Monday, November 28, 2011

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

First of all, with the Thanksgiving Holidays over, I want to tell you all how thankful I am that you all allow me to come into your life each an every week.  It is truly wonderful to get to talk Disney and share my views with you all. 

Second, I have the winners for the Days To Go WDW App contest!!!  Congratulations to DragnAlly and marcmantoo!  Email me at and I'll send you the codes for your prize!  For those who want to download the app, make sure to look for it on iTunes! a quiet week!  Thanksgiving definitely kept the news to a minimum.  But, let's get to it!  

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


Magic Kingdom

  • The Mickey's Once Upon A Christmastime Parade will once again be shown during park hours starting Dec. 19th - Dec. 31st. The parade will be shown at 3 pm from Dec 19th - Dec 24th and 12:30 pm

General WDW News

  • Hoop-de-doo-revue is testing new times.  From now through Feb. 11th showtimes will be 4:00 pm, 6:15 pm, and 8:30 pm


  • Could Avatar-land be built at Rafiki's Planet Watch?  That's what some rumors indicate this week. 
  • Sorcerer's of the Magic Kingdom should be testing starting in Adventureland toward the middle or end of the first quarter of 2012. 
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Monday, November 21, 2011

Guest Author: Kevin Andexler Talks Yehaa Bob

Today, I am proud to bring you a guest post by Kevin Andexler.  He writes the blog  I hope you enjoy his post and make sure to check out his blog! 

Welcome! I'm the creator of My blog takes a look at Walt Disney World from a unique perspective. Have a magical day!

As you all know by now, I have a deep admiration for the Port Orleans Riverside resort. From seeing the boats roll across the Sassagoula River, to the horses clip clopping along the sidewalk, Port Orleans Riverside will always be near and dear to my heart. 

In 2008 though, that admiration heightened tremendously for me. A couple years before that, my brother came back to our room at Riverside one night and said "That piano guy is playing down at the bar. He was playing Piano Man." 2008 was the year I finally got to hear what my brother was talking about and an instant staple was born in my future trips to Walt Disney World. 

"Yehaa" Bob Jackson plays every Wednesday through Saturday night in the River Roost Lounge of the Port Orleans Riverside resort. I would tell you how to get there from the Port Orleans Riverside food court, but on the nights that he plays, just follow his voice once you walk in the doors of the food court and you'll know where he is. 

Not only is it the music that is special to me, but just the atmosphere is something I can't describe. When you go up to the bar, they treat you like you never left. After a long day in the Disney parks, it's almost like you're home. Plus, you have one waitress who dances or sings to every song Bob plays. You can actually see in their faces that they love their job. 

I think that's what makes Disney World such a magical place. You don't have to go into a park to see the happiness people have for what they do. I think just being on the grounds is enough to know that something special is in the air at Walt Disney World. 

Now, based on how special we think Bob is, whenever we plan our Disney World vacation, we always make sure that Bob will be there. It's interesting to me. Most of the time when you drive up to the gates of Riverside, they tell you "Welcome Home." Being in the River Roost Lounge Wednesday through Saturday nights, I finally know what that means. 

Do you have a special "Home away from home"? Comment below and let me know. Next time on Beyond the Castle, is there a difference between staying on property versus off property? I will let you know. As always, have a magical day!      

Thanks to Kevin for sharing his views about the wonderful Yehaa Bob!  He's one of my favorite aspects of a Disney vacation too!

If you would like to write a guest post here, feel free to let me know!  You don't have to have a lot of writing experience!  I'm happy to share anyone's passion of Disney in the written form!  Email me at 

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

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


Magic Kingdom  

  • Sleepy Hollow Snacks is now offering Waffle Sandwiches.  There are 3 different versions:  a sweet and spicy chicken, a ham, prosciutto, and swiss, and a Nutella and fresh fruit. 
  • The Diamond Horseshoe will be open for Thanksgiving week.  It will be open as a counter service location for lunch on Nov. 20th - 23rd and 25th and 26th.  Hours will be from 11 am - 3 pm.  It will then be open as a table service location on Nov. 20th - 23rd from 5 pm - 9 pm.  On Nov. 24th, it will be open all day as a table service location.  
  • The Move It Shake It Celebrate It Parade has been remodeled.  Now Timon and Terk have joined in the fun. 


