D23 Expo Announcements: Updates on Star Wars Land

I’m still catching up on D23 Expo news and will be writing short updates about each one.  Once finished with that, I will be adding my own commentary to each post.  I’ll put the new post on top of the blog with each update.  On to the news!

While much of the news at D23 Expo wasn’t announced until the parks presentation on Saturday, Star Wars Land stole the show on Friday.  A model of the land was revealed on Thursday night and was impressive to say the least.

If videos aren’t your thing, here are a few photos via Disney Tourist Blog.

As usual, wonderful photos by Tom Bricker.  Check out his in-depth post on this subject here.  I will add my thoughts on the giant model in the commentary.

Here’s a list of other Star Wars related news that they rolled out at the D23 Expo:

  • The land’s name will be Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.  This will be the name of the land on both coasts.
  • Both lands will be largely the same, and both will open in 2019.  Disneyland’s expansion will open first.
  • The land will feature two attractions that will put guests in the middle of a battle between the Resistance and the First Order.  One of these rides will be flying the Millennium Falcon while the other will be (supposedly) a trackless ride going through a Star Destroyer.
  • The Millennium Falcon ride will be interactive, with the outcome being based on how guests perform on the attraction.
  • Captain Rex (former pilot of the early version of Star Tours) will be the DJ at the land’s cantina.  There will also be classic Star Wars characters throughout the land.
  • The land is based on a space port at the edge of the galaxy.  Resistance and First Order camps will be on the edge of these lands with more of a market/city Star Wars atmosphere in the middle.

These were the noteworthy updates, although some of them were already common knowledge.  Stay tuned for some commentary!

Here’s the Disney Parks Blog post on the topic.

My reaction to the updates:

Turn the hype level up to 11.  A Star Wars themed land feels more and more like a reality instead of a pipe dream, especially after revealing this gigantic model.  Since there were quite a few little updates above I’m going to go through the bullet points one-by-one and give my thoughts on each.

It seems fitting to start with the name.  I don’t really like the name.  There’s nothing really wrong with it.  I do think Disney has gotten needlessly wordy with their titles.  Galaxy’s Edge would be fine.  Star Wars Land would be fine.  Together, it seems like a bit much.  All that said, it doesn’t actually matter.  Wizarding World of Harry Potter is constantly referred to as Harry Potter Land.  The name won’t be a difference maker one way or the other.

Via Disney Parks Blog

We already knew that the lands would basically be the same on both coasts.  I’m fine with that.  It may cost Disney some money in the long run but will likely save many vacationers money as there isn’t an argent need to visit two different Star Wars themed lands.  On the other hand, for those that have money to spare maybe two different lands would be fun.

The attractions sound amazing to me.  I think Disney will hit these out of the park.  A trackless ride through actual scenes and a simulator seems like a nice compromise of modern day technology and classic theme park design.  These attractions will likely change theme parks forever, I eagerly await their debuts.

Adding Captain Rex to the land is a wonderful tribute to Star Wars theme park history. This will be a great detail for the older generation to share with the younger generation.  I love the decision to include him.

The land’s layout makes a ton of sense.  Being a home to nearly every type of personality, including both good and evil, is a smart and tidy way to keep everyone’s favorite characters and themes from Star Wars.  I’m most excited to see the middle of the land where the market atmosphere is.  This is the part that most reminds me of a Star Wars universe that I always wanted to visit as a kid (and an adult).

Via Disney Parks Blog

Last but not least, the model looks incredible.  There seem to be beautiful areas, side streets to explore, iconic fixtures, and stories throughout.  That’s everything I can hope for in a land.

What do you think of these updates on Star Wars Land?  Let us know in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog.  You can do that on the right side of the page, along with finding links to our social media accounts.  Thank you for reading!

D23 Expo Announcements: California Adventure News

I’m still catching up on D23 Expo news and will be writing short updates about each one.  Once finished with that, I will be adding my own commentary to each post.  I’ll put the new post on top of the blog with each update.  On to the news!

While most of the D23 Expo announcements centered around Walt Disney World, the west coast got a little love.  Here is what was announced:

  • A Marvel themed area will be coming to the park, although not many details were given on the upcoming land.  The area will be around the already built Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! Here’s the Disney Parks post on the subject. 
  • Paradise Pier will be renamed Pixar Pier in 2018 and there may be some new additions or layovers to make the area fit.  I’ve read a few blog posts on this and listened to the actual announcement.  To be honest, I’m still really confused about what exactly this is.  I’ll have more reaction below.
  • Paint the Night will make it’s grand reappearance across the esplanade at California Adventure, and will feature a new float.
  • I’m going to sneak in some Disneyland news here because it’s loosely attached to these other announcements.  Pixar Play Parade will be moving to Disneyland and a Pixar themed fireworks show will be debuting.  This is all part of a Pixar festival that’s starting in 2018.  Again, pretty confused about all of this but more commentary is on the way.

Via Disney Parks Blog

Here is the Disney Park’s Blog post on the Pixar news.

My reaction to the news:

Since I threw all of the announcements into one big Disneyland thread, I’ll react to each of them individually.

The Marvel Land announcement was no surprise.  What was somewhat surprising is the lack of details that went along with it.  They didn’t announce what will go into the land, what characters would be in there, or where the land would go.  This was a “We’ve got something coming and Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! isn’t totally out of place” announcement.  That’s fine.  Until there’s more details I don’t have many thoughts here.  It will be cool to have Marvel in the parks if used and placed correctly.

