Archive for the ‘Magic Kingdom’ Category

Theme Park Headlines – New Frontiers

September 13, 2009

Image © Disney.

Disney Cruise Line is heading to Alaska, Star Tours is getting a sequel, and WDW’s Fantasyland is being majorly expanded.

By Blake

Originally posted September 12, 2009.

I officially and truly appreciate Twitter.

I was skeptical to the idea of it at first, but then as I started to use it to post Disney news and view more Disney information from others, I began to “get it.” However, it wasn’t until this weekend that I absolutely, positively was VERY glad that I was a Twitter user.

If not for Twitter, I would have never experienced the jittery excitement I have felt as I excitedly click “refresh” repeatedly to view the live tweets from Disney fans as they report from the D23 Expo.

There was another significant announcement yesterday (Friday, September 11, 2009) at the Disney Cruise Line presentation. Disney previously posted some online videos of Donald Duck and Goofy trying to find out where the Disney Cruise Line was headed to next. Disney answered this highly-anticipated question yesterday, revealing that in summer 2011, Disney Cruise Line is going to . . . Alaska! The breathtaking scenery of Alaska is sure to be a wonderful pairing with a Disney cruise vacation. You can view details at DisneyCruise.com/2011.

Disney Cruise Line is heading to Alaska in summer 2011. Image © Disney.

In other Disney Cruise Line news, on August 31, Disney announced some changes coming to Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island that most Disney cruises make a stop at. Changes include a larger family beach, a new lunch spot, and new water play areas, to be finished in summer 2010. On top of that, two additional Disney cruise ships are currently being built – the Disney Dream (setting sail in 2011) and the Disney Fantasy (coming in 2012).

This morning (Saturday, September 12, 2009) Disney fans (both present at the Expo and those that would read the reports later), were in for some huge surprises from the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts presentation.

Many topics were discussed, including an expansion of Hong Kong Disneyland that will include several new lands (including Toy Story Land); some details about World of Color, a nighttime water show debuting at Disney’s California Adventure in spring 2010; and the new Cars Land, opening at Disney’s California Adventure in 2012.

Then, the first major shocker was revealed – Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland is going to get a massive expansion, growing twice as large as it currently is. It’s going to be amazing.

Some of the outstandingly exciting changes to Fantasyland include two identical Dumbo rides to speed up the wait (complete with an interactive queue) and a new area based on Pixie Hollow from the Disney Fairies movies. Additionally, there seems to be a large emphasis on the princesses, especially in new, unique ways that guests are going to be able to meet them. It seems that each princess character greeting specific to each princess’ personality. For instance, guests will be able to dance with Cinderella, celebrate a party with Aurora, and experience storytelling with Belle. (I’m guessing this is the already-open Storytime with Belle, just relocated?) I think it’s a very creative idea to try out different character greeting formats other than traditional meet & greets.

Dumbo the Flying Elephant is getting an interactive queue in Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. Image © Disney.

There are also going to be several expansive new attractions added to Fantasyland. A new ride based on The Little Mermaid is going to be built called Ariel’s Adventure, and will be similar in style to other Fantasyland attractions like Peter Pan’s Flight and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. It will take guests into Ariel’s world to tell her story, and is going to be like another Little Mermaid ride coming soon to Disney’s California Adventure.

Ariel’s Adventure will be a new ride based on The Little Mermaid, and will open in Walt Disney World’s Fantasyland in the Magic Kingdom. Image © Disney.

Additionally, the Imagineers are building two new restaurants based on Beauty and the Beast – Gaston’s Tavern and Be Our Guest Restaurant. Be Our Guest will be located inside the Beast’s castle, a new area where guests will be able to eat in several themed settings directly from the movie. This place seems like it’s going to be awesome!

However, a down side of the Fantasyland expansion is the unfortunate closure of Mickey’s Toontown Fair. One of my favorite areas in the Magic Kingdom, Toontown opened as a temporary land to celebrate Mickey Mouse’s 60th birthday in 1988, and was later decided to be a more-than-temporary addition to the park. Some of the attractions in Toontown are Mickey’s Country House, Minnie’s Country House, Donald’s Boat, and The Barnstormer. Some good news is that The Barnstormer might be staying despite the Fantasyland changes. It will certainly be sad to see Toontown leave. It’s one of the most cleverly themed and detailed sections of the Magic Kingdom and it will definitely be missed.

The first phase of the Fantasyland expansion (including the princess elements) will open in 2012, while the Pixie Hollow section will open in 2013.

Lastly, there was one more significant announcement at the Parks and Resorts presentation, but it was delivered with the help of Darth Vader and 50 storm troopers. Coming in 2011 to both Disney’s Hollywood Studios (in Walt Disney World) and Disneyland is Star Tours 2, which is sure to delight many Star Wars fans. The attraction will replace the currently-existing Star Tours simulator ride, and will be a new 3-D experience.

I don’t think there have been many events that have been so jam-packed with exciting Disney news like the D23 Expo. I’ve had such joy reading reports that others have posted about the fun happenings that have occurred so far. The Disney Cruise Line Alaskan voyages, Fantasyland’s expansion, and the new Star Tours 2 are all sure to be guest-pleasing experiences. Those Imagineers know how to dream.

