Archive for the ‘Fantasmic’ Category

Theme Park Headlines – Celebration Central

June 16, 2009

Image © Disney.

Disney Parks and Disney On Ice continue to roll out new ways to celebrate all year long.

By Blake

Originally posted June 16, 2009.

In recent years, the Disney Parks have been known for their continuous annual “themes,” a marketing technique that has increased particularly within this decade. The “100 Years of Magic” celebration commemorated Walt Disney’s 100th birthday in 2001, “Magical Gatherings” encouraged guests to come in large groups in 2003, the “Happiest Celebration on Earth” honored Disneyland’s 50th anniversary in 2005, and the “Year of a Million Dreams” gave away 1,000,000 special moments to park guests from late 2006 – 2008.

This year, Disney Parks are asking guests to celebrate another occasion. However, this time, it’s up to the guests to decide what to celebrate. Whether it’s an anniversary, graduation, or birthday, Disney wants you to celebrate your event with them.

However, even Disney is aware of the economic recession. To keep their attendance numbers high and to continue to bring more guests to their parks, Disney has implemented several outstanding vacation deals, as well as new live entertainment options.

Disney Parks are celebrating in 2009 with vacation promotions, new live entertainment, and attraction updates. Image © Disney.

Some of those vacation deals include summer guests at Walt Disney World having a “buy 4 nights, get 3 free” option (a deal whose booking window has now closed), Walt Disney World guests receiving the Disney Dining Plan for free (if they book by July 26 and visit by October 3), and Disneyland guests buying 3 nights and getting 2 free (if they book by August 11 and arrive by September 26). Guests visiting an American Disney Park on their birthday in 2009 even get free admission (if it is on their actual birthday and they have a valid ID).

Disney has also implemented several new attractions that encourage guests to “Celebrate Today.” In January, an updated parade debuted at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom called Celebrate A Dream Come True Parade. In February, the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party rolled into the Magic Kingdom and the American Idol Experience opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Disneyland premiered the Celebrate! A Street Party procession in March, and opened the Celebration Roundup and Barbecue venue at Big Thunder Ranch in April. In May, the Magic Kingdom debuted Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration, a live stage show in Tomorrowland featuring Stitch interacting with park guests (though there is some serious speculation going around about this show lately, all of which is rumor at this point).

The American Idol Experience opened in February at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Image © Disney.

Just last Friday on June 12, Disneyland kicked off a summer-long celebration called “Nightastic!” that will last through August 23. The festivities, which only take place at night, include new live entertainment. Disneyland Park features a new fireworks show called Magical, which includes an appearance by Dumbo. (The former fireworks show, Remember Dreams Come True, will return after Nightastic! is over.) Additionally, Fantasmic! has been updated to include appearances by Tick-Tock Crocodile from Peter Pan and the eels Flotsam and Jetsam from The Little Mermaid. Later this summer, an enhanced dragon of Maleficent will debut. (These changes are just for the Disneyland version, though, and are not being implemented to Fantasmic! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios).

Additionally, as part of Nightastic!, special enhancements have been made to the Pixie Hollow character greeting area at Disneyland. The space opened in October 2008 so that guests would have an opportunity to meet Tinker Bell and her fairy friends. Now, at nighttime, the area features several updates including special effects using lights and water, as well as enchanting background music. The Disney Fairies also participate in Nightastic! over at Disney’s California Adventure, Disneyland’s next-door neighbor. A new Tinker Bell float has been added to Disney’s Electrical Parade, and several floats (including ones carrying Snow White and Pinocchio) have returned to the parade after a period of absence.

And the celebrating isn’t over yet.

On June 29, Walt Disney World will open The Pirates League in the Magic Kingdom, a unique experience that will give guests pirate makeovers (similar to how the Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique gives fairy tale makeovers). In early July, Barack Obama will make his debut in the Magic Kingdom’s Hall of Presidents along with several other new enhancements to the attraction. In late August at the Magic Kingdom, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority will re-open after its refurbishment, which will be followed by the November re-opening of Space Mountain. (Both attractions have been closed since April.)

Disney On Ice is also getting in on the act. They’re debuting a new show called “Celebrations!,” which will premiere in Lakeland, Florida, on September 4, followed by a nationwide tour. The new show involves many Disney characters celebrating all kinds of festivities, from unbirthdays to holidays.

Disney On Ice will debut a new show, Celebrations!, this September. Image © Disney.

