Tuesday, March 29, 2011

News and Rumors 3/21/11 - 3/27/11

Um...so...a little late with this this week.  Sorry about that.  I was feeling a tad bit under the weather the past few days.  I'm feeling better now, so I am just now sitting down to write this out.  Thanks for your patience. 


Magic Kingdom
  • The end scene of the Haunted Mansion has new AudioAnamatronic Hitchhiking Ghosts however,the  scene is still currently being worked on.
  • When Mickey starts meeting guests on Main Street USA on April 1st, he will be meeting them as Magician Mickey.  Also, keep your eye out for previews later this week.  If you're looking for FASTPASS machines for the Mickey meet and greet, you'll find them between The Chapeau and Tony's Town Square.

Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • We'll be seeing some changes in the characters that appear at the Studios.  Lotso will be removed from the Magic of Disney Animation on April 30th.  He will be replaced by Winnie the Pooh on May 16th. 
  • The Cars meet and greet area will be seeing so updates as well, with the new Cars 2 movie on the way.  Lightening McQueen will be removed April 8th with Mater leaving April 18th.  After that, the meet and greet area will be redone with a new backdrop and a new look for Lightening.The area will reopen May 16th.
  • Also, guests can expect the new Phineas and Ferb meet and greet to begin May 16th.
  • It's being said that the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun Parade will change directions April 6th

Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • The Yeti at Expedition Everest has been seeing some work.  The Yeti is currently covered up and will be for the next few months.  When it reopens, the rumors indicate that it will return with a little movement once again.

General WDW News
  • Disney is getting ready to release info on a new race that will be taking place at the resort.  For more info, follow their Facebook page, as that is where they are releasing clues.
  • The Contemporary is currently testing free wireless internet in the lobby, the pool area, The Wave Restaurant and in convention center common areas.  This test is slated to last around 30 days.
  • Blizzard Beach has reopened from it's annual refurbishment.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rikki's Must-Do: Yehaa Bob

This week, I wrote my first article for the e-newsletter Magically Speaking.  (If you don't subscribe, why not?!  Here's the link.) 

I was so excited about my first article that I wanted to share it with all of you too!  So, without further adieu, one of Rikki's Must-Dos!  (By the way, special photo credit to my good buddy Marc Lorenzo!)

In the past couple of trips, there has been a Must-Do that's popped up on my radar. It's not something that Stacy ever mentioned on any of her shows, but trust me, it is a good time! And I think it's something that you need to check out too! It's one of Rikki's Must-Dos! 

So what Disney experience do I suggest you partake in the next chance you get? Well to find out, you'll need to take yourself over to Port Orleans Riverside to see Yehaa Bob Jackson located in the River Roost Lounge.

Never seen his show before? Basically in a nutshell, it's absolute mayhem! It's a rollicking, frolicking good time! I can guarantee, by the end of the night, you will be dancing and singing along and you most certainly will leave with a smile on your face!

Yehaa Bob has been entertaining guests at Walt Disney World for over 12 years, and trust me, this man is an amazing performer! His show features boisterous sing-a-longs, incredible piano playing, and even a little bit of comedy! You can tell just how much he loves his job in the energy he puts out each and every night. And let me tell you, from personal experience, his piano skills are unreal!

Keep in mind that Bob is extremely big on audience participation, from getting guests to come up on stage and dance to YMCA, to having them march around the room in a conga line, to having singing contests amongst the audience by pitting one side of the room against the other. So make sure you come prepared to be entertained and potentially entertain the crowd yourself.

Now to me, one of the most amazing attributes of Bob's show is that he will remember you! This can be good or bad as he's been prone to ask certain guests on stage to help. (Like when I went with my Be Our Guest Podcast Family. During that show, he would CONSTANTLY call us up on stage to get us involved in all the fun!) But even more incredible is that not only will Bob remember you that night you're there, he'll often remember you the next time you visit too!

A few insider tips: when you hear him blow his horn, it is required that you yell and scream along! (Make sure you practice your big Tarzan Yell!) And make sure if he asks if he's messing up his hair, you answer with "Looks Great Bob!"

