News Nuggets (Special, Double-Sized Edition!)

Double-Sized Corn Dog Nuggets. Yum.
Double-Sized Corn Dog Nuggets. Yum.

While we were away on an actual visit to Disney World, we fell a little behind on the various bits of news that came out over the past couple of weeks. We intend to rectify that situation with today’s special, double sized, edition of Rope Drop [dot] Net’s News Nuggets:

NOTE: While I was preparing this News Nuggets update, Disney released additional details about the nighttime “Rivers of Light” show coming to the Animal Kingdom. I couldn’t wait to share that news, and already posted about it here.

Lastly (and of particular interest to Elyssa), next year’s Dapper Days have been announced: * April 16 – Magic Kingdom * November 12 – EPCOT

I think we already have a Kivus & Camera wedding booked for April 16, so I guess we’ll see how badly Elyssa wants to go down for the one in November.

The Upcoming Star Wars Invasion at The Studios

Whether Disney calls it Season of the Force or not, there is going to be a lot of new Star Wars-related entertainment, attractions, and food coming to The Studios over the next couple of months.

First, Star Yours – The Adventure Continues has already received a new sequence based on Star Wars – The Force Awakens. Disney released a teaser of the new sequence (which I refuse to watch since I’m trying to go into the new Star Wars movie as “blind” as possible to what might happen):

(If you really want spoilers about the new sequence, WDW News Today has a write-up (which I have not read)).

Opening next (perhaps as early as November 27, 2015) will be the Star Wars Launch Bay. Disney has described the Launch Bay as:

tak[ing] guests into the Star Wars saga and the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, special merchandise and opportunities to encounter Chewbacca and Darth Vader.

Also opening in December, will be the new Jedi Training – Trials of the Temple, which Disney describes as:

This reimagined Jedi Training experience will take younglings to the secret site of an ancient Jedi temple where they will face Darth Vader along with the Seventh Sister – a new villain from the Disney XD series “Star Wars Rebels.

WDW News Today also recently broke the news that the Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks show will run nightly starting on January 5, 2016, as well as describing the new dessert party and First Order Stormtrooper patrols that will be part of the new Star Wars-related entertainment.

Of course, all of this new Star Wars entertainment comes at a price, as Disney officially announced the end of Star Wars Weekends. It’s a bummer that we are seeing the end of another yearly event at The Studios (I already miss you Osborne Lights), but, hopefully, the new Star Wars land will fill some of that void before too long.

Approaching AT-AT
Approaching AT-AT

Disney to Live Stream the Osborne Lights at 10:30PM Eastern, Wednesday, November 18, 2015

NOTE: The title of this post originally said the stream was on Thursday (since I can’t read a calendar).

Disney has announced that it will be live streaming the Osborne Lights at 10:30pm on Thursday, November 18, 2015 at 10:30pm. For people who won’t have a chance to get down to Disney World in next few weeks to see the last performance of the Osborne Lights, this stream is almost a can’t miss opportunity (though I hope Disney is going to do it at least 1 more time before the lights go away.)

Elyssa and I were recently at Disney World and went to the Osborne Lights a couple of times (including running through them during our “quarter” marathon.) I didn’t get the best pictures of them, however, since I intentionally didn’t bring my camera the last time we visited. I wanted to just take in a really special experience, that, sadly, we won’t have the opportunity to enjoy again.

Snow Falls on the Streets of America
Snow Falls on the Streets of America

News Nuggets (Holiday-ish? Edition)

Crossing my fingers about potential rain this weekend
Crossing my fingers about potential rain this weekend

The holiday season has already started at Disney World, so this week’s News Nuggets are heavy on the “festive cheer” (so to speak.)

Before we get into the nuggets, two items of note: First, the Disney Podcast Directory has been up on the site for about a week now. I haven’t heard anything in the past few days about missing shows, so I think the list is looking pretty solid. Please feel free to check it out if you have an interest in listening to Disney podcasts.

Second, Josh from easyWDW and Dave from yourfirstvisit.net are doing a book signing Sunday evening, starting at 5:30pm at the Tomorrowland Terrace. If you’re a fan of their sites or their book, you might want to check that out.

