This week, Elyssa and I were fortunate enough to be invited onto the Mighty Men of Mouse Podcast to discuss The Last Jedi. As you probably know (if your follow our Twitter streams), Elyssa and I are huge fans of the movie, but Mighty Men of Mouse host Dutch Lombrowski has more mixed feelings. Known defender of the Star Wars prequels, Matt S was a wild card going in (so I’ll let you listen to see how that plays out.)
As always, it was fantastic being on MMoM and I hope everyone enjoys listening!
Disney is doing a special spend off for Minnie has she heads to Hollywood to get her star on the Walk of Fame. It’s take place at Hollywood Studios on January 21, so you can either join in person or via the livestream that Disney is going to do of the event (the special buttons are only available if show up in person, obviously.) Congratulations to Minnie!
A little Merry Christmas from Elyssa and I, here at Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ. We’re celebrating Christmas at home, before we head down to enjoy some New Year’s festivities at Disney World.
Enjoy your holiday!
The Christmas season is in full swing at Disney World, and at Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ. The Magic Kingdom has it’s Christmas decorations up (and is having it’s “Very Merry” Christmas Parties), The Studios has its ‘Flurry of Fun”, and Epcot has it’s “International Festival of the Holidays.”
If you’re going to Epcot’s “International Festival of the Holidays” and thinking about trying out some of the food items available at the holiday kitchens, you can find the full menus here. Josh over at easyWDW also has a post with his favorite items, as well as reviews of the individual kitchens:
- Canada Yukon Holiday Kitchen
- China Shanghai Holiday Kitchen
- Cookie Nook
- Feast of the Three Kings
- France Alsace Holiday Kitchen
- Germany Bavaria Kitchen
- Italy Tuscany Holiday Kitchen
- Japan Hokkaido Holiday Kitchen
- Mexico Las Posadas Kitchen
- Morocco Tarabaki Holiday Kitchen
- Refreshment Cool Post
- United States American Holiday Kitchen
Now, with that out of the way, it’s time for the rest of the News Nuggets:
- New Spy Glass Grille Restaurant at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort Set to Open in Early 2018 – Not a lot of details outside of “we know that it will feature Coca-Cola Freestyle machines.” Then again, do you really need anything else?
- Mark Your Calendars For More Moonlight Magic in 2018 – Since Elyssa and I aren’t DVC members, we don’t track these dates too closely. If you are a DVC member, however, it might be worth checking this out.
- List of Interactive Exhibits and More Details Revealed for the NBA Experience at Disney Springs – It’s going to require a separate ticket to do certain things? I thought it was going to just be a big restaurant like the Comcast grill at Uni.
- Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen at The Magic Kingdom Radically Alters Menu Once Again – No more mac-and-cheese means I doubt I’ll ever convince Elyssa to eat here again. Josh from easyWDW has a review of the new items..
- Permits Filed and Building Placement Revealed for Tron Coaster and Main Street Theater – Nothing exciting is revealed in these permits, but it’s at least some evidence that things are progressing.
- Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Returns December 15th, The Last Jedi Scenes Being Added – Adding a little Last Jedi flavor for the holidays.
- Trader Sam’s Enchanted Tiki Bar Releasing “Jingle Cruise” Elephant Mug This Week – If I was already having a drink at Trader Sam’s I might pick one of these up. I’m not interested enough in them to wait in line in the morning for one, though.
- Sushi Lands in The Cool Ship at the Magic Kingdom – To someone like me—who isn’t a sushi guy—this seems as strange as when I see sushi in a gas station.
- easyWDW Review of Refurbished Room at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort – Josh takes a detailed look at the new Yacht Club rooms. They seem to follow the refurbishment trends of Pop and Coronado (which mirror the wider hotel trend of more minimalist design, with lots of “multi-use” space.) I like the room in the abstract, but I wish they could add a few more “theming” touches (like how the headboard used to look like it had a porthole in it.)
- Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail Debuts Extended Weekend and Holiday Hours – I enjoyed walking the Christmas Tree Trail last year, but this year felt much more cramped and crowded (I’m not sure if there were just more people there because of Santa being at the end, or if the path is actually narrower.)
- Bon Voyage Tangled & Little Mermaid Breakfast at Boardwalk Expanded to Offer More Reservations – Now offered through noon (which is fine, since that “breakfast calzone” is a definitely fine for lunch.) I assume this is just for the Christmas season, though.
- Disney CEO Iger is likely to extend his term beyond 2019 if Fox deal happens – It feels like Iger pretty much has a Supreme Court style “lifetime appointment’ at this point.
- Guests Can No Longer Order Merchandise by Phone or Email from Disney Parks, Will Have to Rely on Shop Disney Parks App & ShopDisney – I never used the other methods, but I usually don’t have many issues with the iOS app.
- Ray-Ban Sunglasses Featuring Mickey Mouse Are Back by Popular Demand – I hope this becomes an annual thing (so I don’t feel so much pressure to make sure nothing ever happens to mine.)
- Transformation Details Revealed for Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – Looks like an interesting concept. WDW News Today has a few additional images of the concept art.
- Reunion Station at Wilderness Lodge to Offer Disney Vacation Club Members Paid Lounge Experience – Interesting. I wonder if you have to be a “direct purchase” member (or whatever that’s called) in order to do this.
- easyWDW Review of Dinner and Chocolate Kitchen Sink Beaches and Cream at Disney’s Beach Club Resort – I share Josh’s thoughts on the food quality. These days, Elyssa and I grab a burger at Crew’s Cup before going to Beaches & Cream for dessert (though we might try Ale & Compass’ burger now.)
- New Venues from Patina Restaurant Group, Including The Edison and Maria & Enzo’s, Take Their Place in the Disney Springs Story – “An adults-only scene for guests ages 21 and up” with “gravity-defying aerialists?” Great. (Though it’s probably not the best sign that the dates for the tour have already been delayed for a week.)
- First Look: Brand-New Galactic Transformations at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique During Star Wars Day At Sea – There is an adult version. That said, you still have to get on a boat to do it.
- Ample Hills Creamery at Disney’s Boardwalk to Offer ‘The Last Jedi’ Ice Cream Flavors – If they’re still there for NYE, I’m sure I’ll give them a try.
That’s it for this edition of the News Nuggets. Elyssa and I recently spent a day at Disney World and tried out Ale & Compass and a few other quick things. Hopefully, we’ll have those thoughts up shortly!
See you next time!
It’s time for one of the Disney Parks Blog’s livestreams, and this time it’s Jingle Bell, Jingle Bam! (the holiday projection and fireworks show from The Studios.) The stream is scheduled to start at 7:55pm Eastern, so I would recommend going to the Disney Parks Blog at about 7:40pm to find the new post that has the video link. I’ll also try to update this post with the information if I’m able to catch it.
UPDATE: Here’s the Disney Parks Blog Post, and here’s the video:
If we’re doing our non-comeback, comeback, we have got to post a new edition of News Nuggets. As I mentioned before, there’s a an “in progress” set of News Nuggets that will be lost to the Patreon-only support realm forever (posting news from early September doesn’t seem particularly helpful now.) That means, these News Nugget are much more cutting edge, including: Dates from next year’s Flower and Garden Festival (scheduled to run Feb. 28 – May 28)..
I kid (mostly), the biggest news relates to some of the upcoming changes to The Studios, including learning that Galaxy Edge is located on the planet Batuu and bunch of news / rumors concerning Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, including:
- Rumors of an opening date in April / May of 2018;
- Confirmation that it’s a trackless ride system.; and
- Even rumors for the various scenes that will take place in the ride) (I didn’t read this one, since it’s way too early for me to get spoiled on that stuff.
That said, there were still plently of other News Nuggets over the past few day, so let’s get to it:
- Speedway near Boardwalk to close for Refurb – I assume they’re adding a Fastpass+ return pump.
- Tomorrowland Terrace at the Magic Kingdom Returning for Mobile Order-Only Test – I like mobile ordering, but I fear a mobile order ONLY restaurant is going to cause some headaches.
- New Outdoor Seating Area Opens at Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Cafe, Magic Kingdom – I wonder how busy this will be. It seems like it might be an okay place to sit and relax during more pleasant weather.
- Buon appetito! Disney Springs Welcomes Three New Italian Concepts – It’ll be interesting to see how these fit in with the newer restaurants at Disney Springs (especially, quality wise.)
