Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is full of fun for toys of all ages, and in 2022 the area will be the home to two new additions.
After enjoying a rollicking ride through Toy Story Mania!, you will soon be treated to a new experience that is filled to the brim with fun. Andy discovered Jessie’s Trading Post playset tucked away in the attic and is bringing it downstairs to set up shop—full of the coolest toys and finest souvenirs handpicked by the rootinest, tootinest cowgirl.
Also coming in 2022 to Andy’s backyard is the previously announced Roundup Rodeo BBQ restaurant!
In this unique, fun, family-friendly dining experience, guests will enjoy delicious barbecue fare while surrounded by a kaleidoscope of toys, games, and playsets that Andy has brought together to create his one-of-a-kind rodeo.
Stepping into the lobby and waiting area, guests experience first-hand what it feels like to be one of Andy’s honorary toys, before progressing into two larger dining room spaces where Andy’s rodeo takes place. Here, the rodeo will be in full swing with the western town and train station playsets mixing with surprising, playful details, like some fan-favorite Pixar characters as they’ve never been seen before!
Stay tuned for more details about all the new playset fun coming this year to Toy Story Land during the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration!
The Disney Parks blog knows the way to my heart…my stomach, and today they shared a bevy of foodie news for Disney’s Hollywood Studios!
Walt Disney World Foodie News: Hollywood Studios
Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo, a designated location on Batuu for traveling food shuttles, just received a new food shipment! Starting today, Battuans and visitors to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge can sample Chef Strono “Cookie” Tuggs’ delicious new dishes inspired by his time on Takodana.
Batuuan Beef & Crispy Topato Stir Fry – Smoky braised beef glazed in tamarind sauce served with stir-fried vegetables, crispy herb yucca, pickled onions, and cilantro
Roasted Endorian Chicken Salad – Marinated chicken, mixed greens, grapes, tomato, cucumber, shaved onion, and radish in a lemon-pomegranate vinaigrette with spiced yogurt drizzle
Pirjanad Hot Chicken Tip Yip – Crispy chicken glazed in a spicy chipotle sauce served with white rice, relish of sweet corn, shishito peppers, jicama, plantains, and cilantro
Peka Tuna Poke – Raw tuna tossed in a spicy Sriracha dressing served with green papaya salad, pickled mushrooms, fresh herbs, and crispy garlic
And for a sweet ending to your time on Batuu, try this yummy new dessert with a unique and delicious combination of flavors at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo!
Outpost Puff – Chocolate pastry filled guajillo chocolate mousse and green milk sauce finished with Thai tea panna cotta, spiced pineapple, and confectionary debris
The new plant-based wraps at Ronto Roasters give pitmaster droid, 8D-JB, a break from turning the podracing engine spit grilling ronto! The spiced Andoan Fruit and Kyryll Pork Rinds are the perfect on-the-go snacks for anyone visiting Batuu.
Kyryll Pork Rinds – Pork rinds seasoned in a savory blend of ancho chili, cheddar, smoke, and cinnamon.
Zuchii Wrap – Grilled zucchini, smokey chickpea-onion slaw, creamy garlic-tahini sauce, and fresh cilantro wrapped in pita bread (plant-based)
Triple Suns Breakfast Wrap – Plant-based egg, smoky chickpea-onion slaw, and roasted tomato sauce wrapped in pita bread (plant-based)
Andoan Fruit with Muja Sauce – Sticks of jicama, cucumber, pineapple, melon, and dragon fruit doused in a tamarind sauce and dusted with peppercorn ash (plant-based)
You can find more Walt Disney World Foodie news for July here!
Hot diggity dog! Fairfax Fare, located in Sunset Boulevard, has some over-the-top hot dogs, including a plant-based “hot dog” salad! (You have to try – it is fab!) Be sure to grab a refreshing beer, cocktail, or fountain drink to go along with your dog!
