Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Room Fit For A Princess

Over the past few years, Disney has been trying to plus the experience for their guests in their resorts.  From creating rooms into Family Suites, to including DVC in more resorts, to decorating some rooms in a more whimsical manner.  These entertaining rooms are exactly what we are going to focus on today.

A few years back, over at the Caribbean Beach Resort, Disney included into the mix two fantastic new options.  First were the Finding Nemo designed rooms with touches of the lovable clownfish all around.  In addition a second set of rooms were themed to focus on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.  Now, it would appear that Disney is going to be including these same type of Specialty Rooms over at Port Orleans Riverside.

For those that missed the announcement 512 rooms are going to be turned into spaces themed around the Disney Princesses.  These Royal Rooms will include gold and silver accents, ornate fixtures and unique special effects.  Like the Pirate Rooms, these Princess Rooms will have an additional up-charge in order to stay there as well. 




These new rooms remind me a lot of Cinderella Castle Suite in the Magic Kingdom and I'm sure that's where they got the inspiration for them from.  (Of course, these will be rooms people should actually be able to afford!)  They are extremely elegant and regal, exactly what every modern day princess should be entitled to.

Personally, I think it will be a long time before I experience these rooms.  The idea of specialty rooms aren't something that I need to make my Disney vacation special.  I'm perfectly happy staying at Pop Century, so the extra frills aren't something that I would necessarily feel a need to pay for. 

I don't just feel that way about these new Princess Rooms.  I actually feel that way about all 3 types of the themed rooms.  And maybe that's just because I don't have kids, so I don't have a little princess or pirate in my life clamoring to experience these.  And my husband certainly isn't itching to stay here either.  (I'm lying...he squealed like a school girl when he found out about the Princess Rooms.  ;)  )  For me, this isn't something that is going to make me want to upgrade my room choice. 

The one thing that I do like about these Specialty Rooms is that they make these rooms seem more like Deluxe rooms...but the best part is that they are only at a fraction of the price.  This is especially nice in times like now where money is tight but guests still want the same type of Deluxe experience they may have had previously.

That brings me to you.  What are your thoughts about these Specialty Rooms?  Do you think they are worth the extra money?  Or do they make a nice bridge between a Standard Moderate and a Moderately Priced Deluxe?  (Like the Wilderness Lodge or Animal Kingdom Lodge).  Make sure to let me know in the comments section.

Monday, April 25, 2011

News and Rumors 4/18/11 - 4/24/11


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


News


Epcot
  • Some work is going on with Illuminations in the near future.  Starting April 27 - May 27th, the Inferno Barge will be under refurb.
  • The British Invasion will perform their last set on April 30th.
  • The Impressions de France film has been upgraded and remastered into digital form.

Disney's Hollywood Studios
  • Sounds Dangerous will go back to seasonal status on May 1st. 
  • Some new details have come out about the new Star Tours II 3D attraction.  From Disney:  Entering the attraction queue area, Star Tours guests walk into a bustling spaceport. The famed Star Wars droid duo, C-3PO and R2-D2, greet them as the Starspeeder 1000 is prepped for service.  Guests also are introduced to AC-38, a hotshot droid pilot known simply as “Ace,” and Aly San San (voiced by actress Allison Janney), the “spokesbot” for the spaceport.

    After winding through the spaceport, guests board the Starspeeder 1000 spacecraft and prepare for Star Tours Flight #1401. Through a series of mishaps, however, C-3PO finds himself in the pilot’s seat instead of Ace, and it’s up to him and R2-D2 to navigate their passengers through the galaxy. However, the tyrannical Empire is out to stop the Starspeeder at all costs. C-3PO and R2-D2 take the controls and try to outwit and outrun the Imperial forces and a galactic bounty hunter hired to pursue the spaceship and its passengers.

