Sunday, June 29, 2008

News & Rumors 6/22/08 - 6/28/08

News and Rumors are gathered from various different websites. One particular website is not favored over another. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken with a grain of salt.


  • Journey Into Narnia: Prince Caspian has officially opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Here is the revised schedule of the Candlelight Processional narrators: Nov 28-30 John O'Hurley Dec 1-3 TBD Dec 4-6 Brian Stokes Mitchell Dec 7-9 Virginia Madsen Dec 10-12 Monique Coleman Dec 13-15 TBD Dec 16-18 Chita Rivera Dec 19-21 Abigail Breslin Dec 22-24 Steven Curtis Chapman Dec 25-27 Edward James Olmos Dec 28-30 Marlee Matlin
  • All the walls have been removed from Pixar Place. The gift shop, snack area (Hey Howdy Hey, Take Away), and meet and greet area (Woody's Picture Shootin Corral) are all open for business.
  • New guide maps are available at the Magic Kingdom featuring Monster's Inc Laugh Floor
    The biggest news of the week: all 6 clubs at Pleasure Island will be closing on Sept. 27, 2008. These clubs will include Mannequins, 8 Trax, Motion, The BET Sound stage, Comedy Warehouse, and (sadly) The Adventurer's Club.
  • Coming in the club's place will be shops, restaurants, and other entertainment options
  • The Marketplace will be receiving a new larger stage
  • Portabello Yacht Club will be getting a new theme and a new name change
  • A large balloon will now be available...this balloon will be similar to one they have at Disneyland Paris.
  • Goofy's Candy Company will be receiving an additional room which will be used to house birthday parties.
  • Fulton's Crab House will be going an extensive rehab as well. It will be updating fixtures and furnishings, as well as some work that will be done on the outside.

  • Some work will also be done to the Wolfgang Puck Cafe, including updated fixtures and an enclosed glass patio.

  • Liberty Tree Tavern at the Magic Kingdom might be removing the character dinner element in January 2009.
  • Epcot's Garden Grill might be removing it's lunch option and only having a character dinner starting in October.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Disney's Hollywood Studios...Full Day or Half Day?

Disney's Hollywood Studios has, in recent years, been touted as more or less a half day park. People say that there are not enough attractions to warrant spending a full day here. My take...I'm about 33/33/33. So what does that mean? 33% of the time, I believe it's a half day park, 33% of the time, I believe it's a full day park, and as for the last 33% of the time, well that goes to the fact that I believe it's a 3/4 day park. But how do we decide which it really is? Well, it depends on what you want to experience.

DHS is a full day park if: You really enjoy a lot of shows and want to experience the attractions mixed in.

For a person to think that DHS is a full day park, wanting to see all the shows is a MUST. There simply aren't enough attractions in this park to warrant full day status. Sure, Toy Story Midway Mania helps, but right now, it's definitely not enough to flesh out the park totally.

To enjoy DHS fully, you not only have to want to experience a majority of the shows and attractions, you also tend to need to have one sit down dining ressie, want to see Fantasmic, and more than likely be interested in seeing the parade. This person would also benefit from enjoying the Streetmosphere characters that line Hollywood and Sunset Boulevard. Of course, not all of these are necessary for you to enjoy the park full day, but for a person who is go, go, go all the time, these items are essential. If you're more of a relaxed visitor, who takes their time browsing at everything, you also have a better shot of spending the full day in the park.

DHS is a 3/4 day park if: You want to see some shows, with most attractions mixed in.

A person who would enjoy DHS for 3/4 of the day is someone who isn't as into shows as a full day park person would be. If they miss one show, it's not the end of the world.

They also might not be interested in every single show and attraction on property. They might avoid things like Rock n'Roller Coaster or Tower of Terror because they don't like thrill rides. They also might skip the action stunt shows because those don't appeal to them.

This type of person can afford to get up late or leave the park early because they don't necessarily need to see Fantasmic or they want to sleep in a day of their vacation.