With that out of the way, here are the nuggets:

Earlier this year, Elyssa and I agreed that we would not visit the Osborne Lights until we ran through them during the Wine & Dine Half Marathon. Since I’ve extended that “moratorium” to also include reading coverage of the event, I can’t point you to the “best” coverage of this year’s spectacle. Instead, I’ll finish this post with all the coverage I have found:   WDW Magic – “What’s new?”; * The Disney Blog – An early preview; * All Ears – 2015 Photos; * The DIS – Why you need to see the Osborne Lights this year; * Inside the Magic – Write-up and videos; and * DaMouse – A 4K video of this year’s spectacle.

News Nuggets from Around Disney World

Just after dusk at Epcot
Just after dusk at Epcot

It’s another week, and it’s another round of News Nuggets. As with last week, I’m including a “stock” image from Disney World until Elyssa and I can build up our catalog of corndog nugget imagery. (Trust me, she’s looking forward to that part of our trip.)

  • New Minnie “Seasonal Dining” Experience at Hollywood & Wine It makes sense to add some more character dining to The Studios, and Hollywood & Vine is the logical choice for where to put it (especially since its the go-to spot for various “special” character dining events.) The addition of this experience as “year long”, however, seems to be another indication of the lack of a Star Wars-specific special dining experiences coming up. (And, relatedly, lack of a Star Wars Weekend?)
  • Custom Magic Bands now Available in TomorrowLand I know I’m sucker for it, but I really want one. I have no idea what characters, color, etc… that I’ll pick out, but it seems inevitable that I pick one of these up during my next trip.
  • Rick Bayless to open Frontera Fresco at Disney Springs I think they’re doing a good job of rolling out these restaurants at a pace that allows each announcement some room to breath. Hopefully, Frontera Fresco will get the same positive reaction that we are seeing from The BOATHOUSE and Morimoto Asia.
  • Enhancements to Shop Disney Parks App allow for resort and front of the park delivery It’s kind of an interesting concept. You see something in a store while you’re roaming around the park, but—instead of having to buy it right then—you head off to your ADR and buy it while you’re sitting down for dinner. Then, your item is then waiting for you at your resort the next day.
  • Sorcerer Mickey Meet-and-Greet now in the Old Studio Backlot Area This is an “interesting” place to put Sorcerer Mickey, but you have to have this meet-and-greet somewhere. It’s too classic of a Mickey look to not have a place where you can see it.
  • New Musical Group Debuts in Morocco Here’s the blurb from the Disney Parks Blog: “Ribab Fusion, a popular band from northern Africa, celebrates Morocco’s Amazigh culture with everything from smooth grooves to high-energy funk, fusing the traditional sound of the single-stringed ribab with a contemporary, Afropop style.” It seems like an interesting choice, but I’ll reserve judgment until I see them in person. If you prefer to see watch a video now, however, you can find one here.
  • Epcot’s Holidays Around the World to Start November 27 I always enjoy these little experiences, so I’m glad to see they’ll be back before too long. It’s the little touches like this (and the fabulous decorations at the resorts) that really make the low-crowd period in early December a great time to visit Disney World.

Though not exactly “news”, the construction of the Magic Kingdom Hub has reached another milestone. If you want to see a great set of pictures of what the Hub looks like now, I suggest this post from Da Mouse.

Mighty Men of Mouse Listener Disney World Land Rankings are Live

As mentioned on Episode 231 of the Mighty Men of Mouse podcast, the results of the MMoM Listener Land Rankings Survey are now available.

Thank you to everyone who participated, and a huge thank you to Howie from Maryland for putting together the survey and the date.

You can find the results here: Mighty Men of Mouse Listener Disney World Land Rankings

Is it really a surprise that Fantasyland ended up on top?
Is it really a surprise that Fantasyland ended up on top?

