For my thoughts on the re-opening of Walt Disney World, see this.


By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2020, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.

(As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)





Category — w. Most Recent Stuff

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Donald Duck in Florida

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

DONALD DUCK IN FLORIDA

By Jim Korkis

Donald Duck visited the Sunshine State nearly two decades before Walt Disney World sprang out of central Florida swamps in 1971. Donald and his nephews were typical tourists in the animated cartoon short Don’s Fountain of Youth, released on May 30, 1953.

They travel along US Highway 1, and come upon the site of an old Spanish fort, dated 1571. It would appear that background artist Art Riley drew inspiration from both Castillo de San Marcos and the Fort Mantanzas National Monument located in Saint Augustine. The Castillo de San Marcos was constructed during the latter decades of the 17th century; Fort Mantanzas was built in the mid-18th century.

Of course, they have misadventures with a Florida alligator and Donald mistakenly thinking he has discovered Ponce De Leon’s fabled Fountain of Youth.

However, Donald had a presence at a citrus plant not far from Walt Disney World on US-27 in Lake Wales over a decade before the cartoon was made and that citrus plant is still there and operating today. Donald was used on the packaging and the marketing.

Citrus World’s (now “Florida’s Natural Growers”) large water tower had the face of Donald Duck on it until 1998, when the company went through a re-branding with the new name, and at one time there was a full sized statue of Donald Duck in the lobby of the building and a huge billboard of Donald on the top of the building as well.

During World War II with rationing, many Disney licensees couldn’t get material to produce items. The licensing of food products was one way Disney merchandising representative Kay Kamen kept money flowing into the Disney studio coffers: peanut butter, jam, popcorn, mustard, chocolate syrup and sodas were all produced featuring Donald Duck.

Donald Duck Orange Juice is the longest surviving Disney food and beverage licensee, starting in 1941. The company also produced Donald Duck Grapefruit Juice.

Donald Duck has no direct relation to food products–or orange juice for that matter–other than the fact that during World War II his popularity soared more than Mickey Mouse, and he was beloved by audiences around the world. Manufacturers just felt that his image would help sell a product.

During the 1940s, sixty boxcars of fresh citrus fruit a day were being processed by Florida Citrus Canners Cooperative at Lake Wales. About forty of those boxcars of fruit were converted into 8,000 gallons of orange concentrate destined exclusively for the United States armed forces and their allies.

Total volume of concentrate reached 800,000 gallons. When reconstituted on the basis of seven gallons of water to a gallon of concentrate, it produced 6.4 million gallons of juice. All were shipped under the Donald Duck brand. Concentrate required only about one-eighth of the space that fresh fruit required.

Donald Duck brand orange juice is still popular after nearly eighty years. After Walt died, the Walt Disney Company contacted the company and accused them of not having a proper license to use the character name and image because they could not find any paperwork.

The company was able to produce an old, yellowed document clearly showing that Walt and Roy had given them the rights with no cessation as long as they maintained the quality of the product.

Why isn’t Donald Duck Orange Juice sold on Walt Disney World property? Well, Coca-Cola is a huge sponsor of Disneyland and Walt Disney World, so you will only find its Minute Maid Orange Juice. Donald Duck Orange Juice is licensed to Florida’s Natural brand.

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

In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Vault of Walt Volume 9: Halloween Edition, and Hidden Treasures of the Disney Cruise Line.

 

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January 15, 2021   No Comments

Next Week (January 16 through January 24, 2021) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: JANUARY 16 TO JANUARY 24, 2021

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

Things are … a little different… as Disney World re-opens.  See this for park previews and key insights.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/16-1/24/21

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 9a-7p every day

Epcot will be open from 11a-8p every day

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open from 9a-7p every day

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open from 8a-6p 1/16, 8a-5p 1/17 through 1/22, and 8a-6p 1/23 and 1/24

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/16-1/24/21

There will be no Extra Magic Hours anymore.  They will be replaced later in the year by a new program.

PARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/16-1/24/21

There will be no parades until further notice.

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/16-1/24/21

Some brief incidental fireworks happen at various times at Magic Kingdom.

