Question of the Week (8/30/15)

Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney related question.  Here is this week’s question and our answers!  Leave your answer in the comments.

Question of the Week: Out of all the attractions at Disney Parks, which would you most like to discuss with the imagineer who created it? What would you talk about specific to that attraction?

Melissa L. – I think out of all the rides at Disney I would want to talk with the imagineer who was the master mind behind Cinderella’s Castle! I think this is one of the most exciting things to see when you walk into Magic Kingdom. It is so majestic and regal and it’s the first thing that makes you feel you’ve entered this fairytale land. I think I’d most like to talk to the imagineer about how they planning the building in general. Figure out what their favorite parts are and experience the masterpiece through their eyes! I think it would be really interesting.

Backside of MK Castle

Leslie – Hands down it would be the Haunted Mansion. This is one of my favorite rides and has so much hidden secrets and meanings. I’m primarily interested in the Ballroom but learning about the Mansion itself would be fascinating. From the figures in the windows to the graves I would leave no tombstone unturned in our conversation.

Melissa H. – Aw man, the Haunted Mansion was one of my top ones! But, since this isn’t limited to rides, I think I would like to talk to the imagineers who worked on Fantasmic! For me, the show is a must do every time I visit the parks and I am totally taken away by Disney magic. I think I’d really like to discuss the timing of everything and how long it took them to perfect the process. It would also be really cool to get to see the staging areas under Tom Sawyer’s Island in Disneyland!

Fantasmic!

Andrew – As far as rides, I’d probably choose Splash Mountain but I’ll go the Melissa H. route and pick a show! Illuminations would be my choice. The story behind the show is so uplifting and hopeful. I’d like to know how they came up with it and were able to tell the story in such an abstract and beautiful way.

Kelsee – I think talking to the imagineers behind the tower of terror would be fun. I love the old Hollywood glamour they have in the ride and the mystery.

tot

Cassie – I would want to talk to the engineers behind Radiator Racers. I’ve always wondered how they created such a large-scale ride (that appears as though it goes on for miles) in such a small space. The work that went into creating the Cars animatronics also fascinates me. I’ve never been on a ride, other than Cars, that can completely put you into the world of animation.

Cassie Cars

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Boma – Flavors of Africa Review

Today, we’ll make the trek to the beautiful Animal Kingdom Lodge in search for some dinner.  This incredible hotel has no shortage of critically acclaimed restaurants, including Jiko and Sanaa.  While those restaurants are great, we are headed to Boma -Flavors of Africa for dinner tonight!

Boma is an African buffet that offers breakfast and dinner.  The price of the buffet is generally around $40 a person, before you add drinks.  Boma is on the Disney Dining Plan as a one-credit option.

Boma elephant

As a general rule, I try to stay away from buffets.  While breakfast buffets are somewhat safe, lunch and dinner buffets aren’t consistent enough.  Making food in large quantities for hundreds of people isn’t an easy task and the food usually shows this when compared to meals where you order off the menu.  This usually holds true for Disney, as well.  Boma is the exception.

Boma initially intrigued me (outside of the rave reviews) because of the different kind of cuisine it offers.  While there were some safer dishes, Boma offers a wide range of African-inspired dishes.  I’m sure they are toned down to a degree but there are plenty of new flavors for everyone to try.

Boma places you in a lively, African marketplace.  Seating is under a thatched roof, and while you know you’re under cover it does feel as if the restaurant is in open air.  There are vibrant colors around, with lanterns hanging from the ceiling and different colored fabrics stretched out above.

Boma blankets

My family and I went to Boma on a weekday evening and had an early evening dining reservation.  We were seated quickly and were able to go to the buffet almost immediately.  My sister eats gluten and dairy free so she told the waiter that.  The waiter let the kitchen know and that brought out one of the chefs who was happy to show her around the buffet area showing her what dishes contained what.  If you have any dietary restrictions, always share them with the staff at Disney restaurants.  This will make the experience better for you and them.

The food was spread out over four or five different tables (tables isn’t the best word to describe them, but if you have been to buffets before I’m guessing that you know what I mean).  One had salads, one had meats and other heartier dishes, one had different sides and soups, and the other had desserts.

The table with the most authentic dishes seemed to be the salads, at least in my opinion.  While they did have your standard green salad, there was quite a mix of different items to try.  My favorite among these was the Apple Jicama Salad.  It was light and flavorful.  I enjoyed most of the salads on my plate, I nearly tried them all, and wandered back to the buffet.

Boma ceiling

The soups were another winner for me.  There were five different soups on that night.  I believe this buffet changes some of what’s offered seasonally, if not nightly.  The menu on the Disney World website lists eleven soups for the buffet, so what is offered may depend on the night.  I tried several different soups, my favorite being the Curried Coconut Seafood Stew.  It was creamy, with a little bit of spice and had a decent amount of seafood in it.  I enjoyed all of the soups that I tried.

