Roundtable Contributors: Elizabeth Caran (Outlander Travel), Princess Fee (DF’82), Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog), Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley (Mouse on the Mind), Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com), Andrew (Disney Hipsters Blog), and yours truly.
Elizabeth Caran (Outlander Travel)
It is being reported that both Disney Channel Rocks and Pixar Pals Countdown to Fun will be going away as of April 6. No definitive reason has been offered as to why they are stopping production, but again, studioscentral reports that there are rumors it is due to work going on backstage that would prevent the floats from getting moved around into position.
Regardless of the reason, if this is true, it leaves Disney's Hollywood Studios with no real parade to speak of. It's an interesting choice. Does this mean even more Streetmosphere? Maybe lots of new stuff? I think that would be fantastic. I think pulling back all that entertainment and truly replacing it with nothing would be pretty tragic in a park that is all about performance. Although I am not a huge fan of parades, I will miss the Pixar characters having a shining moment each day in the park. I just hold out hope that whatever the reason, the end result will be a better DHS with even more entertainment and fun surprises.
Of course, Star Wars weekends will provide some entertainment to fill the void in a month or so. Still, it begs the question of what will be next for Disney's Hollywood Studios.
Andrew (Disney Hipsters Blog)
It's no big secret, here at Disney Hipster Headquarters we have a sour opinion on Disney's Hollywood Studios. The park is a train wreck, albeit a potentially awesome/frustrating/nostalgia inducing train wreck. One of the biggest problems the park has is lack on continuity of its theme...which was never that clear to begin with. Aren't we in old Hollywood? Why is Aerosmith here? (etc...) The inclusion of Disney Channel Rocks! since 2010, and a similar show prior to that, just mucked up the theme even more. Disney Channel, the brand, couldn't be any farther from the supposed "old Hollywood" theme. I'm cautiously optimistic about this show going away next month...honestly, even if it isn't replaced by anything it will be a general improvement toward the parks atmosphere and theme.
Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley (Mouse on the Mind)
This week, a rumor surfaced, intimating that Disney is overseeing a reboot of the classic 1977 film Pete's Dragon. Not only will the new film NOT be a musical, but the dragon will be rendered in CGI and it's being scripted by a pair of filmmakers who most recently worked on a gritty Sundance-buzzy indie film. No music. No awesome hand-crafted effects. No Disney-tried, family-friendly writers. And it goes without saying that this reboot won't feature Mickey Rooney or Red Buttons, either. None of it sounds promising. I can already see my childhood giving Disney the finger as it eats fire-roasted apples and cuddles up with an imaginary green monster.
Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)
Disney is changing things up where character greetings are concerned. In an off-synch but welcome move, a random grouping of characters now meets guests on the Streets of America in Hollywood Studios each afternoon at 4:40. And what's more, while the goal is of course to pose for pictures and sign autographs, the characters are free to roam as they please, opening the floor for some fun interaction not often seen in WDW meet & greets. A similar function was previously held daily inside The Magic of Disney Animation, but had not been in use for several months.
I commended surprise characters last month when a few unexpected faces popped up in Magic Kingdom, and this new Streets of America greeting is another step in a great direction. I understand the need for formal, structured character greetings for the more popular names like Mickey and the princesses, but I also love the idea of turning a corner and finding characters I didn't expect to be there. Other WDW locations that regularly implement this practice—of sometimes, but not always, having characters present, and if they do, not knowing who will be there—are all typically in Epcot: the Fountain of Nations, World Showplace, International Gateway, and American Adventure.
Princess Fee (DF'82)
The current celebration at Disney Parks, Limited Time Magic , has been bringing out some great ideas and fun ‘one-offs’ for guests. One of the most recent ideas for the celebration has been noted through the Disney Parks’ blog, entitled ‘Long-Lost Disney Friends’ for the Disneyland park. The idea was originally showcased in January, with some rare characters visiting the Walt Disney World Resort. This time, however, the long-lost friends will be chosen by the Disney public! Voting has been open on the Disney Parks website, and unfortunately closes today (March 21st), but you might still have some time to sneak a vote in there! Friends that can re-appear include Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf, Merlin, Jane and Terk, and Scrooge McDuck and Ludwig VonDrake! As someone who enjoys nothing more than visiting and meeting characters in the Disney parks, this idea sounds fantastic – I can’t wait to hear who makes an appearance.
Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog)
Something is happening at Animal Kingdom. A small something. Walls have been put up in Africa to make room for the upcoming sojourn of The Festival of the Lion King. Does this mean Avatarland is coming soon to Camp Mickey Minnie? Well, according to last week's Disney Springs announcement, the answer is still yes. But you can never be too sure with these tricky folks. I, for one, like the idea of Festival making a move to where it belongs. Maybe this will inspire Disney to update the show a little bit? It's definitely the best performed on property (in my opinion) but could use a little breath of fresh air.
Ryan P. Wilson (Main Street Gazette)
When handling the news revolving around Walt Disney World there are a lot of things that you can jeer and sneer at, particularly when you have an ideal from your childhood that you fear nay never be realized. Epcot is often discussed in a way that can make one wonder if the park, especially Future World, is still relevant in educating today’s families and focusing on making the future a better place. There is a place for this conversation, but it isn’t here and it isn’t today.
Today we celebrate Epcot, more to the point we celebrate the work being done at The Seas pavilion. As some of you may know, eight sea turtles were brought to Walt Disney World just before Christmas last year suffering from hypothermia spawned by a bitter winter storm that hit New England. After being examined by Animal Program staff at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the eight were moved to The Seas for rehabilitation. After several months, four of the endangered sea turtles were returned to the ocean along the Canaveral National Seashore, with the other four expected to be released soon.
This is real and measureable good being done in our world and it is happening right before the eyes of any who care to pay attention. It may not seem to be as critical as developing new ways to cultivate the land we live in or reducing the carbon emissions of our vehicles, but it is a very real possibility that these sea turtles will not be here for another generation to watch, fall in love with, and be inspired by. Any time we can witness the good being done for the creatures we share this world with it is a good thing, when it can be shared with the numerous guests at Epcot as the good is being done, it’s even better!