Episode #72: Voices of Liberty, on the 4th of July

Sams Disney Diary 73- The Voices of Liberty on the 4th of July (2016)

Mickey, Donald and Goofy look on as the Voices of Liberty celebrate the 4th of July at Epcot American Gardens Theater (7/4/2016)

Sams Disney Diary 73- The Voices of Liberty on the 4th of July (2016)

Sams Disney Diary 73- The Voices of Liberty on the 4th of July (2016)

You can’t help but feel a little patriotic visiting the parks on a National Holiday:  Memorial Day, Veterans Day, and of course – The Fourth of July.   There are tributes to Walt Disney World’s host nation throughout the resort: The “Glorious Finale” of Muppet Vision 3D – A tribute to all nations but mostly America; The Hall of Presidents (and Liberty Square, in general); and one of my favorites, quoting the father from the Carousel of Progress, hottest Fourth of July we’ve had in years. We’ve come a long way, though, since the turn of the century over twenty-some-odd years ago.”  A must do for our family is the American Adventure in Epcot – A celebration of the Host Country.  Part of that experience is “The Voices of Liberty”.

From Disney’s Website Costumed in finery from the 1800s, Voices of Liberty is an exceptionally talented choir of a cappella singers that performs in the pavilion rotunda throughout the day. This beloved 8-member group

Sams Disney Diary 73- The Voices of Liberty on the 4th of July (2016)

Sams Disney Diary 73- The Voices of Liberty on the 4th of July (2016)

stirs hearts and lifts emotions with each performance—while the rotunda’s acoustically perfect dome amplifies and purifies the sound. You won’t believe your ears!”

While the Voices of Liberty typically perform inside the American Adventure building (sort of a pre-show to the American Adventure) for special occasions, the Voices of Liberty are the spotlight performance.   This was the case on the Fourth of July 2016, when they performed a special Fourth of July set in the American Gardens Theater.  The Voices of Liberty were joined by Mickey, Donald and Goofy in their fife and drum attire.   That’s something you don’t see every day, and the subject for this episode of SamsDisneyDiary.  I hope you enjoy!

SamsDisneyDiary the Video #72: Click below to watch

Thanks for watching and reading SamsDisneyDiary, be sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel for all of the videos!!  And be sure to check out The Disney Nerds Podcast – here on iTunes and atwww.thedisneynerdspodcast.com

 

Categories: 4th of July, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Episode #71: Star Wars Weekends 2016! OK, not exactly

A Galaxy Far, Far Away Stage Show - Kylo Ren up close.

A Galaxy Far, Far Away Stage Show – Kylo Ren up close.

In November of 2015, Disney made it official that the recently completed 2015 Star Wars Weekends would be the last Star Wars Weekends.  A sad day, indeed. The first Star Wars Weekends took place in 1997; the weekend long festival returned in 2000 & 2001, then became an annual event from 2003 – 2015.  Quoting the Disney Parks Blog:

A Galaxy Far, Far Away Stage Show - BB8 up close.

A Galaxy Far, Far Away Stage Show – BB8 up close.

“Work begins next year {2016} on the 14-acre Star Wars-themed land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. With construction underway, unfortunately, we won’t be able to offer Star Wars Weekends. While Star Wars Weekends has been a great way to enjoy the saga for a few days every year, now the Force will be with Disney’s Hollywood Studios every day.”

While the Star Wars Experience will no doubt be incredible, it puts Disney in an interesting transition phase.  With a new Star Wars movie being released every year, fan interest at an all-time high, and Walt Disney World Hollywood Studios under major renovation, including the addition of a 14 acre Star Wars land (that’s at least 18 months away) how do you keep guests coming back?

Star Wars Weekends 2016 - Concept Art for Star Wars on the wall in front of Streets of America

Star Wars Weekends 2016 – Concept Art for Star Wars on the wall in front of Streets of America

The answer is temporary Star Wars Experiences that are available every day, not just on the weekends.  Of course Star Tours, including new Episode VIII footage and Jedi Training Academy have always been available, add Star Wars Launch Bay – the Star Wars reimagined Animation Building along with a “First Order March” led by Captain Phasma, a stage show/photo opportunity, “A Galaxy Far, Far Away” and a nightly fireworks “Symphony in the Stars”.

This episode of Sams Disney Diary features footage from April 2016, including the stage show, Captain Phasma processional and fireworks including the dessert package.   This is the “temporary fireworks” Symphony in the Stars that will be replaced by “Star Wars a Galactic Spectacular” fireworks / projection show currently under construction and scheduled to start this summer.  Looks like I’ll need to plan another trip😉

SamsDisneyDiary the Video #71: Click below to watch

While Disney may have enough to satisfy the average Disney-Star Wars fan, for those of us who loved Star Wars Weekends, there is too much missing to fill the void.  Celebrity motorcades, the 501st Legion, Stars of the Saga Talk Shows, celebrity autographs – I’m sure the new Star Wars Experience will be worth the wait, but it’s going to be a painful 2016 and 2017 as we wait for the opening.   I’m not sure what I miss the most… Hyperspace Hoopla, the 501st Parade, Stars of the Saga, celebrities or maybe “James Arnold Taylor”. At least I have older episodes of Sams Disney Diary to look back on, and so do you.   Watch the other Star Wars Weekends SamsDisneyDiary episodes below the pictures:

 

Episode #14 and #15 – Star Wars Weekend 2012!!! So Big it needs Two Video Episodes!!!