News Nuggets from around Disney World

Thank you to everyone for the positive reaction to our first round of “News Nuggets.” Though I think Elyssa and I really enjoyed the comments, I believe that Elyssa’s most excited about ordering copious amount of corn dog nuggets during our next trip to photograph for use in this feature. Until then, however, you’ll have to make due with various other stock Disney images we have.

With the housekeeping out of the way, here is the latest round of nuggets:

Dusk at the Magic Kingdom
Dusk at the Magic Kingdom

News Nuggets from Around Walt Disney World

I also like my corn dog nuggets with a side of beignets.
I sometimes prefer my corn dog nuggets with a side of beignets.

Since there has been a lot of news coming out of Disney World recently, it seemed like the appropriate time to debut Rope Drop [dot] Net’s “News Nuggets” feature (inspired by one of Elyssa’s favorite Disney Food items: the corn dog nuggets from Casey’s Corner). As you would expect, these are small, bite-sized “nuggets” of news that you may find delicious useful.

Before we get to the actual nuggets, I do want to point out that Josh at easyWDW has started posting his 2015 Epcot Food & Wine Festival “booth by booth” reviews of all of this year’s food and drink options. (As I’ve mentioned before, I always start my Food & Wine Festival planning with Josh’s reviews. They are top notch.) You can already find Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 on his site, and I would imagine the rest of the booths will be up shortly.

Now, with that out of the way, it’s time for the nuggets:

That’s all the news for now. If you want more to read about Disney World, I suggest taking a look at the interview we posted yesterday with Casey Liss. It has gotten some really good responses so far, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

A lot of changes coming to The Studios
A lot of changes coming to The Studios

Reviewing Disney World Annual Pass Restaurant Discounts

Annual Passholder Discount Card
Annual Passholder Discount Card

With the recent increase in price for Tables in Wonderland, I bet I’m not the only one trying to figure out if it is going to be worth it to renew that card. One part of that cost-value analysis involves comparing the Tables in Wonderland discounts to those discounts that I already get as an annual pass holder. Though I am still working through my own analysis, here is a list of AP discounts compared to what you receive via Tables in Wonderland (“TiW”). These discounts appear to be good as of today (and, presumably, through the end of the 2015): NOTE: TiW Discounts do include alcoholic beverages

20% off Regularly Priced Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages During Lunch, and 10% off during Dinner:

15% off Regularly Priced Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages

10% off Any Purchase

10% off Lunch & Dinner Entrées:

10% off Regularly Priced Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages (Blackout Days Apply):

10% off Regularly Priced Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages DURING LUNCH ONLY (Blackout Days Apply):

10% off Regularly Priced Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages DURING LUNCH MONDAY THROUGH FRIDAY ONLY (Blackout Days Apply):

10% off Regularly Priced Food & Non-Alcoholic Beverages DURING BREAKFAST ONLY (Blackout Days Apply):

The above mentioned blackout days are what you would probably expect: New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Mother’s Day, Independence Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Eve.

NOTE: The Annual Pass does offer a 20% discount off the House of Blues Gospel Brunch, but the discount not available on the following dates: April 5, May 10, June 21, December 20 and December 27, 2015.

Hopefully, this listing helps you a little as you try to decide if continuing with Tables in Wonderland is the right idea for you.

The Good Dinosaur Preview to Air at One Man’s Dream

Ever since the Magic of Disney Animation closed and Walt’s office was removed, Elyssa and I have been waiting for (and fearing) the announcement that One Man’s Dream would be closing its doors at The Studios. Today, it feels like we are another step closer to that annoucement, as the Disney Parks Blog announced that previews of The Good Dinosaur would take place in the One Man’s Dream theater. Though there are not a lot of details (maybe part of the day will be the traditional One Man’s Dream film, and the rest of the day will movie preview? I doubt it.), this feels like more of an indication that One Man’s Dream will be on the way out of the parks soon (If I had to guess, I’d say it’s closed about the same time as the Osborne Lights come down.)

Though I undertand that One Man’s Dream might not fit with the more “Hollywood Adventure” approach to The Studios that’s on the way, I do hope they find somewhere to add more of the history of Walt Disney to the resort. In fact, I don’t even care if it’s in one of the parks. I just want somewhere on Disney World property to get that “look back” we won’t have when One Man’s Dream finally closes its doors.