Paint the Night moving to California Adventure is a good move to help counterbalance the crowds for Disneyland’s nighttime spectaculars.  I think the mood of Paint the Night fits better in California Adventure anyway.  What I don’t get is Pixar Play Parade moving to Disneyland.  I don’t like that parade and certainly don’t think it commands the day parade slot at one of the best parks on earth.  Hopefully a new daytime parade is on the way to Disneyland once this ‘Pixar Fest’ ends.  Frankly, I wish they had kept the Pixar Festival just as a part of California Adventure instead of having it at both parks.  Disneyland doesn’t have much in the way of Pixar so why try to shoehorn it in an already crowded park?  In that same vein, I don’t like a fireworks show themed to Pixar in a Disney park.  I get why most people wouldn’t care, but having a fireworks show based off a non-Disney franchise as the nighttime spectacular in Disney’s original park doesn’t leave the best taste in my mouth.  It’s not a big deal, just a little annoyance.

Via Disney Parks Blog

That all leads to the most confusing moment of the expo to me – Paradise Pier becoming Pixar Pier.  I’m hopeful that this new Pixar Pier will just be a subsection of a larger Paradise Pier.  Pixar Pier could stretch from Toy Story Midway Mania to the Paradise Garden Grill.  The concept art shows a candy store and ‘theater’ coming into that stretch.  If that’s all it is then this announcement is pretty harmless and could even enhance a somewhat rundown area.

What I worry about though is the whole area being rethemed as Pixar Pier.  Will California Screaming be cheaply overlaid?  What about Cove Bar and Ariel’s Grotto?  The Little Mermaid attraction?  This won’t make sense if the whole area is dubbed Pixar Pier.  Frankly, I’m not a big fan of Paradise Pier as an area but it is better than a cheaply thrown together area.  I’m worried about this certain announcement but am curious to hear more details.

What did you think about these Disneyland Resort announcements?  Let us know in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog.  You can do that on the right side of the page, along with finding links to our social media accounts.  Thank you for reading!

D23 Expo Announcements: Star Wars-Inspired Resort (and new DVC) Coming to Walt Disney World

I’m still catching up on D23 Expo news and will be writing short updates about each one.  Once finished with that, I will be adding my own commentary to each post.  I’ll put the new post on top of the blog with each update.  On to the news!

If an update on Star Wars Land (now Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge) wasn’t enough for fans, Disney announced a little something extra for fans of the franchise.  I guess little isn’t the right word.

A Star Wars themed resort will be added to Disney World property, near Hollywood Studios.  This resort will be incredibly immersive and will be themed to a starship that guests would be staying in.  Guests staying here will be a part of a Star Wars-inspired story that fits each person.

There was no announcement on when the hotel will open but I would guess somewhere in the next 2 or 3 years to coincide with Star Wars Land opening.  I would expect the prices to be incredibly high, as the capacity for the hotel looks to be fairly small.

A link to the Disney Parks Blog post on this topic.

In addition to this new resort, a DVC resort is being added to Disney World.  The resort will be themed to the Riviera and will lay adjacent to Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort. Construction has already started on this site and will be wrapped up in a few years.

My reaction to the news:

The Star Wars-inspired hotel is a nice addition that I’m not very interested in.  The totally immersive story and vacation doesn’t really appeal to me as I like to plan my own my travel and could potentially get frustrated if the itinerary ended up having something that I didn’t want to do.  Add on what could be a very high price tag on top of that and I will likely never stay here.

Via Disney Parks Blog

With that said, I think this is an ambitious concept that will appeal to many people.  Many guests can’t get enough of Star Wars and this could be a great place to stay for those that want even more of the franchise.  I’ll be curious to hear more of the details over the next few years.

As for the Riviera DVC hotel, this is a bit of a mixed bag.  The location of the hotel sounds great and I’m all for new places to stay inside of Walt Disney World.  The hotel will have a rooftop restaurant that will overlook both Epcot and Hollywood Studios fireworks.  That will be a nice addition to the dining scene.

The negative is all based on the concept art, as I think this looks very generic and not themed.  While it looks nice enough, I want a place with a little more character.  Of course, this is all based on one picture and could end up being nothing like what is shown.

Overall, Disney World will be receiving some exciting additions to the hotel scene.

What do you think of these new hotels?  Let us know in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog.  You can do that on the right side of the page, along with finding links to our social media accounts.  Thank you for reading!

D23 Expo Announcements: Disney Skyliner (Gondolas) Coming to Walt Disney World

I’m still catching up on D23 Expo news and will be writing short updates about each one.  Once finished with that, I will be adding my own commentary to each post.  I’ll put the new post on top of the blog with each update.  On to the news!

Disney announced several new transportation options that are coming to Walt Disney World in the near future.  One new option will be an user-like service that will take guests directly from location-to-location.  This will be an extra cost to guests instead of the free bus, monorail, and boat transportation.  The cars will be mini-vans themed to Minnie Mouse.  Minnie Vans.  Eye roll.

Via Disney Parks Blog

The more exciting announcement is that Disney is adding a gondola system called Disney Skyliner.  This form of transportation will have stops at Art of Animation and Pop Century, Caribbean Beach Resort, Epcot, and Hollywood Studios.  I’m guessing that this transportation option will be free to guests.  Work has begun on this and I would think this will open in the next year or two.

Disney Parks Blog post on the topic.

My reaction to the news:

Honestly, there’s not much to say aside from this being good news.  I’m all for extra modes of transportation and this certainly fits that bill.

The Minnie Vans make sense, as Disney will try to take away any need for Uber inside of the resort.  I don’t see myself using this very often but I do think it’s a smart service that Disney didn’t already offer.  This should make resort hopping much easier, which appeals to me.

