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Sunday, February 19, 2017

Here we go again... ticket prices increase for 2017

In what has become an annual post, I am again writing about the increase in ticket prices at Disney.  Ok, ok, I get it.  Ticket price increases are as anticipated as the sunrise.  It just happens each year.


Magic Kingdom ticket prices from 1982 to today.  Notice how the rate of increase has steadily grown sharper?
Click for a larger view.


What I have a problem with is the continued decrease in value of that ticket.  What do I mean?  Long-time Disney park veterans can remember the days when the cast member was the biggest difference between a day at a Disney park and a day at some other theme park.  The cast members and the exceptional level of service were unmatched.  Period.

Let me be very clear - Disney cast members still provide the best service in the world -- with what they have to work with.

In recent years, the guest experience has diminished.  No longer is Disney service unparalleled.  Part of this is due to other parks catching up, but part of this also is due to the numerous cost-saving measures implemented under Bob Iger's direction.  I've seen the value of a Disney trip continue to be less and less due to these cost-saving measures.  Live entertainment is a rarity.  Dining offerings have slipped and aren't quite the level they used to be, especially counter-service.  Merchandise has become homogeneous.

Where this all leads to is a decline in the Disney reputation.  Ok, ok, I understand that people are still pouring into the gates each and every day in droves, and that's correct.  I also see all the construction that's going on in the parks and I get that too. 

For now.  I continue to be very concerned that Disney is pricing itself into elitism.  I know of many long-time annual passholders who have given up their AP's because it's just not worth it anymore.  I'm one of them.

Maybe one day Disney management will start to see the trend and will try to find ways to bring back the Disney shine.  Maybe not.  So long as Bob Iger is there, I don't think you will see a commitment to the guest experience that Walt Disney was so proud of.  Don't get me wrong, I think Bob Iger has done a great deal to benefit the Disney company - he brought in many new brands to the Disney family and that's been a huge benefit to the parks.  He also has expanded the parks with the launch of Shanghai Disneyland.  According to reports, he's working to bring Disneyland Paris fully back into the fold - something that's desperately needed.  It's time to turn the attention to home and shore up the U.S. parks.

Will my family and I still go to Disney?  Yes.  But maybe not as much.  And that's my fear -- Disney is pushing away the repeat visitor.  I understand that the 1st time visitor is Walt Disney World's bread and butter, but what better way to expand revenue than to turn a 1st time visitor into an annual (or bi-annual) visitor?

What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Flower and Garden Festival begins March 1

Celebrating 24 years when it kicks off March 1, 2017, the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will jump-start spring with gardens of earthly delights plus new character topiaries, entertainers and food and drink offerings.

The festival, which expanded to 90 days in 2016, will open with an irresistible array of fresh surprises and new treats:

Fresh, farm-market food and beverage flavors will debut at two new Outdoor Kitchens that will join 13 returning Outdoor Kitchens. Guest can sip and savor their way around Epcot, enjoying chef-inspired noshes and refreshing libations with or without a kick.
The new generation of princess topiaries (Snow White, Anna and Elsa – the first to be designed and created with topiary facial features) will welcome a brand-new Belle topiary as fans remember her from the Oscar-winning Disney film, “Beauty and the Beast.” Located outside the France pavilion with the Beast topiary, Belle will come to life with sculpted facial features and her yellow ball gown created with golden blooming Joseph’s Coat plants.
Another festival first will be a 6-foot-tall topiary of Figment, the feisty dragon mascot of the park’s Imagination! pavilion, perched atop a 5-foot-diameter ball fashioned from yellow Joseph’s Coat.
The brand-new Epcot front-entrance topiary garden inspired by a vintage Walt Disney short film will spring to life with a floral-festooned maypole featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Daisy and Pluto.
The popular Garden Rocks concert series will expand to four days each week, with three concerts each Friday through Monday presenting pop musicians that span multiple genres over four decades.
New Garden Rocks Dining Packages will be available on select days at a number of Epcot restaurants.
Reimagined interactive play gardens will include a new take on the “Cars”-themed garden introducing a new character topiary from the June 2017 release of the Disney•Pixar sequel, “Cars 3.” Music Garden Melodies play area will return with new garden and topiary elements.
For the first time, the event’s Festival Center will extend operating hours from Wednesday, March 1 through Sunday, March 5. Throughout the rest of the festival, the center will be open each Friday through Sunday with an entertaining mix of gardening seminars and DIY workshops.
One of the popular Outdoor Kitchen gardens, Urban Farm Eats, will return with savory bites, sweet treats and ideas for planting produce that can inspire growing numbers of guests who want to learn to grow their own edibles.

