22 October 2013

Music and Fountains

A couple of weeks back we took a look at the massive entertainment events of Epcot, a bit of the past and present, and a dream of what might be in the future. One of the spectaculars we mention came to the park courtesy of Epcot ’94, Splashtacular.

Remember the robotic Tyrannosaurus Rex? What about the Mickey’s Future World Guards, clamoring around on stilts, clad in Mickey-shaped armor? And who can forget the brightly colored costumes of Mickey, Minnie, and the rest of the gang, not to mention the butterflies and evil aliens?

21 October 2013

Remain on Designated Trails

Running has always been an integral part of the Walt Disney World experience. Of course, Cast Members have for years asked guests to walk, not run, as guests, typically men and teenage boys, sprint to grab Fastpasses or be the first person to get on an attraction each morning. Over the past two decades, running in and around Walt Disney World has begun to take on a new life, from a marathon weekend to races that now span the entire calendar year.

Guests with a penchant for running as their main form of exercise, and who don’t want to give up on their exercise regimen while on vacation, have always been able to get in their regularly scheduled run. Whether finding a way on their own around the resort sidewalks, utilizing fitness rooms, or grabbing a map from the front desk, runners have always found a way. With the increasing guest awareness of and participation in runDisney events, the fitness community has taken notice and a partnership has emerged with New Balance.

Oh sure, there are merchandising opportunities with such a relationship, such as the limited edition footwear that were available for the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, but that isn’t going to be how most guests relate to the partnership. New Balance and runDisney are both keenly aware of this fact and have put in place more functional tools, such as signage for posted running trails around resorts.

Adding in such signs won’t take away from the aesthetics of a given resort, such as the signs that have popped up around the Polynesian (noted on the signs now as Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort). Rather, these running trail postings go a long way to cut down on confusion. Guests will no longer be searching for their own way to run around the resorts, estimating how far they’ve run and wandering onto sidewalks that come to abrupt ends or enter Cast Member only areas. They will also not have to go down to the front desk first in order to obtain a map, or print one out from online, that they need to carry with them.

The trails make use of already built sidewalks, which means that runners will regularly come into contact with other guests, but they are definitely a start. Fitness trails, such as the one the connects Fort Wilderness and the Wilderness Lodge, would be great additions for all the resorts, but I don’t see that happening any time soon. That said, putting in dedicated running and fitness trails, perhaps one that can be easily accessed from multiple resorts in an area (i.e. the Value Resorts, Epcot Resorts, Animal Kingdom Lodge and Kidani Village, and other groupings), is likely something that may need to be explored if runners and walking guests create congestion problems and complaints.

I like the idea of having running routes plotted out, with signs to show guests where they are going and where they have been, around the resorts. If this is the next step in creating healthier options for Walt Disney World guests, then I cannot wait to see what comes next!

20 October 2013

Disney This Week - 20 October 2013

This WeekOn the Main Street Gazette

 It is time to dream about what Disney's Animal Kingdom at night could look like!

 We remembered a few postcards from the bygone days of Fort Wilderness.

Silent Saturday set twilight afire with American Gardens Theatre.

This WeekAround the Disney Blogosphere

FoxxFur steps up at Passport to Dreams Old & New and weighs in on the classically creepy question, “Is this haunted room actually stretching or is it your imagination?”

Festival of the Lion King rumors are discussed at Jambo Everyone by Safari Mike.

AJ Wolfe has scared up some spooky treats just in time for Halloween on The Disney Food Blog.

The d├ęcor of the Happiest Celebration on Earth is remembered by Estelle Hallick at This Happy Place Blog.

Sarah Holodick is still investigating the International Food & Wine Festival and stops by for some Craft Beers in Eating WDW.

The brioche ice cream sandwich is sampled by Adam and Andrew for the Disney Hipsters Blog.

This WeekWorld News Roundtable

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

Go Wild After Dark

Alan Mize 

By now, we’ve all heard about the Avatar project coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  And we’ve all heard that some details were finally revealed in the last week documenting exactly what we may experience when Pandora comes to Orlando.  Somewhat lost in the Avatar news however, was information about Disney’s Animal Kingdom finally becoming a night time park.  New experiences including a special night safari ride on Kilimanjaro Safaris as well as a nighttime parade will be coming to the park along with Avatar.

The Animal Kingdom has a reputation for being a “half day” park.  Part of this is because there are seemingly not enough attractions to keep guests entertained all day.  Another part of this is due to the fact that the park generally closes much earlier in the day than the other three Walt Disney World parks. The Animal Kingdom generally operates on an eight hour schedule where other parks are open for ten, eleven, twelve, or more hours per day.  There is literally nothing to do in that part after dark, because the park usually isn’t open.  That’s why the news of a new night time parade, new performers, and a new night time Kilimanjaro Safari are excellent news for those that want to spend more time in the Animal Kingdom.  Those new entertainment offerings combined with a new land with new attractions will definitely turn a “half day” park into a definitive full day park.