There were a variety of meats offered and, again, I believe these change out seasonally if not nightly.  There wasn’t much seafood offered when we went but there were different varieties of pork and chicken as well as several different curries.  A few specialties (or classics) that Boma offers are there year-around like the Bobotie, Pap and Chakalaka.  Out of these, the Bobotie was easily my favorite.  It is a dense dish consisting of meats inside of an egg and bread like top.  That description doesn’t sound like much, but I really enjoyed it and many people go to Boma just for this dish.  There is a picture below (please excuse the low quality of the picture).

Bobotie

The meats were very good.  I enjoyed the other aspects of the buffet more, which is strange for me, but that’s because the salads, soups and sides were so good not because the entrees were disappointing.

Last but not least, we came to the desserts.  There were many items to try including bread pudding, cakes, tarts, and the famous Zebra Domes!  Aside from the bread pudding every item came in mini-sized so that you can just grab and move on to the next item instead of dishing up at each station.  This didn’t stop me from grabbing multiple Zebra Domes.  A Zebra Dome is one of the most sought-after desserts in Disney World.  They have a white chocolate mouse (with a little cake inside of them).  They contain Amarula Cream Liqueur that sets them apart from other desserts.  While they aren’t my favorite dessert at Walt Disney World, they are in my top-5.  You can also get them at The Mara (the quick-service location in Animal Kingdom Lodge).  Other desserts I enjoyed were the Kenyan Coffee Tarts and the bread pudding.

As I mentioned earlier, a chef helped my sister come up with items that she could eat at the buffet.  When it came dessert time, they brought her out a special plate of desserts that fit her diet.  It was very thoughtful and the beautiful presentation made my plate look like a sloppy mess, albeit a delicious sloppy mess.

Boma desserts

Overall, Boma was a very fun experience filled with very unique and wonderful food.  While I love to try new places to eat at Disney World, Boma might be a restaurant that I have to circle back to soon.  While some may balk at the high price, remember that it contains dessert (and basically an appetizer).  This puts the price more in line with other Disney restaurants.  A trip to the Animal Kingdom Lodge is worth the time in itself, but you may as well stop in at one of the restaurants there too.  I highly recommend Boma and would gladly spend any evening there.

Restaurant rating – 9.5/10

Question of the Week (8/24/15)

Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here is this week’s question and answer.  Leave your answer in the comments!

Question of the Week: What is your favorite hotel that you’ve stayed in on a Disney vacation?

Coronado Springs

Andrew – While I’ve had great experiences at several hotels, namely Paradise Pier Hotel (Disneyland) and Coronado Springs (WDW), my favorite has been the Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Hotel in Disney World. It was fun to be connected to the Contemporary Hotel and use all of its amenities. There were several great food options there as well as a fun pool and shuffleboard (I love shuffleboard). It was a blast to be right along Bay Lake and to see the Electric Water Pangeant go by at night. The best part though was being able to walk to the Magic Kingdom in 10 minutes, nowhere else in Disney World has that capability.  And if you get tired, then you just hop on the monorail!

Melissa L. – I have stayed in three so far and I have loved them all! But I will have to agree with Andrew, my favorite so far has been Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary Resort! It was so so nice being super close to the Magic Kingdom and being able to walk there. It was also really close the monorail which was nice for traveling to all the other parks as well!

akl

Cassie – Well my answer is pretty sad. I usually enjoy a stay at hotel Cassie (aka my house) after a long day at the parks. Living 30 miles from Disneyland is pretty awesome…but it does mean I don’t need to find a place for the night. I recently watched a documentary about the Disney World resorts and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge would be my number one pick when I get a chance to visit Disney World. Seeing the animals from my porch would be so incredible!

Melissa H. – My favorite has been Port Orleans French Quarter. It was so wonderful to feel like I was living in New Orleans Square for a week!

The Paradise Pier Pool

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Educational Aspects at The Disneyland Resort

Have you ever visited the Disneyland Parks and noticed large groups of students? While I imagine Disneyland to be just about the most exciting place for a field trip, I often wonder what scholarly insight is required for a visit to Disneyland on a class trip? A visit to Disneyland is, for most of us, simply a vacation. However, there are many educational opportunities to be found at the parks as well. In this post I will discuss how, aside from the rides, musicals and parades, there is a lot to gain about our past, present and future from a trip to The Happiest Place on Earth.

DL Sign

Our Past:

The different lands within Disneyland offer a lot of thought to our past, present and future. When you take a trip on the Disneyland Railroads, you travel back in time and find yourself learning about the history of The Grand Canyon. On The Grand Circle Tour you get to revisit different geological periods of The Grand Canyon and see the different species that habituated the land over the years.

Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln is another excellent way to spend some educational time at Disneyland and learn about an important part of our country’s past. The Animatronic Lincoln is both entertaining and educational, captivating the audience with his incredible story. (It’s also a great way to cool down on a hot day and take a relaxing break.)

Taking a ride on The Mark Twain Riverboat is also sure to help you learn a thing or two. The large 19th century ship takes you on a journey along The Rivers of America, accompanied by the voice of Mark Twain himself, guiding you with his tales of his travels. You can also ride along The Rivers of America in Davy Crockett’s Explorer Canoes or The Sailing Ship Columbia. All three modes of transportation offer a different view into the old American Frontier.