Otherwise, there will be no evening shows until further notice.

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/16-1/24/21

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

 

 

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January 14, 2021   No Comments

The Best Weeks in 2021 to Visit Walt Disney World, Ranked in Order

OVERVIEW: THE BEST TIMES IN 2021 AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

Most years, this site has recommended arriving at Walt Disney World one of the first three Saturdays after Thanksgiving.

However, in 2021, I expect that these weeks will be too crowded for me to recommend them, from a combination of the draw I expect of Disney World’s 50th anniversary, and vacations being deferred until late 2021.

Presented below are my draft rankings of all the weeks of 2021 in order of best to worst times to visit Disney World. These rankings are designed for first time visitors who do not know whether or not they will return.

For visitors on a return trip, less concerned about ride closures or the peak of the hurricane season, the later January, early February, later August, and September weeks would be ranked much higher.

These rankings assume that you follow sound touring plans and pick the right parks to visit on the right days–an especially big issue during the party season in the last third of the year, which I hope we will see again in 2021.

The rankings are also in calendar order on the image.

These week rankings are based on my draft 2021 Disney World Crowd Calendar, Disney World’s 2021 calendar of ticket prices and Disney World’s 2021 calendar of hotel prices.

Other factors are key as well–especially the ride closure season and hurricane season in particular. Most years the Christmas season is also a key factor for recommendation in late November and early December, but my expectation of high crowds throughout the period leads me to not recommend any weeks during it in 2021.

RECOMMENDED 2021 WEEKS AT DISNEY WORLD, RANKED IN ORDER

The ten recommended weeks that follow are my current draft of the best weeks to visit Walt Disney World in 2021.

For the first time ever, summer weeks are in my list of recommended weeks–and in fact, hold the top three places! I don’t factor in the misery of heat and humidity that you will almost always find at Disney World from mid-May into October.  If this lousy weather is important to you, look at weeks 5, 7, 8, 9 and 10.

The top three weeks all share a combination (relative to the rest of 2021) of forecast lower crowds, lower ticket prices, and (in total compared to other recommended weeks), lower hotel prices. (Note that none of these is “lowest”–the very lowest crowds, very lowest hotel prices, and very lowest ticket prices happen at times I don’t recommend for first time visitors who may never return.  See the chart for when those occur.)

  • 1: 7/10/21
  • 2: 6/5/21
  • 3: 6/12/21

Weeks 4 through 7 are very strong weeks. All are in the late April/early May period after spring breaks are over.  Crowds and ticket prices are low, but hotel prices are a bit higher at the moderates and deluxes than in weeks 1-3.  The weather typically is much better than the summer as well, especially if you pick the April or early May options. (weeks 5 or 7)

  • 4: 5/8/21
  • 5: 5/1/21
  • 6: 5/15/21
  • 7: 4/24/21

Weeks 8 and 9 are also in the first half of the year, have crowds and hotel pricing similar to weeks 4-7, but differ from weeks 4 through 7 in having higher ticket prices. The April date will have better weather, and the possibility of a wider possible experience depending on how COVID operational changes emerge over the spring:

  • 8: 4/17/21
  • 9: 2/27/21

Week 10 is the last of the recommended weeks.  It is similar to other recommended April and May weeks, but has higher prices at the value resorts, and the first part of it may see a crowd hangover from the week after Easter.

  • 10: 4/10/21

This completes the weeks in 2021 that are recommended for first-time visitors to Disney World who may never return.

2021 WEEKS I’M NOT SO KEEN ON

Weeks 11-24 all have forecast moderate crowd levels, with different ticket prices, hotel prices, and weather, but are outside the rode closure and peak hurricane seasons.

I don’t particularly recommend moderate-crowd weeks for first time visitors, but with good plans they are quite manageable if you have to pick one, and are fine for returning visitors.

Weeks 11-13 are the lowest crowd weeks among this moderate group, and also see lower prices among the moderate and deluxe resorts. They also share lousy hot and humid weather.

  • 11: 7/24/21
  • 12: 7/12/21
  • 13: 7/31/21

Weeks 14-16 are the best of a group that sees somewhat higher–but still moderate–crowds compared to weeks 11-13:

  • 14: 1/2/21
  • 15: 6/19/21
  • 16: 7/3/21 (busier over first weekend from 4th of July, better after)

Weeks 17-20 have similar forecast crowds to weeks 14-16, but hotel and ticket prices are higher:

  • 17: 5/22/21 (busier over second weekend from Memorial Day, better before)
  • 18: 2/20/21
  • 19: 6/26/21 (busier over second weekend from 4th of July, better before)
  • 20: 5/29/21 (busier over first weekend from Memorial Day, better after)

Weeks 21-23 are during the normally busy spring break season, but I am forecasting them at moderate crowds because of COVID attendance limits.  They have higher hotel prices than the last group of weeks.

  • 21: 3/6/21 
  • 22: 3/20/21
  • 23: 3/13/21 

Week 24 has similar crowds but higher prices.

  • 24: 2/13/21

THE PEAK HURRICANE SEASON WEEKS

Weeks 25-32 have one thing in common: they occur during the peak of the hurricane season. Hurricanes are rare and even more rarely affect a Disney World vacation, but for first-timers who may never return, why not just avoid the risk? For returning visitors, though, the low-crowd weeks that can be found among this group can be wonderful times to visit.

These peak hurricane season weeks are ranked in order of first crowd levels, and within the same crowd level prices. (I include only low and moderate crowd weeks in this group–there are some high-crowd October weeks in the peak hurricane season, which are covered lower on the page.)

Weeks 25 and 26 have my forecast lowest crowds of the year, as well as the lowest ticket prices of the year and generally low hotel prices:

  • 25: 8/21/21
  • 26: 8/28/21 (busier at end from Labor Day)

Weeks 27-29 have slightly higher crowds and ticket prices than weeks 25 and 26, and a mix of hotel prices which I use to rank among the three:

  • 27: 9/4/21 (busier at beginning from Labor Day)
  • 28: 9/11/21
  • 29 9/18/21

Weeks 30 and 31 have slightly higher crowds and ticket prices:

  • 30: 8/14/21
  • 31: 8/7/21

Finally week 32 is the only the moderate-crowd weeks in this hurricane group. It will be better early in the week, and worse later in the week as 50th Anniversary crowds build.

  • 32: 9/25/21

2021 WEEKS TO AVOID AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

There’s two groups of weeks to avoid in 2021: high crowd weeks and weeks when some rides are often closed.

The first group, ranked 33-47, should be avoided because of crowds that may range from challenging to unbelievable.

Partly due to COVID protocols limiting crowds early in the year, and partly due to Disney World’s 50th Anniversary likely increasing crowds October and later, the shape of high crowd weeks in 2021 is very different than it has been in recent years.

The only high-crowd weeks I am forecasting for the first nine months of 2021 are the two weeks that include Easter–those beginning March 27 and April 3, 2021. But every week beginning October 2nd and later I have forecast as a some sort of high crowd week.

See the table above for exact rankings within these weeks.

The final group includes the January and early February weeks when rides are often closed for repair or refurbishment—weeks 48-52.

Some of these weeks have among the lowest crowds and lowest prices of the year. However, this is the peak time for ride closures at Walt Disney World, especially the January weeks. See the table above for exact rankings within these weeks.

 

 

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January 11, 2021   2 Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort

Welcome back to Fridays with Jim Korkis! Jim, the dean of Disney historians, writes about Walt Disney World history every Friday on yourfirstvisit.net.

THE ORIGIN OF DISNEY’S ART OF ANIMATION RESORT

By Jim Korkis

Construction work was conducted on the planned two halves of Pop Century Resort (Classic Years and Legendary Years) from 1999 through 2001. The resort in total was meant to celebrate each decade of the 20th Century just as the new Millennium was about to begin.

A bridge originally named the Generation Gap Bridge was constructed across Hourglass Lake to connect both halves of Pop Century and make them accessible to each other.

However, the terrorism attack on September 11th resulted in a significant drop in tourism, so Disney stopped work on the entire because of lack of demand.

When work finally resumed on Pop Century, the economy was rebounding slowly and there was no initial need for all 5,760 rooms from both halves, which meant that only The Classic Years was initially completed and opened in 2003. Disney kept announcing the other half, The Legendary Years, would be completed since some building shells and infrastructure were in place.

In January 2010 Disney announced the resort would be re-themed into Disney’s Art of Animation Resort with construction beginning that summer. In addition, because of the success of the family suites at the All Star Music, seven new buildings (all except the three devoted to The Little Mermaid, originally intended to represent the 1940s decade, and almost completed) would be built as family suites.

The phrase “The Art of Animation” has a long heritage. In 1958, Walt Disney put together three traveling animation exhibits depicting the history and process of animation to promote the film Sleeping Beauty (1959). The exhibit was called “The Art of Animation: A Walt Disney Retrospective” and one was in Disneyland’s Tomorrowland until September 1966.

In addition, Walt had author Bob Thomas write a book about the same topic called The Art of Animation that was released in 1958 and later updated in 1991 to promote Beauty and the Beast (1991) and in 1997 to promote Hercules (1997).

Disney’s Art of Animation Resort is devoted to showcasing four animated feature film favorites in a larger-than-life format, creating distinct decorative environments reflective of each film.

Research showed that modern families were more familiar and emotionally connected with films released during the previous twenty-five years especially those produced by Pixar rather than the original classic Disney Studio ones created by Walt Disney. In addition, selection was made of films prominently represented in the parks by attractions, shows, merchandise sales and more.

So the following films were selected: Finding Nemo (2003), Cars (2006), The Lion King (1994) and The Little Mermaid (1989).

The outside of each four-story rectangular building at the resort is covered in characters, backgrounds and icons from the respective films. There are more three-dimensional figures than at any other Disney resort, and they offer multiple photo opportunities like the thirty-five foot tall sculpture of King Triton done by Joni Van Buren from the film The Little Mermaid. In total, there are approximately 2,500 figures at the entire resort.

“These themes have both compelling storylines and vivid visuals which will come together to create a truly memorable, immersive resort experience,” said Eric Jacobson, Senior Vice President of Walt Disney Imagineering.

“With more multi-generational families vacationing together, guests are looking for places where they can play together and stay together. This resort was designed with the needs of families in mind, as we continue the Disney tradition of providing a great guest experience for every taste and budget.”

*  *  *  *  *

Thanks, Jim!

Much more on Disney’s Art of Animation Resort begins here.

Come back next Friday for more from Jim Korkis! In the meantime, check out his books, including his new books Vault of Walt Volume 9: Halloween Edition, and Hidden Treasures of the Disney Cruise Line.

 

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January 8, 2021   No Comments

Next Week (January 9 through January 17, 2021) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: JANUARY 9 TO JANUARY 17, 2021

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

Things are … a little different… as Disney World re-opens.  See this for park previews and key insights.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/9-1/17/21

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 8a-8p 1/9, and 9a-7p 1/10 through 1/17

Epcot will be open from 11a-9p 1/9, and 11a-8p 1/10 through 1/17

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open from 9a-7p every day

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open from 8a-6p 1/9 and 1/10, 8a-5p 1/11 through 1/15, 8a-6p 1/16, and 8a-5p 1/17

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/9-1/17/21

There will be no Extra Magic Hours until further notice.

PARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/9-1/17/21

There will be no parades until further notice.

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/9-1/17/21

Some brief incidental fireworks happen at various times at Magic Kingdom.

Otherwise, there will be no evening shows until further notice.

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 1/9-1/17/21

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

 

 

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January 7, 2021   No Comments

Disney World Crowds in 2021

2021 CROWDS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD

The chart lower on the page shows my current draft forecasts for 2021 crowds by week at Walt Disney World. I explain how I built it at the end of the post.

2021 will be an interesting year at Disney World, with COVID-related capacity restrictions dominating crowds early in the year, but after that new attractions opening, old attractions re-opening, and Disney World beginning its 50th anniversary celebration later in the year.

[Read more →]

January 6, 2021   No Comments