- Animal Kingdom’s “Pandora: The World of AVATAR” Banshees Now Available for Adoption Online – Get your Christmas shopping done early!
- Rumor that Flights of Wonder at Disney’s Animal Kingdom to End Later This Year – That would kind of be a bummer.
- Just Announced: The SpectacuLAB Interactive Show Set to Debut at Epcot in November – This sounds like something that is in line with Epcot’s “original vision.” Let’s see if people show up.
- All in the Details: First Look at Woody’s Lunch Box in Toy Story Land – Who doesn’t love an old fashioned soda float?
- Galactic Goodies Galore at Star Wars: Galactic Nights – I wonder how close they are to making this a monthly (or more frequently) event.
- Iconic Mouse-Eared Headwear Sparkles This Fall at Disney Parks – If everyone can get Rose Gold Mickey Ears, will Elyssa still want them?
- First Look at NBA Experience Coming to Disney Springs – Summer 2019 is a long time from now.
- New Ale & Compass Restaurant Menu – I’m looking to give some of the breakfast options a shot (though I actually have a lunch reservation for next weekend.)
- Stitch’s Great Escape Returns for Christmas Season at the Magic Kingdom – Yay?
- Photos of the 2017 Disney Springs Christmas Tree Trail – WDW News Today gives a photo walk through of this year’s Christmas Tree Trail (I haven’t look through the photos, since I want to see them in person without being “spoiled.”) I’m not sure you need to go to Disney Springs specifically to see this, but it’s a nice thing to look at if you’re there.
- Splash Mountain Refurbishment is Still Scheduled for Early 2018 – Even though Splash Mountain isn’t quite finished its more than 2 month refurbishment, it’s still scheduled for a month long refurbishment in 2018. Having such a headline down for a quarter of 12 month period seems weird.
- Duffy’s Friend Gelatoni Makes His Debut on ShopDisney – I wonder how long before Elyssa’s asks that Gelatoni joins Fenway and Shellie Mae at our house…
- Long-Delayed Choza de Margarita Now Open in Mexico at Epcot – We’ll give you a review once Elyssa has had a chance to have one…
- Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge Construction Milestone Celebrated at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Just 2 more years, right? Right?
- Disney’s Magical Express Now Picking Up Guests 4 Hours Before Their Flight – In 4 hours, I’d already be halfway back to NC if I was driving…
- Hot Chocolate Ganache with Bailey’s, now available at The Ganachery – I see things like this and think “Oh. That’s interesting.” Then I remember the look one of the chefs gave me when I asked about the chocolate bars they used to have when it opened, while telling me “Those are never coming back” and I shrug.
- easyWDW Review of Narcoossee’s – Glad to see Josh joining the team. (Okay, that might be a stretch…but he didn’t hate it.)
- The Magic Kingdom to Distribute Bonus “Surprise” Paper FastPasses on Select Evenings Through November & December – This will be interesting if it happens. I assume they’ll use this to help with distributing people throughout the park.
- Disney Springs Introducing Hands-Free Shopping This Holiday Season – It’s easier to lose track of how much you’ve already spent if you’re not holding the items you bought.
- Enjoy A More Relaxing Black Friday Weekend at Disney Springs – ‘3 Days of Fun”, eh?
- New Permits Show Building Placement for Ratatouille Attraction and France Expansion – It’s pretty much what you’d expect.
- New Road Opens to Magic Kingdom Area Resorts – This is going to make getting to Whispering Canyon so much easier.
- Exclusive First Look: Starspeeder Flight Through Crait on Star Tours – The Adventures Continue at Disney Parks – I’m still avoiding Last Jedi spoilers, so I won’t be looking at this too closely.
- New Projections, Celebrity Appearances & More Announced for Star Wars Galactic Nights – I would be fine with them adding these projections to other evenings.
- Celebrate the New Year at Walt Disney World Resort! – Even though Elyssa and I plan on being there, I don’t think we’ll be doing any of these “special events”.
- Star Tours Will No Longer Mix Places & Characters from Different Eras, Ride to be Separated Into Two Paths – It looks like Star Tours will be a little less random for a bit (6-12 months) and then the “new” trilogy will get split out. I’m not sure that’s necessary, but it’s not entirely unexpected.
- Jessie & Rex Arrive in Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – I say they “have” to get this done before the summer crowds, but I’m sure the holiday crowds wish there was something a little more at The Studios this year.
That’s it for this helping of News Nuggets. It feels good to be back. Let’s end this with a little transformation into Christmas from the folks at Inside the Magic:
Yesterday was Disney’s quarterly earnings call. From a financials perspective, it wasn’t the greatest result. From a Disney media fan (especially a Star Wars fan) perspective, however, it was pretty interesting.
The biggest news out of the event is that director of The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson, will be writing and directing a whole new, Skywalker-less, Star Wars Trilogy. This is great on a number of levels. We’ll be getting more Star Wars (which, of course, is awesome), but, as friend of the site and Mighty Men of Mouse podcast host Dutch Lombrowski pointed out: Disney must think Last Jedi is good. In fact, Disney said as much in the press release:
As writer-director of The Last Jedi, Johnson conceived and realized a powerful film of which Lucasfilm and Disney are immensely proud. In shepherding this new trilogy, which is separate from the episodic Skywalker saga, Johnson will introduce new characters from a corner of the galaxy that Star Wars lore has never before explored.
Disney’s “never before explored” comment seems to suggest this won’t be a “Knight of the Old Republic” based trilogy (though that would be awesome), so I guess we’ll have some time to speculate on what will be coming from Johnson and Disney in the future.
In other Disney media news, Disney announced that it’s new streaming service will be priced “significantly lower than Netflix. With Netflix running about $11 a month (depending on your plan), there’s not a lot of room to make things “signifantly” lower. ($7?). To add to buzz around the new streaming service, Disney also announced that a live action Star Wars show would be coming to the service as well as a new Marvel show. (The existing Marvel shows on Netflix will be staying put on Netflix for the time being.) A streaming service with a robust Disney catalogue, including Star Wars and Marvel shows that are only available on that service, but help drive people to add Disney’s streaming service to the ever growing mix of streaming options. (Let’s ignore “ESPN Plus” for now.)
Those are the highlights from a big day in Disney media. Now, let’s just continue the countdown to Last Jedi. (34 days as I write this…)
(NOTE: The above image was Elyssa’s and my wedding “save the date” card, done by fantastic Robert Wilson IV.)
A quick note from Elyssa and me to everyone who is having to deal with Irma has it heads to Florida, especially all of our friends and family in Orlando and the surrounding areas.
Stay safe everyone.
UPDATE: Here’s the Disney Parks Blog post and the video embed is at the end of the post.
It’s time for another one of Disney’s live stream, and this time it’s Rivers of Light. It’s interesting that Disney has waited so long to stream this show. I wonder if it’s because so many people view it as lacking the “wow” factor present in Disney’s other nighttime spectactulars.
As I usually recommend for these things, I think the best way to view the stream is to go to the Disney Parks blog 5-10 minutes before the stream is supposed to start and find the new post that includes the video link. I’ll also try to update this post with that information if I’m able.
Enjoy Rivers of Light!
Here’s the video:
NOTE: The following is a little outside of the normal realm of content here at *Rope Drop [dot] Net. Since every Disney site seems to be blindly reporting the news about Disney’s streaming service, however, I felt a little context was in order.
This week has been an interesting week for content models and content delivery. On Monday, Netflix purchased the intellectual portfolio of a comic creator Mark Millar.. In his usual, modest, humble approach to things, Millar likened the move to Disney’s purchase of Marvel back in 2009. Though I, obviously, don’t agree with that sentiment, the move is consistent with Netflix’s clear strategy of becoming a content creator and owner, not just a content delivery mechanism. See, e.g., Netflix’s commitment to spending $6 billion on original content in 2017. The same goes for, predominantly, tech companies Amazon and Apple, who have also made clear moves into the content ownership and content creation space.
