Latest MickeyBlog Disney News, Theme Parks & More
Sadness is the day when you return home from a Disney theme park, knowing that you won’t return for several months. Alas, I will press on and tell you about all the latest in Disney news that you may have missed if you, too, were out and about at theme parks this past week.
Let’s Start with Hollywood Studios
A lot of changes are taking place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios right now. For starters, the old entrance that you know so well…is totally gone. This was a shock to the system to my family when we visited the other day. The “film strip” entrance is was one of the most recognizable landmarks in the greater Orlando area.
Since a new park entrance arrives in a couple of days (November 8th), Disney deconstructed the surrounding landscape. Reports suggest that cast members will still have access to this road, but the rest of us won’t use it from now on. Instead, we’ll arrive at the auto plaza located off of Osceola Parkway.
Right now, Hollywood Studios is in flux. Guests who visit the parks can’t help but notice the Disney Skyliner entrance only a few steps away from the park entrance. Until it opens, the park employs a makeshift path to and from the buses that is roughly 0.4 miles in length (yes, we measured on an Apple Watch). The access point may help with the temporary aggravation. Even if it doesn’t, guests who use the Skyliner will be shocked at its convenience when it finally comes online.
As an old-timer, I am a bit melancholy about the gradual erosion of the old park landmarks, though. First, we lost the Earffel Tower and then The Great Movie Ride. Now, the stylish park entrance is gone. Hopefully, the one we see later this week makes us forget about all the casualties of change.
But Some Change Is Good…
Most of the news updates this week involve wonderful upcoming additions at Disney parks. For example, Disney Springs is sharing a similar situation to Hollywood Studios. It too closed down a once beloved place in order to freshen it up for a new generation of vacationers.
In 2017, Disney closed one Wolfgang Puck restaurant in anticipation of opening another one. The irregularity of the decision is that the new place isn’t in the same location as the old one. Instead, that space will be occupied by Jaleo in a few months. It’s a new place run by legendary chef Jose Andres.
Puck will host guests at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill in the Town Center portion of Disney Springs. This eatery will join the already-popular Wolfgang Puck Express at Disney Springs Marketplace. The latter is a Quick Service establishment, while the former is Signature Dining, meaning that it will cost two Disney Dining Plan entitlements per person.
Should you want to become one of the first people to eat at Wolfgang Puck Bar & Grill – and you really should – I have great news! Advanced Dining Reservations are now available! Originally, reservations were available on December 1st, but the earliest ones displayed on the official site right now start on December 15th.
More Park Additions
Ralph is about to wreck the Internet! Maybe you’ve heard. In fact, if you’re smart, you’ve already bought tickets to the hugely anticipated Wreck-It Ralph sequel, Ralph Breaks the Internet. If not, you can buy them on your favorite movie ticket service as of yesterday.
Disney wants to heighten anticipation for their holiday season blockbuster. So, they’ve added a sneak peek of the film at Disneyland, something we’ve previously mentioned. Starting this Friday, Ralph and his dear friend, Vanellope, will appear in a special clip from the film. Guests at Hollywood Studios can watch it, also.
The updated news is that the characters are available at a special greeting at Disney California Adventure and Epcot, too! And this character meeting also begins on November 9th. So, both Disneyland and Walt Disney World will offer a couple of ways to celebrate the release of a second Wreck-It-Ralph movie.
One More Park Note and One More Disney Entertainment Note…
While we’re talking about new stuff at Disney California Adventure, be on the lookout for something special at Pixar Pier. The much-anticipated Luxo Jr. Audio-Animatronic has debuted at the park. You know it better as the Pixar Lamp, and it has taken its rightful place on top of the Pixar Pier sign. It will move around just as you’d expect from a sentient lamp, bending and twisting as desired.
The Disney entertainment tidbit doesn’t involve an upcoming movie, but it is based on several previous ones. Two characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are getting their own television series on Disney’s streaming service! The characters in question are the Falcon and the White Wolf aka Winter Soldier aka Bucky Barnes. They will team up to fight crime or supervillains or something. It’s kind of hard to guess until we figure out what happens with Thanos.
Anyway, this is the third major project announced for the service, following Loki and the Scarlett Witch. Entertainment analysts are currently having the joint epiphany that Disney’s streaming service may be as important to the MCU as its theatrical releases are. You’re going to want to subscribe, friends.
New Safety Cards!
I must admit to a secret shame. I hadn’t visited a Disney park in 18 months prior to last week. That’s a record for my family. When I showed up, I wasn’t entirely sure what was brand new and what was a bit older, just not something that I’d seen before.
Something that jumped out at me were the safety cards being handed out at attractions. Sure, I’d seen some previously, but these definitely seemed new. And they are! To commemorate the 15th anniversary of the Wild About Safety program, Disney has introduced a series of new cards. They discuss important aspects of a park visit like staying seated on rides, not feeding the animals, and hydrating frequently. Some of the new cards are even scratch-and-sniff, which sounds great until you realize that they smell like Timon and Pumbaa from The Lion King.
Anecdotally, cast members also seem to be stressing safety more at the moment. A driver on Kilimanjaro Safaris cleverly shut down a whistler on the ride by reminding them that whistling at a natural predator isn’t the smart play. Workers at rides as extreme as Avatar Flight of Passage and calm as Alien Swirling Saucers also emphasized safety. Disney is apparently cracking down in an attempt to protect its guests from easily avoidable pitfalls.
Bird Flies Solo. Film at 11.
After being in a band for decades now, a diva is flying solo at Disneyland. Yes, Rosita has flown the coop, presuming that a coop is an accurate name for the Walt Disney’s Tiki Room attraction. Rosita has left the choir to start her solo career at The Tropical Hideaway, the upcoming restaurant beside the beloved show. Disney hasn’t indicated whether they’re using the current Audio-Animatronic or an updated one for the show, but they have stated that she will quip with guests. That’s plenty enough justification for me to want to eat there.
It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like…
I was at Magic Kingdom at 11:59 p.m. on Halloween. And I was at Magic Kingdom on November 1st, too. Suffice to say that the place looked a lot different. As a particularly unobservant person, however, my wife had to point out the changes to me. I was too busy looking at My Disney Experience to notice the Christmas glory surrounding me.
Yes, the yuletide holiday celebration has arrived at Disney theme parks. Decorations aren’t quite finalized everywhere yet, but you will definitely notice the change in the parks. Christmas merchandise is readily available, and some holiday baked goods and candies are available now as well.
Perhaps the most impressive item visible right now is at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The picture shown above is from a couple of days ago, the first time that the Gingerbread House was on display for guests. It has a pair of photography-friendly areas, one in front of the house and another perpendicular to it beside Fantasia Market. Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa hadn’t finished decorating when I ate at 1900 Park Fare Saturday evening, but its changes were well underway.
We’re officially in the two-month holiday window at Walt Disney World and Disneyland. NOW is the time to plan a visit, my friends. It’s the most magical time to visit the Most Magical Place on Earth. Talk to one of our friends at Mickey Travels to schedule a trip. Your family will adore you for giving them the gift that they desperately want this holiday season.