“A lot of people, including young children, are serious foodies now, and they have lots of questions about gardening,” says Eric Darden, festival horticulture manager. “We’re getting more and more people in their 20s and 30s asking, ‘How can I grow this?’ I think we’ll be creating more gardeners because people can see what’s possible.”

The 2017 festival forecast will be sunny with colorful floral bursts by day and a nighttime landscape aglow with twinkling lights:

Topiaries of Donald Duck and nephews Huey, Dewey and Louie will share Future World space in front of Spaceship Earth with Chip and Dale for a “Fresh Epcot” selfie and family photo opportunity.
Anna and Elsa topiaries will return to the Norway pavilion festival landscape in celebration of the park’s new Frozen Ever After Nearly 100 festival topiaries in all will include up to 70 character creations such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Lady and the Tramp, Simba, Timon and Tinker Bell.
Guests will encounter garden surprises and special appearances related to Earth Day and other spring activities.
The Butterflies on the Go garden will return with the story of the Monarch’s epic journey across the continent and featuring butterflies emerging from their chrysalises.
On the way to the new Soarin’ Around the World film at the Soarin’attraction in The Land pavilion, guests can discover gardens featuring edible flowers, plants that benefit health and healing, and a pollinator paradise.
 Dozens of Disney-crafted “flower towers” and beds of multi-colored blooms will transform the park’s landscape.  At least 70,000 bedding plants will surround the Future World east and west lakes alone; on the water, 220 mini-gardens will be set afloat.

For more information about the 24th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, call 407/W-DISNEY (934-7639).  As the festival nears, more details will be available at epcotinspring.com. The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.

- See more at: http://wdwnews.com/releases/2016/11/28/24th-epcot-international-flower-garden-festival-welcomes-spring-with-new-outdoor-kitchens-topiaries-and-entertainment/#sthash.ZHHp52Hc.dpuf

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Hollywood Studios to undergo major changes in 2016 - so now what do you do?

A new Millennium Falcon-based attraction is just one of many new additions for the upcoming Star Wars land.


With all the changes coming to Disney Hollywood Studios, there's a bit of uncertainty about how (or if) guests should visit this park.

While there's a lot of work going on, it's still well worth a visit to DHS.  For one, be sure to check out the Star Wars Launch Bay.  Here you can meet Chewbacca and (if you date) Kylo Ren.  There are lots of movie props and reproductions to see.  Plus, you can try your hand at the Star Wars Infinity video game.

Speaking of Star Wars, Star Tours has been updated again to include a new scene from The Force Awakens. Even better, the new Symphony in the Stars:  A Galactic Spectacular fireworks show is running most nights and it's well worth seeing!  Fireworks and Star Wars music - what could be better?

Many of the popular attractions, such as Toy Story Mania, the Tower of Terror and Rock-n-Roller Coaster are still up and running, so be sure to check them out.

There may be some shifting traffic patterns while construction is ongoing, so be patient and allow a bit of extra time to get to the park (whether driving or using Disney transportation).

So yes, there's some disruption at DHS, but it's still well worth a visit.  You never know when you might luck into a test run of a new attraction or a soft opening!

Frozen Ever After attraction to open in June 2016




For the first time in forever, guests can explore the kingdom of Arendelle when “Frozen Ever After” opens in the Norway Pavilion in June 2016, according to the Disney Parks Blog. This family-friendly adventure picks up after the events in the blockbuster hit “Frozen” and celebrates a “Summer Snow Day.”

A stone archway entrance greets guests to the kingdom of Arendelle. Queen Elsa, Princess Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, trolls and Marshmallow join them on their boat journey through the frozen willow forest, past Troll Valley and up to the North Mountain to Elsa’s ice palace.