With all of those moves by technology companies into the content creation and ownership space, is it any wonder that earlier today, Disney—a long term content creator and owner—announced that by 2019 it would stop distributing its movies via Netflix and start its own streaming service. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to see the clear trend of content creation and content delivery converging. Since Disney, unlike the tech companies discussed above, already has the content library (and the ability to produce new content), it needs to develop the technical side of things. That’s why the biggest news out of Disney’s announcement is probably its acquisition (for a cool $1.58 billion) of a majority interest in BAM Tech, one of the leading providers of video streaming on the web. Disney is now poised to use technology it owns to deliver its content (including ESPN content) directly to its consumers, without having to deal with some kind of technological middle man. After all, if Netflix, Apple, and Amazon are going to position themselves as silos of content delivered by their own respective technologies, shouldn’t Disney position itself to do the same thing?
Of course, the proliferation of streaming services with their own content silos might not be the best end game for consumers. Discussion has already started online as to how many streaming services we will need to subscribe to in order to watch the various content we’re interested in. With Disney throwing its hat in the ring today, my answer to that questions is: 1 more service than I thought I had to subscribe to yesterday.
With D23 and various other things (like a visit to Mighty Men of Mouse HQ), I’ve fallen a little behind on the News Nuggets. Now, with only 1 week left for The Great Movie Ride and Universe of Energy, it’s about time to unleash a mega helping of Nuggets before it’s too late. (In a nice move, Disney lifted Annual Passholder Blockout Dates so people could ride them one more time.)
Before we get started, one big item to point out is the expanion of mobile ordering at quick service restaurants that started at Animal Kingdom (yes, you could say it started at Be Our Guest, but that’s a very different process.) Mobile ordering has now rolled out at Magic Kingdom restaurants such as Columbia Harbor House, Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café, Pecos Bills, and Tomorrowland Terrace; Epcot at Electric Umbrella; Disney Springs at places like D-Luxe Burger; and should be coming to The Studios shortly. (WDW Info has a page they updated with the listings). Disney also announced that there will be no discounts (AP, etc…) during this “launch period”.
Okay, now on to the rest of the News Nuggets:
- Disney Debuts Automated Souvenir Vending Machines at Resort Hotels, Offering Grab & Go Theme Park Items – I don’t get it. I guess, if you have to get some kind of trinket that can fit in this machine super late at night, now you can?
- Reservations Open Today for Frozen Ever After Sparkling Dessert Party: A Cool New Way to View Fireworks at Epcot – Like with a lot of the “dessert party” offerings, the $79 is more than I’d value this experience. It’ll be interesting to see what people think of these food options, though.
- Kungaloosh and Other Classic Pleasure Island Beverages Returning to Dockside Margaritas for Throwback Thursdays – Have a drink while you’re going through your #tbt feed. (Though, based on this easyWDW review, I think I’ll just stick with the Kungaloosh Ale at Nomad.)
- Evening Extra Magic Hours at Animal Kingdom Extended Nightly Through August 19 – Not a real big surprise, here (though I wonder if it’ll get one more extension, or if this is it.) That said, I feel like the EMH in the morning worked better to actually get on Flight of Passage than the nightime EMHs. Though, Animal Kingdom also went back to, generally, opening at 9am and closing at 10pm (instead of 8am to 11pm).
- Magic Kingdom Copies Disneyland and Adds Hand-Dipped Corn Dogs, But Are They Just As Good? – It sounds like Disney was still finalizing the process when WDW New Today did this review. It’ll be interesting to check back in a couples weeks to see how things are going. (Or, more importantly, get Elyssa’s opinion.)
- Disney Files Patent for Virtual Reality Captain America Shield Throwing Experience – Okay, I’d do this.
- Kessler Collection Likely to Open New Grand Bohemian Hotel Near Hollywood Studios, Site of Swan and Dolphin Tennis Courts – Interesting rumor. Kind of makes sense if Marriott owns the property. I’m still hoping they convert part of the Swan or Dolphin to Marriott’s time share stuff.
- Typhoon Lagoon annual refurbishment dates for 2018 – January 7 through March 18 probably isn’t too much of a high demand season for Typhoon Lagoon anyway.
- Dining Reservations Now Available during Holiday Parties at Magic Kingdom – Cool? I don’t know why anyone would pay to go to one of the parties and then spend 30+ minutes of it having a sit down meal.
- Star Wars AT-AT Walkers now standing over Disney’s Hollywood Studios – I just re-watched Empire, so even these outer structures make me excited.
- New Pirates Set to Join the Crew of Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris July 24 – The big takeaway, though, is that they are redoing the “auction” scene and “the redhead” will be a buyer of things, not a “wench” being sold.
- Siemens Ending Disney Parks Sponsorship, Leaves Spaceship Earth & IllumiNations Future in Doubt – I think “future in doubt” is a little strong. I doubt Disney is going to just roll Spaceship Earth away because it’s time to find a new sponsor. It will interesting to see what happens, though.
- Guests offered Disney gift cards in exchange for not having their rooms cleaned – Interesting. The big thing for me is the towel service, so how does the “on demand” towel service work? If they can replace all my towels within 10 minutes of me calling, I might consider this.
- Magic Kingdom to Close at 6PM to Accommodate 2017 Christmas Party Events – I wouldn’t want to be the cast members on those days telling people that the party doesn’t start until 7:00pm, but they have to leave now.
- Rey Joins ‘Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away’ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – I hope this paves the way for a Rey meet-and-greet over the next few months.
- Construction Begins on Epcot Gondola Station at International Gateway – So it begins…
- 2017 Candlelight Processional Dinner Packages On Sale Today – It’s never too early to book your spot to see NPH at the Candlelight Processional.
- UberX Now Allowed to Pick Up and Drop Off at Orlando International Airport – Lyft and UberX being able to pick up at MCO changes the cost calculation on a number of Disney vacation related charges (most notably, at the Swalphin.)
- Roaring Fork at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Reopens – Nothing Earth shattering here, but as someone who enjoys staying at Wilderness Lodge, it seems nice. Josh also has some pictures of the new Boulder Ridge pool area, which also looks pretty nice. Overall, I wouldn’t mind staying in one of the new villas..
- Maui from Moana makes his first appearance in a Disney Park (but it’s in China) – Let’s bring Moana and Maui to Adventureland
- Morning Yoga Now Available for Guests at the Boardwalk – I wonder if people will turn out for this, and, if they do, whether it’ll expand to other resorts.
- New Nighttime Entertainment at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Celebrates Decades of Films From the Disney Family of Studios – It’s like a “Celebrate the Magic”-style appetizer before each evening’s Star Wars fireworks.
- Must-Do PhotoPass Locations This Summer at Walt Disney World Resort – Elyssa and I really should have done the Tangled one.
- Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort Fourth of July Golf Cart Parade 2017 and Western Mickey & Minnie at Disney’s Pop Century Resort (Photos, Video) – Even though Denise has blocked me on Twitter (still not sure why), I’ll still link to Mouse Steps when she does something cool like this. I’m good like that.
- Characters in Flight hot air balloon name changed to “Aerophile” following makeover for Walt Disney World attraction – Sure.
Phew. We’re about halfway done this double-sized helping of News Nuggets. Let’s take a quick break to watch this video on the making of Pandora:
Okay, now back to the News Nuggets:
- Special Summer Menu Offer at Monsieur Paul for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders – Missing this offer by a week. Oh well.
- Big Changes to Disney’s Yacht Club Resort Dining Options at Walt Disney World Resort – Captain’s Grille is no more. Soon to be replaced by Ale & Compass. I have my fingers crossed that this will be the new “late morning breakfast” place for me to go to now that Trattoria is a character meal. (And, yes, I know that you can opt to get a “no character” version of the experience.)
- Disney Restaurant Discounts During Orlando Magical Dining Month (PLUS MENUS!!) – Interesting to see Jiko and The Wave on this list. Elyssa and I used this to try STK last year (review HERE), and it was a nice way to try something we otherwise would not have.
- Fried Chicken at Prince Eric’s Village Market in New Fantasyland – So much for a “healthy-only” food stop, I guess?
- Yak and Yeti Counter Service Now Serves Breakfast Daily – With Pandora bringing more and more people to Animal Kingdom earlier in the day, it seems logical to provide additional food offerings. Thankfully, Josh has a review to make sure no one ever suffers through it.
- ‘DuckTales’ Star David Tennant Visits Scrooge McDuck at Disneyland Park – I don’t normally link to these, but Tennant is my favorite Doctor, sooo…
- Star Wars Themed Shop Temporarily to Replace Marketplace Fun Finds at Disney Springs – Got to put that Star Wars Merchandise somewhere while they re-work the back of Once Upon a Toy. Blog Mickey has pictures.