    Utilizing the 50+ random story combinations, the Starspeeder then embarks on a wild trip through the galaxy, visiting several planets made famous in the Star Wars films. Among the locations that might provide haven from the Empire’s pursuit are the icy planet of Hoth, the lush jungles of Kashyyyk and the underwater Gungan world of Naboo. And along the way guests may encounter Star Wars characters that offer to help (or hinder) their journey, including Yoda, Admiral Ackbar, Darth Vader and Boba Fett. “Skytroopers,” a legion of stormtroopers created just for the Star Tours attraction story, might even join in the chase. 
     


Disney's Animal Kingdom
  • The Wild Africa Trek has added two additional treks per day.

General WDW News
  • The Polynesian quiet pool's reopening date from it's refurb has been pushed back, now reopening on May 1st.  
  • The Cabanas quiet pool at Disney's Coronado Springs resort are down for refurbishment until May 19th. 
  • The newly remodeled Lego Store has reopened this week.


Rumors
  • As I reported on Wednesday, the rumors are swirling heavily, thanks to a newspaper article in a Brazilian paper, that a Brazil pavilion may be announced for World Showcase.
  • In May, the Disney Junior Dance Party will go on every evening that Fantasmic is presented. 
  • A rumor is floating around that the Jedi Training Academy could be moving to the Sounds Dangerous building.  If this does indeed happen, the Imagineers will be able to do more creatively with the show, including possibly including a Living Character Initiative version of Yoda. 
  • There is a rumor floating that the Norway pavilion may be seeing changes soon, as funding has appeared to have fallen through for the remaking of the film at the end of the attraction.  Because of that, the pavilion may be changing back to the original concept of Scandinavia.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

In Your Easter Bonnet...

Ok...so this was my original planned article for today...and then, of course, a juicy rumor comes out about Brazil in Epcot...so I was like...I'm gonna talk about both!  :)  (To see more info on the rumored Brazil Pavilion in Epcot, read the previous blog post from today.)

A long, long time ago...back when I was a kid...I LOVED Easter.  (I still do...but not with the same fervor...)  I would love hunting for eggs, love seeing what was in my basket, and I absolutely loved the Walt Disney World Easter Day Parade.

Every Easter, we would record the parade.  To me, this is the parade I most associate with Disney...not the Christmas Parade that's shown on TV every year.  I miss the fact that they don't do this parade anymore.  It was always such a blast to see.  (Matter of fact, one of my best memories comes from this parade as one year, the Mickey Mouse Club danced to Escapade from Janet Jackson and my brother actually would turn the tape on and he'd dance around to it.  It's one of my favorite memories of him!  He'll probably kill me for typing that...good thing he doesn't read the blog!) 

I used to have tapes and tapes of the parade...but alas...back when I was a teenager, and when I thought I was too cool for school, I taped over most of them.  I do have one tape left that I'll pop in this time of year, just to get sentimental.

This parade takes me back to the days when Disney wasn't constantly trying to promote their next big pop star or tie in their next movie franchise.  Instead it was purely about promoting the magic that is the Walt Disney World resort, focusing solely on all the adventures that could be had down there.  Sure, it was still total propaganda...selling you on coming to WDW, but to me, it never felt SO commercial, as it so often does now.

For those who have never seen the parade, it has actually been very hard for me to find clips off of YouTube...apparently most people have taped over their copies of VHS tapes too.  If you've got some still and know how to transfer them, I'd love for you to post them on YouTube!  I long to see this parade once more!

However, I did find a couple of things I wanted to share.  First, this is from the opening of the 1990 Easter Day Parade.  This open gives a good overview of what the parade would traditionally consist of.






OK...so...UM...I FOUND IT!!!!  Here's the Escapade MMC video clip I was talking about.  This just made my day!!!  hahaha!!!!



Finally, while this is a new video, every year, the Azalea Trail Maids were in the Easter Day Parade with this song in the background.  I cannot think about Easter without thinking about both.



I hope you enjoyed this little trip down memory lane with me and that maybe, just maybe, it will make you remember the Walt Disney World Easter Day Parade.

Do you miss the parade too?  Did you used to watch it live?  Do you wish that they still held it on TV?  Let me know in the comments section!

Brazil As the New Pavilion at Epcot?!



Today rumors are floating around fiercely that Brazil will indeed be making it's way to Epcot in the near future.

