Category Archives: Disney World

One of Disney’s Most Famous Rides Was Badly Damaged by Hurricane Irma

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has finally re-opened its doors to visitors following the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma. Guests visiting the park, however, will still not be able to access a few of its most treasured rides.

As the Orlando Sentinel reported, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom are all open and running on a normal schedule. But Disney’s water park Typhoon Lagoon and the Fort Wilderness Campground remain closed. Blizzard Beach just re-opened to the public on Thursday.

How Hurricanes Get Their Names
Who knew?!
Play Video
Though Irma could have spelled doom for the beloved park, cast members and crew worked tirelessly before the storm to ensure it was as protected as possible from the elements.

According to HelloGiggles, as soon as the storm clouds cleared, cast members got to work cleaning up leaves and fallen trees to ensure Disney looked as pristine as ever.

Sadly, according to cast members sharing details on social media, the World Famous Jungle Cruise will remain closed for the rest of the week. Cast member reported that the maintenance dock backstage was badly damaged in the storm and boats can no longer get to the track, meaning it will need extensive repairs.

 

Additionally, HelloGiggles reported, the Walt Disney World railroad is closed due to debris on the track, along with Tom Sawyer’s Island.

Over in the Animal Kingdom, several attractions remain offline including Kilimanjaro Safaris, Kali River Rapids, Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail, and Rafiki’s Planet Watch, but this appears to be due to cleanup efforts and not actual damage to the rides. And don’t worry — all the animals who live in the park were safely housed during the storm.

Thankfully, the park’s biggest attractions including Space Mountain and Tower of Terror remain unaffected, as they are both housed indoors. For more updates, travelers should regularly check Disney’s own blog.

While the Walt Disney World resorts escaped major damage from Hurricane Irma, cleanup efforts on some attractions are taking a little longer than expected to get up and running.

Both the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground and Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas resorts remain closed. So does Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park.

That means two popular attractions held at Fort Wilderness – the Hoop Dee Doo Musical Review and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ – have been cancelled up to and including Sept. 19. The park is offering refunds to all guests who had planned to attend the dinner theater shows.

Originally, Disney expected to reopen Treehouse Villas on the 14th. Updated estimates from the company now tentatively schedule that for Sept. 17. Fort Wilderness will remain closed until next week as the company continues cleanup operations.

Among park rides, the official Disney World app lists a few attractions as “temporarily closed”. These include the Big Thunder Mountain Railroad in the Magic Kingdom and Gorilla Falls Exploration Trial and Kali Rover Rapids in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Three other attractions – the Jungle Cruise, Splash Mountain and the Hall of Presidents – were already closed for refurbishments. (Disney officials did not immediately reply when asked if the storm caused any ride closures.)

The good news is Walt Disney World, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios are all operating under normal hours and Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, which was closed after Irma, has once again reopened.

Outside of the Orlando area, Disney’s Vero Beach and Hilton Head Island resorts will remain closed for an undefined period.

Lyft and Disney launch ‘Minnie Van’ on-demand ride service at Walt Disney World

Lyft has a big name new partner – Disney Parks, which will introduce on-demand transportation within select resorts as an added hospitality feature for guests. The service will employ Minnie Vans, vans painted in Minnie Mouse trademark dress in committed service to a wonderful dad joke.

The vans will take guests to any destination within Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, and can each take as many as six guests. Each van is also equipped with two child seats for younger family members. The pilot is kicking off with service at Disney’s Boardwalk and Yacht & Beach Club resorts, and the vans themselves will be drive by cast members in full costume (likely without vision occluding full face masks).

Guests of the resort can call the service using the existing Lyft rider app, and the option should appear in the designated service area.

This is another interesting business model evolution from Lyft, which also recently debuted a tie-up with Taco Bell that introduces in-car native marketing, letting passengers add a Taco Bell pitstop to their ongoing trip mid-route. The resort integration highlights Lyft co-founder John Zimmer’s background in the hospitality industry, which Lyft notes in its announcement of the news.

