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.

Categories: Animation Courtyard, Drawn to Animation, Hollywood Studios, SamsDisneyDiary, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , | Leave a 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

Episode #50 – Star Wars Weekend “Feel the Force” Premium Package

Star Wars Weekend "Fell The Force" Premium Package

Star Wars Weekend “Fell The Force” Premium Package

The recent announcement of the Feel the Force Premium Package and its expansion in 2015 provided the perfect opportunity to look back at my experience from last year.  The package premiered in 2014 and was billed as a VIP experience with special parade viewing and a Fireworks Dessert Party to go along with the all new “Symphony in the Stars” Star Wars Fireworks.

While the video edition of SamsDisneyDiary #50 provides a look at the experience, to get the full impact of the fireworks they truly need to be experienced in person.  While I did my best to maneuver from the Stage Show hosted by James Arnold Taylor to a spot to view the fireworks, it will be very interesting to see how the removal of the Sorcerers Hat will impact this experience… In a positive way!!!

SamsDisneyDiary Video Episode #50:  Feel The Force:  Click the image to watch! 

There was a single package available in 2014 “Feel the Force Premium VIP Package”; while that package remains for 2015, Disney has added a Deluxe Premium Package and the Ultimate Day at Star War Weekends VIP Package.  More on those in a second…

Star Wars Weekend "Fell The Force" Premium Package Dessert Menu - Yes Please!!

Star Wars Weekend “Fell The Force” Premium Package Dessert Menu – Yes Please!!

For the 2014 Feel the Force Premium Package, we checked in near Min and Bill’s Dockside Diner, received our wristbands and headed out to experience other Star Wars Weekend entertainment.  We returned before the Celebrity Motorcade for our VIP viewing location.  The VIP area for the parade included soft drinks and select ice cream including Mickey Bar, very nice touch!

Star Wars Weekend "Fell The Force" Premium Package - Specialty Beverages - One of Each - That's the right Answer!

Star Wars Weekend “Fell The Force” Premium Package – Specialty Beverages – One of Each – That’s the right Answer!

After the parade, we attended some of the premier theater events.  Check out SDD43 for more on that.

The Parade Viewing was a bonus, but we are really here for the Fireworks Dessert Party, and WOW!  It was outstanding.  A variety of desserts all themed to Star Wars along with adult and kids themed drinks!  The Dessert Party offered great views of the Stage Show and views of the fireworks, albeit you had to move away from the Sorcerers Hat to view the fireworks.  The removal of the hat is indeed an upgrade for this, and other fireworks events.

Some of the desserts:

Star Wars Weekend "Fell The Force" Premium Package Dessert Menu - Yes Please!!

Star Wars Weekend “Fell The Force” Premium Package Dessert Menu – Yes Please!!

Dex’s Diners Ronna Lemon Tart with Raspberry

C3PO Golden Laced Pot de Crème

Naboo Gungan City Rice Crispy Bon Bons

Jabba the Huitt Dantooine cane syrup infused carrot cake and cream cheese parfait

Chocolate salted caramel ration bars

Yoda’s Chocolate Crunch Cupcakes

Dart Vader Cupcakes

Outpost Frozen Mickey Ice Cream…  and specialty adult beverages…

The Jedi Mind Trick, The Force, The Dark Side and Kid Friendly Padawn and the Ewok.

In true Disney fashion, Disney has +ed the event for 2015; here is what you get in 2015. Choose Wisely…  To get your reservation visit www.starwarsweekends.com.

Thanks for watching, Follow me on Twitter @SamsDisneyDiary like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/samsdisneydiary and be sure to check out “The Disney Nerds Podcast” subscribe to the RSS feed here.

Feel the Force Premium Package

Darth's Mall was the place to be for Star Wars Merchandise.

Darth’s Mall was the place to be for Star Wars Merchandise.