Episode #14: Legends of the Force Motorcade

Episode #15: Hyperspace Hoopla

Episode #42 – Star Wars Weekend 2014 Recap

Episode #43 – Star Wars Weekend 2014 – “The Premiere Theater”

Episode #48 – Star Wars Weekend “Galactic Breakfast” at the Sci-Fi

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

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

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

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

 

Thanks for watching and reading SamsDisneyDiary, but sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel for all of the videos!!  And be sure to check out The Disney Nerds Podcast – here on iTunes and atwww.thedisneynerdspodcast.com

 

Categories: Hollywood Studios, Star Wars Weekend, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Episode #70: Gearing Up for Epcots Annual Flower and Garden Festival

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Red Loop. Today we are sharing what you can expect when you visit the Disney parks this spring


Epcot Flower and Garden Festival - Mickey and Minnie Topiary 2015

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival – Mickey and Minnie Topiary 2015

It’s that time of year again; to me, the most wonderful time of the year. The snow is finally leaving the northern states, the sun is making some appearances, the local baseball teams are headed to Florida for spring training, and the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival is ready to kickoff.

This year the Festival is bigger than ever and has been expanded two additional weeks from 75 days to 90

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival - Festival Blooms

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival – Festival Blooms

days, from March 2 to May 30th 2016. The Festival transforms Epcot into a vibrant spectacle of spring time beauty, featuring special events and activities sure to keep the entire family happy.

With over 30 million blooms, 700 gardens, 200 floating flower beds, flower towers, 70 Disney themed topiaries, event theaters, horticulture exhibits, hands-on presentations, event playgrounds, butterfly gardens, Garden Rocks concerts, The Harmony Garden Musical Playground, outdoor kitchens…. WOW – Welcome to spring! This is my favorite time to visit Epcot! I couldn’t think of any other way to kick off spring! It’s an annual family event.

As we prepare for the 2016 Festival, it’s a tradition to look back at last year – So Sam’s Disney Diary the Video includes lots of details and special offerings from the 2015 Flower and Garden Festival.

As far as 2016 – Here’s what you can expect!

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival - Bambi and Friends in Canada

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival – Bambi and Friends in Canada

Topiaries: The topiaries are spectacular, and get better every year. If you haven’t been to the Festival in a while, you may have missed the recent addition of night time lighting, making the topiaries a wonderful sight daily and nightly.

  • New for 2016: Fresh Food, Fun & Flowers at the Main Entrance: Featuring Donald, Daisy, Huey, Dewey and Louie
  • New for 2016: Ranger Mickey & Friends In Future World East
  • Buzz Lightyear: in Future World East
  • Fantasia: Future World West
  • Phineas and Ferb: Future World East
  • Minnie, Mickey & Pluto: Showcase Plaza
  • Anna & Elsa: Norway
  • Bromeliad Dragon: China
  • Simba & Friends: African Outpost
  • Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs: Germany
  • Lady and The Tramp: Italy
  • Woody’s: American Adventure
  • Beauty and the Beast: France
  • Winnie the Pooh and Friends: United Kingdom
  • Peter Pan, Captain Hook and the Croc: United Kingdom
  • Bambi & Friends: Canada
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival - Beauty and the Beast Topiaries in France

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival – Beauty and the Beast Topiaries in France

Like 2015, the Festival Center is only open on the weekends, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 10:00am till 5:00pm. New for 2016 are “themed” weekends where a new adventure awaits, including complementary garden presentations and a variety of outdoor specialists ready to answer your questions.

Also in the Festival Center you’ll find the Garden Theater… inside there is a “Making” of Flower and Garden Festival video playing in a loop.   It is incredible and a must see for any fan of how the event is put together.   I plan to do my best to record that video this year… it’s that good. You’ll find 7 different “stages” in all with presentations and exhibits matching the weekend theme.

The “Themed” Weekends for 2016 start in April and run through early May, almost a “Mini-Festival” within a Festival.

  • April 1-3: Art in the Garden Weekend
  • April 8-10: Outdoor Family Fun Weekend
    • Featuring: Animal Kingdom Specialist and “Bugs are Cool”
  • April 22-24: Earth Day Weekend
    • Featuring: Specialist from The Seas with Nemo & Friends
  • April 28-May1: Florida Fresh Weekend
  • May 6-8: Florida Federation of Garden Clubs
Epcot Flower and Garden Festival - Cactus Road Rally with Mater and Lightning McQueen

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival – Cactus Road Rally with Mater and Lightning McQueen

The children’s play areas are back and a must if you have young children. It’s a place within the Festival for them to be part of the action. With the New “Musical Garden Melodies”, discover the “Roots” of your favorite instruments and the “Cactus Road Rally” – Featuring Topiaries of Mater and Lightning McQueen – Learn how dessert plants “Beat the Heat” – The kids will love it. It’s a feature that I wish was part of the Food and Wine Festival – Get the kids involved.

Outdoor Kitchens and Garden Destinations have become a big part of Flower and Garden Festival. Hard to believe the outdoor kitchens have only been around for a few years. Kitchens for 2016 include:

  • New for 2016: La Isla Fresca World Showcase Promenade
  • New for 2016: Cider House United Kingdom
  • Urban Farm Eats Walkway near Imagination!
  • Pineapple Promenade World Showcase Promenade
  • Jardin de Fiestas Mexico
  • Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Outdoor Kitchen

    Epcot Flower and Garden Festival Outdoor Kitchen

    Lotus House China

  • Bauernmarkt: Farmer’s Market Germany
  • Primavera Kitchen Italy
  • THE SMOKEHOUSE: Barbecue and Brews The American Adventure
  • Hanami Japan
  • Taste of Marrakesh Morocco
  • Florida Fresh Between Morocco and France
  • Fleur de Lys France

You will also find 19 Garden Destinations around World Showcase. The gardens provide a welcome distraction walking around World Showcase; don’t rush by. Take a minute to literally smell the roses.