These people can get away with having either a sit down meal or, if they prefer, can just eat counter service. They have the time to do either. It just depends on what they want and how many attractions and shows they actually want to see in the park.

DHS is a half day park if: You are not really there for the shows, but instead mostly there for the rides.

This person could care less if they see Beauty and the Beast or the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. For them, this park is all about the attractions, hands down. Of course, they might enjoy a show here or there, but it's definitely not a necessity to them.

This type of person can get away with coming to DHS after visiting another park for half the day or getting there early and leaving half way through. They get in and they get out, as they go off to do other attractions in other parks.

So where do I fall in the debate of what kind of park I think DHS is? Well, I'm not going to tell. :D

However, I will say, that no matter what, if a good chunk of people only think of DHS as a half day park...then something is wrong. No Disney park should be thought of as a half day or 3/4 day obviously there is something missing. (For those that think the park is a full day park, I guess it just means they'll have more options to pick from!)

It also doesn't help that a good chunk of attractions on property are extremely dated and haven't been really updated since the park opened. Examples include MuppetVision 3:D...entertaining, but could probably use a tweak, The Great Movie Ride...the AAs looked awful the last time I rode and some of the movies, have never been seen by the kids of today (heck, I'm in my 20s and haven't seen some of those movies!), and the Backlot Tour...which has been updated, by being chopped in half and many believe nowhere near as interesting as it used to be. And don't get me started on the monstrosity that is Sounds Dangerous.

Obviously Disney is attempting to fix this problem. They just added Toy Story Midway Mania, which I believe is a good step in the right direction. And I also believe that love the idea or hate it, The American Idol Experience will draw in some crowds.

But Disney knows that it isn't really enough. This park is the one that needs the most TLC and they are finally getting it. With rumors about a family coaster going into Soundstage 1 and the Backlot Tour possibly going by the wayside, Disney is attempting to turn people's perspective of this park around. Of course, it's going to take some time, but I think they are well on their way and this is only the beginning.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

News & Rumors 6/16/08 - 6/21/08

News and Rumors are gathered from various different websites. One particular website is not favored over another. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken with a grain of salt.


  • Update on a previous rumor: The new restaurant by Toy Story Midway Mania really is called Hey Howdy Hey Take Away
  • Disney is going to begin refurbishing some of the resorts around property. Beginning this summer, Caribbean Beach and Boardwalk will be getting a sprucing up. Later on the docket are the Beach Club, Yacht Club, Coronado Springs, and Wilderness Lodge Villas. These will be full refurbishments of the guest rooms, including brand spanking new carpet, furniture, paint and wallpaper.
  • The Fourth of July festivities have now been announced:
    --At the Magic Kingdom they will indeed be showing the new firework show "Disney's Celebrate America--A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky." The show is supposed to be a tribute to the U.S., it's people and traditions. The fireworks are expected to show at 9 pm. SpectroMagic will also be running two at 10:30 pm and one at 12:30 pm.
    --At Epcot, Illuminations: Reflections of Earth will have a Fourth of July inspired tag added. The American Adventure pavilion will also feature special festivities throughout the day, including performances by the ever popular Voices of Liberty.
    --At Disney's Hollywood Studios, there will be a fireworks spectacular at 9 pm. Also Fantasmic will be showing as well starting at 10:30 pm.
    --Downtown Disney will also have fireworks at 10:30 pm for those who don't wish to be in the parks.
  • Journey Into Narnia: Prince Caspian will debut at the Studios later this month.
  • Disney is testing out Premium Parking at Disney's Wide World of Sports. As of right now, this is just an experiment, this is not being rolled out into the major theme parks.
  • Sounds Dangerous at the Studios will be down for refurb from July 7 to August 5.


  • Update: It's been rumored that the status of the Pleasure Island announcement may have been pushed up from the original date in July, look for some news coming soon.
  • The new Pixar meet and greet at the Studios should be ready by August.
  • The new Fairies meet and greet doesn't have a specific time yet, although late October is when it's rumored to be opening as of right now.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Is Disney Really A Good Value?

