We’re here with a series of quick posts, “Disney in a Minute,” bite-sized nuggets of information that can better help you understand a Disney term or planning topic. Enjoy!
What is a Pre-show?
Many Disney attractions have pre-shows. Parsing out the phrase, it’s not hard to understand that a pre-show is the thing before a show. At Disney World, however, “show” here really means “attraction” which could be almost any sort of theme park diversion. The pre-show is the entertainment before the main attraction. It is a way to keep guests engaged while waiting for a ride.
Some pre-shows are simply amusing versions of a safety warning. The Soarin’ pre-show is just Patrick Warburton telling us to buckle our seatbelts, but it’s so charming that it’s one of my family’s favorite parts of Epcot.
I must confess that there are several parts of Disney World attractions that I didn’t initially understand to be “pre-show.” The classic example is the Stretching Room portion of the Haunted Mansion attraction. The Stretching room “show” sets the scene and establishes the atmosphere for the main event – the ride on the doom buggy. This particular pre-show has a cult following of its own, even spawning merchandise lines. Other favorite “set the scene” pre-shows are the quick interview with Aerosmith prior to boarding Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster or the welcome spiel where they scan your body temperature on Flight of Passage.
The concept of pre-show has taken on galactic proportions in Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance at Hollywood Studios. This attraction has so many introductory pieces that the pre-show might be nearly as long as the attraction itself.
Whether informative of funny, the aim of the pre-show is to hold you in place without giving you time to become bored or restless.
Let us know what Disney topics you think need just a bit more explanation.
Let me tell you, Central Floridians are excited today. We’re experiencing our first cool day of the season. Temperatures have been in the low to mid 70s (degrees Fahrenheit) today and we are loving it! This also means that the animals at Disney’s Animal Kingdom are more active. It is a great time to visit the park, especially Kilimanjaro Safaris. Climb aboard a safari truck and take a look at the wonderful animal photos we captured on today’s ride.
For two brief months in my life I was a safari driver for Kilimanjaro Safaris. It was one of the coolest experiences of my life being able to see these incredible animals day in and day out. I loved it whenever there was a rare chill in the air, especially first thing in the morning or at the end of the day. The animals interact with their environment in a much different way; they tend to be more curious. It is also a great time to ride when it rains. The animals behave differently (just like humans behave differently) in the rain. If you’re ever in Animal Kingdom when it rains make a beeline for the safari, even if you’ve already ridden it that day.
When riding the safari, it’s good to listen to the safari driver for animal sightings, but it is also good to look around yourself. Sometimes the best views of the animals can be behind you or off to the side. Keep your eyes open and be aware. Snapping photos can be great, but I have found that having memories of the ride itself become more cherished than the photos.
Right now there are no FastPass+ options for any Disney attractions, but Animal Kingdom continues to be the quietest park at Walt Disney World, especially during the week. Our team waited 17 minutes at 11:30 a.m. Midday is typically one of the busiest times for this attraction. The lowest wait times are usually an hour or two before closing. The animals also tend to be active at the end of the day as they are accustomed to heading to their backstage barns at the end of the day and are encouraged to do so through positive reinforcement.
If you want to make the most of your exploration of Animal Kingdom, and all of Walt Disney World, become a TouringPlans Subscriber. You’ll gain access to all of our resources and information, including our Lines App which uses real-time data to give you Expected Wait Times and plans for touring each park.
What’s your favorite tip for riding Kilimanjaro Safaris? Let us know in the comments.
From our friends at touringplans.com Filed Under: Attractions, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Dos and Don’ts, In the Parks, Observations, Photos and Video, Trip Planning, best time to ride disney, disney covid, disney reopening, disney safari ride, disney weather, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Kilimanjaro Safaris
We all knew that the reopening of the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks would see some unique challenges. One such challenge has been for Walt Disney World Annual Passholders who have been unable to make theme park reservations in the new Disney Park Pass system. This is due to there not being days on the calendar available to them, even though day Guests have been able to purchase tickets day of.