Truffle Bacon Macaroni & Cheese Hot Dog – All-beef quarter-pound hot dog topped with savory truffle macaroni & cheese and crispy applewood bacon drizzled with mustard aïoli on a brioche butter bun served with pickled vegetables
Pretzel Dog – All-beef quarter-pound hot dog topped with apple-braised sauerkraut and onions, and drizzled with mustard aïoli on pretzel bread served with pickled vegetables
California BLTA Dog – All-beef quarter-pound hot dog topped with lettuce, tomato, avocado, applewood bacon, crushed ranch tortilla chips, and house-made black pepper mayonnaise on a brioche butter bun served with pickled vegetables
Chicago-style “Hot Dog” Salad – Romaine blend, plant-based bratwurst, sliced sport peppers, tomatoes, onions, house-made dill pickle, sweet relish, mustard, and poppy-celery seed brioche croutons tossed in neon green relish vinaigrette (plant-based)
All-Beef Quarter-Pound Hot Dog – Served on a brioche butter bun and served with pickled vegetables
Chocolate Peanut Butter Explosion Shake – hello? Yep – chocolate ice cream layered with peanut butter sauce, topped with whipped cream, garnished with chocolate-peanut butter crumbles, and a chocolate-dipped peanut butter cake. Slurp up this peanut-buttery delight at Hollywood Scoops on Sunset Boulevard.
To keep up with the latest Walt Disney World and Central Florida theme park news, make sure to follow @onthegoinmco on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube for even more details!
When Disney’s Hollywood Studios reopens on July 15, guests with Disney Park Pass reservations will be using the virtual queue to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
If you’ve joined the Resistance before, you will want to note a few changes to the process beginning July 15.
Most importantly – as availability allows – guests will have an opportunity at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. or 4 p.m. to request to join the virtual queue which is AMAZING news because this means there is no need to arrive early to the park to check the virtual queue.
CAN I GET A HALLELUJAH???
Whether it’s your first trip to Batuu or you have joined the fight against the First Order before, there are a few important details to know before you arrive:
Once you enter Disney’s Hollywood Studios, log in to your account at one of the distribution times (10 a.m., 1 p.m. or 4 p.m.).
Once you have logged in, select “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance Virtual Queue” on the home screen. You will be able to view the current status and next steps for joining the virtual queue.
The app will indicate when there is no availability for a specific distribution time, but make sure you read your distribution time carefully as some guests may join backup groups.
As long as your My Disney Experience account is linked to park tickets for you and the others in your group, you can enroll everyone in the virtual queue at the same time.
In order to give as many guests as possible the opportunity to join the Resistance, each guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day.
Make sure push notifications are turned on for My Disney Experience so you will be alerted if your group is called to return.
You’ll have up to an hour from the time of the alert to go to the entrance of Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
Please note that joining the virtual queue does not guarantee the ability to experience Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance.
If you have any questions or need assistance with joining the virtual queue, cast members at Guest Experience Team locations throughout the park are available to assist. While you wait for your virtual queue group to be called, you can enjoy other experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios including our newest addition, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
For other attractions at the Walt Disney World Resort, plan to use the regular standby queues and maintain physical distancing.
DISCLOSURE: I was invited by the Walt Disney World Resort to experience Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, but all opinions and over-use of exclamation points are 100% my own.
From the moment I stepped off of Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I knew that it had just entered my top 5 favorite attractions at Walt Disney World.
I don’t take that place of honor very lightly, and this attraction deserves that ranking because it is full of fun at every turn and details galore.
And with so many details and fun facts about the attraction, I thought it would be fun to share them with you all today!
A ‘Fab’ Cast of Characters
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, the first attraction to star Mickey and Minnie Mouse, is full of iconic Disney characters, including a new little bird destined to fly right into guests’ hearts.
Here is where you can find each of them:
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse – These true originals are ready to take their little red convertible for a leisurely drive through Runnamuck Park in search of the perfect picnic spot. What could possibly go wrong?
Pluto – The dutiful dog just wants to bring Mickey and Minnie their lost picnic basket.
Engineer Goofy – Mickey and Minnie’s lanky pal invites guests into the cartoon world for what surely promises to be an uneventful train ride through Runnamuck Park.
Daisy Duck – The proprietor of Daisy’s Dance Studio is ready to teach guests some fancy new moves.
Donald Duck – Everyone’s favorite hot-headed “problem child” is steaming again, as someone made off with the sign from his hot dog stand at the carnival.