How many times have you gone to Walt Disney World and had people say to you, how can you afford to go all the time? Isn't it WAY overpriced? Which got me to thinking...there are of course, some aspects that I believe are a tad costly, however, for the most part, you do get your money's worth.

My thought process on this began when I was trying to decide where to take my annual trip this year. Last year we went to Disney in September and took advantage of Free Dining...but this year, I wanted to do something different. I was worried if I kept going back to Disney World too much, I would get tired of it and it wouldn't be as magical of a place as it should be. So, off I went in search of a good destination to visit.

But as I started searching things out, I realized...Disney really is a great value for the money. No, is. We thought about taking a cruise, but that was well over our spending limit. We looked into going to another country, again...way costly. We looked into going to a vacation destination/theme park close to home...but it was so close to Disney's cost, we thought, why would we want to waste our good money on that when I can get Disney quality for just a little more. We finally decided on a trip to Disneyland and California...because it's just different enough and we wouldn't be spending all our times at the parks.

However, even that trip is extremely really would have been a better deal to head back down to Orlando. The cost of only airfare, rental car and one night's stay at a hotel (b/c my husband works for a national chain, so we get free hotel nights) was close to one thousand dollars. And keep in mind, that's without any theme park tickets or paying for anything else we plan on doing while gone. With a Disney World vacation, only a few hundred dollars more and we would have had EVERYTHING paid for...including food, since we'd be going in Sept. again.

A recent topic though got me thinking about this notion again. Some one asked if Disney was worth all the money. They mentioned how if we think about it...if we think about all the costs Disney incurs throughout the day, that it's a shock it doesn't cost more! (Not that I'm trying to give them any ideas.)

Disney has a ton of things that need to be paid for...things like paying it's vast number of Cast Members, electricity, refurb costs, costs to build new attractions to keep us coming year after year, transportation costs for the monorail, boats, and buses (which I'm sure are quite costly with gas prices the way they are), fireworks every night, equipment, plants, food costs, insurance...and I could go on and on and on. Plenty of these things listed cost a pretty penny however, we get most of them at virtually no additional cost directly.

But when comparing Disney to other entities, the different resort aspects really aren't that outrageously most areas. For example...let's start with their moderate and value hotels. These really are right in line with most other hotels in the area. Especially when you consider the little extra perks that you get for staying on property, like unlimited transportation, Magical Express, and Extra Magic Hours. Plus, if you did stay off property, you'd almost have to rent a if you add in the price of that (and of course gas to fill up said car) the cost is pretty close to what it would cost to stay on property anyway.

One area where Disney does charge a fortune and maybe unrightfully some of their Deluxe hotels. Although, it really isn't too outrageous for some of the hotels there either. To stay at the Contemporary in Sept, it costs $361. To stay at a hotel that compares to it (say a nicer Hyatt) you'd have to pay $295. Albeit, it's costs a tad less off property, but a stay at the Contemporary honestly really isn't too much higher. Although there are other hotels on property that charge way more than that too.

Another area where people complain about costs is the food department. And is expensive. However, if you look at the cost of food for counter service restaurants at Disney and then look at any other entertainment venue, such as a baseball game, concert, or another theme park, the costs really are right on par. Unfortunately, these places can charge a premium for food because you are a captive audience. Usually, you aren't going to be leaving to go grab lunch or you aren't going to be bringing your own food into the parks with you. So, while it is a bit more than going to your local McDonald's for a counter service meal, it isn't a whole lot more than other entertainment venue options.

However, dining costs do vary. If going to a Sit Down restaurant...sometimes it can be a little outrageous. Of course, there are still some reasonably priced fine dining restaurants mixed in as well. Places like California Grill, Hollywood Brown Derby and Yahtsman's Steakhouse are going to cost more than places like 50s Prime Time, Chef Mickey's, and even name only a few. Both have good just depends on what you want.