  • The Yakitori House's refurb has been extended to Dec. 16th. 
  • 2012 International Flower and Garden Festival's front topiary will be featured around Sorcerer Mickey and other pieces from Fantasia.  The event will take place March 7th - May 20th. 

Disney's Hollywood Studios 

  • Starting Nov. 25th, American Idol Experience will offer Christmas songs for guests to be able to perform. 

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • Some special events will be taking place next week for Thanksgiving.  From Nov. 20th - 26th, aDJ dance party will be playing in Asia near Yak and Yeti.  In addition, the Harambe Village Band will be playing in Africa.  

General WDW News

  • BLINK by Wet Seal is now open in Downtown Disney.
  • Disney has stopped offering tennis lessons on site.  You can still play tennis if you wish.  


  • I've heard that the Contemporary Health and Wellness Suites have been cancelled. 

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    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    The Mouse-standing List: Days To Go WDW App (And Giveaway!)

    Ever since I got my iPhone back in June, I've been trying to find out about all the cool apps that are offered both Disney and Non-Disney.  It's been a fun project for sure!

    In my quest to find interesting apps, I was told about one such Disney app from a listener of the show.  This app is called Days To Go WDW and was created by Joe Fratianni.   The app's main feature is to keep a countdown of how many days until your next WDW Trip.  It's been fabulous as I've been counting down to the BOGP Cruise 2.0.  

    The great thing about this app is that you can customize it to fit your needs.  Not only can you countdown the number of days left til your trip, but you can also include your own photos in your countdown.  (As you can see above with my photo of Chip on the Dream acting a little "nutty".

    You can also customize the app.  So, don't like the color for the borders?  No problem, you can change them.   Want to change the font?  Guess what, you can do that too!  You can even add your own music to play!

    The app also has Facebook integration which posts your countdown on your wall, showing the number of days left until your trip!

    You can even set reminders for yourself!  Mine tells me every day at 4:00 pm how many days are left until my trip! 

    This app offers so much to it, that you really have to play with it to figure out what suits your needs best!  You can make it what you want it to be! 

    The app can be purchased via iTunes and it's compatible with iPhones, iPod touch, and iPads. 

    So because I liked the app so much, I thought I'd interview the author of the app, Joe to find out a little more about the app in general as well as more information about his passion for Disney!

    Me:  Tell me a little about yourself

    Joe:  I love just about everything Disney creates, but have a special affinity for WDW.  My other love is all things Apple.

    What is your project about?

    I love Disney.  I love creating iPhone apps.  What could be better than combining the two?  I created an iPhone app, Days to go WDW which allows a user to "Count the Days until your next WDW Vacation, with style."

    Where you did you get your inspiration for it?

    My hairdresser told me her daughter would like an app to count the number of days to a special event, like her next Disney Trip.

    What makes your project different from others like it?

    I love creating apps I want to use.  I also try to integrate every idea or suggestion from users, but maintain Apple's philosophy of simplicity on the surface, but functionality underneath.  I think it makes a big difference when an app is made by someone with a passion for the subject.

    How long did this project take?

    Although it never will be done, I've spent about 300 hours over countless months so far.  I like to think of my apps like Walt Disney World:  Always in a state of becoming.  Never quite finished.

    What was something that you learned from creating this project? 

    - Simplicity is very difficult and complex to implement.
    - The time between two dates are computed in seconds
    - Not all days have 24 hours
    - I take thousands of pictures at WDW, but very few are any good
    - Pictures take up huge amounts of memory, of which iPhones have very little.

    What was the most challenging thing when creating the project?

    Programming is like building a house.  There are numerous parts and skills needed to put together a quality app.  You need to become a jack of all trades.  There is rough carpentry which no-one will see, but it is no less important than the finish work.  A shortcut taken along the way sticks out in the finished product.
    One of the most frustrating things programming is running into a dead end.  A problem that you do not understand and cannot figure out.  It tends to occur when thinks are progressing well.  A great example is when I was asked to add font color choices to an app.  Seemed very simple, but took a week and about 30 hours to implement.  I found that sheer persistence works - eventually.

