Stitch’s Great DEPARTURE

Another ride is on the chopping block according to more sources! Stitch’s Great Escape, a wildly unpopular ride, is on its way out. What may replace it is still being withheld but had users speculating that it could either be “Wreck It Ralph” or “The Incredibles”. I believe either would fit into the Tomorrowland theme rather nicely. The project, although not yet green lit but well on its way, will feature 3D in two theaters, similar to the current attraction with one of the sources comparing the new attraction to Despicable Me in Universal Studios Orlando.

I think most of us will celebrate this change. If the project is green lit, it should hopefully be opened sometime between 2018-2021. WDW seems to be pulling out all the stops in preparation of the 50th Anniversary Celebration.

I’ll be sure to update you once more information is made available!

 

*UPDATE* 8/15 – It’s looking more and more like a Wreck It Ralph ride featuring the Sugar Rush scene in the movie! Hoping to hear an announcement soon from Disney Parks

Here’s Lookin’ At You Kid

Another classic Disney Parks ride is on its way out! According to sources, The Great Movie Ride will be closed and remodeled into a new attraction as Disney’s contract with TCM will expire in 2018. The sources say that it is Disney’s decision to not seek renewal.

If thought about more in depth, this should not come as a shock considering Disney’s recent trend to remodel older rides, as beloved as they may be to certain demographics of Disney parks fans (see Disneyland’s Tower of Terror).

The extent of remodeling is not yet clear a this time. No one is certain if the exterior facade will be changed or the specifics of the attraction itself. There is speculation at this point that it will remain a dark ride and the premise may entail following Mickey along his “greatest hits”. It will use the new LPS technology, similar to the Ratatouille attraction in Disneyland Paris (LPS is used in reference to a trackless ride with several ride paths for groups of vehicles which usually cross each other. They may also involve the vehicles starting, stopping, spinning, following each other or moving around each other. i.e. Pooh’s Honey Hunt, Mystic Manor, Ratatouille, Antartica, Alcatraz and now this).If it remains a “movie based” ride, even if it is simply Disney movies, then it stands a chance that the exterior will remain mostly the same.

It’s been clear to Disney management in recent years that GMR does not score well in visitor surveys. They will need to strategize spreading out the crowds once Star Wars and Toy Story Lands open by luring people to other parts of the park. Disney has been highly criticized for the lack of major attractions or generally any attractions at all in DHS considering the hefty cost of 1-day base admission to the park. Since the announcement of the two new themed lands coming to the DHS, many areas, experiences, and attractions have closed to make room for construction, forcing longer waits for the remaining E-ticket attractions like ToT and RnRC.

DHS has become a half-day park and although Animal Kingdom does have their evening experiences, it will not be considered a full-day park until Pandora opens to park goers. The trickle down effect only have two full day parks and two half-day parks is that out-of-towners will spend less time in Disney and spend the remainder of their trip at Universal, which is quickly becoming a multi-day park experience.

Disney Bucket List

Since my last post, when I wrote about always wanting to see Disney in December, I began thinking about all of the other Disney experiences I’ve been dying to see and do!

Here’s my Disney Experience Bucket List :