- New BaseLine Tap House Part of New Grand Avenue Area at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – If the area is going to open up in the Fall, I wonder if they will put any holiday entertainment in the area this year. Blog Mickey has photos of the current construction
- Rumors of “Lights of Winter Returning” to Epcot for Holidays Around the World – I like Christmas Light-based “attractions”. Let’s do this.
- Up close look at Disney’s new Minnie Van car service – Depending on the time of day and where you’re going, it could be 2x to 3x more than Uber or Lyft. Also, getting dropped off at the Contemporary is not that much different than getting dropped off at the Magic Kingdom bus stop (which is the perk everyone seems to talk about).
- Permits Filed for Rockwork in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – E-Ticket rock work on the way for Galaxy’s Edge. Believe it. (An end date of the project of September 29, 2019 seems to line-up with a late-summer opening for the WDW version of Galaxy’s Edge.)
- The Disney Vacation Account Has Been Discontinued – I never used it this, but I know people who are really going to miss it.
- JW Marriott Hotel Planned Near Epcot and Typhoon Lagoon – Being able to use Marriott points that close to “on property” makes me happy. (Yes, I know I can convert Marriott points to Starwood points and use them at the Dolphin. I’ve done that.) Also, this hotel looks very different from the other JW Marriott in the area.
- Permits Filed for Coronado Springs Expansion Project – There is a lot of resort related construction going on at Disney World right now. It’ll be interesting to see how the various moderate resorts differentiate themselves when this is done.
- The Secret Nachos Rio Grande Challenge at Pecos Bills – Elyssa doesn’t like nachos, so I guess I’ll need to make a few friends if I’m going to try this.
- The Dress Shop [Returned] to Cherry Tree Lane in Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs on July 27 – I hope they can keep the dresses in stock this time.
- Disney Park, Resort Employees See Hours Cut Starting Tomorrow – This is concerning. I’m hoping (?) it’s a response to lower projected crowd levels, so the impact on wait times won’t actually be that much. I guess we’ll see in a few weeks.
- “Character Meet and Greets at Disney’s Animal Kingdom” – Looks like they’re replacing Tarzan with Timon.
- Baby Tiger Cubs are Coming This August to Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Move over Stella. Someone is coming for your cuteness title.
- Mission: SPACE ‘Relaunches’ Aug. 13 With Brand New Experiences – It’ll be interesting to see what the new films are like.
- Endless Virtual Backgrounds Available at the Disney PhotoPass Studio at Disney Springs – I didn’t realize there were so many options.
- Annual Passholders and Disney Vacation Club Members Now Get 30% Off At Select Table Service Restaurants – Maybe I should do Jiko on my birthday trip, then. Tables in Wonderland, too.
- Jawas are leaving Hollywood Studios – Well, that’s a bummer.
- Disney Food Blog Reports Lighthouse Sandwich Removed Columbia Harbour House Menu – Get the pitchforks and torches ready.
- Polynesian Outsells Copper Creek 3-to-1 in June 2017 – Not a surprise. The dues for Copper Creek are insane.
- Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM! to return to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the 2017 holiday season – Cool. Elyssa really liked it.
- Coronado Springs Resort Preview Center with Scale Model and Concept Overview Video – It looks like it could be pretty nice.
- Disney Springs’ Portobello restaurant will become Terralina Crafted Italian this fall – Hopefully, this takes things up to a BOATHOUSE / Homecomin’ level.
- New Disney-Themed Refreshment Carts Serving Up Magic at Walt Disney World Resort Golf Courses – This probably shouldn’t be big enough news to make a news recap, but I think it’s cute.
- Three New Year’s Eve Celebrations at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – It’s going to be cheaper for Elyssa and I to stay at the Beach Club for a couple nights at that time of year then go to one of these.
- The VOID’s New Hyper-Reality Experience Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire coming to Downtown Disney, Disney Springs – I’m not sure how I feel about this. It really puts a damper in my knocking of Uni for their lame VR attractions. Here’s Disney’s press release.
- 8 New Desserts for ‘Happily Ever After’ Dessert Party in Magic Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World Resort – I guess we’ll see if there’s an upgrade in the quality of the items.
- New Mission: Space Earth and Mars Signage Debuts at Epcot Giving a Glimpse of Things to Come – Should be interesting. I’m hoping the new “Earth” mission is cool.
- See the Main Street Electrical Parade Before it Ends Limited-Time Disneyland Park Run August 20 – I feel like I heard Jim Hill say the parade would make one more stop at WDW before it’s retired….(Or, maybe I was just hoping for it.)
- All in the Details: Slinky Dog Dash Track Completed in Toy Story Land – Toy Story land “on track” for next year? (What? Where are you going…)
- News: $75 Satu’li Sampler Platter Now Available on Satu’li Canteen Menu – Is this really more food than buying $75 worth of bowls?
- Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at Disney Springs Now Offers Late Night Happy Hour – Now I know where Elyssa and I will go after we’re finished at Homecomin’ for the night.
- Begin to Dream with Retro-Inspired Merchandise for 35th Anniversary of Epcot This Fall – I kind of like the shirt, but I imagine it’ll cost a little more than I’m willing to pay for it.
That’s it for this edition of the News Nuggets. If you’re like me and unable to get in one last ride on the The Great Movie Ride before it closes, check out this video from WDW News today that features an actual “walk through” of the attraction. See you next time:
UPDATE: August 22 – The latest version of the apps works with iOS 11!!
As I mentioned a few weeks ago, My Disney Experience, the Shop Disney Parks App, and even the Disneyland App (per the comments to my original post), all crash at launch on the iOS 11 Beta (currently, in developer beta 4 and public beta 3.) I’ve submitted bug reports using Apple’s beta feedback system (and been contacted to test a fix or two), but the crash is still occuring. If you’re planning a trip to Disney World in the near future, and you want to use MDE for things like refreshing Fastpass+ selections, I would recommend not installing any iOS 11 beta. There is always a chance that the next iOS beta will fix things, but I think it’s possible that the fix for this crash requires Disney to submit a new version of its apps that is compiled against the iOS 11 SDK. That would mean no fix would come before iOS 11 is actually released (which has, historically, been in mid-to-late September.)
You have been warned!
As readers of this site probably know, this past weekend was the 2017 D23 Expo out in California. Though, as a Disney fan, I was interested in a lot of the goings on from the weekend, I was most interested in seeing what Disney was going to announce related to Disney World.
Here’s what happened:
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Information about Star Wars Land starting coming out early at D23 when Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek unveiled a detailed model of the Disneyland version of the new land. TouringPlans has some more detailed pictures of the Star Wars Land model, as does WDW News Today, and Disney has posted a video “fly through” of the model:
The name of the new land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, was actually discovered in Disney webpage source code a day before it’s official announcement during Saturday’s Disney Parks & Resorts panel. As part of that announcement, Disney gave more details on the two two attractions that will be part of the new land:
One attraction will make you feel like you’re on a Star Destroyer inside a hangar bay. It’s an attraction built on a scale we’ve never done before.
Here is a link to WDW News Today’s look at the ride vehicle for that attraction that is supposed to bring you in a close confrontation with the First Order.
Disney describes the second attraction as
giv[ing] guests the opportunity to fly the Millenium Falcon, piloting the ship, shooting blasters or preparing for hyperspace – all while completing a critical mission. But how you perform on the mission holds even bigger stakes: perform with skill and you may earn extra galactic credits, while bringing the ship back banged up could put you on the list of a bounty hunter. End up on Harkos’s list and you may face a problem if you show up at the local cantina!
Chapek also announced that Galaxy’s Edge will feature appearances from popular characters Chewbacca, BB-8, and everyone’s favorite Star Tours pilot, Rex (who will have a new role as the dj in the cantina.)
Overall, the presentation hinted on the new “reputation” features of the land that were previously announced (i.e., your flight on the Millawnium…err…Millenium Falcon having consequences), but did not give details as to how that will be implemented. Thanfully, Inside the Magic has a fantastic interview with Imagineer Scott Trowbridge that gives strong hints as to how that system will work:
“If you do a great job flying the Millennium Falcon, you might find a few more Galactic Credits coming your way. But if you bang the ship up and bring it back all damaged […] when you roll across the street to the local cantina, you might hear from someone in the cantina that there’s even a bounty on your head because you owe more money than you have.