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival - Butterfly Blooms

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival – Butterfly Blooms

The Butterfly Garden “Butterflies on the Go” is a great place to learn about the journey of the Monarch Butterfly. It’s quite the journey across the continent. Great photo opportunities here, and a Disney Topiary or two as well. It’s interesting to note that all of the butterflies are released into the wild at the end of the Festival.

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival - Anna and Elsa Topiaries

Epcot Flower and Garden Festival – Anna and Elsa Topiaries

You can assume that Festival merchandise will be just about “everywhere” within Epcot. Remember, the Festival Center, where you can find just about every item, is only open Friday, Saturday and Sunday 10:00am till 5:00pm.

Looking for something a little different? There are a special tours offered during the Festival: The English Tea Garden Tour, Epcot Gardens of the World and Behind the Seeds Tour, and if you’re an annual pass holder, but sure to pick up your exclusive Flower & Garden Special Edition Print: Donald Duck in March, Goofy in April and Mickey Mouse in May.

Get all the details at www.freshepcot.com and thanks for visiting, watching and reading SamsDisneyDiary!

The Updated 2016 Garden Rocks Concert Schedule

  • Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase - Garden Rocks with the Village People

    Garden Rocks with the Village People

    March 4–6: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO “Evil Woman”

  • March 11–13: STARSHIP featuring Mickey Thomas “We Built This City”
  • March 18–20: Little River Band “Reminiscing”
  • March 25–27: Village People “Y.M.C.A.”
  • April 1–3: Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone “I’m Henry VIII, I Am”
  • April 8–10: The Guess Who “American Woman”
  • April 15–17: NEW! Blood, Sweat and Tears “Spinning Wheel”
  • April 22–24: NEW! “Bad Company former lead singer”, BRIAN HOWE “Can’t Get Enough”
  • April 29–May 1: NEW! Georgia Satellites “Keep Your Hands to Yourself”
  • May 6–8: Gin Blossoms “Hey Jealousy”
  • May 13–15: NEW! Darlene Love “Wait Till My Bobby Gets Home”
  • May 20–22: NEW! Night Ranger “Sister Christian”
  • May 27– Monday, May 30: The Spinners “Working My Way Back To You”

Thanks for watching and reading SamsDisneyDiary, but sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel for all of the videos!!  And be sure to check out The Disney Nerds Podcast – here on iTunes and atwww.thedisneynerdspodcast.com



Here is the map of our Magical Blogorail Red | Springtime at Disney Loop:

Categories: Flower and Garden, Special Events, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , | 12 Comments

Episode #69: Frozen around World Showcase… Frozen Drinks that is..

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase - France - The Grand Marnier Orange Slush

France – The Grand Marnier Orange Slush

I’m sure you’re aware that Frozen Ever After will be opening in Epcots Norway pavilion, replacing Maelstrom.  At this point the Maelstrom attraction has been closed since October 2014, almost a year and a half ago.  The construction walls went up about a year ago between Mexico and the Norway pavilion, the location for the “Meet and Greet” building.  Opening for both new attractions is scheduled for “2016”.

 

SamsDisneyDiary Episode #69 – Frozen Around World Showcase

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase - Japan - Green Tea Coloda

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase – Japan – Green Tea Coloda

While the kids may be anxiously awaiting the opening of the new Frozen Movie themed attractions, Mom and Dad have always been able to enjoy “Frozen” drinks all around World Showcase.

With frozen drink options all around World Showcase and Future World (not to mention the sit down dining establishments), the options are almost limitless.

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase - France - The Grand Marnier Orange Slush

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase – France – The Grand Marnier Orange Slush

There is nothing better than a frozen drink during the heat of a Florida summer afternoon.  While the drinks I covered in SamsDisneyDiary Video #69 are all adult beverages, it’s important to note that most of the drinks are available in non-alcoholic versions.  There are other frozen non-alcoholic drinks on every menu, perfect for the kids or if you’re just looking to cool off.  After decades of visiting the parks, there are a few “go to” drinks that I would consider my top 5; although, the top 5 quickly turned into the top 7.

You’ll also notice that the video was not taken on the same day; in fact, it stretched a full week of vacation time.  It’s not a race.  It’s a leisurely stroll around World Showcase, with family on a warm spring week in the magic.

In no particular order, let’s start right next to the construction walls for the new Frozen Meet and Greet. The only drink stand dedicated to frozen margaritas.

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase - Mexico Fiesta Margerita

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase – Mexico Fiesta Margerita

The margaritas here, like most around World Showcase, are served from a “frozen margarita machine”.  The machines are the giant rotating icy type machines.  In some cases, the alcohol is in the machine; in other cases, it is added after.  In Mexico, it’s ready to go.  You’ll find three different flavors that rotate along with an option for the “Fiesta Margarita” which is a layered combination of all three.   For my trip, it was Mango, Strawberry and Lime.  With Mexico being the first country clock wise around World Showcase, this is a great place to start.

If you’re heading the other direction around World Showcase or are starting at the Epcot International Gateway, France may be your best starting point, Les Vins Des Chefs de France.  The Grand Marnier Orange Slush, served from the same type of frozen drink machine, is a combination of Grey Goose Vodka, Grand Marnier, Rum and Orange Juice.  Served in a plastic martini glass, a “Super Size” version was recently introduced.  If you’re more of a lemon fan than orange, the Grey Goose Citron Lemon Slush at the same location may be more your speed.