After disembarking, guests can meet the regal sisters in the cozy Royal Sommerhus. Inspired by a cabin in the countryside of Norway, the sisters have opened their summer home for visitors.

Fun Facts:
  • Frozen Ever After is the first Frozen-themed attraction and the Royal Sommerhus is Elsa’s and Anna’s permanent meet and greet at Disney Parks.
  • Guests will witness Elsa’s ice magic on Frozen Ever After.
  • Composers Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez created new lyrics to the cherished Frozen film songs.
  • All of the original voice talent from the film returned and recorded dialogue and songs for the attraction
  • WDI traveled to Norway to research architecture, d├ęcor and artifacts; guests will find their inspiration in the Royal Sommerhus.
  • The design of Royal Sommerhus and the surrounding area is modeled after a traditional Norwegian cabin in Trondheim.

Friday, October 16, 2015

Casting company working on new Disney Parks Christmas special - and they want to hear from you!


I get many requests to share announcements on this blog.  Most requests I ignore.  You don't want to be bothered with such stuff and the last thing I want to do is perpetuate a possible scam.  This one's a bit different.  Like the Disney's Biggest Fan contest I talked about several years ago, sometimes you have to put your hat in the ring to see if something magical might pop out.

A group called The Casting Firm contacted me asking to pass along the following announcement.  At first I did what I usually do - I ignored it.  Then I did some checking.  Based on what I could discover, this group is legit.  This group has worked on many Disney-related projects, either for ABC or other Disney networks.

So why not give it a shot!!!
 


NOW CASTING NATIONWIDE:
MAJOR NETWORK HOLIDAY SPECIAL!
HAVE YOU HAD AN UNFORGETTABLE MOMENT AT ONE OF THE DISNEY PARKS OR PROPERTIES?

A Major Network & the Casting Firm are seeking couples, families and friends who’ve had an incredible Disney experience…and have a story to share that will touch the hearts of America!

· Have you had an epic, grand, joyful or love-filled moment at a Disney Park, Resort, or on a Disney Cruise?"
· Did you get engaged or married at a Disney property….or are you planning to?
· Was the first time you met Mickey, Goofy or any Disney character a truly unforgettable moment?
· Do you have a loved one serving in the military with a special connection to Disney who deserves to be recognized for their selflessness?
· Is there a special reason you or your family wants to go back to one of the Disney parks or properties?

The Casting Firm is looking for inspirational stories from couples, families, or friends to be part of an inspirational holiday special that will air on a Major Network!

SUBMIT or NOMINATE someone today at: www.theCastingFirm.com/Disney

Or, email them at CastME@theCastingFirm.com, and include a Contact Number, Photos, and share your story.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Pandora - The World of Avatar at Animal Kingdom to include new attractions

Image courtesy Disney.  All rights reserved.
At the D23 Expo today, Disney announced the official name for the new Avatar-based expansion currently under construction at Animal Kingdom - "Pandora - the World of Avatar."  This new land will include two new attractions, the Avatar Flight of Passage, in which guests will soar on a flying Banshee over the world of Pandora.  Also, the "Rivers of Light," currently under construction, will offer a new evening show featuring lanterns, water screens and more.

Disney also announced the Kilimanjaro Safaris will be expanded to offer new sunset scenes and will include two new species - African wild dogs and hyenas.

Toy Story Land coming to Disney Hollywood Studios

Image courtesy Disney.  All rights reserved.

At the D23 Expo, Disney today announced that Toy Story Land will be coming to Disney Hollywood Studios.  This new eleven-acre land, based on the existing Toy Story Mania! will include two new attractions - a Little Green Men alien flying saucers attraction and a new family-friendly roller coaster based on Slinky the dog.

It's official! The Force to expand at Disneyland and Walt Disney World


Image courtesy Disney.  All rights reserved.

Image courtesy Disney.  All rights reserved.

Image courtesy Disney.  All rights reserved.

Today at the D23 EXPO 2015, The Walt Disney Company Chairman and CEO Bob Iger announced to an audience of more than 7,500 fans that Star Wars-themed lands will be coming to Disneyland park in Anaheim, Calif., and Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., allowing Star Wars fans to step into the stories from a galaxy far, far away.

Ambitious plans to bring Star Wars to life in the two parks include creating Disney’s largest single themed land expansions ever at 14 acres each, transporting guests to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.