That’s just one quote from the interview, and I’d encourage anyone who’s interested in Star Wars Land, to head over to Inside the Magic and read the whole thing.
After discussing the land, Chapek confirmed earlier reports that both coasts will get their respective Star Wars lands in the first half of 2019, with the Disneyland version of Galaxy’s Edge opening before the Disney World version (which isn’t surprising based on the reports of the construction progress in both lands.) That said, with Star Wars: Episode IX scheduled to open on May 24, 2019, I would imagine Disney will try to get Galaxy’s Edge open in time to capitalize on the film’s advertising, etc… (and, coincidentially, a few weeks before Bob Iger’s contract expires on July 2, 2019.)
In more Star Wars news, the rumored, immersive, Star Wars Hotel was also officially announced. Chapek described the new hotel as:
“It’s unlike anything that exists today. From the second you arrive, you will become a part of a Star Wars story! You’ll immediately become a citizen of the galaxy and experience all that entails, including dressing up in the proper attire. Once you leave Earth, you will discover a starship alive with characters, stories, and adventures that unfold all around you. It is 100% immersive, and the story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits.”
If I heard things correctly, he also said that every room will have a window looking out into space. If the “virtual space” windows are half as good as everyone says the “virtual portholes” on Disney cruise ships, we could be in for a real treat. I’d imagine that Elyssa and I will be making reservations as close as possible to the hotel opening.
In non-Star Wars news related to the Studios, it was confirmed that the previously announced Toy Story Land is scheduled to open in 2018.
In a more dramatic move, however, Disney also announced that The Great Movie Ride will become Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. The first ever Mickey-themed ride is inspired by Mickey Mouse cartoons and Disney describes it as:
put[ting] you inside the wacky and unpredictable world of a Mickey Mouse Cartoon Short where you’re the star and anything can happen. This zany out-of-control adventure features surprising twists and turns, dazzling visual effects and mind-boggling transformations that happen before your very eyes.
More concretely, Disney says this attraction
will feature a new story and a new singable attraction theme song as well as a new experience we’re calling “2 1/2 D.” No glasses required. Walt Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty said teams are inventing new technologies that turn the flat world of a colorful cartoon short into a “dimensional display of amazingness.”
In order to make way for this new attraction, The Great Movie Ride will be closed on August 13, 2017. Though I’ve not ridden The Great Movie Ride as much recently, I have fond memories of the attraction. Unfortunately, it was in dire need of an update and a refurb, and it looks like Disney couldn’t (or decided not to) bring all the necessary parties together to structure the licenses necessary to make that happen.
No targeted opening date was given for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
Many people went into this D23 thinking it was going to be a turning point for Epcot (though, there is a definite split on whether or not such massive changes is a positive development.) Regardless of your thoughts as to whether major changes should take place, however, Disney announced a ton of new changes for Epcot. It also indicated that this is just the beginning of a massive overhaul of the park.
Chapek described the Epcot reimagining as staying true to the “original vision” of Epcot, while also making it “more Disney, timeless, relevant, [and] family-friendly.” I’m sure a lot of ink will be spilled on think pieces over the next couple of days discussing how some of these announcements relate to Epcot’s “original vision”, but, for now, I’m going to focus on what’s upcoming.
To set the stage, new concept art for Future World was shown during the presentation that featured–what looked like–a complete reimagining of Future World. Since Disney did not release that image along with the rest of its media assets, however, I view those ideas as more in the “developing” stages than some of the other items. (A lot can change between initial reimagining and the final product.) If you’re interested, though, here’s a link to a photo someone took of the concept art
As far as actual new attractions, the first announcement was a new Guardians of the Galaxy-inspired attraction that will replace Universe of Energy.. There were not a lot of details given about this attraction, with Disney saying:
Epcot’s brand new E-ticket attraction will be based on the rockin’ and action-packed world of “Guardians of the Galaxy” and is the next step in how guests can encounter these characters at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Previously, rumors have suggested the ride will be some kind of new coaster, but none of that has been confirmed, yet. As with the Great Movie Ride, Universe of Energy will close on August 13, 2017 to begin construction of the new Guardians ride.
The second announced new attraction coming to Epcot is a Ratatouille ride similar to the one at Walt Disney Studios Park in Paris.. This ride will be part of new area in the France pavilion and Disney says that in this attraction:
guests will be able to shrink to Remy’s size and scurry to safety in a dazzling chase across a kitchen with the sights, sounds and smells of Gusteau’s legendary Parisian restaurant.
Both of these attractions are targeted to open prior to Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021.
Other Epcot related changes include a new, updated Circle-Vision film being added to the China pavilion and updated films for Mission: SPACE, including “a brand new Green Mission that will take guests on a stunning tour around the Earth, with younger cadets joining the adventure for the very first time.” According to Disney, Mission: SPACE is scheduled to reopen this August.
Adjacent to Mission: SPACE will be a new “out of this world” restaurant. Though not many details were announced, it seems likely the restaurant will feature “windows” looking out into space (like the Star Wars Hotel will have.) The fact that it’s going to be run by the same group that runs Via Napoli and Morimoto Asia gives me high hopes.
Recently, rumors had been quite strong that the TRON coaster from Shanghai Disneyland would be making its way to Disney World. Many of the rumors suggested this new experience would end up replacing the Tomorrowland Speedway. Well, the rumors saying that TRON is coming were right. It is slated to open in advance of Disney’s 50th anniversary in 2021. The interesting part of things, however, is that the attraction will “sit in an entirely new area right next Space Mountain.” This seems to suggest that the Speedway is sticking around (and, also, hopefully means that there won’t be any issues requiring changes or removal of the beloved People Mover in order to accommodate the new TRON attraction.)
Another Magic Kingdom item that had not been on anyone’s rumor radar is a new theater coming to Main Street U.S.A.. The “new entertainment venue will be based on the iconic Willis Wood Theater in 1920s Kansas City, where Walt lived after he left Marceline. ” Disney hasn’t yet announced what new entertainment will be coming to the theater, but it seems like this venue could be used to house the shows shown on Disney Cruise ships or similar like performances.
Unfortunately, there were no announcements about a new night time parade coming to Disney World. For months we’ve heard rumors about Disneyland’s Paint the Night parade coming to Disney World, but now it looks like that parade is simply moving to Disney’s California Adventure. (I’ve also heard rumors about Main Street Electrical Parade coming back to Disney World, but I’ll believe that when I see it.) Until then, it looks like Magic Kingdom will continue to operate without a night time parade (outside of the holiday parties) for the forseeable future.
Overall Resort Changes
The rumored gondola system that will connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts with the Studios and the backside of Epcot was given the name Disney Skyliner. It’ll be interesting to see what an increased amount of people using the International Gateway might mean for that (significantly smaller) entrance. As it stands currently, a boat full of people arriving can clog things up for a few minutes. I wonder what a steady stream of people arriving on gondolas will do.
Also on the transportation front, Disney’s rumored “Uber-like” service was branded Minnie Vans. Details on this new transportation option (such as cost) are scarce at this time.
Finally, Disney announced the new Disney Riveria Resort. This resort seems to be what people previously thought of as the “moderate” Caribbean Beach DVC (in no small part as a result of its location adjacent to Caribbean Beach). With the rebranding and gondola system, however, it’ll be interesting to see if the cost of this resort ends up being more in line with the rest of DVC options.
Other Odds and Ends
In news that made Elyssa crack a smile, Disney announced that there will be new themed dresses coming to The Dress Shop. Hopefully, Disney will be able to actually keep these in stock.
Disney also announced that the various Disney Stores around the country will be redesigned. As someone who tries to get a little bit of a Disney-fix by wandering into my local Disney Store ever week or two, I’m interested in seeing what this new redesign looks like.
As you can see from the length of this post, the 2017 iteration of D23 Expo had a lot of Disney World news. At this point, I’m still trying to process things, but my first impression from the new announcements is pretty positive. We are getting a number of interesting new attractions, without losing things like the People Mover or Impressions de France to make way for them (for now, anyway.)