Mark Twain Disneyland

Our Present:

For another educational endeavor, skip over to Adventure and enjoy a ride on The Jungle Cruise. Here, you will learn about the different animals that live in the jungles of Asia, Africa and South America. You will also be greatly entertained by your riverboat host.

The Animation Academy in Disney’s California Adventure also offers creative learning opportunities for those more interested in the arts and less interested in history. In The Animation Courtyard you can see how different beloved Disney characters were brought to life and even see sketches from the early stages in the animation process. In addition, The Secret of Drawing Workshop allows you to learn the skills in illustrating Disney characters with the help of a professional artist.

AoA screens

Our Future:

Innovations, located in Tomorrowland, is truly like stepping into our future. Here, you can explore different exhibits displaying the latest and greatest in technology. Innovations is constantly changing and improving as we grow in society, so there is always something new to learn. This hands-on area of Tomorrowland allows you to play high-tech games and explore material that hasn’t been released yet.  Innoventions is currently closed, making way for an interactive Star Wars exhibit called Star Wars Launch Bay.  This future exhibit will probably feature some exciting technology and it wouldn’t be surprising if a form of Innoventions was to come back in the near future.

space mountain

Overall, it is very easy to see how one could turn a trip to Disneyland into an educational adventure. There is so much to explore, eat, see and do, you are sure to learn something new every time you visit!

– Cassie

The Untold Tale: What Lies Ahead For California Adventure

During the D23 Expo this past week, there were many announcements regarding the many different changes, additions, and updates that are coming to Disney Parks – the most notable being the official announcement of Star Wars Land in both American Disney Resorts. However, during all of the announcements one park is going to remain basically untouched – Disney’s California Adventure.

Perhaps the only real change for California Adventure that was announced at this year’s D23 Expo was the changing of Soarin’ Over California, one of my park favorites, to Soarin’ Around the World. I know I am in disagreement with my fellow Wandering In Disney friend Andrew here as this is quite possibly the one piece of news that I am the LEAST excited for. I am a supporter of them changing the film in other Disney Parks with the ride, however, I think the original should stay in California Adventure. But, that’s a different argument for a different post. Due to the small amount of news regarding California Adventure Park, many Disney fans have been speculating what plans Disney may be hiding from us at the moment. Here are a few of the facts and rumors that seem to be floating around the internet regarding the future for this park.

Catharay at night

Addition of rides currently located at Hollywood Studios (RUMOR): We all know that Hollywood Studios is going through a dramatic transformation that is going to make it an entirely different park than it has been in the past. Many are wondering how the changes will impact the rides that currently call Hollywood Studios home. It seems that certain rides (such as Tower of Terror and Rockin’ Rollercoaster) will no longer fit the general theme of what Hollywood studios will become. These same fans have pointed out that, even if Hollywood Studios can no longer house these rides due to a significant change in atmosphere, they would still be quite at home in the Hollywood Backlot section of California Adventure. We already have our own version of Tower of Terror and have buildings behind our TOT attraction that could be moved, much like those in Toontown, to make way for a ride like Rockin’ Rollercoaster to be added. Again, this is all rumor and speculation on the part of Disney fans, but I would be thrilled to have another E-ticket attraction in CA.

DCA TOT

Room to expand (FACT): Regardless of what they decide to do, Disney does have room to expand their California Adventure Park. Currently, they are only using a fraction the land that they are zones for and do have some room to increase their boundaries. I find it highly unlikely that Disney will do this in the near future, especially with all of the major changes that are already coming, but it is a possibility. In order to expand, more office spaces and staging areas would need to be relocated and I am not sure that they currently have the room to move them. However, it is no secret that Disney has slowly bought up land from some of the neighboring hotels and businesses. Who knows what could happen?

An increased Marvel presence (RUMOR): Whether you are a fan of the Marvel Universe or not, the truth remains that there is a large fanbase who would come running to experience Marvel-based rides and attractions. Disney World is unable to provide this due to the legal implications regarding Universal Studio’s Marvel merchandise and parks in Orlando, so Disneyland Resort would have to be the place for a Marvel park or land to be created. Some fans are saying that with the competition that will come with Universal Studios bringing Harry Potter to the West Coast, Disney will have to respond in a big way. Though Star Wars Land most likely will take care of this, it makes sense from a business standpoint for Disney to utilize their acquisition of Marvel in a big way. Again, this is all based on rumor, so we will see.

An increased Pixar presence (RUMOR): Those who think Marvel won’t be coming to the parks seem to hold the belief that Disney may continue to increase the Pixar presence in California Adventure. This is the rumor in which I think Disney would run into the most problems. Though Pixar movies and franchises are popular, California Adventure is already home to a Bugs Life themed land, a Cars themed land, and a Toy Story ride. If they continue to add Pixar, which I would actually be thrilled with, then it seems that they will run into a Hollywood Studios type problem where they will have to re-brand their entire park. I find it hard to believe that they would gut California Adventure and take out attractions like California Screamin’ and Grizzly River Run, so then we have to ask how they would reformat a park that is becoming less of a “California Adventure” and more of a “Pixar Place”. Watching as changes are being made, I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if the name “California Adventure” is tossed anyway and replaced with another, but I have no idea as to what that change may be.