Next stop?  Our family favorite, The Italian Margarita!  A frozen combination of Lemoncello & Tequila, the Italian Margarita is usually our first stop, bypassing every other option.  The Lemoncello brings a hint of sweetness while staying true to a margarita with a hint of Tequila.  If you have not tried it, it’s worth a taste!

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase - Morocco - Oasis

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase – Morocco – Oasis

Another newer option is found in Japan, found in the small counter service location to the left of the stairs to Teppin Edo (On your left as you approach the pavilion).  The Green Tea Colada, first introduced during the 2013 Food & Wine Festival, is a combination of Pina Colada, Coconut Rum & Green Tea.  Sounding a little odd, I needed to give it a try.  The flavors blend surprising well.  The Green Tea Colada has quickly risen to the top of my list – a must try.

Next stop?  The Joy of Tea in China and a frozen drink I have been enjoying for years: Peach Snap, a combination of Peach Schnapps and Green Tea.  While it may not sound like a great combination – trust me – it is, and second favorite after the Italian Margarita.

Another option recently introduced, at the 2014 Flower and Garden Festival, can be found at The American Adventure Coffee Cart, between Italy and American Adventure.  The Shakin Jamaican!  Frozen Cappuccino mixed with your choice of Kahlua, Jameson or Baily’s (I prefer the Baily’s).   If you like coffee, this is a must try.  This is also one of the locations where the alcohol is added after the frozen cappuccino is poured, making this a great non-alcoholic option.  The Shakin Jamaican can also be served hot; this is a coffee cart after all.  A great holiday option – when they add a little peppermint.

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase - China Peach Snap

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase – China Peach Snap

Next Stop: Oasis Slushies in Morocco, the slushy stand attached to Spice Road Table.  All of the slushies and smoothies here can be ordered alcoholic or non-alcoholic – a great stop for the family.  The options here tend to change, so check the menu board.  The Moroccarita, Habib Daiquiri, Sultan’s Colada or Royal Blue, are all great choices.  When I asked for a recommendation, the cast member suggested a combination of mixes.  Wait a minute, a combination?  That changes

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase - Garden Rocks with the Village People

Sams Disney Diary Frozen Around World Showcase – Garden Rocks with the Village People

everything!  He made me a Tornado, as he called it.  A combination of the Sultan’s Colada (Rum, Pineapple, Coconut & Almond) and Habib Daiquiri (Rum, Strawberry & Orange Blossom Water) an outstanding combination!  Why didn’t I think of that!

The last stop, while not a completely frozen drink, the Frozen Kirin is a great option for your favorite beer drinker.  A full 12oz bottle of Kirin poured as to not have a head, then topped with a frozen Kirin head.  You can’t get a beer any colder!  A great call on a hot summer day!

Remember, this isn’t a race.  It’s a leisurely stroll around World Showcase.  Having favorites all around makes it easy to get a nice cold drink nearby…

I recorded the video during the Flower and Garden Festival.  Be sure to check out the next blog/video when we look closer at the Flower and Garden Festival…

Categories: Epcot, Frozen, Frozen Drinks, World Showcase | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Episode #68: Club Disney: Here One Month, Gone the Next!

Hollywood Studios Club Disney - Closed after only two months of operation.

Hollywood Studios Club Disney – Closed after only two months of operation.

Club Disney premiered at Walt Disney World’s Hollywood Studios on December 4th, 2015. The Disney character inspired, kids themed dance club was the first event hosted daily in the brand new “Sunset Showplace” building. Sunset Showcase is the new “Multi-Purpose” building located behind the Rock and Roller Coaster, next to the Tower of Terror, where there had been a cast member parking lot.

According to the Disney Web Site: Get Down and Get Animated!   Join Mickey on the floor of this “electric” dance club while a DJ Host spins your favorite Radio Disney hits—and the walls spin too, with classic Disney animation! If the dancing gets too hot, chill out in the too-cool seating area—and recharge your phone while you wait! Club Disney will also feature a cool seating area and snack station, where you can refuel and recharge – both yourself and your electronic devices – before heading out for more adventures in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

SamsDisneyDiary the Video #68

The multi-purpose building was announced in early 2015 and is intended to host just about any indoor event. Meanwhile, the first attraction “Club Disney” has only lasted two months!   Club Disney’s last day of operation will be February 6, 2016. We have already had a glance into the next dance party to be hosted in the facility. A few weeks ago, Disney premiered “Club Villain”, a hard ticketed premium event hosted in Sunset Showplace. You can find details on the Disney parks blog here,

Club Villain will utilize Sunset Showcase for Premium "Hard Ticketed" parties every Saturday Night.

Club Villain will utilize Sunset Showcase for Premium “Hard Ticketed” parties every Saturday Night.

The first Club Villain took place January 16th, when the mysterious Dr. Facilier hosted an evening, welcoming guests and his friends from the “other side” to his parlor of mystical mishaps, with musical numbers and a wicked mix from his house DJ. Also stopping by to socialize are those divas of evil, Maleficent, Queen of Hearts, Cruella De Vil and the Evil Queen.

Club Villain provides a spellbinding evening to enjoy fiendish concoctions from the Potions Bar, savor culinary delights from New Orleans and beyond, meet with the villains and dance the night away. Club Villain takes place select evenings for $99 per person, tax and gratuity included.

While Club Villain is the current attraction, I’m sure we will see lots of entertainment options in the new “Sunset Showcase” building.   I can’t wait to see what the future holds in this space, and all of Hollywood Studios.

Club Disney - here one month gone the next... One of two snack shops originally opened inside club Disney - The Snack counters lasted a little over a month before being removed.

Club Disney – here one month gone the next… One of two snack shops originally opened inside club Disney – The Snack counters lasted a little over a month before being removed.

