By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2017, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here. PDF version available on Gumroad here.



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Next Week (March 25 through April 2, 2017) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: MARCH 25 TO APRIL 2, 2017

The material below details next week’s Disney World operating hours, Extra Magic Hours, parades, and fireworks.

For more on March 2017 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/25/-4/2/17

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 9a-11p 3/25, 9a-10p 3/26, 9a-11p 3/27 through 4/1, and 9a-10p 4/2

Epcot will be open from 9a-9p every day

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open 9a-9p every day

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open 9a-9.30p 3/25 and 3/26, 9a-9p 3/270, 9a-9.30p 3/28, 9a-9p 3/29, 9a-9.30p 3/31, 9a-9p 3/31, and 9a-9.30p 4/1 and 4/2

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/25-4/2/17

Saturday 3/25 Morning:  Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 3/26  Morning:  Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Monday 3/27 Morning: Animal Kingdom  Evening: none

Tuesday 3/28 Morning: none Evening:  Epcot

Wednesday 3/29 Morning: none  Evening:  Magic Kingdom

Thursday 3/30 Morning: Epcot Evening: none

Friday 3/31 Morning:  Magic Kingdom Evening: none

Saturday 4/1 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 4/2  Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Mickey and Minnie Festival of Fantasy Afternoon Parade from yourfirstvisit.netPARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/25-4/2/17

The Magic Kingdom: Afternoon Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3p every day

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/18-3/26/17

Wishes at the Magic Kingdom: 9p every night

IllumiNations at Epcot: 9p every night

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8.30p every night

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9p every night

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 8.45p and 10p 3/25, 3/26, 3/28, 3/30, 4/1 and 4/2

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/25-4/2/17

See Steve Soares’ site here. Click the park names at its top for show schedules.

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

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March 23, 2017   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Festival of the Lion King

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE FESTIVAL OF THE LION KING

By Jim Korkis

Because of the construction of the upcoming Pandora: The World of Avatar (to open May 27. 2017), the Festival of the Lion King stage show was relocated from Camp Minnie-Mickey where it premiered April 22, 1998 to the new Harambe Theater in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom beginning June 2014.

This popular musical show is unique because, unlike most of the other Disney entertainment shows, it does not tell an abbreviated version of the famous animated feature’s plot. Instead, this theatrical experience is a tune-filled tribal celebration with audience participation and some unexpected surprises.

In order to accommodate the number of performances, there are three full casts, plus understudies, and all of them must be brought up to speed periodically with paid “pick up” rehearsals during the year to keep the show sharp. In addition, there is the large behind-the-scenes technical staff handling costuming, lighting, props, sound, and more.

The Festival of the Lion King was a last-minute placeholder for an area that itself was a last-minute addition when plans for a Beastly Kingdom section for the park were halted. Putting on a temporary show was cheaper than investing in building a ride attraction, quicker to create, and was also easier to change once a decision was made about exactly what the area should be.

Since its premiere in 1998, this joyous celebration has become the longest-running stage show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom with enthusiastic guests returning multiple times. The show was designed by Walt Disney World Creative Entertainment, but the performance venue was created by Walt Disney Imagineering.

The theater environment suggests an African savannah where an extraordinary group of humans and animals adorned in decorative feathers and ornate beads on 136 costumes have gathered to present a musical revue.

The action-packed The Festival of the Lion King is hosted by four human performers with Swahili names attired as traditional African tribal leaders: Kiume (“masculine and strong”), Nakawa (“good-looking”), Kibibi (“princess”), and Zawadi (“the gift”). They instruct the guests on how to participate with the performers several times during the show.

It wouldn’t be a true party without some of the cast from the original film! A twelve-foot-high animated Simba stands on Pride Rock keeping time to the pounding rhythm with his feet while interacting with the audience.

Lovable Pumbaa claims his tiny feet keep him confined to the massive Warthog float. However, his companion Timon gleefully struts to the center platform leading the audience in a vocal competition during the song The Lion Sleep Tonight. Since the beginning of 2009, Timon has sported an articulated head that allows his mouth to move when he is talking and his eyes to blink.

The impressive floats that serve as intriguing set pieces are actually recycled from The Lion King Celebration parade that ran at Disneyland from 1994-1997.

Along with performers in African tribal robes and various animal costumes, the center stage spotlights several specialty acts, include a group of zany, bouncing acrobats, tribal stilt walkers precariously navigating the area, a death defying fire juggler and a breathtaking high wire aerialist who soars high above the audience. Each increasingly amazing routine is choreographed to a memorable song from the classic movie.

A beloved audience favorite is the flexible gymnasts in yellow-orange skintight costumes called the Tumble Monkeys. These mischievous and energetic creatures wildly swing and flip on the overhead rings and bars as the hapless Timon tries to sing. Their extensive training includes not only the skillful and fast-moving routine itself but insight into how to move and think like a monkey, including grooming audience members in the front row.

