Saturday, July 30, 2011

The Seven Sacred Attractions

This week on the podcast, we got to talking about which attractions we thought would be in the parks in 25 years still and which ones we thought would be gone.  Some were obvious and yet some we mentioned were quite shocking, especially some that we picked that would eventually disappear. 

With that being said, I believe there are certain attractions in the Disney Parks, that minus a good refurb, should not disappear from the parks what-so-ever, no matter how old the parks get.  These attractions are what make the parks what they are.  They are the identities of Walt Disney World...they make it what people know and love...these are the Seven Sacred Attractions.  (Well, I guess it would technically be Eleven Sacred Attractions because I also believe the attractions that I mentioned on the show are sacred if you missed what those were...go listen to the podcast!) 

1.  Haunted Mansion:  This attraction has some of the best effects of all time...and that's after 40 years!  It's amazing how simple tricks can be so intriguing. Plus, Disney proved that even with a refurb, this attraction doesn't need to change's still top notch. 

2.  Spaceship Earth:  I know there were rumors about changing this attraction into a roller coaster years ago, but that would take out the very purpose or what Epcot is supposed to be about.  Epcot is about Edutainment to it's core.  It's about showing you something you may not have known before in a fun and inviting way.  To me, the current version of Spaceship Earth is that...perfect Edutainment.  It's about learning about communication and how it's been evolving and then we take a fun look into our "futures".  Sure, our "futures" aren't likely to happen, but it is interesting to think...what if? 

3.  Tower of Terror:  Yes...this is an attraction that I won't ride anymore, but let me tell makes me sad that I can't.  This attraction is Imagineering at it's utmost finest.  The story here is so compelling.  It is so wonderfully done and because of that, it is such a timeless attraction.  There are also some stellar effects here as well.  Plus, add in the randomness of you never know how many times you are going to drop and it takes an amazing ride and increases it's re-ride-ability even more, because you never know what you're going to get. 

4.  Expedition Everest:  Ok, so I know the attraction is a shell of it's original self right now...but it still is one that makes me nervous.  I still fear the Yeti.  Plus that backwards section is pretty darn cool.  And once again, this attraction is one that has a solidly good story to it, which is what Disney is founded on...telling good stories. 

5.  Space Mountain:  The idea of Space Mountain is fabulous...a roller coaster in the dark.  Couple that with Space travel and you have a winning idea.  (Who wouldn't want to go to space?) Do I think this attraction may see another major refurb in the next 25 years, yes, but should Space Mountain exist in 25 years, yes.  Yes, it should. 

6.  Splash Mountain:  Once again...this attraction is built on story...and it must be a good story because it's built off an attraction that I have never seen, but still love.  With that being said, I think that even though future generations will never see the movie this story is based off of, it's still going to be just as compelling.  Plus, it's a water ride and people can't get enough of water rides, especially in the Florida heat. 

7.  Pirates of the Caribbean:  Yes, I am heavy on the Magic Kingdom attractions, but that is because these are the ones that seem to be the most timeless.  (I think it relates to the fact that a lot of Magic Kingdom attractions are based off of original ideas...something I am begging the current Disney management to look at continually it seems like lately they have not.)  Pirates is something that people love, young or old, because it is fun.  (Well, not the real idea of piracy, but you get what I'm saying.)  It is a great attraction that the whole family can enjoy and get something out of.  If you're a kid, you may love the catchy song, if you're an adult, you may still marvel at those AudioAnamatronics.  Whatever it is, something draws you over that way. Plus, it's an incredible way to remember all that Walt had created for us.

So these are my Sacred Seven.  The attractions that should always be there at the Walt Disney World Resort. 

What attractions do you think are Sacred?  Make sure to post your answers too!

Monday, July 25, 2011

News and Rumors 7/18/11 - 7/24/11



  • The new Kakigori stand is now open and selling a bit more than just Kakigori.  The new name is called the Kabuki Cafe and offers ice cream, smoothies, edamame or miso soup, and a variety of drinks, including some Japanese sodas and sake, plus more.

Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show will be down for refurb from Oct. 3rd – Oct. 6th.
  • In additional Lights, Motors, Action news, Lightning McQueen has now joined the show.
  • Fantasmic will see a 5 week refurb from Jan. 4th - Feb. 13th.  
  • Disney has announced they will no longer be continuing ESPN the Weekend. 
  • One Man's Dream has been awaiting some new exhibits since it opened and now it appears they have arrived.  Information about Shanghai and the Fantasyland Expansion have made their way to the attraction. 

General WDW News

  • Monorail Coral is now back, after running the tracks as the Tronorail the past year. 
  • The Magnolia Bend quiet pool at Port Orleans Riverside will be refurbished from Sept. 5th - Oct. 7th. 


  • Hearing rumors that a new game, similar to Kim Possible, is headed to the Magic Kingdom called Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom.  It is said to offer up quests with the first quest looking to be headed to Adventureland.  Hearing that the Firehouse on Main Street was closed to be re-purposed as the game's headquarters.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Part of Your World

Last week, I got to see The Little Mermaid here live on stage at The Muny, our local outdoor theater.  I had been dying to see it ever since it came out on Broadway, but knew I'd never get to New York.  So, as soon as I found out it was coming to town, I immediately bought tickets. 

As far as the show, it was pretty darn good.  There were a few things I didn't care for, the sets were relatively sparse and the guy playing Sebastian (a Jamaican crab, of course) was Asian.  (Not that there's any thing wrong with someone not Jamaican playing him, just that it was quite distracting watching someone Asian trying to accomplish a Jamaican accent.  It didn't go very well.)

But watching the show, I couldn't help but think...they really should make some changes to the Voyage of the Little Mermaid attraction at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

Voyage of the Little Mermaid, a theatrical production of the story of the movie The Little Mermaid, debuted in 1992...almost 20 years exactly and the show is relatively close to the same as it was when it first started showing, which has been cut down drastically from the actual movie.

But after 20 years and with new technology, this attraction could use an extensive upgrade, plus, since the new Broadway show has been introduced, there are some things that I think that were included in the Broadway version that could easily be brought in to enhance this attraction at the Studios.  (I will preface this with the fact that I'm sure that because ours was a presentation of a Broadway show in an outdoor theater, some of the effects weren't quite the same.  I am taking that into consideration.) 

First of all, I would love to see them at least double the length of the show.  Right now, it clocks in at about 17 minutes.  That is not near enough time to show a quality retelling of this classic movie.  I would like to see this attraction at least double in length.  I know they are capable of having long shows in the parks, I mean Finding Nemo at Disney's Animal Kingdom is about 45 minutes long itself, so it should be no problem updating this attraction to around 30 minutes at least.   

Now because they cut the movie into 17 quick minutes, they told a lot of the story via video.  My next suggestion would be to not rely so heavily on video screens.  The majority of Voyage is made up of video screens.  To me, it's basically like watching the movie with a little bit of live interaction thrown in.  I would love to see more live action.  There is a ton that is missing here because of the screens (and because of the time factor again) that would be so great to see played out on stage.

And that brings me to my next little gripe.  Please, for the love of pete...have Prince Eric talk himself!  There is no reason that poor boy can't say his own lines.

Now, if they lengthened the show, I would definitely fix up both the beginning and the end of this show.  You have lovely middle parts with great performances with Ariel singing Part of Your World and Sebastian singing Under The Sea.  Oh and don't forget the scene with Ursala, but the beginning and middle...don't'll miss them.  The beginning is the most stunted.  We see the ship and then all the sudden Sebastian is singing Under the Sea.  (Which by the way, Part of Your World comes before this song in the movie, but I get why you did it the way you did it makes more sense in the storytelling on stage with this performance.  Another reason the attraction should be updated.)  I would really like to see both the beginning and the end fleshed out a bit more.  Show us more of the story.  What about a Kiss the Girl scene?  Or seeing Ariel meet Eric?  You can do a lot of different things to expand on this great story.  Plus, you can still rely on the video screens to do the parts that are too difficult to do on such a small stage, but give us a bit more meat to our show.