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted September 12, 2009. All images © Disney.

Theme Park Headlines – Mickey’s Ready for Fall

September 5, 2009

Image © Disney.

Walt Disney World kicks off its annual Halloween celebrations and prepares for its Christmas festivities.

By Blake

Originally posted September 5, 2009.

While some students may not even have headed back to school yet and the Labor Day holiday is just arriving, Walt Disney World isn’t wasting any time in saying goodbye to summer and heading right into their impressive, crowd-pleasing fall agenda as their Halloween and Christmas special events begin to get underway.

Throughout the summer, Disney began making preparations for The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The buildings in the Streets of America section of the park are being adorned with thousands of sparkling lights. The popular decorations will make their official debut as they light up the park November 10, 2009 – January 4, 2010. You can check out pictures of the event’s recent progress at StudiosCentral.com.

As early as mid-August, the Christmas Dream Lights began their installation on the spires of Cinderella Castle in the Magic Kingdom. A fairly new holiday tradition that began in 2007, the Dream Lights spectacularly transform the Castle into an amazing wintry sight (even though it’s already pretty amazing without them). The lights magically turn on thanks to the help of Cinderella and friends in a brief ceremony entitled Cinderella’s Holiday Wish. The Dream Lights will be ready at least by November 10, which is the first night of Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, but could appear before then. Pictures of the lights’ installation can be seen at LaughingPlace.com.

Mickey and friends are busy perparing for the holiday season, which includes Disney favorites like The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, Cinderella Castle Dream Lights, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and more. Image © Disney.

However, while those and other Walt Disney World Christmas events are over two months away from making their 2009 premiere, Halloween is already in full swing over at the Magic Kingdom. Special Halloween decorations were set up throughout Town Square and along Main Street, U.S.A. a little over a week ago (as shown in a blog on DISUnplugged.com), and the first Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party of the season took place last night, September 4.

The highlights of each party include Mickey’s Boo-to-You Halloween Parade, the HalloWishes fireworks, the Villains Mix and Mingle stage show, special character appearances (by several rare friends, as well as some familiar characters in Halloween attire), and candy stations. Many of the Magic Kingdom rides and attractions are open, too.

Minnie, Mickey, and other Disney friends can be found throughout the Magic Kingdom decked out for Halloween during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. Image © Disney.

Although the party is mostly the same as in years past, there are a few minor changes this year. There are still two dance parties, but they contain a few differences. The Fantasyland dance party still takes place at Ariel’s Grotto, but the characters present there are now Minnie and Daisy. Additionally, the Tomorrowland dance party has changed locations: it’s not in Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café anymore, it’s now at the stage formerly used for Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration (near Carousel of Progress). Characters appearing at the Tomorrowland dance party are Stitch, Goofy, and Pluto. Outside of dance parties, there appears to be a small new float in the parade featuring Madame Leota’s tombstone from Haunted Mansion. (It’s worth noting that although the villains float was dropped from Magic Kingdom’s regular afternoon parade last spring, it still remains a part of the Halloween parade.)

There may also be a few other small changes, but since the party just took place last night, other information has not yet been spread. However, this article will be updated to include any other reported changes that have occurred at this year’s MNSSHP.

Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party requires a separate ticket (different from regular park admission) to attend. On nights when the party takes place, it lasts from 7pm through midnight. However, if you enter at or after 4pm, you will not need a regular park ticket to enter, so my advice would be to not visit a park on the day you attend the party, so that you can rest up as well as save some money.

For pictures of the Halloween decorations throughout the Magic Kingdom, check out LaughingPlace.com, and for a recap of the September 4 Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, visit DISUnplugged.com and AllEars.net. The party will continue on select nights through November 1. Whether you’re attending or not, have a not-so-scary Halloween!

By Blake; posted September 5, 2009. All images © Disney.

Theme Park Headlines – Patriotism and Tragedy

July 8, 2009
Image © Disney.

1,000 new American citizens, an Animatronics version of President Obama, and a tragic monorail accident were among the occurrences of Walt Disney World’s Independence Day week 2009.

By Blake

Originally posted July 8, 2009.

The Fourth of July 2009 at Walt Disney World will not be easily forgotten anytime soon, as a result of a series of completely unrelated events, some exciting and one sorrowful. There were some celebratory events, such as the welcoming of 1,000 newly-sworn-in American citizens and the openings of several exciting new attractions, though one particular tragic accident involving a monorail crash and the death of a Disney Cast Member flared headlines across the country.

One of the lead-ins to the holiday week was the appearance of an Audio-Animatronics character of Luxo, Jr., the lamp from the Pixar short of the same name. Luxo is found on a ledge above guests on Pixar Place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, near the Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction. Although he made his debut around June 22 (which was followed by coverage on LaughingPlace.com), StitchKingdom.com’s Twitter updates are now reporting that Luxo is currently not making appearances, but will resume doing so soon. When he’s out, Luxo appears every 15 minutes and interacts with guests in addition to participating in some creative antics.

Luxo, Jr. has made his debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Image © Disney/Pixar.