As you can see, July has no current availability and August has very limited availability, with almost none on the weekends.
Today, Disney has announced that they are going to add additional Disney Park Pass reservations to Annual Passholders beginning on July 16. Select dates will be added in July and August at the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney would like to stress the fact that this additional Disney Park Pass reservation availability does not reflect an increase in Park attendance. Attendance still remains limited during this reopening period.
In addition, in case you missed it, Disney made another helpful change. Annual Passholders who are staying at a Walt Disney World Resort or other select hotels with valid Theme Park admission are now eligible to make Theme Park reservations for each day of their resort stay(s), in addition to holding up to 3 days of theme park reservations at a time on a rolling basis. Before, you could either have one or the other – not both. Once you use a theme park reservation, you can make another reservation for a future date.
In addition, back in June, Disney let Passholders know that they would be receiving a one-month (30 days) extension to their pass. This additional month will automatically be processed and visible in their My Disney Experience account here soon! So yay!
For those who would rather though, you still can cancel your pass and receive any applicable refund in lieu of the additional month. This option is only available for a limited time and can only be done now through August 11. You can also call V.I.PASSHOLDER Support at 407-939-7277 for assistance.
Welcome back! Walt Disney World is open, and that brings me back to the weather desk to keep an eye on the sky around Central Florida. Do you want a quick recap of what’s been going on while the parks have been closed?
Well, it’s been hot. March was hot. April was hot. In mid-May we had rain almost constantly, and then in June it stopped raining for two weeks and we all melted. There was a record high of 97 degrees at Orlando International Airport! Then the rain came back but it stayed hot. In short… things are pretty normal around here. If you’re visiting the theme parks this summer, be ready for heat, humidity, and strong, sometimes sudden thunderstorms with very heavy rainfall and the potential for extreme situations like flooding, hail, and even brief tornados.
You know, the usual. So what’s coming this week?
This Week’s Weather Factors
Central Florida’s rainy summer days are created by hot, humid air and the collisions of competing sea and lake breezes over the peninsula. Ask most Floridians what a “normal” summer day looks like, and you’ll probably get back “hot until about three o’clock, then a twenty-minute thunderstorm, then even more humid, somehow.”
If that’s normal, there are degrees on either side which are affected by outside influences. Some larger weather features dial the rain back and the heat up, and some features increase the rainfall and storms… sometimes, by a lot.
This week, we are looking at both. For the first few days of the week, above-average heat is in control while storms will mostly gather to the south and east of Orlando. This is caused by a trough along the eastern seaboard of the U.S., which has dried out the airmass over Central Florida. Once it departs, we’ll have a day of “normal” weather: moisture-laden air, a midday collision of Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico sea breezes, and afternoon thunderstorms which pass through on their way to the coast.
The second half of the week, though, some weak upper-level disturbances will flit across the Florida peninsula, and the Atlantic ridge will begin to move north, changing our wind flow from west to east. As this happens, rain chances will go up… and up… and up!
This Week’s Weather at Walt Disney World
For the remainder of Sunday, expect a heat index close to 104 degrees by mid-afternoon. Storm activity will probably concentrate on areas east of the theme parks, moving over the Atlantic coast by evening. That will leave a hot, sticky night for Orlando, with a low around 76.
On Monday, dry air will still be keeping rain chances down across Central Florida. There’s just a 20% chance we’ll see some early afternoon storms, although there might be some lightning visible to our south. Heat index values will peak around 101, and the muggy overnight low will be 76.
On Tuesday, our flow becomes more normal, although it will still be very hot with that west wind. Expect a high of 93 degrees. Afternoon sea breeze storms should pop up mid-afternoon to early evening, with a 50% chance of storms in the area.
Wednesday, a new stream of moisture arrives from the southeast. This steady flow of tropical air will keep rain chances as high as 70% through the weekend. We can expect some heavy rainfall and long-lasting storms to affect the interior of Central Florida during this period. Wednesday’s high will be around 94 degrees.