Cars Land

While Disney is quiet about any changes to California Adventure all we can really do is speculate and toss around different rumors that are popping up. However, I do believe that California Adventure is not done changing and growing. The park has already come a long way in the past several years and with it’s increasing popularity, I am sure that they will keep adding new and improved attractions.

Are there any California Adventure rumors that you’ve heard that I’ve left out? I’d love to hear them.

As always, have a magical day!

-Melissa H.

Recapping the D23 Expo Park Announcements

Yesterday we briefly wrote about the D23 Expo announcements in our Question of the Week post.  Today, I’m going to dive a little deeper into the announcements with more of my reaction.

It was a busy weekend, with Disney announcing more than they ever had at an expo.  As I mentioned before the expo, it was time (maybe past time) for some announcements specifically those involving Hollywood Studios.  I think Disney realized this as well and offered a decent amount of information about what’s to come over the next five years.

Star Wars Land 2

One thing I think people forget after the Expo is that Disney isn’t done with their future plans.  I believe they announce what the public demands and then holds on to pieces of news that they can announce over the next year.  If you simply look at the math at Hollywood Studios attractions, in which they announced 4 attractions and have 5 open to begin with.  A few of those existing attractions may close.  That still isn’t enough for guests to do for a full day.  I believe there is more Pixar coming, as Jim Hill mentioned on the latest Disney Dish podcast.

The low point of all of these announcements may be that they didn’t come with expected opening dates.  It makes sense why Disney wouldn’t announce those, as plans change and issues come up but it would be nice to know when they expected to start construction at the very least.

Let’s dive into specific announcements and I’ll add my thoughts.  The Disney Parks Blog announcement is linked with each header.  All images are via the Disney Parks Blog unless otherwise noted.

Star Wars Land

We might as well start with the big news.  A 14-acre Star Wars expansion was announced for Disneyland and Hollywood Studios.  The ambition behind these projects seems to be higher than anything Disney has done in decades.  The attraction announcements (check out the press release linked above) is what excites me the most.  I thought they would model it after Cars Land with one great E-ticket attraction and then a few other B or C-ticket rides thrown in.  Instead, it seems as if they are striving for two E-ticket attractions in one land.  Let’s hope that turns into reality.

Millinium Falcon

The cantina holds promise, as well.  This was the most obvious thing to do in the land and I hope that Disney goes for the level of immersion that we see in recent restaurant projects, like Be Our Guest.  If they do, I think this cantina could become the most popular restaurant on property for years to come.

I’m happy that they have come up with the back story of this land being a new planet that is a port (of sorts) for ships coming and go throughout the galaxy.  I believe it was Disney Tourist Blog that wrote the idea was a no-brainer but I hadn’t thought of it.  You all are lucky that I’m not an imagineer.

As for the rest of the land, the details were few and far in between.  I could see this land opening in phases, starting with the cantina and then moving back to the attractions.  All in all, I wouldn’t expect this land to fully open for about 5 years.  It could open in Hollywood Studios first, as the building already there would be easier to retheme to a Star Wars motif.

There were no announcements on where the land would go in either park.  In Hollywood Studios I would imagine that Star Wars would go in place of Echo Lake and extend past where the Indiana Jones Stunt Show currently is.  Disneyland is a little more fuzzy on where this land will go.  For months MiceChat has said a Star Wars will replace and expand upon the current ToonTown footprint, now it seems that might not be the case.  Instead Star Wars would take over the Big Thunder Ranch (#SaveTheGoats) area and maybe a small portion of Critter Country, although it wouldn’t replace any of the big attractions there.  While I still think there’s a chance it could replace ToonTown, it would make sense that they don’t get rid of any attractions in the park and instead simply expand.

Star Wars Land

While this land is under construction, there will still be some Star Wars coming to the parks.  Star Wars Launch Bay is coming to Innoventions in Disneyland and the Animation Courtyard in Hollywood Studios.  This will provide some interactive Star Wars entertainment before and after episode VII comes out in December.  There will also be some attraction overlays in Disneyland and a fireworks show in Hollywood Studios, during a special time in the parks called ‘Season of the Force’.  That begins in early 2016 and seems like a good idea while people wait for bigger and better things to arrive.

My one concern about this Land is how the theme fits in Disneyland.  Disneyland has never focused on franchise based themed lands.  Having a land based off of a movie is going to take some getting used to.  But, if it’s as ambitious as Disney is currently planning on then I think most people, myself most definitely included, will get over that concern easily.

Toy Story Land

The other big announcement for the parks was Toy Story Land in Hollywood Studios.  We have known that an expanded Pixar presence was coming to the parks for a while and it’s not a surprise that there is more Toy Story coming.  Toy Story Playland exists in Paris and Hong Kong and consists of off-the-shelf carnival rides themed to a Toy Story feel.  This land seems to be a little bit different than its’ predecessors, if you can even call them that.