  1. Extended stay at the Polynesian – This may be silly to many, but I’ve been dying to stay at a Deluxe Monorail Resort. I would take the ferry from Magic Kingdom and dream of waking up in the Grand Floridian but since the refurbishments at the Poly, this is my new favorite Monorail resort. The decor, the atmosphere, Trader Sams, dole whip, ‘Ohana, Kona Cafe, what’s not to love? Alas, these resorts are massively expensive – far exceeding my budget for a simple 5-6 day trip to the Worlds but I hope and plan to book a room at the Poly for an extended stay once Star Wars Land, Pandora, Toy Story Land and all other major IP’s are completed so I can take my time to enjoy them all as well as all of the amenities that the Poly has to offer
  2. Go to every Disney park(Disneyland Anaheim, Disneyland Paris, Tokyo Disney, Hong Kong Disneyland, Shanghai Disney)
  3. Become an AP holderagain, another luxury that not all can afford especially for those that do not live within reasonable driving distance of WDW
  4. Keys to the Kingdom Tour
  5. ATTEND a Disney Weddingemphasis on the “attend” as I do not plan on ever having my own Disney Wedding. The photos look beautiful and I think it would be a lot of fun to be part of one
  6. Food & Wine Festival
  7. Dine With An Imagineer
  8. Wild Trek Tour
  9. Flower & Garden FestivalI’ve been at the parks during the Festival but I have not been able to try any of the wonderful food! I have to get my hands on some frushi and the frozen lavender lemonade.
  10. Dinner at Victoria & Albert’s
  11. Disney Cruiseam I even a cruise person? I’ve never been on ANY cruise before!
  12. A photo with every Disney character!I’m not really one to wait on lines to meet specific characters, but if I had the time, I’d love to get this accomplished
  13. Become a DVC member – $$$$
  14. Complete a runDisney eventthis probably means I should start training, doesn’t it?
  15. Attend a Dapper Day eventseriously, how awesome is Dapper Day?

What are some of the things on your Disney Bucket List? Anything you think I should be adding to mine?

A Very Merry Trip to the Worlds!

I am crazy excited about this next series of posts because I am in the midst of planning my first trip to WDW during Christmastime! I’ve seen magical pictures of Main Street USA and the Resort Loop Hotels decorated beautifully for the holiday and it’s been towards the top, if not THE top, of my Disney bucket list.

mickeys-very-merry-christmas-party

I’ve always preferred going to the parks during more ‘low-key’ months like September and October although I’ve gone during times of sincere stress like the summer months and spring break (EEK!). The Christmas crowds are notorious but I feel confident that if I have a solid Touring Plan (*wink wink*), I’ll be able to : 1) Enjoy my trip and 2) be productive in the parks!

Here’s how I plan my visit to the World in the earliest phases!

  1. I don’t have an Annual Pass, rather a 10-day No Expiration Park Hopper that I purchased a few years ago. I have only TWO days remaining (big bummer) so I know the trip will be brief BUT I intend on purchasing tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party as my third park visit!
  2. I checked Touring Plans’s Crowd Calendar* and picked the first weekend of December for the lower expected crowds compared to the rest of December (*you need an annual subscription to view the Crowd Calendar – which is not the only useful paid feature on their website)
  3. I also checked for any major holidays or school breaks, as this ALWAYS screws up the expected crowd volume for any given week (i.e. the Jewish holidays in the fall and the North East schools are closed for multiple days)
  4. The dates have been selected! December 1st arrival and a December 5th departure. Short and sweet but jam packed with fun
  5. Next! Book ROOM ONLY. Even if you have to also purchase your theme park tickets, ALWAYS book ROOM ONLY. The reason is very simple : You’ll get better discounts through Disney with a RO package, even if you book before there are discounts for your travel dates. For December, there aren’t any RO discounts available yet, but when they are, just call the Disney Reservations number and ask them to apply the discount to your reservation. There are no fees to change your reservation with RO, even if you are changing the dates or the resort location. This is not the case with Magic Your Way (MYW) packages. They will charge ‘Change Fees’ even if it’s to apply a discount to your reservation. Lastly, you can find cheaper tickets through 3rd parties and it’s easy to link those tickets to your My Disney Experience (MDE) account.

There are variables to consider here. Not everyone has the luxury to go whenever they please whether it’s work commitments or young children in school. Additionally, you’ll have to determine long before you even get booking your reservation, what your budget will be and how much you intend on saving for the trip.

For me, since my visit will be brief, I do not plan on going “all out” as I have on previous trips but I also want to make the trip memorable in other ways by trying new experiences. So from December 1st through December 5th, I’ll be staying at the Art of Animation Resort in the Little Mermaid Rooms! This is the most expensive of the values and the most recent addition to the line up of value resorts in WDW but I’ve heard many wonderful things about the design of the resort as well as the very comfortable rooms. I’m so looking forward to checking out the Cars Land area and all the remaining themed resort areas!

So here we are! The earliest of phases but there’s plenty more to get excited about! Next post will be about choosing your itinerary based on crowd levels, park hours, and events as well as ADRS!!

