News Nuggets from Around Disney World – April 1 Edition!!

April 1 News Nuggets

It’s time for a special, April 1st edition of the Rope Drop [dot] Net News Nuggets! With so much to report on, we are going to jump right into the Nuggets, but please stay tuned for a special announcement at the end of the post!!

  • The Sorcerer’s Hat is Returning to The Studios – After a brief hiatus, the famed Sorcerer’s Hat is returning to The Studios. In order to allow for the new construction, The Great Movie Ride will be closing on April 15, 2016 to allow easier construction access to the courtyard. (NOTE: Rumors are the hat returning is only the beginning, and it’s just a matter of time until Epcot gets back its magic wand!)
  • Small World, Peter Pan, and the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh to close for refurbishment – After finally realizing that theme park guests universally prefer rides that involve sitting in nearly stationary vehicles while looking at a screen, Disney will be closing three of its signature attractions to replace them with ground-breaking technology that is referred to internally as “SCREENZ!”. When this transition is successful, Disney hopes to apply the same changes to its other attractions, starting with Kilimanjaro Safaris.
  • Illuminations to occur only during hard ticketed events – With the success of the yet-to-begin After Hours event at the Magic Kingdom, Disney has decided to expand its late night offerings to Epcot. In order to “plus” the event for its guests, Disney plans to move Illuminations to 2 hours after the park closes to regular guests. This later start time should give hard-ticketed guests a much better viewing experience of Disney’s classic nighttime show.
  • Park Hopper ticket now required to ride Splash Mountain, Tower of Terror, and Expedition Everest. – Following the success of Universal Studios’ strategy of making guests pay for tickets to 2 “quarter day” theme parks just to be able to ride on one of its rides, Disney will now require park hopper tickets to experience some of its most popular attractions. (NOTE: With the Park Hopper ticket now required to ride certain rides, guests will have to purchase the new “Preferred” Park Hopper ticket in order to actually “hop” between parks.)
  • Fulton’s refurbishment to include takeover by the staff of Lombard’s Seafood Grill – With so many restaurants at Disney Springs trying to raise the proverbial bar when it comes to dining, the owners of Fulton’s Crab House have decided to take things in a completely different direction. “What if we gave the crew at Lombard’s a clean slate?” a person familiar with the matter said. “Could they make a restaurant so bad that people would visit it just to see how bad it was?” It’s a lofty goal, but if anyone can set a new standard for horrific seafood, it’s the crew from Lombard’s.

That’s all for today’s special April 1 New Nuggets. Before we go, though, it’s big announcement time: After some recent articles on the interwebs, Elyssa and I now realize that (1) we’re too old to enjoy Disney World, and (2) we should be doing more “adult” vacations. So, we are happy to announce that we have started the process of rebranding the site to “Spanish Moss [dot] Net” to better align with our more “adult” focus. As part of this transition, you can expect more of our coverage be about the only theme park in Orlando for people “15 years old and older.” We hope you are as excited for these changes as we are!

(Sorry. No, really. I’m sorry. As bloggers, however, we are required to make horrible April Fool’s Day jokes. It’s in the code.)

Won't Epcot be Nicer without all these People?
Won’t Epcot be Nicer without all these People?

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

It’s Easter Weekend and and that means (among other things, obviously) lots of visitors to Disney World, and a whole bunch of new Disney World News Nuggets.

The biggest news is probably the new “extra” hours opportunities at the Magic Kingdom:

  • Disney “After Hours” Event Announced. – 3 extra hours at the Magic Kingdom with a low attendance sounds pretty awesome, but $150 per person is a lot of money for it. I’m not sure what I’ll do when I have the option to go to this. (I’m not the first / only person to say this, but it seems like the DVC Fireworks we saw a couple of weeks ago might be a good fit for this party.)
  • Disney adds “Early Morning Magic” to the Magic Kingdom – Rumors are saying that $69 gets you rides on Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Peter Pan and Winnie the Pooh, as well as a “breakfast buffet” at Pinocchio Village Haus for 1.5 hours before the park opens to regular guests. I was hoping this would be $50 per person, not $70.