Additionally, from the look of the art for the show on DisneyOnIce.com, it appears that Princess Tiana will be making her Disney debut in Celebrations!, which should be quite exciting. Tiana is a new Disney Princess and the main character of the upcoming animated film The Princess and the Frog, which is coming to theaters on December 11. This means that Disney On Ice guests might get a sneak peek into Tiana’s story a bit before it comes to the silver screen. Nevertheless, the art for Celebrations! also includes Woody, Buzz, Stitch, Peter Pan, and more, so it should be a very entertaining show to say the least.

With the great vacation deals Disney has implemented and the new live entertainment and attraction updates they’ve added to their parks, the first part of 2009 has certainly been host to a lot of celebrating where Disney is concerned. The upcoming Disney On Ice show and additional theme park enhancements hint that the party is just getting started.

By Blake; posted June 16, 2009. All images © Disney.

Blake’s Picks – Top 5 Hollywood Studios Attractions

May 17, 2009

The best of Walt Disney World’s third theme park.

By Blake

Originally posted May 16, 2009.

First of all, I’d just like to point out some news about The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, which I had originally reported was going to be released on April 28. However, that was apparently a misunderstanding, as the book is now scheduled to be released in July 2010. StitchKingdom.com also experienced some confusion while trying to purchase the book.

So, although that’s not-so-great news, the celebration rolls on here at BlakeOnline to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios!

If you haven’t yet seen coverage of the festivities from DHS’s 20th anniversary event that occurred on Friday, May 1, 2009, you can check some pictures and videos out at StudiosCentral.com, AllEars.net, LaughingPlace.com, and AttractionsMagazine.com.

Although Walt Disney World’s official happenings for DHS’s birthday lasted one day, I thought it would be suitable to continue to post DHS-themed articles to commemorate the park’s anniversary. The park contains some of the individual best attractions in all of Walt Disney World. From exciting thrills to showstoppers to a hysterical 3-D movie, Disney’s Hollywood Studios is home to several of my Disney favorites.

To share with you some of my DHS favorites and to also celebrate the parks’ 20th anniversary, here’s a list of my top five favorite attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Note that I have not yet ridden Toy Story Midway Mania! and have not yet seen The American Idol Experience, so those two are not included in this list because I haven’t seen them.)


5. Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream

A tribute to the life and aspirations of Walt Disney, the first part of this attraction is a walk-through, museum-like exhibit, while the next part is a short movie about Walt Disney. A Disney fan could spend a while in the exhibit part, looking at all of the displays, models, pictures, and other various items sprinkled throughout the building.

Guests can see many displays at Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, including (clockwise from top left) the “skeleton” of an Audio-Animatronics figure, a model of a rocket that was formerly in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland, the “dancing man” figure, and an Audio-Animatronics tiki bird.

The attraction debuted in 2001, appropriately during the 100 Years of Magic celebration (which was held for Walt Disney’s 100th birthday). One Man’s Dream recently became sponsored by D23, the new official Disney fan club, and now features a new display advertising D23. Also new in One Man’s Dream is a special look at the history of Disney’s Hollywood Studios to celebrate the park’s 20th anniversary (similar to the exhibit that was set up in Epcot for its 25th anniversary).

Although I haven’t experienced One Man’s Dream since 2004, The Complete Walt Disney World by Julie and Mike Neal reports that the attraction doesn’t have a wait most of the day. This means that the attraction is especially beneficial to those having some spare time while waiting for their Fastpass return time for Toy Story Midway Mania!, which is located just down the street, on Pixar Place. (One Man’s Dream is located between Pixar Place and Animation Courtyard.)

4. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror

I enjoy most thrill rides, but sometimes I know to stay clear of an attraction if it’s going to give me a headache or cause nausea. If I choose not to ride something, it’s usually because I don’t want to experience negative side effects, not because I’m afraid of the ride itself. But the Tower of Terror just plain creeps me out, even when any side effects aren’t considered. But I love it.

The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror is scarily fun.

When I say the Tower of Terror creeps me out, I mean it creeps me out in a good way. How can creepy be good? In this case, Disney sets the eerie storyline up brilliantly, building up the anticipation of your elevator ascent even before you arrive in the line. Just the sight of the looming Hollywood Tower Hotel (the fictional resort that the attraction is housed in) over Sunset Blvd. sparks hints of curiosity and a bit of fear inside guests. The line, filled with dusty objects and cobwebbed walls, helps set the spooky mood. The preshow room in the “library” tells guests the fictitious story of five people who were in the Tower’s elevator and, as the elevator was struck by lightning, were taken up and down the hotel’s elevator shaft. As guests then enter the second part of the line (which is a dark “boiler room”), suspense builds even more. By the time I’m instructed to stand upon a numbered spot to board the elevator, I’m personally just plain scared. It’s not 100% fear, knowing that it’s just a ride and that everything will be OK, but it’s still fear nonetheless.