I was able to visit Club Disney, and I have to say, it was a welcome break to the Florida heat and a great spot to let the kids release some energy. It was also a great spot to charge up some devices while the kids danced and played. It was one of the only places I know of that you could dance with Mickey, Minnie, Pluto and Goofy at the same time! Who knows, with all of the changes happening at Hollywood Studios, Club Disney could be back at any time… so be sure to check that times guide! Things are going to get interesting.

Please comment below. You can reach me at SamsDisneyDiary@mail.com

Thanks for watching and reading SamsDisneyDiary. Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel for all of the videos!! And be sure to check out The Disney Nerds Podcast – here on iTunes and at www.thedisneynerdspodcast.com

Categories: Club Disney, Hollywood Studios, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Episode #67: Farewell Osborne Lights, plus 5 reasons why the lights will be back

The Osborne Spectacle of dancing Lights.

The Osborne Spectacle of dancing Lights.

Earlier this week, January 6th 2016 the final performance of Disney Hollywood Studios “Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights” was completed.  The lights have been entertaining guests and creating magical memories for 20 years.  As you are most likely aware, Disney goes through great lengths to develop a “back story” for every attraction; for the Osborne lights the back story is real, and one you might not be able to make up.   I covered the history of the lights in detail back in SamsDisneyDiary #21.  The story of the Jennings family from Little Rock, AR: over 3 million lights, lawsuits, Supreme Court decisions and the Walt Disney Company to the rescue, offering to relocate the lights to then MGM Studios Residential Street, ultimately moving to the Streets of America where they started dancing in 2006.

Osborne Spectacle of dancing Everything Gets decorated, did you spot the hidden Mickey?

Osborne Spectacle of dancing Everything Gets decorated, did you spot the hidden Mickey?

It’s a remarkable history; check out that blog and video for more details.  According to the official Disney Parks blog from September, 2015 will be the 20th and final year of the Osborne Lights citing “Construction” of Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land” as the reasons, both previously announced.

Mickey and Santa shake hands near the Globe. They shake with their left hand, the Boy Scout hand shake

Mickey and Santa shake hands near the Globe. They shake with their left hand, the Boy Scout hand shake

Hearing the news, I had to get back to the Osborne Lights at least one more time and why not try the newly introduced dessert party “Merry and Bright Dessert Package”?  Hosted at the Studios Catering Company, the dessert party reminded me of the Star Wars “Feel the Force Dessert Party”, the subject of SamsDisneyDiary #50.

Themed desserts and drinks along with VIP access to the Osborne Lights.  The VIP access was the gated “turn around” area from the former Back Lot Tour, at the end of the lights directly under the globe.   A nice touch, which provided me the opportunity to set up my tripod and record…. and record… and record… literally hours of the lights.  That’s all part of SamsDisneyDiary Episode #67 (Click Below to Watch) – My tribute to the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights!!  A video that you can play in the background of your next holiday party – and by far the longest SamsDisneyDiary to date!


So why would Disney go through the trouble of adding new technology in recent years, like Made with Magic?  Why would Disney go through the trouble of creating an event like the “Merry and Bright Dessert Package” (which I had the pleasure of attending in December 2015)?

My theory, is the lights WILL BE BACK but without the name “Osborne”.   Here are my 5 reasons why, in my mind, it’s clear that Walt Disney World Hollywood Studios Christmas Lights will continue.

Why the Christmas Lights will be back at Hollywood Studios Reason #5: Osborne Electric Co.

Why the Christmas Lights will be back at Hollywood Studios Reason #5: Osborne Electric Co.

#5: “Osborne Electric Co.”  The installation of a tribute window on the Streets of America: “Osborne Electric Co.” along with photos of the original house in Little Rock and photos of the lights on Residential Street and the Streets of America.  If the Streets of America are being removed in 2016, why add the window in 2015?   (Why, because it will be there for at least 5 years).

 

Why the Christmas Lights will be back at Hollywood Studios Reason #4: Merry and Bright Dessert Package

Why the Christmas Lights will be back at Hollywood Studios Reason #4: Merry and Bright Dessert Package

#4: The Merry and Bright Dessert Party.  No matter how much we love Walt Disney World, it’s a business, and businesses are designed to make money.  The introduction of the Merry and Bright Dessert Party represents the expansion of a new revenue stream for Hollywood Studios, expanding the Frozen Dessert Party added in 2014.  And like every revenue stream at WDW the annual question is, how do you increase it year after year?  Think Star Wars Weekend Dessert Package, what used to be 3 nights a week 5 weekends a year is now a daily event.  Isn’t it interesting that the Merry and Bright Dessert Party doesn’t have the name Osborne in it?  All of the signs can be reused next year when the lights return.

 

Why the Christmas Lights will be back at Hollywood Studios Reason #3: 20 years of Financial Investment

Why the Christmas Lights will be back at Hollywood Studios Reason #3: 20 years of Financial Investment

#3: 20 Years of Financial Investment. The original Osborne Lights were installed on Residential Street in 1995; 10 years later they moved to The Streets of America, making room for Lights Motors Action.  The move included the addition of 33 snow machines high above The Streets of America.  In 2006 Disney invested in 1500 dimmer relay circuits and control switches choreographed to music, making the lights “dance” for the first time.  In 2011, just 4 years ago, all of the lights were replaced with LED lights; at the same time, Disney replaced the 1500 dimmer relays with “state of the art” lighting control boards.  (The same boards I use at home for my 32 circuit display).  At the same time, the canopy above San Francisco Street which had been all red with 8 circuits was replaced with color changing LEDs (red, green, blue) giving the canopy a video appearance with 21,600 pixels capable of over 16 million colors.  That change allowed the addition of the hidden Jack Skellington.  In addition, Disney has continued to add additional hidden figures every year: Tinker Bell for the 20th anniversary, Nemo, 101 Dalmatians, Figment, Kermit… and many more. These financial investments amount to 100s of thousands or even millions of dollars.  Disney won’t just throw that away.