On June 29 at the Magic Kingdom, The Pirates League officially opened in Adventureland. Similar to how Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique features princess makeovers, The Pirates League is all about pirate makeovers. Guests may choose from a selection of assorted packages, all of which are listed at WDWNews.com. Like Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique, the makeovers are a bit pricey, the least expensive package being $49.95 plus tax. Coverage of The Pirates League can be seen on AllEars.net, DISUnplugged.com, and StitchKingdom.com. However, if guests would rather not have an all-out makeover but are still looking for a unique Disney hairdo experience, they’d be better off at the less expensive Harmony Barber Shop on Magic Kingdom’s Main Street, U.S.A.

Moving on, sometime over the course of last week (though I seem to find contradictory opening dates – a preview was held on June 28 nonetheless), The Hall of Presidents re-opened from its extensive refurbishment with major new additions. It has a new subtitle, making its full name The Hall of Presidents: A Celebration of Liberty’s Leaders. Among the changes are the inclusion of Morgan Freeman as narrator, Abraham Lincoln giving The Gettysburg Address, George Washington speaking (he previously did not), and the addition of Barack Obama to the lineup of presidents presented as Audio-Animatronics. Pictures of the newly re-opened attraction can be seen at AllEars.net (beware of spoilers, though!).

On July 3, also in the Magic Kingdom, 1,000 people were sworn in and officially became United States citizens. Broadcasted live on CNN, the ceremony took place in front of Cinderella Castle with the help of Mickey Mouse (dressed in patriotic attire), Walt Disney World President Meg Crofton, actor Andy Garcia, and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. After they gave the Oath of Allegiance, the new citizens experienced The Hall of Presidents. Coverage of the event can be seen at StitchKingdom.com.

That evening, Magic Kingdom held a performance of a special Independence Day fireworks presentation titled Celebrate America. On Independence Day itself, July 4, another performance of the show was held. Also on July 4, Epcot’s IllumiNations had a special holiday finale, while Disney’s Hollywood Studios had its own patriotic fireworks show.

A special Indpendence Day fireworks show, Celebrate America, was held at Magic Kingdom on July 3 and July 4, 2009. Image © Disney.

Early morning on Sunday, July 5, the mood changed significantly as two monorails collided. The crash tragically killed 21-year-old Cast Member Austin Wuennenberg. The Epcot monorail system closed for the day, re-opening the afternoon of July 6 with additional safety precautions. It is definitely sorrowful that something like this happened, though hopefully nothing like it will occur again. BlakeOnline sends prayers and thoughts to friends and family of Wuennenberg as they cope with their loss.

The Independence Day week events continued as a new Princess Diana exhibit titled Diana: The People’s Princess opened on July 7 at Downtown Disney. Although guests may enter Downtown Disney itself for free, admission into the Princess Diana exhibit is $5.00 for children through age 9 and $14.50 for ages 10 and up.

Diana: The People’s Princess, a new exhibit about Princess Diana, is now open at Downtown Disney. Image © Disney.

With all of that activity going on, it certainly was quite a hectic Independence Day at Walt Disney World this year. Luxo, Jr., The Pirates League, The Hall of Presidents, the many new American citizens, the special fireworks shows, and Diana: The People’s Princess were all causes of celebration while the tragic monorail accident was definitely a mournful event.

By Blake; posted July 8, 2009. All images © Disney. Pixar Animation Studios logo © Disney/Pixar.

BlakeOnline Special – Imagineering “Blue Sky” Session 2009

June 26, 2009
Image © Disney.

It’s that time of year for batting around ideas for the Disney parks!

By Blake

Originally posted June 26, 2009.

Most Disney fans probably have at least a few creative ideas or thoughts for how they would tweak the Disney parks if they were given the opportunity to do so. If they were an Imagineer – a member of the part of the Walt Disney Company responsible for creating the Disney park attractions – they might have several rides or shows dreamed up and ready to put into action.

It’s always fun to pretend, and so for the sole purpose of just having fun, I welcome you to the 2nd annual Imagineering “Blue Sky” Session here on BlakeOnline. “Blue Sky” is a term used by Imagineers at the very beginning stages of creating new attractions. During Blue Sky, ideas are batted around and introduced for the first time, and concepts and stories are just getting started.

Here we go!

I’ve talked a lot about the changes at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World, but even more colossal than that park’s various changes are the ones being put into effect at Disney’s California Adventure in Disneyland. The changes began in the Paradise Pier section of the park in June 2008 with the opening of Toy Story Midway Mania! Additionally, the Games of the Boardwalk recently re-opened featuring classic Disney characters, and the nearby Sun Wheel was re-themed to Mickey’s Fun Wheel.

The surrounding area of Paradise Pier will continue to be the first section of the park that will largely be changed as part of the multi-year DCA expansion. Other nearby attractions are being re-imagined to be themed to classic Disney shorts of the 1930’s and 1940’s, which I think is just wonderful. From the looks of the concept art and attraction descriptions, the area is going to become somewhat of a simpler, more classic-feeling Toontown. Goofy’s Sky School (a re-themed mad-mouse roller coaster) will be based on the Goofy “How-To” shorts, this time with Goofy “teaching” guests how to fly, with a few unplanned diversions (similar to the storyline of The Barnstormer at the Magic Kingdom ). Additionally, the Silly Symphony Swings will be themed to the 1935 classic Mickey Mouse short The Band Concert, complete with dazzling new special effects.