That wasn’t all the news from the past few days, though. Here are the rest of the News Nuggets:

We’ll end this edition of the News Nuggets with this look at what has become of Disney’s River Country “Watering Hole”. I used to love River Country, and I was sad when it was closed. It’s freaky to see what it looks like now that Disney has abandoned it. Hopefully, the rumors Jim Hill talks about (building a DVC resort in that area) turn out to be true.

See you next time!

What special entertainment will be part of After Hours at the Magic Kingdom?
What special entertainment will be part of After Hours at the Magic Kingdom?

Disney to stream IllumiNations Live Tonight at 8:50pm Eastern

Tonight, Disney will be streaming Illuminations live at 8:50pm Eastern. Previously, I would recommend going directly to the Disney Parks Live YouTube channel to watch these type of events, but, since it seems Disney hasn’t allowed direct Youtube viewing for the last couple of events, it’s probably best just to go right to the Disney Parks Blog and look for a post with the embedded video. Apparently, if you join them beforehand, you can get “a behind-the-scenes look at the operation of this nighttime favorite.”

As always, I’m really glad that Disney has been doing this. It gives people a little more excitement about visiting Disney World, and also allows people to get a little of the “Disney magic” from home.

Enjoy the show tonight!

IllumiNations!
IllumiNations!

Announcing the Rope Drop [dot] Net Mic Drop with the Mighty Men of Mouse

Today is a big day here are Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ, as Elyssa and I are proud to announce a new collaboration with the fabulous Mighty Men of Mouse podcast: The Rope Drop [dot] Net Mic Drop. The Mic Drop will be a recurring segment on the MMoM podcast (probably around every 3-5 weeks) during which Elyssa and I will discuss some of the recent happenings we’ve been writing about on the site. If that sounds good to you (and we hope it does), then  you can check out the very first Rope Drop [dot] Net Mic Drop in this week’s MMoM episode! In this segment we talk about our recent trip and highlight some of the places that we ate. We hope that you enjoy it. (Also during this episode of MMoM, Elyssa enters the Disney Podcaster’s Studio with Russ Liption and answers “the questionnaire.”)

Of course, this post would be incomplete without thanking Dutch, Russ, and Kip for inviting Elyssa and I to join them on their show. Elyssa and I have been singing the praises of Mighty Men of Mouse since long before we started Rope Drop [dot] Net, and we are honored that the guys asked us to be even a small part of it.

  

Rope Drop [dot] Net Bracket Challenge

It’s NCAA tournament time, which means that everyone is going to be filling out brackets, joining “bracket pools”, and trash talking about how well their favorite teams are doing in the tournament. I recently asked on Twitter if there was a bracket group for us Disney World fans that read each other’s website, listen to each other’s podcasts, and interact online. Since no one seemed to know of one, Elyssa & I decided to create one.

So, welcome To the Rope Drop [dot] Net NCAA Tournament Bracket Challenge!

Here are the details:

  • We are using ESPN’s “Tournament Challenge” system in order to do our brackets.
  • Our “group name” is “Rope Drop [dot] Net.” (You’ll know you’re in the right group if you see the image from the bottom of this post.)
  • Our “group password is “phasma”.
  • Here is a direct link to the Rope Drop [dot] Net bracket group (Again, our group password is “phasma”)
  • You must have your entry completed and added to the “Rope Drop [dot] Net” group by the time the first game tips off on Thursday, March 17, 2016 to join our group. (Usually, that’s around noon Eastern.)

Though Elyssa & I are contempating a few things, there are no official prizes for entering, winning, etc… (If you’re a fellow Disney fan, site proprietor, podcast host, etc…, however, who wants to contribute some swag to a possible “prize pack”, please get in touch.) That said, the hope is there will be some fun competition and trash talking amongst the contestants that will give the winner some fun “bragging rights.”