Audiences of all ages get a little something out of an evening with Yehaa Bob! I've only visited with a large group, (which by the way, this is a great spot for a large party to gather for a little bit of fun after the parks close at night), but I can guarantee this would be a fantastic experience for a family or a couple as well. There really is something for everyone in one of Yehaa Bob's shows. Plus, since it is in the River Roost Lounge, it's a great place to just sit back and unwind with a drink or snack at the end of a hectic park day.

Bob's show is performed every Wednesday through Saturday at 8:30 p.m. — midnight. And as Bob always says...he's saving you a seat!

Monday, March 21, 2011

News and Rumors 3/14/11 - 3/20/11

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


Magic Kingdom
  • The Tomorrowland Terrace is open for the busy Spring Break crowds.  It will be open from 5 pm - 9 pm until April 26th.
  • The Town Square Theater is expected to open April 1st. Though since no official announcement has been made by Disney, that date could change. 
  • A new walking tour has been introduced to the Magic Kingdom.  Called Walt Disney: Marceline to Magic Kingdom, the tour it will explore how events in Walt Disney’s life helped shape the Walt Disney World Resort and the attractions within it.
  • Epcot has been testing a new way of entering the park.  Guests are not asked to insert their ticket into a machine and push through the turnstiles, instead, guests place their tickets next to a barcode scanner, it scans it and also your finger, and guests just walk into the park.  No word on how long this test will last and if it will make it's way permanently into the parks.
Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Tatooine Traders is expected to have a two week refurb starting April 4th and lasting til April 17th.  The shop will be reconfigured and restocked.  Rumors are indicating that Star Tours will begin soft openings around this time period too.
Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • The Yeti in Expedition Everest appears to be getting some work done, as currently there is a scrim covering him...though it is not expecting that we will see a full blown fix ever.  Glad to know they are attempting to make him work at least a little bit.
General WDW News
  • The Wave at Disney's Contemporary is now offering a breakfast buffet.


  • The Tiki Room's refurb has supposedly been pushed back until June 30th.  Speculation keeps getting stronger that the Under New Management show will not return.   
  • Rumors indicate that the next DVC resort could potentially be located at the Grand Floridian.  Though I've also read that instead of DVC, the Grand Floridian could be simply getting more wedding space.   It appears that this will be one of those rumors where only time will tell what's really going on, if anything.  
  • A general idea of when Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party dates are out there.  These are tentative and subject to change.
    Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party
    Sept. 13-16-20-23-27-30
    Oct. 2-6-7-10-11-13-16-18-20-21-23-25- 27-28-30-31
    Nov 1
    Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party
    Nov. 8-9-11-13-15-18-27-29-30
    Dec. 2-4-6-7-9-11-13- 14-16-18
  • Lotso is expected to leave the Studios on April 30th.  When he leaves, he is expected to be replaced by Winnie the Pooh.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

NextGen Queues: What I'd Like to See Next

Lately, the buzz has been surrounding the installation of NextGen Queues throughout Walt Disney World, especially with the recent soft opening of the most recent attraction to receive this treatment:  The Haunted Mansion.  (And of course the other most recent addition of the Winne the Pooh Queue).  

For those who haven't seen what Disney has done here, check out this video from Inside the Magic.  You can really get the idea of what Disney was going for.   

As for my take on it...I kinda like it...kinda don't.  I wished they would have gone a little more creepy with it...it feels a tiny bit cartoonish...but I do appreciate some of the whimsy the new queue is trying to bring. I understood that the Haunted Mansion could have definitely benefited from getting a NextGen Queue (those switchbacks can be torture) I just wish that it would have been a bit more of a realistic haunting on the outside, much like it is on the inside.  (Well, as realistic as you can get with ghouls and ghosts!)

One thing I do like is how right now they are allowing people to choose if they want to do the NextGen side or just go straight in.  If that continues to be the case...I'll be one who almost always goes straight.  But only time will tell if that option continues in the future.

So, with all the excitement going on about the new Haunted Mansion queue, I thought I'd take a look at what attractions I thought would be good ones to make into interactive queues and which ones I think Disney should stay far away from.