Then the real fun starts as the ride begins and guests experience the up-and-down movements of the elevator. The Tower of Terror is one of Disney’s best thrill rides, and probably one of the best story-driven Disney attractions. It does a great job of delivering guests the story upfront and then putting guests into that story. It’s pulled off wonderfully, making the Tower of Terror one of Hollywood Studios’ most popular attractions.

3. Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage

One of the absolute best live productions on Disney property, Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage retells the classic Disney animated film magnificently. The Academy-Award winning music accentuated by the sets, characters, and background dancers all culminate together to create an amazing experience.

Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage is one of Walt Disney World’s best shows.

The show is performed in the Theater of the Stars, an outdoor covered venue on Sunset Blvd., just down the street from the Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster. The show opened on November 22, 1991, the same day as its film counterpart. Formerly, a popular preshow included four “crew members” “spontaneously” performing songs. The group, called Four For a Dollar, was unfortunately cut from the show in 2008.

The story of Beauty and the Beast is condensed into about 30 minutes for the show, so at times it may feel a bit rushed and some points in the plot may be fuzzy to those who haven’t seen the movie. However, that doesn’t take away from the overall wonderful quality of the production.

As one of Disney’s best animated movies, Beauty and the Beast makes a spectacular transition to the stage. Since the Broadway version of the story is no longer performing, it’s great that guests can still get a chance to see a live adaptation of it after over 17 years of dazzling audiences, making Beauty and the Beast – Live on Stage close to the top of my list of DHS must-sees.

2. Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3-D

My favorite Muppet production of all time (yep, that’s right), this hysterical 3-D movie is classic Muppet humor at its best. From the minute you walk into the line, you know you’ve entered a Muppet community. The detail in the props during the line and preshow is outstanding. Fun little trinkets and items are scattered everywhere, all with their own touch of subtle wit.

Fozzie Bear, Kermit the Frog, and other Muppets deliver plenty of fun in Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3-D.

Guests are treated to a hilarious pre-show video featuring Sam the Eagle, Gonzo, Rizzo, and other Muppets before heading into the Muppet Theater to view the main show. The 3-D movie features favorite Muppets touring the audience around the Muppet Labs before performing several musical acts, none of which go as planned. The show includes several appearances by Muppets in Audio-Animatronics form, such as Statler and Waldorf, who sit in their balcony seats.

Muppet*Vision 3-D usually has a short line, which makes it a great candidate for an attraction to experience in the afternoon, when the more crowded attractions have long waits. However, lack of crowds at Muppet*Vision 3-D make me a little nervous as to what Disney may think of this situation. If not many people are seeing it, is Disney viewing it as an attraction that needs to be replaced? I certainly hope not. A refurbishment might be nice, but if Disney decided to do away with the show or change the show in some way, many fans would probably be very upset. It does seem ironic that this would have a short line, though, because it seems to be one of the most overall best crowd pleasers in the entire park. It’s definitely one of my favorite Walt Disney World attractions.

1. Fantasmic!
I must say, I had a very hard time choosing between Muppet*Vision 3-D and Fantasmic! as I decided my #1 Hollywood Studios pick. I enjoy both attractions immensely, but when it came down to it, I chose the winner by determining the level of Disney magic that each attraction has. Which one has an extra Disney touch that makes its guests feel that nostalgic, reflective emotion that sums up the entire Disney experience in a moment of realization, movement, and appreciation not only for the show they’re viewing but also for the wonderful family and friends they’re viewing with? Muppet*Vision 3-D has its own wacky sense of Disney wonderment, but when put up against Fantasmic! where that extra Disney mile is concerned, Fantasmic! takes the win for me.
Guests get a peak into Mickey Mouse’s dreams in Fantasmic!

After premiering at Disneyland in 1992, Fantasmic! debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 1998 in a 9,900-seat amphitheater on Sunset Blvd. It tells the story of how Mickey Mouse’s enchanting dream turns to a nightmare as Disney villains take over. Of course, good triumphs over evil in the end, which results in what has to be one of Disney’s best grand finales ever.
The show conveys its story in several different ways, including live performers, water screens (showing video clips), lights, fireworks, floats, and more. Over three dozen Disney characters make appearances, as well.

Those are my picks for the best attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Each of them has their own unique factors that make them one of my favorites. Between them all, they provide five brilliant Disney experiences.

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By Blake; posted May 16, 2009. All images (C) Disney.