this land! Universal Orlando can keep the Wizard Boy, we’ll take the Jedis.

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Tour Enhancement & Season of the Force – To hold everyone over while Star Wars Land is built, Disney will be offering some new Star Wars experiences. Star Wars Launch Bay, which will be located in the Animation Courtyard, will be home to interactive exhibits, character meet and greets and food/merchandise offerings centered around Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Star Tours will be adding new locations and characters from the upcoming movie. Lastly, Season of the Force, will be a new seasonal event coming in 2016 which sounds very similar to Star Wars Weekends with special entertainment, character greetings, etc. The headlining attraction sounds like it will include a new Star Wars themed fireworks show (no word yet on whether this is replacing Star Wars Weekends or not). The Star Wars hype is real, folks! I like that Star Wars is going to have an increased presence in the Disney Parks, especially for all those dads and kids who are such big fans!

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Toy Story Land – As if getting a Star Wars expansion wasn’t enough, Disney Hollywood Studios will soon also be home to a Toy Story Land! This land looks so colorful and straight out of the movie! In addition to another track being added to Toy Story Mania, a new family-friendly Slinky Dog coaster is being added as well as an Alien Saucer attraction. I love the queue of Toy Story Mania, so I cannot even imagine how detailed and amazing an entire land will be!

Animal Kingdom:

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Pandora – The World of AVATAR – While this expansion was announced some time ago, fans got some new sneak peeks at D23 for this upcoming mystical world. I cannot wait to see this movie come to life and see the bioluminescent plants and ride the banshee on AVATAR Flight of Passage.

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(Photo Credit: Disney Parks Blog)

Rivers of Light + Kilmanjaro Safari Enhancement – The concept art revealed for Rivers of Light makes me so happy! If there is one thing I love most at Walt Disney World, it is their nighttime entertainment, so the fact that we are getting a new nighttime show and at Animal Kingdom, a park that many people (myself included) have never seen after dark, makes me giddy! Since the park will be open during later hours, Kilmanjaro Safari will be doing Sunset and Nighttime rides as well! I think Animal Kingdom is going to feel like a whole different park after dark! I cannot wait!

Phew!! All this, plus all the new restaurants and shops coming to the new Disney Springs is enough to make any Disney fan’s head spin!! You can bet we will bring you more details as they are revealed!

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Goodbye to The Magic of Disney Animation Building

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It seems like every few months, I am doing a post bidding farewell to something at Hollywood Studios. Recently, Disney fans have said goodbye to the Backlot Tour, the iconic Sorcerer’s Hat, the American Idol Experience, the Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow and now the Magic of Disney Animation building, which closes its doors today. I was honestly okay with the closure/removal of the all the rest, but the closing of the Animation building is stinging a little.

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The building was once a working animation studio where guests could witness animators working their craft. In fact, Mulan, Brother Bear and Lilo & Stitch are some of the most famous Disney animated features which were almost entirely produced in that building.

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Eventually, Disney Animation’s Florida division was shut down, but the building remained and featured a short film with Mulan’s Mushu showing guests through the process of Disney Animation. After the film, guests were invited to play at some of the interactive animation activities in the building. The building had various meet & greets such as Sorcerer Mickey, The Incredibles, Wreck It Ralph & most recently Hiro & Baymax from Big Hero 6.

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But the best part of the Magic of Disney Animation was the Animation Academy which was a drawing class in which a Cast Member walked you through step by step how to draw a Disney character. Of all the times we went, I think we repeated drawing the same character once. It was always new and exciting because you never knew who the animator would choose as the lucky character to draw.

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^^Husband’s Flawless Mickey^^

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^^Mine…I like to call this Mickey’s Allergic Reaction^^

The Animation Academy was one of my absolute favorite lesser known attractions at Walt Disney World. Many times, we would bypass the Mushu movie and just enter through the back of the Animation Gallery store to just hop in line for the class which really never had too long of a wait. While my works of art were not always pretty, (as if you couldn’t tell) it was fun to feel like an animator and made you appreciate the hard work that goes into creating the animated Disney movies we all know and love. The class was a nice, quiet break away from the hustle and bustle of the park and I loved how they always enforced the fact that they do not provide erasers and there is no such thing as a ‘mess up’ or a ‘bad’ drawing. Speaking from experience, this really helped the non-artists/perfectionists/children with their self-esteem. :)

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^^Vampire Minnie…although the Animator thought it was creative^^

Disney has confirmed that the Sorcerer Mickey meet & greet will be relocated to a new area near Studio Catering Company, however no mention was made of Hiro & Baymax or the Animation Academy nor what would become of the area, just that they are working on a new experience and details would be forthcoming. The Animation Gallery store will remain open until August.

