Roundtable Contributors: Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog), Alan Mize, Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com), Andrew (Disney Hipsters Blog), and yours truly.
Andrew (Disney Hipsters Blog)
So let’s just throw this out there: Disney's Animal Kingdom has a lot of haters. Sure, I can see some of the problems that most people talk about, and the park might not have that many attractions. However, it remains one of my favorite places in the world, second maybe to Disneyland in California. As the date of the parks 15th anniversary approached, it appeared that little would be celebrated by the company...but, with just under two weeks to go a celebration was announced.
No, it’s not the sort of fanfare a 25th anniversary would garner...but hey it’s something. The celebration on April 22nd will include a special opening ceremony at the Tree of Life with design visionary Joe Rohde, earth day activities located throughout the park, limited time 15th anniversary merchandise, and special food for the event. (because, clearly there needs to be cupcakes...) I know it’s not much, but at least it’s something...
Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog)
I haven't been to California Adventure since 2004, but it still pains me to think they might be closing MuppetVision West to make way for more Pixar lands. Sure, I'm a huge Muppet fan and I'm scared that taking the California Muppets away might lead to the same move in Orlando's DHS. But maybe I'm just annoyed that after DCA was completely made over with Carsland, there are way too many rumors of what else might be coming to that park. Disney Gods, Epcot and Hollywood Studios need some loving. STAT!
The 2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival is well underway and to say that it has been a fantastic festival would be an understatement. As you all know, this year's festival added in the food booths and the overall reaction has been positive. The booths are serving great food that is unique to the festival and the park looks incredibly beautiful. My favorite parts of the festival though, aside from the food of course, were the various topiaries around the park. My personal favorites were located in the UK Pavilion. Up on the roof top is Peter Pan and he's looking down on Captain Hook and the crocodile. Unfortunately for me, I was in Epcot three weeks ago and not last week.
Last week, Disney rolled out the "living" Captain Hook topiary and he provided some great guest interactions. Despite the fact that many guests knew he could move, he still managed to surprise quite a few of them during their photos and the videos provide some good laughs. I had previously seen video of the Captain Hook topiary when Disney brought him out in Orlando to promote the festival and I love that Disney brought him to Epcot too, even if it was for just a short time. It looks like this was just a one day appearance, and not for the whole week, but this would have been a great promotion for Limited Time Magic and I wish I had been able to see it in person.
Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)
This week, Disneyland celebrates Long Lost Friends week as part of Limited Time Magic, following an extremely successful run of the event at Walt Disney World in January. Fans had the chance to vote for who they wanted to see, but in a surprise, nearly everyone on the (lengthy!) list is part of the fun. Here's who's appearing: Scrooge McDuck and Ludwig Von Drake; Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather; Pocahontas, John Smith, Governor Ratcliffe, and Meeko; Robin Hood, Prince John, Friar Tuck, and the Sheriff of Nottingham; the Three Little Pigs and the Big Bad Wolf; Lilo and Stitch; Peter Pan, Wendy, Captain Hook, and Mr. Smee; Mulan (as Ping!) and Mushu; Jane and Terk; and Esmeralda, Clopin, and Frollo.
Yowza! That's 10 groups with 30 characters total! We have a nice mix of characters who really never see the light of day with those who are fairly regular, but don't appear as a group. Peter Pan and Stitch are certainly not "long lost," but it's wonderful to have these awesome photo-ops with their whole casts. What's more, each set has their very own, very nice background to pose in front of. There was a lot of effort put into them for only being used a week. I hate to compare it WDW's version simply because Florida's Long Lost Friends Week was exquisite in its own right and received arguably the warmest reception of any Limited Time Magic event yet, but... Disneyland really outdid it with this one. This is exquisite.
Ryan P. Wilson (Main Street Gazette)
It was announced late last week that Billy Dee Williams, best known as that smuggler turned administrator Lando Calrissian, will be attending Star Wars Weekends for Weekend IV. The June 7 - 9, 2013 appearance will not be Williams' first appearance at the celebration, but it is the latest guest announced for this year in what has been a slow reveal process. In addition to hosts Ashley Eckstein and James Arnold Taylor, the only other confirmed guests are Ray Park and Warwick Davis.
We've reached mid-April, with the festivities from a galaxy far, far away landing at Disney's Hollywood Studios in just a little over a month, and yet to have a firm grasp on who will be attending when. I understand it takes time to confirm and iron out any wrinkles with guests who may have a lot on their plates, but this is the first Star Wars Weekends since Disney acquired Lucasfilm and you think Disney would want to put its best foot forward for this showing! Now, I'm still expecting a few surprises, and an incredible time, but it'd just be nice to know who's going to be making their way down Hollywood Boulevard before the X-Wings and minivans descend upon Disney's Hollywood Studios.