Monday, September 27, 2010

News & Rumors 9/20/10 - 9/26/10






Hello all!!!  Hope you've had a great week this week!  Just a "programming note" here.  I am going to be away on vacation (anyone want to guess where?) for the remainder of the week.  Expect blog posts to resume around Oct. 6th!  For those of you who are going to miss me during my brief hiatus (come on, you know you will...lol!) you can follow me along on my trip on Twitter!  You can find me at @RikkiNibs  Will miss you guys while I'm gone!

For those of you who are going too, make sure you come say hi!!!  You will be able to find me at these meets!  I'd love to get the chance to meet ya!

Now, on with the show, as there's lots to talk about!



News

Magic Kingdom 

  • Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party has officially sold out for Oct. 31st.
  • The Muppet Pre-Parade will be ending Oct. 2nd.

Epcot
  • The new Givenchy store in the France Pavilion has opened.
  • Future World's hours have been changed!  Starting Oct. 3rd, all of Future World will now close at 9 pm.  In the past, certain popular attractions remained open, but a lot of attractions that could be found in Future World would close.  

Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • It appears that the American Idol Experience will be having reduced performances due to the smaller crowds in the parks from Oct. 10th - Nov. 20th.  New showtimes will be Noon, 1, 2, 4:30, 5:30, and 6:30.
  • Some new details have been released this week about the next version of Star Tours.  The new story takes place in between the two trilogies.  Because of that, the Starspeeder that you are transported on will be the Starspeeder 1000, instead of the Starspeeder 3000.  (Since the previous story took place after the original Star Wars movies).  In addition, there will be 54 different variations for this new attraction.  A new pilot, AC-38 (otherwise known as Ace) and a new spokesbot droid Aly San San (voiced by Allison Janney and how they came up with her name) will be included.  Aly is expected to great guests in the terminal.  Here is what each will look like:  

Aly San San

AC-38 (Ace)


Animal Kingdom
  • The new trekking experience that will begin in January will be called the Wild Africa Trek.  It also appears that this trek will conclude with a Taste of Africa experience. 

General WDW News
  • As was discussed in a previous blog post, next year's "Celebration" is going to be called Let The Memories Begin.  For more details see below.
  • This upcoming weekend is the inaugural Wine And Dine Half Marathon
  • I reported last week that the pool at Stormalong Bay would be closed in January.  That is not the case.  Instead, it will be the pool slides that will be closed.  The pool will remain open for resort guests. 
  • A tram with doors was seen today at Animal Kingdom.


Rumors

  • It does appear that the Fairies will be leaving the MK when Toontown closes.  No word on what park they will be going to, but if I had to guess, I would guess DHS.  
  • Speaking about the Fairies, a new Fairy, Periwinkle, (from the next movie) will be making appearances soon.
  • Pete is expected to be making appearances soon.  No word on which park yet.
  • Wendy, Eric, and Bert will no longer be doing meet and greets as of Oct. 2nd.
  • The Walt Disney World Christmas Parade should be shooting Dec. 3rd, 4th, and 5th.  The 5th is only in case it's necessary due to unforeseen circumstances.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Let The Memories Begin!

So today Disney announced their new campaign for 2011.  Known as "Let The Memories Begin" is all about celebrating the moments that people have while on vacation...especially those caught in photographic form!  

In a nutshell, this new "celebration" will allow guests to share their vacation memories with Disney and have them be the star of the "show".  A new show is expected to take place on select nights where vacation photos taken by Disney's Photopass Photographers will be projected on Cinderella Castle. In addition guests who share their memories with Disney on their website may possibly be able to be the star in new Disney commercials, along with other avenues as well.  

Here is the press release about the whole concept...which, I'm sure, at this point many of you have seen.


NEW YORK (Sept. 23, 2010) – In 2011, Disney guests will become the stars of a nightly spectacular when photos taken in the park during the day become larger-than-life projections on Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort or “it’s a small world” at Disneyland Resort. This groundbreaking new experience will celebrate the family vacation memories created in Disney theme parks every day.

And this week, Disney guests will begin starring on television, too, as part of the new “Let the Memories Begin” campaign. For the first time, Disney Parks is featuring the home videos and snapshots of real guests in television ads and other marketing that will allow an audience of millions to share in true-life, heartfelt moments.

“A Disney vacation is the perfect way to create family memories that will last a lifetime,” said Tom Staggs, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, at a media announcement Thursday in New York. “We’ll spotlight those ‘only-at-Disney’ moments with family and friends during our ‘Let the Memories Begin’ campaign.” 