Out of all the new attractions, I’m probably most exited about Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway and the TRON coaster. Finally having a ride dedicated to the mouse that started it all is awesome, and I have high hopes that the Imagineers are going to give the attraction a lot of love and care. Meanwhile, the Shanghai version of TRON is that park’s highest rated attraction (and have a soft spot in my heart for the concept of little “people programs” running around in my computer.) Can I make my reservations for Disney World’s 50th birthday now?
That’s it for my recap. Thanks for reading See you at the Galaxy’s Edge!
(NOTE: If you’ve made it this far, but you still want to read Disney PR’s take on all the Disney World news, they have a press release available that talks about everything.)
On the heels of the first episode of Star Wars: Forces of Destiny being released earlier this week, Star Wars has released two more episodes:
Episode 2, featuring more of Rey and BB-8’s Story:
and, Episode 3, which gives us first look at how Leia and the Ewoks are going to be portrayed in the series:
These episodes have been great so far. I really hope the series continues to be this good.
Big week for Elyssa and me, as the guys at Mighty Men of Mouse invited us on to talk about one of our favorite movies of all time: The Empire Strikes Back. I felt a lot of pressure for this one, since Empire is such a great movie. I hope you enjoy our discussion starting at the mark in MMoM Episode 321.
For people who listen to MMoM for the Disney World takes, Elyssa and I also talked to the guys about our impressions of Pandora. If you like hearing / reading what we have to say, we also have a post about Pandora up here on the site. One other topic that comes up is our My Disney Experience Fastpass+ Refreshing Strategy, which we wrote about here.
Enjoy the show! (And remember, if you have any thoughts or comments about it, email Dutch!)
The concept of “refreshing” My Disney Experience to get additional Fastpass+ selections is nothing new (e.g., this post from easyWDW from April 2016.) It’s a strategy Elyssa and I have been using for at least that long and it has resulted in us getting some pretty great Fastpass+ choices (we ended up taking a last second trip to the Magic Kindgdom on Christmas Day without any Fastpass+ reservations as we walked through the tapstiles, but ended up getting at least Seven Dwarf’s Mine Train, Pirates, Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain, and Buzz Lightyear while we were there–no comment if we got a Meet Tinker Bell one.)
Even with people having known about the technique for some time, I feel like I’ve received a lot of questions about this kind of refreshing lately (possibly due to Disney closing loopholes related to people getting “extra” Fastpass+ selections?) With that in mind, here’s how Elyssa and I search and “refresh” for Fastpass+ in My Disney Experience:
General Fastpass+ “Refresh” Steps in My Disney Experience
Step 1: Get any Fastpass+ selection you can for the park you want to be in.
Basically, I think of this step as just “get the best available.” So, if my goal is to try and get a Mine Train Fastpass+, I’ll look to see if there’s anything available for the Mine Train, and, if there is, I’ll grab that. If there’s isn’t, I’ll just grab whatever I can in the Magic Kingdom. I’ll also avoid getting other Fastpass+ selections with a return window near what I’m “refreshing” for, so I have more flexibility to choose the results I’m presented with.
Here’s a screenshot of a current Fastpass+ selection with “Modify” link you’ll ned in Step 2 called out:
The “Modify” Fastpass+ selection screen is pretty straightforward. It starts with a list of times at the top that sets the search parameter for the time of the new Fastpass+ you are looking for. It then shows the other availables times for the attraction you are currently modifying (i.e., if you are modifying a Mine Train selection, it’ll show you other times for the Mine Train.), followed by all other available Fastpass+ selections for around that time (unless an attraction only has selections outside of your time window. In that case, it just shows you what is available for that attraction.)
Here’s a sample of what I’m talking about:
Pretty straightforward, right? If you see the attraction and time you want available, just grab it. That’s it!.
Step 4: If you don’t like what you see, select another “time” and see what options present themselves. REPEAT.
I feel like Step 4 is the actual “refreshing” step, since it’s the one that actually pulls new information from Disney’s servers. In this step, you basically just tap on the time in the top bar that you ideally want for you Fastpass+ selection. So, if you want an 11:00am Fastpass+ for Mine Train, you tap 11:00am. If something comes up, grab it. If not, then tap the next time (in our example, 11:30am) and see what comes up. Again, if you see what you want grab it. If not, then I’d recommend choosing the time period right before your ideal time (in our example, this would be 10:30am). Did you get what you want? No? Then go back and tap 11:00am again, and continue repeating this process until something opens up.
So, basically, you’re tapping 3 different “times”, over and over again (but, hopefully, not too long) in order to eventually get the time that you want. (Once again, our example: Tap 11:00am. No Mine Train Fastpass+. Tap 11:30am. No Mine Train Fastpass+. Tap 10:30am. No Mine Train Fastpass+. Tap 11:00am. No Mine Train Fastpass+. … REPEAT… Tap 11:00am. MINE TRAIN FASTPASS+ FOUND)
I’m sure other people have different ways to handle this “refreshing” step, but this method works well for us. The biggest advantage of this strategy is that your thumb is basically just tapping in almost the same place over and over again, so you don’t have to think too much about context, what the menus are showing, etc.. (Personally, I don’t like to expend a lot of mental energy when doing a task like this.)
Some other “Refresh” Tips and Context
A few other quick thoughts about this My Disney Experience “refreshing”:
- I prioritize getting the attraction I want when doing Step 4, above. So, if I want a Mine Train Fastpass+ for around 11:00am, but a 5:00pm pops up while I’m refreshing, then I just take that 5:00pm one and start back over at Step 2. This way, I don’t have to keep scrolling down to Mine Train in the available attractions list to see what’s available. It’s right at the top. (If that wasn’t clear, here’s an example of what I might do when trying to book a Fastpass+ for Mine Train for 11:00am: Step 1: Book Splash Mountain, since it’s all that’s available; Step 2: Choose to modify that Fastpass+, Step 3: Select a 7:00pm Mine Train that’s become available: Step 4: Keep performing Step 4 until an 11:00am-ish Mine Train Fastpass+ selection shows up.)
- Related to the tip above, it seems like Disney might just be putting the 2 Avatar attractions at the top when you refresh (which is nice.) There’s no guarantee that’ll continue, though.
- Be careful when getting into a groove on “refreshing”. I have, admittedly, been in such a rut of refreshing, that I’ve refreshed instead of actually selecting the new Fastpass+ option that’s become available. That can be frustrating.
- Don’t necessarily give up if things don’t work in the first 5 minutes. I’d estimate that I spent a total of 50 minutes refreshing on Christmas Day last year to get the Fastpass+ selections I mentioned. I think Mine Train took about 30 minutes of that.
- Even though this article is about Fastpass+ selections, I’ve also used it for last minute ADRs. For example, we finished the Star Wars Dark Side Half Marathon and decided we wanted Kona breakfast, even though there was no ADR availability when we made the decision. It took about 15 minutes of refreshing on the bus ride over to the Poly to get an ADR for about 10 minutes in the future.
People at Disney World are always looking for the ways to best utilize the system. Paper Fastpass had a set of strategies, people tried collecting various “dummy bands” in the early days of Fastpass+, and, now, people can take advantage of My Disney Experience to get additional (or better) Fastpass+ options that are more in line with what they want to do. Hopefully, “refreshing” (no matter what technique you use), works as good for you as it does for us.
UPDATE: Here’s the Disney Parks Blog post with the video. I’ve also embedded the video below.
As it has for the past couple of years, Disney will be live streaming tonight’s Fourth of July fireworks. My standard recommendation for these types of events still applies, namely: Go to the Disney Parks Blog at about 10 minutes before the event to find the new post that includes the Disney Parks video embed. (Of course, I’ll try to update this post with that information if I’m able.)
Happy Fourth of July, everyone! Enjoy whatever family time, fireworks, bbq, etc… that you have planned for today.
UPDATE: Here’s the video stream…
It’s the time of year when people begin experimenting with Apple’s latest round of iOS betas (despite recommendations from pretty much everyone in the technology industry that they should hold off.) For those of you who are Disney World fans, however, I have a special PSA: My Disney Experience and Shop Disney Parks do not work on the first iOS Public Beta. Though this could be an annoyance for people who are looking to do some shopping via the Shop Disney Parks app, it could really hamper someone who is planning on visiting the Disney World in the near future (imagine not being able to refresh to find new Fastpass+ selections?).