Serving private-run tourist destinations like Disney World is an interesting avenue for Lyft, and should help it position itself as a potential partner as shuttles like these become more autonomous, something that could happen quicker than self-driving on roads, given the more controlled conditions, strict routes and absence of other unpredictable motor vehicles.

Uber’s continued need to focus on core organizational challenges remains an opportunity for Lyft, and unique partner arrangements like this one prove it’s making good use of the time.

Source:https://techcrunch.com/2017/07/31/lyft-launches-minnie-van-on-demand-ride-service-at-walt-disney-world/?ncid=rss&utm_source=tctwreshare&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Techcrunch+%28TechCrunch%29&sr_share=twitter

SCAM ALERT: WALT DISNEY WORLD HOTEL GUESTS TARGETED

Walt Disney World is often the target of scammers of all varieties mostly because there are lots of people, which means lot of potential victims. At any given time, Disney resort hotels accommodate families in 30,000 or more rooms.

The latest scam targets guests staying in these rooms. Guests have reported that they’ve received a call late at night requesting a confirmation of their credit card information. It’s convincing because they say they’re calling from the front desk, and they even seem to know the guests’ check in date!

Many of the would-be victims have been able to outsmart the scammers saying they would take care of the issue in the morning thus avoiding the scam that could result in unauthorized charges or, worse, identity theft.

Here’s what to look for:

1. Late Callers

Warning Sign: The scammers call late in the evening and say that they had been trying to contact you but have been unsuccessful. This gives clout to why they’re calling so late since most people are not in their hotel rooms during the day.

Avoid it: No one from Disney will call you after 10:30 PM, and if, for some reason, they need to reach you at this time of night, they can ring your room phone silently and leave a voicemail indicated by the red flashing light. What’s more, Disney Cast Members will leave a voicemail if they try and are unsuccessful with reaching you during the day.

Disney Resort Hotel guests are the targets of a new scam.

Disney Resort Hotel guests are the targets of a new scam.

2. Requests for Information

Warning Sign: Scammers will probably know some basic information (even if it’s nothing more than a good guess) and use this to convince you to provide more information.

Avoid it: Never give any personal information including your credit card number over the phone, and avoid posting any travel information on social media. If they know your name, they can find more information to help “verify” their identity and yours.

3. Flyers

Warning Sign: You’ll often find flyers slipped under your door for transportation, entertainment, and especially food delivery.

Avoid it: Some of these flyers are from legitimate companies, but none of them are allowed on Disney property. If you really want to order take-out or take advantage of another service, ask the front desk to verify the legitimacy of a company from a flyer and even a phone book. Even if a Cast Member says it’s legit, it’s still a good idea to avoid giving a credit card number to pay for it. Say that you’ll pay them in cash when they arrive. That way, if they don’t deliver, they don’t get paid. Otherwise, you could pay for food that never arrives.

Unfortunately, Disney World is a prime target for scammers for several reasons. It may be the most magical place on earth, but you still need to keep your wits about you.

Have you ever seen a scam while visiting Disney World?

Evening Extra Magic Hours Extended At Disney’s Animal Kingdom Through Rest Of Summer

When Pandora – The World of Avatar opened at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, rare evening Extra Magic Hours were made available to resort Guests. Now, Disney has just extended those and  is giving you even more chances to enjoy Pandora at night.

pandora extra magic hours

From the opening of Pandora on May 27 through July 4, Disney offered Extra Magic Hours of 11 p.m. until 1 a.m. at Animal Kingdom.

After that date, evening Extra Magic Hours will continue nightly through Aug. 19, 2017, but they will take place from 10 p.m. until 12 a.m. (midnight).

Not that it should be news, but Extra Magic Hours are only available to Guests staying in Walt Disney World Resort hotels. Please, check the schedule of operating hours to stay up-to-date on any changes that may occur with only Pandora being open some evenings and all of Animal Kingdom being open others.