    What got you started on your Disney obsession?

    My obsession has existed as long as I can remember, but remember a family trip my wife and I took with our two kids and her parents in 2001 that really seemed to kick my obsession into high gear.  I grew up going to Disney once in a while, but never staying on property.  I recall staying on Disney property was never even a consideration - it was something only royalty could afford.  Then during the summer of 2001 we saw an advertisement for Disney Value Resorts: $49 per night!  I had some concerns.  I wasn't sure what a Value Resort would be like.  How bad could it be?  They must have running water and flush toilets.  We should give it a try.  That was a big jump in Disney obsessive - compulsive disorder.  I became fascinated with how Disney categorized resorts into Value, Moderate and Deluxe, and how they differentiated them.  Things spiraled downhill from there.

    What's your favorite Disney memory?

    A father / son trip to the World in 2008.  What a blast.  To this day we can relive the fun of the trip just by naming an attraction.  We add some dramatic flare and say "Expedition Everest" or "Toy Story Midway Mania" for example.  We still call each other Disney Buddies.

    What is your favorite park?


    What's your favorite attraction?

    Soarin.  Fun for all ages, doesn't leave anyone out.

    What's your favorite restaurant? 

    Crystal palace.  Food, not so memorable.  Pictures of the kids with Pooh, Tiger and Piglet?  Unforgettable.

    Do you plan on creating another project in the future?  If so, what? 

    Working on a fun Disney app for Tony Calselnova: Disney by the Numbers.

    Anything else you'd like to add?

    The Disney community is such a cool group.  I find it so wild how everyone expresses their Disney Passion in his or her own way.  Some people blog, some make podcasts, write books and so on.  I am not a blogger, a podcaster or writer.  I love expressing my passion in my own geeky way.

    I'd like to thank Joe for sharing his passion with us today!  He sums it up the best that it really is so wild how everyone expresses their Disney Passion.  But to me, it's so great that there are so many outlets that people can use to share that passion with everyone who wants to listen.

    Now, thanks to Joe, I'm going to give away, not 1, but 2, Days To Go WDW Apps! 

    To enter: Since this year at Disney is about sharing memories, share with me your favorite Disney memory in the comments section!

    Additional ways to enter:

    • Tweet about the giveaway!  I just entered to win the Days To Go WDW App from @RikkiNibs and you can too!  #DaysToGoWDWApp
    • Facebook me a photo of your favorite Disney Character.  

    You can enter all 3 ways, but you can only enter all 3 ways once per day.  The contest will end on November, 22nd.  The winner will be announced on or around Nov. 23rd on the site.  The contest winners will be chosen via  Best of luck to you all!  And remember, if you want to purchase the app yourself, just search for "Days To Go WDW" in iTunes!

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

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

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


    Magic Kingdom

    • The Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is currently seeing play testing from Cast Members.
    • The Enchanted Grove in Fantasyland has now been renamed the Cheshire Cafe.


    •  Joyful! A Gospel Celebration of the Season will return again for the Holidays.  They will perform on the Fountain of Nations Stage from Nov. 25th - Dec. 29th.  Performances are at 1:15 pm, 2:15 pm, 3:15 pm, and 4:15 pm.
    • An RFID entry system is being tested at the main gate.  This new RFID system will allow for guests not to have to enter their tickets into the machine, instead just waving their ticket in front of the reader.  Should the test succeed, it seems that it will be rolled out to all turnstiles at WDW.
    • I've heard that the pizza by the slice option will be continuing at Via Napoli on Saturdays until Dec. 17th. 

    Disney's Hollywood Studios

    • Jake from The Neverland Pirates has indeed replace The Little Einsteins for Meet and Greets in the Animation Courtyard.  Also Jake should be included in the Play and Dine at Hollywood and Vine. 