A just-released survey of U.S. and Canadian families conducted for Disney Parks by Ypartnership, a noted research firm that tracks consumer insights and trends in travel, showed that vacation memories hold a special place in family history. 
Nine out of 10 parents said they planned their vacations with the express hope that they would result in a lasting family memory, the survey showed. And those memories stuck with them – nearly three-quarters said they think back “often” or “very often” on their favorite vacation experiences.

‘Memories in the Making’ to be Shared on Disney Park Icons

Beginning in January 2011, some Disney parks guests will find that the memory they just made has become a larger-than-life image during a “Let the Memories Begin” nighttime experience.

At Walt Disney World Resort, the guest photos will be projected on the soaring spires of Cinderella Castle in Magic Kingdom. At Disneyland Resort, the iconic fa├žade of “it’s a small world” will be the canvas for the show.

In both locations, Disney PhotoPass photographers will capture guests caught up in the Disney experience – a memory in the making – and as many as 500 photos will be used in each location every day, producers estimate.

The nighttime show will use the latest in high-intensity projection technology to create vivid visuals that seem to defy the architecture of the building. A new song commissioned for the show will provide an emotional context for these images of the Disney guest experience.

For TV Ads and More, Disney Parks Issues a ‘Call for Memories’

Beyond seeing their own projected photos in lights, guests also could become the stars of Disney Parks television commercials, online campaigns and social media opportunities that will showcase to the world the power of memories.
The campaign kicks off this week with a TV commercial created from videos posted online in social media forums.
For future TV commercials and other advertising and marketing programs, Disney Parks is asking guests to share their memories by uploading photos and videos at a special “Let the Memories Begin” online hub at www.DisneyParks.com/Memories. From a first meeting with a princess to a laugh-filled watery touchdown on Splash Mountain, Disney Parks is looking for videos and photos that capture those never-to-be-forgotten experiences.
Some memories will be shared online, while others may be selected to share in print ads, brochures and other marketing – including television ads to air across the United States and Canada.
With real visitor images on iconic attractions and home video featured in commercials, the storytellers at Disney Parks are letting guests tell their own stories in 2011, Staggs said.
“We wanted to give our guests a powerful way to share the memories they create every day in our parks,” Staggs said. “Essentially, this becomes our first user-generated show and our first user-generated marketing campaign.
“A day at a Disney park is filled with magical experiences that become cherished and unforgettable memories – and now we’re helping our guests share those memories with the world.

A lot of people were disappointed today.  I think they thought that more would be announced...meaning new attractions or resorts or other things.  I have learned by being in the Disney community for so long that most of the time, these presentations never live up to our expectations.  So, this time, I went into this announcement knowing that more than likely, nothing really exciting would be announced.  I had a general idea that this campaign was probably going to be it.  

That being said, because I didn't have such high expectations, it was the first time ever that I wasn't disappointed in an announcement.  Which was nice...although, I would have loved it if they had surprised me with something I wasn't expecting...


I hearken this celebration to be more like the smaller Grand Gatherings campaign which focused on getting the whole large family together they had a few years ago, rather then being as big as The Happiest Celebration on Earth or the Year of a Million Dreams.  It will be a nice theme for the year...I know the commercial was something that touched a cord for me.  (And I know if it did for me, it will for the average park guest who sees it and thinks...wow...remember our last trip to Disney...those were good times...maybe we should plan another trip for this year.)  The one thing about this campaign versus campaigns of previous years is that I don't think this one will have a lot of pizazz with it. 

The only thing I don't necessarily love about this campaign is it is focused heavily around families.  Not everyone who has great vacation memories of Disney has them with their traditional family.  Many have great vacation memories as just a couple or with friends or even singles.  And with a campaign like this, Disney should try to encompass everyone, not just that family with 2 kids.  While I know that Disney always does try to appeal to that family with 2 kids demographic, I think they should try to remember that others love the parks too.

The one thing I am concerned about is this new "Castle Show".  They say that they are going to do something at night using the new song.  If this is going to be something in place of Wishes...then I think this is a bad idea.  However, if it's something that will be done before or after Wishes has been performed for the night, then I think it will be a decent enhancement to the show.  I would have no problem if this new show is handled like that.

So, what do you think of this new "Celebration"?  Were you let down by it?  Is it something that you think will be good?  Make sure to let me know in the comments!   