Thursday through Sunday, expect daily highs around 90 degrees, lows around 75 degrees, and a high expectation of storms each day from midday through evening. With this tropical air streaming in, prepare for soaking rains and the possibility of some wash-out afternoons. I’ll have forecast updates mid-week from @WeatheratWDW on Twitter.
Tropical Weather Outlook for Central Florida
While the Northeast just shook off Tropical Storm Fay, things have been quiet on the tropical front here in Florida. There are currently no weather systems being watched for tropical development in the Atlantic, Caribbean, or Gulf of Mexico.
That’s not unusual for July. The Atlantic’s busiest storm season typically doesn’t pick up steam until August. That’s when storms off the coast of Africa often gain strength as they cross the ocean, before threatening the Caribbean and eventually the east coast of the USA.
As meteorologists now expect a La Niña pattern to emerge off the Pacific coast of South America, it’s possible the 2020 late summer and fall hurricane season could ramp up to record-season strength. La Niña affects worldwide weather patterns, and weakens winds at high altitudes over the Atlantic, allowing warm pockets of air which can nurture strong storm development. The 2020 hurricane season is just getting started… watch this space!
Back in 2018, as part of Disney’s plan to include characters in just about anything, the bird show in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom was revised to become UP! A Great Bird Adventure. Although seeing the birds do their antics is always enjoyable, the addition of the characters into the show felt really forced. When Disney announced their list of attractions that would be reopening, UP! was not on the list. Needless to say, guests to Animal Kingdom were a bit surprised to see showtimes posted on opening day.
Short-answer, UP is out — no more Russell and Dug awkwardly standing on stage. The focus of the show, as it should be, is back on the birds.
The new show, Feathered Friends in Flight, feels more fast-paced and still has audience participation, albeit in a COVID-19-responsible way (a foot powered rocket launches an item in the air for a bird to retrieve instead of having a person throwing it by hand into the air, for instance).
Birds bring out the oohs and aahs as they fly around the (socially distance seating) amphitheater, providing a delightful experience for young and old alike.
In short, this is a significant improvement on its previous incarnation, and a welcome sight at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. If you’re looking for a place to take a break during your day, you could do far worse than stopping by this show.
You’re going on vacation to Walt Disney World! The only problem? You’re not sure which attractions are right for you and your kiddos and you have questions. Which attractions are too intense for little ones? What rides do I really need a FastPass+ reservation for? What’s the disability access like for certain attractions? We’re answering all those questions and more in our Everything You Need to Know attraction series with today’s focus on Kali River Rapids at Disney’s Animal Kingdom!
What is Kali River Rapids?
Kali River Rapids is a whitewater raft ride through a lush Asian rainforest where guests eventually encounter the dangers of a logging site.
Where is Kali River Rapids?
Kali River Rapids is located in the Asia section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom park next to the Maharajah Jungle Trek.
What is the History of Kali River Rapids?
Kali River Rapids opened March 18, 1999, nearly a year after Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s grand opening. The attraction was originally going to be called Tiger Rapids Run but was later changed. However, it does sit next to the Maharajah Jungle Trek where guests may see live tigers, and there’s still a tiger on the sign for the attraction and few tiger-inspired set pieces during the journey.
What You Need to Know About the Queue
The first part of the queue for Kali River Rapids is outdoors and winds through a jungle before leading into the rafting offices for the fictional Kali Rapids Expeditions. Much like the queue for Expedition Everest, the Kali Rapids Expeditions offices are incredibly detailed, immersive, and help tell the story. This part of the queue is partially enclosed, but guests move back outside as they approach the loading platform.
What You Need to Know About the Experience
Once the rafts leaving the loading platform, they float up and onto a slow-moving lift hill. Many guests expect the lift hill to lead to a huge drop, but it doesn’t. Instead, they experience a small dip into the river where a geyser and waterfall are nearby for a little extra splash.
The rafts gently bump and bob down the river before heading into a logging site to see how logging devastates the land and the dangers that it causes. This is also where the rafts slide down a 20-foot slope producing a massive splash!
The raft will then continue its journey down the river, through a small cave, and under a bridge before returning to the station.