People also have mentioned that park tickets are expensive. However, this is not always the case. Of course a one day ticket is going to run you more money than a ten day...however, think about this. If you go to a concert or a Broadway style play at home, it can cost anywhere from $80-$100...and that's usually on the cheaper side and only lasts for a few hours max. When you go to Disney World...and if you are paying for only one day's admission, you get the whole entire day...which roughly comes out to around $6.00-$7.00 an hour. Cheaper than a movie in most places. (Plus, you get to see Broadway style caliber shows on Disney property AND still get to ride attractions!)

If you're going to the parks more than one day, your cost, does go down as the days increase...which can be quite a savings...and has worked because it's kept me on property instead of visiting other local parks. (Let's see, I could spend $2.00 a day additional or $70...hmmm...tough choice.)

Now of course, there are some areas where Disney has recently taken most of the value out. The Dining Plan (when not free) is one of these areas. Before, when they included the tip, the Dining Plan was a tremendous value. Now that we have to pay the tip on top of what we've already paid for the Dining's definitely not even close. And taking out the appetizer even reduced the value further.

Also related to dining is the surcharge they now tack on if you visit during peak times. This is ridiculous. I understand that the restaurants are at a premium during these times...but you shouldn't punish people who are choosing to eat at a sit down restaurant for whatever reason they may have for doing so.

Another area where the value has diminished is in the hot button topic of stroller rentals. $31 a day for a double stroller is absurd. I understand that Disney hadn't raised the prices on this in years, but the least they could have done was raised the prices slower, instead of it being a huge margin like it was.

It's also been noted that AP holders are seeing less and less value on their passes. Disney is releasing fewer and fewer AP rates and they aren't for as deep of a discount as they used to be.

But despite some of these massive jumps in price, some of which seem unnecessary, Disney however, can still be a just have to do your homework, which is something too many newbies don't do. Your trip, of course, will be what you make of it. If you eat in only the most expensive restaurants, get the Deluxe Dining Plan, stay at the most expensive resort, get park tickets that have every bell and whistle on them, and go during peak season...yes, it will be an unsightly amount of money. However, if you really look at your needs for your vacation and figure out what amenities you must have and what you can live without...a Disney vacation can be just as affordable as any other vacation destination. Sometimes, in my case, even cheaper.

There is one last thing that hasn't been talked about and that is the one thing you can't put a price on...all that Disney Magic. That right there, really is priceless.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

News & Rumors 6/9/08 - 6/15/08

News and Rumors are gathered from various different websites. One particular website is not favored over another. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken with a grain of salt.


  • The huge spitting Stitch that was missing over the entry to the World of Disney is now back spitting at unsuspected guests as usual.
  • It is being reported that a 100 lane bowling alley is to be built at Disney's Wide World of Sports Complex. The bowling alley will be used to house professional bowling tournaments and will house stadium seating and a restaurant for spectators. No word on whether the alley will be used for the average guest on days that it is not being used for tournaments. The bowling alley is set to open in 2011.
  • 2008 Candlelight Processional narrators and packages:
    Nov 28-30 John O'Hurley Dec 1-3 Patti LaBelle (Tentative) Dec 4-6 Brian Stokes Mitchell Dec 7-9 Virginia Madsen Dec 10-12 Monique Coleman Dec 13-15 TBD Dec 16-18 Chita Rivera Dec 19-21 Abigail Breslin Dec 22-24 Steven Curtis Chapman Dec 25-27 Edward James Olmos Dec 28-30 Marlee Matlin
  • Some rumors are circulating about the Pixar Place area. It's rumored that next year, they might have a holiday version of Toy Story Midway Mania to unveil. The new shop and meet and greet spot are close to being finished.
  • Wall-E is supposed to start appearing on Pixar Place as well sometime this month.
  • It's been rumored that there may be an attraction going into Soundstage 1...also there might be something Cars related to replace the Backlot Tour.
  • Also possible rumored changes included changing the Honey I Shrunk the Audience play area to A Bug's Life play area. And a restaurant and shop in the area might get a Pixar update.
  • The new counter service restaurant that is being built across from TSM is rumored to be called "Hey Howdy Hey Take-Away" and will offer mostly snack food options.
  • There should be announcement in July about the status of Pleasure Island.
  • The next marketing campaigned is rumored to not be so gimmicky meaning nothing like the Year of A Million Dreams or the Happiest Celebration on Earth. This marketing campaign is likely to be very low key.
  • An update from last week's rumor mill: Unless things have changed, Space Mountain is scheduled to go down for refurb between the 1st and 9th of January 2009.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Celebrate Good Times, Come On!