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

In The Kitchen With the Chef (Mickey)

So the talk lately among the Disney community has revolved a lot around the characters. First on the list is the new character Duffy the Bear that's coming to Epcot, which has it's own debate surrounding it. But that is another topic for another debate. (And trust me...I have some strongish opinions on the issue.)

Instead this debate revolves around the changes that have happened at Chef Mickey's.

So, as the rumor goes, Mickey is no longer greeting guests at tables, but instead is greeting at the front where they take your picture, which they proceed to try and sell you later. Of course, then the rumors are also swirling that this has failed and Mickey is back doing what he normally does, meeting guests at their tables. Now, I haven't seen anything concrete one way or the other on this matter, so first, if you know for sure, please, let me know.

Now among the community, outrage has poured out from the beginning on this subject. Many are strongly against this measure and I've even seen some saying that if this were to continue, they would be canceling their reservations to dine here. They say that not getting "quality" time with Mickey is a deal breaker.

But it brings me to this question...

Why is this getting the outrage that it is? I mean I do get part of it. I get the fact that the only way to get your pictures taken with Mickey here is now by purchasing it...and many consider these packages to be a poor value (which coming from a photographer...it's really not such a bad price, but that's also another fight for another day too.) And trust me, cost factor is always a good reason. And definitely a valid one...

But Disney already does this practice of meeting a character for a photo opp at some other restaurants. Restaurants such as Cinderella's Royal Table, Akershus, Tusker House, and 1900 Park Fare already take a character that meets guests and poses for pictures our front.

What makes people so upset about the idea of taking your picture with Mickey at the front at this particular dining establishment? So that brings me to a few options of reasons. And I can't tell which one it really is, or if it's a combination of all of them.

So, I've laid out a few of the issues I've seen and an option of maybe how to fix the problem.

Option A:

Is it because it's Mickey that's the one doing the meeting? I mean this restaurant is named after the Big Cheese himself, why wouldn't he "welcome" you to his restaurant? Would it be as big of a deal if they characters rotated? Would that appease people a little more?

Option B:

Then I wondered if it had to do with the commercial aspect of it. I mean this is a restaurant where getting a picture taken with Mickey is a big deal. He's a main reason why people dine here. But at Tusker House and 1900 Park Fare, they also do meets with photos and there are no complaints there. I know at Cinderella's Royal Table and Akershus the picture is included in the price of the meal...would that make people less upset? If you automatically got the photo included? Would you be willing to pay more then? (Which is of course, is something Disney would end up charging more for, I'm sure.)

Option B2:

And that brings me to my next question...what if you got your picture included in the price at all character meals...where at every meal, you would have to stop and pose with a character at the front? Would this be a better value to you? Would that turn you off character meals in general or would you still be willing to partake in them? Is this a viable option that Disney should consider?

Option C:

Ok, so like I've said before, Disney is in this business to make money...but what if Disney offered these types of photographic memories on their Photopass system? This may take the sting out of buying the CD because more photos would be included on it and Disney could still possibly end up selling the image by itself at a later date. Of course, they could maybe offer it at a more discounted rate at the restaurant, to try to help boost sales, but at least the option could still be there for the future if you decided later that you wanted it. Then, it wouldn't be AS big of deal that Mickey was only available for meets at the front, if there was other ways you could purchase the photo in the future, whether included on the Photopass CD or just as an individual print.

These were all musings I had in my head while going over this new "meet and greet" opportunity.

Of course, I'd rather see it be the way it was. Where Mickey gets to greet guests along with the other characters at the table.

But if I had to have one of the options I laid out, I think I would choose option A's solution. I can understand wanting to make more money off of those photo opportunities (ah...the business side crops up again) but I think that to include all the characters as options for the meet and greet, at least it wouldn't be as bad. It would take the sting out of things a bit more. You'd still get to meet all the characters...you just would randomly miss one. (Much like they do at 1900 Park Fare.) I think that's a little more fair in the grand scheme of things versus having Mickey be the one that won't come to your table every single time.

Although option C's solution definitely has some appeal as well. At least there would be a way to get the image at a "better" value. And you wouldn't have to buy the package either, you could buy just the items that you need.

So what do you think? Which option's solution would you rather see if you could choose one and Disney wasn't about to go back to the way things were? And what is your take on this whole issue? Make sure to let me know in the comments!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

News and Rumors 9/13/10 - 9/19/10



Hello everyone!!! Sorry for all the craziness around the blog lately!!! As I mentioned before, things have been absolutely INSANE around here lately! I'm lucky to know what day it is! (Oh thank the Lord I have a Disney vacay in 9 days! Although, from the looks of my plans, it doesn't look like much relaxation will be happening. Mostly going, going, going!)