The whole ride lasts about 10 minutes, but many guests find the main part of the experience way too short.
What You Need to Know About Getting Soaked
While drenching yourself may sound appealing when visiting during the summer, it can make for an uncomfortable day for so short of a ride. This is even more true when visiting during Florida’s cooler months of the year, especially when going back to your resort mid-day to change into dry, warm clothes was not part of your plan.
If you’re determined to ride Kali River Rapids, consider wearing a poncho, water-resistant clothing, and sandals during your ride. If you’re wearing socks, take them off before riding and/or wrap a bag or poncho around your shoes to prevent them from getting soaked. After all, walking around in wet shoes pretty much guarantees painful blisters.
Fortunately, Kali River Rapids offers free 2-hour locker rentals to the left of the attraction entrance. For peace of mind, store anything here you wouldn’t want to get wet and/or a change of clothes.
What You Need to Know About Ride Vehicles
The large circular raft vehicles seat up to 12 guests in individual plastic chairs with an armrest on one side. There is a fabric lap belt for every two guests to share, and a circular raised platform rising from the center of the raft with a circular bar at the bottom for guests to rest their feet and another at the top for holding on to during the ride. Larger guests may be more comfortable if they have a two-seat section to themselves. Speak with a cast member if you have concerns.
What You Need to Know About Accessibility
Guests must transfer from a wheelchair or ECV to experience this attraction. Due to the nature of the experience, service animals are not permitted on this attraction.
In order to board the attraction, guests will need to take a small step from a moving walkway to the raft and then a small step down into the raft and then move to their seat.
What You Need to Know About Health and Safety Advisories
For safety, you should be in good health and free from high blood pressure, heart, back or neck problems, motion sickness, or other conditions that could be aggravated by this adventure. Expectant mothers should not ride. Expect the raft to spin, to be facing backwards at times, and for dips, drops, and bumpy or jerky movements.
What are the Height Requirements?
Guests must be at least 38 inches tall to experience Kali River Rapids.
Does Weather Affect Kali River Rapids?
Yes. Since Kali River Rapids is an outdoor water attraction, it may close in inclement weather.
What’s the Best Time of Day to Experience Kali River Rapids?
Kali River Rapids gets very popular in the summer due to the notorious Central Florida heat and humidity. Try to ride the first or last hour the park is open or use FastPass+ or the single rider line.
This chart shows you roughly how long you’ll wait for Kali River Rapids when you visit on a day with a given Disney’s Animal Kingdom Crowd Level. The blue bars represent the average “peak” wait time (that is, how long the line will be at its busiest). The bottom and top black lines represent the range of peak wait times to expect (for you fellow nerds out there: it’s the 5th percentile and 95th percentile of peak wait times). Please note that these are estimates, and for a better forecast for your travel dates, see Kali River Rapids Wait Times.
Did I answer all of your questions about Kali River Rapids? Is this attraction at the top of your family’s vacation to-do list? Let us know in the comments.
From our friends at touringplans.com Filed Under: Attractions, Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park, Walt Disney World (FL), Disney Attractions, disney world, Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Kali River Rapids, walt disney world
Two things are true when Disney releases limited edition items: 1) People are going to flock to the parks and shopDisney online to snatch them up and 2) This flocking leads to frustrating experiences for everyone, except eBay pirates. Disney is introducing MerchPass on shopDisney online in hopes of eliminating, or at least reducing, the frustration.
This new program is being introduced alongside the next addition to the Castle Collection. The thing about MerchPass is your entering online for a MerchPass does not guarantee you’ll actually receive the MerchPass. You’re entering for a chance to purchase items. Read that again. You’re entering for a chance to purchase items.
Here’s how the MerchPass works according to shopDisney’s website:
MerchPass Early Access Drawings
How does the drawing work?
Visit the Early Access Drawing page. Be sure to sign up for emails to be in the know of what products are coming out and where to enter for MerchPass drawings.
Log in to your Disney Account or create a new account if you don’t already have one.
Select your item(s).
Click “Submit” to enter the Early Access Drawing.