I like learning about *this guy*.
I like learning about this guy.

Season of the Force Appears to be Replacing Star Wars Weekends at The Studios

UPDATE: Based on the comment from Kenny the Pirate (see below), I reached out to WDW News Today via Twitter to ask if there was any confirmation about this story (especially since the Disney “Star Wars Weekend” page mentions Summer of 2016.) I’ll include the response tweet below, and you can read the full interaction here. Personally, I have found Tom Corless and WDW News Today to be very reliable when it comes to “early” reporting of stories. Still, without official confirmation from Disney, I wrote the original article to say that it “appears” Star Wars Weekends would be replaced. In summary, though I think it would make logical sense for the event to go away as construction on Star Wars Land begins, and though I think WDW News Today has a solid track record on this kind of thing, I will let you make your own decision about what you think might happen.

In a move that I think most people saw coming, Disney’s new Season of the Force event appears to be replacing The Studios’ Star Wars Weekends in at least 2016. (WDW News Today was one of the first sites I saw reporting the news, though it was also (inadvertently?) posted on the Disney Annual Passholders page). Season of the Force will also occur earlier in the year than Star Wars Weekends used to, as it runs from January 8 through March 20, 2016. (As someone who plans on being down there in February for Princess Half-Marathon Weekend), I’m excited about the timing.)

Unfortunately, the above linked news reports give no indication that Season of the Force will feature the same interactions with Star Wars characters (and the celebrities who play them) that Star Wars Weekends used to. Instead, the reports only mention “special snacks”, “special merchandise”, and the previously mentioned new fireworks show as Season of the Force-only enhancements.

I'm afraid I'm really going to miss the character interactions from Star Wars Weekends
I’m afraid I’m really going to miss the character interactions from Star Wars Weekends

News and Lack of News about Star Wars at the Studios

A number of sites, including easyWDW and WDW News Today are reporting that the Jedi Training Academy will be closing for about 8 weeks on October 4th to revamp the show to tie in more with the Star Wars Rebels cartoon (admittedly, a really well done show.) For me, the biggest bummer is that Scout and Elyssa, Jr. will never be able to do this:

Meanwhile, the Disney Parks Blog released a a bunch of details about the upcoming Season of the Force event at Disneyland. The post contained a number of details for the Disneyland version of the park (including a Chewbacca meet-and-greet), but ended with this disappointing note:

[K]eep an eye on the Disney Parks Blog for dates and details on these new Star Wars experiences coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida.

Kind of a bummer for people like me who are looking forward to the Disney World event (Though, probably not as much of a bummer as all the closings that will be taking place at Disneyland as part of the Star Wars construction.) I imagine that the Seasons of the Force event will start up once the Osborne Family Lights come down (since that would be an easy way to get people to go to The Studios.)

One of my favorite Star Wars action figures
One of my favorite Star Wars action figures

Construction on Star Wars Land at The Studios to Start in 2016

Daniel Miller reported in the Los Angeles Times that Disney COO Tom Staggs recently said that Disney will break ground on the new Star Wars Lands in 2016. This seems to make sense with the recent announcement that this will be the last year of the Osborne lights at The Studios.

Personally, I think the only thing surprising about this announcement is that construction on Star Wars Land is starting so soon. I figured it would be 2017 or 2018 before they “started pushing dirt around” (as Mighty Men of Mouse host Dutch Lombrowski likes to say.)

The Last Year of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights

Late last week, Disney announced that this year would be the last year of the Osborne lights at The Studios. I don’t think I’m in the minority when I say that I’m majorly bummed out by this announcement (even if I expected it for the past couple of years.) When Elyssa and I have taken Disney World trips during the holidays, we would stop by the Osborne lights 2 or 3 times (maybe more). This year, we’ll be running through them as part of Wine & Dine half-marathon weekend. It is going to be pretty sad to see them go.