 

 

CASTING A MAGICAL SPELL AT DISNEY PARKS AND RESORTS

By Beth Deitchman

Jungle Cruise skippers—braving some of the world’s most “dangerous” waters, armed with good humor and puns… The delightful Fairy Godmothers-in-Training of the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutiques—who use their unique blend of pixie dust to create magical transformations for young princesses- and knights-to-be, all around the world… Cast members have always been a vital part of the story for guests at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, but with the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Florida and Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission BREAKOUT! at Disney’s California Adventure in California, they’re taking the magic they make—not to mention the guest experience—to a whole new level.

Bridge to Pandora - The World of AVATAR

When guests cross the bridge into Pandora, they leave Earth behind as they venture to this new moon. And every cast member they encounter has done the same. Pandora is presented “in story,” set many generations into the future, long after the events of director James Cameron’s Avatar films. Conflicts between humans and the indigenous Na’vi are long since over, and all of the people who remain on the planet have made the deliberate choice to call Pandora their home. The cast members who guests will encounter on Pandora have been encouraged to determine for themselves why each of them decided to stay. “We put together such a great group of cast members who want to learn the Na’vi language, who want to come up with their backstories, why they’re on Pandora, all of those things,” Avatar producer Jon Landau (pictured below) told D23.

Jon Landau

Landau has his own unique Pandoran backstory—he has played the role of Marshall Lamm, the founder of Alpha Centauri Expeditions, or ACE—the tour company that facilitates guests’ journeys to Pandora, handling all of the infrastructure, such as check-in-points at attractions. Cast members who work on Pandora wear nametags “issued” by ACE—rather than a traditional Walt Disney World badge—while they’re engaging with guests on the new planet.

Pongu Pongu

“There are also ex-pats, people who stayed on at Pandora after [the conflict] was done,” Walt Disney Imagineering Executive Creative Director Stefan Hellwig said. Guests will encounter the ex-pats while they’re patronizing the merchandise shops or enjoying the local cuisine at Pongu Pongu and Satu’li Canteen. Ex-pats serve as the proprietors of these Pandoran businesses that cater to travelers from Earth. Both the ex-pats and the ACE employees are extremely knowledgeable about Pandora, able to answer guests’ questions about the planet’s flora and fauna, as well as the Na’vi customs. Plus, they speak Na’vi, welcoming all visitors to Pandora with a smile and the traditional greeting, “Kalxti!”

Windtraders

Across the country at Disney California Adventure, cast members are having a blast helping to bring to life the story behind Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission BREAKOUT! As “Terrans” (or earthlings)—ostensibly employees of The Collector, Taneleer Tivan—their true loyalty is to the Guardians and, most importantly, the guests. “We are kind of like double agents,” attractions hostess Summer Mendoza explained. “We are supposed to be strict and think the collector is the greatest, but we are really helping Rocket. We can even create our own back stories to add to the show.”

Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission BREAKOUT

Walt Disney said, “You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world… but it requires people to make the dream a reality,” and that continues to be a guiding tenet at Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “Our cast members are the most important part of telling the story of this attraction and all these characters,” Disneyland Resort Entertainment Senior Manager Glenn Kelman said. “I think one of the things I’m most excited about is tapping into the creativity of our cast and empowering them with enough toys so that they make choices that fit their personality.”

This continued evolution of the interaction between cast members and guests builds upon Disney’s enduring legacy of storytelling and helps to deliver the most immersive experience possible. “It’s why people go to theme parks today, to escape the world we’re in,” Landau said, “and we’re truly giving them a place to escape to.”

Don’t be alarmed, but a part of Disney World’s monorail just *fell off*

Let’s start off by staying that everyone is fine, there were no major issues, and operations on mostly all Monorail tracks around the theme park have resumed as normal. But on Friday afternoon, part of Disney World’s monorail *fell off.* That certainly doesn’t happen every day.