Jackhammer Pete – The big brute’s vibrations may have some unforeseen consequences for Mickey and Minnie.
Chuuby (pronounced “choo-bee”) – This adorable little bird – created exclusively for the attraction – likes to sing and dance in Runnamuck Park.
All in the Details: An Authentic Mickey & Minnie Experience
Disney Imagineers watched every cartoon short in the latest “Mickey Mouse” series countless times while developing Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway (Imagineer Kevin Rafferty had a still from each one pinned to his office wall).
They wanted to soak up the essence of what makes the cartoons so fun and endearing, so they could then translate those fundamental principles into a ride-through attraction. Their research is just one facet of the total commitment to authenticity on display throughout Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
Walt Disney Imagineering consulted with Paul Rudish and Joseph Holt – executive producer and art director, respectively, for the “Mickey Mouse” shorts – to ensure the attraction’s hand-drawn look is authentic to the cartoon. For example, Imagineers added extra floating “lines” around a cactus in the stampede scene that appear as if they’re standing alone in midair, emulating a common technique used in the cartoons to emphasize motion.
Christopher Willis, award-winning composer of the “Mickey Mouse” shorts, composed the attraction’s soundtrack and co-wrote “Nothing Can Stop Us Now,” the exclusive theme song for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway, with his wife, Elyse Willis.
The attraction’s glamorous marquee features blinking bulbs and hand-crafted animated neon depictions of Mickey and Minnie. Its design cue comes from the extravagant marquees that were custom made for premieres of epic films in the mid-20th century.
In collaboration with Walt Disney Imagineering, Disney Television Animation created 10 new posters that appear in the attraction’s queue; nine highlight existing “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts, while the 10th is for “Perfect Picnic,” the new short debuting in the theater.
The attraction features several sound effects created by Disney Legend Jimmy Macdonald for Disney animated shorts dating back to the 1930s; some new effects were developed using Macdonald’s original equipment.
The tri-tone whistle from Mickey Mouse’s debut cartoon in 1928, “Steamboat Willie,” was used to record the locomotive whistle sound for Engineer Goofy’s train.
Special painting techniques were used on the attraction’s ride vehicles so they appear to be hand-drawn, as if in a cartoon.
Hidden Gems Abound
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway is full of hidden gems that nod to Disney history. It will likely take many times through the attraction to spot them all, but here are just a few:
A newspaper features the headline “Oswald Wins!” – a reference to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, the cartoon character created by Walt Disney that predates Mickey Mouse.
The Iwerks and Uwerks Waterworks water treatment plant is named for Disney Legend Ub Iwerks, the animator credited with sketching Mickey Mouse for the first time.
The 1401 Flower Shop is an homage to Walt Disney Imagineering’s headquarters in Glendale, Calif.
The numbers 1901 and 1928 can be seen inside the attraction; these are references to Walt Disney’s and Mickey Mouse’s birth years, respectively.
I cannot wait to ride again and again and again and again!!!!
DISCLOSURE: I was invited by the Walt Disney World Resort to experience the Mickey Shorts Theater, but all opinions and over-use of exclamation points are 100% my own.
The newly reimagined Mickey Shorts Theater debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on March 4, 2020, and I was really excited to check it out!
Located adjacent to the Frozen Sing-Along Celebration, the new Mickey Shorts Theater is designed to evoke the fun of the Mickey Mouse shorts where ‘Mouse Rules Apply’.
Before you go into the theater make sure you open your Play Disney Parks App to try your hand at Mickey & Minnie’s Trivia Time – Mouse Rules Apply! that celebrates the openings of both Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway and the “Vacation Fun” short in the Mickey Shorts Theater.
The game features five trivia packs containing hundreds of questions spanning from Mickey and Minnie’s debut in “Steamboat Willie” to today. Some of these trivia packs will be available at home, while others can be unlocked after experiencing Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway or “Vacation Fun” at Mickey Shorts Theater to extend the cartoon fun even further.
Okay now back to the theater itself, and now that I have finally seen the theater seats from the concept art…I can say without a doubt that I am COMPLETELY OBSESSED with how adorable they are!
Okay…back to the main attraction…the short!