With yet another closure at this park, it once again solidifies the fact that some big changes are coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios and hopefully those details are finally revealed at the upcoming D23 Expo in August 2015. Whatever the changes may be, I surely hope they find a way to bring back the Animation Academy in some form or fashion somewhere in Walt Disney World.

Here are some of our other works of art thanks to the Animation Academy!

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^^Buzz Lightyear. (Left – Mine / Right – Husband)^^
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^^Grumpy (Left – Husband / Right – Mine)^^
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^^Jiminy Cricket^^

 

 

 

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Polynesian Villas & Bungalows

IMG_1446Current Disney Vacation Club (DVC) members can now purchase points at the newest DVC resort located within the Polynesian Village Resort. Sales for current members opened up on Monday, January 12. Sales for the general public will open on February 9.

Unique to the newest member of the DVC family will be the highly anticipated 2 bedroom Bora Bora Bungalows. The Bungalows sit on Seven Seas Lagoon, offer Magic Kingdom park views and individual plunge pools. They will sleep 8 guests and include the same amenities as some of the other DVC 2 bedroom accommodations including a full kitchen, two bathrooms & washer/dryer.

While there will be only 20 bungalows available, Disney is in the process of converting some existing Polynesian Longhouses into connecting studios. The resort will not have the one-bedroom option that is common among the other DVC resorts. In total, there will 360 studios which will feature split bathrooms with showers in each. Each studio will be able to accommodate 5 guests and are said to be the largest studios in the Disney Vacation Club Resort collection.

For a tour though one of the model studios for the Polynesian Villas & Bungalows, check out this video from Inside the Magic.

There was speculation that the Bungalows would be quite exclusive and this is evident when taking into consideration that there are only 20 available and also when looking at the DVC point charts. One week in a Bungalow will run members between 841 – 1,439 points depending on the time of the year. Per night, that comes to 115-227 points. To compare, a member can stay in a two bedroom villa at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for 185-575 points per week.

Point-wise, the studios at the Polynesian Villas & Bungalows are much more in range with the other monorail DVC resorts (Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort and The Villas at the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa) and range from 118-269 points per week depending on travel dates and view. See the 2015 Polynesian Villas & Bungalows Point Charts for more information.

We have always dreamed of staying at the Polynesian, in fact it is the only monorail resort we have never stayed at, so I am excited that as a DVC member, we will now have the opportunity to stay there on our points.  I don’t know that we will ever be able to have enough points to stay in one of the coveted Bungalows, but I know just staying at the Polynesian will be good enough for us!

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Farewell to the Hat at Disney’s Hollywood Studios


DSC_1831 Whether you love it or hate it, the Disney’s Hollywood Studios hat, which has been the park’s icon since September 28, 2001, is on its way out today. The news of the hat being removed has been around for quite a while now and Disney had been hinting at its removal by making the Earful Tower the park icon on new park merchandise.Today, they make it official as construction walls are now surrounding the giant blue hat.

Personally, I didn’t mind the hat as the park icon and never felt it was too out of place. I did visit the park twice when I was younger when there was no giant hat and the Chinese Theater was front and center. I have to say, though, most of my MGM/Disney’s Hollywood Studios memories come from having that hat as the park icon and I will definitely miss it as a backdrop for so many of our Disney pictures!

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On our recent trip in early December, we knew the hat was on its way out in early 2015, so I made sure to give it a proper goodbye:

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Although the hat will soon be a piece of Disney history, I am excited as to what new things the Studios has in store. Star Wars? Pixar Expansion? Carsland? Something else? Only time will tell, but I sense big things are coming and the removal of the hat is all in preparation for whatever the future holds.

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