Episode #60: World of Color Celebrate

World of Color Celebrate

California Adventures World of Color Celebrate

When I visited Disney California Adventure back in 2011, I was blown away by the night time spectacular World of Color (Check out Episode #8 for details). It’s the natural

evolution of Disney’s night time entertainment, combining just about every trick in Disney’s book.   As I noted back in Episode #8, the technology allows elements of the show to be updated and changed. Things like Pirates of the Caribbean, Tron and holiday elements can be added as needed.

World of Color Celebrate included a few surprises.

World of Color Celebrate included a few surprises.

What I didn’t consider was the possibility of the entire show being replaced for a yearlong celebration – That’s exactly what World of Color – Celebrate is. Celebrate is a tribute to Walt Disney and the 60th Anniversary of Disneyland, a completely new show from beginning to end.

A cohesive story and history lesson chronicling the creation of Mickey Mouse, movie development from Snow White to Frozen and of course, Disneyland – complete with tributes to classic attractions.   Add a guest host – Neil Patrick Harris and Mickey Mouse and you have a 60th Anniversary celebration that Walt couldn’t have imagined…   incredible and the subject of SamsDisneyDiary #60, Here’s hoping Animal Kingdoms River of Light incorporates some of this incredible technology!

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #60 – World of Color Celebrate

 

Categories: Disney California Adventure, Disneyland, Walt Disney World, World of Color | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Episode #59: WDW Hollywood Studios 5 Favorites Gone Forever… Forever…

redloopWelcome to this month’s Magical Blogorail Red loop. Today we are discussing Little Known Facts about Disney Attractions.


 

Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios is about to embark on a major transformation. In many ways, that transformation has already begun. The removal of the Sorcerers Hat, the closing of the Backlot tour and the Animation Building may have captured the headlines, but the process started years ago with the disappearance of some of the “hidden gems” of the Studios.

SamsDisneyDiary #59 – Hollywood Studios Hidden Gems, Gone Forever!

SamsDisneyDiary - 5 Favorites Gone from WDW Hollywood

SamsDisneyDiary – 5 Favorites Gone from WDW Hollywood

Hard to believe but Disney MGM Studios was originally built to be a working television and feature movie production studio, the first of its kind in Central Florida. In 1989 when the park opened, it featured two studios: Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida, which produced among others Mulan, Lilo & Stitch and Brother Bear, and Walt Disney Studios Florida. Walt Disney Studios Florida produced The Mickey Mouse Club with Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling and Christina Aquilera. The Studios also produced “Teen Win, Lose or Draw”, Adventures in Wonderland along with tapings of World Championship Wrestling, Let’s Make a Deal and several music videos. The Backlot Tour was built

Disney MGM Studios Opening day Map

Disney MGM Studios Opening day Map

around and inside the sets, props and backstage area of the “working” studio. Originally, the studio was exactly that, a studio tour, but that identity didn’t last long. The Feature Animation Department was closed in 2001 and the working studio concept never really stuck. Today, summer 2015, the Studios is a shell of what it was originally intended to be; the concept of a working studio has been abandoned. We learned from Bob Iger that the name would be changing, but no additional details. It’s safe to say the working studio concept is gone, and the new name will reflect just that.   Hollywood Studios will transform into a working “Theme Park”, and if the changes at Disney’s California Adventure are any indication of what’s to come – we are in for a treat. DCA’s Carsland, Bugsland, Hollywoodland would easily fit into Studios (While World of Color may be a preview of what to expect at Animal Kingdoms Rivers of Light). – See SamsDisneyDiary #60 for World of Color Celebrate.

 5 Hollywood Studios Secrets Gone forever….

“The Guard Shack(s)”

The Guard Shack - Original MGM Studios Version - The Gateway from the Front lot to the Back lot, was a key component to the original studio design.

The Guard Shack – Original MGM Studios Version.  An important landmark in the original studio design.  Separating the front lot rom the back lot – a forgotten relic.

One of the earliest signs of “change to come” happened during Star Wars Weekends 2009. One of my favorite “hidden secrets” of the Studios was to the left of the Great Movie Ride headed toward the ABC Commissary. On the right of the walkway there used to be a small building, a Guard Shack. That guard shack was the symbolic passing from the front lot (Hollywood Blvd and Sunset) to the studios backlot – ABC Commissary. All of the attractions and shops on the front lot were built as full buildings for guests’ enjoyment, while sets on the backlot were built for the camera. Residential Street and even Star Tours with only the front facade of the AT-AT Walker constructed.  The shack itself was a simple building, complete with incredible details: A Studios jacket with a clipboard and computer monitor. It was removed to make room for the Jedi Mickey meet and greet location and never came back. There was another guard shack near the Backlot Express, that too has been removed.

Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind

Sid was actually Danny Dillon, a cast member who took Sid and made him real.  You could find Danny’s picture as “Sid” hanging inside the building

Sid was actually Danny Dillon, a cast member who took Sid and made him real. You could find Danny’s picture as “Sid” hanging inside the building

Sid's Truck is still parked outside the shop, loaded with Hollywood goodies from his latest trip

Sid’s Truck is still parked outside the shop, loaded with Hollywood goodies from his latest trip

From the MGM Studios Opening Day Map Sid Cahuenga’s One-of-a-Kind”: Sid has a house full of authentic Hollywood collectibles he’s willing to part with”. As soon as you enter Hollywood Studios, look directly to your left – just to the right of Guest Relations, you can’t miss Sid Cahuenga’s truck – the truck full of Hollywood props. Sid is fresh back from collecting surplus items from local studios, and maybe even digging through some dumpsters. You see, Sid is a huge movie fan, so much so that he relocated from the Midwest to Hollywood in the 20s and collected everything he could. As Hollywood became more popular, Sid refused to sale his property to any studio. Instead he leveraged the stream of tourists and decided to make some extra money

From park opening until 2013 Sid Cahuengas was the place to find one-of-a-kind "Tinseltown Treasures"

From park opening until 2013 Sid Cahuengas was the place to find one-of-a-kind “Tinseltown Treasures”

by selling some of his collection.  Well, at least that’s the official backstory. From opening day until November 2013, you could find authentic Hollywood memorabilia here. While Sid wasn’t a real person, from opening day until 2005, you might have met “Sid Cahuenga”.

Sid was actually Danny Dillon, a cast member who took Sid and made him real. You could find Danny’s picture as “Sid” hanging inside the building. Sid’s was my last stop every time I visited the Studios; it was truly unique. Now you know why even today, you see Sid’s truck and a residential style house that looks out of place for Hollywood.  In December 2013, the memorabilia from Sid’s was moved to the AFI – American Film Institute at the exit of the Backlot Tour, and Sid’s was reopened as Hollywood Studios “MyMagic+ Service Center”. The outside remains themed, inside you’ll find Fast Pass+ Kiosks.   Let’s hope we don’t lose the outside theme as the Studios transitions.

The Writer’s Stop

Originally the Writer's Stop had a 60s style console TV playing Mickey Mouse Cartoons

Originally the Writer’s Stop had a 60s style console TV playing Mickey Mouse Cartoons

No, the Writer’s Stop has not closed; in fact, many list it as a Hollywood Studios hidden gem. Described in the Studios map as “Coffee, espresso, muffins, pastries and more”, the Writer’s Stop is a perfect hidden gem in plain sight. Don’t miss the famous carrot cake cookie!! Yum! It’s not the Writer’s Stop itself that I’m missing. It’s the changing of the interior. Inside the Writer’s Stop, when crowd levels are moderate to low, you’ll find a display of various Disney books and DVDs. The high

Hollywood Studios "Writer's Stop" with the upgraded Television and rack of DVD/BluRay

Hollywood Studios “Writer’s Stop” with the upgraded Television and rack of DVD/BluRay

definition television between a couple of chairs and couch features some of the movies that are available for purchase in the Writer’s Stop. During Star Wars Weekend and the Osborne Lights, the chairs and couch will be replaced by high top tables to accommodate larger crowds. But even then, it’s what used to be there that I miss. In place of the high definition television and DVDs, there used to be a 1950s style console television featuring black and white Mickey Mouse cartoons, along with board games and children’s books.   This was a MUST do for our young family, a retreat in the middle of the park. My children immediately grabbed a seat at the couch (or nearby chair) and finished off their afternoon snack while watching classic Mickey Mouse. That homey feeling is a part of Hollywood Studios history – it was a perfect escape from the Florida heat, and always led to conversations about the TV at grandma’s house.

AFI – American Film Institute Showcase

The American Film Institute Showcase featured an ever changing exhibit of move props and costumes.

The American Film Institute Showcase featured an ever changing exhibit of move props and costumes.

The American Film Institute Showcase featured an ever changing exhibit of move props and costumes.

The American Film Institute Showcase featured an ever changing exhibit of move props and costumes.