    General WDW News

    • More information has come out about the new Exotic Driving Experience from the Walt Disney World Speedway.  The opening date is set for Jan. 16th.  The price will be $99 for a ride with a professional driver and starting at $199 up to $389 for 6 laps of hands on driving.  (Price varies depending on the car.)
    • The Sunglass Icon store has been remodeled and has reopened at Downtown Disney.


    • Disney's Animal Kingdom is rumored to be losing quite a few characters in December.  Lilo and Stitch, Terk, Jimminy Cricket, and Pocahontas are going away.  In addition, the Welcome Show will be going away as well.
    • Big changes appear to be coming to the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Parade as early as Nov. 20th.

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    Monday, November 7, 2011

    News and Rumors 10/31/11 - 11/6/11

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


    Magic Kingdom

    • Phineas and Ferb will be among the characters meeting guests at Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party.  They are expected to meet in Tomorrowland.
    • The Frontierland Shootin Arcade has finally reopened after it's lengthy refurb.
    • Liberty Square Riverboat will be closed from Nov. 9th - 11th.  
    • Swiss Family Treehouse will be closed a few additional days, with it's reopening date of Nov. 21st.

    Disney's Hollywood Studios

    • There will be no Osborne Lights on Dec. 8th. 

    Disney's Animal Kingdom

    • AP holders are eligible to get a complementary 2012 calendar starting Dec. 2nd.  You may pick them up at Disney's Outfitters.

    General WDW News

    • Something Silver is now open at Downtown Disney Westside.


    • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is expected to be closed through May 28th.  Right now, the calendar only goes through April.  

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      Sunday, November 6, 2011

      The World Series of WDW: Disney's Hollywood Studios/Disney's Animal Kingdom

      A week ago, I started this series of looking at which attractions I believed to be home runs, walks, strikeouts, triples, etc. at the Magic Kingdom and Epcot.  This week, I will finish the series by taking a look at Disney's Hollywood Studios and Disney's Animal Kingdom.   

      Disney's Hollywood Studios

      Home Run 

      • Toy Story Midway Mania:  Such a knock out attraction.  It has the repeatability with the fact that it's a game and it can change at the drop of a hat whenever Disney wants to update it.  This ride also is great for all members of the family.  It's just really been a great addition to the Studios since it was added.  
      • Tower of Terror:  This is one of those that has that Disney theming down to a T.  You can't get much better with theme than this attraction.  Plus it has the thrill factor included.  It's one of those attractions that I wish didn't make me so sick, because I absolutely love it otherwise.  


      • Rock n' Roller Coaster:  Yes, this is a really novel idea.  Take a regular inverted roller coaster and put it in the dark.  But what makes this a triple rather than a home run for me is that A) it's kinda short feeling and B) while some of the sets are extremely well done, some are just cardboard and you can tell.  Plus, many would say that Aerosmith is past it's prime, though personally, I can't think of another band that would be applicable to put in it's place.  But maybe you can.  If you have an idea of who you think would like to see, let me know in the comments.  
      • The Great Movie Ride:  This one really is a classic Disney's Hollywood Studios attraction.  It's an original and it's a novel concept of taking a trip through the movies.  The thing that makes this a triple is the fact that it hasn't really been updated since it opened.  It could use a refurb of new classic movies.  The problem that I see (which I mentioned on a recent episode of Generation Mouse all about this topic) is that there really aren't that many great classic movies from the past 20 years.  If you can think of one, (that isn't Pirates) please include that in the comments section too!
      • Muppetvision 3D:  It's a little dated looking, but it's certainly worth a visit.  It's not a headliner anymore, but it's consistently funny and since they digitally restored the film, you can see things a lot better.  It'll be interesting though to see what happens with this film once The Muppets comes out in theaters this month and we see what kind of response this new film gets.  
      •  Star Tours:  Yes, it's a lot better now that it's seen it's refurb in regards to technology.  It's really neat that you can see a different attraction essentially everytime you visit.  However, because I haven't seen the movies, I don't understand what everything is and who everyone is.  With the old one, I felt like you didn't have to be a Star Wars fan to understand it.  With this new version, I feel as if you really have to be a Star Wars fan to know what's going on.