 

Why the Christmas Lights will be back at Hollywood Studios Reason #2: Construction is Temporary

Why the Christmas Lights will be back at Hollywood Studios Reason #2: Construction is Temporary (Picture NOT Official)

#2: Construction is Temporary.  The construction cited as the reason the lights will be leaving is temporary.  Toy Story Land will be located on the other end of the park behind Toy Story Mania in what is now back stage area (including parts of the now closed Back Lot Tour).  Star Wars Land will be located on the Disney ReZoned Wetlands“Theme Park Expansion” land that was previously zoned as “Wet Lands”.  That area is currently wooded and sits behind Indy Jones, Star Tours, Mama Melrose and The Premier Theater (which recently hosted its final performance and is now closed permanently).  Neither of those areas will touch the “Streets of America”, at least not in the short term while Star Wars and Toy Story Lands are being constructed.  There are additional expansion opportunities primarily where Light Motors Action and Catastrophe Canyon sit today.  Consider those “Phase 2” of the Hollywood Studios reconstruction.  Plans for this expansion could easily include the removal of Streets of America; but again, that’s years away and anything could happen between now and then.  But wouldn’t the Streets of America look great as Radiator Springs with Mater’s Dancing Lights?  It’s way too early to speculate what will happen then, but there is still room for Cars Land, not to mention another themed land!!

 

Why the Christmas Lights will be back at Hollywood Studios Reason #1: The Fine Print

Why the Christmas Lights will be back at Hollywood Studios Reason #1: The Fine Print

#1: The Devil is in the Details, or in this case, the fine print.  What you won’t hear from Disney is: when the lights moved from Little Rock to Walt Disney World, they came with a 20 year contract as the “Osborne Family Lights”.  Guess what?  2015 is 20 years later; the original Osborne Lights contract has expired, without being replaced.  No more Osborne Lights!  You also need to read between the lines of the official announcement.

“In order to prepare for some incredible experiences coming to the park, including the recently announced Toy Story Land and a Star Wars-themed land, we will not be able to present The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights in the future.”

The announcement says “The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights” citing construction as a convenient reason for the cancelation.  The short term construction won’t touch the Streets of America, and the release is very specific that it’s the Osborne Lights.  That begs the obvious question, what are the “Osborne” Lights?   I’m sure the contract is specific as to what the Osborne Lights are.  Looking at video from the original display, there are elements you can pick out immediately.  The Globe, Spinning Carousels, Angels, the Halloween Cat and a few other elements come to mind, but everything else?  While I fully expect the Christmas lights to return, I’d also speculate that those “Osborne” elements won’t – but I expect Disney will plus them in ways we can’t imagine right now.   More Disney characters, more animation, video projections, lasers, even water features – the possibilities are limitless!

Could the “Merry and Bright” Dessert Package be our first hint of the new name?   “Disney’s Merry and Bright Dancing Holiday Lights” is my guess.  The only question is, will they be back in 2016 or do we need to wait until 2017?

Of course, none of this if official and should be considered speculation, did you expect anything else from a Disney Nerd?.  But, it all adds up, just remember.  You heard it here first!!!

Thanks for reading and be sure to check out the video edition of SamsDisneyDiary Episode #67, my tribute to the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

Please comment below.  You can reach me at SamsDisneyDiary@mail.com

Thanks for watching and reading SamsDisneyDiary. Be sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel for all of the videos!!  And be sure to check out The Disney Nerds Podcast – here on iTunes and at www.thedisneynerdspodcast.com

Categories: Christmas, Disney, Hollywood Studios, Osborne Family Lights | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments

Episode #66: Jingle Cruise

Sams Disney Diary Episode #66 - The Jingle Cruise official attraction poster

Sams Disney Diary Episode #66 – The Jingle Cruise official attraction poster

What’s that I hear from Adventure Land during the holiday season?  Jingle Cruise, Jingle Cruise, Jingle all the way!   Changing a ”U” to an “I” along with some well-placed holiday decorations and holiday themed narration is all it took to change the “Jungle Cruise” into the “Jingle Cruise”.   I’m sure you’ve heard the story… The Skippers got a little homesick this holiday season, scavenged what they could, along with some items from home to decorate the Jungle Cruise for the holidays.

Sams Disney Diary Episode #66 - Christmas decorations add to classic scenes... get the Point?

Sams Disney Diary Episode #66 – Christmas decorations add to classic scenes… get the Point?

First introduced for the 2013 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, the Jingle Cruise is a must during the holidays at Walt Disney World, if nothing else…  Jungle Cruise is back on the map as a must do attraction at WDW Magic Kingdom (and Disneyland).  I can’t recall seeing the Jungle Cruise queue longer during a hard ticketed event.

The boats have all been renamed and re-themed for the holidays.  There was Icicle Irma, Mistletoe Millie and Poinsettia Sal, to name a few.   The queue is lined with Christmas trees and holiday decorations, providing a nice touch in an area that had typically seen little to no holiday

Sams Disney Diary Episode #66 - Trader Sam... i mean Trader Samta! Get a Head Start on your Holiday Shopping

Sams Disney Diary Episode #66 – Trader Sam… i mean Trader Samta! Get a Head Start on your Holiday Shopping

decorations in the past.  The ride itself has additional holiday props throughout, including stocking hung on the Tiki’s with care and Christmas gifts along the shore.  The updated narration provides the same type of humor you’re accustomed to on the Jungle Cruise:  “Watch out for the Hum-Bugs” & “Looks like someone is getting a tree with a boa on top”.  And like the Jungle Cruise, the Jingle Cruise experience relies on the capabilities of your “Tree Trimmer, Popcorn Stringer, Gift Wrapper, Cookie Cutter and Secret Santa”… otherwise known as your Skipper.  Skipper interaction and enthusiasm is the key to a memorable Jingle Cruise.  The cruise also changes from day to night.  Christmas lights are always better at night.