Anyway...we've got lots of things that have happened this week, so let's dive in, shall we?

News and Rumors are gathered from various different websites. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.

News

Magic Kingdom

  • FASTPASS has been temporarily discontinued at Winnie the Pooh. It will reopen when the ride reopens from it's refurb, on Nov. 15th. The attraction will go down for refurb starting Oct. 25th.
  • A crane is currently behind Cinderella Castle as they install the Castle Dreamlights for this year's Christmas festivities.

Epcot
  • La Hacienda de San Angel and Cantina de San Angel has officially opened! Menus for both can be found here... La Hacienda de San Angel & Cantina de San Angel.
  • Kiosks for the Food and Wine Festival have been set up.
  • A new character meet and greet is coming to Epcot in the form of Duffy, the Disney Bear. Duffy is expected to take over Epcot, in his own special spot that is being created for him on the promenade near World Showcase Plaza. Your own personal Duffy Bear will be able to be bought at the Port of Entry shop along with different outfits that showcase the different World Showcase Pavilions. Also outfits will be made for special occasions and special events. Certain countries are expected to have a special "photo area" where you can get your picture taken with your Duffy Bear, which are expected to be in place by Christmas. Also, Kid-Cot Fun Stops will be changed to include a Duffy theme. Duffy debuts on Oct. 14th.

Hollywood Studios
  • Block Party Bash will be no more as of January 1st. A new parade, featuring many Pixar characters, including the addition of Remy and Emile from Ratatouille and Carl and Russell from Up will be added to the mix. The new parade is rumored to be called the Pixar Pals Cavalcade. It is expected to use music from the DCA Pixar Play Parade.

General WDW News

  • Bongos Cuban Cafe and Paradiso 37 have now been added to the Disney Dining reservations system.
  • Disney released a sneak peak at what the new Art of Animation Resort could look like on the resorts official page on the WDW website.
  • Disney Dining reservations can now be made via your cell phone! An easy to use, mobile format is now available. It is not an app...rather they have just made the sight more mobile friendly by creating a mobile version.
  • Stormalong Bay at Disney's Yacht and Beach Club Resorts will be closed for refurb from Jan. 3rd - Feb. 2nd.
  • The Boardwalk's pool slide will be closed for refurb from Feb. 7th - March 16th.


Rumors

  • The lunch menu test currently going on at Trails End is supposed to end in January.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Bloggie Awards on hiatus

So, I didn't want to do this...but The Bloggie Awards are on a hiatus for a few weeks. I've got a lot going on in the upcoming weeks, especially with the Treehouse Event coming up and work. So, I think it's best to take a break from that particular posting during the week.

Hopefully once I get back from WDW, I will be able to start back up again with the Awards! :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Special Report: 2011 Disney Mom's Panel! The Search Is On!

ATTENTION ALL DISNEY FANS!!!!!!

It's officially the first day you can apply for the 2011 Mom's Panel!!! Many of us have already applied (I did, although I accidentally sent my application in before I was done with it...oops! I managed to send it in again...hopefully that will work. And hopefully I can get a hold of Laura Spencer to clear things up before she starts actually reading the applications. Things like that only happen to me though it seems!)

So, with my terrible start to the road on the Mom's Panel, I thought we'd talk with someone who actually did things the right way. Matter fact, she did so well, she managed to actually BECOME a WDW Mom's Panelist!

Suzannah DiMarzio, otherwise known as Zanna to so many of us, was so kind to answer some questions for me about her process. If you all don't know Zanna by now, you should! She is a mom of 3, a former Disney Cast Member, oh and she has a great blog called Zannaland and you can find her awesome tweets on Twitter.

I thought Zanna could be some help to those of us applying over the next few days! (Remember, you have until Sept. 17th to apply.) It is so interesting to see how the process really works and of course get tips as to the best things we can personally do to make ourselves potentially stand out among the sea of other Disney fanatics and for those who are lucky enough, how to deal with the process! So, on with the interview!




Why did you apply?

I applied to the Walt Disney World Moms Panel after seeing a little blurb for it in the AllEars.net newsletter. I thought - wow, that's perfect for me! I have all of this Disney experience, both as a child visiting, as an adult working as a cast member and a travel agent, and now as a mom. I applied, but I treated it more like a resume and listed off all that experience, which was not the right approach. When I didn't get in, I just kind of shrugged, as I hadn't really been in the right place for it to happen, so when it didn't, it wasn't the end of the world for me. (Last year was a different story, however!) ;)

What was the process like?