The Disney Skyliner is far more exciting to me.  Gondolas are a fun mode of transportation that should offer some views you couldn’t previously get.  All the better that a few stops will be at cheaper resorts.  The monorails and boat transportation are usually reserved for deluxe resorts, so this is a nice change of pace.

All in all, these are smart and good additions to Walt Disney World that will help transportation for years.

What do you think of these new transportation options?  Let us know in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney please subscribe to the blog.  You can find a way to do that on the right side of the page, along with links to our social media accounts.  Thank you for reading!

D23 Expo Announcements: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway to Replace The Great Movie Ride

Hollywood Studios is home to many ongoing projects.  Disney made another project official yesterday while signaling the end of a classic attraction.  A new ride based on Mickey Mouse will be taking the place of The Great Movie Ride.  The new attraction will be based on the Mickey Shorts that play on Disney Channel and occasionally in front of new films.  These are wacky, zany short films that the attraction will try to imitate.

Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway (quite a mouthful, I would have preferred The Great Mickey Ride) will be utilizing some concepts of The Great Movie Ride but it remains to be seen what technology will be utilized.  Via the Disney Parks Blog:

“Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will feature a new story and a new singable attraction theme song as well as a new experience we’re calling “2 1/2 D.” No glasses required. Walt Disney Imagineer Kevin Rafferty said teams are inventing new technologies that turn the flat world of a colorful cartoon short into a “dimensional display of amazingness.”

I’ll be back with more commentary on the attraction in the next few days.  Here’s a link to the previously mentioned Disney Parks Blog post.

My reaction to the news:

A Mickey attraction is a good idea.  Replacing The Great Movie Ride is disappointing and a little bit frustrating.  Where does that leave the trade-off?  Probably a net positive, however slight it is.  First, the bad.

Losing The Great Movie Ride is disappointing and a definite end to whatever was left of the original Hollywood Studios.  I’m not so sad about losing any connection to the original park, that ship sailed a few years back.  What I do find disappointing is that I think The Great Movie Ride could have fit in thematically with whatever this next version of the Studios is.  It seems that Disney will be concentrating on putting guests into the movies in this new park.  What better way to start that experience than putting guests straight into scenes from classic movies?  Still, the attraction was in pretty bad shape and would have needed a substantial update with a few new scenes.  An addition would have been preferable, but with massive projects underway in other areas of the park I can understand a budget crunch.  Over time the Studios will need more attractions to draw the hordes of crowds away from Star Wars, but I guess we’ll worry about that later.  Oh, I don’t like the name either.

Via Disney Parks Blog

Now that we’re through with negative, a Mickey ride is a great idea!  How there has never been one in the history of Disney Parks is strange and surprising.  Basing this on the Mickey Shorts is a great choice as they are weird, zany and fun.  The layout of The Great Movie Ride makes a lot of sense for the attraction that was described above.  Dashing through scenes in a ride vehicle is already what kind of happens in The Great Movie Ride.  I imagine they’ll turn up the energy a little more in this version than the attraction that preceded it.  All in all, I think what was described is exciting and the subject matter is even better.  If this was an addition instead of a replacement the news would be even better.  As is, I think this is a great idea that could have gone in a better place.

What are your thoughts on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway replacing The Great Movie Ride?  Let us know in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to the blog on the right side of this page.  That’s also where you can find links to our social media accounts.  Thank you for reading!

D23 Expo Announcement: Tron Attraction Coming to Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland

Magic Kingdom didn’t let Hollywood Studios and Epcot have all of the announcements yesterday.  One of the bigger reveals came when Disney announced that a Tron coaster will be coming to Tomorrowland.  To some surprise, this attraction will not be replacing Tomorrowland Speedway but will instead be on an expansion pad.

Via Disney Parks Blog

Tron: Lightcycle has been one of the smashing successes in Shanghai Disneyland’s first year and now guests will be able to experience this attraction stateside.  Disney did announce that they plan to have this done by 2021, Disney World’s 50th anniversary.

Another small bit news about Magic Kingdom is the addition of a new theater on Main Street that will hold substantial crowds.  Judging by the announcement, the aim of this theater is to house more elaborate shows like California Adventure does with Frozen Live at The Hyperion.

Via Disney Parks Blog

I’ll be back with more commentary on both of these additions over the course of this week.

Link to Tron post from Disney Parks Blog
Link to new theater post from Disney Parks Blog

My thoughts on these announcements:

As opposed to the Epcot and Hollywood Studios announcements, I found the Magic Kingdom additions to be overwhelmingly positive.  Mostly because they are just that, additions.  Many of the new items that were announced at D23 were replacing existing attractions.  In reality, the parks are getting busier and busier.  Extra capacity is needed and replacing attractions will make a minimal impact on this.  The new Tron attraction and theater will hold another few thousand people an hour (depending on how many shows a day and ride capacity) and that makes the big picture here a rosy one.

When zooming in on these new additions, I’m still very happy about the additions.  The Tron: Lightcycle attraction will give Tomorrowland a shot in the arm to match the pleasing aesthetic changes.  If this attraction closely matches Shanghai’s then I think the coaster could bring a newfound energy to the park, especially at night.  While I am far from a fan of Tomorrowland Speedway, I’m happy that this coaster is going on an expansion pad.  For now, Tomorrowland Speedway survives and there’s still a chance that it could be replaced in the future.  Again, capacity additions are a definite plus in Magic Kingdom.  As for the attraction, I’m very excited for a new E-ticket in Magic Kingdom.