Silly Symphony Swings at Disney’s California Adventure are expected to be themed to the 1935 Mickey Mouse cartoon The Band Concert. Image © Disney.

Coming to Paradise Pier in spring 2010 is World of Color, a new water show featuring a hoopla of classic Disney characters in a spectacle that supposedly will knock the socks of its viewers. In 2011, Paradise Pier will become the home of The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, a new dark ride that ironically was supposed to be built years ago at Disneyland.

The California Adventure expansion is expected to continue in 2012 with new theming to its entrance, which will depict Hollywood in the 1920’s, when Walt Disney was first arriving to the city. Additionally, an entire new area of the park will open in 2012 – Cars Land, themed to the 2006 Pixar film Cars. The area will include multiple new attractions that sound very exciting, and the atmosphere will make guests feel like they’re walking through Radiator Springs.

Cars Land, themed to the Pixar film Cars, is scheduled to open in Disney’s California Adventure at Disneyland in 2012. Image © Disney/Pixar.

Although I’ve never visited California Adventure, all of these upcoming additions sound very appealing, and hopefully they’ll be introduced to other Disney parks soon!

As we “keep moving forward” and press on to Walt Disney World in Florida, as of right now, no massive upcoming projects have been officially announced. There are plenty of wild rumors going around, but nothing’s been confirmed just yet.

There are a few smaller attractions scheduled, though. On June 29, the Pirates League will open in the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland as a place where pirate fans can come to get pirate makeovers, similar to the Bibbidi-Bobbidi Boutique having princess makeovers. The Hall of Presidents is indeed expected to be re-opening with its newest member, Barack Obama, sometime within the coming weeks, and Space Mountain is supposed to be re-opening after a rather lengthy refurbishment in November, but other than those nothing very big is planned.

Space Mountain is expected to re-open in November at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom. Image © Disney.

However, that’s not to say that I don’t have a few ideas.

At the Magic Kingdom, I like how Disney is continuing the Pirates of the Caribbean craze in Adventureland with the Pirates League opening. Although I certainly don’t think that the entire land should be re-themed to Pirates, I admire that Disney isn’t just letting the franchise sit there waiting for the next movie to be released.

As for character greetings, I think a Captain Jack Sparrow meet & greet would be extremely popular given how well his appearances at the now-defunct Pirate & Princess Parties went. Additionally, even though they attract very long lines, the Princesses and the Fairies would probably fit into Fantasyland better than they do at their current location in Mickey’s Toontown Fair.

Also at the Magic Kingdom is the show Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration over in Tomorrowland. The show opened in early May, 2009, and will have its final performance on Saturday, June 27, 2009. It wasn’t meant to be a seasonal attraction, it just altogether wasn’t pleasing guests and Disney decided to do away with the show completely. Which, in essence, I don’t think is quite giving the show a proper chance. If Disney were to focus more on Stitch and less on the dancers, put the show into the Galaxy Palace Theater (which was recently closed), and perhaps involved Mickey and Minnie into the plot (maybe something like the Castle shows?), I think Stitch’s SuperSonic Celebration would be a better experience. Or if they were to focus on just the Stitch aspect of the show, which involved a computer-animated Stitch interacting and talking with park guests (like Stitch Live at Disneyland Paris), maybe that would be a better solution.

Over at Epcot, the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure – somewhat of a scavenger hunt themed to the now-concluded Disney Channel show Kim Possible throughout select World Showcase pavilions – has been wow’ing guests since it opened in February, and Remy from Ratatouille has been enchanting guests with his appearances at the Le Chefs de France restaurant.

Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure is a new experience at Walt Disney World’s Epcot in Florida. Image © Disney.

Some changes I might make to Epcot would include perhaps re-theming Test Track to incorporate characters from Cars. It would be a great opportunity to freshen up a classic ride. Though some purists might not like the idea, I think the concept of Lightning McQueen teaching guests what sort of tests racecars go through before they head to the track would be an engaging storyline.

Pixar’s newest film, Up, has dazzled audiences since it was released in May, and due to its success I can definitely see it being a candidate for future theme park presence. But where would the film fit? Although it might work out in Hollywood Studios’ Pixar Place or in the Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland, overall the movie would probably feel most at home in Epcot for several reasons. Firstly, flight is a component that’s important in Up, and it’s also an experience that would fit in Epcot’s Soarin’ attraction, though I’m not sure how Up’s characters or story would work into that ride. A more appropriate addition would be some sort of South America pavilion in World Showcase, featuring a version of Paradise Falls (a setting from the film), as well as some sort of dark ride themed to the movie.

The lush setting of Paradise Falls in Up would be wonderful for a South America pavilion in Epcot. Image © Disney/Pixar.

Heading to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Enchanted would be wonderful if it was put on stage, and this park is an excellent choice to put such as show. The park’s Premiere Theater (which is currently used for special events) would be wise for the show’s location, as it’s right in the New York section of the park, and Enchanted takes place primarily in New York. Additionally, a Pixar Place expansion would be fascinating – re-theming the Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure to an area based on a bug’s life would be appropriate, and a nearby thrill ride based on the Monsters, Inc. door sequence would be brilliant. Some sort of Bolt attraction would also fit into Hollywood Studios, though not necessarily in the Pixar Place area.