“I am thrilled to announce the next chapter in the long and exciting history between Disney Parks and Star Wars,” said Iger. “We are creating a jaw-dropping new world that represents our largest single themed land expansion ever. These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance.”

These authentic lands will have two signature attractions. Along with the thrilling battle experience, another attraction puts guests behind the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, as they take on a customized secret mission.

Iger also shared concept images of the Star Wars-themed lands, giving fans a glimpse at what is to come for Disney parks.

The partnership between Disney and Lucasfilm dates back to 1987, when the successful Star Tours attraction, inspired by George Lucas’s legendary Star Wars film series, opened at Disneyland. The attraction was then redesigned, emerging as “Star Tours – The Adventures Continue” in 2011 and featuring more than 50 different story outcomes and the possibility to visit five different planets.

For 60 years, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has been delighting millions of people with fantastic storytelling, exceptional entertainment and extraordinary experiences, creating places where guests can make life-long memories with their friends and families. This announcement marks an unprecedented time of growth with exciting developments happening around the world – from Disneyland Resort’s Diamond Celebration to the anticipated opening of Shanghai Disney Resort in China.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Jungle Cruise Skipper Canteen to open at WDW

Copyright Disney.  All rights reserved.
Here's some of our first news coming out of the D23 Expo 2015 in Anaheim!

Disney has announced that the Jungle Cruise Navigation Company Ltd. Skipper Canteen will open in Adventureland in the Magic Kingdom.  According to the official Disney Parks Blog, this new restaurant will open in late 2015.  Based on the artist rendering above, it looks like this will go into the space around what was the Aloha Isle.

The restaurant will be staffed by Jungle Cruise skippers, so you can bet there will be plenty more bad jokes coming!

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

April Fools Day - Disney Style!

Each year, on the first of April, plenty of incredible, unbelievable and utterly amazing news stories cross the web.  So today being the first of April, let's look at some of the more amazing revelations announced today and then you can determine which one was the best and most creative!


Guardians of the Star Wars Galaxy Announced!
http://thedisneyblog.com/2015/04/01/guardians-of-the-star-wars-galaxy-announced/

Walt Disney to make appearances during Disneyland's 60th anniversary
http://disneyexaminer.com/2015/04/breaking-news-walt-disney-to-make-appearances-during-disneyland-60-anniversary/

Disney announces plans for Hollywood Studios (Disney's Adventure Park)
http://www.disneyfanatic.com/breaking-news-disney-announces-their-plans-for-hollywood-studios/

Olaf's Frozen Escape coming to Magic Kingdom in 2016
http://blog.touringplans.com/2015/04/01/olafs-frozen-escape-coming-to-magic-kingdom-in-2016/

Cinderella's Castle to be renamed for Elsa
http://www.disneydining.com/cinderellas-castle-to-be-renamed-for-elsa/

Disney cancels partnership with Coca-Cola, signs agreement with Pepsi
http://www.chipandco.com/disney-cancels-partnership-cocacola-signs-agreement-pepsi-210522/

Disney buys Star Trek
http://techgnotic.deviantart.com/journal/Disney-Buys-Star-Trek-492977809

Powerline to play a secret show
http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/2014/04/01/powerline-to-play-a-secret-show/?cmp=SMC%7Cgoo_mov%7Cnatural%7Cblgomd%7COMDApril%7CFB%7Cpowerline-AGoofyMovie%7CInHouse%7C2015-04-01%7Crepost%7C%7Cesocialmedia%7C%7C

First Look:  Disney Parks to send guests to Pluto
http://blogs.disney.com/oh-my-disney/2015/04/01/first-look-disney-parks-to-send-guests-to-pluto/

Cars Land to open Summer 2017 (Disneytoon Studios)
http://behindthemouse.com/cars-land-to-open-summer-2017/

Judge bans Frozen from all theme parks
http://blog.wdwinfo.com/2015/04/01/judge-fools-all-banning-frozen-from-theme-parks-and-agreeing-with-frozen-is-my-life-story-author/

Disney/Pixar presents "X-Wings" trailer
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AZ3n_D1zBrg


So which did you think was the best April Fools Day gag?  Post a comment!!

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