A major Brazilian newspaper is reporting that representatives from Disney have been in talks with the Brazilian Government.  (For the exact wording see Inside the Magic).

This would be the first new pavilion that World Showcase will have seen since the Norway pavilion was opened in 1988.  (That's almost 23 years for those who can't do the math!  In other words...a REALLY LONG TIME!!!)

Of course, all this is just speculation, as nothing concrete has been announced by Disney.  And with World Showcase Pavilions, you never do know if they are actually going to be built or not.  A lot of pavilions have been announced, but have never come to fruition.

Personally, I would be very excited to see a Brazilian Pavilion in World Showcase.  I have always had an affinity for the country, since when I was a kid, we had a foreign exchange student from Brazil.  (Most school projects that I had to do when it had to do something about researching a country, I would inevitably pick Brazil.)  I would love the opportunity to eat in a Brazilian restaurant and of course see how the culture would be depicted.  (Carnival anyone?!)

Of course, Walt Disney World has always been a popular place for Brazilians to visit.  Who hasn't come in contact with their tour groups while on a vacation?  So I can see this being a logical choice for a new Pavilion. 

So stay tuned because if as the rumored article states, this is planning on being announced this week, I'm sure we'll have more information for you all soon.

What do you think?  Would you like to see a Brazilian Pavilion?  Or would rather see another country come in instead?  Do you really think Disney would even build another pavilion in World Showcase right now?  Make sure to leave your comments in the comments section.

As for now...well, I guess we just wait.

Monday, April 18, 2011

News and Rumors 4/11/11 - 4/17/11





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

News


Magic Kingdom

  • The Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade will have two showings this week.  Until April 23rd, guests will be able to catch the parade at both 12 pm and 3 pm.  
  • For guests who want the opportunity to meet the Mr. and Mrs. Easter Bunny, they will have their chance.  The duo will be greeting guests in the Tour Guide Gardens next to City Hall from 8 am til 5 pm until April 23rd. Also, on Sunday April 24th , the bunnies will appear in a pre-parade at 2:45pm.


Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • For guests who want a sneak peak of Star Tours II (or Star Tours 3D as it is being called here), they simply must visit a Florida mall!  Disney is holding these events as a way for guests to see some of the exciting destinations they could be visiting and meet some Disney, as well as Star Tours characters. The dates to experience this sneek peek are Sat. April 30th at the Orange Park Mall in Jacksonville from 10 am to 6 pm., Sat May 7th at the Westfield Citrus Park Mall in Tampa from 10 am to 6 pm, and Sat. May 14th at The Florida Mall in Orlando from 10 am to 6 pm.


Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • The Good Times Gathering Spot has returned for this busy Easter Week in Camp Minnie-Mickey.  From now until April 28th from 10 am - 3 pm, guests will be able to experience meet and greets, storytelling with Pocahontas, and a live DJ spinning tunes.
  • A new dance party is being tested here.  Called the Truckosaurus Dance Party, with DJ Dino-mite, guests will be able to dance and party from 4 pm - 8 pm in Dinoland USA across from Primeval Whirl.  This test will last until April 24th.


General WDW News

  • During the busy Easter week here, guests can follow @TodayatWDW on Twitter for real time operational updates.
  • Disney will be hosting religious services for Easter at The Contemporary Resort on Easter Sunday  (April 24th) in the Fantasia Ballroom.  The Catholic Mass will take place at 8:00 am and 10:15 am.
    The Protestant Service will take place at 9:00 am.  
  • Earlier this month, Disney was testing free Wifi internet at the Contemporary Resort in select locations.  It appears that this test was a success, so the complementary Wifi pilot has been expanded to additional resorts.  Now guests can access internet at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in the Casitas Building One and also at the Grand Floridian Resort in the Sugarloaf Building.  Guests will still be able to access the internet at the Contemporary in the lobby, main pool area, The Wave, and the Convention Center common areas.
  • A new store called Fun Finds has opened in Downtown Disney's Marketplace.  Similar to Mickey's Mart, this store also features reasonably priced Disney souvenirs, but now prices range to $20, instead of $10.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Top Five Favorite Things in Main Street USA

This week on the Be Our Guest Podcast we did one of our famous "tours" around one of the lands of Walt Disney World.