The “Vacation Fun” short is exclusive to Walt Disney World’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and includes new animation as well as clips from favorite “Mickey Mouse” cartoon shorts.
The short move at lightning speed, and has a ‘Greatest Hits’ feel than a regular short. I thought it was a lot of fun, but if you haven’t seen the new shorts it might be overwhelming.
But the fun doesn’t stop there, because after the show guests can make even more memories by stepping into life-sized versions of beloved animated “Mickey Mouse” shorts, where they can pose for photos with family and friends.
Have you ever wanted to jump through the screen and into “Mickey Mouse” cartoon short? Well now is your time to make it happen, because anything can happen aboard Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
It all started with a mouse…
Audiences were first introduced to Mickey Mouse in 1928 as the star of “Steamboat Willie,” and as soon as the iconic whistle blew Walt Disney and Mickey Mouse changed the world of entertainment forever.
And over 90 years later, Mickey Mouse is a cultural icon with a combination of childlike innocence, an impish sense of humor, and a plucky attitude.
Even though Mickey Mouse has had adventures over the years, the one thing he hasn’t done is starred in his own attraction.
History is about to change again with the debut of Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Classic Disney Storytelling, Driven by State-of-the-Art Design
Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway brings the past and future together as the ride combines cutting-edge technology with the rich history of Mickey and Minnie Mouse as a two-dimensional cartoon world becomes a world of where ‘mouse rules apply’.
The attraction features a combination of physical sets, Audio-Animatronics figures, animated media, and projection-mapping techniques, all syncing in time with trackless vehicles and an original musical score that will get stuck in your head for days.
** Proceed with caution as there are Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway spoilers ahead **
Last chance to turn back…
Everything starts with a story
In the story, Mickey and Minnie set off on a journey to find the best spot for a romantic picnic, taking their little red convertible for a drive through Runnamuck Park.
Little do they know Pluto has accidentally stowed away in the trunk of their car, so when the roadster hits a bump and the dutiful dog flies out … mayhem ensues.
It’s at this point Disney magic brings guests through the movie screen and into the cartoon world, where they join Engineer Goofy on a train ride on the Runnamuck Railroad, following Mickey and Minnie through the park on their quest for that perfect picnic. And with Goofy at the helm, what could possibly go wrong?
It’s up to Mickey and Minnie to keep guests out of trouble, all while poor Pluto tries to catch up and bring them their picnic basket!
While I absolutely loved The Great Movie Ride, I cannot wait to ride Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway!!!!
With the opening of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge at Disney’s Hollywood Studios only a month away, it’s time to start preparing!!!
To start our journey into this new land, let’s start by talking about where we find ourselves in the Star Wars galaxy itself.
The Planet of Batuu
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is set on the planet of Batuu which is a far-flung destination along the galaxy’s Outer Rim, on the frontier of Wild Space – the uncharted region beyond all known star systems.
Batuu was once a thriving stop for traders and travelers before advancements in lightspeed technology.
Now its lush forests and majestic mountain regions are known only to those who dare to venture this far into the Outer Rim to visit its Black Spire Outpost.
When guests arrive at the Black Spire Outpost, they will find themselves immersed in a world set somewhere after the events of The Last Jedi and shortly before this December’s Episode IX where they will encounter aliens, droids, and other inhabitants of Batuu as they search for rare and unique goods, discover unusual food and drink, or even join a crew seeking adventures.
Recently, the struggle between the First Order and the Resistance has made its way to this remote planet.
Scott Trowbridge, the Portfolio Creative Executive for Walt Disney Imagineering, has said that this elite garrison from the First Order is known as the ‘Red Fury’.
These Stormtroopers are searching for someone or something, and you can find them near the life-sized version of the TIE Echelon, a new ship which has a cockpit similar to Kylo Ren’s batwinged shuttle but the curved foils of Darth Vader’s TIE Advanced x1.
Just be careful…The Red Fury doesn’t like strangers approaching their ship.
But if you venture beyond Black Spire’s gates, you’ll find where the resistance has set up a hidden headquarters.