Every year lately, all it seems Disney is dong is celebrating--from granting dreams, to celebrating 50 years of theme park magic, to magical gatherings that happen when families come together...and of course, I could go on and on. We haven't been able to turn our heads without getting hit with some sort of fanfare, year after year. (And of course, some celebrations last for way more than a we're seeing with the Year of a Million Dreams.)

Many people in the Disney community are tired of all the hoopla, they believe that Disney should be able to stand on it's own merits. That people should want to go down simply because it's Disney.

Me on the other hand...I believe the celebrations are fine. I tend to look at these celebrations as probably Disney does. To me, they are what they are, which are marketing tools to get the average guest down to Walt Disney World. That's right...Disney is targeting that average guest with these "celebrations." The one who doesn't go down every year (or multiple times a year.) These celebrations are to convince the ones that come down every two years, every 3 years, or even every 5 years to take the trek down to Florida. Now is a great time to spend their hard earned money on a trip to Disney.

Don't really believe me? The Magical Gatherings "celebration" was supposed to convince people that it really is a good idea to bring down all your extended family or your friends down to the House of Mouse. A trip like that can give you even better memories because it's probably people you wouldn't ordinarily go on vacation with.

The Magical Gathering "celebration" is actually how I got hooked on Disney. Why? Because their campaign worked. At the time, I thought it would be an absolutely wonderful idea to go down with all my girlfriends with a girls week. Did it happen? No...unfortunately not, but my love for Disney was cemented with the help of that celebration.

The Happiest Celebration on Earth was supposed to extol that Disneyland had been around for 50 years...although I think things got a little muddled here because instead of DL getting new attractions (they of course, got their massive clean up) WDW got all the new stuff. Ah, but that was their way of hooking the average guest to come during this celebration. Look! Look at all the new attractions and shows we've put in. You'd be crazy not to visit us during this time. We're making the parks even better!

And once again, I believe this celebration worked. Because when people saw ads for new attractions like Soarin and Lights, Motors, Action they were excited. They wanted to ride those too. And this time...there were new attractions coming in each of the 4 parks. Not just one attraction was on the docket. So, people decided to book their trips to see all that's new.

And right now...during the Year (or Two) of a Million Dreams. Boy if that doesn't make a person want to go down (at least those who understood what the celebration was...I know that the commercials were a tad vague) I don't know what would. I get excited thinking about the fact that I could win a night in the Castle suite. I'd love to win a dream Fastpass...I'd simply love to win anything...big or even Magical Moment sized. Of course, I haven't won and I don't go down there thinking I'm going to win...but knowing that there's that small possibility...that's cool. And if I'm excited about it as a Disneyphile...then the average guest is going to fall for it hook, line, and sinker. And I believe that with the reports that have stated that last year was one of Disney's bigger years for visitors, this "celebration" may have helped Disney succeed.

With talk of the next celebration on the horizon...I'm anxious to see what it brings. It may not be much of anything, but marketing the theme parks in this was isn't going anywhere. It gets a new crop of people who might not normally be going, excited and thinking about a possible Disney vacation. Something they might not have originally considered before. Which as I mentioned, was Disney's goal to begin with. To convince those who aren't regular visitors to the World to indeed end up becoming regular visitors to the World...getting hooked like all the rest of us have.