Another idea would be to refurbish Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3-D. Now would be a fitting time to do this, especially since Disney is currently in the process of re-launching the Muppet franchise. I don’t think the 3-D film itself should be changed, but some re-mastering and sprucing up of the footage would be nice. Additionally, perhaps some new pre-show or post-show elements could be added that would feature Muppet characters that weren’t around when Muppet*Vision initially opened (like Pepe the King Prawn). Some atmosphere around Muppet*Vision could also be enhanced to further involve guests in a Muppety area, such as bringing back the Muppet Mobile Lab (which had brief appearances in Disney’s California Adventure and Epcot) or adding some Muppet character greetings.

A refurbishment of Jim Henson’s Muppet*Vision 3-D at Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be great timing with Disney’s current re-launch of the Muppet franchise. Image © Disney.

Lastly, trekking over to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, I think the only area that needs a little work is the Dino-Rama! section of DinoLand U.S.A. The atmosphere’s storyline doesn’t come across very straightforward to guests, though the rides in the area (including the fun TriceraTop Spin and the exciting Primeval Whirl) are certainly keepers.

That concludes this year’s Imagineering Blue Sky Session! Feel free to create some ideas of your own. Get those creative gears flowing – who knows, you might just dream up the next Disney park classic.

By Blake; posted June 26, 2009. All images © Disney. Cars and Up images © Disney/Pixar.

Disney Detours – The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh

June 22, 2009

Image © Disney.

Disney’s Fantasyland dark ride through the Hundred Acre Wood is detailed and charming.

By Blake

Originally posted June 22, 2009.

No, I’ve never ridden Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. When it was replaced by the chubby little cubby that’s stuffed with fluff in 1999, many Toad fans weren’t happy. And despite their concerns, Imagineers pressed forward and introduced The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh to Fantasyland in Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom.

Pooh is a “dark ride,” an attraction that travels guests through scenes of classic Disney movies in a relatively dark setting, with the Audio-Animatronics and backdrops colorfully lit up. Being the first completely new dark ride since the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, Pooh conveyed the Imagineers’ 28 years of experience with the Florida park and their ability to blend a story, characters, music, and a playful mood into an attraction in a lighthearted and fun way. They had learned from the first version of Snow White’s Scary Adventures to keep Fantasyland attractions relatively child-oriented, with less frights and more charm.

Perhaps more than any other WDW Fantasyland dark ride, Pooh has an overall appeal that all comes together due to a number of different elements of theming and extending its story beyond the ride and into the gift shop and nearby character greetings, atmosphere, and play area.

The excellent theming starts the moment guests enter the queue line. They’re immediately immersed into the world of Christopher Robin’s storybooks, illustrated through large versions of book pages scattered throughout the loading area. Guests are literally put into the story in this attraction, and the plot involves guests moving through pages of Christopher Robin’s book about Pooh and friends. Those that are unfamiliar with Pooh shouldn’t have a hard time following along with the storyline, because instead of containing a structured plot, the ride (like its film counterpart) consists of several stand-alone short stories.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh attraction at the Magic Kingdom is based upon the film of the same name, which was released in 1977 and contains three Pooh featurettes. Image © Disney.

Once guests are loaded into their ride vehicle – a honey pot – the first scene they arrive at is a blustery day in the Hundred Acre Wood, complete with Pooh trying to use the wind to his advantage to breeze up to a bees’ nest to get a smackeral of honey. All throughout the ride, a variety of senses and special effects are used to further make guests feel like they’re right in the middle of the story. This is first instanced when the blustery day turns out to be truly windy. (The air, although indeed breezy, is surprisingly warm.)

Next up is Owl’s house, where a few infamous references to Mr. Toad can be found. After that, guests encounter Tigger, who invites everyone to bounce along with him. Again, wonderful sensory effects are implemented, this time through the movement of the ride vehicles “bouncing” up and down with Tigger.

Soon Tigger winds up telling Pooh that he had better watch out for “heffalumps and woozles,” and guests trek through Pooh’s nightmare concerning the fanciful creatures. A brilliant special effect is used as Pooh dozes off into his dream, and later guests see somewhat of a special effect of themselves, through the use of funhouse-like mirrors. Although it’s all lighthearted fun, the heffalumps and woozles sequence of the ride could potentially frighten young visitors if they’re easily scared.

Next, Pooh returns to the real world and soon finds that the Hundred Acre Wood has flooded! Again, special effects through movement are used marvelously to make the ride vehicles feel as if they’re really floating through a watery environment, even though they travel along a track. Again, some little ones might be scared by the dark environment of this scene.

Lastly, the flood recedes and it’s time to celebrate. Pooh’s friends are having a party, but where’s Pooh? He’s finally found his honey and is enjoying it immensely, as shown by his messy face.

As guests depart their ride vehicles, they enter Pooh’s Thotful Shop, a store filled with Pooh-themed merchandise. After they depart from the shop and exit outside, guests can experience other nearby Fantasyland attractions transporting riders into the worlds of Snow White, Peter Pan, and more. However, if guests still just can’t get enough of Pooh, they can walk directly across from The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh into Pooh’s Playful Spot, a creatively themed play area for children ages two through five.