The first attraction that I think a NextGen Queue should be introduced is Big Thunder Mountain Railroad.  If you've been to WDW more than a few times, you have had to stand in the standby line for this attraction and you know how unbelievably dull it is.  This is one attraction where I've gotten SO bored standing in line for that most of the time now, unless there are FASTPASSES or the wait is extremely small, I will not ride the attraction.  I've actually skipped it numerous times because of that.  If this saw NextGen treatment, I can guarantee, the likelihood of me standing in the standby line will have increased greatly.

Next, and this is one where I believe sooner, rather than later, we'll be seeing a NextGen Queue being put in, is Peter Pan's Flight.  This is yet another attraction where I will only FASTPASS or ride with a short wait...because waiting 45 minutes or longer in those switchbacks is pure torture!  Please, Disney...THIS right here is the type of attraction you NEED to include an interactive queue on!  Make it happen!

I also think that Jungle Cruise would benefit from this.  That attraction's line is often deceiving and I've stood in very long lines here.  And while it's fun to listen to the music and the announcements playing overhead...I think adding a little something extra in the queue would really spice things up here.

Moving over to Animal Kingdom, I think that they should maybe look into including some interactive elements into Kilimanjaro Safaris.  Now this is an attraction where they need to tread lightly.  They don't need to cartoon it up or include video games or anything...just something animal based to pass the time in that seemingly never ending line.

Over at Epcot, I really think that Test Track would benefit from a NextGen Queue.  I mean, let's face it...it's already loud in there...what's a little more noise?!  Maybe the interactive capabilities could include you doing the tests on the cars in the queue, instead of the tests being automatically performed?  All I know is that this is yet another attraction where I won't wait in line for it.  Maybe if there was something to do, I might.

The Studios was actually a park where I had trouble thinking about where to include a NextGen Queue.  Some would say that Toy Story Mania is one...but I disagree...to an extent.  I think it would be more interactive if Mr. Potato Head was not constantly on AutoPilot, like he seems to be every time I've visited.  Plus, maybe you could do something with the toys that surround you...and you'd have an even better queue than it already is.

Part of me wonders is the new Star Tours will include pieces of a NextGen Queue.  Of course, we'll find that out in May.  This is one where I'm torn on whether I'd like to see an interactive queue included here or not. 

My biggest issue about these NextGen Queues is that I don't want them to turn into something that's too kiddie.  Kids aren't the only ones who get bored waiting in line...so remember us adults too when building these, Disney.  And of course, you'll want to watch the cheese factor, especially with attractions that are supposed to be taken "seriously"...meaning...it's ok to be kind of cartoony in Fantasyland....that whole area is based off cartoons...but it really is a fine line that they will have to walk in making things fun and entertaining, but not too cheesy.

As far as attractions I don't think they should touch (or if they are touched...please do it tastefully), I think Pirates should be left alone.  Also, just about everything in the Studios should stay the way it is...especially Tower of Terror and Rock n' Roller Coaster (although...if they could add something to the outdoor portion of RNRC NextGen, that wouldn't be a problem.  Nothing exciting about concrete walls.)  Finally, they in no way need to touch Expedition: Everest.  If they added any elements here, I think it would take all the realism out of this attraction...an attraction that so desperately needs realism to make it work.

So that's where I stand...but where do you stand?  What attractions would you like to see get the NextGen treatment?  Which would would be ones you'd want Disney not to touch?  Make sure to let me know in the comments section.

Monday, March 14, 2011

News and Rumors 3/7/11 - 3/13/11

Hi everyone!

I want to take this moment to say that I am thinking about those in Japan in this time of need for them.  Also, if you are on Twitter and are not following @JarrodLentz, you should be!  He is a Cast Member from WDW who just moved to Tokyo Disney. 

Now, on with the News!


Magic Kingdom

  • Club 626 is back in Tomorrowland for the busy Spring season.  The party runs from 4 pm - 10 pm. 
  • After this year, Grad Nites will no longer take place at WDW.
  • The Haunted Mansion NextGen Queue is expected to open anytime.


  • Via Napoli is offering pizza by the slice once again from a quick service kiosk out front.  Items offered are Cheese and Pepperoni Pizzas and a Cannoli.  Also, interesting to not is the price of the cheese pizza is now $4.50...$2.00 cheaper than it was a few months ago.  It will be available here until May 28th. 