While I understand the closing of the Backlot Tour and re-theming of the park, lost in the shuffle was the American Film Institute Showcase. If you ever rode the Backlot Tour, the AFI Showcase was the exit area just before the AFI Store. This was a great spot for “traveling” exhibits that showcased a movie or movie genre. It was also a great spot to see actual props and film used wardrobe. At its closing in August 2014, the exhibit featured “The Best in Film: AFI’s 100 Years, 100 Movies,” featuring props and costumes based on AFI’s “100 Greatest Movies” list. It was also a great place to see authentic Star Wars props during Star Wars Weekends.

Parades

Pixar Countdown to Fun Parade was a daily parade at Hollywood studios from 2011-2013

Pixar Countdown to Fun Parade was a daily parade at Hollywood studios from 2011-2013

Disney Stars and Motor Cars parade - Kermitt

Disney Stars and Motor Cars parade – Kermitt

While the expectation is the return of a daily parade, Hollywood Studios lost its daily parade in 2013 when the Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun! Parade was canceled. The Countdown to Fun Parade was last in a long line of parades that dated back to 1991 with the Dinosaurs Live Parade. Since then, Aladdin, Toy Story, Hercules and Mulan all had parades at Hollywood Studios. You may remember the Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade that lasted 7 years (2001-2008). While Star Wars Weekends includes a parade and the 2015 Frozen Summer features a Royal Welcome Reception – both lack the Disney Spectacle captured in the Magic Kingdoms Festival of Fantasy Parade. In fact, the floats used for Frozen Summer are mostly recycled “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Parade” floats. Here’s hoping for a new parade as part of Studios re-theming.   The daily parade at California Adventure could be an indication of what is to come.

The Sorcerers Hat?

The Sorcerers Hat....  Not so sad to see it go.

The Sorcerers Hat….

Actually, I’m just kidding about the Sorcerers Hat…. It should have never lasted as long as it did, but Disney was stuck in a legal battle that lasted until the naming rights of the actual theater in Hollywood was sold to TCL in 2013. While you won’t hear Disney publicly state that was the issue, the evidence is clear. Any way you look at it, welcome back “TCL Chinese Theater”. Let’s hope you make it through the transition…. But that’s a topic for another blog!!!

And all of SamsDisneyDiary Here (www.SamsDisneyDiary.com) Subscribe to the YouTube channel for all of my videos www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary and follow me on twitter for all of the latest! @SamsDisneyDiary

PHOTO GALLERY BELOW!!
Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Little Known Facts About Disney Attractions Loop:
  1. >> You Are Here >> Sam’s Disney Diary | Hollywood Studios – 5 Hidden Secrets Gone Forever
  2. Adventureland Pam | Tower of Terrorredloop
  3. Frontierland Station | Expedition Everest
  4. Heidi’s Head | Cinderella Castle
  5. Family Travel Escapades | it’s a small world

Photo Gallery – The Guard Shack

Photo Gallery – Sid Cahuernga’s

Photo Gallery – The Writer’s Stop

Photo Gallery – AFI Showcase

Photo Gallery – Studios Parades

Categories: Hollywood Studios, Stuff that's gone, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , | 8 Comments

Episode #58 – The Magic of Disney Animation: Farewell, Drawn to Animation

Thanks for the Memories!!!

Thanks for the Memories!!!

Summer 2015, Walt Disney Worlds Hollywood Studios is undergoing a major transformation.  When the transformation is finished, the park will have a new name and new identity.  Today, July 12, 2015 was the last day of operation for the “The Magic of Disney Animation”.  The building and attraction have a history that dates back to the park opening; it was once home to the Florida division of Walt Disney Feature Animation, developing feature films including Lilo & Stitch, Mulan and Brother Bear.

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #58: Farewell Animation Building

The Animation Department was closed in 2004, and since then the building has been home to:  Animation Academy – hands

Drawing a character was always popular inside the building.

Drawing a character was always popular inside the building.

on opportunity to draw your very own Disney character sketch; The Sound Stage – an opportunity for you to create your own soundtrack to a popular Disney movie scene; Digital Ink and Paint – add splashes of color to a classic Disney animated sequence; You’re a Character – Answer a series of questions to discover what popular character you’re most like; and the Animation Gallery – a walk-through display of animation cels, props and awards.

