By the co-author of The easy Guide to Your Walt Disney World Visit 2018, from the best-reviewed Disney World guidebook series ever. Paperback available on Amazon here. Kindle version available on Amazon here.



yourfirstvisit.net—Disney World Instructions for the First-Time Visitor



Category — w. Most Recent Stuff

Halloween 2018 at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD’S SPECIAL HALLOWEEN PARTY IN 2018

While Halloween itself is October 31st of course, Walt Disney World provides a special Halloween celebration at the Magic Kingdom many evenings in 2018, likely from late August until the first of November.

This celebration is called “Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party,” or “MNSSHP” for short.

At the party, many of the Magic Kingdom’s rides are open, and trick or treating, special events, and different parades and fireworks are offered.

The official Disney World page for this event can be found here.

Click the images below for the 2017 offerings.

And you can find a review of the 2017 MNSSHP party here.

MORE ON MICKEY’S NOT-SO-SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY IN 2018

[Read more →]

February 20, 2018   No Comments

Review: The Hall of Presidents in Magic Kingdom

Hall of Presidents was one of the initial attractions in the Magic Kingdom. Always a show that combines a stirring narration, period images, and audio-animatronics of the U.S. presidents, it has been frequently updated, and came out of a major update in December 2017.

I had the chance to see it in January 2018, and thought a President’s Day review would be appropriate.

The short version is that new images and a new emphasis in the narrated story make it very much worth a visit, although it will continue to be enjoyed most by adults and patriotic Americans, and be dull for most kids.

REVIEW: HALL OF PRESIDENTS IN LIBERTY SQUARE AT MAGIC KINGDOM

Hall of Presidents was designed to be the East Coast counterpart to Disneyland’s groundbreaking Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln, expanding the scope to all presidents and the history to the not just the Civil War but also the sweep of the American experiment.

The initial show was largely unchanged other than the addition of new presidents as they emerged until 1993, when a major update to the show, spurred by Columbia history professor Eric Forner, was implemented. In 2008-2009, the show closed for 8 months for a major upgrade to the audio and video systems, and Morgan Freeman became the narrator.

The Hall closed again in January 2017 for a major re-do of the show, re-opening about 11 months later. As always, the new president was added, with the traditional speaking part of the Oath of Office and a new brief homily about the American people.

More significantly, the script, narrator, and images have all largely changed. The theme, now, is a little less about America’s struggles and presidential responses—although that material is certainly there—and more about the importance and challenges of the office of the presidency itself. Washington still highlights the beginning, but his story is now less about the Revolutionary War and more about the limits that Washington by his actions imposed on the power of the presidency.

Andrew Jackson is out, and the major bits that follow are Lincoln (more narrowly focused, on the Gettysburg Address), Teddy Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, all of the presidents in a roll call, Washington again, and finally President Trump.

The new imagery and story work just fine, building on the traditions of this attraction while making it fresh and new. Those who loved the old Hall of Presidents won’t find much here to disappoint.

One new element is the presence of security guards in the performance space. Disney has not found it useful to say why they are here, but some have speculated that they are present to disincent roving bands of Franklin Pierce fans and their “We’re Number 14!” chants.

I’ve always enjoyed Hall of Presidents—while thinking that The American Adventure in Epcot covers much of the same terrain much more effectively and with a better pace. You won’t find Franklin Pierce in it, for example. Those on shorter visits might skip the Hall and see The American Adventure instead.

The show continues to be on the hour and half hour.  Arrvie near show-time and you ought not to need to wait much. But do check on the schedule of The Muppets Present: Great Moments in American History… showing just outside, as it’s fun to see one, and then the other.

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February 19, 2018   No Comments

A Friday Visit with Jim Korkis: The Leapfrog Fountain at Epcot

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 LEAPFROG FOUNTAIN IN THE IMAGINATION PAVILION AT EPCOT

By Jim Korkis

Kodak, the original sponsor of the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot, intended the area outside the pavilion to be known as Imagination Gardens, and feature interactive items. The only thing ever built as part of that project was the laminar flow fountains, more commonly referred to as the Leapfrog Fountains.

They were the creation of Mark Fuller, who later went on to found the famous WET (Water Entertainment Technology) Design company with two other ex-Imagineers, Melanie Simon and Alan Robinson, and be responsible for world famous water experiences like the Fountains at Bellagio for the hotel and casino in Las Vegas.

Fuller’s first job after getting a master’s degree in mechanical engineering at Stanford in 1978 was to create something new and exciting for the upcoming opening of Epcot Center. For the Epcot project, Fuller worked with Bill Novey.