Be on the lookout for a Blue Squadron X-wing, parked on a low platform alongside an A-wing fighter. This area is meant to be part of Batuu’s tranquil Surabat river valley, where early planetary beings set up their own community in cliffside and cave dwellings.
Keep in mind, the Resistance doesn’t think of this home base as permanent. They are in a weakened state, and if The First Order strikes, they’ll have to take off in a hurry.
They’re here on Batuu out of necessity, but you’ll have to visit the park (and maybe see Episode IX) to understand exactly why this place is important to both sides.
Characters in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Off the beaten path, this outpost has become a haven for the galaxy’s most colorful — and notorious — characters.
While exploring the Black Spire Outpost on the planet of Batuu, guests may also encounter some familiar faces such as Rey, Finn, Poe, BB-8 and Chewbacca, and could even find themselves face-to-face with Kylo Ren himself.
They won’t be meeting guests, signing autograph books, and doling out hugs ..these characters aren’t an attraction, they are on the streets as part of the land’s story,
Rey and Chewbacca can be found near the ancient ruins outside Black Spire Outpost recruiting locals and visitors to join the Resistance.
The First Order Stormtroopers search The Black Spire Outpost in search of the Resistance near the First Order encampment at Docking Bay 9, and even Supreme Leader Kylo Ren joins the hunt during the day.
But there’s also a character you may not know roaming the streets
Resistance spy Vi Moradi may be new to Black Spire Outpost visitors, but her story has close ties with General Leia Organa and Captain Phasma and in Black Spire Outpost as she keeps tabs on the First Order and lets visitors know that the Resistance is growing.
And Disney’s Cast Members are also immersing themselves into the story of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
As local citizen’s of Batuu, Cast Members have their own personas and story of their roles at the Black Spire Outpost.
The Language of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
When you are walking the streets of the Black Spire Outpost, you’ll notice that the writing on the wall, literally in most cases, and on Cast Member name tags aren’t in English but in Aurebesh, the written language in the Star Wars galaxy.
You can find several decoders online, but the easiest way is to use the free Play Disney Parks App…which we will be talking about next time!
There are also some sayings that you might hear around the Black Spire Outpost that you will want to familiarize yourself with including:
Bright Suns = Good Morning
Rising Moons = Good Evening
Travelers = Humans visiting Batuu
On Planet = In the Land
Datapad = Cell phone
Refresher = Bathroom
Hydrator = Water Fountain
Being “Off World” = You’re going outside of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Ignite the Spark = Greeting for the Resistance
Light the Fire = A Resistance callback to “Ignite the Spark”
Only the ancients know = I don’t know
Til the Spire = Farewell
Good journey = An Informal Goodbye
May the Spires Keep You = A Formal Goodbye
Reading more about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
While you don’t NEED to know anything about Star Wars to enjoy your visit to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge the creative minds at Lucasfilm, Marvel Comics, and Disney have been working on building the history of Batuu.
Over on Laughing Place, they have done a great job of breaking down the ‘essential’ reading for Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.
According to the site, “This deep and complete narrative will immerse fans in Star Wars lore, guide them around the planet, introduce essential characters, and reveal interesting secrets that can all be discovered from the comfort of home.”
Here’s what they had to say…Starting with the five-part comic series, of which two have been released.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge focuses on Dok-Ondar, the Ithorian junk dealer who has spent his life collecting countless artifacts from the entire history of the Star Wars galaxy. On a side note, visitors to Batuu will be able to visit his Den of Antiquities and purchase a variety of mysterious and interesting items from every era of Star Wars.
Pirate’s Price sees Hondo Ohnaka sitting down in Oga Garra’s Cantina in Black Spire Outpost to tell mercenary Bazine Netal three exciting tales about his relationship with the Millennium Falcon. Fans will even encounter Hondo and the legendary ship on Batuu at the Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run attraction.
Fans can dive into the lore of Batuu with the novel Galaxy’s Edge: Black Spire by Delilah S. Dawson, set to be released on August 27, 2019.
The novel’s description on Amazon reads:
Walk the ancient streets, meet the colorful characters, and uncover the secret history of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, the new expansion to the Disney Parks experience!