The Magic of Animation building was once home to many character meet and greats including Baymax and Hiro

The Magic of Animation building was once home to many character meet and greats including Baymax and Hiro

The building has also housed a variety of Disney Character Meet and Greets including Sorcerer Mickey, Minnie Mouse and typically a character from the latest Disney Animated Feature – at closing that was Bay Max and Hiro from Big Hero 6. The building also included the Animation Theater.  The building itself has been through a lot of changes, but that’s a topic for another blog.   The Animation Theater featured “Drawn to Animation” when it closed.  A short presentation featuring Mushu; Mushu was developed in the building during the development of Mulan.  With the help of a Disney Animator, Mushu takes us on a fun-filled presentation of the animation process in an easy-to-understand way.  The presentation shows the basis of creating an animated character and the importance of character development in Disney animated movies. While this isn’t the original film presented in the building, it has grown on me and my family over the years.  Like the now removed Sorcerers Hat, many people only know this movie from the Animation Theater.  While I’m fond of the original “Back to Neverland”, I’ve learned to appreciate Drawn to Animation.  For SamsDisneyDiary #58, I was permitted to record one of the final presentations of “Drawn to Animation” – I do hope you enjoy and this brings back memories. Thanks Mushu and thanks to all who visited the Animation Building.

And all of SamsDisneyDiary Here (www.SamsDisneyDiary.com) Subscribe to the YouTube channel for all of my videos www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary and follow me on twitter for all of the latest! @SamsDisneyDiary

Categories: Animation Courtyard, Drawn to Animation, Hollywood Studios, SamsDisneyDiary, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

Episode #57 – #FrozenSummer 2015: For the First Time in Forever: A “Frozen” Sing-Along Celebration

The Hyperion Theater is the new home for "For the First Time in Forever" A Frozen Sing Along #FrozenSummer

The Hyperion Theater is the new home for “For the First Time in Forever” A Frozen Sing Along #FrozenSummer

The summer of 2015 has transitioned Disney’s Hollywood Studios into “Frozen Summer Fun”.  With special events throughout the park, the “Frozen” summer includes:  The Royal Welcome Parade, Olaf’s Summer Cool Down Stage Show, a Frozen Dance Party and nightly “Frozen” Fireworks.

If you have been following Sams Disney Diary, you know that I’m a fan of Star Wars Weekends at the Studios.  You can’t help but notice the similarities between Star Wars Weekends and the Frozen Summer.  The Frozen Premier Package is very similar to the “Feel the Force” Package – including VIP parade viewing, a Fast Pass, and a VIP dessert party.  If you remember, the stage shows for Star Wars Weekend moved to the “Theater in the Stars” for 2015 – the Beauty and the Beast stage.   A big addition for Star Wars Weekend was the stage screens – a screen on both sides of the stage and a massive digital screen used behind the guests to display sets and movie clips.   Those screens have all been repurposed for the Frozen Summer.  The side screens are now being used at the corner of Hollywood and Sunset as “information guides” while the larger stage screen has been moved to the new “Hyperion Theater”.  The Hyperion Theater is the newly re-themed “Super Star Television Theater” which most recently was the home for the American Idol Experience.

Hyperion Theater is now the home for “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration” – which was previously in the Premier Theater – near Muppet Vision (The Premier Theater is now behind construction walls)

The Hyperion Theater is the new home for "For the First Time in Forever" A Frozen Sing Along #FrozenSummer

The Hyperion Theater is the new home for “For the First Time in Forever” A Frozen Sing Along #FrozenSummer

The screen is amazing, and the show is still a must do for anyone with children looking to sing as loud as they can!  The screen combined with special effects makes for a long lasting childhood memory.    It is well worth a Fast Pass if it’s a must do on your list.

And all of SamsDisneyDiary Here (www.SamsDisneyDiary.com) Subscribe to the YouTube channel for all of my videos www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary and follow me on twitter for all of the latest! @SamsDisneyDiary

 

 

Categories: #FrozenSummer, Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Episode #56 – The Great Movie Ride Post Show Montage Update

Hollywood Studios Great Movie Ride

Hollywood Studios Great Movie Ride

The Great Movie Ride is a Hollywood Studios original, an opening day attraction dating back to May 1st 1989.  Its history can be directly linked to the development of the entire park, but that’s a story for another video and blog.

In 2014, Disney and Turner Classic Movies signed an agreement that included sponsorship of the Great Movie Ride; this sponsorship included some refurbishments including a new pre-show, new post show and new onboard ride narration.

 

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #56: The Great Movie Ride Update


The signage around the attraction has changed slightly, and the queue now features animated movie posters and a much longer pre-show loop.  I have always been personally fond of the post show video montage, a short video at the end of the attraction that takes riders on a nostalgic look at the movies.  With the addition of the new Turner Classic Movies sponsorship comes an updated post show montage.  While everyone will have an opinion, one of the best parts of the update is the move to all digital projection.  While the video has been updated many times

New Photo Opportunity at the end of the Great Movie Ride - put your hands in the stars...