At this point, it’s too early to tell if the issues are something that will be resolved by future iOS updates (in advance of the final iOS 11 release later this fall) or if this is something that Disney is going to have to fix on its end. Until this is resolved, though, you should probably hold off installing iOS 11 on your iPhone if you want to use either of these apps. (Or, you could do what most people recommend, and just not install the betas at all.) Also, as a reminder, this is not anybody’s “fault’. This beta process is designed to allow these types of issues to be found and corrected before the actual release date, instead of people running into these issues with the actual versions of the software.
One of the things that Elyssa and I were most look forward to from this year’s Celebration announcements was the upcoming animated series focusing on some of Star Wars’ female heroes. Well, that wait is finally over as the first episode, featuring Rey, debuted today:
If you enjoyed that, here’s a sneak peak on what else you can expect from the series:
It looks like it’s going to be awesome.
UPDATE: Here’s the Disney Parks Blog link, and the video is embedded below.
Disney is doing another live stream tonight, and this time it’s The Music of Pixar Live. My recommendation for these live streams is to go to the Disney Parks Blog around 10 minutes before the stream starts to find a new post that includes the video embed. I’ll also try to do my best to update this post with the information.
I feel like I’m in the distinct minority as to James Cameron’s Avatar. I didn’t hate it, and I actually kind of enjoy watching it. Elyssa, on the other hand, thinks it’s terrible (mostly because she says that you never relate to any of the characters.) However, as for Disney’s take on the planet at the heart of Avatar, Pandora, I think Elyssa and I both agree that Disney knocked it out of the park. In other words, the Imagineers did Cameron’s concept justice.
The two major attractions in Pandora are Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey. If you are walking into Pandora as you read this and are trying to decide if a 50 minute wait is worth it for Flight of Passage, the answer is yes. Go get in line and you can read the rest as you walk through the queue (you’ll probably want to pay attention to all the detail in the queue though.) For everyone else, below are some more in-depth thoughts.
At the outset, we’ll note that we’re aware of the reviews that focus on operational issues making it hard for people to ride the headliner attractions, etc. Among other things, there were issues with people being able to fit in the Flight of Passage ride vehicle were a concern. When we visited a few weeks after the official opening day, that particular operational issue seemed to have been smoothed out . And, from what we’ve heard, the day-to-day operations continue to improve.
As far as Flight of Passage goes, it’s already one of our favorite rides at Disney World. We rode it 5 times over a three-day weekend, and opted to wait about 50 minutes to get that last ride in. The various “Soarin’ on steriods” takes are actually a decent way to describe the experience. It’s a ride that makes you feel like you’re flying, but the ride vehicle and its restraints allow for some far more exhilarating moments than Soarin’ provides. I won’t spoil any of the ride itself (I’m sure you can find that if you want it), but I’ll say it’s definitely worth doing, and probably worth waiting for 70+ minutes if that’s the only way you’ll get to ride it.
Thankfully, if you are forced to endure a long wait, the queue for the ride moves you through a good variety of environments: the initial outdoor section gives you excellent views of Pandora; the indoor cave tells the history of the Na’vi in wall art; indoor bioluminescence abounds; there’s a laboratory that includes interesting experiments; and, of course, this guy hangs out in the queue:
Overall, Flight of Passage is a headliner attraction that everyone (who doesn’t mind a little bit of a thrill) should try. Frankly, I just don’t understand people who say they had no connection to the ride because they didn’t care much for Avatar going in. Even someone like Elyssa, who has no love lost for James Cameron’s film, thought the attraction was fantastic. (Quick note: I’d follow Disney advice and empty your pockets during the ride. I rode once with my wallet still in my shorts and feared the whole time it was going to fall.)
The Na’vi River Journey is the second attraction in Pandora, and, for better or worse, it is a relaxing BOATRIDE through a bioluminescent environment and it features a showcase of the most advanced animatronics that Disney has ever revealed. If you’re the type to nit-pick about the lack of a defined “story” for an attraction, here’s your chance. The ride is simply a pleasant journey through a cool forest that uses the whole gamut of theme park ride technologies to transport you to another word. As you might guess from that, I enjoyed it. I might not wait 60 minutes for it, but 20-30 is probably fair.
Here are a couple of pictures to give you a flavor for what you’ll see. On a moving boat in the dark, my camera was taxed to get a decent result. Consequently, these pictures might not do justice to how pretty the ride is:
There have been (garbage) articles that claim the pictures of Pandora do the land “too much justice.” Aside from how asinine that concept is, the idea that photographic wizards are somehow making this place look better in still capture form than it looks when you’re actually visiting is ridiculous. During both day and night (and, yes, it does really look quite different at night), the landscaping, plant life (both living and “imagineered”), and overall environment are fantastic. I would argue that these pictures don’t capture it enough:
At present, the newness of Pandora means it’s pretty much always crowded. These crowd levels can make it a little tougher to just “enjoy” your surroundings in the land. As time goes on, however, and crowds stabilize to “normal” levels, I can imagine night time strolls through Pandora are going to be a great way to end a day at Animal Kingdom. (I have a feeling that we’re going to end a lot of future nights at Disney World by having a drink at Nomad, strolling through Pandora, and then watching some Tree of Life Awakenings.)
While visiting Pandora, we, of course, had to try the food. We tried Satu’li Canteen’s custom bowls, the Cheeseburger pods, and the Chocolate Cake dessert. Personally, I think the bowls are going to be a nice change-of-pace option for me going forward. The chicken was quite good and all the ingredients seemed a step up from standard quick service options. The cheeseburger pods were also tasty (Yes, they taste like McDonald’s cheeseburgers), even if I wish the pod-to-meat ratio didn’t so heavily favor the pod. Elyssa gave a thumbs up to the Chocolate Cake, with a surprisingly crunch cookie layer, but it’s tough to get her to give any chocolate item a thumbs down. Personally, I might pass on getting it again, but if you’re in the mood for a bitter chocolate something, you could do worse. (Elyssa’s note: it wasn’t bitter – it was just not milk chocolate)
As you would probably expect from something new at Disney World, people want to experience Pandora. That means, the usual advice applies: get there early, stay really late, and/or try to get Fastpass+ reservations for the primary attractions (NOTE: You can only get 1 of the Pandora attractions for your initial 3 selections. I’d try to get Flight of Passage because of its higher demand and wait times.) Josh over at easyWDW has outlined a number of strategies concerning timing, including arriving about an hour and fifteen minutes before the park open (on non-EMH days.) If you’re planning to visit, I suggest reviewing Josh’s posts in-depth.
Elyssa and I had a great bit of success taking advantage of the morning extra magic hour (7:00am opening on a Saturday when the park opens at 8:00am.) We arrived about 6:10am via our own car, which got us there before any of the resort buses. (I’d recommend driving yourself or getting an Uber instead of using a resort bus. Being ahead of that crowd can be a huge help.) That put us about 2 parties back at the tapstiles. They let us into the park about 6:40am, where they scanned our Magic Bands again to make sure that we were entitled to EMH access, and then held us at the Tree of Life until about 6:50am. At that point, they began walking us to Pandora and, for almost everyone, Flight of Passage. We briskly walked through the Flight of Passage queue and were part of what felt like the first group to ride for the day. We then headed over to Na’vi River Journey and, essentially, walked onto that. We then exited Pandora, and had time to ride Kilimanjaro Safaris twice before our 9:20 Tusker House ADR. It was a fantastic morning.
We also tried the evening extra magic hours, but had a little less success with them. It seemed like most people went to the earlier showing of Rivers of Light and then headed over to Pandora after that. This mean waits of 90+ minutes for Flight of Passage right when EMH started (though, the end of FP+ return could make that go quicker.) If we were willing to stick around until later in the night, we might be able to get a lower wait. We actually found, however, that riding around 9 (while people were occupied with Rivers of Light) actually worked out better for us, but, based on Josh’s wait time chart, that might have just been an anomaly in the standard wait pattern.
In summary, your best bet is probably to get there early and then also try to get a FP+ for Flights of Passage. Not shocking advice, I know, but, it bears repeating.
