22 August 2013

World News Roundtable - 22 August 2013

Roundtable Contributors: Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog), Alan Mize, Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com), and Andrew (Disney Hipsters Blog). 

Coming Soon - Escape From Tomorrowland

Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog)

Is it weird that I'm totally excited about seeing Escape to Tomorrow, that Sundance film secretly filmed at the Disney theme parks? It was announced this week that we should have our chance on October 11th when the movie makes its way to cable and limited theaters.

While Randy Moore's movie generated a lot of buzz at the film festival, he was petrified that Disney might shut down the film once they figured out what he was doing. His actors were sworn to secrecy, his best friends were left in the dark, and he even had the film edited outside of the United States.

The movie is about a man on vacation with his wife and kids in the happiest place on Earth, when he finds out he lost his job. Everything gets a little eerie after that. I kind of like the idea of things going awry in a place where you are supposed to keep the real world behind.

So far Disney has yet to comment about Escape to Tomorrow. I guess we'll see what happens...

This week there was a total Epcot game changer. Official Starbucks signage went up at the Fountainview, in Innoventions Plaza. Why is this so important? We've known for quite a while that this would be the location of Starbucks at Epcot. The big news here is that IT ACTUALLY LOOKS NICE. If you recall, the previous Fountainview signage was a gaudy scaffolding with a very 90's looking sign...plus a hideous vinyl placard announcing their wares. The new sign is very simple, futuristic, and totally old school Epcot. The Starbucks branding is done tastefully as well, not too "in your face."  The Fountainview, which closed earlier this year for the refurbishment, used to serve icecream and other frozen treats but will now feature an extensive array of Starbucks branded goodies when it reopens at the beginning of September. Yippy!

Table at the Top of the Contemporary

Alan Mize 

Disney foodies can rejoice!  Disney confirmed the long awaited (at least by this Disney fan) reopening of the California Grill high atop the Contemporary Resort.  After nearly six months, the reimagined restaurant will be reopening on September 9th.  More importantly for those of us with trips coming up, ADR’s can be booked beginning August 26th.

Not only has the interior of the restaurant been remodeled including a new wine display and two new 10 top tables, the menu will have some new items as well.  Several new dishes have been announced by Chef Brian Piasecki including “pork – two ways” which includes a grilled tenderloin and lacquered pork belly served with goat cheese polenta and mushrooms.  Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and pencil that in for my entrĂ©e on my next visit.  I’m glad this great restaurant is finally ready to see guests again and I can’t wait to try for ADR’s later this month!

Thor in Disneyland

Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)

Soon, Disneyland will have its first-ever meet & greet with a Marvel character as Thor sets up shop at the Happiest Place on Earth. A specific location and start date have yet to be announced. The Marvel superheroes are slowly starting to inch their way into a greater presence in the parks, with Stark Industries having just opened inside Disneyland's Innoventions; Iron Man, Spider Man, and Captain America characters appearing at the D23 Expo; and the Marvel-themed play area coming this fall to the Disney Magic cruise ship. Disney is finally really starting to take ownership for these iconic personalities after purchasing Marvel back in 2009.

The bizarre part of all this, though, is that barely anything can be done with Marvel at Walt Disney World due to contractual issues that state Marvel attractions in Florida are to remain exclusive to Universal Studios. Where that boundary rests is a better question... a whole ride (like Universal's Spider Man) would clearly meet these circumstances, so Imagineers can't whip up their own Spider Man attraction. But then, the Avengerail and the Iron Manorail are ok? So where do walk-around meet & greet characters fit into those legalities? That remains unclear.

I don't have a particular problem with Marvel characters in Disney theme parks, except for the fact that in my mind, they've always been associated with Universal. For that reason, to see them so much part of the Disney family now is a bit disorienting. I like it, it's just a bit of a culture shock.

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