Pooh’s Playful Spot opened in September 2005 and is located in part of the former home of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. It includes several play fixtures, including one of Pooh’s house (which features a clever 20,000 Leagues nod). Additionally, throughout the day guests can also meet characters from the Pooh stories at Pooh’s Playful Spot. The most common friends to find here are Pooh and Tigger, but others may show up, as well.

Fans of Pooh can also see him in several other places around Walt Disney World, as he is one of the few characters to have a role in all four WDW parks. Guests can dine with Pooh and friends at the Magic Kingdom’s Crystal Palace restaurant, see Pooh in the Magic Kingdom’s afternoon parade, see Pooh solve a Super Sleuth case as part of Playhouse Disney – Live on Stage! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and meet Pooh and friends at Epcot’s United Kingdom pavilion or in Animal Kingdom’s Discovery Island.

With such a great all-around experience, it’s no wonder that many guests love The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh. Its large popularity often causes quite a bit of a line. Fortunately, guests have the opportunity to use Fastpass, which is very beneficial in this case. Nearby activities that can help wait off your Fastpass return time include attractions like Snow White’s Scary Adventures, Cinderella’s Golden Carrousel, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, and the Mad Tea Party (all of which do not use Fastpass), or catching a showing of Storytime with Belle in Fairytale Garden.

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh is nestled in the Magic Kingdom’s Fantasyland, which is located behind Cinderella Castle. Image by Blake’s family.

Overall, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh does an excellent job at culminating together many different aspects – including the ride itself, its gift shop, and nearby play area and character meet & greet – to create an atmosphere that successfully takes guests into a well-executed story. Through clever use of sensory effects, Imagineers create an environment that immerses guests into the story wonderfully.

How do I rank The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh? (Bolded is my choice.)

  • Aaah!
  • Blech
  • Not good
  • Good
  • Very good
  • Brilliant

The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh will most likely please: Disney Fans – Toddlers (ages 1-2) – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-7)

Related BlakeOnline articles:

By Blake; posted June 22, 2009. Pooh clipart image and The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh DVD cover image © Disney; Cinderella Castle image belongs to Blake’s family.

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.

Disney Talk – Read Your Way Through Imagineering’s Secrets

April 6, 2009

Several exciting book releases are in the works from Walt Disney Imagineering.

By Blake

Originally posted April 6, 2009.

In the past, Walt Disney Imagineering – the team of the Walt Disney Company that creates the attractions guests experience in the Disney theme parks – have been the subject of several fascinating books that have given fans a glimpse into what goes into creating some of Disney’s most beloved rides and shows.

There have been looks into Disney’s “mountains,” advice on how to think like an Imagineer, sneak peeks into the making of movies based on some of Imagineering’s attractions, and more. Looking ahead into the rest of 2009, there are several more very exciting books coming from Disney Editions that pertain to Imagineering.

The first is The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The fifth book in the Imagineering Field Guide series by Alex Wright, it will give a look into the creation of Walt Disney World’s third theme park, Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The book will be released on April 28, 2009*, just three days before the parks’ 20th birthday. Like the other Imagineering Field Guides, this one is expected to include a run-down of the development of the park’s rides and attractions, as well as little details that can be found throughout the park. It will be especially fascinating to see what went into creating Toy Story Mania!, the Tower of Terror, Beauty and the Beast Live on Stage, and Muppet Vision 3-D. The book will sell for $9.95.

*Update from May 15, 2009: The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is now scheduled for a July 2010 tentative release.

The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios is coming soon.
Another Imagineering release is scheduled to be published on November 3, 2009. Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real by the Imagineers will be a sequel to a highly popular Imagineering book that was published in 1996. If the new installment is anything like its original, it’s sure to be magnificent. The book’s list price of $60.00 is a bit much, though hopefully a less-expensive paperback edition will be offered like it was for the book’s predecessor.

The next title, set to be published on December 15, 2009, is The Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World–Updated!. The first version of this book was the book to kick off the Imagineering Field Guide series, and was published in 2005. Since that time, the Magic Kingdom’s major changes have included the addition of the Monsters, Inc. Laugh Floor and the refurbishments of Pirates of the Caribbean and the Haunted Mansion. Additionally, at the time the book will be published, the Hall of Presidents and Space Mountain are both expected to have finished their refurbishments. I would think that these changes will be covered in the new edition of the book, though nothing has been confirmed. Selling for $9.95, the value of the book is most likely worth whatever changes may be made to its contents.

It should be noted that all release dates are tentative. Books tend to get their release dates moved around sometimes, and the dates listed here are when these books are expected to be released, and should not necessarily be viewed as their definite release dates.

I’m very excited to see what the Imagineers have in store to tell readers once these titles are published. The Imagineering Field Guide to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making More Magic Real, and The Imagineering Field Guide to the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World–Updated! seem to be like fascinating treats into backstage Disney magic.

By Blake; posted April 6, 2009. All images (C) Disney.

Disney Detours – Mickey’s PhilharMagic

July 3, 2007

By Blake
Originally posted July 3, 2007.