New Photo Opportunity at the end of the Great Movie Ride – put your hands in the stars…

since opening – adding Pirates, Nemo and many other recent productions – the TCM update is a complete redo – while lots of the scenes are the same, the net result is many more clips and movies represented.

I took the opportunity to create a video with both the 2014 and 2015 versions of the post show.   The video featured in this blog has the full pre-refurb ending montage and the complete post-refurb montage.   Hope you enjoy.

And all of SamsDisneyDiary Here (www.SamsDisneyDiary.com) Subscribe to the YouTube channel for all of my videos www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary and follow me on twitter for all of the latest! @SamsDisneyDiary

 

Categories: Great Movie Ride, Hollywood Studios, SamsDisneyDiary, Turner Classic Movies, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Episode #55 – Les Halles Boulangerie and Patisserie

Merchandise in the near by shop

Merchandise in the near by shop

Visit an empty France Pavilion, any day of the week: Les Halles Boulangerie Patisserie.  Opening at 9am, Less Halles Boulanderie & Patisserie offers a unique opportunity to visit France before World Showcase Opens at 11am

With little fanfare, compared to Starbucks in all four parks, Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie opened in World Showcase’s France Pavilion in 2013.  This “new” quick service dining location features “fresh baguette sandwiches, pastries and baked goods”. According to the official Disney description, you can “Sample delectable treats and tempting delicacies at the traditional French bakery – from soups and salads to fresh baguette sandwiches and pastries.”

“Delectable treats and tempting delicacies” – That’s a quote from Disney.

The previous bakery “Boulangerie Patisserie” had been in need of a makeover, if nothing else an adequate queuing area for guests. What’s interesting about this renovation is that it’s completely new construction. In fact, the previous “Boulangerie Patisserie” location has reopened as L’Artisan des Glaces, featuring artisanal ice cream and sorbets.

Opening at 9am, Less Halles Boulanderie & Patisserie offers a unique opportunity to visit France before World Showcase Opens at 11am

Opening at 9am, Less Halles Boulanderie & Patisserie offers a unique opportunity to visit France before World Showcase Opens at 11am

The new location is an extension built behind a previous retail location in the far back corner of the pavilion. Believe it or not, Disney removed part of a merchandise location for seating in the new location. It works well, and if you weren’t familiar with the previous merchandise location, you wouldn’t miss much.

The bakery, as you would expect, features a wide variety of croissants, fresh fruit tarts, cookies, cakes, eclairs, crème brulee, mousse and cream puffs. What you might not expect are the sandwiches (on French baquette and/or croissants) including ham & Swiss and a traditional B.L.T. and an assortment of soups (lobster bisque) and fresh quiche, making the bakery more than just a breakfast stop. You can also grab a glass of champagne, wine or a beer (1664 Kronenbourg) if that’s more your speed.

What I found most interesting are the hours. As everyone is aware, Epcot is broken into Future World and World Showcase. Standard park hours have Future World operating from 9:00am – 9:00pm, and World Showcase operating from 11:00am to 9:00pm. (The exception being the “Princess Storybook Breakfast” at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in Norway, open as early as 7:00am).

  “Delectable treats and tempting delicacies” – That’s a quote from Disney.


“Delectable treats and tempting delicacies” – That’s a quote from Disney.

After a quick glance at my times-guide, the 9:00am opening of “Les Halles Boulangerie & Patisserie” stood out like a sore thumb. (Everything else in World Showcase opens at 11:00am or later, the new French bakery opens at 9:00am) Ever want to get your picture in front the France pavilion with literally no one else in the picture? Here is your chance.

If you’re staying in the Epcot Resort Area, my favorite resort location, you can walk to or take the boat to the Epcot International Gateway entrance. When you enter, the cast member near the bridge to France will point you towards Future World. Let them know you are headed to the “new” France bakery, it’s that easy! (Keep it our little secret ;-). France will be empty (assuming it’s before 10:00am), so start taking those pictures. You won’t be able to get past France. There is a rope and cast member just before Morocco, so head all the way to the back of the France pavilion. When you walk in, you’ll smell the fresh baguettes and croissants before you see the bakery.

The empty bakery is a perfect spot to start a day in Epcot. Another little secret, the merchandise location and “Kidcot Fun Stop” are also open at 9:00am. Take your time, color a Duffy or Perry!!!