Me personally, I'm excited. Bring it on!

Monday, June 9, 2008

News and Rumors 6/1/08-6/8/08


  • November and December's park hours have finally been released.
  • The old Hunchback Theater has a new name. It will be called the Premiere Theater and right now it's being used for Star Wars weekends.
  • The Wave restaurant at Disney's Contemporary Resort opened up this week.


  • Caribbean Beach's pool could open early from refurbishment. Reports are that it could be open as early as late July/early August.
  • There's work going on at the Japan pavilion. The castle is being worked on...and there were rumors of a possible attraction going in there at some point...could these two things be related?
  • There will possibly (a very good chance--I'd guess) be a new fireworks show at the Magic Kingdom on Fourth of July. The show, titled Disney's Celebrate America--A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky is supposed to show July 3 and 4, with special preview dates of June 30 and July 1.
  • Space Mountain is scheduled to go do for a huge refurbishment beginning in January 2009. Rumors are circulating that getting new ride vehicles and new load gates are definites. However, some more interesting rumors state that there may be new lighting effects, new queue and exit, and a new music track that will play on board.
  • It's been rumored that the Osbourne Spectacle of Dancing Lights will start on November 28 of this year.
  • The Toy Story characters will be moving from Al's Toy Barn to a new area on Pixar Place. The old Al's Toy Barn area is supposed to then be turned into a Cars character meet and greet.
  • It's been reported that Disney is cutting back on the number of buses running, particularly at off-peak times of the day, such as mid-afternoon. This is related to the high gas prices. Make sure to add extra time accordingly.

News and Rumors are gathered from various different websites. One particular website is not favored over another. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken with a grain of salt.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Is Fastpass Needed for Toy Story Midway Mania?

Copyright Walt Disney Company

As you all know, Toy Story Midway Mania opened up this week and it's already been rumored that Fastpass (otherwise known as FP) is causing havoc on the standby line wait times, significantly pushing them up to huge levels. Fastpass was not in use during the previews and it appeared that while the Standby line was long, it moved at a relatively steady pace. Now, with FP, the line crawls. Some have even said the ratio is like 10 FP people for every 1 Standby person. (Now of course...this is just an estimate...and not in anyway a verified number, however, I have seen it be this way on other attractions before personally.)

There are many who are against Fastpass and I am not here to discuss that today. (That is another topic for another blog post.) However, it does appear that on this attraction, FP might not actually be needed. Disney's California Adventure's version of the ride is not including a Fastpass why did Disney decide to create this type of line for one park over the other?

Another downside for having Fastpass on this attraction in WDW is that only the Standby line gets to experience the awesomeness of the Mr. Potato Head Audio Anamatronic which is something that every Disney fan needs to see in person. Now, I do understand wanting to essentially reward the people standing in the Standby line (and by reward, I mean give them something so they aren't bored waiting in a huge line and in this ride, I believe there are tons of goodies to keep people entertained), but if the Mr. Potato Head was one of the things that was publicized the most about this new attraction, why only have half of the people see him and the other half not?

My theory is, this is a new attraction...and of course, because of that, things are still going to need to be tweaked here and there. The use of the Fastpass line is going to be something I think that needs to be tweaked. So we do definitely need to give Disney some time. However, if after a few months things still appear to be uneven, I believe it would serve the lines better to get rid of FP completely on the attraction and only have a Standby line and possibly a Singles line.


Well, this is a new blog I thought I'd start. It may be a little rocky at first while I get my sea legs and try to figure out exactly how I'm going to run this blog, but as in all new things in life...everything is a trial.

As I've mentioned in the About This Blog plans here are to take a topic that is being discussed in the Disney Community and elaborate on it. Some things might be simple while others might be more complex. I might hit a nerve with some of you and I know I will not be agreed with all the time, but ask for civilness and respect here. If things work out well, I may expand this blog, but for now, this is where we will start.

So, pardon the dust...and welcome to It's A Disney World After All!