Toy Story Land

While I love the little green men, the attraction that they are in isn’t very interesting to me.  It looks to be just a spinner type attraction, maybe like Mater’s ride in California Adventure.  The other attraction announced was a family-friendly roller coaster themed as if you were on the back of Slinky the Dog.  Now, family-friendly can mean a ride like the barnstormer or it could mean a ride like the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train.  While neither is an E-ticket attraction, there is a noticeable difference in quality between Mine Train and the Barnstormer.  I think this coaster will land somewhere in the middle of these two attractions.  I don’t think it could possibly be immersive as Mine Train but will also be more interesting than just a basic off-the-cuff roller coaster. These new attractions will surround Toy Story Midway Mania which is expanding and will get a new entrance.

As far as theming an entire land to Toy Story and Andy’s Room well… I’m not sure.  The concept is interesting but when you think about the themed lands around the theme park world, Harry Potter, Cars, soon-to-be Avatar, the area that they are in is a place that is beautiful or has a level of intrigue to it.  Andy’s room doesn’t really have that, unless you are into hanging out in little kid’s rooms.  I’m sure the land will look good and have a certain level of immersion but I don’t think it could quite match the quality of the other theme lands I mentioned.  I hope I’m wrong.

Slinky dog coaster

As a land in general, I wish there was a little more to it.  The attractions aren’t something I’m all that excited about.  I do think it’s necessary to simply add more rides to Hollywood Studios and I’m hopeful that these new attractions will surprise us with unexpected quality.

As far as when this land will go be ready, I would guess in 2017 or 2018.  These attractions are much easier to build than Star Wars as they don’t take near the imagination as those complex attractions will.  The land will most likely take up some of the former Backlot Tour and may end some existing attractions (like Voyage of the Little Mermaid).  This leaves plenty of space for more Pixar expansion over the next few years.  I believe there is more to come and it will offer better attractions than what Toy Story Land has announced.  That’s just my opinion though and, at the very least, I’m glad they are starting to address how there aren’t many attractions for kids or many attractions in general at the Studios.

Pandora – The World of AVATAR

While there was plenty of exciting announcements, a project that’s already been announced, Pandora, stole at least part of the show in my mind.  The model that was on the expo floor was absolutely incredible.  The greenery around the land looks beautiful and fits in nicely with Animal Kingdom.  The imagineers seemed to have taken notice of how Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a land that you have to see twice – once in the daylight and once at night.  Pandora seems to be trying for that.

As far as the attractions in the land, the E-ticket Soarin’-style ride has promise if it’s not too similar to Soarin’.  It sounds as if the ride vehicles in this future attraction are going to make this into more of a thrill than the original Soarin’.  That’s good news.  I’m really excited to see how the boat ride in this land turns out, as it could really showcase the beautiful plants and lights of the land.

Pandora Banshee

I still have more hopes for this land, as well.  Some walking paths (maybe some that are hidden) would really continue the exploring theme that the rest of Animal Kingdom has.  I don’t think they are going to focus on this land being based off of Avatar quite as much as people realize.  I believe they want it to stand alone, hence the name Pandora (instead of Avatar Land).

My overall thought on all of these announcements was excitement.  For a land that has caused much concern among the Disney Fan community, I’m  hopeful that Pandora will be a home run.  Without a doubt, Disney fans are lucky that Joe Rohde (the imagineer in charge of this project, among many others) takes pride in his work and loves Animal Kingdom like his own child.

Avatar will most likely debut in 2017.

Via Disney Tourist Blog

Via Disney Tourist Blog

More Animal Kingdom News

Anyone who’s read this blog since it began knows that I am an Animal Kingdom advocate.  I’ve always been drawn to the beautiful design and exploring nature of the park.  This was before anything was recently added to it.  Now, I think this park could be the best (probably the 2nd best behind Magic Kingdom) in Walt Disney World and the 3rd best US Disney Theme Park.

Rivers of Light, a nighttime show, continues to progress and will be live at Animal Kingdom in the next year (most likely).  Joe Rohde said the show will start out softly and grow to a spectacular.  I’m excited to see the park progress to a great place to be in the evening.

ROL181501

In the same vein, they continue plans to make Kilimanjaro Safaris open in the evening.  They will add Wild African Dogs and Hyenas to the attraction at night.  Both of Rivers of Light and Kilimanjaro Safaris at night will most likely take open sometime in 2016.  I’m very excited for both changes.

Soarin’ Around the World

A new Soarin’ film will make it’s way to the states in 2016.  Rumors were that it was going to take a while to come to the U.S. but that obviously isn’t true anymore.  I’m very excited for a new Soarin’ film as the original is great but I’m ready for a change.  I don’t see how anyone could be upset with this news.  I look forward to the new film.

Skipper Canteen

Skipper Canteen is a project that was somewhat known but confirmed during the Expo.  The restaurant will be themed after the Jungle Cruise as a place where the Jungle Cruise’s skippers can go get a bite to eat.  I love the concept and I’m looking forward to what the inside looks like.  I’m anxious to see if the restaurant serves up a nice blend of nostalgia as well as a fun backstory.  I’m also excited and curious to see what kind of food they serve in here.  Skipper Canteen will open by the end of this year.

skippers canteen

There were some announcements for the foreign parks but I’m not going to get into them now, as I’ve never been to the foreign parks and can’t fairly judge how well they will fit in there.  I will say that Shanghai Disneyland is looking more and more intriguing.