A guest visiting EPCOT happened to be standing in the theme park’s parking lot — FYI, the Monorail passes over the EPCOT parking lot — when suddenly a metal piece from the overhead vehicle fell to the ground. There were no injuries when the piece fell, as there were no guests in the immediate area. (Guests onboard the Monorail didn’t even realize anything had happened.)

We were leaving Epcot at 12:55 pm walking to our car. We were directly under the monorail looking at it pass over us. It started making..

.making sounds and some little pieces flew off then the bigger piece flew off. Thankfully we were more to the left and it went right.

The guest flagged down cast members working in the EPCOT parking lot, who then alerted the monorail team. The Blue Monorail was stopped, but guests were not evacuated; the monorail was then towed back to a station where the guests safely unloaded. Still, no injuries, no one was hurt, just a little hot and shaken.

Numerous fire trucks and ambulances preparing to evacuate guests from monorail blue at Disney World

According to WFTV 9 in Orlando, Florida, Disney issued a statement saying that, “Blue Monorail had a malfunction and they don’t know what caused it to stop.” In a separate issue, to the Orlando Sentinel, Disney spokeswoman Wilma Colon explained that “The Epcot line will remain closed as workers investigate the problem.”

Exactly *what* piece fell from the Blue Monorail is still being investigated. While all parts of the monorail are pretty important, the fact that the monorail didn’t stop immediately signifies that it wasn’t a vital piece to keep the vehicle running. But still, you know, it’s probably kinda important.

We hope that Disney gets to the bottom of what exactly went wrong, and operations can resume as normal on all monorail lines. <3

Is a Haunted Mansion Restaurant Coming to Walt Disney World?

The WDW rumor mill certainly has been active these past few weeks. It seems that there’s a rumor of a new coaster or attraction based on the latest, hottest Disney IP popping up every other day.

The latest rumor involves the possibility of a Haunted Mansion themed restaurant coming to the Magic Kingdom in Walt Disney World.

Now, I put a little more stock in this particular rumor given the source. User WDW1974 on the WDW Magic Forums has proven to be a pretty reliable “insider” over the years, and this one comes from him/her/them.

From the forum thread

And before Tom Amity* decides to break news that was broken here a long time ago, let me again spell out that a new Haunted Mansion eating venue/experience is coming to the MK, despite the mixed reviews of the Skipper Canteen.

Given the popularity of The Haunted Mansion, I completely believe this could be a thing. In fact, my wife and I always joke that eating in the West Wing of Be Our Guest is pretty close to what a Haunted Mansion restaurant would probably be.

My question is — where would it be located? Would it be a new building, or would they re-theme an existing dining location? If we’re talking about a re-theme, I say it’s time to throw Columbia Harbour House overboard. It’s right across the street, and it’s pretty mediocre.

Some other quick rumors and updates from WDW1974…

As the talented Mr. Ripley used to say, you’re free to believe it or… or not.

Should any of these rumors turn out to be true, The Kingdom Insider (and the entirety of the Disney blogosphere) will be there to tell you so.

Stay tuned, foolish mortals…

(“Tom Amity,” I believe, is the codename for Tom Corless of WDW News Today. Apparently he’s not well-liked over on WDW Magic, though I didn’t follow the drama.)

[Hat Tip: Orlando Weekly]

Club 33 Is Coming To Disney World And You’ll Want To Join Immediately

The ultra-private restaurant and bar has a rumored $25,000 membership fee.

Club 33, Disneyland’s famously exclusive members-only hangout, is expanding with four new clubs at Disney World parks, a spokesperson confirmed to Viral Disney.

The original Club 33 is hidden at the top of a staircase in Disneyland’s New Orleans Square, where it was originally intended as a hideaway for Walt Disney to host elite park guests. Becoming a member nowadays is nearly impossible, even if you’re ready to foot the rumored $25,000 membership fee and $12,000 in annual dues.

But soon, even more members will be able to join the fun if they choose.

