Hey everybody, there’s a new itinerary out for arrivals 8/31 through 10/26/2019. You can find it here.

By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2019, the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever.

Available on Amazon here.





Category — w. Most Recent Stuff

Review– Millenium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is the first of two rides to open in Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios—the second, Rise of the Resistance, has had its opening announced as December 5, 2019.

Millennium Falcon is an interactive simulator ride. Six folks ride at a time in a spectacular imitation of the Millennium Falcon’s cockpit, each with simple tasks to complete—two pilots, each with slightly different jobs, two gunners, and two flight engineers.

You will see much advice that the best job is the pilot’s job, and the next best the flight engineer’s, and related advice that flights with good pilots are better than those with inept pilots.

All this advice is sound for those who take a sort of video game “maximize the score” mentality to the ride, but for those who don’t, none of this much matters.

If you wish to experience either a space ride or a Millennium Falcon ride, and don’t care how “well” your ship does overall, how much you control the outcome, or how well piloted it is, then you will still have fun on this ride. So take the whole debate over best jobs and best experiences with a grain of salt.

If on the other hand, you don’t care at all about either spaceship rides generally or the Millennium Falcon specifically, then frankly there is not a whole lot to this ride.

Flight of Passage in Pandora at the Animal Kingdom presents an interesting contrast. Flight of Passage has a distinctive ride system and an imitated breathtaking journey that is largely independent of the specific content of Avatar. To put it more simply, Flight of Passage is simply a truly great ride, independent of its theming.

Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run is different. It wins—among those with whom it wins—by its specific recreation of the Falcon, but for those indifferent to space flight or the Falcon itself, it is just another ride.

The best comparator among other Disney World rides opened in the last decade (although this is somewhat unfair in a way I’ll come back to in the next paragraph) would be Under the Sea – Journey of the Little Mermaid in Fantasyland, a ride that charms major fans of the Little Mermaid, but has little to offer those for whom Little Mermaid is not central to their love of Disney.

The big contrast with Under the Sea is in the execution of the theme and setting of Smuggler’s Run, which is spectacular for Smuggler’s Run and so-so for Under the Sea.

Grown-ups can appreciate, celebrate, and be delighted by…

…The reification of human imagination and creativity into the physical setting of Galaxy’s Edge…

…The Millennium Falcon itself…

…The ride queue…

…The astonishing Hondo animatronic…

…and their experience on the ride.

Kids who are fans of the original trilogy will likely love it as well.

Have you ridden it yet? What did you think, and why?

 

 

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October 22, 2019   1 Comment

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Orange Bird in Adventureland–and the Comics

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

ORANGE BIRD COMIC BOOK

By Jim Korkis

A Disney character unique to Walt Disney World is the little Orange Bird who recently returned to Magic Kingdom’s Adventureland.

In 1967, Walt Disney Productions entered into negotiations with the Florida Citrus Commission (FCC) for a Florida Citrus Growers sponsored Magic Kingdom attraction at a cost of $3 million that was a version of Disneyland’s The Enchanted Tiki Room, called the Tropical Serenade show.

In 1970, WED Enterprises (today’s Walt Disney Imagineering) created the Orange Bird character to serve as the FCC’s official mascot in promotional campaigns. Orange Bird was designed by Disney artist C. Robert “Bob” Moore and it decorated billboards, appeared in commercials, was on multiple souvenir items from sipper cups to keychains, and even had a song written about him by the legendary Sherman Brothers.

However, I think most Walt Disney World fans are unaware that the character also appeared in his own animated short and comic book.

Foods and Fun: A Nutrition Adventure (1980) was a 12-minute animated short for the Walt Disney Educational Media department produced and animated by Rick Reinert Productions.

Rick Reinert Productions was a small, independent animation studio in the North Hollywood, California area that was responsible for later producing and animating Winnie the Pooh and A Day for Eeyore (1983).

The Orange Bird short narrated by Rex Allen told the tale of the Orange Bird, who could not speak or sing but could only produce images over his head in a puff of orange smoke like a thought balloon but with a picture.

He is sad, and a nearsighted Dr. Owl gives him advice to get a good night’s sleep, a balanced diet (grain, protein, calcium, fruit/vegetables) and exercise. The bird does so and flies to the Florida Everglades where he befriends a family at the beach. The father does not want to take the bird home with them despite the protests of his two children, but changes his mind when he is saved from going out to fish on an unsafe pier by the little bird.

There is a family picnic on the beach where the family sings about the joys of a balanced diet while the Orange Bird makes a healthy sandwich.

To tie in with the release of this animated film, Walt Disney Educational Media produced a supplemental comic book, very similar to other comics it produced at that time, including Mickey and Goofy Explore Energy and Mickey and Goofy Explore Business.

Orange Bird in Nutrition Adventures (1980) is a 32-page comic book with three separate stories written by Diana Gabaldon and drawn by Tony Strobl. Gabaldon is an award-winning, best-selling novelist. Strobl worked as a Disney animator on several features starting in 1938 before moving over into drawing comic books, especially stories featuring Donald Duck.

As animator Dave Bennett remembers, “Tony Strobl came to our studios [Rick Reinert Productions] for as much reference material on the Orange Bird as he could carry! Disney had not created an official model sheet.”

The comic book included three stories:

  • “Helping Out” (11 pages) where Orange Bird and his friends Toucan and Macaw agree to help Farmer Brown with his chores and learn the necessity of a healthy breakfast in order to get the day’s work done;
  • “A Day Off” (11 pages) has Toucan, Macaw and Orange Bird going on a relaxing picnic to Coconut Island but a series of misadventures including monkeys stealing some of their food results in Toucan realizing he should have stayed home;
  • “Fair Day” (10 pages), Toucan, Macaw and Orange Bird go to the State Fair but a black bird competitor steals all the prize vegetable entries and hides them in the human cannonball’s cannon. When the cannon goes off, the vegetables scatter throughout the air and Orange Bird makes a healthy vegetable salad for everyone.

In 2012 the Orange Bird returned to Adventureland.

*  *  *  *  *

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

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Disney Never Lands, and about planned but unbuilt concepts, and Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

 

 

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October 18, 2019   No Comments

Next Week (October 19 through October 27, 2019) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: OCTOBER 19 TO OCTOBER 27, 2019

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

 

For  more on October 2019 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 10/19-10/27/19

The Magic Kingdom will be open 8a-11p 10/19, 8a-6p 10/20 through 10/22, 8a-10p 10/23, 8a-6p 10/24 and 10/25, 8a-10p 10/26, and 8a-6p 10/27

Epcot will be open from 9a-10p 10/19, 9a-9p 10/20 through 10/24, 9a-10p 10/25 and 10/26, and 9a-9p 10/27

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open from 9a-10p every day

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open from 8a-9p every day

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 10/19-10/27/19

  • Saturday 10/19 Morning: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: none
  • Sunday 10/20  Morning:  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: none
  • Monday 10/21 Morning: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: none
  • Tuesday 10/22 Morning: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: Epcot
  • Wednesday 10/23 Morning:  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: none
  • Thursday 10/24 Morning: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios (6-9a)  Evening: none
  • Friday 10/25 Morning:  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: none
  • Saturday 10/26 Morning: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a)  Evening: none
  • Sunday 10/27 Morning:  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a)  Evening: none

PARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 10/19-10/27/19

The Magic Kingdom: Afternoon parade: 2p every day

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 10/19-10/27/19

Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom:  9p 10/19, 10/23 and 10/26

Epcot Forever at Epcot: 10p 10/19, 9p 10/20 through 10/24; 10p 10/25 and 10/26; 9p 10/27

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8p every night

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 10p every night

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 7.45p 10/19; 7.30 and 8.45p 10/20 through 10/25; 7.30p 10/26; 7.30 and 8.45p 10/27

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 10/19-10/27/19

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

 

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October 17, 2019   No Comments

Review and Photo Tour of Port Orleans Riverside Alligator Bayou Rooms

For the first page of this review of Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, see this.

THE ALLIGATOR BAYOU ROOMS AT PORT ORLEANS RIVERSIDE

Port Orleans Riverside has two areas and three distinct room types.

Its Magnolia Bend area has two room types, Royal Rooms and Standard Rooms, each sleeping four in two queen beds.

Its Alligator Bayou area rooms sleep five in two queen beds and one short (~66 inches long) Murphy bed.

These Alligator Bayou rooms are one of only two traditional moderate resort spaces that sleep 5 (non-Pirate rooms at Caribbean Beach are the other), and these rooms are as a result very important to families a little larger than average or families that work best with three sleeping spots

For families that don’t need the extra bed, these rooms have so-so theming (although it is warmer and more cheery after the latest refurb), are kind of ugly in spots–although your taste may vary–and are a bit thin on storage. Such families have better options.

REVIEW OF THE ALLIGATOR BAYOU ROOMS [Read more →]

October 14, 2019   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: Requiem for the Muppets in Liberty Square

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 MUPPETS PRESENT…

By Jim Korkis

[Note from Dave—this show closed October 5, 2019]

Disney acquired the rights to Jim Henson’s Muppets in February 2004 and tried to reboot the franchise starting in 2008 with new movies and television appearances. Henson had entered into negotiations with the Disney company for the franchise before his death in 1990 resulting in the characters being incorporated into shows at Disney MGM Studios.

However, after Henson’s death, Disney was unable to finalize the acquistion from the Henson family but were able to arrange a license for the Muppet*Vision 3-D attraction. With Disney’s purchase in 2004 the word “Muppet” became a Disney trademark.

After the release of the theatrical feature film Muppets Most Wanted (2014), Disney decided to develop a theme park show about American history that would have featured Sam Eagle interacting with guests and telling in typical Muppet fashion an unintentionally humorous version of famous events where he gets the stories partially right and mostly wrong.

Jim Lewis, who had written extensively for The Muppets for thirty years, was brought in for consultation, and the show expanded to include Kermit, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Gonzo and two of Gonzo’s chicken friends. James Silson and Tara Anderson were co-directors of the show. Brendan Milburn and Valerie Vigoda wrote a new song for the shows.

The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History premiered in Liberty Square at the Magic Kingdom on October 2, 2016 with two different shows, The Declaration of Independence and The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere. The Muppets perform in the upper three windows above the Heritage House gift shop so that it appears as if it is three interconnected television screens.

Because of the distance to the guests below, the puppets were made about five percent larger than the traditional Muppets and were built by the same craftspeople who build the characters for television and film. The pre-recorded voices are provided by Steve Whitmire (Kermit the Frog), Eric Jacobson (Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, Sam Eagle) and Dave Goelz (Gonzo) and the Muppets’ actions are synchronized by live puppeteers to the voice track.

The puppeteers are also responsible for several costume changes during the show. Each show lasts approximately ten minutes and is performed multiple times during the day.

The Declaration of Independence show has Sam appearing in a circular portal at the top of the Hall of Presidents and interacting with a live James Jefferson (aka “JJ”), the Town Crier of Liberty Square down below who leads the guests in different responses during the show. As they attempt to share the events surrounding the drafting of the famous document, the other Muppets appear in the Heritage House windows.

These other Muppets portray historical figures Thomas Jefferson (Kermit), John Adams (Gonzo) and Benjamin Franklin (Fozzie). Miss Piggy is irritated that there are no female roles and decides to change King George III and later George Washington into “Georgette” for her to perform as those characters.

Midnight Ride of Paul Revere takes place solely in the windows above Heritage House and is a very loose adaptation of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s famous poem Paul Revere’s Ride. Kermit portrays Revere and has a stick horse whose face surprisingly animates as another Muppet.

“The show really appeals to everybody, across generations, because the Muppets have such a wonderful history,” said Tara Anderson. “Parents are going to watch the show with their children and they’re both going to laugh! It’s the Muppets we know and love, but new.”

*  *  *  *  *

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

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, The Unofficial Walt Disney World 1971 Companion: Stories of How the World Began, and Secret Stories of Walt Disney World: Things You Never You Never Knew, which reprints much material first written for this site, all published by Theme Park Press.

 

 

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October 11, 2019   No Comments

Next Week (October 12 through October 20, 2019) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: OCTOBER 12 TO OCTOBER 20, 2019

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

For  more on October 2019 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 10/12-10/20/19

The Magic Kingdom will be open 8a-11p 10/12, 8a-9p 10/13, 8a-6p 10/14 and 10/15, 8a-9p 10/16, 8a-6p 10/17 and 10/18, 8a-10p 10/19, and 8a-6p 10/20

Epcot will be open from 9a-10p 10/12, 9a-9p 10/13 through 10/17, 9a-10p 10/18 and 10/19, and 9a-9p 10/20

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open from 9a-10p every day

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open from 8a-8p 10/12, and 8a-9p 10/13 through 10/20

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 10/12-10/20/19

  • Saturday 10/12 Morning: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: none
  • Sunday 10/13  Morning:  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: none
  • Monday 10/14 Morning: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: none
  • Tuesday 10/15 Morning: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: Epcot
  • Wednesday 10/16 Morning:  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: none
  • Thursday 10/17 Morning: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios (6-9a)  Evening: none
  • Friday 10/18 Morning:  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a) Evening: none
  • Saturday 10/19 Morning: Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a)  Evening: none
  • Sunday 10/20 Morning:  Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios (6-9a)  Evening: none

PARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 10/12-10/20/19

The Magic Kingdom: Afternoon parade: 2p every day

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 10/12-10/20/19

Happily Ever After at Magic Kingdom:  9p 10/12, 10/13, 10/16, and 10/19

Epcot Forever at Epcot: 10p 10/12, 9p 10/13 through 10/17; 10p 10/18 and 10/19; 9p 10/20

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8p every night

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 10p every night

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom: 7.45p 10/12;  7.45 and 9p 10/13 through 10/18; 7.45p 10/19; 7.30 and 8.45p 10/20

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 10/12-10/20/19

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

 

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October 10, 2019   No Comments