The first time, like I mentioned above, I treated it like a resume. I listed off my countless visits and experience and tried to explain why this title was perfect for me. The second time (last year) I decided to just share who I was and share my experiences as a planner *because* of the passion I had for Disney. I discussed my family and our unique mix of members.

It's difficult to fit all that you want to say in 3 100-word essays, but that is part of the challenge. Disney wants to see that you can clearly and concisely convey what needs to be said. I'm not sure if the process is changing this year, but in the past it has been 2 sets of 3, 100-word essays, followed by a phone interview and then the panel. It's a long process that you must be prepared to endure the ups and downs of for the final prize! ;)

How did you handle the wait?

The wait is pretty unbearable if you are really obsessed with it, as I was last year. You understand going in just HOW many people you are competing with, so logically you know that it's a not a quick turnaround and you're in for a roller coaster of emotions, but it doesn't make it any easier just because you're prepared! My advice is just to do your absolute best and then try to distract yourself as much as possible as you wait! Easier said than done, I know!

What was one thing that surprised you about the process?

I think I just assumed going in that there was no way anyone could actually READ all of the first round applications...but they do! That's why grammar and spelling are so important because one way to weed out that many applicants is definitely to look to those errors first. I was also surprised at how nervous I was on the phone interview. I thought I was so prepared to be calm and be myself, but it's another emotion altogether when you see that "407" area code pop up on your phone!

Talk about the training process at Walt Disney World.

The training process is a wonderful combination of getting to know your fellow panelists (who become your instant best friends), highlighting some of the wonderful new things Walt Disney World has going on so that you are better able to describe them in your answers, some nerve-wracking video interviews as we tape the bios that appear on the Moms Panel site, and actual training on the computer program we used to answer the questions. It's a whirlwind of fun and emotion and VIP treatment!

What is it like being a Mom's Panelist?

It is an experience like no other. You definitely feel honored to be selected to such an elite group and I also felt like I wanted to prove them right. I wanted to answer the questions the best I could and I wanted to learn about every Disney news item or change going on. I was representing the company I loved so much, even if not in cast member form, and I wanted to do them proud. It's wonderful to meet so many people that appreciate what you do and want to join you too. Love for Disney parks is a very powerful thing!

How do you pick questions to answer?

Personally, I gravitated toward questions I loved to answer, such as those about resorts (differences, how to choose, etc.), dining options, families traveling with small children or babies, as well as questions that I looked at like a challenge. I wanted to research and find the best answer (and the right answer) for people that took the time to ask a question and get help planning their family's vacation. All the questions are fun in their own way and I loved looking through and deciding which ones I could best help with.

What has been the best and the strangest question you've answered?

It's hard to pick just one, but a question that actually brought tears to my eyes was one from a woman who had not been to Walt Disney World since she had undergone IVF treatment to have a baby. After years of trying, she now had her little princess and was bringing her back to Disney for the first time. That just made me tear up right there...so sweet. This is why being on the Moms Panel is such an amazing experience, you get to share in "strangers" memories and triumphs, as they celebrate them at the Happiest Place on Earth. It's truly a gift.

I think the strangest question I got was about someone that wanted to go to Disney World, but said they also wanted to go to the ocean. Just kind of random. I answered as best I could, and tried to highlight the most "ocean-like" resorts at Walt Disney World and also told her about Disney's Vero Beach if she wanted to make a day trip! ;)

What is the one thing you will take away from this experience?

I think I learned a lot about myself in this process. I learned what's important to me and my family and how to share that with other people looking to plan their vacations. I learned how 43 people with almost nothing in common on paper can become the best of friends in reality. I learned a lot about social media as well, even though I thought I knew a lot already! Ok, so that's not one thing, but it's hard to narrow it down! The entire experience has been a gift which I cherish daily.

Anything else you think would be important for people to know?

I think, with odds like the ones in the Moms Panel application frenzy, it's difficult not to lose sight of the value you have as a passionate Disney fan. It's easy to say "I'm not worthy" when you get that email saying "thanks for applying but you haven't been selected" but that couldn't be further from the truth. There are so many amazing Disney fans out there and the Moms Panel is just one area to highlight your love and passion. Heading into its fourth year, the panel is trying to be as diverse and far-reaching as possible so every family looking to plan a vacation feels represented by those panelists here to help them. Just looking around twitter, facebook and the blogosphere, you can see you are not alone in the sea of Disney news, information and planning advice. Embrace it and find your niche, no matter where that takes you. Pink shirt or not, we are all lovers of Disney and represent Walt himself each time we share that love with others.