And all of SamsDisneyDiary Here (www.SamsDisneyDiary.com) Subscribe to the YouTube channel for all of my videos www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary and follow me on twitter for all of the latest! @SamsDisneyDiary

Categories: Epcot, France, Walt Disney World, World Showcase | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Episode #54 – Making a Splash at Boardwalks Luna Park

Welcome to this month’s Magical Blogorail Green loop. Today we are discussing the best Disney resort pools.


Welcome Home!  The Walt Disney World Boardwalk Resort - Theme is everywhere, and the Luna Park Swimming Pool is no exception.

Welcome Home! The Walt Disney World Boardwalk Resort – Theme is everywhere, and the Luna Park Swimming Pool is no exception.

Summer 2015 is here, and if you’re headed to Walt Disney World chances are you have big plans.  On select days, the Magic Kingdom opens at 9:00am and Extra Magic Hours last until 2:00am.  Epcot and Hollywood Studios are opened until 11:00pm on Extra Magic nights.  What’s the trick?  Pace!  Especially with little ones, you can just about time your watch to the midafternoon melt downs through the parks, and with the price of tickets I can completely understand why trying to go straight through is so attractive.  There is a better way.  If you and your family are early risers, head to the Magic Kingdom for the morning show. (Details Here at SamsDisneyDiary #19)  Those precious morning hours will allow you to accomplish more in 3 hours than you can in 6 hours midday.  Have a plan ready.  If you have little ones, try Mine Train, Peter Pan, Winnie the Pooh, Little Mermaid, and use your Fast Passes for later when the lines are longer.  If you don’t have a plan then you can go to Touringplans.com (and use discount code 15NERDS to save 20%).

The trick is to take a break before the afternoon melt down, and there is no place better than your Walt Disney World resort pool!   Every Walt

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #54: The Video, click image below to play, Blog Continues after the video.

Luna Park Pool at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk

Luna Park Pool at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk

Disney World resort has a swimming pool.  They are outside and all continue the resorts theme.  From basic in-ground swimming pool to the expansive Storm-Along Bay sand bottom pool and lazy river and everything in-between.  The swimming pool should be a consideration if you’re traveling during the summer months (May – Sept); pools are open all year round and heated, so they can even be enjoyed during your holiday trips.

While every Walt Disney World pool offers outstanding theming, the pool features can be directly linked to the type of resort.  I won’t get into all of the differences here, but the value resorts, while very whimsically themed, are large in-ground pools with a water feature or two that’s spitting/squirting water into the pool.   The exception to the value resorts is Art of Animation and the Big Blue Pool, a nearby kid play area provides a nice distraction outside of a “kiddie pool” found at the other value resorts.   Moving up to the moderate resorts, you’ll find the same detail in theming and the addition of a water slide and hot tub.  The deluxe resorts take it to the next level.  From Yacht and Beach Clubs Storm Along Bay complex with a 150-foot slide to the Polynesian’s Volcano Pool, the pools in some cases are part of the destination and should be figured into the cost of the resort.

Keaster Coaster water Slide

Keaster Coaster water Slide

So what’s my favorite pool?  The one at the resort I’m staying at, of course… and most frequently that’s my Disney Vacation Club home resort, The Walt Disney World Boardwalk!  Theme is all around you at the Boardwalk where you are transitioned to an east coast turn-of-the-century boardwalk, a cross between Coney Island and Atlantic City.  There will be a full SamsDisneyDiary on the Boardwalk in the future, and if you are after a full tour check out the Disney Nerds Podcast Show #54.

Every Disney resort has a signature pool, and at the Boardwalk it’s “Luna Park”.  Why Luna Park?  While they could have called it the Boardwalk pool, the backstory behind Luna Park goes all the way back to 1901.  The Pan-American Exposition, a type of World Fair, was held in Buffalo, New York in 1901.  Two men, Elmer “Skip” Dundy and Frederic Thompson, invented a ride called Trip to the Moon.  Trip to the Moon was a large rocket shaped ride that passengers would board and look out a window as they flew over Niagara

Theme is everywhere at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk - and the Luna Park Feature Swimming pool is no Exception

Theme is everywhere at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk – and the Luna Park Feature Swimming pool is no Exception

Falls (remember you were boarding in Buffalo, New York) and head toward the moon.  Unlike the usual illusion show which moved around the spectators, this one would take the audience on a journey. The scenes were changed manually by sliding cards over the windows until you landed on the moon. You were greeted by moon people who then offered their new visitors moon cheese (remember, it was 1901 – That’s what the moon was thought to be made of).  Turns out it was the most popular attraction of the 1901 exposition; over 400,000 people rode “Trip to the Moon”   After the exposition, the partners, Elmer “Skip” Dundy and Frederic Thompson moved the attraction to the Steeplechase Park at Coney Island.  It was again a huge success, so much so that management of the Steeplechase increased their cut.  In response, Dundy and Thompson bought out the neighboring Sea Lion Park and in 1903, created Luna Park; Luna being Latin for Moon.