They also brought up Frozen in Epcot’s World Showcase but there wasn’t anything new mentioned so I can’t add much commentary right now.

Overall, I’m excited and pleased about the announcements from this year’s D23 Expo.  Both the big and the small announcements are intriguing and I think there are plenty of future announcements still to come.  After quite a lull, it’s finally an extremely exciting time to be a Disney fan.

Now, I know some of you strongly disagree with some opinions I shared in this post.  What are your thoughts on the Parks announcements?  Let us know in the comments.  Thank you for reading!

-Andrew

Question of the Week (8/17/15)

Every week our writers get together and answer a Disney-related question.  Here is this week’s question and answers, leave your answer in the comments!

Question of the Week:  Of all the items announced at the D23 Expo (Star Wars Land, Toy Story Land, Extensive models of Pandora (Avatar), Jungle Cruise Restaurant, Star Wars Fireworks at DHS, Shanghai Disneyland items, new Soarin’ Movie…) what has you most excited? Was there anything that you were surprised to be excited by?

Tree of life open AK

Melissa L. – I think I am most excited about a jungle cruise restaurant! As many have probably heard, this is my FAVORITE ride and I can’t wait to see what they do with the restaurant!

Cassie – Toy story land is definitely my cup o’ tea! Both Astro Blasters and Midway Mania are so much fun I’m sure additional Toy Story themed attractions will be a hit!

Andrew – I was very happy with and excited about the concept art for Star Wars Land. The ambition behind it seems to be aiming for the stars (pun intended). I was surprised at how much I cared and was excited about Pandora (The World of Avatar). The model that they showed looks absolutely incredible and versatile. Before I was interested in if they could make a land that would be superb despite the franchise it’s based off of. Now, I’m just excited.

Kelsee – I think I’m most excited about the Soarin’ update. That’s one of my favorite rides and I’d love something new to look forward to. I have mixed feelings about Star Wars and Avatar. I feel a sense of “selling out” when I think of them dedicating all of this space and money to something that wasn’t an original Disney movie or concept. I know it’s a good choice for them financially, but it’s not what I would’ve liked to see them put their effort into for the parks. It kind of takes the exclusive Disney Magic away for me. I see the good points to it though.

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What announcement has you the most excited?  Let us know in the comments.  We’ll have a full recap of the announcements as well as some reaction to it tomorrow.

As always, thank you for reading Wandering in Disney. If you have any questions or comments regarding Disney Parks, Disney trip planning or the blog in general just leave them in the comments or send us an email at wanderingindisney@gmail.com. If you like what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney then please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page. You can do both of those things on the right side of this page. Last but not least, don’t forget to leave your answer to the question of the week in the comments! Have a fantastic week!

A Tiny Bit of Housekeeping

The blog has been a little quiet this week with some of us on vacations and just having the overall business of summer.  Here are a few quick items:

  • We now have a Twitter account for the blog.  You can find us by searching ‘Wandering in Disney’ on Twitter or our Twitter handle is @WanderingDisney.  We’ll be using this to react to any Disney Parks news that comes out, including announcements that take place at the Expo this weekend.  We’ll have a full post recapping the Expo next week but go to our Twitter for our quick takes.
  • We have plenty of headers on the top of our blog with categories for which our posts go into.  I haven’t updated it in a while but I plan to in the coming week.  So, if you’ve been looking for a specific post, they will be more organized in the coming week.
  • Lastly, Cassie, Melissa L. and I (Andrew) are going to be in Disneyland on either September 2nd or 3rd.  If any readers or fellow Disney bloggers are in the resort on either of those days we’d love to get together, chat about Disney and maybe do an attraction or two.  If you are interested, let us know in the comments.  More details will be coming soon on that!

That’s all for now.  As always, thank you for reading and check out our Twitter feed if you want our takes on any announcements for this weekend.

Goofy

– Andrew

Predicting the D23 Expo Announcements

This Friday through Sunday the D23 Expo takes place in the Anaheim Convention Center.  If you aren’t familiar with the D23 Expo, think of it as a festival for the mega-Disney fan.  At the Expo there will be presentations, announcements, panels, and models for fans to explore regarding everything from Disney films, television, theme parks, and more.  If you are in the Anaheim area and don’t have anything to do this weekend, I strongly recommend checking out at least a day of the expo.  If you aren’t able to make it, Lou Mongello of WDW Radio will be streaming most of it online and you can watch from home that way.

Since we are a Disney theme parks blog, the most exciting part of this event to me is the theme park announcements and updates.  In 2013 there wasn’t much in the way of announcements on what’s coming to the parks.  There were updates on lands and attractions that were already under construction but little else that appeased a very hungry Disney fan community.  As Melissa H. and I wrote last week, we’d be fairly disappointed if there weren’t at least a few announcements to come this year.  Why?  Mainly because the timing is just right for several big announcements.