A magical combination of music, favorite characters, and just genuine fun, Mickey’s PhilharMagic has been my favorite Walt Disney World attraction since its 2003 opening.

In October 2003, Walt Disney World was unveiling two new star attractions at its Epcot and Magic Kingdom parks. At Epcot, an ‘E-Ticket’ thriller created by Walt Disney Imagineering and NASA opened, called “Mission: SPACE”. Although this attraction is quite brilliant, it’s not the subject for today’s article.

At Magic Kingdom, a brand-new show would open at the Fantasyland Theater, which has quite a history. On October 1, 1971, Walt Disney World officially opened to the public, and “Mickey Mouse Revue” was on its opening day slate. The show involved 73 Audio-Animatronics representations of classic Disney characters, conducted by Mickey Mouse, all performing classic Disney songs from animated favorites. The show closed September 14, 1980 before it was moved to its new home at Tokyo Disneyland, were it remains to this day.

Over at Magic Kingdom, wildly enough, “Mickey Mouse Revue”, which was one of the park’s opening day attractions, was replaced by “Magic Journeys”, a 3-D film that showed the world through the eyes of children, which was originally one of Epcot’s opening day attractions! It ran at Magic Kingdom from December 15, 1987 through December 1, 1993.

On July 8, 1994, “Legend of the Lion King” opened in the place of “Magic Journeys” less than a month after the theatrical release of Disney’s animated masterpiece The Lion King. The new show involved puppets portraying almost all of the characters. The show also used footage of the film, displayed behind the puppets, to add extra visuals and excitement to particular scenes. In January 2002, Disney officially confirmed “Legend of the Lion King” would close, and it did so on February 23, 2002 because Imagineers felt that with the immense success of the “Festival of the Lion King” show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, they did not need two permanent Lion King shows taking up space in the same resort. “Legend of the Lion King” would be replaced by a new show, to open in 2003.

That upcoming “new show” that Disney had confirmed was a little something more than an average attraction. It was a combined effort between Walt Disney Imagineering (the creators of all the theme park attractions) and Walt Disney Feature Animation (the talents behind every Disney movie released theatrically). The show would star Mickey Mouse, in his first screen appearance since 1995. What’s the new attraction? “Mickey’s PhilharMagic.”

The show is quite a clever combination of the previous attractions in this location, when you get down to it. As in “Mickey Mouse Revue”, Mickey is the conductor of an orchestra—though this time instead of leading classic Disney characters, Mickey conducts magical instruments that play themselves. These instruments may only come to life if they are instructed to by someone wearing the magical sorcerer’s hat (from Fantasia). Even though Mickey may not conduct classic Disney pals anymore, they certainly aren’t absent in the film. When Mickey asks Donald to get the instruments set up for the concert, the duck gets a little too carried away and winds up popping in-and-out classic scenes from Disney movies in pursuit in finding the sorcerer’s hat (which Donald lost). Presence of “Legend of the Lion King” is found in the “I Just Can’t Wait to Be King” sequence, as are several other Disney classics, among them Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, and Peter Pan.

The show is displayed on a 150-foot screen, the largest ever used for a 3-D film. The attraction could also be called 4-D, actually, as it is the most immersing Walt Disney World 3-D show ever. It involves the scent of apple pie, water squirting in your face, a screen that seems to wrap around the entire theater, and not to mention that phenomenal bit with Donald at the end. I won’t spoil it, but just remember to look behind you.

As a Disney enthusiast, I wholeheartedly adore “Mickey’s PhilharMagic” and loved the show even more when I found out this fascinating piece of information: Clarence Nash (the original voice of Donald Duck), who passed away in the 80’s, provides the talents for Donald in this film. The current voice of the duck, Tony Anselmo, only recorded four lines for the entire film. How is this possible? The Imagineers carefully delved through the classic Donald Duck cartoons from the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s to find just the right bits of dialogue to use for Donald in this production. All other characters have also been reprised of their original voice talents.

One might be afraid, especially if one were a Disney fan, of the digital transfer the classic characters make from hand-drawn animation to Computer-Generated Imagery (CGI). But, fortunately, all fears are destroyed and if the characters were to be presented in the future again in CGI form, they would be just fine. Special care was also taken to make sure the characters looked fresh and new, but also to be certain that the original charm of their previous appearances weren’t lost. Lumiere from Beauty and the Beast especially comes to mind when thinking of the impressive transfer from 2-D to 3 dimensions.

A true modern classic and a feast for any Disney fan (from the queue line all the way through the gift shop), “Mickey’s PhilharMagic” is loaded with breathtaking animation, whimsical classic Disney music, and the characters we all love in a new, fresh, and magical scenario.

By Blake; originally posted July 3, 2007. All images (C) Disney.

Disney Detours – "Dream Along with Mickey" Show Review

March 10, 2007

Walt Disney World’s newewst stage show is pure Disney magic.

by Blake




Originally posted March 9, 2007.


“Ah, phooey! Nobody believes in dreams anymore!” exclaims the ignorant Donald Duck in Walt Disney World’s newest stage production, Dream Along with Mickey. A magical blend of classic characters, a winning soundtrack, and an enchanting story, it’s a hit for any believer of dreams.