Helter Skelter at the real turn of the century Luna Park

Helter Skelter at the real turn of the century Luna Park

The Boardwalk swimming pool name is a tribute to Skip and Frederic and their Luna Park.  All parks on the coast had to have a roller coaster, and our Luna Park is no exception.  Typically you would get into some sort of car or train to ride a roller coaster; but for our coaster, you sit on your keister!   Hence the name Keister Coaster for the feature water slide themed to a roller coaster.  Do you remember the games on the boardwalk where you shoot water into a clown’s mouth and watch the balloon fill with water with the first to pop winning?   Notice the Keister Coaster exits right out of a clown’s mouth, exactly where you would shoot the water to win the boardwalk game.  Clowns were also used to entertain riders as they waited in line… call that the first interactive queue.

Elephant Rides at the Real Luna Park - Cony Island

Elephant Rides at the Real Luna Park – Cony Island

What about those elephants?  Turns out Luna Park had a herd of elephants, and they were used as an attraction.  Ride the elephants, almost like riding a pony.  In order to bring attention to the elephants, the trainers would take the elephants to the ocean where they could clean themselves right on the beach.  You can imagine a busy summer day

Elephants at the Pool?  Why?

Elephants at the Pool? Why?

on the beach and a herd of elephants come walking right into the water to take a bath.  People would gather quickly to watch the elephants play in the water and maybe get squirted; Luna Park hoped that you would follow the elephants back to the park and purchase a ticket for a ride.  While you can’t ride the elephants at Disney’s Boardwalk, you can let them squirt you all day.  Did you see the baby elephant over at the kids’ pool?

Sonora Webster Carver with one of the "Leaping Horses"

Sonora Webster Carver with one of the “Leaping Horses”

Leaping Horse Libations is a whimsical carousel-themed bar and snack bar, but of course there is much more to the name.   The name comes from the painting on the side, the diving horse with a girl.  There was a show in Atlantic City, New Jersey on the end of a steel pier.  A horse would dive into a tank of water (from 40-60 feet) with a woman rider.  The real story is the girl, Sonora Carver.  During her second year of diving, Sonora hit the water the wrong way and seriously injured her eyes,

Sonora Webster Carver mid Leap

Sonora Webster Carver mid Leap

detaching both retinas – causing blindness.  She continued to ride the horse for 11 years without the crowd knowing she was blind.    Sonora’s story can be found in her 1961 Book, A Girl and Five Brave Horses  and seen in a highly fictionalized movie of her life Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken.  Sonora died in 2003 at the age of 99.

Want another piece of trivia?  Have you ever noticed the design of the ESPN Club on the boardwalk?  It’s designed to resemble the tank that Sonora would dive into!  And remember Skip Dundy?  The general merchandise store in the lobby of the Boardwalk is “Dundee’s Sundries: Serving the general public since 1902”, and you can find Frederic Thompsons name on the store on the boardwalk.  Now that’s theming!

Now outside of the theming, the swimming pool is a perfect way to relax while recharging and getting ready for more Disney park fun.  There is a nearby playground and campfire.  Check the schedule for pool games and activities and have a blast at Luna Park and have a blast at the Luna Park pool!

Be sure to check out the video of my experience. Thanks for watching, reading and listening. Be sure to follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary, Instagram www.instagram.com/SamsDisneyDiary, www.facebook.com.samsdisneydiary and check out the Disney Nerds Podcast subscribe in your favorite RSS reader here.


Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Green | Best Disney Resort Pools Loop:

Categories: Boardwalk, Luna Park Pool, Resorts, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , | 6 Comments

Episode #53 – Star Wars Weekend 2015: Obi-Wan and Beyond

#SWW2015 - James Arnold Taylor - Obi-Wan and Beyond

#SWW2015 – James Arnold Taylor – Obi-Wan and Beyond

SThe Theater of the Stars served as the new location for Star Wars Weekend Theater events.  The Three main theater events, all hosted by James Arnold Taylor included; Star Wars Rebels, Stars of the Saga and Obi-Wan and beyond.  I attended the First Weekend of Star Wars Weekend 2015 and had my camera ready. This is Obi-Wan and Beyond, staring the many voices of James Arnold Taylor.  Take a fun field adventure on a fascinating journey into the world of voice acting.  James is the voice of over 200 popular and iconic characters, this is your opportunity to get an inside look at the live of a voice actor.  The show has evolved over the years and found a new home in 2015 at the theater of the stars.  The screen is an outstanding addition and great complement to the performance.  This is the full show from weekend #1 of SSW 2015.  I do hope you enjoy and May the force be with you.   For more on Star Wars Weekend 2015 be sure to listen to The Disney Nerds Podcast Show #85 The Disney Nerds Podcast – Star Wars Weekend 2015

 

SamsDisneyDiary Video Episode #53: Star Wars Weekend 2015 “Star Wars: Obi-Wan and Beyond”

Be sure to check out the video of my experience. Thanks for watching, reading and listening. Be sure to follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary, Instagram www.instagram.com/SamsDisneyDiary, www.facebook.com.samsdisneydiary and check out the Disney Nerds Podcast subscribe in your favorite RSS reader here.

In addition to the photos below you can find a full photo report over at http://www.thedisneynerdspodcast.com here

Categories: #SWW2015, James Arnold Taylor, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Episode #52 – Star Wars Weekends 2015 “Stars of the Sage”

#SWW2015 weekend 1 features Ian McDiarmid, also know as the Emperor

#SWW2015 weekend 1 features Ian McDiarmid, also know as the Emperor

Sams Disney diary episode #52 – Star Wars Weekend 2015: Stars of the Saga  The Theater of the Stars served as the new location for Star Wars Weekend Theater events.  The Three main theater events, all hosted by James Arnold Taylor included; Star Wars Rebels, Stars of the Saga and Obi-Wan and beyond.  I attended the First Weekend of Star Wars Weekend 2015 and had my camera ready. This is the complete “Star Wars: Stars of the Sage Talk Show” hosted by James Arnold Taylor and featuring interviews with 2015 Star Wars Weekends #1 Celebrities Amy Allen and Ian McDiamind – also known as the Emperor, hope you enjoy.    For more on Star Wars Weekend 2015 be sure to listen to The Disney Nerds Podcast Show #85 http://wp.me/p5o3Ne-pE

SamsDisneyDiary Video Episode #52: Star Wars Weekend 2015 “Star Wars: Rebels”

Be sure to check out the video of my experience. Thanks for watching, reading and listening. Be sure to follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary, Instagram www.instagram.com/SamsDisneyDiary, www.facebook.com.samsdisneydiary and check out the Disney Nerds Podcast subscribe in your favorite RSS reader here.

In addition to the photos below you can find a full photo report over at http://www.thedisneynerdspodcast.com here

 

Categories: #SWW2015, Amy Allen, Hollywood Studios, Ian McDiarmid, James Arnold Taylor, Special Events, Star Wars Weekend, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Episode #51 – Star Wars Weekend 2015 “Star Wars: Rebels”

Star Wars Weekend 2015 Weekend 1 - Star Wars Rebels - #SWW2015

Star Wars Weekend 2015 Weekend 1 – Star Wars Rebels – #SWW2015

Star Wars Weekend 2015: Star Wars Rebels. The Theater of the Stars served as the New location for Star Wars Weekend theater events. The Three main theater events, all hosted by James Arnold Taylor included; Star Wars Rebels, Stars of the Saga and Obi-Wan and beyond. I attended the First Weekend of Star Wars Weekend 2015 and had my camera ready. This is the complete “Star Wars: Rebels” program, hope you enjoy. For more on Star Wars Weekend 2015 be sure to listen to The Disney Nerds Podcast Show #85 http://wp.me/p5o3Ne-pE

SamsDisneyDiary Video Episode #51: Star Wars Weekend 2015 “Star Wars: Rebels” 


Be sure to check out the video of my experience.  Thanks for watching, reading and listening.  Be sure to follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary, Instagram www.instagram.com/SamsDisneyDiary,  www.facebook.com.samsdisneydiary and check out the Disney Nerds Podcast subscribe in your favorite RSS reader here.

In addition to the photos below you can find a full photo report over at http://www.thedisneynerdspodcast.com here

Categories: #SWW2015, SamsDisneyDiary, Special Events, Star Wars Weekend, Tiya Sircar, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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