After devastating losses at the hands of the First Order, General Leia Organa has dispatched her agents across the galaxy in search of allies, sanctuary, and firepower—and her top spy, Vi Moradi, may have just found all three, on a secluded world at the galaxy’s edge.
A planet of lush forests, precarious mountains, and towering, petrified trees, Batuu is on the furthest possible frontier of the galactic map, the last settled world before the mysterious expanse of Wild Space. The rogues, smugglers, and adventurers who eke out a living on the largest settlement on the planet, Black Spire Outpost, are here to avoid prying eyes and unnecessary complications. Vi, a Resistance spy on the run from the First Order, is hardly a welcome guest. And when a shuttle full of stormtroopers lands in her wake, determined to root her out, she has no idea where to find help.
To survive, Vi will have to seek out the good-hearted heroes hiding in a world that redefines scum and villainy. With the help of a traitorous trooper and her acerbic droid, she begins to gather a colorful band of outcasts and misfits, and embarks on a mission to spark the fire of resistance on Batuu—before the First Order snuffs it out entirely.
We are really excited to share even more about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge!
As night falls on August 23, over 50 of the most notorious Disney villains will emerge from their lairs and unleash fun all over Disney’s Hollywood Studios® until the 13th hour! “Show your Disney villain side” and get tickets for this special one-night-only event!
Villains Unleashed at Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Saturday, August 23, 2014 8 p.m.–1 a.m.
$67/Adults, plus tax • $62/Children, plus tax
Buy today and reserve your spot!
To purchase tickets call 407-939-1933
Entertainment offerings subject to change without notice. Admission to this event requires a separately priced ticket. Ticket valid only during specific event hours and subject to availability.
Here’s just some of the villainous entertainment in store for you:
Over 50 villains in one Park
For one night only, over 50 Disney villains will come together to roam the streets of Disney’s Hollywood Studios®, put on scary fun performances, and party until the 13th hour.
Villainy in the Skies
The villains will unleash their powers into the night sky for a special themed fireworks display. Don’t forget to pick up your limited-edition Glow with the Show Ears to complete the experience.
Oogie Boogie Variety Show
Guests can oogie-boogie down to Theatre of the Stars to see Mr. Oogie Boogie host a special variety show crawling with entertainment.
Hades Hangout and Dance Party
Rub shoulders with the ruler of the Underworld and dance the night away with his party crew—DJ Igg Nite, the Underworld Dancers and more.
Star Wars™ Villain Zone
Guests can unleash their dark side in a special zone filled with some of the most feared villains in the Galactic Empire.
“Show your Disney villain side” and get your face painted to look just like one of your favorite Disney villains!
Villainous food, drink and merchandise
Enjoy mischievous treats and remember the night of villainy for years to come with villain-themed merchandise (not included with price of ticket).
Extended Attraction Hours
Up to 10 Disney’s Hollywood Studios® attractions will be running until 1 a.m. Beware the villains who may be lurking around some of your favorite attractions.Follow us for more updates:
Todd and Cheryl did a great job capturing clips of the Glow with the Show fun at Fantasmic! that we shared on our Facebook page, but now John Saccheri of the Big Fat Panda Show www.BigFatPanda.com also wrote a great guest post and shared his wonderful video of even more during the debut of the Glow with the Show Ears during Fantasmic!
…and then it happened! Everyone was blinking in coordination with the show and for that time, we were all part of the collective that is DISNEY! 🙂
Oct 15th, 2013 marked the 15th anniversary of Fantasmic! and Disney’s Hollywood Studios used the anniversary as the first night to roll out the GLOW WITH THE SHOW Light Up Mickey Ears here on the east coast.
The ears have been used at the West Coast parks for some time now and their use, as most things, has some controversy. Some people see them as annoying and/or distracting while others just wish more folks had them. Apparently, at around $25, they are not as popular as Disney or their guests would like them to be. I will tell you, when a lot of people have them, the experience is nothing short of surreal.
We arrived at the Fantasmic theatre wondering if ears would be given out. I mean, it is the first night and their cameras were all ready to broadcast a live feed. Surely, they would want it to look great, right?
My friend Jeff, for reasons he knew all too well, suggested we do all we could to sit in the Mickey section. I figured because it was right in the middle. He knew it was because this was where Disney would focus most of their attention if anything special were to happen. We noticed a smattering of ears around us and then about 30 minutes prior to showtime, cast members with bags of hats were making their way through our section. Before long, EVERYONE in our section had Mickey ears. And to the little girl in front of me whose ears were OFF the entire show, you irked me. I wanted to reach over and turn them on but it was dark and I realize I can appear threatening in the wrong light LOL.
Some Light-Up Ears made their way to other sections as well, but only a few – I would say about 200 pairs were given out although rumor is that as many as 600 were. Interesting to note the ears given out were the old ones from California complete with a World Of Color sticker they asked us to remove. Not that they were used ears, but they were new old ones if you get what I mean. The newer ones have a rim of cushion around the inside and the mechanism to activate the ears is slightly different. If you have a large head, you may prefer the older ones.
My experience was joyful. When it first began, that is me you hear in the video laughing. I was having the time of my life and I won’t forget it. I was told it would NEVER look this good again because of the giveaways. I can only hope!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios to Unleash the Villains!
When Disney first announced their Limited Time Magic celebration last year, I thought it sounded like so much fun. As a local, I knew I would be able to experience the majority of them and I was really looking forward it. The offerings have been a hit or miss for me, but I have been able to take part in most of the ones I have been interested in. Highlights for me have included Long Lost Friends week, the special President’s Day Voices of Liberty concerts, and Merida’s coronation. Each week I look to twitter to see what will be announced for the upcoming week’s Limited Time Magic.
One of the events mentioned in the original Limited Time Magic presentation immediately caught my eye and I would have to wait almost a year for it to take place: Friday, September 13. It would be called Unleash the Villains and would be held at Hollywood Studios until 1 a.m. I knew that I wanted to try to attend this one when the time came.
Leading up to last Friday, I started getting a little anxious about getting to the Studios for the villains event. I wasn’t able to take off work and I knew it would be crowded. The Studios parking lot has been known to close due to reaching capacity before.
As soon as the clock struck 5:00 that afternoon, I was out of the office, home to pick up my mom and to change into villains wear, and out the door again by 5:20. We were approaching the parking tollbooths by 6:00 and I knew luck and good timing were on our side. It wasn’t too backed up yet and soon enough we were walking through the gates.
Since we knew crowds would probably be crazy, we definitely had our priorities. I wanted to go to at least one character meet and the Villainy in the Sky fireworks show was a must see. Beyond that, anything else would be bonus.
After a quick dinner at Fairfax Fare, we decided to head of to Echo Lake to wait for the character meets. From reading Twitter earlier in the day, I knew that there were only three meet and greet locations so lines were sure to be long. After winding our way through the crowd gathering at the stage in front of the Sorcerer hat, we got in line at the first location. Characters were due at 8:30 and it wasn’t even 7:00 at this point. Lines were already outside the queues that were set up so it was basically just a somewhat organized mass of people. No one knew at that point which characters would be meeting where and since the lines were so long we figured we’d wait once, move on and be happy with the outcome. It felt kind of like Let’s Make a Deal and we chose door number one!
The event officially started at 8:00 p.m. at the stage, but from where we were we couldn’t see what was happening over there. Due to the amount of people there, characters didn’t arrive until almost 9:00. I imagine they had a very hard time making it through all the people. While waiting, we found out that we were in line for either the Queen from Snow White or Shan-Yu from Mulan. The other two locations would feature Jafar or Oogie Boogie, and Maleficent or Bowler Hat Guy from Meet the Robinsons. Each pair would switch off with each other every 30 minutes.
We were lucky enough to be able to meet Shan-Yu! He was appropriately intimidating and gave us a creepy red-eyed stare. From where our line was situated, we were also able to get some good pictures of Oogie Boogie and Jafar.
After that, we decided we needed a break from the crowds and something to drink before grabbing a fireworks spot. This is where we encountered our major issue with the event: not enough food and beverage locations. Everywhere we tried, it was either closed or the lines were very long. We could have used a few extra carts set up.
I found a fireworks spot in the street, while mom decided to stick to the sidewalk where she could have more breathing room. While we waited, we could finally enjoy some of what was going on onstage. They had a giant screen set up so even those of us further back to see well. I hope they add this to Star Wars Weekends next year!
DJ Iggnite alternated with Bernie Briquette and the Brimstones for musical entertainment. Hades, Meg, Pain, and Panic from Hercules also made appearances onstage. These entertainers did a fantastic job and even grabbed the attention of those of us further back.
Finally it was fireworks time! Such an amazing show! This alone was worth it for me. Villainy in the Sky featured an incredible musical score, including music from The Hunchback of Notre Dame – one of my favorites! I would love to see these fireworks used again some time!
I knew the crowd would thin out some after the fireworks, so we walked around some to take some more character pictures and grab autograph cards that we missed the first time around. We hung out around the stage for the rest of the event. Some villains, like the Big Bad Wolf, Cruella, Captain Hook, and Frollo, wandered around and dance with the crowd. Each of them were followed by waves of people trying to get pictures.
The band and Hades led sing-a-longs with songs by The Beatles and Queen. As we approached the end of the night, Hades re-introduced all of the villains that were present, some of whom I hadn’t seen yet. There was a fun party atmosphere through the end.
Overall, I had a great time at this event. Yes, it was incredibly crowded and there were problems associated with that. The meet-and-greets could have been organized a lot better and setting up more food and beverage carts would have helped alleviate the long lines. I did see cast members throughout the night that worked incredibly hard to keep the crowds organized and moving. I would still do it all over again and I hope Disney will feature villains and other rare characters more often in the future.
Thanks to my mom, Sherry (@sbeanyears) for hanging out with me that night. Also thanks to Heather (@heatherw25) and Dave(@fotodave) for keeping me in the loop with what was going on.Follow us for more updates:
This post is the first in a mini series visiting the Baby Care Centers at the Walt Disney World Resort. There will be four total; one for each theme park. This time we will be exploring Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
For those who don’t travel to Walt Disney World with young children the Baby Care Centers are completely ignored, or, in some cases, are unknown entirely. Being a Cast Member at the parks I have known exactly where each one is and what they offer. Did I know before I started in 2001 and got my park tour? Probably, but being in the 20 and under group, I would have to say I am sure it was ignored. Now being a mom to a newborn, the Baby Care Centers are my (and Cole’s) new favorite stop!
Disney’s Hollywood Studios would have to be my favorite park for getting in and out of with a little one by myself. I have to walk from the car because the stroller, diaper bag and baby in the car seat are just all too much for me to deal with if I don’t have an extra set of hands. Add that to an almost hour drive to the park, and it’s about time for Cole to want a diaper change and some food! Here Baby Care is located just inside the park on the left within Guest Relation, which, in my opinion, is the only downside. It’s the smallest of the Baby Care Centers, but even during Star Wars Weekends over Memorial Day weekend it wasn’t very crowded in the center. It was, however difficult to get in the doors to Guest Relations because *they* were busy.
When you first walk in, you are greeted with a lobby/seating area complete with a TV playing children’s programs (in my experience here it’s usually Little Einsteins), a padded bench, ottoman, two chairs and three high chairs for feeding the bigger little ones.
The lobby/seating area when you walk in.
There is also a mini kitchen, with a sink and microwave in here.
Then off to the left are two private rooms for nursing. It’s a cozy little room with a curtain door, dimmer light, outlets, a rocker with a padded seat, and small bench. They are small, but I can bring either of my strollers (I have a regular Chicco stroller and then a Baby Trend jogging stroller) in there with me and there is plenty of room for me and Cole. I doubt a double, inline or side by side, would fit and the Disney ones are too wide I think to fit in there though. While he was still small, (and not too wiggly) and I’m usually by myself, I would use the small bench to go ahead and change Cole’s diaper using my travel changing pad. I didn’t want to get him all settled back in the stroller just to take him out in the changing area and do it all over again.
One of the nursing rooms
Finally on the right side of the lobby is the changing area. It’s spacious and has two changing tables, a hand washing sink and even a restroom with a child sized toilet.
Of all of the Baby Care Centers, this is our most frequently used one. It’s our second favorite!
Stay tuned for the second part of the series- Epcot!