The Force is stronger with a Feel the Force Premium Package during Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Read More

Feel the Force Premium Package during Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The Premium Package includes:

  • A reserved viewing area with soft drinks and water for the Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade.
  • Reserved seating for one of the Celebrity Talk Shows in Theater of the Stars at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Show time will be selected at check-in. There are a limited amount of seats per show and times are distributed on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • A reserved viewing location for the nightly Symphony in the Stars fireworks show, paired with…
  • A Star Wars-themed dessert party with specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.

Feel the Force Deluxe Premium Package

Star Wars Weekend "Fell The Force" Premium Package - "Jabba the Hutt" - Dantooine Cane Syrup Infused Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Parfait with Light Saber

Star Wars Weekend “Fell The Force” Premium Package – “Jabba the Hutt” – Dantooine Cane Syrup Infused Carrot Cake and Cream Cheese Parfait with Light Saber

Expand your universe of choices by calling (407) 939-3463 to upgrade to a Feel the Force Deluxe Read More

Expand your package by upgrade to a Feel the Force Deluxe Premium Package. The Deluxe package includes all the benefits of the standard package, and more:

  • A reserved viewing area with soft drinks and water for Legends of the Force: Star Wars Celebrity Motorcade at the front of the park at the parade start, with the opportunity to follow the motorcade down Hollywood Boulevard!
  • Reserved seating for ALL of the Celebrity Talk Shows in Theater of the Stars on the day of the package!
  • A reserved viewing location for the Symphony in the Stars fireworks and Star Wars-themed dessert party with specialty alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.
  • Priority access to mega-popular Darth’s Mall, the Star Wars merchandise mecca (in a new location across from Studio Catering Co.) throughout the day of the package, plus…
  • Your own commemorative lanyard and credential to honor the special day.
  • BUT WAIT There is more!!!

The Ultimate Day at Star War Weekends VIP tour

New map every weekend!

New map every weekend!

What is the Ultimate Day?

  • Premium seating for Star Wars Weekends shows at Theater of the Stars, such as Stars of the Saga—a Star Wars-themed talk show that’s as entertaining as it is surprising
  • Expedited access to attractions like Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, Toy Story Midway Mania! and The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Reserved viewing location during the Legends of the Force Motorcade
  • One (1) opportunity to meet a Character from the Dark Side
  • Early access to Darth’s Mall—no waiting required
  • Private deluxe continental breakfast at The Hollywood Brown Derby
  • Table-service lunch at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
  • Post-tour access to the Jedi Training Academy for your Padawans
  • Plus, after your guided experience comes to a close, you’ll have time to enjoy the park on your own before ending your day the Ultimate way with VIP viewing of the Summon the Force finale show and the Symphony in the Stars fireworks spectacular!

 

Categories: Feel the Force, Fireworks, Hollywood Studios, James Arnold Taylor, SamsDisneyDiary, Special Events, Star Wars Weekend | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Episode #49 – Keys to the Kingdom Backstage Tour

Sams Disney Diary Episode #49 – Walt Disney Worlds Keys to the Kingdom backstage tour.

The Video Edition “SamsDisneyDiary Episode #49” below, features a ride on the Jungle Cruise like no other, inside information on the Haunted Mansion, The Enchanted Tiki Room and Pirates of the Caribbean, The video is direct from our Keys to the Kingdom tour guide. Hope you enjoy!

Disney’s Keys to the Kingdom backstage tour… Keys to the Kingdom! This 5-hour walking tour focused on the creation, development and daily operation of the Magic Kingdom. A simple walk down Main Street is transformed into a history lesson with intriguing stories about Walt, his vision, philosophies and accomplishments. The tour is age restricted; all guests must be over 16 with a photo ID. Previously, I had participated in the Epcot Segway Tour, a great way to combine a futuristic means of transportation with a behind the scenes look at World Showcase. I blogged about the Segway tour here at samsdisneydiary.com.