Fuller had spent six years trying to get an interview with Imagineering and eventually succeeded in being interviewed by the legendary Imagineer Wathel Rogers, who was impressed by Fuller’s portfolio of work.

“The one thing I think we recognized right away was that Mark was willing to take a chance,” recalls Marty Sklar, former president of Walt Disney Imagineering. “He wasn’t afraid of trying something nobody else had done before.”

In his studies at Stanford, Fuller had experimented with laminar flow technology, so he was already very skilled in making a perfect tube of water. Fuller had already built the world’s first permanent laminar fountain in Salt Lake City as part of his thesis and had won an award for it from the American Institute of Architects.

Unlike water flowing from a household faucet where molecules bounce haphazardly around in different directions, in laminar flow, the molecules are channeled in one direction under equal, steady pressure.  The stream of water that is produced by laminar flow can appear stationary or solid, like a clear tube, from a distance.

Fuller, working with other WDI staff including Tony Baxter, engineered a way to make the water jump and turn on and off, using laminar flow with added valves and programming so it looked like the water was randomly leaping from basin to basin.

The challenges included making the streams high enough and far enough apart for people to pass underneath them and to control the water splash when the stream landed.

Ironically for an attraction that has delighted guests of all ages for over three decades, Disney leadership was not initially impressed with the idea, but show producer Barry Braverman decided to take a chance since Kodak was adamant that they wanted the area to have a whimsical personality.

Fuller’s approach seemed to transform ordinary water into a living character much like in classic Disney animation.

Fuller also designed other water experiences at Epcot Center including the “upside down” waterfall near the pavilion and the “popjet” fountains that would unexpectedly spout up streams of water from the pavement.

After working for Imagineering for five years, Fuller left to establish his own company since he felt constrained on what he envisioned he might be able to accomplish with water.

In March 2010, Fuller was presented with the Themed Entertainment Association Lifetime Achievement Award, and while he has not been an Imagineer for decades, his work for Epcot still continues to enchant and amuse with the same sense of wonder as when it first opened.

*  *  *  *  *

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

In the meantime, check out his books, including his latest, Call Me Walt, and his 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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February 16, 2018   No Comments

Next Week (February 17 through February 25, 2018) at Walt Disney World

DISNEY WORLD NEXT WEEK: FEBRUARY 17 TO FEBRUARY 25, 2018

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

 

For more on February 2018 at Disney World, see this.

OPERATING HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 2/17-2/25/18

The Magic Kingdom will be open from 8a-12MN 2/17 and 2/18, 9a-11p 2/19, 9a-10p 2/20 through 2/22, 9a-11p 2/23, 8a to 11p 2/24, and 9a-9p 2/25

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

Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be open 9a-9p 2/17 and 2/18, 9a-8p 2/19 through 2/23, 9a-9p 2/24, and 9a-9p 2/25

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be open 8a-9p 2/17 through 2/19, 8a-8.30p 2/20 through 2/23, 8a-9p 2/24, and 9a-8.30p 2/25

EXTRA MAGIC HOURS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 2/17-2/25/18

Saturday 2/17 Morning: Animal Kingdom   Evening: none

Sunday 2/18  Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening: none

Monday 2/19  Morning: Animal Kingdom Evening: none

Tuesday 2/20  Morning: none Evening:  Epcot

Wednesday 2/21 Morning:  none  Evening: Magic Kingdom

Thursday 2/22 Morning: Epcot Evening: none

Friday 2/23 Morning:  Magic Kingdom Evening: none

Saturday 2/24 Morning: Animal Kingdom  Evening: none

Sunday 2/25  Morning: Hollywood Studios Evening:  none

PARADES AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 2/17–2/25/18

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

FIREWORKS AND EVENING SHOWS AT WALT DISNEY WORLD 2/17-2/25/18

Happily Every After at Magic Kingdom: 7.55p every night

IllumiNations at Epcot:  9p every night

Fantasmic at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:  7p every night

Star Wars Show and Fireworks at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: 8.15p every night

Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom 7.15 and 8.30p every night

SHOW SCHEDULES FOR WALT DISNEY WORLD 2/17-2/25/18

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

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February 15, 2018   No Comments

Longer Disney World Ticket Prices Increase Less Than I’d Thought…At Least So Far

Disney World ticket prices went up on Sunday, and at the same time Disney announced that later this year it would begin charging different seasonal prices for multi-day tickets—no details on that yet, but I have some speculation below.

I’ve finally had time to analyze the correct prices (they are all here; incorrect prices were all over the place earlier, including on this site, as the leaked prices included the $21.30 extra charge for not getting tickets in advance).