Look out for an email from shopDisney Merch Pass – Early Access Drawing, email@example.com, to find out whether your entry was selected in the Early Access Drawing. If your entry was selected, you will receive an email by the time noted on the Early Access Drawing page. If you do not receive an email, you were not selected (make sure it’s not in SPAM or Promotions Folders), but check back for other Early Access Drawing opportunities!
IF YOUR ENTRY WAS SELECTED: Item(s) will be automatically added to your Bag. Log in to your Disney Account to complete your purchase by the time designated on the Early Access Drawing page using the link in the notification email.
You can enter the drawing for more than one item, but there is a limit of one entry per product, per person. For more information on shopDisney’s MerchPass I suggest visiting their FAQs page.
Do you think this new system will help? Let us know what you think in the comments.
It was the best of times It was the bestest of times
If Charles Dickens ate what I ate over two dinners last week at Grand Floridian Cafe, that’s how he would’ve started his review. Let’s jump into the reasons why, because – just as I said last week about The Wave’s chefs doing some fantastic cooking – the Grand Floridian Cafe is putting out delicious food with its new summer menu.
The highlight of my first dinner was the Buttermilk Fried Chicken ($24), with “loaded” smashed potatoes, and wilted spinach sprinkled with a warmed bacon vinaigrette. It was delicious, mostly because the chicken’s crust was substantial and crunchy. If you, like I, believe that science has neglected its duty to engineer a Thanksgiving turkey made entirely of crispy skin, you would’ve been overjoyed at the kitchen’s results with this breading. And yes, those are bacon bits on top of the chicken. Because the crust was so crispy (and thick), I was impressed with how the kitchen managed not to overcook the chicken breast during the long fry time.
The sides were equally good, with the tangy vinaigrette on the spinach cutting through the smoothness of the loaded potatoes. I ate all of this.
In fact, it was so good that I did something I almost never do at a Disney restaurant – I ordered it again the next week. And I’m so very glad that I did, because it was even better. Here’s how it came out from the kitchen:
Your first thought is probably “Oh, they brought Len half a fried turkey. Interesting.” It was not, dear reader, a turkey, despite almost reaching both sides of a 12″ dinner plate. It was the largest chicken breast I’ve ever seen. The photo above doesn’t even do it justice, because it stood at least 3″ high off the plate. My first two questions to the server were “Is that a chicken?” and “How did you catch it?”
This week’s version of the chicken breast came in a cornflake batter, which added a hint of nuttiness to the crust. The frying technique was even better than before, the chicken breast more moist and tender than ever. The loaded potatoes were just as good, and I was thankful that the flavor of the vinaigrette had been boosted a bit, because it help cut through the massive amount of chicken on the plate.
Here’s a close-up of the crust, with bits of bacon as God intended:
You won’t be surprised to hear that I couldn’t finish this – I got about two-thirds through it, though. I’ve long thought that the best fried chicken in Walt Disney World was over at Bull and Bear in the Waldorf Astoria (when it’s available). I’m no longer certain that’s true.
The fried chickens were the stars of my meals. Here’s a quick rundown of the other things Laurel and I tried at our visits.
The Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail ($16) had four large shrimp on top of fresh Florida citrus, ribbons of pickled onions, and spinach. Pickled onions are having a moment, and these were perfectly sour. They went well with the citrus to balance out the sweet, sweet shrimp.
We also tried two salads – Laurel went with the Caesar ($8), and I chose the Grilled Romaine Market Salad ($15). Of the two of these, I think the Caesar salad was the better value. Both were large portions and could’ve been split by two people.
I thought the romaine could’ve been left on the grill to develop more char. I would’ve preferred that the carrots, peppers, and squash in the salad were grilled, too, to soften them up a bit and impart additional flavor. When I order this again, I’ll ask for that.
Laurel had the Miso-glazed Salmon ($27) one night. This came with lemon-scented sticky rice, french beans, and a ginger-soy vinaigrette:
The glaze on this salmon was the kind of luscious brown that I imagined Ricardo Montalbán had in mind whenever he said the words “rich, Corinthian leather.” Laurel loved everything about this plate, and said that the saltiness of the soy worked really well with the rice and green beans.