As far as the swatting of Potter goes, I’ve been to Diagon Alley, and I prefer Pandora. I think Len Testa best summed it up when he talked about how he prefers nature to a cityscape and Pandora is actually “better nature than actual nature” as far as immersion goes. Also, much like Elyssa has no connection to Avatar, I have no connection to Harry Potter. I’ve seen the movies a couple of times, never read the books, and, for better or worse, am kind of shrug emoji about all of it. Elyssa, on the other hand, is a huge Harry Potter fan, but still had a hard time deciding which immersive land she liked better. In the end, her connection to the word of Harry Potter wins out, but for something to have even been that close shows just how great Joe Rohde and his team did. (Elyssa note: no, but seriously, I frakking LOVE Harry Potter and walking into Diagon and Hogsmeade makes me cry, so this is a big deal.)
Regardless of which land you think is “better”, Diagon Alley, and now, Pandora, seem to be the pinnacle of this generation of theme park design and execution. Pandora is an immersive environment that rewards repeat visits with its intricate detail, quality food offerings, and enjoyable attractions. Until Star Wars Land opens with its new concept of “memory”(i.e., it knowing your history within the land), Pandora is pretty much the best of what theme parks have to offer.
There’s been a lot of Disney World news since we lasted posted an edition of the News Nuggets. (There’s also been a few other developments here at Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ, such as a trip down to the World for Elyssa and me, but that will be covered in a separate post.) Of course, as one would expect, there has been a lot of coverage about Pandora, but–again–I’m going to do something separate for that. So, with all that out of the way, on to the News Nuggets!
- Disney’s Grand Floridian Holding Special Fourth of July Ticketed Event – $120 per adult ($59 for children 3-9) gets you steak, shrimp, drinks, and fireworks viewing from the Floridian. It’s an interesting option.
- Tickets Now Available For Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party Visits – Tickets seem to be around $10 more than they were last year (thought that varies by date.) Here’s TouringPlans’ rundown of the lowest attendance parties.
- Caribbean Beach Resort Introduces Breakfast and Dinner Buffet for Hotel Guests – Are they really going to scan people to make sure they’re staying at Caribbean Beach to eat the buffet? What’s the point of that? See also:
- Temporary Dining at Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – Here’s a $75 gift card, go eat in the tent.
- WDW News Today reviews the First Mobile Ordering Experience – It’s only available as part of the Pandora preview right now, but it should be interesting to see how things go as it expands to other places. I like the concept of ordering far in advance and then it recognizing when you’re close enough to the restaurant to start the order. I hope they can get discounts added to it soon, though.
- The Market at Ale & Compass Counter Service Dining Location Opens at Disney’s Yacht Club Resort – I like this setup. I think I’d be fine with having this type of stuff as an option when Roaring Fork re-opens at Wilderness Lodge (in addition to some other “quick service” staples.) The Disney Food Blog has an extensive write-up about the details.
- Disney Annual Passholder Bag Check Line For Pandora Preview – I’d be fine with them doing this all the time and at other parks.
- Epcot Wine Walk Review in World Showcase – I’m glad that Josh did this review (so I can skip doing the walk-it’s just not my thing.)
- Several Attractions (But Not) Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Will Be Closed for Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party – Originally, Mine Train wasn’t on the list of open attractions. Personally, I think that was an error on the page, not something Disney actually planned on doing. If people get vacuumed up by the Mine Train during the party, I can’t imagine Disney has an actual problem with that.
- WDW News Today Rumors of Paint the Night Electrical Parade Packed Up to Leave Disneyland – Sadly, after almost a whole year without a nighttime parade, I’ll believe Paint the Night is coming to the Magic Kingdom when I see it.
- Disney’s Yacht Club Resort Offers New ‘Day Cruise Around the World’ – This is a weird one. I really don’t think I understand it, but I’m fine if it helps raise funds they can use elsewhere.
- Celebrate Summer at D-Living in Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort – I’m not sure I’ll find anything I need to buy in this store, but I like the idea that Disney continues to flip this store into new concepts.
- Stitch’s Great Escape reopens for the summer at Magic Kingdom – So much for those rumors that they’d already started changing this ride out.
- Coaster Track Installed for Slinky Dog Dash in Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios – I’d imagine that D23 will have an announcement about the opening date of Toy Story Land.
Phew. That was a lot of news, but there is still a bunch to cover. Let’s take a quick break to look at this picture of Baby Stella:
(Yes, Elyssa and I did do the Caring for Giants tour on this past trip. More information on that coming as well.)
Okay back to the Nuggets:
- Refurbishment impact to water and fireworks views at Narcoossee’s – Keep this in mind if you were considering something like brunch here in the next couple of weeks.
- Walt Disney World announces premium parking spots at Disney Springs – Weird. I always park in the Orange garage so no skin off my back.
- Scammers Calling Walt Disney World Resort Guests – Well, this is kind of awful.
- Splitsville Encloses Upper Floor Patio for New Dining Experience at Disney Springs – Splitsville always gets positive ratings, but I’ve never actually taken the time to eat there.
- Sneak Peek: Margaritas Coming to Choza de Margarita in Epcot’s Mexico Pavilion – Elyssa seems to always want a margaritas in Epcot. Looks like this will be the new spot for her to get one.
- Cheshire Cat Tails & Cold Brew Coffee Magically Appear at Cheshire Cafe at the Magic Kingdom – I’m fine with having more places to get a cold brew.
- Disney World Cracking Down on FastPass+ Cheating, Will Begin Locking Guest Accounts Who Abuse System – This is a pretty inflammatory headline for the concept of “dummy bands”, but I have no real issue with Disney “fixing” this. See also:
- UPDATE: Disney Automatically Locking All Accounts That Attempt to Cheat FastPass System Beginning Today – Again, I’m not particularly upset about this.
- Walt Disney World Raises Prices on Memory Maker Photo Packages – $20 increase for “in advance” purchases and $30 for “same day”.
- Tom Bricker’s Territory Lounge Review – No particular “news” in this post, I just wanted to point out a nice write-up of one of Elyssa’s and my favorite spots.
- Toy Story Characters Woody, Jessie, and Buzz Lightyear Will Be Featured on New Apple Watch Faces This Fall – It’s debatable whether I’m a bigger Disney nerd or Apple nerd, so this hits right in my sweet spot. I’ve considered installing the watchOS 4 beta just to get this.
- Celebrate Father’s Day at Disney Springs with Special Experiences, Gifts and Restaurant Menus – Worth taking a look if you’re going to be at Disney World on Father’s Day (though, you probably won’t be surprised by what is being offered.)
- Disney and Pixar Short Film Festival closing for week long refurbishment – I’m glad this isn’t starting until I leave. I might have had to cancel my trip…
- Rumor: Will Alcoholic Beverages Be Included on the 2018 Disney Dining Plan? – Disney has definitely been increaseing the opportunities to grab a drink.
- Epcot Introducing “Frozen Ever After Dessert Party” with Fireworks Viewing and After-Close Attraction Ride – I enjoyed the previous Illuminations Dessert Party. $79 (at $30 increase) is a lot for a dessert party plus a ride on Frozen Ever After, though.
- New Modern Style Value Resort Rooms Debut at Disney’s Pop Century Resort – The fold up bed is a nice way to deal with the small space.
- FIRST LOOK! New Quick Service and Lobby Bar Coming to the Walt Disney World Dolphin Hotel – The Dolphin definitely could use something like this, but I figure it will be more convention goers than people there for Disney visits.
- Disney’s Wedding Pavilion shows off three new looks – If you can’t get the Italy Pavilion for your vow renewal, this might not be a bad option…
- 5 Magic Kingdom Restaurants Will Join Counter Service Mobile Ordering Program Next – The roll out continues. My main hope is that they figure out a way to have Disney Gift Cards stored in your MDE for these kinds of purchases.
- Trivia at Martha’s Vineyard at Disney’s Beach Club – An interesting little option if you’re over by Crescent Lake while it’s being offered.
- Disney World Offering Special Discounted Summer-Long Express Bus Pass for Annual Passholders – Sadly, in all my Disney trips, I’ve never bought an Express Bus ticket.
Our last News Nugget is Disney debuting the new “Disney Movie Magic” show at The Studios, a nice show to take up a little time before the fireworks. Speaking of which, let’s finish with a video of the show from The DIS:
These types of sales ($5 off the standard $19.99) are getting more common for Disney / Pixar movies (2 or 3 times a year, I’d estimate), but it’s still a good thing to be aware of if you’ve been thinking of adding one of the Pixar classics (Toy Story, The Incredibles, etc…) to your collection. Some of my favorites from the sale are: