Thursday, March 28, 2019

Say goodbye to smoking, wide strollers, wagons and loose ice at WDW, Disneyland

The Disney community is a buzz today after Disney announced some significant policy changes affecting Walt Disney World and Disneyland.  In short smoking is out at all parks.  Wide strollers and stroller wagons will not be permitted along with loose ice cubes.

Let's take a deeper dive into each of these policy changes, most of which take effect May 1.

First - no smoking at all in the parks.  This should have happened years ago.   There is nothing less magical than wading through a cloud of smoke.  For me, those smoking areas were especially bad in Adventureland near the Aloha Isle and in between Tomorrowland and New Fantasyland.  It didn't matter how much Disney tried to put these smoking areas in "out of the way" areas, the smell was incredibly pervasive and awful.  As we approached these areas, we took a huge deep breath and hustled through trying not to breathe until we got into clear air again. 

I understand smokers will not be happy about this at all.  Perhaps this will be the incentive you need to quit.  I've lost relatives to smoking, so I am no fan of this awful vice (or vaping for that matter - and this new rule applies to vaping as well).

Smoking has not been banned from the entire property (personally, I wouldn't have a problem with that, but that's another discussion).  Disney will create designated smoking areas outside each park and Disney Springs. 

Next up:  strollers and wagons.  Oh now we really get into the fun stuff.  Having watched my family grow up at the parks, I've personally had to deal with the stroller issue countless times.  That being said, I've never had to use a super triple mongo wide stroller.  The new rule says strollers have to be no wider than 31 inches no longer than 52 inches.  Think about this a minute.  Most main doorway openings are about 32 inches wide (that's the ADA requirement).  If your stroller is so wide, you can't get it through a normal door, it's probably too wide anyway, so the 31" rule shouldn't really impact too many people.  I can't see many parents with super wide strollers stopping at every door to unload the kids (and all the other stuff packed in a stroller), break/fold it down so you can get it through the door and then get everything back in and on their way.  So, the simple way to put this is, if your stroller can easily (not barely) fit through a normal door, you're fine at least as far as the width goes. 

Now for the length.  Folks, Disney is giving you 52 inches.  That's four FEET plus four inches long.  I know some of the triple child strollers can get pretty long, but again, let's get back to common sense.  Some of the hallways and queue lines at Disney can be somewhat narrow (and there's a reason for that - these often are for one way traffic, not two way, so they don't need to be super wide) and so trying to turn a hugely long stroller is like trying to turn around a tractor trailer in your driveway.  Not going to happen.  If you've got a bigger family, use more than one stroller.  That's how we did it with three kids about four years apart in age.  In the end the flexibility probably is easier. 

As for the wagons, I'm totally blown away by this.  Why would you need to have a wagon at Disney?  What are you doing, moving in???  The only time I could even think about needing a wagon at Disney would be if I was doing some huge video production (i.e. a multi-camera recording of Illuminations or something like that) and needed to bring in a lot of gear.  Of course, that would never fly at Disney, so this really is a moot point.  Just don't.  If you think you need a wagon to bring everything into the parks, you're bringing in too much.  I get it with small kids needing diapers, bottles, and all that, truly I do, so bring a good backpack (and a good stroller with storage).

Finally ice.  This one had me puzzled for a bit until I read some online comments from folks who had some good insight.  This applies ONLY to loose ice in things like coolers.  Ice cubes in small plastic bags (i.e. ziplocs) are still allowed - Disney clarified this on their blog.  Of course, Disney will always work with anyone with medical needs.  The main reason for this is the coolers.  Once again, we have a new rule probably as a result of guests behaving badly.  Guests coming in with coolers full of ice were dumping that ice out, causing slip hazards and other messes, not to mention sneaking in prohibited items (such as alcohol) that was hidden in the loose ice.  Coolers are still allowed - just use freezer packs instead.  That also helps security to more easily search the coolers to check for things that should be there, like the booze.

I know that some are already saying they're never going back because Disney is laying down these rules.  That's your choice.  For me, and many, many, many guests, these rules are making the guest experience better.

Thank you Disney!

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Significant changes coming to Epcot


(Disney news release)

In this artist rendering, a new play pavilion in development at Epcot will include first-of-their-kind experiences devoted to playful fun, inviting guests into an innovative city bursting with interactive experiences and hands-on activities. Friends and family will interact with favorite Disney characters in an energetic metropolis unlike anything ever seen before at Epcot. The as-yet-unnamed space will debut to guests in time for the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary. (Disney)


Today, Disney announced several new enhancements for Epcot, including a new play pavilion, a reimagined main entrance and an Experience Center showcasing the park’s future. These are the latest additions to a robust lineup of new projects already announced for the park.
“Epcot has always been, and always will be, an optimistic celebration of the real world that is brought to life through the magic of Disney,” said George A. Kalogridis, president, Walt Disney World Resort. “The exciting plans we have on the horizon will honor Epcot’s rich legacy of creativity and innovation while continuing to exceed the expectations of our guests for decades to come.”
The new pavilion in development will include first-of-their-kind experiences devoted to playful fun, inviting guests into an innovative, interactive city bursting with games and hands-on activities. Friends and family will interact with favorite Disney characters in an energetic metropolis unlike anything ever seen before at Epcot. The as-yet-unnamed space will come to life under the vast dome of the pavilion previously known as Wonders of Life (more recently the Festival Center) and will debut to guests in time for the Walt Disney World Resort 50th anniversary.
“This innovative, new pavilion is beyond anything we’ve ever created and is completely unique to Epcot,” said Zach Riddley, portfolio executive, Walt Disney Imagineering. “Built on the power of play, it introduces an immersive and interactive ‘city’ where you can explore, create and interact with some of your favorite Disney characters. This is an experience worthy of our bold vision for Epcot – and another signature element of our transformation.”
Two more exciting new projects were also revealed today:
  • Changes are coming to the Epcot main entrance, where the plaza will welcome guests with new pathways, sweeping green spaces and a newly reimagined fountain. This new design will pay homage to the original park entrance with fresh takes on classic elements. As part of this new entry experience, Leave A Legacy photos will move into a beautiful setting just outside the park’s gateway. Additional significant redevelopment will begin between Spaceship Earth and World Showcase Promenade; more details about the transformation of this area will be announced at a later date.
  • Guests will be able to visualize the exciting plans for Epcot when doors open later this year on a new Experience Center in the Odyssey Events Pavilion. They will discover engaging and interactive exhibits that showcase the relentless innovation, energy and excitement driving the future of the park all throughout this unprecedented period of transformation.

In this artist rendering, a new entrance plaza in development at Epcot will greet guests with new pathways, sweeping green spaces and a reimagined fountain. This design will pay homage to the original park entrance with fresh takes on classic elements. (Disney)
 
“Epcot is beloved for its focus on imagination, innovation, fun, food and family,” said Kalogridis. “It’s a timeless place where the real is made fantastic through the magic of Disney. It has a very bright future ahead and the best part is that we’ve only just begun to dream.”
These new announcements join other projects already underway as part of the Epcot evolution. Larger-than-life Super Heroes will descend upon the park with the opening of a Guardians of the Galaxy-themed attraction. This new experience will be one of the longest enclosed roller coasters in the world and feature a brand-new ride system when it also opens in time for the Walt Disney World Resort 50th anniversary.
Other exciting new developments underway at Epcot include:
  • Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure attraction in the France pavilion, patterned after the number-one family attraction at Disneyland Paris
  • “Beauty and the Beast” sing-along in the France pavilion, showing in addition to the pavilion’s current film, Impressions de France
  • Circle-Vision 360 film for the China pavilion and updated O Canada! 360-degree show
  • Signature Dining experience inspired by the natural beauty of Japan
  • Space-themed table-service restaurant adjacent to Mission: SPACE, inviting guests to travel high above the earth for an unforgettable dining experience
  • Epcot Forever, a 2019 limited-time nighttime experience over World Showcase Lagoon set to classic Epcot tunes, followed by an all-new nighttime spectacular debuting in 2020

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Toy Story Land -- better at night!


In June, Toy Story Land opened at Disney Hollywood Studios.  This land, covering what once was the Lights, Motors, Action! set and part of the Backlot Tour, brings guests into the world of Toy Story.  This new land features three main attractions, Toy Story Mania, Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers. 

Toy Story Mania is not a new attraction.  It originally opened in 2008, but recently was refurbished with a new entrance, a third track, a revised queue and a new exit to connect with Toy Story Land.


Slinky Dog Dash is a moderate coaster, comparable to the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom Park, though smoother.  It may not be best for toddlers, though those of older elementary age should be ok. 

The Alien Swirling Saucers attraction is a clone of Mater's Junkyard Jamboree at Disney California Adventure, just with different theming and ride vehicles.  The overall experience is the same and it's a fun twist on the Mad Tea Party at Magic Kingdom Park. 

Also included is a fairly large restroom area and Woody's Lunchbox, a quick-service counter restaurant, though there is no inside seating - only outdoor.

Right away, guests will find it tough to find one thing in Toy Story Land:  shade.  There isn't much, aside from umbrellas strewn all over the place.  This is one land that can get pretty warm in the dog days of summer (sorry, that pun was too irresistible).  That's why I recommend visiting Toy Story Land at night.  It's cooler and besides, the land also is lit up in tons of colorful lights, which makes it far more visually interesting and much more photographic.

One other benefit of Toy Story Land -- it give a good vantage point to see the construction of the nearby Galaxy's Edge.. but that's land for another time and another galaxy.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

New Star Wars themed resort to be connected to upcoming Star Wars Galaxy's Edge at DHS

Source:  https://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/2018/05/update-on-the-star-wars-immersive-resort-planned-for-walt-disney-world-resort/.

The official Disney Parks Blog has provided an updated on the planned Star Wars immersive resort coming to Walt Disney World.  The new resort, already under development, will be constructed adjacent to Disney Hollywood Studios on the southern side of the park, which is where the new Star Wars Galaxy's Edge land already is under construction and slated to open in late 2019.

Based on the description given in the linked blog post above, it appears the new resort could be located somewhere in the shaded orange area on the photo below.

Courtesy Google Maps
   So far, there's no specific opening date, though it seems logical that the resort will be open in time for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World in 2021.

Given that this is planned to be a very immersive resort, it's quite likely that the room rate for this resort will be higher than anything we've ever seen for a Walt Disney World resort.  One could almost consider this the first of a potential new class of resorts - the Ultra or Premium resorts.

It will be interesting to see how this new kind of resort goes over with guests.  Based on the current (huge) demand at Walt Disney World, I have good feeling about this.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

New theater coming to The Magic Kingdom, show yet to be announced

Image copyright Disney.  All rights reserved.

Disney announced at the D23 Expo 2017 that a new venue for world-class entertainment is coming to Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom.

According to the Disney Parks Blog, the new entertainment venue will be based on the iconic Willis Wood theater in 1920s Kansas City, where Walt lived after he left Marceline.  As the blog states, "it’ll fit well right off Main Street, U.S.A."

“Across Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we’ve been upping the game in Entertainment with shows like Frozen Live at the Hyperion,” Bob Chapek, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks & Resorts said. “It’s been a huge hit at the Disneyland Resort, and I’m sure many of you have seen it. This new theater at Walt Disney World continues that streak by bringing a new venue for world-class entertainment to the world’s biggest park.”

So far, there have been no announcements about what this new theater will be used for.  Based on the size depicted in this concept art - it will be huge, so there will be a lot of room for a major production.  It also appears that this will go in Town Square, which means the probable end of Tony's Town Square restaurant and yet another move for the Mickey Mouse meet and greet (unless it is incorporated into this new plan).

What do you think may be coming to this space? 

New space restaurant coming adjacent to Mission: SPACE at Epot

Image copyright Disney.  All rights reserved.

At the D23 Expo, Disney announced that a new space-themed restaurant will be coming near Mission: SPACE at Epcot.  According to the Disney Parks Blog, the restaurant will invite guests to travel into space for amazing dining experiences in the stars.

“We know our guests love dining at Epcot – and the restaurants really are out of this world,” said Walt Disney Imagineer Tom Fitzgerald, who shared a first look at the restaurant during the Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts presentation at D23 Expo 2017.  “Now we’re about to create one that takes that literally,” he added.

The new space restaurant will be operated by the Patina Restaurant Group. Patina Restaurant Group operates several other restaurants at Walt Disney World including Tutto Italia and Via Napoli at Epcot and Morimoto Asia at Disney Springs.

No word yet on a possible opening date.

Paradise Pier at California Adventure to be rethemed to Pixar Pier

Image copyright Disney. All rights reserved.

At the D23 Expo 2017, Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek was joined by Chief Creative Officer of Walt Disney and Pixar Animation Studios John Lasseter to unveil plans for Pixar Pier at Disney California Adventure, where the pier will take on a brand new look as more favorite Pixar characters and stories come to life, from The Incredibles, to Inside Out to even more Toy Story. Chapek also announced there is more Pixar in store during Pixar Fest at Disneyland Resort. Starting in 2018, this limited-time offering will include a new fireworks spectacular as well as special characters and entertainment moments.

Extraordinary Line-up of Experiences Coming to Disney Parks around the Globe
As part of the celebration, the Pixar Play Parade will return to Disneyland Resort – this time at
Disneyland Park – and the fan favorite Paint the Night Parade will move to Disney California Adventure, one of Disney’s longest parade routes.

Toy Story Land at Hollywood Studios to open summer 2018

Image copyright Disney.  All rights reserved.



At the D23 Expo 2017, Disney announced the new Toy Story Land, currently under construction at Disney Hollywood Studios, will open in summer 2018.  This new land replaces the area that was the Backlot Tour and Lights, Motors, Action! Stunt Spectacular.

Disney conforms new goldola network coming to area south of Epcot

At the D23 Expo 2017, Disney announced a whole new transportation system called Disney Skyliner will give guests a birds-eye view of Walt Disney World Resort. This brand new system will connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach resorts, as well as the proposed new Disney Riviera Resort, with Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot.

Construction already is underway on this project.

See this previous blog post for more about this ongoing project.

Tron rollercoaster attraction coming to Tomorrowland at Walt Disney World in a new space

Images copyright Disney.  All rights reserved.

At the 2017 D23 Expo, Disney announced that the most popular attraction at Shanghai Disneyland is coming to Walt Disney World Resort. A thrilling, Tron-themed attraction will be added in a new area near Space Mountain at Magic Kingdom.  Interestingly, as you can see from the design concept above, this new attraction will not replace the Tomorrowland Speedway, as initial rumors suggested.  Instead, this attraction will be placed beyond the Speedway, where the current walkway between Tomorrowland and The Fantasyland Circus is.  One interesting question remains - how will this impact the WDW Railroad? 

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