There are plans to put a Club 33 outpost in each of Disney World’s four Orlando theme parks, each with its own unique look, the spokesperson said. There’s no word on membership fees or process yet, though an official announcement with more details will come in the next few weeks.

Based on what we’ve seen of Disneyland’s Club 33, these new clubs should be utterly secretive and swanky.

There are already Club 33 locations at Shanghai Disney and Tokyo Disneyland, but these new outposts will be the first U.S. locations beyond the California park.

Stateside, Disney parks seem to be going for a more exclusive angle lately: In December, Disney World piloted a set of luxe cabanas in its Magic Kingdom park, and in January, a hidden venue called 21 Royal opened in Disneyland, where guests can host dinner parties for $15,000 per night.

We may never be able to afford these experiences, but they certainly add to the allure that makes a Disney visit so magical. Here’s hoping we score an invite soon!

CANNES BREAKOUT ‘FLORIDA PROJECT’ SHOWS DARKER SIDE OF DISNEY WORLD

CANNES, France — The happiest place on Earth isn’t Walt Disney World.

In the eyes of The Florida Project‘s six-year-old heroine, Moonee (Brooklynn Prince), it’s just down the street at the Magic Castle motel in Kissimmee, Fla., where she lives week-to-week with her unemployed single mother, Halley (Bria Vinaite). Exploring abandoned houses with her friends and bumming money for ice cream from tourists, Moonee is blissfully unaware of their impoverished conditions or the heartbreaking measures Halley takes to scrape by.

The Florida Project, which earned 100% positive reviews on Rotten Tomatoes after its Cannes Film Festival premiere, is the latest film from co-writer/director Sean Baker to focus on marginalized groups, after 2012’s Starlet (about amateur porn stars) and 2015’s Tangerine (which followed trans sex workers). It’s also his first to star a well-known actor: Willem Dafoe, who plays the Magic Castle’s benevolent manager, Bobby.

USA TODAY caught up with Baker in Cannes on Wednesday afternoon to chat about his latest:

Your films shine a light on people living on the margins. Is that a goal of yours?

The last three, four films made me aware of that. It’s not as calculated as it might seem. This film was conceived even before Tangerine, but we couldn’t find the funding for it. So it’s not as if I say, “I finished this film and now I’m onto the next marginalized group!” No, it’s really where my interest goes. And also, I feel like it’s a reaction to what I’m not seeing in film and television. You don’t see nearly enough roles being written for women, women of color, anybody over 40, and people in the (lower) class. It’s my desire to hear those stories.

(Making The Florida Project), I went into the community first before writing to try to figure out what stories needed to be told. For this one, I had already set down the road of focusing on sex work in my last three films and I wanted to continue that. While we could’ve told millions of stories about Route 192 in Florida, we wanted to focus on the struggle of one mother who is going to do whatever she can to keep a roof over her child’s head.

You create such a lived-in world at this motel with authentic characters. What was your research process like? 

It’s really just interviews — taking time to hear stories and meeting as many people as possible. We met a young couple living in the motel that must’ve been in their 20s and they were barely holding on. They were both unemployed, trying to come up with $35 to $45 a night (to pay for a room). They’re the ones who inspired (Halley’s perfume “business”). I asked them how they got by and they said, “Every morning, we go to the wholesale perfumer, buy a bunch and try to sell them to the tourists.”

 Where did you find Bria?

Bria came from Instagram. Yes, she came from this background where she was a selfie girl, but she can be a masterful actor. When she came on board, I asked her to come down to Orlando and meet the kids and act through some scenes. I told her, “Just be that crazy Bria that I see in your Instagram. I want you to bring your youthful energy to this and be on equal terms with Brooklynn, because I want it to be not the traditional maternal relationship we always see. I want to see it as almost a sibling relationship.”

And then we had William Dafoe. I was questioning, “Will he be too recognizable? Would it be hard for the audience to buy into him?” But he was able to transform into Bobby and took the time to do it, too. He came in early before production started to meet with managers of other motels and absorb their mindset.