The theater was maybe the biggest surprise of the expo and is a very nice addition.  Magic Kingdom doesn’t have anything in the way of a big venue to host large-scale shows.  That will change now and Disney has proven apt and adding Broadway-esque productions to the parks.  If this show equals Frozen Live at the Hyperion then this is a great addition.  If it’s Mickey and the Magical Map then this is a good addition.  Heck, even if it opens with a new show that bombs then they’ll replace that one in a few years and this will end up being a positive.  I also like that the theater’s outside facade is inspired by a theater near Walt’s hometown in Missouri.

While other parks were the subject of bigger news and updates, Magic Kingdom may have had the best day as far as what’s coming.  I look forward to both the new attraction and theater arriving in the next few years.

What are your thoughts on a Tron attraction and a new theater coming to Magic Kingdom?  Let us know in the comments.  Thank you for reading Wandering in Disney, if you enjoy the blog please subscribe and like our social media pages.  You can find both of those items on the right side of this page.

D23 Expo Announcements: The Epcot Overhaul

Via Disney Parks Blog

The park that received the most attention at the parks & resorts segment of D23 was Epcot.  Here’s a list of all that was announced specifically for that park.

  • A Guardians of the Galaxy E-ticket attraction (roller coaster?) will be replacing Ellen’s Energy Adventure in Future World, which will close August 13th.
  • A Ratatouille ride (similar to the one in Paris) will be added to the France Pavilion.  So far it seems that this will be a completely new addition and will not take out Impressions de France.
  • A new film will be shown in the China Pavilion.
  • A revised Future World aesthetic.
  • Mission: Space will have a new mission that orbits the Earth.
  • Adjacent to Mission: Space will be a table-service restaurant that is themed to space.

Via Disney Parks Blog

All of these attractions will open over the course of the next few years (all before 2021).  I’ll be back with commentary on these changes in the next few days.  Here’s a link to a few Disney Parks blogs posts with a little more information.

Ratatouille/Guardians of the Galaxy
Mission: Space and restaurant

My thoughts on the announcements:

There’s quite a few announcements here and as a whole I think this is a mixed bag.  Let’s take a look at each individual announcement.

Guardians of the Galaxy taking over the Energy Pavilion is frustrating and puzzling to me.  Sure, Future World needs updated attractions that are exciting.  A Guardians of the Galaxy space themed attraction could fit in with the Mission: Space pavilion next door.  The attraction will likely be fun and enjoyable in isolation.

Unfortunately, I just don’t see how it fits in Future World.  The executives justified it by saying Peter Quill visited Epcot as a child.  My wife was reading me updates on the announcements as I drove.  She told me this and I thought it was just a snarky tweet from one of the other bloggers I follow.  Turns out this was really said.

Allow me to get on my blogger soapbox for a second (it’s poorly built so it crumbles if I stay on it too long).  This joke of a reason is infuriating to me.  I know many people don’t care about this, and that’s fine, but fitting in an attraction to a theme park because a fictional character was said to visit Epcot as a kid is insulting to fans who care about thematic integrity.  Imagine your favorite sport team adding a bad player because he liked the team as a kid.  There are plenty of faults in that analogy but why not just announce the attraction and move on.  Why feed fans a terrible reason that anyone can see right through.  Soapbox dismounted.

Last paragraph notwithstanding, I’ll hold any judgments on this Guardians of the Galaxy attraction until we know more and can actually ride it.  I’m skeptical but realize that Future World needs a shot in the arm.  I’m hopeful that the Energy Pavilion is just done away with and that this is turned into a large space pavilion with Mission: Space and the new restaurant (which I’ll write about below).  Time will tell on this one but this was one of my least favorite announcements of the Expo.

Moving on to Ratatouille, I’m more optimistic on this announcement.  While I’m hopeful that ride isn’t just a clone of the Disney Paris attraction (as that one doesn’t get the best reviews) I do think Ratatouille fits the area fairly well.  As you can tell from the paragraphs above, I don’t like attractions that don’t fit in thematically with an area.  Shoehorning animated films into World Showcase Pavilions is one way to do that but, thankfully, Ratatouille celebrates France.  I’m cautiously optimistic about this announcement as adding several attractions to World Showcase should be a priority.

In that same vein, an updated China film is good by me.  While Reflections of China is perfectly adequate, I do think these films should be updated fairly often as cultures, and even landscapes, change across countries.  This seems like a net gain to me.

A Future World aesthetic change is a great idea and the concept art looks stunning (seen above).  Of course, if Future World’s attractions are terrible then the looks won’t matter much.  But if there’s one thing the Disney company has been good at over the last few years it is making areas beautiful and inviting.  New Fantasyland is a great example of an area with so-so attractions but a great look.  New Fantasyland is far from a failure.  All in all, I think the concept art looks really promising and makes me optimistic about there idea of what the park should look like.

Likewise, I’m optimistic about the new space restaurant and Mission: Space.  I’ll start with the latter.  My biggest complaint about Mission: Space has always been that once inside the attraction it looks bad.  With a mission involving floating around the earth, I think this update could lend itself to better visuals.  If nothing else it will make the attraction more family-friendly which Epcot desperately needs more of.

The space restaurant concept art looks awesome and is a nice idea to fill a stretch of land not already used.  This space area could be a nice little sub area for Future World and is very umm… Futuristic?  Astronaut food doesn’t sound appetizing, but I’m hopeful that the restaurant will be set in the future and will just try to serve really good meals instead of theming the food.

