MickeyBlog News Update
Hello and welcome to the first edition of MickeyBlog news. Our goal here is inform you of the particulars about Disney theme parks and other Disney-related topics. Fair warning: this one’s going to have a sad news item, which we’ll save until last. On the plus side, in the wake of D23, Disney’s announced several exciting updates at the theme parks as well as on the My Disney Experience app.
Online Check-in via My Disney Experience
The major My Disney Experience update that will affect your next visit involves hotel check-in. Guests at Disney resorts can now check in through the app! You no longer need to go to the hotel lobby, although Disney’s quick to point out that you can still perform check-in the old-fashioned way if you prefer.
By choosing online check-in, you can start the process up to 60 days in advance of arrival via the My Disney Experience app. You will go through a few menu screens that enable room requests and request credit card information. Once you’ve finished online check-in, all charges will go on the credit card attached to your Magic Band. When you arrive at the resort, your Magic Band will open the door to the hotel room.
Disney Vacation Club members have had this option for a while now. I can say from experience that it’s convenient and easy. After you use online check-in a couple of times, you’ll forget the dark ages when you had to go to the lobby to check in! Finally, should you have any questions or issues when you arrive, you can still ask a cast member for assistance in the lobby, same as always. Disney’s simply streamlining the check-in process, helping guests to maximize their vacation time.
Mobile Service Expands
A lot has changed at Walt Disney World this summer. As part of the launch of Pandora – The World of Avatar, Disney introduced a new meal ordering service. On My Disney Experience, you can order an entire meal for your family without waiting in line.
If you’ve used any sort of online ordering to date, you understand how convenient this process is. While waiting in line at theme park attraction, you can pull out your smart phone, choose your meal (including special requests), and order.
Then, when you’re near the restaurant, you’ll receive a push notification on your phone that asks if you’re ready to eat. When you choose yes, a restaurant chef will prepare your meal. Once you’re in the restaurant, you’ll see a special pick-up window where your meal is waiting for you. Mobile Ordering is one of the greatest time savers in recent Disney history.
The launch of this program centered on Quick Service restaurants at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, particularly Satu’li Canteen. Even though the Meal Order section of My Disney Experience is still in a trial phase right now, it’s worked well enough that Disney has gradually expanded it into other restaurants.
The newest locations are at Magic Kingdom. You can order a meal online for Columbia Harbour House, Pinocchio Village Haus, Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn and Café, and Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café. This is another My Disney Experience app that you should try the next day that you’re at Walt Disney World. You’ll quickly become addicted to it.
Find All the Magic Shots
Anyone who uses Disney’s PhotoPass Service or Memory Maker got some great news this week. One of the best pictures you can take during a Disney park visit is the Magic Shot. It’s an interactive image featuring a beloved Disney character like Mickey Mouse or Stitch doing something magical beside a still image of you.
Magic Shots used to be a surprise in most instances, but many guests have realized that they can ask for these pictures now. To streamline the process, Disney’s added a new section on this Facebook page. Under the Albums section, you can see a list of all Magic Shots currently available at the four Walt Disney World gates. FYI: There’s a lightsaber option at Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
Mission: Space Is Making a Return Voyage Soon!
August 13 is a huge day at Walt Disney World theme parks. A couple of storied attractions, The Great Movie Ride and Ellen’s Energy Adventure, are closing forever. At the same time, the new version of Mission: Space debuts. After months of renovations, Imagineers are finally ready to reveal the updated attraction.
We already know that the Green Mission no longer goes to Mars. We also know that it’s more kid-friendly than the previous version. Disney has added “X-2 booster seats” as a way to lower the height requirement from 44-inches to 40-inches. In the past, you wouldn’t want a four-year-old to ride Mission: Space, but the Green Mission is apparently going to thrill kids of all ages. Meanwhile, the Orange Mission still goes to Mars and offers an intense ride. It will have different scenes from the original version, though. In less than two weeks, we’ll know what those are!
Death of a Disney Legend
Marty Sklar wasn’t even finished with college when Walt Disney himself recruited the writer. Disney wanted a newsletter that would trumpet his soon-to-open passion project, Disneyland. Uncle Walt read The Daily Bruin, the UCLA newspaper, and instantly decided that the author was the perfect candidate for the job.
What neither Sklar nor Disney could have realized was the profound nature of the hiring. Sklar loved working with Disney, but he returned to UCLA to finish his degree. After college, Uncle Walt had a job waiting for Sklar. It was quite possibly the greatest hiring in the history of the company.
Sklar worked at Disney for the rest of his life, even continuing his role as a corporate ambassador long after his retirement in 2009. Sklar had a hand in the development many classic attractions that people still love today such as The Enchanted Tiki Room, The Haunted Mansion, It’s a Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, and Space Mountain. That legacy speaks for itself.
Still, Sklar did much more than write stories and offer suggestions for theme park attractions. His greatest impact was in the realm of actual theme park creation. While the Imagineer didn’t have a hand in the construction of the Happiest Place on Earth, he received the honor of picking Walt Disney’s brain on the topic in order to chronicle the events in the Disney newsletter. Sklar took what he learned and helped the company build Walt Disney World, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disneyland, and several themed gates. In fact, Sklar was the caretaker of the most important project in the wake of Walt Disney’s death. The man that Disney had personally chosen to write for the company also became a leader in the building of Epcot. Sklar’s tireless dedication in honoring his employer’s vision is precisely why Epcot has stood the test of time.
A former Imagineer during the glory days of the 1964 New York World’s Fair, possibly Walt Disney’s greatest achievement, Sklar eventually became THE Imagineer trainer. He was in charge of Disney Imagineering for almost a decade. Upon his retirement, the company created a special position just for him. Marty Sklar died as the International Ambassador for Walt Disney Imagineering, a job he took so seriously that he appeared at D23 only days before his death.
Only a handful of people have earned the title of Disney Legend. Marty Sklar was quite possibly the most deserving of all. Even before there was a Disneyland, there was a college editor that Walt Disney knew was the man for the job. As it turned out, the “job” was every significant Disney theme park project for more than 50 years.
Marty Sklar is dead at the age of 83-years-old. This one hurts, but Disney fans will see his spirit live on in attractions for many decades to come. In that way, Sklar, like his first and only employer, is eternal.