Best of luck to one and all! I can't wait to meet the new panelists!


A HUGE THANK YOU to Zanna for answering my questions! Like I said before, if you aren't reading her blog or following her on Twitter...stop reading this right now...and go and remedy this. I'll wait.....


I think the best thing to take away from what she says is that we all can be a part of the Disney community in our own ways. It doesn't have to be something as "big" as the Mom's Panel. It can be something like a Twitter-er, a Facebook-er, a blog reader, a blog commenter, a message board participant, or in my case...a blogger and a podcaster.

I know while I gave it my all today in my answers...no matter what the outcome is, I am lucky to have found and be involved in the Disney community! We are all lucky that we've found people like ourselves...crazy about a Mouse.

So, best of luck to everyone who applied or is still thinking about applying! Because out there, right now...(I feel like Ryan Seacrest at the beginning of the season of American Idol)...among the sea of people applying for the Mom's Panel...are people who are actually going to get picked...and before the end of the year...they really are actually going to be able to say...I am a Walt Disney World Mom's Panelist!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

News & Rumors 8/30/10 - 9/12/10



Well, here it is again! Sorry for the delay, but things have been crazy here lately! (Which also explains why no Bloggie Awards this past week either.)

Also, I'm going to make a change that I think will benefit all. I am going to try to group items based on the park that they are located in. (Don't know why it took me so long to do it in the first place!)

So, with that being said, I've got a nice big update for you all! So let's get to it!



News and Rumors are gathered from various different websites. All rumors are rumors and are to be taken as such.


News

Magic Kingdom
  • Space Mountain now has audio! Called Starry-O-Phonic Sound these new off-board speakers pipe in music and sound effects along the track as your car passes. To hear the new audio, click here.
  • Halloween is here at the Magic Kingdom, just in time for the first Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party this Tuesday.
  • Astro Orbiter will be closed for refurb Dec. 5th - 10th.
Epcot
  • The Hacienda de San Angel Mexican Restaurant is expect to open Sept. 15th. The restaurant will be open from 4 pm - 9 pm. The Cantina de San Angel (the counter service restaurant) will be open from 11 am - 9 pm.
  • Some additional changes have been made to the Candlelight Processional schedule. It is as follows, but may be subject to change:
    Nov 26 - 28 Isabella Rossellini
    Nov 29 - Dec. 1 TBD
    Dec 2 - 4 Frank Langella
    Dec 5 - 6 Ed Asner
    Dec 7 - 9 Jodi Benson
    Dec 10 - 11 Whoopi Goldberg
    Dec. 12 - 15 Steven Curtis Chapman
    Dec 16 - 18 Thomas Gibson
    Dec 19 - 21 Trace Adkins
    Dec 22 -23 Brad Garrett
    Dec 24 - 27 Edward James Olmos
    Dec. 28 - 30 Marlee Matlin / Jack Jason
  • Kodak is officially no longer the sponsor for the Imagination Pavilion
Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Star Tours has officially closed to make way for Star Tours II.

Animal Kingdom
  • New menu items are available at Restaurantosaurus. Included in the new offerings are an Angus burger, a shrimp po boy, a vegetable sub, and sweet potato fries.
  • Another restaurant having menu changes is Pizzafari. Now a vegetable pizza and an antipasto salad can be found on the menu.
  • Flame Tree BBQ's refurb has been extended to last until Sept. 25th now.
  • Also closed for refurb is Beastly Bazaar which will be closed until Oct. 2nd.
  • The Village Beatniks, a musical group, will perform their last show on Sept. 25th.
General WDW News
  • The Best Friends Pet Care Luxury Pet Resort has officially opened. For more details, visit here.
  • Cirque du Soleil La Nouba has seen a price increase. Here is the info: Beginning Tuesday September 7th prices will increase for Cirque du Soleil’s La Nouba at Downtown Disney. This adjustment will affect all performances and categories on regular season pricing beginning September 28, 2010. This price change will not affect holiday season pricing (December 21, 2010 – January 1, 2011). Guests with pre-purchased seats for September 28, 2010 performances and beyond will not be affected by this change. Price increases will be $5 per adult and $2 per child (3-9) for “Front and Center” and “Category 1″ tickets and $2 per adult and $1 per child (3-9) for “Category 2″ and “Category 3″ tickets. For complete Cirque du Soleil pricing and information, including available discounts, visit our Downtown Disney page (prices in yellow box).