Lastly, while I like most of the effects that the theater has (like the rain and the lightning), please, please, please, get rid of the lasers!  It is 2011!  We don't do lasers anymore...least of all lasers that look like they were created in the 90s!  It is not a cool effect anymore.  Please take it out and change it.

The Little Mermaid is one of my favorite movies of all time.  I would love to be able to see an updated version of the Live Show at Walt Disney World.  I know we're getting a great new attraction in Under the Sea-Journey of the Little Mermaid, but that's at the Magic Kingdom.  It's high time this attraction saw some quality love.

What are your thoughts?  What would you change with the attraction?  What would you keep?

Monday, July 18, 2011

News and Rumors 7/11/11 - 7/17/11

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


Magic Kingdom

  • The Fantasyland Refurb will include Scuttle's Scavenger Hunt.  This appears to be an interactive game that looks to take place in the queue of the upcoming Little Mermaid attraction (at least, according to the concept art.)  


  • HGTV stars are set to appear for the first time during this year's International Food and Wine Festival.  The schedule of appearances is: • Sept. 30-Oct. 2 – Vern Yip, “HGTV Design Star” and “HGTV Urban Oasis”
    • Oct. 7-9 – Monica Pedersen, “Designed to Sell”
    • Oct. 14-16 – Erin Loechner, “Design Happens”
    • Oct. 21-23 – Taniya Nayak, “Designed to Sell”
    • Oct. 28-30 – Kim Stoegbauer, “On-line Party Inspiration”
    • Nov. 4-6 – Lisa LaPorta, “Designed to Sell”
    • Nov. 11-13 – Emily Henderson, “Secrets From a Stylist” and “HGTV Design Star” winner Season 5 “Design Star”

General WDW News

  • The Balzac kiosks in the theme parks have been removed as they are no longer for sale on property.  Balzacs were the inflatable balls that they sold in places like the Epcot Breezeways.  
  • Refillable Mugs may eventually be a thing of the least in the sense that we have known them.  This week, over at All Star Sports, a new monitoring system, employing RFID chips will begin being tested.  RFID chips will also be embedded in regular soda cups as well, only allowing a guest to fill up the cup for the length of a meal (around 1 hour).  The system will require 5 minutes between refills.  
  • A new entertainment venue set to open at the site of the former Virgin Megastore.  Splitsville, a bowling alley that combines bowling with billiards, dining, music, and nightlife is set to begin construction this Fall.  Ridemakerz will be moving from this location to one in on the Marketplace side.  


  • While Disney insists that Hyperion Wharf is on hold, I keep hearing persistant rumors that the area is more than likely cancelled. Time will tell.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

News and Rumors 7/4/11 - 7/10/11

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


Magic Kingdom
  • The Lunching Pad in Tomorrowland will be down for refurb from Aug. 29th – Sept. 13th.
  • Casey’s Corner on Main Street will be closed for refurbishment from Aug. 30th – Sept. 14th.
  • During evening Extra Magic Hours, guests will no longer be able to meet with the characters in Fantasyland.  Also, the Town Square Theater will only be open for meets during park hours as well.
  • Tinkerbell and her Fairy friends will be returning to the Magic Kingdom in the Adventureland Veranda starting July 28th. 
  • The Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade will be running two performances a day starting July 18th running to July 31st.  The parade will be shown at both 12 pm and 3:30 pm.

Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • The Backlot Tour will be closed Sept. 4th – Spet. 24th.
  • In addition the Honey I Shrunk The Audience Movie Set Adventure will be closed from Sept. 4th – Sept. 25th

General WDW News
  • The dining room at Wolfgang Puck’s in Downtown Disney will be closed until July 18th.
  • The Magnolia Bend Leisure Pool at Port Orleans Riverside will be down for refurb Sept. 5th – Oct. 8th.
  • Over at Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge in Kidani Village will be offering a new Animal Specialist dining experience starting Aug. 1st.  The experience will feature a 4 course lunch with one of the resort's animal specialists, who will give an insiders view and answer any questions relating to the animals of the resort's savannahs.  The cost will be $49 for adults, and $29  for kids ages 3 to 9.
  • The Congress Park quiet pool at Saratoga Springs will be closed for refurb from Aug. 1st - Sept. 2nd. 
  • Beginning July 11th, the monorail service at Epcot will stop operating 1 hour after regular park closing and on Aug. 1st, the same will happen at the Magic Kingdom.  What that means is that the monorail will not be operating during Evening Extra Magic Hours.  Guests will now be transported by bus or boat instead.

Friday, July 8, 2011

A Dining Review: Via Napoli

One of the newest restaurants to open up in Walt Disney World at Epcot is Via Napoli. 

Here they are well known for their pizza, as it is as authentic to real Italian pizza as you are going to get in Walt Disney World.  The restaurant brings in real Italian ingredients and the pizza is made with water that is similarly made up of the same pH levels as to what is actually found in Naples.  The pizzas are also cooked in these huge wood stoves that literally only take minutes to bake. This is as close to Italian pizza as you're going to get without actually visiting Italy! 

Disney had previously been known to be lacking in the pizza department.  For the most part, the pizzas found on property were not very good, though they were edible.  (At least to me.  One of my favorite places to eat in at Disney's Hollywood Studios is Pizza Planet.)  The pizzas on property weren't anything to rave about though. 

That is until now.  I am a HUGE fan of Via Napoli! 

Obviously, I am not a pizza snob...I don't hail from Chicago or New York, places that claim they make the best pizza...I am from a town who makes their own version of pizza on cracker thin crust with provel cheese...which I enjoy immensely, but many others who are pizza aficionados turn their nose to. 

With all that being said, Via Napoli is pizza that months later, I still crave. 

My favorite pizza is their Quattro Formaggi, which is made up of 4 cheeses, mozzarella, parmesan, fontina, provolone.  This pizza I have dubbed as "Forget Your Husband Name Good."  One bite of this pizza and you forget everything that you know!  All you can concentrate on is how amazingly delicious it tastes. 

Of course they do have other really great specialty pizzas including the Prosciutto e Melone made of fontina, mozzarella, prosciutto, and cantaloupe, and the Quattro Stagioni which has eggplant, artichokes, prosciutto, and mushrooms on it. 

You can also create your own pizza, starting with a Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, and basil) and then you adding each additional topping of your choice. 

If you are not a fan of pizza, the restaurant does offer additional Italian dishes as well, such as spaghetti and lasagna.  

This last trip, I had the chance to try their family style house salad, which is only available for groups of 2 or more and is served exclusively with the pizza for $5 per person.  The salad includes leaf lettuces, roasted red peppers, marinated mushrooms, olives, peperoncini, and a red wine vinaigrette.  Not being a salad person, I thought it was just ok.  

Also, I tried the Arancini which is fried risotto balls filled with mozzarella & meat ragu.  This sounded good, but also sounded a little strange to me.  One bite though and I was sold.  They were quite delicious, though the texture of risotto threw me off a bit as I was eating it.  

For dessert, I quite liked the Zeppole di Caterina which is ricotta cheese fritters, served with whipped cream and chocolate sauce.  I liked the taste of them dipped in the chocolate sauce the best.  The next time I'm down there though, I'll have to try the tiramisu.  I am a fan of this dessert and interested in seeing what a real Italian restaurant at Disney would do with it.

In all, I find Via Napoli to be a great value of a restaurant.  Yes, the pizzas are a tad expensive on their own, but trust me, they are good.  And if you get one and share it amongst your table, plus get an appetizer or salad, you should be set with plenty of food to go around for all, without breaking the budget. 