To help facilitate the communication, I am suggesting the Twitter hashtag “ropedropbc” to use when talking about the challenge. (Though you never know if another hashtag will take off, instead.) You can use that tag for talking about the tournament, as well as asking for help on getting your bracket picked, getting into the group, etc… I’m pretty sure that people will be willing to help others or have questions.

At this point, I think that covers all the basics. Feel free to reach out online to ask for questions, or let Elyssa know if we missed something. Good luck on your tournament picks!!

Rope Drop  [dot] Net Bracket Challenge
Rope Drop [dot] Net Bracket Challenge “Logo”

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

We talked yesterday about the changes coming to Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend at Disney World, but what are we to do with the news of menu changes, new dessert parties, and (sadly) more price increases? Sounds like it’s time for another edition of the Rope Drop [dot] Net News Nuggets! Before we get to the majority of the Nuggets, we should need to point out one huge item:

With that out of the way, let’s get to the rest of the News Nuggets:

Though not a traditional “news nugget”, I would also like to point out that Disney plans to launch “Frozen” and “Tangled” themed wedding packages!. Yes, they’re only available in Tokyo now, but, if you ever need photography for Disney wedding (Frozen themed or not), feel free to contact Elyssa at Kivus & Camera. I bet there would be a discount for involved for getting to photograph that.

Shower Time!
Shower Time!

Big Changes for Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend

runDisney has officially announced the changes for Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend and they are pretty major. Here is a summary:

  • There is now a Wine & Dine 10K on Saturday Morning;
  • There is a Lumiere’s “Two Course Challenge” that incorporates the Half Marathon and the new 10k; and
  • The Half Marathon is now a morning race with a route that does not involve the Studios (NOTE: there is still a special “after hours” party later in the evening).

These are pretty drastic changes to Wine & Dine weekend. I was expecting the 10K to be added, but I didn’t think they would move the half marathon to the morning. Personally, I’m going to lament the loss of a night race through Disney World. Also, part of the charm of Wine & Dine was running the Half Marathon and going right to the post-race party. It’s weird to run in the morning and then wait all day to go to the party. (Also, I wonder how many non-runner tickets they’ll sell to the party.)

It will be interesting to see how other runners react to these changes, but I suspect people will be a little bummed that we’re losing a night race.

UPDATE: In a blog post explaining the changes, Disney says that “with all four theme parks at Disney World soon remaining open during the nighttime hours, daytime races allow us to give race participants the best possible runDisney experience along with fantastic entertainment. Based on that explanation, I don’t think we will be seeing a nighttime race at Disney World for some time.

Wrestlemania coming to Orlando in 2017

It has been rumored for some time, but WWE has officially announced that Wrestlemania will be in Orlando on April 2, 2017.

From a fan perspective, I’m interested in seeing such a big event in a city I love to visit. As someone who writes about Disney World, I’m interested to see how something like this might impact crowd levels.

UPDATE: AM2 Magazine is also reporting that a WWE  “Hall of Fame” Restaurant is coming to Universal CityWalk. AM2 reports that the restaurant will be where NBA City used operate. (NOTE: This is the first time I’ve used a rumor from AM2, so I’m unsure how it’s reliability at this time. My excitement over Wrestlemania might be getting to me.)

 

Rumors of runDisney moving to PhotoPass for runDisney Races

Rumors of runDisney moving to PhotoPass for Race Photography

WDW Magic is reporting that runDisney is going to move to its own PhotoPass photographers for race photography (instead of current vendor, MarathonFoto). The change is rumored to go into effect for the “Dark Side” Star Wars Half Marathon weekend in mid-April. Though I haven’t seen official confirmation yet, this has been a hot rumor in parts of the runDisney community.