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 17, 2017   No Comments

Next Week (March 18 through March 26, 2017) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: MARCH 18 TO MARCH 26, 2017

The material below details next week’s Disney World operating hours, Extra Magic Hours, parades, and fireworks.

For more on March 2017 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/18/-3/26/17

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 9a-11p 3/18, 9a-10p 3/19, 9a-11p 3/20 through 3/25, and 9a-10p 3/26

Epcot will be open from 9a-9p every day

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open 9a-9p every day

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open 9a-9.30p 3/18 and 3/19, 9a-9p 3/20, 9a-9.30p 3/21, 9a-9p 3/22, 9a-9.30p 3/23, 9a-9p 3/24, and 9a-9.30p 3/25 and 3/26

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/18-3/26/17

Saturday 3/18 Morning:  Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 3/19  Morning:  Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Monday 3/20 Morning: Animal Kingdom  Evening: none

Tuesday 3/21 Morning: none Evening:  Epcot

Wednesday 3/22 Morning: none  Evening:  Magic Kingdom

Thursday 3/23 Morning: Epcot Evening: none

Friday 3/24 Morning:  Magic Kingdom Evening: none

Saturday 3/25 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 3/26  Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Mickey and Minnie Festival of Fantasy Afternoon Parade from yourfirstvisit.netPARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/18-3/26/17

The Magic Kingdom: Afternoon Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3p every day

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/18-3/26/17

Wishes at the Magic Kingdom: 9p every night

IllumiNations at Epcot: 9p every night

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8.30p every night

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 9p every night

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 8.45p and 10p 3/18, 3/19, 3/21, 3/23, 3/25 and 3/26

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/18-3/26/17

See Steve Soares’ site here. Click the park names at its top for show schedules.

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 16, 2017   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The BoardWalk’s AbracadaBar

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians and author of Jim’s Gems in The easy Guide, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE STORY OF ABRACADABAR

By Jim Korkis

The AbracadaBar at the BoardWalk opened in July 2016, serving enchanting elixirs and curious concoctions in the location previously occupied by SeaShore Sweets.

According to Disney publicity, “This little lounge was a former stomping ground for the famous magicians, boardwalk illusionists, and lovely magician’s assistants of the Golden Age. After a show, prestidigitators would gather to ‘conjure’ up new cocktails, swap magic tips and tricks, and stay up all night attempting to ‘out-charm’ each other with their extraordinary illusions.

“According to BoardWalk lore, it was on just such an evening that every single magician in the lounge vanished into thin air, and was never seen again …”

Now, after sitting vacant for nearly seventy-six years, it is back in operation to the general public.

It was on a Friday the 13th in September 1940 that the mysterious disappearance took place but since this private sophisticated social club was left exactly as it was decades ago the magic still remains strongly intact, and can be seen, heard, and savored in the bar’s signature cocktails including Elixir 13, a mixture of Lucid Absinthe and water that may have helped cause the magicians’ disappearance.

The rich and ornate area is decorated with enchanted ever-changing magic show posters, mystifying mirrors, and vintage props and tricks left behind decades ago including displays of locks and keys, cards, linking rings and magic wands.

Even the wall paper has hidden images of interlocking rings, doves, rabbits, card suits, handcuffs and other magical artifacts.

On one wall is a framed copy of The Boardwalk Bugle newspaper from Wednesday November 13, 1940 telling the official back story:

“The shocking revelations of a secret magicians’ lounge could point to new clues concerning the group of beloved illusionists who mysteriously vanished from our boardwalk weeks ago. Though, truth be told, we may be more perplexed than before.

“A custodian working at BoardWalk’s magic club made the surprising discovery late yesterday evening when he rested his mop against a false door leading into the secret room. By the look of the room’s peculiar décor – including magical accoutrements and shelves lined with curious elixirs – this is no doubt the clandestine hideout of our missing master magicians.

“But there’s just one dilemma…there are still no magicians in sight!

“After investigating the magicians’ hideout this morning, The Boardwalk Bugle noticed something extra out of the ordinary about this already peculiar lounge. Glasses filled with odd elixirs still sat on the countertops.

“Magic props and playing cards were scattered all about. And, stranger yet, all of the clocks in the room were set to thirteen past the hour – almost as if time froze and every magician disappeared on the spot.

“When we questioned the club owner about her knowledge of the hidden room and the possible whereabouts of the missing magicians, she repeated the same unhelpful news we’ve been reporting for weeks now: “A good magician never reveals her secrets!”