Even with these announcements I’m still confused about what Epcot’s identity is going to be.  On one hand, the space ideas and Future World’s refresh look promising and fit in with the original idea.  On the other hand, an attraction is being added because a fictional character went there as a child?  All in all, I think Epcot will become a more exciting park than what it has been in the last 15 years but will stray even further from the original Epcot Center identity.  I expect more Epcot announcements over the next few years as these announcements (along with other rumors) made it seem as if there is plenty more on the table for the future of this park.

What do you think of these Epcot announcements?  Let us know in the comments.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to the blog on the right side of this page.  That’s where you can find links to our social media accounts, as well.  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Classic Disney Attractions as Characters From The Office

This week is one of the most exciting times to be an avid Disney Parks fan.  D23 Expo is happening in a few short days and with that comes many announcements about what will soon be coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World.  It seems with every passing day another rumor pops up about what will be announced.  A few weeks ago I thought that this expo could be kind of quiet in terms of announcements but judging from the rumor mill, that is not the case.

With this in mind, and because at this point I will just talk about the news when Disney actually announces it and not when every rumor pops up, I thought it’d be the perfect time to step away from informative posts.  Why put up something informative when it’s just going to be buried by a slew of posts in the next few days.  “Instead, put up a blog post that you want to be buried immediately.” That’s what my brain told me.  So, I did just that.

If you didn’t notice from our nearly 400 posts on this site (brag) Disney Parks are one of my favorite things in the world.  A few of my other favorite things are raindrops on roses, whiskers on kittens and The Office (U.S.).  So, why not combine them?  I’ll forget the raindrops and whiskers and save those for another post.  But, the sheer will power it has taken me to abstain from a Disney Park/The Office mashup has been superhero like.  Today, I can no longer be that hero.

Somehow this blog post doesn’t exist on the internet.  Or at least it didn’t show up on the first 4 pages of a “Disney attractions as characters from The Office” Google search. If it does exist, I’m sorry to whoever’s idea I copied.

Hippo IASW

Before I cram this square peg into a round hole, I guess I should spell out the mission of this post.  Pick a character from The Office and match it to a Disney attraction.  That’s it.  Be warned, I watch way too much of The Office and some of these references go way too deep.  Some are me putting a lot of thought into it, resulting in analysis that no one will be able to follow.  Some are also just dumb.  Some are me realizing this was a bad idea after the first few words but staying committed.  Suffice to say, maybe you shouldn’t go on.  We’ll be back with our regularly scheduled programming this weekend.  Now, on to the fun.

Splash Mountain as Michael Scott

Goofy, fun, a soundtrack that is good but could border on annoying – Splash Mountain is fun.  The deeper you look into Splash Mountain, the more impressive it gets.  As Michael goes from season 1 all the way to season 7, he builds up an incredible amount of character.  On the outside, both are still really fun.  But the inside is what make both the character and the attraction iconic.

Toy Story Mania as Jim Halpert

The antithesis of Michael and Splash Mountain?  Maybe that’s a bit strong but stick with me for a second.  On first blush both Toy Story Mania and Jim Halpert are great.  Toy Story Mania is an absolute blast that people love.  Jim Halpert had one of the greatest romances in sitcom history.  Unfortunately, after the fun wears off for both they go down hill.  Jim suffers from a lack of story or bad writing after he’s married.  By the end of the series he’s one of my least favorite characters.  Toy Story Mania still remains a really fun attraction to do.  But, saying that it rivals the classics is an overstatement when you really sit down and think about this large version of a Wii game.

Other people seem to love both of these things.  Maybe they haven’t watched season 8 and 9 of The Office as much as I have (I hope you haven’t) or they just really have fun playing/riding Toy Story Mania.  There’s nothing wrong with either.

Peter Pan’s Flight as Pam Beesly 

Both are sweet and innocent at first glance.  Pam Beesly spent the first four seasons of The Office charming us, being America’s sweetheart.  Peter Pan’s Flight held a similar role for me throughout my youth.  There were the jaw-dropping moments for both – flying over London, Jim and Pam’s first kiss on Casino Night.  There were the beautiful stories told throughout.

Somewhere along the way I fell out of love with both.  25 minutes or more is just too long to wait in line now.  Likewise, watching the writers run out of ideas for Pam in seasons 5-9 of The Office makes me cringe.  As does watching Jenna Fischer try improv.  As does the 5-year-old having a mental breakdown after 45 minutes of waiting in line.  Still, if Pam or Peter Pan’s Flight are caught at the right time (seasons 1-4 or late at night with a minimal wait) I’m reminded of just how wonderful they can be.

Jungle Cruise as Dwight Schrute

Let’s get the negative out-of-the-way.  When you’re tired or in the wrong mood both Dwight and the Jungle Cruise can rub you the wrong way.  They are both somewhat exhausting, as they can be annoying when they are at the worst.

But the positives far outweigh the negatives.  Both have a somewhat dry sense of humor, although Jungle Cruise definitely uses there’s more.  Dwight and the Jungle Cruise are tireless workers, one of which is always the salesman and the other bringing in crowds since 1955.  Maybe the best part about both is they are fine with playing second fiddle.  Go ahead, go ride those other rides or get sucked up in more Jim and Pam drama.  The Jungle Cruise and Dwight will be there waiting to give you a laugh or two.

Darryl Philbin as MuppetVision 3D

Darryl Philbin. Regis Philbin. Regis. Reg. Rog. Roger. Mista Rogers.

Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor as Andy Bernard

Both the attraction and character are good ideas.  The Laugh Floor is a great use of modern-day technology that is both engaging and funny.  Andy starts off as a great piece to play off of the usual office antics.  The problem?  They are completely out-of-place.  The Laugh Floor was pushed into Tomorrowland for some confusing reason.  Andy Bernard was stuffed into the manager role after Michael left because… I don’t know?  Then he was sort of fired, then he was on a boat, then he was auditioning for a singing competition, and somewhere in the middle he faked being a janitor.  These are both great things in the right spot, but neither of them are.

The Maharajah Jungle Trek as Angela Martin

I know you come to this blog for the thought-provoking analysis but I can’t always hold that high standard.  This trek ends with tigers.  Angela loves cats.

Country Bear Jamboree as Erin Hannon

Erin Hannon started off a bit slow, as the writers almost seemed to not know what they had.  Likewise, Country Bear Jamboree is a strange sight for the first time.  Bears singing country music is not something you’ll find Disney building in the present day.  Once the audience was used to both though we find out how sweet, funny and truly awesome each of these are!  It doesn’t hurt that I could see Erin Hannon sitting in Country Bear Jamboree and just giggling non-stop.

Phyllis Vance as Astro Orbiter

Really kind of terrible if you actually look into them.  But they are both harmless and needed by the areas around them.  Just think of all the passive-aggressive comments Phyllis could throw out while waiting in line for this spinning attraction.

Stanley Hudson as The Enchanted Tiki Room

Both are sassy and a little old.  I get the feeling that Stanley or those singing birds could care less about what you think about them.  Plus, we know how much Stanley loves theater when he gets a drink (dole whip float?) in his hand.

Main Street Electrical Parade as Ryan Howard 

Main Street Electrical Parade opened in Disneyland in 1972.  Then moved to Magic Kingdom in 1977.  Closed in 1991.  Reopened in 1999.  Closed in 2001.  Reopened 2010.  Moved to Disneyland for 2017 and is now on the verge of closing.  Along with that the parade went international at several parks.

Ryan started at the office as an intern.  Then became a salesman.  Got a job at corporate.  Fired and arrested from Dunder Mifflin.  Worked at a bowling alley.  Worked as a salesman at Michael Scott Paper Company.  Worked as a salesman at Dunder Mifflin.  Became a temp.  Was last seen running away to who knows where with Kelly.  Oh, and he was going to go to Taiwan.  They’re both survivors, and one of them dated a girl who looked like she was on Survivor.

The Haunted Mansion as Kelly Kapoor

Stitch’s Great Escape as Toby Flenderson

Just the worst.

That does it for my portion of the post but feel free to keep the fun going in the comments if you have an attraction that fits a character I failed to mention or have a better suited one for previously mentioned.  I think a Parks & Rec sequel may be in the works but we’ll see!  Stay tuned this weekend for much more informative posts that should have some exciting news about actual Disney Parks.

If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to the blog on the right side of this page.  That’s also where you can find links to our social media accounts.  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Predicting the D23 Expo Announcements

Updated on 7/10 to add the Tron Lightcycle rumor.

The D23 Expo is about two weeks away and the rumor mill is heating up!  That’s not necessarily true but it sure was an exciting way to start a blog post.  For the uninitiated, the D23 Expo is a bi-annual event celebrating all things Disney.  From movies to theme parks there is no shortage of news, updates and exhibits at this festival.

Lately, Disney has used the D23 Expo to announce many new items that the company is working on.  Since this is a theme parks blog we’ll stick to the theme park side of things.  Novel concept.  At the 2015 Expo Disney announced their initial plans for Star Wars Land, Toy Story Land, gave updates on Animal Kingdom’s Pandora – World of Avatar, and updated us on several other projects.  While I don’t think the news this time around will be quite so huge, there is a potential for many plans to be announced.

Once Upon a Time London

That’s why we’re here today.  I’m going to take a guess at items that may be announced in a few weeks.  Because what’s the internet for if not to predict something that may or may not be announced 2 weeks later.  I will also be using a very scientific scale of 1-10 in how likely I think that this certain announcement will come, 1 being this is a long shot and 10 being a sure thing.  We’ll start with the obvious…

UPDATE: Tron Lightcycle to replace Tomorrowland Speedway at Magic Kingdom – 8 whatever light cycles are out of 10 light cycles.

The rumor mill is swirling as we are just a few days away from the expo.  The big rumor today is that the Tron Lightcycle that was built in Shanghai Disneyland will be added to Magic Kingdom in place of Tomorrowland Speedway.  This rumor has legs as one website has confirmed it and there have been rumors about this for the better part of a year.

Tomorrowland Speedway cars

I’d be all for this happening.  I think the speedway is way past its prime and in need of a replacement.  I will say that I’d rather an original attraction go in here, but this roller coaster does interest me and I do think it could really liven up Tomorrowland, especially at night.  Of all the rumors listed, this is near the top of what I’d like to see announced.

Updates on Star Wars and Toy Story Lands – 10 AT-AT’s with Andy written on a foot out of 10 AT-AT’s with Andy written on a foot.

By the time the next D23 Expo rolls around Toy Story Land will have opened in Hollywood Studios and Star Wars Land SHOULD be open in Disneyland and possibly open in Hollywood Studios.  That leads the way for updated models, exhibits and extra details on these lands at this Expo.

I’m not all that excited for Toy Story Land and am not sure what the company could announce for me to become more excited.  The rides are all announced and they don’t seem to be that complex, meaning that I’m not sure what extra details they could bring to the table on those.  Hopefully some new, beautiful concept art will be shown.