Monday, July 4, 2011

News and Rumors 6/13/11 - 7/3/11

Well, I'm back after an amazing trip!  :)  It appears that I've missed out on a lot, so let's get cracking.


Magic Kingdom

  • The Firehouse Gift Station will close on July 10th to be re-purposed.
  • Flynn Rider will no longer be doing meet and greets on a daily basis.  Guests who do want to meet Flynn will apparently be able to do so at Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. 
  • The Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse will be closed for refurb Sept. 8th - Nov. 18th. 


  • During the Food and Wine Festival, the Odyssey Lounge will be open serving specialty cocktails and wines.  In addition, the area will provide games, internet access, and mobile charging stations.
  • Disney has announced the narrator line up for the Candlelight Processional:    • Mira Sorvino (“Romy and Michelle’s High School Reunion”) Nov. 25-27
    • Michael W. Smith (Christian singer) Nov. 28-Dec. 1
    • Whoopi Goldberg (“The View”) Dec. 2-3
    • TBD Dec. 4-6
    • Isabella Rossellini (“Alias”) Dec. 7-9
    • Neil Patrick Harris (“How I Met Your Mother”) Dec. 10-12
    • TBD Dec. 13-14
    • TBD Dec. 16-18
    • Trace Adkins (country singer) Dec. 19-21
    • Susan Lucci (“All My Children”) Dec. 22-24
    • Blair Underwood (“The Event”) Dec. 25-27
    • Marlee Matlin (“Celebrity Apprentice”) Dec. 28-30


Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Fantasmic will be shown nightly throughout the summer.
  • Lightening McQueen will be added to Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show later this summer now.  Lightening and Mater are currently doing meet and greets in their standard location with a new Cars 2 backdrop.
  • The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights dates will be Nov. 10th - Jan. 3rd. 

General WDW News

  • A new test for concierge guests is being tried out.  Called the Concierge Club Connection, it gives guests personalized assistance during their vacation via phone, email and text.  Access to dining reservations, and park information will all be available from 7am to 10pm, with messaging service outside these hours.  This is only available at the Grand Floridian and it's by pre-selection only.  This test is expected to continue through the end of July.  
  • The relocated Harley Davidson store is now open.
  • Apricot Lane has been confirmed to open at the location of the former Harley Davidson store.  The store is expected to open later this summer.  The store is expected to sell branded fashion apparel, jewelry, handbags, accessories and gifts.
  • The Four Seasons Hotel's opening has been pushed back to 2014. 
  • Hoop Dee Doo Review will be trying out new show times starting Nov. 13th - Feb. 11th.  The new times will be adjusted to 4 pm, 6:15 pm, and 8:30 pm, 


  • It appears that the Little Einsteins may be phased out.  It seems that for sure they will no longer being doing meet and greets at DHS starting in August.  It also appears that they may be removed from the Play and Dine experience at Hollywood and Vine sometime later this year.
    Also hearing a brand new meet and greet location might be built for Darth Vader. 
  • Attractions that are rumored to be open during the Wine and Dine Half Marathon After Party include Soarin, Test Track, and Mission Space.  
  • Ohana may be trying a new seating procedure starting in August. Group seatings will be done with four seating done per night.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Be Our Guest Podcast Cruise 1.0

It's official.  The Be Our Guest Podcast Cruise has taken place!

After well over a year and a half of planning and waiting (and waiting and waiting) we sailed the seas last week aboard the Disney Dream!

It was an absolutely amazing trip.  One that I will never forget for many reasons.  New friendships were made, old friendships were strengthened, fun was had every turn, sunburns were plentiful and a ton of food was eaten!

Now, I could describe the cruise to you OR I could show you all the fun that was had...

How did I know you wanted to see the fun?  :) 

Check out my video of all my pictures from the trip! Hope you enjoy the ride!