In the end, I understand the Osborne lights were a casualty of the new construction (and, yes, I’ve heard the rumors related to dealing with the family, how they might simply be re-branded to work with ABC’s christmas lights television show, etc…), but that doesn’t make their departure any less hard. I hope that Disney does a similar kind of action in a year or two (location TBD), but I am not going to hold my breath.

An old cellphone picture of the Osborne Lights from a couple of years ago
An old cellphone picture of the Osborne Lights from a couple of years ago

Rumors that Star Wars Weekends are Going Away

Boba, Darth, and Elyssa
Boba, Darth, and Elyssa

WDW News Today published a story about the rumor that we’ve seen the last of Star Wars Weekends at The Studios. I don’t find this really surprising with the large amounts of construction coming to the studios, as well as the new Season of the Force event that’s scheduled for early next year. I would assume that some of the events that used to be a part of Star Wars Weekends will be moved to the new Season of the Force event.

What does surprise me, though, is the additional rumor that Disney is going to stop dressing up traditional “Disney” characters (Mickey Mouse, Goofy, etc…) in Star Wars gear. Personally, I think using the Disney characters as a gateway into the larger Star Wars universe is a great way to get younger people interested in Star Wars. I really hope this rumor is false (and, if I had to bet on it, I would bet that it is. I mean, it’s tough to say that Disney is trying to go for a “more serious tone” with the brand when they just put out an ad for dancing wookies).

John and Mickey use the Force
John and Mickey use the Force
Elyssa as Minnie and Minnie as Leia
Elyssa as Minnie and Minnie as Leia

Star Wars Launch Bay to Open at The Studios in December

WDW Magic is reporting that artwork on the building that will be the future home of the Star Wars Launch Bay indicates that the new “attraction” will open in December of this year. Personally, I was hoping they would get it open by early November, but I really had no doubt that they’d have it ready before the Star Wars: The Force Awakens opens in mid-December.

Rope Drop Changes Coming to Hollywood Studios

WDW Magic reports that changes are coming to the opening procedure at Hollywood Studios. The biggest change comes at 8:30am (for a 9:00am park opening):

Guests without breakfast reservations will be allowed through the touch points at 8:30am and onto Hollywood Blvd. Guests will be able to go as far at the 50’s Prime Time Cafe, Min and Bill’s Dockside, and to the Trolley Car Cafe, with ropes at each of those locations.

There will then be a “rope drop” at these locations at 8:45am. (As you might expect, some of the shopping and the Starbucks will be open at 8:30 when guests are let into the park.)

Personally, I prefer this opening procedure. It lets people spread out a little and then better position themselves for either heading to Toy Story Midway Mania or Rockin’ Rollercoaster.

New Studios Breakfast Option at Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater

The Sci-Fi Dine-In Theater in Hollywood Studios will be serving breakfast between November 1 and January 23. The options are kind of interesting (“puff pastry filled with scrambled eggs, crab, asparagus and Gruyère cheese with roasted tomatoes and avocado” and “grilled beef tenderloin on baby spinach with bacon and Cheddar custard on a roasted tomato with cheesy horseradish potatoes”), but as someone who has had the Star Wars breakfast in that venue, I can’t imagine wanting to go for this more “generic” event. That said, Disney probably needed to do something to make sure that people had reasons to go to The Studios over the holiday season, and this move fits that bill.

D23 Might Have Left Me a Little Excited

Approaching AT-AT
Approaching AT-AT

This weekend was Disney’s D23 Expo in Anaheim, CA. There was tons of Disney theme park related news at the event, but here is what has got me the most excited:

Star Wars Land at The Studios

The rumors are now a reality: Star Wars land is coming to The Studios. In what is being described as 14-acre, immersive experience, The Studios is getting a whole section dedicated to one of my favorite film franchises. I expected the land to have great theming, retail, and dining, but I didn’t expect these kinds of attractions:

These authentic lands will have two signature attractions, including the ability to take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, on a customized secret mission, and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle.

I get to fly a Millennium Falcon? Are you kidding me? That sounds amazing. With the level of detail expected in this area, it will come as no surprise that Jim Hill has recently said Joe Parinella, who was one of the keys to bringing Harry Potter to Universal Orlando, is the one leading this effort.