Via the Disney Parks Blog

Star Wars Land is another story, as the company hasn’t revealed very much about this land.  There’s a chance that they could keep it this way and only give out a few nuggets for fans to chew on, then really ramp up the promotion starting next year around this time.  My guess is that they’ll have a few more details about each item and maybe a loose model of the land.  Construction has gone vertical on both coasts so the plans seem to be iron-clad (or maybe metal-clad, in this case).  Even if there are only a few details let loose, I’m sure we’ll get an update on both lands.

Ratatouille ride in Epcot – 9 rats with chef hats on out of 10 rats with chef hats on.

Make no mistake, a Ratatouille ride in World Showcase’s France Pavilion is happening.  Permits have been filed and I would expect visible construction (although not visible from within the park) to begin in the next few months.  I think this would be a decent addition to World Showcase, as Ratatouille does a good job of using French (Paris specifically) culture.  The film actually takes place in France, as opposed to Frozen not taking place in Norway so I don’t have a big problem with the placement here.  I have heard people complain about the Ratatouille ride in Walt Disney Studios at Disneyland Paris.  I hope that they make positive changes to that existing ride so that this could be close to an E-ticket attraction.

As far as the feasibility of this getting announced… I gave it a 9 out of 10 because work already seems to be starting here and I don’t know why they’d wait to announce this but Disney does weird stuff sometimes.  How’s that for reasoning?

France Epcot sunset

Gondolas in Walt Disney World – 9 sweaty people stuffed in a gondola out of 10 sweaty people stuffed in a gondola.

This is another thing that work has already started on, so it seems that an announcement is imminent.  I’m on board with the gondolas that would lead guests from select resorts (Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, possibly one or two more) to Epcot and Hollywood Studios.  I always enjoy different modes of transportation instead of bussing everywhere in Walt Disney World.  I also think it’s smart to offer something different going to Hollywood Studios before Star Wars Land opens in a few years.  As long as sight lines aren’t ruined from within the parks by these gondolas then I’m all for this announcement.

Marvel Land at California Adventure – 6 character meet & greets with guys who sort of look like Captain America out of 10 character meet & greets with guys who sort of look like Captain America.

We’ve entered the part of the post that I’m less sure on.  California Adventure has already started making the transition into a Marvel Land with Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission BREAKOUT! (I still don’t know the correct punctuation of that attraction and don’t care to find out.)  Because of that and the lack of other plans at Disneyland Resort, outside of Downtown Disney, it stands to reason that Marvel Land would be announced instead of letting Walt Disney World get all of the attention.  With that being said, I don’t know if their plans are firm enough to announce this yet.

I don’t think Marvel Land fits the theme of the park but I’ve already said that piece when Mission Breakout opened.  If done right, this could be a really enjoyable land filled with fun attraction and a loose connection to California.  I’d settle for that.

Ellen’s Energy Adventure taken over by Guardians of the Galaxy – 6 Star-Lord’s riding dinosaurs out 10 Star-Lord’s riding dinosaurs.

There have been permits filed for Ellen’s Energy Adventure but, if I understand them right, these don’t assure that the pavilion would be changing.  If it is changing, there are many rumors floating around that a Guardians of the Galaxy thrill ride will be taking over.  I think this is a bad idea, although I’m not opposed to a new thrill ride in place of the pavilion.  I just think that there are multiple avenues to connect energy and a thrill ride instead of throwing superheroes into an area that doesn’t fit them.


Now, Future World definitely needs updating and it has to start somewhere.  Epcot, and Future World specifically, is a sliver of what it once was so maybe the park does need a new direction.  I’m open to ideas but want something with a clear theme instead of something being shoehorned into an area.  I’m sure I’ll write more about this when/if it gets announced.

A Star Wars themed hotel in Walt Disney World – 5 Death Stars out of 10 Death Stars.

This is another item that I’m fairly sure will happen but may not be announced.  Rumors have been swirling about a very immersive Star Wars Resort that would be right outside of Star Wars Land in Hollywood Studios.  I think the idea is pretty cool and would be a money-maker for Disney.  I would bet that Disney announces at least one of the last 3 I mentioned, and wouldn’t be surprised by 2 of 3.

A new World Showcase Pavilion – 3 chanting Brazil tour groups out of 10 chanting Brazil tour groups.

World Showcase is often in the forefront of rumors due to the expansion pads that are spread throughout the area.  I’ve seen many people mention a new pavilion by the time Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary rolls  around (2021) and could see them announcing this in the next year.  The rumors I’ve read (the main source of which is on the WDW Magic Forums) have placed Brazil as the frontrunner for a new country.  I wouldn’t be disappointed in this but would rather see Israel, Australia or India.  I put the probability of this being announced pretty low as I’m not sure there’s enough concrete evidence of this actually happening.  With that being said, this is a good dark horse pick for announcements.

China dragon Epcot night

A new Magic Kingdom nighttime parade – 2 electrical lights out of 10 electrical lights.

This needs to happen and I would think a new nighttime parade is in the works for Magic Kingdom at some point but there doesn’t seem to be any rumors involving this.  I included it on here because parades are easier to keep hidden from Disney fan investigators (no permits need to be filed, no land cleared or construction done, etc.) and because it makes so much sense to have a parade.  For a while people were just lining Main Street in Magic Kingdom because they were so used to having a parade at night.  It doesn’t make any sense that there isn’t one in place and, frankly, is frustrating. I expect one by the 50th anniversary at the very latest and could see something being announced at D23 that would open next summer or in time for the holidays this year.