I recorded multiple rides on the Jingle Cruise, all of them a little different.   For this edition of Sams Disney Diary I’ve include two of them, one during the day and one at night.  Of course each skipper is different, your find the difference in jokes interesting, it’s not the same for each cruise.  Hope you enjoy both your trips on the Jingle Cruise and remember, there is nothing like experiencing any Disney attraction in person.   As everything at Walt Disney World changes, this is your opportunity to experience the Jingle Cruise from two completely skippers.

Thanks for watching and reading SamsDisneyDiary, but sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel for all of the videos!!  And be sure to check out The Disney Nerds Podcast – here on iTunes and at www.thedisneynerdspodcast.com

Categories: Adventureland, Christmas, Jingle Cruise, Magic Kingdom, SamsDisneyDiary, Special Events, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Episode #65: Cinderella Castle Holiday Lights “Cinderella vs Frozen”

The holiday season at Walt Disney World is a magical time; with so much to see and do, it’s difficult to keep track of everything.  One of the most magical experiences of the holiday season is the lighting of “Holiday Dream Lights”.    The Cinderella “Castle Holiday Lights” were added to Cinderella’s Castle in 2007.  The Holiday Dream Lights include over 200,000 LED lights covering the castle.

Sams Disney Diary #65 - From 2007 until 2013 Cinderella with the help of the Fairy Godmother turned on the Castle Christmas Lights.

Sams Disney Diary #65 – From 2007 until 2013 Cinderella with the help of the Fairy Godmother turned on the Castle Christmas Lights.

The Castle Dream Lights are turned on every day at 6:15 during the castle lighting ceremony (stage show).  The show has proved to be so popular that a second castle lighting was added in 2014 starting at 8:00pm.   The show is only 10 minutes long and a must see at least once during your holiday trip.  I’m sure you’re aware that on select nights in November/December, the Magic Kingdom closes at 7:00pm, unless you have a separate ticket for “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party”.  The

Sams Disney Diary #65 - in 2014 a "Frozen Holiday Wish" Replace the Cinderella Holiday Wish

Sams Disney Diary #65 – in 2014 a “Frozen Holiday Wish” Replace the Cinderella Holiday Wish

6:15 timing of “Cinderella’s Holiday Wish” means guests spending the day at the Magic Kingdom and those just arriving for “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” can both experience the castle lighting.  It can be your first experience of the Christmas Party, or your last sight as you exit the park.  Either way, it’s a must see.  Like most Disney shows, the second tends to be less crowded than the first.

The Castle Lighting itself has changed over the years, originally and until 2014 “Cinderella’s Holiday Wish” castle stage show featured Mickey, Minnie, Donald,

Sams Disney Diary #65 - Elsa in the process of freezing the castle - notice the "snow" added during the 2015 hub re construction - now it snows in the hub and main street.

Sams Disney Diary #65 – Elsa in the process of freezing the castle – notice the “snow” added during the 2015 hub re construction – now it snows in the hub and main street.

Goofy, Pluto and Cinderella.  As the story goes, Cinderella is looking to decorate the Magic Kingdom for the holidays and isn’t quite sure how to capture the Holidays.  The Fairy Godmother appears to help bring Cinderella’s castle to live with magic glittering ice… resembling her special glass slipper.

In 2014, and returning for 2015 the “Cinderella Holiday Wish” was replaced by “A Frozen Holiday With”.  In the new ceremony Elsa, Anna, Kristof and Olaf, visiting from Arendelle convince Elsa to use her powers to turn Cinderella Castle into an icy,

Sams Disney Diary #65 - Anna and the new Talking Olaf as they appeared during the 2015 Frozen Holiday Wish

Sams Disney Diary #65 – Anna and the new Talking Olaf as they appeared during the 2015 Frozen Holiday Wish

glittering palace.  The new “Frozen Holiday Wish” also uses technology from ‘Celebrate the Magic” to magically transform the castle into a Holiday masterpiece.  Even the Frozen show has evolved from 2014 to 2015 added a new Olaf with a moving mouth, think Talking Mickey.   The 2015 hub expansion project allows the castle to surrounds you giving you are more immersive experience than just watching the castle, the expansion also added snow machines tot he hub.  In addition to snowing on main street, it snows in the hub!    As always be sure to check your times guide for show times, as they tend to change based on crowd levels.

I couldn’t decide which version to feature for this episode of SamsDisneyDiary, so I’ll go with both, and let you decide which you like better!  “Cinderella Holiday Wish” and/or “A Frozen Holiday Wish” Thanks for watching

Thanks for watching and reading SamsDisneyDiary, but sure to subscribe to the YouTube Channel for all of the videos!!

Categories: Castle Stage Show, Christmas, Disney, Magic Kingdom, Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Episode #64: Osborne Lights: “Made with Magic” formerly “Glow with the Show”

Sams Disney Diary Episode #64 - The Osborne Lights Made with Magic

Sams Disney Diary Episode #64 – The Osborne Lights Made with Magic

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights has been entertaining guests at Hollywood Studios for 20 years!  Unfortunately, 2015 marks the last year for the Osborne Lights the way we know them.  The lights started dancing after they moved to The Streets of America in 2006.  For more on the story behind the lights and their history, check out SamsDisneyDiary #21 Blog / Video or Podcast Episode.