So this week I thought I'd take a look at the things that I love the most on Main Street USA.  What are things that are the things I can't miss on a trip down to the most Magical Place on Earth.

First off is the Main Street Ice Cream Parlor.  This is your standard ice cream spot, but you can't tell me you can pass by here and not be suckered into the smell of fresh waffle cones.  (Totally a scent that's piped in, but it works!  Grabs me every time!)  It seems like no trip is complete without stopping here, getting a big helping of ice cream (cookies and cream please!) and taking it to a seat, just sitting there, relaxing and people watching.  My favorite place to sit with my delicious treat is on Center Street because it's tucked away from the hustle and bustle but you are still steps away from the action.  But really anywhere on Main Street where I can grab a table and sit down with my ice cream cone...well that's alright by me.


Next on my list would be Casey's Corner.  This is the cute little hot dog shop at the very end of the street closest to the Cinderella Castle end.  I had actually never been here up until a few trips ago and Oh My Gosh...I am now addicted to their corn dog nuggets!  They are oh so yummy!  Of course you can get regular hot dogs here and now in addition, you can also do specialty hot dogs like a Chili Cheese Dog (the next hot dog I get from Casey's on my next trip) and a Chicago Style Hot Dog.  Both come with all the fixins, but if you want even MORE fixins...this place has you covered as they have a decent fixins bar with things like sauerkraut and cheese sauce.  You can sit either inside (where there aren't a lot of seats, but there are some bleachers...you are at a "baseball stadium") or you can sit outside where there is a little more seating available.  If you're looking for a good hot dog...Casey's has you covered! (PS:  make sure you catch the piano player right outside the door who plays fantastic Ragtime tunes!  It just adds to the experience.  Oh and PPS:  PLEASE DON'T FEED THE BIRDS!!!!  One of them bit me and I wasn't even offering him food!)

One of my next stops surprisingly doesn't involve food!  (Wow!)  We're taking a trip over to the Emporium.  Now I know that a common gripe in the Disney community is once you go into one of the larger, anchor type stores on Disney property, you don't need to go to any others...and this I believe to be true.  They all do seem to carry the same kinds of merchandise.  However, with that being said, I don't know what it is about The Emporium, but I must make a stop here, just to look around and get the feel of the magic the shop brings.  (Yes...it has a magical quality for me.)  I always seem to go at the end of the night and I think the real reason for my stop is mostly to continue to soak up as much magic as I possibly can before being slowly ushered out by Disney security and having to leave once and for all. (For either the night or the trip in general.)  Also, I tend to find myself window shopping a lot here and then buying my final purchases over at the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney.  (Hello Disney Visa discount!)

I also really love the Harmony Barber Shop.  This little tiny shop is tucked away in the far left corner right when you walk into the Magic Kingdom, right near the Fire Station.  Here, guests can actually get their hair cut in the busiest theme park!  This is such a cool experience, as my hubby has actually experienced this first hand getting his haircut right there in the barber chair!    And the most amazing thing is the prices weren't ridiculously overdone.  For a regular haircut, it's just $19 for adults and $15 for kids.  Don't want to get your hair cut?  You can get colored gel put in and "pixie dust" for only $5.  But the thing they are most famous for is their First Haircut experience.  The Cast Members here really go all out for this!  They use pixie dust and lots of Mickey stickers (if you've ever seen a picture of a kid who's experience this, that's the first thing you'll notice...they are covered in Mickey stickers!  :)  )  In addition to the haircut, you'll receive a certificate and also a special set of Mouse Ears proclaiming "My 1st Haircut"!  I know when I have a kid, a ways in the future, I am going to have their first haircut done on Main Street USA!  It's a right of passage that I can't wait to share with my family. Guests can still walk up, but if you want, you can now schedule an appointment by calling (407) WDW-DINE.