MSEP dragon

Zootopia Land into Animal Kingdom – 1 “oh, please no!” out of 10 “oh, please no’s”.

If you couldn’t tell from the rating, I do not want this to happen.  Zootopia is pretty good and has animals in it but the motive behind the movie and park do not match at all.  This wouldn’t be the worst idea but I wouldn’t consider this a good one.  I included it on the list because there have been some rumors of it happening in the next decade.  But the fact of the matter is Disney just opened an expansion in Animal Kingdom and I have a hard time seeing them spending a great deal of money there in the next few years.

ToL Awakenings Jungle Book AK

New Fantasyland in place of ToonTown in Disneyland – 1 ice castle out of 10 ice castles.

I think that Disneyland’s ToonTown and Fantasyland will eventually be overhauled with additions like Beauty and the Beast and Frozen.  I just don’t think the time is right now.  Disneyland is moving quickly on their Star Wars Land and once that is completed maybe they’ll move on to a different section of the park.  This was a rumor for a while and makes a good deal of sense to me.  I’ve always thought that ToonTown is inferior to any other land in Disneyland and is prime for replacement with more Fantasyland like attractions.  If Fantasyland took over that section then they could keep aspects of ToonTown because some ideas cross over.  I’m sure Disney is itching for a Frozen attraction and would especially like one with Frozen 2 coming up.  File this announcement under “things that should and will happen but not quite yet”.

Anna Kristoff

There are a few more major items that could be announced.  Most of them include Epcot like revamping the entrance or doing something with the Imagination Pavilion.  Epcot seems to be the next park up on the list of extensive work to be done and these Expo announcements may show that.  I could be forgetting something obvious but that’s what the comments section is for!  Whatever happens in a couple of weeks will surely have us talking.  I will be making posts as the days go along to update on the D23 Expo’s goings on.  I’m looking forward to that fun weekend and seeing what’s coming out way.

What do you think will be announced at the D23 Expo?  Maybe the better question is what do you want to be announced at the D23 Expo?  Let us know in the comments down below.  If you enjoy what you’re reading here on Wandering in Disney, please subscribe to the blog on the right side of this page.  That’s also where you can find links to our social media accounts.  Thank you for reading!

– Andrew

Bengal Barbecue Review

Bengal Barbecue is a counter-service restaurant in Disneyland’s Adventureland.  The counter specializes in skewers, specifically of the meat variety.  The prices here are some of the lowest throughout Disneyland, with almost everything below $5.

Bengal Barbecue is easy to walk right by.  The best reminder that the restaurant is there is the smell of the different barbecue sauces as you walk by.  That’s not to say the Bengal Barbecue looks bad.  In fact, not noticing the restaurant is a compliment (even if it is a little backhanded).  The Adventureland facade in Disneyland is full of straw roofs and brown tints.  Bengal Barbecue completely fits into that as it resides across from the Jungle Cruise near a few shops.

via Disneyland.com

As I mentioned, guests order at the counter at this restaurant.  Bengal’s Barbecue seating is all outside and can get quite hot and crowded.  There is usually minimal shade but the tables work well enough if you’re just getting a quick bite to eat.  If you want to sit somewhere a little less crowded, there is seating at Jolly Holiday Bakery or River Belle Terrace that is more spacious and pleasant.  Those areas are both a short walk in either direction of Bengal Barbecue.

Suffice to say, you aren’t likely to eat at Bengal Barbecue because of the great environment.  Why you might eat there is because of the food and value.  Here is a link to the menu of the restaurant.  As you can see, the offerings are minimal.  The meat on all of the skewers is cooked well from the different times I’ve tried it.  The beef and chicken are both juicy.  I prefer the beef over the chicken, as I think it has more flavor.

The sauces are what really make the skewers.  Sometimes they put a bit too much on but I like that there are several options on the sauce.  I haven’t tried the hot & spicy sauce but I like both the Zulu sauce and the Polynesian sauce.  Both sauces have a Hawaiian/Polynesian flavor profile that make them fit into the theme of Adventureland.


The asparagus wrapped in bacon skewer is a nice little change from just the meat.  There is a seasonal vegetable skewer too.  I’ve never had either of these as they have vegetables on them and I’m against that.  With that being said, I know people (I won’t use actual names because I don’t want them to be embarrassed) who really enjoy the vegetable skewers.

Another item that I’ve had here is the Pomegranate Piranha Lemonade.  Dumb name aside, this is a really refreshing drink.  Frozen lemonade with peach and mango flavors.  There is boba in the bottom of the drink and a passion fruit foam on top.  I didn’t taste any piranha in my drink but I’m no piranha taste expert.

There is an Ahi Poke Spring Roll on the menu and sadly I haven’t tried that.  It sounds interesting to me though.  The breadstick sounds good too.  Melissa has tried it and likes it pretty well.

All of the skewers are under five dollars and that is absolutely a good value, even in non-Disney terms.  They aren’t the most filling items but they are a great snack or a light meal.  If you get two of the skewers then that is a decent sized meal and still under $10.  I like Disneyland’s other counter-service options better for a meal but this is one of my favorite snacks at the park and perfect if on a budget.  If you want a fun meal get a skewer of your choice and then go get beignets in New Orleans Square or a Raspberry Macaron at Jolly Holiday Bakery.

Overall, Bengal Barbecue is a perfect place to stop for a quick bite to eat.  The skewers aren’t the best snack in Disneyland but they are one of my favorite hearty snacks.  I highly recommend them, especially if you are a fan of savory over sweet.

Overall Rating – 8.5/10

– Andrew