Frozen Trailer Elicits Chills

Blake Taylor (BlakeOnline.com)

It's one thing to build healthy anticipation for a movie. It's another thing altogether to urge your target audience to "experience the greatest Disney animated event since The Lion King." That's what the newest trailer for Disney's Frozen, in theaters November 27, boldly proclaims, and it might just be right.

From all angles, Frozen's got the makings of a Disney classic: fairytale inspiration (from Hans Christian Andersen, no less), princesses, funny sidekick characters, gorgeous animation, and (perhaps most important of all) music. Not to mention its creative team is an all-star roster of Disney veterans that includes directors Chris Buck (Tarzan director) and Jennifer Lee (Wreck-It Ralph writer), songwriters Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez (Finding Nemo: The Musical and Winnie the Pooh), score composer Christophe Beck (The Muppets and Paperman), and producer Peter Del Vecho (The Princess and the Frog and Winnie the Pooh).

I personally thought Tangled would be the peak of this era of Disney animation, with the way it swept families by storm and the popularity Rapunzel has in the parks. But now, seeing how well the public is responding in anticipation of Frozen over a month before it even releases... PLUS the clear high standard Disney apparently believes this film has... it seems that Tangled were merely the opening act. Frozen will be the film that defines Disney magic for this generation. And I can't wait.

Muppets and Monsters

Estelle Hallick (This Happy Place Blog) 

I can barely contain my excitement for the upcoming holidays. While I wait, it seems my December television calendar is filling up with awesome TV specials and movies spotlighting my favorite season. Most exciting? An upcoming TV special on ABC with the Muppets and Lady Gaga! There are basically no details so I'm not sure if the special is the Muppets WITH Lady Gaga or Lady Gaga WITH the Muppets. Two very different stories. Either way, I'm so excited about all the excitement surrounding the Muppets lately. A new movie in March, the success of the Jim Hension bio by Brian Jay Jones, and now a few more sleeps until a new holiday special of some kind.

So much to look forward to!

15 October 2013

Traditional Evening Campfire

I’ve said this before, but back when film was the only way to capture memories at Walt Disney World, I would be very selective in what I chose to photograph with my little 110 camera. To supplement my pictures I would buy up whole handfuls of postcards on each and every trip. Not to send to anyone in particular, though I would occasionally scribble a note to myself on the back before I put them away in their box at home, just to have the memories to hold on to.

Early on, Walt Disney World saw that postcards weren’t just for sending to family and friends about your adventures, they were a way to remember your trip as well. Thus was born the postcard booklets. Booklets, such as the 8-postcard version from Fort Wilderness that we’re looking at today, included perforated postcards that you could tear out and send to whomever you wished. However, the tab the postcards came off of also included a copy of the picture and a section for ‘REMARKS’ so you had something to hold onto for yourself. The only postcard that didn’t have a reproduction inside was the postcard on the cover, whose tab identified what the booklet’s subject matter was.

The postcards included in the booklets would change over the years, but at their heart they were a visual almanac to what a specific place and time in Walt Disney World had to offer. Let’s go ahead and venture back to 1973 and see what Fort Wilderness had to offer!

Goofy helps water a thirsty locomotive at the Ft. Wilderness water tank. The Ft. Wilderness trains, like the ones used in the Theme Park, are powered by authentic steam locomotives.

As the narrow guage steam train passes in the background, two Ft. Wilderness campers enjoy one of the more popular sports in the Vacation Kingdom Campground. With many miles of trails and bridle paths horseback riding is an excellent way to see the beautiful Ft. Wilderness area.

Fort Wilderness campers enjoy total camping comfort and convenience. Recreation includes canoeing, fishing and horseback trail riding.

A convenient store-on-wheels lets Ft. Wilderness guests purchase fresh fruits, vegetables and other food items right at their campsite. Ft. Wilderness offers over 700 campsites with more planned for the future.

In the heart of Walt Disney World, at Fort Wilderness, vacationing guests relax in wooded campsites and take part in a wide variety of outdoor recreation.

Here, Fort Wilderness campers can select from hundreds of outdoor items. Of course, there’s always time for a game of checkers, too!

Campfire time at Disney World’s Fort Wilderness is a perfect end to a fun-filled day in the Magic Kingdom. Held every day at dusk, the traditional evening campfire features songs, games and special surprise entertainment.

Located within Fort Wilderness, the Tri-Circle-D Ranch features horseback trail riding, a pony ride and a petting zoo for the children.