We'll now journey to the middle of the park...smack dab in the middle of Main Street USA.  The street itself and especially that hub area is a spot where I can easily spend quality time.  Whether it involves me spending some time with Walt and Mickey at the Partners statue trying to grab unique photos of it or staring up at Cinderella Castle trying not to cry at it's beautifulness (which is "technically" considered a Fantasyland attraction but to me, it's always gonna be a Main Street USA one.)  I do enjoy watching the parades from here, when I watch them.  Although, I don't watchwatch the fireworks from.  I know it's always crazy crowded during firework time, but there's just something so right about experiencing the nighttime fireworks spectacular from this vantage point.  I just love to soak up this idealized image that Walt had for a small town, modeled after a town not too far from my own home here.   It really does feel like home to me.


Of course, I am SURE I missed some crucial things that are your favorites on Main Street USA, so I want to know what it is that you love to experience on this beautiful street.  (I mean, I've never even experienced Crystal Palace...something that is high on the list for a future visit.)  Make sure to let me know your take on what you love in the comments section. 

Also, I want to try something new!  We'll see if it works, but I need your help!  I would like to start adding a day to the blogging rotation...all about reader questions.  So if you have a trip to Walt Disney World coming up and you have a question you've been dying to ask someone.  Or if you want help making a decision on something for your trip, I'm your woman!  Send your questions to rikkibeourguest@gmail.com I don't know how well this is gonna work, but I really want to try!

Monday, April 11, 2011

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





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


News


Magic Kingdom

  • Rumor that turned true:  Angelica, from the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, will start to do meet and greets with guests starting April 15th in Adventureland. 
  • Because Angelica is coming to Adventureland, Goofy will have his meet and greet moved to Frontierland at the exit of Splash Mountain.
  • The Enchanted Tiki Room's reopening date has been pushed back to Aug. 16th.
  • The Liberty Belle's refurb dates have changed.  It will now take place May 2nd - May 25th.
  • The new Hitchhiking Ghosts effect is currently spooking guests.
  • The Beast's Castle is appearing on the horizon in the New Fantasyland.


Epcot

  • The China Pavilion shop that was down for refurb has reopened as the House of Good Fortune.  The store also has a brand new layout.
  • During the final weekend of the Flower and Garden Festival, May 13th - 15th, Disney will be celebrating Pixar Weekend!  Guests will be greeted by the Green Army men, plus exclusive meet and greets throughout the park.  Planned meet and greets include Carl, Russell and Dug from Up (at the Fountains of Nations Stage); Mike Wazowski, Sulley, Boo, Smitty, Needleman and George Sanderson from Monsters Inc (at the Universe of Energy pavilion); Mr. Incredible, Frozone, and Elastigirl from The Incredibles (at Innoventions West); Lightning McQueen, Mater, and the Rust-eze girls from Cars 2 (at Test Track); living coral representing Finding Nemo (at The Seas with Nemo and Friends); Flik, Atta, Gypsy, and Slim from A Bug's Life (at The African Outpost); Woody, Buzz, Jessie, Bullseye, Lotso, and Mr. Potatohead from Toy Story (at the American Adventure Pavilion); Remy and Emile from Ratatouille (at the France Pavilion); and Wall-E from WALL-E (at Mission:Space). 
  • Mother’s Day brunch will not be held during the International Flower & Garden Festival this year.
  • Next year's Flower and Garden Festival will take place March 7th - May 20th.



Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • Another rumor that turned out true:  Lightening McQueen will be replacing Herbie the Love Bug at Lights, Motors, Action Extreme Stunt Show in June.

Disney's Animal Kingdom

  • Primeval Whirl's refurb has been pushed back to June 2nd.


General WDW News


  • Jiko at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge has a brand new wine experience which takes place on Wednesdays from 3-4 pm.  Guests will be able to sample 3 different vintages that will be paired with cheese and fruit.  The cost will be $25 plus tax and tip. 
  • If you'll be in WDW for Easter, a few places will be offering Easter meals:  breakfast at Cape May at the Beach Club, brunch at Chef Mickey’s and The Wave at the Contemporary and at Captain's Grill at the Yacht Club, and dinner at the Garden Grove located at the Swan and at Portobello at Downtown Disney.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Mouse-standing List: The Be Our Guest Podcast App

So first off, I want to apologize for not writing an article last week.  The past couple of weeks have been a little on the wonky side over here, but it's so good to be back to my regular form.  (Hopefully!)