If you have any tips as you’re following along, make sure to leave them in the comments or you can send me an email if you’d like to contribute some of your own Trip Planning Tips or even your own Trip Reports to be featured on a future post!

 

New Name, New Me

I started my Disney-inspired Instagram account, YASDisney, back on February 9th 2016. When creating the account, I was a bit nervous but I also didn’t quite realize what it would become for me. The name, the account, the vision was not there at the beginning. I had no idea how inviting, welcoming, and wonderful this community would be and how I would look forward to interacting with all of you.

I’ve been muling this over for quite a while. I report on both Disney and Universal as I truly love both! I knew removing the word “Disney” from my name might cause me to lose a few followers but I want to draw in a broader audience of Disney lovers, Universal lovers, and those who love both, like myself! I didn’t want to have to limit myself to only Disney posts just because it was in my name. And the name wasn’t even very crafty. I was watching a lot of Broad City at the time and wanted to get started with posting my park pictures ASAP! This has grown into something much deeper to me though and I take the account very seriously, so it was time for a name that represented that.

So today, I’m introducing to you my new name, my new identity : The Enchanted Park Hopper

Aaaaahhh! It feels so much better. I’ve updated all besides my Snapchat account (which apparently you’re unable to change, oh well). I can’t wait for you all to see the things I’ve been working on!

Instagram : @enchantedparkhopper
Twitter : @the_park_hopper
Snapchat : yasdisney

RUMOR : Guardians of the Galaxy On Their Way to EPCOT

Today’s rumor has been floating around the internet for a week or so and all signs point to TRUE.

It’s no secret that there are a few attractions in Future World that have been in desperate need of reforms or updates. The experts are predicting the following changes to come to EPCOT :

  • Ellen’s Energy Adventure is getting a GotG overhaul, which sources indicate has been green lit
  • Wonders of Life – which has not been utilized as an attraction in years, may very well get a GotG update as Phase II but has not yet been green lit.
  • The CommuniCore Pavillion (Innoventions) has gotten the green light for an update. Some are speculating it could become a Club Cool
  • Mission : Space also got the green light for a refurb/update!
  • Lastly, plans are on the horizon for updates/changes to Journey Into Imagination but nothing has received approval yet.

 

I think there’s a ton of wasted space right now in Future World and having another major dark attraction to replace outdated shows/pavilions would be most welcome, in my humble opinion. With Star Wars Land and Toy Story feeling like they are lightyears from completion and Pandora arriving next year, Disney needs to generate some major excitement for EPCOT, beyond a Frozen ride in Norway. As always, give change and peace a chance. Hopefully we get some previews from the Disney Parks Blog soon!

Universal’s Volcano Bay will be a Game Changer

 

Universal Orlando released a teaser for their new state-of-the-art water park, Volcano Bay, of which construction is well under way. There is no hard opening date at this time, but it is expected to be open to visitors in 2017 (some speculating June 2017). Once Volcano Bay opens, Universal will truly be a force to be reckoned with when it concerns Orlando Parks. The theme park has been refurbishing its attractions since the opening of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Their brilliant immersive design for the concessions and attractions has carried over into Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios with the new and improved Incredible Hulk Coaster reopening this summer as well as the much anticipated King Kong Skull Island.

Prior to the release of the Volcano Bay renderings, water parks have been considered a dime a dozen, to most people. If you’ve been to one, you’ve been to them all. The same style, the same slides, the same atmosphere. Typhoon Lagoon, part of the Disney World parks, has nice theming but nothing quite to the level of sophistication as Volcano Bay. This park changes everything you know or expect from a water park. There will be slides. There will be water. There will be lazy rivers. But nothing quite in this fashion. Nothing that could ever come this close to transporting you to a different time and a different place.

The most breathtaking feature will be the iconic Volcano which will host various slides and will come alive throughout the day as water erupts 100 feet into the air. Universal will be using new technology as it features the advanced linear induction motor hydro-magnetic style slides as opposed to the more outdated, less effective water jets to push rafts up inclines. There will be lazy rivers and more intense rivers. There will be a lush kiddie area that keeps with the theme. Additionally, you can rent cabanas if you are one that prefers lavish relaxation instead of thrills.

What we have not received confirmation for is the possibility or likelihood of “dark” rides with advanced 3D and sensory technology, as many theme park enthusiasts are crying out for. More will be announced in the coming months as construction progresses, as shown below courtesy of the Orlando Sentinel.

 

Universal is surely giving Disney a run for their money. With the opening of Avatar next year, the renderings of Star Wars Land, and Toy Story Land, Universal knew they had to keep pushing the limit with immersive experiences. They also needed to create a solid new park to lure long-term visitors as opposed to only day visitors. They’re preparing for an influx in resort guests with the opening of the luxurious Loews Saphire Falls Resort and general affordability of their value resorts, like Cabana Bay. Although, you likely would not be booking a 7+ day visit at Universal Orlando, guests will soon realize that they will need more than two days to see all that the theme park has to offer.

Keep pushing farther, Universal! Competition is what Disney desperately needs at at time while prices are hiked and long-term construction and closures loom in anticipation of Star Wars Land.

Frozen Ever After Debut!

 

We’re one day into the grand opening of Frozen Ever After, which replaced the beloved Maelstrome in the Norway Pavilion in Epcot. This is the first major attraction to open in the World Showcase and according to bloggers and common Disney enthusiasts, it did not disappoint.

Although the ride was down multiple times, due to reasons that have not been confirmed (rumors are the boat sensors triggering or not triggering and animatronics not functioning here and there), and the observed wait time for some was 5 hours (yikes), visitors left the ride with smiles and pleasant vibes! Cast Members kept the folks in line well hydrated and informed regarding wait times and closures. Most of the criticism for the ride revolved around the lack of preparation (very little if any soft openings for this ride to work out kinks) and the small capacity for the ride made the wait epically long.

The video above is a wonderful POV which includes some beautiful shots of the interior of the line queue! Below are some great photos that were shared onto the WDW Magic Boards.

 

New Evening Experiences Coming This Summer

Disney debuted a new hashtag today to begin the hype for a bunch of new experiences and highlighting the evening additions coming to Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Now every time we mutter the words “Rivers of Light” it must be followed by #AwakenSummer

It was announced on the Disney Parks Blog that Animal Kingdom will start extending their park hours to 11PM from the regular 5PM close time. Holy fricken wow that is quite the jump. Check the the Tree of Life light show, the Jungle Book water show, Harambe Wildlife Parti, and Discovery Island Carnivale. Attractions like Kilimanjaro Safari, Expedition Everest, and Primeval Whirl will be open and FastPasses are now available for reservations on the My Disney Experience App!
*I checked to see if the extended hours would continue through the rest of the year but it looks like the close time goes back to 5PM around July 3rd. It’s probable that this will be updated after Disney calculates the park attendance during this trial period.

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Other evening experiences starting in June : Magic Kingdom is debuting a new evening Castle show called Mickey’s Royal Friendship Fare. Disney’s Hollywood Studios will debut Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Fireworks Show.

Lastly, Epcot will open up the new Frozen Forever ride in Norway as well as the Soarin’ refurb/expansion. You can also meet Elsa and Anna in Norway at their new Meet-and-Greet location at Royal Sommerhus.

 

The Incredible Hulk Refurbished Queue and Vehicle Reveal!

As much as I love Disney, I cannot get enough of thrill rides. My first roller coaster experience was The Incredible Hulk in the spring of 2007. My sister forced us to ride in the first row. She said “You’re either going to hate it or love it. If you love it, you’ll never be afraid of another thrill ride ever again” (she didn’t know about Kingda Ka in Six Flags yet, that’s another story) and she was so right. My love affair with speed and twirls and thrills was born and thriving.

As most know, the Incredible Hulk roller coaster in Islands of Adventure closed last year for a massive refurb and is due to be completed and reopened this summer!

Universal has revealed the drawings for the new queue and the snazzy new ride vehicle. It straight up looks MENACING.

Watch the video for the full reveal and tell me if you’re still not excited (you’re lying if you’re not)