“According to multiple witnesses, the missing conjurers in question were last seen entering the loading area behind BoardWalk’s magic club on September 13th. All wore ostentatious costumes, and were accompanied by assistants, stagehands and crates filled with small animals – including doves, rabbits and the like.

“Suspicions only arose when the touring magician Laslow the Lucky failed to appear for his much anticipated matinee performance the following day. In addition to M. Laslow, it would appear that his assistant, multiplying rabbits and every illusionist on the boardwalk vanished along with him.

“Whether a good illusion or a simple misunderstanding, The Boardwalk Bugle will be certain to keep our dear readers informed about the whereabouts of our beloved magicians.”

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim! And come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis!

In the meantime, check out his books, including Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, and The Vault of Walt: Volume 4, and his contributions to The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit, all published by Theme Park Press.
The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 10, 2017   No Comments

Next Week (March 11 Through March 19, 2017) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: MARCH 11 TO MARCH 19, 2017

The material below details next week’s Disney World operating hours, Extra Magic Hours, parades, and fireworks.

For more on March 2017 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/11/-3/19/17

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 8a-12MN 3/11, 9a-11p 3/12, 8a-11p 3/13 through 3/17, 9a-11p 3/18, and 9a-10p 3/19

Epcot will be open from 9a-9p every day

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open 9a-8p 3/11, and 9a-9p 3/12 through 3/19

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open 9a-8p 3/11, and 9a-9p 3/12 through 3/19.

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/11-3/19/17

Saturday 3/11 Morning:  Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 3/12  Morning:  Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Monday 3/13 Morning: Animal Kingdom  Evening: none

Tuesday 3/14 Morning: none Evening:  Epcot

Wednesday 3/15 Morning: none  Evening:  Magic Kingdom

Thursday 3/16 Morning: Epcot Evening: none

Friday 3/17 Morning:  Magic Kingdom Evening: none

Saturday 3/18 Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Sunday 3/19  Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Mickey and Minnie Festival of Fantasy Afternoon Parade from yourfirstvisit.netPARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/11-3/19/17

The Magic Kingdom: Afternoon Festival of Fantasy Parade: 3p every day

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/11-3/19/17

Wishes at the Magic Kingdom: 9p every night

IllumiNations at Epcot: 9p every night

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 7.30p 3/11; 8.30p 3/12 through 3/19

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8p 3/11; 9p 3/12 through 3/19

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 7.15p 3/11; 8.45p 3/12, 3/14, 3/16, 3/18 and 3/19

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 3/11-3/19/17

See Steve Soares’ site here. Click the park names at its top for show schedules.

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 9, 2017   No Comments

Review: Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

RIVERS OF LIGHT AT DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM

Rivers of Light is the new, much anticipated evening show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It opened in mid-February 2017, and I had the chance to see it in early March.

Combining floats, boats, colors, water, lasers, fire, music and song, Rivers of Light is not as dramatic as the evening shows at the other three parks, but much lovelier, and I consider it a must see.

It is currently showing four times a week—Saturdays, Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. On April 8, it shifts to being on every night–at least through the summer–and some evenings will have multiple shows.

Start times vary depending on the time of sunset. Over the next few months and the summer they range from 7.15 to 9.15p. The second show, when available, begins 75 minutes later. A delightful pre-show begins 15 minutes before show start.

It occurs in a lagoon between Expedition Everest and Dinoland.

While there are a few small areas from which you can get off-center views elsewhere in the lagoon, the best views and all seats are in a dedicated amphitheater that Disney has built along the shore here.

The amphitheater seats about 5,000 of the 30,000 people in Animal Kingdom on an average day—a number that will likely go up quite a bit this summer after Pandora: World of Avatar opens.

Half of the amphitheater (on the Expedition Everest side) is dedicated to FastPass+…

And a fair proportion of what’s left goes to those who have booked special Rivers of Light dining packages at Tusker House or Tiffins.

As a result, even on nights with two shows, fewer than 5,000 people will be able to see Rivers of Light via the stand-by line. So FastPass+ or the special Rivers of Light dining package (which guarantees you nice seats on the Dinoland side) will be by far the best choice for most.

Those on a one-day visit to Animal Kingdom—especially after Pandora opens in late May 2017—will be best served by buying the dining package.

This is because you can’t add FastPass+ until after you used all the ones you pre-booked, and you will use your FastPass+ for Rivers of Light so late that little or nothing will be available after it ends.

Those with two days in Animal Kingdom should get a FastPass+ for Rivers of Light.

My co-author Josh has more info on the dining packages for Rivers of Light—plus much better pictures of the show—on his site easyWDW.com here.

The 2017 easy Guide

Kelly B Can Help You Book Your Trip

Follow yourfirstvisit.net on Facebook or Google+ or Twitter or Pinterest!!

March 9, 2017   No Comments