      • Voyage of the Little Mermaid:  While this isn't an original attraction, it's one that I have to see every few trips.  Yes, it could benefit from a freshening up, particularly since they recently created the Broadway version, but to me, it's one of the more classic Disney's Hollywood Studios. 
      • Fantasmic!:  I know that to many, this is an amazing show.  It's got fire and water screens and it's all about good VS evil.  However, for me, this is a see it once, you don't need to see it for a long while after.  It just doesn't have the epicness as Illuminations or Wishes has.  
      Walk (The Meh Category)

      • Beauty and The Beast--Live on Stage:  I loved Beauty and the Beast, but for this attraction, for some reason, it just doesn't have the spark that it should.  It feels as if a lot is missing, much like Voyage does, and the fact that there are no comfortable seats and the theater is outdoors, it doesn't draw me in.  

      • Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular:  This one is relatively cool, in terms of stunt shows at the Studios.  This one certainly takes the cake in comparison, however, the thing that puts this as a walk is the fact that you can see it once and have that be enough.  It hasn't changed, well, ever.  If this attraction saw an update with some new stunts added, I think it would move up the list a bit more.  

      • Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show:  This has to be the most boring stunt show I've ever seen.  Yes, it has potential to be great.  It has really awesome stunts that are performed.  However, that's when they're actually performed.  Most of the time when watching this show, you are watching downtime.  Certainly not exciting when you are there for a stunt show.  
      • Studios Backlot Tour:  I don't think I'll get much argument here.  Yes, it's one of the original attractions, however, this one has certainly fared worse than it's other sister attraction (GMR).  It has been cut to a former shell of itself.  And while there is the cool Catastrophe Canyon still there...well...that's really it.  That's all there is that's left of any merit to this attraction.  So, Disney, kill it off.  It's past it's prime and it's valuable space that's just doing nothing.  
      Disney's Animal Kingdom

      (Disclaimer:  Because this park has very few attractions, I will only be picking 1 attraction for each category.) 

      Home Run

      • Kilimanjaro Safaris:  This one is hard, but I think that Kilimanjaro Safaris gets the top spot here.  It's really neat to get to see some amazing creatures up close and personal.  While the story is a tad weak, the animals you get to see make up for it.  

      • Finding Nemo--The Musical:  This is one of my favorite shows in all 4 theme parks.  It has great music and the puppetry here is amazing.  It really is can't miss, even if you don't like shows.  


      • Expedition Everest:  I bet you're surprised to see this so far down on my list.  I am too...but when comparing it to the other attractions, it doesn't hold up as well.  The coaster itself is spectacular.  I really enjoy the theme and it certainly keeps you in suspense.  My biggest problem...the Yeti.  Much like many others in the Disney community, I want to see this attraction fixed back to it's former glory.  The original Yeti was SO cool!  Now, a shell of it's former self, it doesn't pack the same punch that it originally did.  That's why it's only a double on my list.  Disney, please, I know you don't want to, but you need to close this attraction for the time it will take to fix this attraction to at least a little better than it is.  It's just a shame it has lasted in it's poor condition for as long as it has.  

      • Festival of the Lion King:  It's got great music and extremely talent singers.  How can you go wrong?  But it's not something I have to do all the time.  It doesn't have the appeal to me that Finding Nemo does.  


      • Maharajah Jungle Trek:  This is the better of the two, but because I hail from St. Louis, which has one of the most amazing zoos in the country, this attraction just feels like it should be in our zoo.  So, while I enjoy it, it's certainly not something that stands out.  

      • Primeval Whirl:  While I am one who understands what they are doing with Dinoland USA here, this attraction is one that I question it's reason for being in the park still.  It has not had a very welcome existence, plus it's been a troublesome ride for Disney this past year.  Not to mention the cheese factor which many think is a slap in the fact to Walt Disney's legacy of his theme parks.  It just seems like it's welcome is more than over. 
        So that's gonna do it for this week's list.  What do do you all think?  Am I completely off my rocker with some of these or am I right on the money?  Where would you place the attractions?  Let me know in the comments!  I want to hear what you think!