Here’s the short version:

  • Shorter tickets went up substantially
  • The longer tickets that I would recommend for most went up hardly at all
  • My guess is that—particularly because of this last point—that what we are seeing now is the lowest level of ticket prices in the new seasonal price scheme

Details follow.

SHORTER DISNEY WORLD TICKETS INCREASE BY $11 TO $32

Here’s the scoop on shorter tickets for those ten and older. (Tickets for those younger than ten went up by the same dollar amount, but off a slightly lower base, so saw slightly higher percentage increases.)

  • 2 day tickets: up $10.65 or 5.0%
  • 3 day tickets: up $17.04 or 5.5%
  • 4 day tickets: up $31.95 or 8.6%
  • 5 day tickets: up $26.63 or 6.8%

The obvious observation is that all these are substantially higher than inflation, so Disney seems to be extracting value—especially at the 4 and 5 day levels—to get returns on its investments in the Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios, which many still prioritize after Epcot and Magic Kingdom.

LONGER DISNEY WORLD TICKETS MOSTLY INCREASE BY $5.33

Longer tickets show a remarkably different pricing pattern, with all but 6 day tickets showing an increase of less than inflation.

  • 6 day tickets: up $15.98 or 3.8%
  • 7 day tickets: up $5.33 or 1.2%%
  • 8 day tickets: up $5.33 or 1.2%%
  • 9 day tickets: up $5.33 or 1.2%%
  • 10 day tickets: up $5.33 or 1.1%%

The combination of changes also means that its costs the same to add a day–$10.65—for all tickets 6 days or longer. This returns Disney largely to the pricing pattern it had before 2016. The combination of these two factors—lower prices to add a day, and price increases of less than inflation (that means in real terms ticket prices went down) suggests an enhanced emphasis by Disney on guests staying of longer.

Or at least during the times when these tickets are valid….

THOUGHTS ON SEASONAL TICKET PRICING

Those who buy at the current price can use these tickets at the price they paid until 12/31/2019. (Unless you change the tickets–e.g. add a day.)

Those who buy their tickets after the seasonal pricing structure comes out will, I believe, have to pay more. I believe this because the low increases on longer-day tickets leave little room for less-expensive tickets, which makes me think the pricing level we are seeing now will be the lowest level offered in 2018.

There’s two different reasons for seasonal pricing. One is to incent those with flexible dates to attend during lower-crowd periods. This can yield better experiences both for those who shift away from crowded times, and for those who remain in them (because crowds will be lower from those who did change their dates). The second is to extract more value from those who cannot change their dates but who are going during more popular periods. All of Disney World recent strategic language is about the first reason.

Unclear is what the seasons will be and when they will be announced—and the new prices come in. Disney currently has a calendar for the seasonal pricing of one day tickets for which it has been charging seasonal rates for a couple of years now. Go here, click 1 day tickets, and a calendar will show up of lowest “Value,” middle “Regular,” and highest “Peak” price days.

If you play with this you’ll discover there are no value priced days from May 4 through August 26. While Disney may not exactly follow this one day calendar for its multi-day tickets, surely it is relevant. So I would expect the new price levels to kick in for visits in May or—maybe–June, and to be announced shortly after the opening date for Toy Story Land is announced.

I may be wrong about the current set of tickets being the lowest prices we’ll see in 2018–I’m wrong 20 times before breakfast. But if I am right, it can’t hurt to buy your tickets now, as, especially if your dates are out of the current “Value” ticket season, you might save some coin.

 

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February 14, 2018   1 Comment

Disney World Ticket Prices Increase; Seasonal Pricing for Multi-Day Disney World Tickets Coming

As expected, prices for Disney World tickets went up today. I’ll have the details and analysis in a a few days, but for the multi-day tickets that most readers of this site use, prices went up as much as 9%, although longer day tickets saw much lower increases.

Disney also announced that it would institute seasonal pricing for multi-day tickets “later this year,” with no further specifics. What that means is that multi-day tickets will becomes more expensive for some dates/periods, and less for others–just as single day tickets are now.

This pricing model is meant to shift people away from more popular dates and towards less popular ones. Most likely it will work as an additional cost for some dates with today’s prices representing the lowest-cost options.

This suggests that the right play is to buy your 2018 tickets now. But the pricing doesn’t have to work that way–the levels announced today, for example, could end up beings the middle tier of prices, with some dates being a little less expensive and some even more. So it’s hard for me to give frim advice.

The first sensible opportunity to institute seasonal pricing on multi-day tickets would be for the opening at Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. That opening date should be announced, I’d think, no later than the end of March.

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February 11, 2018   No Comments