Today, I wanted to share with you info on something that is near and dear to my heart and that is the Be Our Guest Podcast App!  Yep...we finally have our very own app for the show!  If you haven't downloaded it yet, you need to!

Currently it is only available on iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches but we are working on getting it to work with Android devices too...it's in beta testing for the Droid as we speak.  Oh and it's free too!  Did I not mention that?!


So what's the app like?

Well first, it allows you to listen to the podcast at anytime.  In addition to being able to listen to the show, you can also listen to Magical Mouse Radio too!  So if you need your fix of Disney in park music, we've got you covered.



Also, you can easily access our forums!  (All while listening to the show or MMR!)  This way you can interact with all the other listeners of the show and join in on the conversations with the rest of the family.



In addition, we have Trip Planning tools like a packing list AND we have a countdown going until the Be Our Guest Podcast Cruise sets sail!







I want to send out a HUGE thank you to Josh Juneau for developing the app for us!  Josh, you rock!

So, for those of you who are constantly on the go or who were looking for an even easier way to access the show and you've got an Apple product, you need to download this app right now!

Have you downloaded it yet?  What do you think?  Make sure to let me know in the comments!

Monday, April 4, 2011

News and Rumors 3/28/11 - 4/3/11





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

News


Magic Kingdom


  • The Tomorrowland Terrace is open for the busy Spring Break crowds.  It will be open from 11am - 4pm until April 26th.
  • 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.
  • Casey's Corner is now serving specialty hot dogs in addition to their regular menu items.  New items include a Chicago-Style Dog -topped with Tomato Slices, Dill Pickle, Chicago-style Relish and Banana Peppers, a Chili Cheese Dog-topped with Chili and Shredded Cheddar Cheese, and a Barbecue Slaw Dog-topped with Pulled Pork, Cole Slaw, and Barbecue Sauce.
  • The meet and greet area in the Town Square Theater is now open.  Guests may meet with Magician Mickey and also the Princesses in this location. 


Epcot


  • The Sounds Like Summer Concert series artists have been announced.  The concerts take place at 5:45, 7 and 8:15 p.m.  Artists include:  Hotel California – A Salute to the Eagles, 6/12-18/11 Stayin’ Alive – A Tribute to the Bee Gees, 6/19-25/11 Slippery When Wet – The Ultimate Bon Jovi Tribute, 6/26-7/2/11 Little Queen – The Music of Heart, 7/3-9/11 Frontiers – A Tribute to Journey, 7/10-16/11 Karin Lawson – A Tribute to Janet Jackson, 7/17-23/11 2U – A Tribute to U2, 7/24-30/11


Disney's Hollywood Studios

  • New destinations have been announced for Star Tours II.  Of course Tatooine and Coruscant have already been announced. Additional destinations include a visit to Naboo, the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk, the planet Geonosis, and also Hoth.



General WDW News

  • Disney will once again be offering a discount for off peak dining hours at counter service restaurants at all four theme parks during the hours of before 11:30am or between 3pm and 4:30pm.  Between April 17 and April 23 guests can redeem a voucher for 25% off their bill with the purchase of any entrĂ©e.  The discount vouchers can be found on The Times Guide available in the parks and resorts, online at http://disneyparks.disney.go.com/blog/, the bottom of select merchandise receipts or the bottom of select resort quick-service receipt.



Rumors


  • During Disney’s Social Media Moms event, a character of Jake from Jake and the Neverland Pirates appeared.  It’s rumored that Jake may indeed be meeting guests in the park soon.
  • Peter Mayhew, the actor behind Chewbacca will be attending Weekend 4 of Star Wars Weekends  and Jeremy Bulloch, the actor behind Boba Fett will be there for Weekend 3.