Keys to the Kingdom is just one of the many Magic Kingdom Tour Offerings

Keys to the Kingdom is just one of the many Magic Kingdom Tour Offerings

One of the biggest differences was Keys to the Kingdom included a trip backstage. It was a combination of “onstage” and “backstage” locations. I was able to use my camera while the tour was “onstage”, but it was restricted while “backstage”. The backstage location included the parade building, the building where all of the parade floats are kept. The parade building is between Splash Mountain and Pirates of the Caribbean, which alone was interesting. These attractions are normally a 15 minute walk from each other onstage. Standing backstage looking at the two buildings, they are now a mere 2 minute walk away. Wow.

9:00 am Tour… Guests Must be Accompanied by Magic Kingdom Tour Guide, so much for exploring the utilidoors on my own ;-)

9:00 am Tour… Guests Must be Accompanied by Magic Kingdom Tour Guide, so much for exploring the utilidoors on my own ;-)

I’m getting a little ahead of myself. There are 3 tours a day, starting at 8:30, 9:00 and 9:30am. Check park hours, as always times and locations are subject to change. For the latest information and to book your tour check the official Disney parks page for Keys to the Kingdom. Our tour was 9:00 am, the same time as rope drop. We arrived about 15 minutes early (you can get into the Magic Kingdom and check in at the Chamber of Commerce). Once checked in, Main Street was just about empty!!! I recommend an early tour because the photo pass photographers will be out and more than willing to take a picture on an empty Main Street for you. You’ll get to pick your lunch, as the tour stops at Columbia Harbor House, and get a headset so you can hear your tour guide. Of course I had my camera, but most of the audio from the tour itself is bad. I used what I could in the video edition of this blog.

Walt has two windows on Main Street… This one, above the Ice Cream Shop is considered a “closing credit” the only windows seen as you leave the Magic Kingdom. Sort of a wave good bye…

Walt has two windows on Main Street… This one, above the Ice Cream Shop is considered a “closing credit” the only windows seen as you leave the Magic Kingdom. Sort of a wave good bye…

Being in the park at the Chamber of Commerce Building before opening gave me the unique view of watching the rope drop and the wave of people running down Main Street… I’ve heard about it, so it was interesting to witness. After a few minutes, the crowd had moved down Main Street, and we started our tour. The tour traced the history of Walt Disney World, and our tour guide James surely had a passion for the story. He pointed out windows along Main Street and gave a quick history lesson on each. Did you know Walt has two windows on Main Street USA? There were stories about original Imagineers and about the strategy for acquiring the land that would become Walt Disney World.

One of the most interesting parts of the tour was riding two classic attractions. First was the Jungle Cruise, but this was a Jungle Cruise like no other. In fact, the skipper handed the microphone to our tour guide who gave us a history lesson about the Jungle Cruise and shared some of its secrets, such as, “I Love Disco”. I was able to record that cruise, and it’s part of the video. After the Jungle Cruise, we found a place to sit at the Tortuga Tavern and continued our history lesson of park development. It’s amazing to me how many places 10 people could find to just sit and talk while everyone else in the park was running ride to ride. It helped that Tortuga Tavern was running seasonal hours, but isn’t it always?

The Back Stage exit we used to access the parade pavilion, you can see a small piece of the “second” back stage line.

The Back Stage exit we used to access the parade pavilion, you can see a small piece of the “second” back stage line.

After a quick restroom stop, we headed backstage…finally! We made the left just past the Golden Oak Outpost, before Splash Mountain where the parades start. You would think as soon as you pass the gate you’re backstage. In reality, there is another line that actually starts backstage. The parade performers start and end their performances based on the out of sight backstage line. So if you’re watching the parade end, the performance continues until the performers are out of public view.