Dream Along with Mickey is performed several times daily in the Cinderella Castle forecourt at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom park. This spot has been previously occupied by countless quality Disney stage shows, usually accompanied by the Kids of the Kingdom (the assortment of Disney background dancers) and a live band providing the shows’ music. As time has evolved, the castle shows seem to have less and less quality as they used to.

The most recent castle shows have been Cinderella’s Surprise Celebration and Cinderellabration. As you can plainly see by their titles, Disney has wanted to incorporate their most successful princess into as many theme park productions as possible these days, especially with the current re-issues the original Cinderella and its subsequent sequels becoming available in stores. So lately, the castle shows have been based on marketing, not quality.

Cinderella’s Surprise Celebration, which ran from October 1, 2001 through February 24, 2005 was the first show in a while to subtract the live band, making for a VERY loud pre-recorded soundtrack that could be heard all the way to the Monorail station outside the front of the Magic Kingdom. The show was also the first in quite some time to lack the Kids of the Kingdom (a.k.a. the Disney dancers), resulting in a stage full of two-dozen furry Disney characters taking up all the room.

Cinderellabration, which began previews on March 17, 2005 before a lavish opening premiere on May 5, 2005, ran through September 16, 2006. The show was imported from Tokyo Disneyland as part of The Happiest Celebration on Earth, honoring 50 years of Disney theme parks worldwide. This show did bring back the Kids of the Kingdom, but they were all dressed in either powdered wigs or poofy dresses, so they weren’t entirely back to their original style and flair. The show also made use of the blaring pre-recorded soundtrack.

Cinderellabration didn’t have much of a plot, other than Cinderella inviting various Disney princesses to her “official” royal coronation. It involved no conflict or even one villain. Not even Cinderella’s evil stepmother showed up!

This, finally, brings us to September 30, 2006 when Dream Along with Mickey debut on the Castle Forecourt Stage. The show had no rehearsal previews for guests to see as with Cinderellabration, nor did it have a lavish world premiere. It just “showed up.” (Though I did read a report of guests being able to hear nighttime rehearsals from the Polynesian resort after the Magic Kingdom had closed.) The show opened in conjunction with the kick-off of Disney’s “Year of a Million Dreams,” debuting just one day before the celebration’s official starting date, October 1, 2006.

I saw the show recently, and it surprisingly was much better than I had anticipated.

For one, the Kids of the Kingdom are back in full swing! Instead of powdered wigs and poofy dresses, they’re in snazzy new blue outfits to match the Disney characters’ new Year of a Million Dreams blue clothing. The dancers are as energetic and upbeat as they were in the 90’s.

Another example of liveliness in the show is its soundtrack, part of which (like the Magic Kingdom’s new Disney Dreams Come True Parade) is straight from Tokyo Disneyland (of course the lyrics aren’t in Japanese, though!). The show’s first song, “Join the Party,” is from Tokyo’s 2003 castle show Mickey’s Gift of Dreams. The rest of the show features classic Disney tunes from animated features and a new score.

Dream Along with Mickey follows Mickey and the gang, who are (once again) throwing a party at the castle. However, Donald doesn’t want to participate in the party – he doesn’t believe in dreams! It’s up to Mickey and the gang to prove to Donald that dreams can come true. Several special party guests soon arrive, including Cinderella and classic Disney princesses (and their princes), Peter Pan, and the unwanted Maleficent, the evil witch from Sleeping Beauty. I won’t spoil the entire show for you, but plenty of fun is sprinkled all throughout the production.

I enjoyed the show not only for its energy and story, but also for its choice of characters. It didn’t have too many characters, as in Cinderella’s Surprise Celebration, but it also didn’t have too little, as with the older castle shows that mainly focused on the dancers. Dream Along with Mickey featured only classic characters – characters the were featured in films during Walt Disney’s lifetime. Although I was disappointed not to see Pluto show up, Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Donald were all present, as were the aforementioned princesses and Peter Pan.


The only “character implement” I thought the show was lacking was the villains. Only Captain Hook and Maleficent showed up. I think they could’ve had a more fascinating villain scene, but still used the classic villains that were there during Walt’s lifetime (such as Cruella DeVil, Queen of Hearts, Cinderella’s stepmother, or the queen from Snow White). However, this is only a minor issue – otherwise I liked how the show sticks to characters from Walt Disney’s time.

Of course, the Dream Along with Mickey is not without faults. The music, though enchanting, still blares loudly through the speakers, to be heard all the way down Main Street, U.S.A. While that’s nice if you’re watching the show from a distance, it can get pretty loud if you’re viewing it up-close near the Castle.

Besides the flaws stated above, Dream Along with Mickey is a wonderful combination of a Disney-fied plot, whimsical music, classic characters, and pure Disney magic.

How would I rank Dream Along with Mickey? (Bolded is my choice.)
Utterly repulsive
Blech
Not good
Good
Very good
Brilliant

Dream Along with Mickey will most likely please: Disney Fans – Toddlers (ages 1-2) – Preschoolers (ages 3-4) – Kids (ages 5-8)

By Blake; originally posted on March 9, 2007. All images (C) Disney.