Just a few years ago in 2013, Walt Disney World introduced “Made with Magic” or “Glow with the Show” as it was known.  These special Mickey ears bring the technology from Disneyland’s California Adventure, where it premiered in June 2013.  According to Disney, “Become part of the show like never before as you illuminate the evening with a colorful collection of magical accessories”.

Sams Disney Diary Episode #64 - The Osborne Lights Made with Magic - Mouse Ears

Sams Disney Diary Episode #64 – The Osborne Lights Made with Magic – Mouse Ears

Made With Magic  includes the original “Mickey Ear Hat” formerly Glow with the Show along with a Minnie Mouse Headband, Mickey Mouse Glove and Sorcerer Mickey Wand.  Each of these are programmed to light up at key moments, matching the colors and flashing to the beat through a variety of popular evening shows at Walt Disney World including:  Wishes Nighttime Spectacular, Celebrate the Magic, Fantasmic and The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights.

For this episode of SamsDisneyDiary, I positioned my camera behind the display of “Made with Magic” Ears; you can see how they interact with the music and Osborne Lights.   Check out the video below…. and check out SamsDisneyDiary #21 for the history and backstory of the Osborne Lights.

Be sure to check out the “Made with Magic” video below!

I hope you like the video, to catch all of my videos check out the YouTube channel atwww.youtube.com/samsdisneydiay and follow me on twitter @SamsDisneyDiary for all the latest blogs formwww.SamsDisneyDiary.com

Categories: Christmas, Hollywood Studios, Osborne Family Lights, SamsDisneyDiary, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Episode #63: Epcot Club Cool

Epcot Club Cool

Epcot Club Cool

Since 2005 Club Cool has been a welcome distraction for Epcot guests, especially during the heat of the Florida summer.  Located in Epcot’s Innovations West near the new Starbucks, Club Cool offers exclusive Coca-Cola merchandise and “complimentary samples” of Coca-Cola products from around the world.  Wait a minute, back up… complimentary samples?  Yes, free samples of Coca-Cola.

As you travel from the Epcot main entrance toward World Showcase, “Club Cool” is the last exhibit you’ll find in Innovations West (on the right near Fountain of Nations).  It’s your opportunity to take a break from the heat, grab a free sample, and get a flavor of what “World Showcase” is all about….  sampling the diversity of cultures from around the world.  Each “Flavors from Around the World” sample station features sampling from Italy, Greece, Thailand, Japan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Peru and Brazil.  The flavors were recently updated causing quite the stir in the on-line community.  That, along with some rumors of what the location may become, make NOW the perfect time to make sure you visit Club Cool.

Check out the video below

Inside Epcot Club Cool

Inside Epcot Club Cool

Club Cool features multiple self-service drink stations each with 8 flavors.  The flavors were recently updated with 6 completely new offerings and 2 originals.

The current line-up of flavors (as of early 2014):

First on the list, Beverly from Italy, one of the original flavors, Beverly is considered a non-alcoholic aperitif and is part of traditional Italian culture.  With a very bitter flavor, it’s also spawned the “Beverly Challenge” in the Disney on-line community.   How many Beverly drinks can one person possibly do?  The world may never know.

Greece offers Pineapple Fanta, caffeine-free and sweet with a pineapple taste

Thailand offers its own Fanta flavor, “Melon Frosty”, a melon flavored Fanta perfect for the sunny tropical Thailand climate.

Japan offers VegitaBeta (another original flavor), the only non-carbonated offering which blends apricot and passion fruits making it rich in beta-carotene contributing to its unique yellow-orange color.

South Africa offers Bibo, a fruit flavored juice line that introduced the characters “Johnny Orange, Taka Strawberry and Paolo Peach”

Zimbabwe features “Sparberry”, a raspberry cream soda originally launched in 1955.  It is only available in southeast Africa (and Club Cool)

“The Taste of Peru” is an unusually sweet fruity flavor that tastes like liquid bubblegum.  “Inca Kola” is translated “King and Queen” in Peru.

Brazil features “Guarana Kuat”, a guarana berry flavored drink introduced in 1997.

With multiple self-serve locations, be sure to try them all.  It’s always interesting to see someone’s first reaction to any of the flavors.  And it does set the stage for your trip around World Showcase.

Inside Epcot Club Cool

Inside Epcot Club Cool

Here is a list of the original Club Cool flavors (pre-2014):

Mozambique (Krest Ginger Ale), Costa Rica (Fanta Kolita), Italy (Beverly), Japan (Vegeta Beta), Israel (Kinley Lemon), Mexico (Lift Apple), China (Smart Watermelon) and Germany (Mezzo Mix)

On the “rumor mill”, there has been lots of gossip regarding this location turning into a “World of Coke” with merchandise and exhibits from the Coca-Cola archives.  (Yes, they have an archive and impressive museum in Atlanta, GA).   Could this location become a spin-off World of Coke location?  If so, let’s hope the free samples don’t stop; although, I would love to see a Coca-Cola Free Style machine somewhere in Epcot.   What do you think?

For all of my latest blogs be sure to visit www.samsdisneydiary.com, follow me on twitter @samsdisneydiary like the show on facebook at facebook.com/samsdisneydiary and for all of my videos subscribe the YouTube Channel www.youtube.com/samsdisneydiary.

And don’t miss “The Disney Nerds Podcast”

Categories: Club Cool, Epcot, SamsDisneyDiary, Walt Disney World | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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