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • It is expected that Star Tours II will have an AP preview before the attraction reopens to the general public. 

General WDW News

  • RIDEMAKERZ is going close in it's current location (at the former Virgin Megastore) on April 30th.  No word on if or where it would be moved to. 


  • It could be only a matter of time before Lightning McQueen is added to Lights, Motors, Action.  
  • Snow White's Scary Adventures is rumored not to close until Under the Sea: Journey to the Little Mermaid is open, which would be in 2012.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Let The Memories Begin: My Memories

This year's campaign for Disney is Let The Memories Begin.  It's all about remembering the great times you've had in the parks in the past and making new memories in the present.  (And of course, the future.) As Disney has proven over the past few months, the memories you have from vacation are some of the strongest memories that you have.  They are what you remember the fondest when you look back at them. 

So I thought I would take a look at some of my best memories at Walt Disney World (and a few Orlando related trips too) in a reoccurring series here on the blog.

My first memory that I wanted to share with everyone is a trip that dates back to 2002.  This was a trip I took with my mom and brother.  We got to go on this trip because my dad got the opportunity to go to the Superbowl that year, since The Rams (the hometown team) were playing and he wanted to experience that.  So, my mom planned a last minute trip to take my brother and I to Orlando.  (She thought, if he gets to go somewhere, we all should go somewhere!) 

On that trip, we stayed at the La Quinta on International Drive.  I remember fondly going to FAO Schwartz and seeing the Titanic museum, though we didn't go in.  (Titanic had come out not too terribly long ago at the time, so my brother was really big on that movie.)

One of the things I remember was going to Universal (I know...I know...I said a bad word!  lol! Especially in a blog about Disney Memories) and we rode the Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man, which broke down when we were on it, so we got to see all the set pieces all lit up, then got to ride again.

Of course, we went to Disney too.  We only visited the Magic Kingdom on this trip.  I don't necessarily have a lot of memories from that day.  Only that my brother was in a lot of pain because he had a crick in his neck the whole day, but we did the parks anyway!  

So, while the memories are kind of fuzzy about this trip, I think back fondly on it because it was the last time that we as a family (minus dad...but I've got a trip with him I'm gonna talk about here soon) went on a proper vacation together.  This was the last time that we were just us...as the next year, I met my husband and life would change completely.

It was a wonderful vacation and while it wasn't centered completely on Disney...it is truly something that has stuck with me as this was the turning point on my Disney journey.  See, before I went on this trip, I was not the biggest theme park fan.  I was just coming around to the whole theme park thing.

But because I took this trip, it made me nostalgic for trips from the past, which helped to trigger (later that year) the obsession I now have for Disney.   

So, in a way, this trip was really my journey on beginning my Disney adventure.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

News and Rumors 2/28/11 - 3/6/11

 Hi guys!  Hope you're doing well!  I wanted to apologize for not having an article earlier this week.  Things were absolutely CRAZY around here and I simply did not have time to post.  (I hardly had time to be on the internet!)  So...anyway...here's the news and rumors for the week!


Magic Kingdom
  • It didn't take long to figure out what the permit that was filed for Skyway work will entail.  Apparently the first guess that was had was correct because Disney will indeed be taking the Fantasyland Skyway station and including new restrooms in this area.  In addition, Disney will be closing the restrooms by Peter Pan's Flight and using this area to help create a larger, NextGen Queue for Peter Pan.
  • LeCellier is now a Signature Dining Establishment at Dinner. This will require 2 Table Service credits for dinner, but lunch will remain 1 Table Service credit.  To check how the menus were affected, click here for dinner and here for lunch.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • This park is now no longer offering Evening Extra Magic Hours.  No idea if this is a permanent change, but for the foreseeable future, Evening Extra Magic Hours are not scheduled.  Morning Extra Magic Hours are still listed on the schedule for this park. 

General WDW News
  • The store, Mickey's Groove will close April 2nd.  In it's place, the Harley Davidson store will relocate here, making for a bigger store in all by incorporating the former Little MissMatched store area too.

  • Haunted Mansion queue work could be done in as little as 3-4 weeks
  • The expected opening date for Town Square Theater is April 1st.