Relatedly, and in order to satisfy Star Wars fans while Star Wars land is being constructed, Disney also announced the Star Wars Launch Bay for later this year. The Launch Bar will feature “special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, including opportunities to visit with new and favorite Star Wars character.” It also sounds like Star Wars Weekends will be upgraded to the new Season of the Force promotion in “early 2016”, and will include new fireworks show set to Star Wars music.

If you want to hear more about Star Wars land, here a

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbOgVOIBPD0)

Toy Story Land at The Studios

Though I heard rumors that there might be something Pixar-related coming to The Studios, I did not anticipate it would be an area completely focused on Toy Story. That said, I am pretty pleased with what it appears that we are getting. Yes, the green aliens attraction is only a spinner, but the Slinky Dog coaster looks pretty cool. Also, anything that increases capacity at Toy Story Midway Mania is a welcome addition.

Much like Star Wars land, what really impresses me here is how much detail is being paid to the theming. For example, the story being the coaster is that Andy used a roller coaster set in his back yard, but decided to use Slinky Dog instead of a regular coaster car to go around the track. I love it.

Also, Jim Hill has already said that Toy Story land is just the beginning for Pixar at The Studios. He is still hearing rumors about some kind of Cars Land being added, as well as one other Pixar section (which currently hasn’t been decided.)

If you want more details about Toy Story Land check out this

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3JA2NUN0Dg).

Jungle Cruise Restaurant at Magic Kingdom

The rumors about this were pretty spot on: [Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen] is coming to the Magic Kingdom. The restaurant is described as follows:

At the Jungle Skipper Canteen, guests will be able to experience “World Famous Jungle Cuisine” in one of several unique dining rooms – including a crew mess hall and a once-hidden secret meeting room of the famed Society of Explorers and Adventurers. The restaurant will also be staffed by Jungle Cruise Skippers.

I would assume that means we get the campy humor that the Jungle Cruise is known for, but the announcement is kind of light on details. For example, will this be a table service only restaurant? Or will it be similar to Be Our Guest, with quick service lunch (and breakfast?) and table service dinner? Personally, I’m kind of hoping they follow the Be Our Guest model.

Pandora – The World of Avatar

Disney announced the official name of Avatarland: Pandora – The World of Avatar. Until I have time to create an auto-replace (and to keep from confusing things with the jewelry brand of the same name), however, I’m going to just stick with Avatarland .

The model of Avatarland was spectacular. The idea of floating mountains, the special animatronic animals and Na’vi, and the change over from day to night make this place seem like it could be really special. Of course, the new land also includes a couple of new attractions: AVATAR: Flight of Passage that will “allow guests to experience what it’s like to fly with a banshee”, and a currently unnamed (??) boat ride.

Here’s a

(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uWivSgWdP0M) if you want to see more of the model and its exhibit.

Night Time Activities at the Animal Kingdom

In addition to Avatarland, Disney also provided more details on two new nighttime editions to Animal Kingdom. Rivers of Light “will combine live performers with floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery”, while Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris will be “a new nighttime adventure that will allow guests to travel through the African savanna amid the orange glow of the setting sun.” As someone who has enjoyed Animal Kingdom the first day I visited it, I cannot wait to have additional nighttime entertainment to keep me in the park longer. I am especially interested in seeing how they extend “the orange glow of the setting sun” into the night.

Soarin’ Around the World Coming to Epcot Next Year

The original rumors were that Disney’s new Soarin’ Around the World film would be exclusive to Shanghai for five years. Thankfully, those rumors turned out to be false and Epcot will see the new Soarin’ film and a digital projection upgrade “beginning next year.” I am, of course, excited to see this upgrade to Soarin’, but I am also excited to see this pattern of Disney updating or enhancing attractions at multiple parks at the same time. I understand the logic behind having certain parks be “the place you go to see Attraction X”, but I feel like this new approach of updating things everywhere is going to cause more overall excitement to Disney fans.