Rumors
  • A new droid may have been revealed that will be used in the new Start Tours. The new droid will be called Aly San San.
  • A new DVC resort may be built over by Ft. Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge. This new resort would result in the removal of River Country for good. Also the Tri Circle D Ranch may be affected as well.
  • Some changes may be coming to Mickey's Jammin Jungle Parade. New characters may potentially be added.
  • It's been rumored that Kilimanjaro Safaris may be going down for an extensive refurb in either January or February. If it does, expect the storyline to change yet again. Possibly removing any storyline completely.
  • If posters on the refurb walls are to be a clue as to what is being included in the newly refurbished One Man's Dream, a preview area of upcoming attractions may be included.
  • Phineas and Ferb may finally be getting a meet and greet. The popular Disney Channel cartoon stars may be coming to the Streets of America, with the former Power Rangers car refurbed for them.
  • Some refurb walls have popped up in the area of the Tomorrowland Speedway that are the same as the ones that are being used for the Fantasyland expansion. Some wonder if it might mean the track may be rerouted...while others wonder if it just means they needed to do some work underground in preparation for the Fantasyland expansion.
  • The next WDW "celebration" campaign will have something to do with Memories. This is expected to be announced Sept. 22nd.
  • Winnie the Pooh will not have Fastpass available from mid-September until it reopens from it's refurb.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

In The Disney Kitchen: Magic Cookie Bars

So, after a very busy weekend out of town, I am sorry to say I was unable to get the News and Rumors out this past Sunday...just be on the lookout for a great big posting of it all this next Sunday!

As for today, we're gonna talk about one of my favorite treats that can be found at WDW...the Magic Cookie Bar.

The Magic Cookie Bar can be found at the Wilderness Lodge (one of my FAVORITE resorts in all of WDW) at their quick service location/food court Roaring Forks. This treat can be found in the cases with all the other delectable treats they sell there.

But I know you must be saying to yourself...what on earth is so special about the Magic Cookie Bar? I mean, it's just a typical 7 Layer Bar, right?

On the outside, yes...this snack is something that many make at home. But there is something that Disney adds to these bars to make them special. For the longest time...I thought it was Magic. I mean seriously...they seemed no different than what you can make typically around the holidays...but these bars...Oh...they tasted SO much better! So, it had to be the Disney Magic right?

I even tried making them at home one time before, much to my chagrin. They tasted similar. But not quite the same. There was something missing but I just couldn't put my finger on what Disney was doing differently. (They are so Magically delicious...)

That is until I learned the secret ingredient on this last trip. While talking with a Cast Member, she told me that they include caramel in their bars. Something that all those other recipes never mentioned. Alas...I now had the secret weapon in my knowledge!

So, last week, I was on a mission...I was going to make Disney Magic Cookie Bars.  (Keep in mind...this is still an unofficial recipe...since Disney won't share that one with us...but it does taste quite similar.)

The recipe calls for:

1 1/2 Cups of Graham Cracker Crumbs
1/2 Cup butter melted
1 (14 Oz) can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 Cup Chocolate Chips
1 Cup Butterscotch Chips
1 1/3 Cups Flaked Coconut
1 Cup Chopped Nuts

Now as for me...I like my graham cracker crust to be a little thicker...so I always find that 1 1/2 Cups is never even close to enough. I always double that and the butter. Also, since we're adding ingredients...I'm going to add a bag of Caramel Chips. (They appear to be new and they don't need unwrapping.)

The Directions are:

  • Preheat your oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter (Like I said above...I would double the amount needed, but that's just me.) Mix well and press the crumb mixture firmly on the bottom of a 13x9 inch pan.
Here is where I switch things up from the recipe...

  • Melt the caramel chips in a microwavable safe bowl. Spread over the graham cracker crumb bottom.
This is where I ran into some trouble. The caramel doesn't like to spread very well. It has to be HOT to want to spread. Once it cools down, it is extremely difficult to get it to go anywhere. Therefore, I recommend you do this very slowly and keep the caramel constantly heated. Unless someone else knows a tip I don't know for keeping caramel at a spreadable consistency. If you do, let me know in the comment section.

  • Next, layer the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coconut, and nuts on top of the caramel. Then pour the sweetened condensed milk evenly on top.
  • Bake for 25 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool and cut. Store at room temperature covered.