Hogwarts Castle

The Disney Parks are at somewhat of a crossroads, with Universal pushing hard to take several days from guests vacations.  Disneyland isn’t in as much danger, as they are having one of the most successful times in park history, thanks in large part to the 60th anniversary offerings.  Still, there appear to be big changes on the horizon for the Anaheim Resort and making some announcements can tide over an antsy fan base.

While Disneyland may be able to hold off on announcing anything, Disney World can’t wait much longer.  Well, that’s not true.  They can wait as they long as they darn well please but Disney fans will not be so forgiving.  With the changing landscape of Hollywood Studios, Universal cranking out quality attractions nearly every year, and the Walt Disney World Resort being held as the crown jewel of theme park destination vacationing, it is time (maybe past time) for an announcement of what’s to come at the resort.  While Disney World is still successful from an attendance standpoint, loyal fans are growing impatient for enhancements.  As I’ve already alluded to, updates on Avatar and Disney Springs probably won’t satisfy fans hunger.

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With these thoughts in mind and inspired by (or just stealing) an old Disney Tourist Blog post, I thought I’d bust out the Predict-o-Machine (copyright pending) and let you know the chances of certain announcements being made.  I’m no insider and these are just my wild guesses of what announcements will be made and the likelihood, in percentage form, that they will be made.  I make most of these predictions based off of what I read (WDW Magic Forums and MiceChat are usually spot on) and trying to connect the dots (which is a dangerous game in my head).  The percentage I include is how sure I am that they will announce this at D23, not how sure I am that it will be built.  The percentage is very scientific, as I make it up off the top of my head.  Without further ado, here’s what could happen!

Star Wars Launch Bay in Innoventions (Disneyland) – 95% 

While I wish that Disneyland’s Innoventions would have gone with their original idea of using this space for a nostalgic Disneyland museum, this idea was nixed in favor of Star Wars coming to Anaheim before the movie comes out in December.  This project has been under construction for a few months already, with no official announcement from Disney on what’s inside.  In the MiceChat article I linked above, they said this was coming and mirroring what will take place in Shanghai Disneyland when it opens (although I would think this would be on a smaller scale).  For what it’s worth, they also said that something Marvel based will take place upstairs in this space.

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Pixar Place Expansion (Disney’s Hollywood Studios) – 80%

The rumor that Pixar Place will be expanded has been going around for over a year now.  While I don’t know exactly what would go inside of this or how big of a footprint they have to work with (it could be quite large), it makes a lot of sense to announce this happening and start work on it almost immediately.  This is an expansion that I think we could see open in phases, with phase 1 maybe opening in early 2017 and containing mainly B and C ticket attractions that are themed to Pixar films.  Toy Story Playland, which exist in Hong Kong and Paris, is an area with basic carnival rides themed to Toy Story.  While that’s not the highest quality, it would give Hollywood Studios some much-needed attractions.  I don’t think we’ll see a carbon copy of Toy Story Playland but something similar.  I am very confident that Disney would announce this phase 1 at the expo.  Something bigger will also come to that land but I’m less confident that they will announce that.  As for what that might be?  Maybe a mini-version of Cars Land (Jim Hill has said this would happen), A Monsters Inc. coaster (less likely), or something completely out of the blue.  Either way, I think they’ll announce something on this land and they will begin working on it, if they haven’t already, almost immediately.

Star Wars Lands (Disneyland & DHS) – 50%

A few weeks ago this percentage would have been a big higher but I’m not sure that they have enough plans finalized to actually announce something.  I do think there will be one other big announcement aside from the two that top my list but I’m not sure what they will be.  Star Wars Land still seems the most likely out of the other options.  This is another area that I believe will open in phases (more so at Hollywood Studios than Disneyland), and we could see them announce phase 1 at the expo with a promise of more to come.  What would phase 1 include?  Maybe a spinner ride and the cantina?  We shall see (hopefully).  To refer back to that MiceChat article again, the E-ticket they believe is coming to Disneyland sounds extremely promising.

DHS

Disney’s Hollywood Studios New Name (DHS) – 35%

If Star Wars and Pixar are announced for the Studios then they might as well just go the whole way and announce the rebranding of the park.  This could be the start of the buildup to a grand new park when everything opens in the next 5 years.  Why is the percentage fairly low?  Because I’m not sure how much they will tell us about Pixar or Star Wars coming and they might not want to announce an entire rebranding all in one place.  Disney enjoys keeping their name in the news and making announcements at different times is an easy way to do that.

Marvel Land (DCA) – 30%

While I do believe that a Marvel Land is coming to California Adventure, I think they may wait on announcing this one.  MiceChat reports that this land will go behind the Tower of Terror but I think that the resort will first work on their parking structure and maybe start in on Star Wars Land around that time.  If they also start on Marvel at the same time then they are spending a ton of money all at once.  What I think is more likely is that they will do them in tiers – working on parking, starting Star Wars around six months later and Marvel another six months or a year after that.  While I think Disney executives are very eager to get Marvel into the Parks, I think the parking and Star Wars are more urgent.

