MickeyBlog News for September 8, 2019
Star Wars Bay adds some cameras, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge adds Mobile Ordering, and Star Tours adds a new scene. And we have some non-Star Wars updates this week as well! Let’s get you brought up to speed in the latest edition of MickeyBlog News.
All the Star Wars News That’s Fit to Print
The Walt Disney Company experienced another exciting week, with an unpredictable weather event wreaking havoc in multiple locations. However, before we discuss the less pleasant stuff, let’s talk about everyone’s favorite subject: Star Wars!
For starters, the pride of Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been open for a few days. Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge debuted to much acclaim and virtually no problems, another triumph for Imagineers. Not everything was ready for the themed land’s first day, though.
While Mobile Ordering launched at Disneyland on opening day, Hollywood Studios guests had to wait a few days. As of now, Ronto Roasters, the Milk Stand, and Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo all offer Mobile Ordering. It’ll significantly enhance your Galaxy’s Edge experience since you’ll skip the lines and have more time to play with the fun stuff.
Speaking of efficiency, Disney garnered headlines late last year when the company announced its intent to replace human photographers at some character meetings. Star Wars Launch Bay has become the latest place where automated cameras take your pictures instead of cast members. The next time that you meet Darth Vader, a robot will photograph the two of you together.
The final Star Wars news item involves Star Tours. The version at Disneyland Paris will receive an update at the start of 2019. It’ll have a new scene based on the events of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker.
The ostensible reason for this addition is Legends of the Force season, which runs from January 11th through March 15th. American Star Wars fans should feel excited, too. Disneyland and Hollywood Studios have historically shared the same updates as Disneyland Paris. If it gets a new Star Tours scene, the others should follow.
The Impact of Hurricane Dorian
In last week’s update, I mentioned the concerns over the chaotic path of Hurricane Dorian. At one point, it became the most powerful storm to make landfall in modern history. And the Cat-5 hurricane certainly impacted Disney, just not in the expected ways.
Park officials spent the body of Tuesday, September 3rd, preparing for the worst. Orlando International Airport and the Walt Disney World parks also closed early as a precautionary measure, but Central Florida largely avoided the brunt of the weather event.
The news wasn’t as good in the Bahamas. While Disney cast members remained perfectly safe throughout the hurricane, Dorian devastated the country, leaving more than 40 people dead and roughly 70,000 homes destroyed. To its credit, Disney stepped up with a donation of $1 million to aid the Bahamas with its recovery.
The other Disney property most affected was one of my favorite hotels. Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort embodies everything wonderful about the Disney brand, and they have legitimately the kindest cast members that I’ve ever met.
Unfortunately, the change in the direction of Dorian led to the shores of North and South Carolina. Hilton Head didn’t suffer the way that nearby Charleston did, as a lot of that town suffered severe flooding, but the cast members couldn’t know that ahead of time. Circumstances forced them to evacuate and close the resort.
Amusingly, this turn of events worried fans of the resort. The most famous resident there is a dog named Shadow, who is known to welcome guests at check-in. The hotel’s Facebook group posted several updates reassuring folks that Shadow was safe. Like everyone else employed by Disney, Shadow was inconvenienced for a time but came out of it just fine. If only the same could be said of the less fortunate in the Bahamas.
Disneyland Preps for the Holidays
Friday, September 6th, marked the most wonderful time of the year at the Happiest Place on Earth. The beloved Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay has returned just in time to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the attraction.
As always, the overlay comes with dessert! Well, it comes with a gigantic gingerbread house, one that took a ghoulish total of 13 days to create. Disney indicated that six different cast members worked on the latest offering, and three of them have had a hand in the gingerbread houses for 18 years now.
My favorite part of gingerbread house #19 is the exterior. The gravedigger and his skittish dog stand beside the phantom manor. In a nicely thematic touch, the dog is drinking from a fountain.
Of course, the best part of the overlay is the ride itself. Haunted Mansion has brought back Jack Skellington and Oogie Boogie for another year. The seasonal change will last from now until the end of the year. After all, The Nightmare Before Christmas covers Halloween and Christmas. Anyone who plans a visit to Disneyland during the rest of 2019 simply has to ride Haunted Mansion at least once.
Let’s end this week’s update with a few park tidbits. For starters, Hollywood Studios visitors received a pleasant bonus. Cast members built a much-needed cover for part of the line queue at Slinky Dog Dash. From now on, everyone will receive some respite from the Florida sun while waiting for the ride.
Over at Epcot, we just learned the dates for 2020 Epcot International Festival of the Arts. While this exhibition is still relatively new, park officials continue to add dates to it. The 2020 iteration will run from January 17th through February 24th.
In fact, next January will be huge at Epcot. New movies will debut at The Land and Canada pavilions, while the France pavilion will introduce an original Beauty and the Beast singalong show. Disney wants guests to have plenty to do next year to compensate for the closure of a bunch of Future World offerings.
Speaking of which, the first batch of Epcot closures has happened. Club Cool, Colortopia, Fountain of Nations, and Fountain View are all gone for good, at least in their current forms. On the plus side, a couple of places received welcome extensions.
Art of Disney and Pin Central are still in operation at the time of publication. Some reports suggest that they might last through the end of the year, but those aren’t officially confirmed yet. Visit these places while you can!
Unfortunately, the closures aren’t reserved for Walt Disney World, either. Disney California Adventure will shut down the Pixarmonic Orchestra on September 15th, which is a somewhat surprising turn of events. Barely a year ago, these performers were the face of Pixar Pier’s Pixar Fest. Now, they’re gone.
Disneyland isn’t safe from these cost-cutting measures, either. Park officials tacitly acknowledged that a slower than expected summer has forced them to re-evaluate some seasonal shows. Laughing Stock Co. at the Golden Horseshoe Saloon joins Pixarmonic Orchestra as a budget cut, although Disney indicates that these moves are the “normal course of business.”
Finally and apropos of nothing, I feel like I should mention something. Disney California Adventure is currently selling Anti-Vampire Chicken Pizza. It’s better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it.
This Anti-Vampire Chicken Pizza at Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta is sure to scare away the most frightening hunger! pic.twitter.com/kVqIio8wo9
— Disneyland Today (@DisneylandToday) September 13, 2015