We walked down a ramp to an area between Splash and Pirates; the buildings from the back are very plain, in fact not even marked. We saw lots of ride vehicles in various stages of restoration, all neatly placed and ready to be worked on. The parade building was straight ahead, a large shed housing all of the Magic Kingdom parade vehicles. Elliot, Pete’s Dragon, just fit while Big Ben (Clock Tower) from the Main Street Electrical Parade needed to have the top lowered. Like an umbrella, the center folds down for storage. The Boo to You Parade and Christmas Parade were both under clear plastic, and I had to ask about Spectro Magic. According to the tour guide, Spectro was in the building until “earlier this summer” (about the time the rumored fire

Lunch at the Columbia Harbor House is included with the tour… Fired Shrimp for me!

Lunch at the Columbia Harbor House is included with the tour… Fired Shrimp for me!

destroyed most of the floats). Note to self, if you’re storing lights for an extended period of time, take the batteries out.  After the parade building and quick look at the Splash Mountain Reservoir, we headed back “onstage” and headed through Frontierland towards the Columbia Harbor House. Our tour guide continued to tell us stories about the history of Frontierland as we traveled the Wild West to New England. Lunch was waiting for us upstairs in a private area of the Harbor House; it’s been a while since I’ve eaten at the Harbor House. I’m not sure why, but the food was great!! Don’t let anyone try to tell you what’s good and bad about any restaurant; give it a try. The Fried Shrimp was great!

After lunch, we headed for our second group ride… the Haunted Mansion. It wasn’t the same as the Jungle Cruise, but our tour guide told us what to look for, and we talked about it after the ride. We made our way from the Haunted Mansion towards the Crystal Palace. This is where we

The Window for M.T.Lott Real Estate Investments served as our transaction into the history of land acquisition for Walt Disney World. Some of the factious companies used by Disney included: Bay Lake Properties. Reedy Creek Ranch Lands and Compass East Corporation.

The Window for M.T.Lott Real Estate Investments served as our transaction into the history of land acquisition for Walt Disney World. Some of the factious companies used by Disney included: Bay Lake Properties. Reedy Creek Ranch Lands and Compass East Corporation.

made our second trip “backstage”. We went through a Cast Member entrance near First-Aid and the Baby Care Center. That basically put the Jungle Cruise on our right and the back of Main Street on our left. There were lots of people and activity here, unlike the parade building which was empty. We walked toward the front of the park and entered the back of the Emporium. That’s when we took the steps down into the Utilidors! Finally… the stuff of legend! The tunnels below the Magic Kingdom, I’m not sure what I was expecting, are more like hallways as in any office building. There are rooms for electric, storage, conference rooms, supplies, offices and break rooms. It was disconnected from the rest of the Magic Kingdom with real music was playing, not background music. It was just cool to be under Main Street. The tour continued “around” Town Square, toward the front of the park, then down the opposite side of Main Street USA.
Our tour guide continued his story of the Magic Kingdom with pictures and props placed along our tour. It was obvious that this was the “Tour” area of the Utilidor, the “almost” backstage, but not actually backstage area that’s set up for tour groups. The tour was very controlled and planned, and one of the coolest stops for me was the Pin Check-In Center. This is where cast members get their trading pins for the day. Wish I could have traded right there We finished the

The park was crowded as we started down Main Street USA. James continued to point out interesting facts all the way down main street.

The park was crowded as we started down Main Street USA. James continued to point out interesting facts all the way down main street.

tour backstage behind Tony’s Town Square Restaurant and headed back to the Chamber of Commerce. Where did the 5 hours go?

Overall, the tour was great!! I’m glad we decided to add it to our adult trip, and I would do it again. Park Admission and advance reservations are required. The cost?…A reasonable $79.00. For reservations call 407-WDW-TOUR (407) 939-8687 or check the latest details online. Be sure to ask for discounts, Disney Visa, Annual Pass, D23, DVC and even AAA may be accepted.

Hope you enjoyed the blog and video. Sharing my passion for Disney is something I love to do. For all of my latest blogs be sure to visit www.samsdisneydiary.com, follow me on twitter @samsdisneydiary like the show on facebook and for of my videos be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary.

Categories: Backstage Tour, Magic Kingdom, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

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