28 March 2013

World News Roundtable - 28 March 2013

Roundtable Contributors: Elizabeth Caran (Outlander Travel), Alan Mize, Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley (Mouse on the Mind), Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com), Andrew (Disney Hipsters Blog), and yours truly.

Melissa Sue Sorrells Galley (Mouse on the Mind)

If you're a giant Disney nerd (guilty over here), then you probably know about (or even ate) Handwiches. In case you don't, here's the short version: in the 1980s, Disney pioneered a conical bread product for a sandwich that Park-goers could carry in one hand. You know, so they could keep moving, keep enjoying the Parks and keep spending money while they were eating. Though it never quite caught on back then, the Handwiches made a comeback last summer as Conewiches in Carsland. At the Chili Cone Queso stand, guests can order a variety of cone-shaped sandwiches. Which is wonderful and exciting but ... I can't afford to fly to California just for a sandwich! Luckily, Disney is bringing the single-handed sandwiches to Orlando's Downtown Disney! Rejoice, Handwich fans! And join me in line, won't you?

Alan Mize

While visiting Walt Disney World last week, I was pleasantly surprised when the new themed monorail pulled into the station.  Dubbed the “Ironrail” or "Iron Manorail" by many, monorail black has been wrapped in order to promote Iron Man 3.  This isn’t the first time that Disney has wrapped a monorail with an advertisement to promote a new movie.  There has also been the “Tronorail” and the “Avengerail,” and all three of these monorail versions have drawn mixed responses from the online community.  Having seen Ironrail in person, I personally thought it was pretty cool looking.  While many complain that a large picture of Iron Man on the side of the monorail train can mess with the theming of the monorail, I personally don’t see what there is to get that upset about.  While some view the monorail as an attraction in and of itself, ultimately the monorail is nothing more than a mode of transportation like the ferry boats or the buses.  It’s not as if they’re wrapping the pirate ships on Peter Pan’s Flight or the logs on Splash Mountain.  The monorail is still a “futuristic” way to get around the WDW resort, regardless of whether it has a black stripe or whether it says Stark Industries so the theming still fits for me.  Now, would I want the Iron Man 3 wrap to stay around forever?  No, I wouldn’t.  But for a temporary promotion of their next big movie, I don’t have any problems seeing Iron Man fly around the Seven Seas Lagoon.  

Hey, guess what guys? Disney has the capability to wrap its legendary monorails as a tie in to current movie franchises! I bet you didn't know that did you? Wait...sorry, I didn't mean to lay on the sarcasm so densely. Of course you realize this, because they're getting old really quickly. Disney World has, yet again wrapped a monorail. This time as a promotional tool for the upcoming film Iron Man 3. I have no problem with Disney's acquisition of Marvel a few years ago. If anything I applaud their foresight into that brand. However, I like to maintain a sense of pride in the clean retro/chic look of the monorails. This is the third or fourth incarnation of these giant ads in the last few years, and I dont remember a recent trip that DIDNT involve saying "Oh, hey...there goes blahblahblah-orail." I don't like them. Tacky. Icky. Gross.

Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)

There are many Easter festivities on both coasts this week as part of Limited Time Magic, but perhaps the most fullfilling treat of them all is a surprise I'm sure no one expected: the return of Roget Rabbit. Yes, the Roger Rabbit, the one you haven't seen in the parks for a month of Sundays (...times about 120). Sure, you have permission to jump up and down and do two laps around your house! Go on!

Are you back now? Ok, good. Roger appears this week at Disneyland on Main Street USA along with other rabbit characters to do the Bunny Hop at 3:30 and 6:30, 30 minutes prior to the parade. It may not be a formal meet & greet, but fans will take what they get with this popular yet extremely elusive character! Roger was last seen in the US during May 2012's Fantasmic! 20th anniversary event at Disneyland. Before that, though, his last appearance had to have been close to a decade ago.

I didn't see Who Framed Roger Rabbit until 2004, but I was familiar with the titular character long before that. Growing up in the '90s, to me Roger was just as much part of Mickey and the gang as Chip & Dale or Pluto. Due to his popularity, that's how much prominence Disney gave him in the parks and in promotional materials (a bit like Stitch, in a way). That's part of what makes his sudden disappearance off the face of the earth so bizarre. I sure hope his recent surprise appearances are an indication of more future use. P-p-p-p-p-lease, Disney!

Elizabeth Caran (Outlander Travel)

On March 25, Disney Destinations sent out an email to Passholders about exchanging their paper tickets for new RFID cards so they can use the faster "wave and enter" turnstiles at the parks. There has been a bit of a murmur over the internet from Passholders wondering why they had not been part of the first group to be converted over, but I think Disney was wise to test it out a bit before converting expensive APs over. The time is nigh, however, and Passholders now have a window of opportunity from now through May 19 (yes, through the Flower and Garden Festival) to exchange their paper ticket for a shiny new RFID card. (Shininess is not guaranteed.)

When you are at Epcot during this time period, you should bring your paper pass and valid ID to the Odyssey Center. If you don't know where that is, turn in your Disney fan card right now! No no... just kidding. It's between Test Track and Mexico. This is the only place where you can complete your exchange. You cannot go to the ticket windows or the Downtown Disney Guest Services center to do this. And the Odyssey Center is only open during regular park hours (not Extra Magic Hours).

I was really hoping to get a MagicBand bracelet rather than a card, but Disney promises there will be more information soon on when those will be available. As more and more photos begin to leak of what the bracelets look like and some of the premium options you can buy if you want to personalize your MagicBand a bit, I am really intrigued and looking forward to actually trying one out. They look like they might be hot and sweaty on a mid-summer day, but I will reserve judgement for now. In the meantime, I am thrilled that as of my next trip to the park in late April, I will be able to use the (presumably) faster new turnstiles and zip right back to my favorite new Epcot cocktail... Tipsy Ducks in Love.

Ryan P. Wilson (Main Street Gazette)

Are you done hearing about the new races coming to Walt Disney World as a part of the Marathon Weekend in January 2014? Well, reporting on this story is just like its subject matter… a marathon…

Many long-time runners associated with the Run Disney events have been self-bestowing the Dopey title upon themselves for a couple of years. Previously, people granted themselves the unofficial status of a Dopey finisher if they completed the 5K, Half Marathon, and Full Marathon on three consecutive days. There was a hope that following the immense popularity of such fan created terminology that next year they would officially recognize Dopey participants. My lingering question on the matter was how would they address those who have previously considered themselves Dopey?

Run Disney cleverly avoided this pitfall by changing the parameters by which a runner could gain the Dopey recognition. That is to say that if you are a truly dopey runner, you’re going to have to go a bit further to prove it. The 5K will be backed up to Thursday to allow Friday to host a 10K race. By adding another race into the mix, it gives previous long-term dedicated participants to finally claim a Dopey medal, but Run Disney gets to claim it as a previously unobtainable designation.

I am concerned that untested runners will jump at a chance to grab the inaugural medal of the event and not consider the health risks and consequences. Heck, I myself want to jump at the chance, but I know that this isn’t the year for me to ramp up to such a drastic level. I am thrilled for those who are used to these types of distances to have a chance to prove just how dopey they are, but I hope that everyone weighs the pros and cons of such an undertaking before they step out on the course.

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