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)
I am reluctant to include this as Disney news. However, when news is slow you take any bone thats thrown your way. The merchandising genius behind Vinylmation at Disney parks has been an unparalleled success. (well, maybe pins too...) The vinyl figures in the shape of Mickey Mouse depict everything from park characters to food. When they first debuted few people thought they would latch on the way other Disney collectables did. Boy were they wrong.
Just when you think the Vinylmation business is wearing down another fabulous set are released. In todays case, the second edition of Park Starz! This variety of Vinylmation are special in that they break the traditional Mickey shape... taking on a much more adaptable persona, giving the artist more flexibility. PLUS, the theme is quite stupendous as well. Park Starz represent various park specific characters... both popular and more esoteric. This new set includes the "red head" from Pirates of the Caribbean, a Tower of Terror bellhop, and a troll from Norway! Fabulous.
Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog)
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is just about the only thing that will get me to give up sacred Disney theme park time and leave property. Wednesday's official news from Universal about the awesome expansion of the land isn't groundbreaking for internet trolls like me and you (I feel like that's a safe assumption) but an actual opening date? (Summer 2014 according to Jim Hill.) Huge deal.
In many ways, Universal's news is Disney news too. Where are the details on Avatarland? Will DHS get a Star Wars land? Will Epcot's Future World ever be updated? Already, tourists have a reason to skip a day or two at Disney and head over to Universal in 2014. I hope these details and gorgeous renderings kick Disney into gear a little bit. (Not to mention Universal's use of the buzzword "storytelling" in so many of the quotes. Interesting, right?) Disney fans want an announcement, not just limited time magic either, but something tangible and epic. I'm crossing my fingers that the D23 Expo this summer gives us just that.
Gratulerer! That means congratulations in Norwegian. And congratulations were in order this week, as Epcot and the Norway Pavilion celebrated their silver anniversary together. It was May 6, 1988 when the land of Vikings and trolls was first introduced to Walt Disney World guests. Designed to resemble a Norwegian fishing village, the Norway pavilion was the 11th and final pavilion added to World Showcase. While the Norway pavilion doesn’t have the “glitz and glamour” of the France pavilion or the live music of the Canada pavilion or the United Kingdom pavilion, this little section of World Showcase has always been one of my favorite pavilions. Maelstrom is a short but fun search for the spirit of Norway where you inevitably find adventure and peril. The Stave Church provides a nice home for an exhibit about Vikings, which is a prime example of old school Epcot edutainment. And last, but certainly not least, Norway is home to Kringla Bakeri og Kafe where you can get some really great treats for snacking around the world including school bread and my personal favorite, lefse.
Epcot did release a celebratory pin honoring the 25th anniversary of the pavilion which I thought was a nice touch for fans of the pavilion. Clearly, there wasn’t going to be a big ceremony or announcement honoring the pavilion because in the grand scheme of the Disney theme parks, this wasn’t that big of a deal. But it was nice to see the pavilion get a little bit of much deserved love and respect. I for one will be sure to celebrate 25 years by going toe to toe with the trolls the next time I’m in Epcot.
Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)
ABC has a hit on its hands with Once Upon a Time, the drama about fairytale characters entering the real world, and last week Disney surged some cross-promotional synergy into the series with a New Fantasyland TV spot. The commercial features Lana Parrilla reprising her role as Once's Evil Queen, perusing New Fantasyland's attractions and adding some snark to what she sees. Some of the lines get cheesy, but it's a pretty fun promo all around.
Once will air its second-season finale this Sunday evening, and if you're frequenting this website, then you need to tune in. Every Disney fan should be watching this show. Its plot, on the surface, seems like something trodden excessively, but its execution is superb, with layered storytelling reminiscent of Pirates of the Caribbean and fun character reveals similar to the Robin Williams film Hook. Season one is on Netflix, while season two awaits on Hulu. The show is essentially a primetime series all about Disney characters (and it just so happens to broadcast in The Wonderful World of Disney's fabled timeslot...). Disney hopes to reel fans in by capitalizing on the Walt-centric nature of the story. We've seen a D23 feature article (that's what got me!), lead actress Ginnifer Goodwin at New Fantasyland's opening ceremony, and now this Lana Parrilla TV spot for Magic Kingdom. Has the spell been cast on you yet?
Ryan P. Wilson (Main Street Gazette)
Disney Springs is still a ways off, but that doesn't mean some of its ideals can't start being implemented now. This week Turckeria Rolling Tacos will be serving guests during the evening hours at Downtown Disney. Food trucks, or a food truck-like selection of eateries, are being considered as a viable dining option for the new shopping and entertainment district coming to Walt Disney World.
We here at the Gazette have long been proponents of getting food trucks into Walt Disney World in some form or fashion, whether it was an idea for DinoLand, U.S.A. or at Downtown Disney. Food trucks are a great way to get great food to guests without the need for the overhead associated with a restaurant that needs a kitchen and dining hall. The fact that Downtown Disney is getting in on the action now, possibly as a test run for Disney Springs, makes me happy.
After all, food trucks have been around for quite a while, but Walt Disney World being late to the party is better than never showing up at all.