If this change actually comes to pass, it could be a nice upgrade for runners. Currently, MarathonFoto charges $80 to download your photos for 1 runDisney event. Meanwhile, an advance purchase (i.e., 3 days before your runDisney event) of Memory Maker (Disney’s photography product that allows for photo downloads) costs $150 (and includes all photos from your Disney World trip, not just those during the race.) As you can see, anyone running multiple events during a given race weekend will end up saving money under the PhotoPass system. (For a 2 race “challenge”, the savings would be $10. For a 4 race “challenge”, the savings would be $170.) People running a single race who don’t care about any non-race “in park” photographs might end up disappointed under this system, but at least Disney’s single photo download prices ($15 per photo) are half of MarathonFoto’s single photo download price ($30 per photo).

I’m really hoping that we get an official announcement of this change soon. It would be a welcome upgrade for Elyssa and me.

NOTE: I probably am even more excited as Annual Passholder, since I already have PhotoPass as part of my AP package.

Disney Gives Start Date for Rivers of Light and Details other Summer Entertainment

In a kind of diabolical move, Disney made a few announcements regarding its upcoming summer entertainment while most Disney writers are over at Epcot covering the start of the Flower & Garden festival.

The biggest announcement is that the new Rivers of Light show at Animal Kingdom will debut on April 22, 2016. (There was no mention of how many shows per night they’ll be doing, however.) Elyssa and I were recently discussing whether or not Rivers of Light would open in April, and it looks like Disney is going to get it in just under the gun. Disney provided a preview video of the show, but I find that shows involving water projection (e.g., Fantasmic!) don’t really translate to video. At this point, the best “hype” for Rivers of Light comes from the concept art that has been around for a while.

For those who want more information about Rivers of Light, Disney is going to do a live chat on Tuesday, March 8 at 1:15pm, which will include answering questions left in the comments section of this page on the Disney Parks Blog. If you want to get your question answered, I’d suggest getting it in early (and maybe asking it again during the actual March 8 call.)

The press release for the summer entertainment includes a bunch of things that we have already heard off, including:

  • Nighttime safaris at the Animal Kingdom;
  • The opening of the “Frozenstrom” BOATRIDE at Epcot (not the real name, obviously); and
  • A bunch of new Star Wars-themed entertainment coming to the Studios.

Unfortunately, the only things that have a definitive start date listed are the above mentioned Rivers of Light show and the “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” stage show (which will debut on April 4 at The Studios.) It will be interesting to see when some of the other offerings mentioned in the press release roll out. Similarly, rumors are that the Zootopia character will be joining the Move it! Shake It! Dance It! & Play It! Parade, but no date has been announced for that, either.

(Also, let’s just pretend that the summer entertainment press release didn’t include a section on the Skipper Canteen (which opened before Christmas last year.))

 

Will we soon get to take this pictures with Lt. Judy Hopps?
Will we soon get to take this pictures with Lt. Judy Hopps?

 

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

Here are Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ we’re still recovering from the price increase that happened this weekend. Of course, even 8-10% ticket price increases can’t stop us from publishing the next edition of the News Nuggets!

Phew. That was a lot of News Nuggets. Let’s take a quick break to relax in the early morning glow of World Showcase:

Early Morning at World Showcase
Early Morning at World Showcase

Now, back to the News Nuggets!

We’ll finish things up with a couple of “events” from Disney World. First, they recently had a DVC 25th Anniversary “party” at the Magic Kingdom. It featured, among other things, a rare appearance by the Haunted Mansion’s tightrope girl and a special fireworks show. Here are the videos of that show from DVC News, Inside the Magic, and The DIS:

Also, Flower & Garden festival starts tomorrow. There’s a nice primer to the festival at TouringPlans and Denise at Mouse Steps has put together a really nice preview. If you’re still looking to get more hyped for the festival, I’ll leave you with this video from The DIS:

Thanks for reading!