ToT Disneyland

New nighttime entertainment (DHS and/or Epcot) – 25%

Melissa and I wrote about a possible Illuminations replacement at Epcot last week.  I’m pretty against that as Illuminations is my favorite show at Walt Disney World.  That might be the reason this percentage is so low.  I wouldn’t be surprised if something was announced to coincide with the opening of whatever is happening in Norway in Epcot.  I just hope it’s enhancements to Illuminations and not a brand new show.  As for Hollywood Studios, if they decide to announce a total rebranding of the park I would hazard a guess that a nightly fireworks show would be included in that.  Hollywood Studios is a sneaky good place for fireworks and having a nightly show there would be phenomenal.  I just don’t think they’ll announce everything that is coming to Hollywood Studios.

Anything else at Epcot – 22%

I don’t know about you, but I was feeling 22.  Why 22%?  The same reason as above, there’s a decent chance that they might want to announce something that will coincide with the Frozen take over of World Showcase.  There’s always the chance that they announce the re-imagination of the Imagination Pavilion or they finally add another country to World Showcase (a country not named Arendelle).  But, the rumors are lacking here so the percentage ends up being a little low.  Epcot does need some attention and I get the feeling that we’ll be surprised when they address it.

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Frontierland Expansion (Magic Kingdom) – 15%

This is a rumor that is floating around the WDW Magic forums.  While I don’t doubt its validity, I don’t think it’s far enough along to announce it.  It makes sense that this expansion would open shortly before Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021.  Because of that, they may wait to announce this.

Overhauling Tomorrowland (Magic Kingdom and Disneyland) – 5%

Most people who go to the parks will tell you that Tomorrowland desperately needs refurbished and another quality attraction or two.  Tomorrowland may get some attention in the future but there doesn’t seem to be any plans for it in the present.  Maybe at the next expo!

Outside look of Tomorrowland - DW

Anything with the Muppets – 1%

Just imagine, the Muppets get up for their panel at D23 discussing their new show.  To end the panel they show a brand new preview of the show (watch the real thing on September 22nd!) and then Kermit says “and we’ve got a brand new attraction coming to all Disney Parks across the globe! Aaahhhhhh (shakes body wildly)!!!!” Yeah, that’s the way it happens in my dreams.  Alas, that’s where it will stay.

Muppet Vision

Those are the predictions I have.  I’m hoping we get at least 3 of them and if there’s 4 or more, then I would be extremely excited.  I do think there will be plenty of updates shown, as well.  That includes Avatar, Disney Springs, Frozen in Epcot, Shanghai Disney and Rivers of Light in Animal Kingdom.

Was there anything I missed?  Please let me know in the comments!  We’ll be recapping any announcements that were made next week on the blog.  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Question of the Week (8/9/15)

Every Sunday our writers get together and answer a Disney related question.  Here is this week’s question and our answers (leave your answers in the comments)!

Question of the Week:  What land or attraction has your favorite background music in it?

Melissa H. – I have a “disease” where I find Disneyland music on YouTube and create playlists that I feel can practically take me to the park without leaving my home. My two favorites would have to be Adventureland and the Esplanade. In Adventureland, you are mainly listening to the noises of rainforest creatures as well as the more distant sounds of Tarzan’s treehouse. I find it to be incredibly peaceful and in certain areas of the land I can believe that I am actually deep in the jungle somewhere. I love the esplanade music simply because to me, that is the sign that I am finally at the parks. They play such a wonderful combination of music from attractions, rides, and movies that it is hard not to feel emotional as you listen!

Disneyland flowers

Cassie – I really love the music when I am in New Orleans Square. I particularly enjoy the jazz quartet that plays while you eat in the square, throwing out Mardi Gras necklaces for the youngsters. The music in Fantasy Land is a close second, probably because it makes me the most nostalgic of my youth and is so dreamy/magical.

Melissa L. – ALL OF IT. Can that be my answer? But, I guess if I had to choose one, it would be Adventureland simply because that is one of my favorite lands and reminds me the most of being in the parks.

Tom Sawyer Island

Andrew – While I think my answer would change almost weekly, right now I would choose the background loop in Frontierland. That loop contains old country and western songs that really fit the area. Not only does it remind me of one of my favorite lands in the park, I’ve also started to really love some of those old western tunes. They have a comforting feel but also a suspicion to them that makes it feel as if a big chase or wild ride is around the corner!

Kelsee – I love all of the music but especially the music on Main Street. Melissa H., I do the same thing with YouTube! I also have the parks soundtrack.

Main Street DW

As always, thank you for reading Wandering in Disney.  If you have any questions or comments regarding Disney Parks, Disney trip planning or the blog in general just leave them in the comments or send us an email at wanderingindisney@gmail.com.  If you like what you are reading here on Wandering in Disney then please subscribe to the blog and like our Facebook page.  You can do both of those things on the right side of this page.  Last but not least, don’t forget to leave your answer to the question of the week in the comments!  Have a fantastic week!

California Grill Fireworks