So, I baked this concoction in this manner and guess what?! It tasted as similar to Disney's as I'm gonna get! (Although I may have to pick up one in October, just to make sure... :) )

Um...my pictures are so not award winning caliber here...but I wanted to give you just a taste (get it) of what the Magic Cookie Bar is all about...


I guess the magic touch really is caramel....and not actual Magic...but you know what? I'm glad I learned the secret behind the Magic (Cookie Bar). Because now, I can have a little bit of Disney whenever I want it.

What Disney foods have you tried to make before? Has it turned out tasting like Disney's version?

Until next time...Magical Snacking!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Bloggie Awards 8/30/10 - 9/3/10

Happy Labor Day weekend! Can you believe summer is "officially" over? It feels like it just got started! And already Disney is starting with their Halloween decorations! Time to get in the Fall spirit I guess...though I certainly am not ready by any means!

With that being said, you all want to get to your weekend, so I'll make this short and sweet for ya!!!

5. Ok, so I've never been here before, but everything I hear about Tusker House, including a review from The Main Street Gazette, tells me I need to get over there pronto!

4. I love the little details around Disney...they are what makes the park so unique...and so...well, Disney. The Disney Parks Blog is no exception to sharing some of those details. Here is one from somewhere where I bet you wouldn't guess.

3. Touring Plans has been having a series called the Connected Traveler...and this week, brings up Part 3 featuring something that I've now been playing with. Tripit...it helps you organize your trips...just about every aspect...in a very unique way. Read the article and play with the application...it's worth playing with! (PS...Todd, I'm really liking this series and I'm hoping you keep it up for while! I'm learning so much! It's all very Betamouse!)

2. So about those little things I talked about earlier...over at WDW News Today, there was an article about things that the author sees as his own personal Walt Disney World...His World. The things that make up the excitement for his vacations. I wholeheartedly agree with all of them. Each one, when pictured, takes me directly to Disney. And some of them are things that I look the most forward to each trip. Even though they have nothing to do with attractions.

1. So...I've recently fallen in love with the Polynesian. It has quickly gone to the top of my list as one of those "when I have a lot of money I'm going to stay here" resorts! Over at Studios Central, they talk about all the reasons why the Poly is such a fantastic resort and why you need to at least make the trip over there once to see it. (Plus, I may have mentioned once or twice how in love I am with the Adult Grilled Cheese that can be found at there quick service restaurant Capt. Cooks!)


Happy reading! Have a great 3 Day Weekend! And just a warning...the News and Rumors will be late this week. I'll try to get them out on Monday when I get back from my mini vacay! :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Marching Along We're Adventurers!

Marching Along We're Adventurers
Singing the Song of Adventure's
Up or Down, North, South East, or West
An Adventurer's Life is Best

Ah...the Adventurer's Club...how I miss you so. I miss the fun and frivolity that was had in your wonderful building.

Yep...that's right...two years later (seriously can't believe it's already been two years since it's doors closed to the general public!) and I'm still not over the closing of my beloved Cloob.

But alas! There are others like me who still miss the excitement. Known as the Congaloosh Society, these fans are holding a gathering/fan convention from Oct. 8-10 known as Congaloosh 2010!

And let me tell you, they have some fabulous events planned. There will be Q & A session with the cast, a stand up comedic performance by Karl Anthony (AKA Blondie as he was known to many) and a vocal set by Andrea Canny. Other activities will include park meet ups, presentations from Jim Korkis, a trade show, and an improv workshop. Oh and best of all...the thing that sounds the most amazing is a brand new, once in a life time after hours Adventurer's Club show taking place in the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular Theater and including a never before seen script with some of the Adventurer Club performers.

Regular registration will be available until September 15th...so if you want to go, better act quick to save a little bit. Tickets will be $140 for a single day or $250 for the entire weekend. There will be late registration available after September 15th.

I really wish I could go to this event! Alas, I will have just missed it by a few days. It sounds like an amazing time and I'm incredible jealous of those of you who will get to attend.

For those who never got the opportunity to visit the Club when it was around, to me, this sounds like the next best thing. So if you were ever curious about the place, you do not want to miss this event!

For those who maybe were curious about what the Club was like, I have some videos I took on the few last nights of the Club's existence for the average guest. This gives you a taste of the kind of fun that was had and why it is missed so dearly. And why you need to go to Congaloosh 2010!















For more information or to register for the event, make sure to check out www.congaloosh.org for more details!



Oh and one last thing....Kungaloosh!!!!