Laurel tried the Impossible Burger ($16) with caramelized onions, plant-based, smoked “Gouda” cheese, and a generous side of huge fries:
Like the fried chicken, these were huge portions and still cooked properly throughout. The fries were very good – creamy inside, crispy and salty on the outside.
We split one dessert one night – the Grand Flo Cafe’s version of Key Lime Pie ($8) with mango sorbet, fresh strawberries, and Key Lime sauce:
This is a bargain at $8 – it’s big enough to split. The pie crust is firm, sweet, and just thick enough to provide some bite. The key lime filling balances sweet and tart pretty well – I thought it was great, while Laurel thought it was too sweet. We both enjoyed the mango sorbet and the strawberries. I’d definitely get this again.
As if the food wasn’t enough, you can order cocktails and other alcoholic drinks with dinner at the Grand Floridian Cafe. Plus, the Grand Flo Cafe accepts Tables in Wonderland discounts. Our first dinner included the shrimp appetizer, fried chicken, and Impossible burger came out to around $60 before the Tables discount and gratuity; our second dinner of two salads, the fried chicken, salmon, Key lime dessert, and one cocktail was around $100 before discount and gratuity.
Here’s the full menu – it’s short, but almost everything on it is done well.
Have you dined at the Grand Floridian Cafe? Does that fried chicken make you drool just looking at it? Let us know in the comments.
This week’s SATURDAY SIXtakes a look at Loews Royal Pacific Resort! Over the course of this weekend, a lot of eyes in this country are going to be watching Florida. Not only do we have the long-awaited reopening of the Disney theme parks, but the sunshine state’s reported COVID-19 cases are going up faster than the amount of people streaming Hamilton on Disney+. It’s easy to understand why many are concerned about going to Orlando, but as we’ve seen over the course of the last month at Universal’s CityWalk, theme parks, and on-site hotels, in many ways they are the safest places you can be in the entire state. This past week I made a trip up to the Universal Orlando Resort to see what was going on at my favorite hotel, the Royal Pacific Resort.
# 6 – Safety First
One of the biggest changes you’ll see at the Royal Pacific (and the Universal Orlando Resort in general) is the amount of constant cleaning happening around. Team Members are constantly wiping surfaces down. This starts right at the front of the resort with valets and bellmen vigorously cleaning the luggage carts, and continues throughout the hotel with the wiping down of anything guests come in contact with. For the guests themselves, there are hand sanitizer stations everywhere, and I mean everywhere. If there is a place where you are reasonably expected to touch a surface (whether it be elevator buttons, a gate to the pool, or at the front desk checking in) there will be hand sanitizer available for you to use. All of the restrooms have large signage outside and inside reminding people to wash their hands as well.
At every access point in the hotel there is a security member doing a temperature check. Once you get your temperature taken, you are given a wristband to wear. There are checkpoints at the hotel lobby, by the bus stop area, and at the water taxi dock.
Each day there is a new wristband color, so you will need to be rechecked. Mask compliance during this stay was 100% from what I saw, which is just amazing to see when the number is nowhere close to that in the cities I live in and work at in Florida. I’ve also seen security and Team Members remind guests to wear their masks correctly (i.e., not below their nose). We’d be lucky if the rest of America had measures half as good as what Universal and Disney have put into place.
Social distance markings have been put on the ground at any place where a queue can be expected to form.
In the lobby there are plexiglas partitions separating guests from the Team Members.
These new lighting fixtures at the check-in desk were installed within the last week or so. They look sharp.
When walking the resort in the morning, I saw that every single floor mat was being replaced. You know it’s morning at the Royal Pacific when you wake up and see all that frost on the windows. It’s the “little things” that resonate with a lot of us that vacation a lot in Orlando, and for the Royal Pacific this is one of the things that just brings a smile to my face.
Over at Universal Studios Florida, Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts ends with Bill Weasley reminding guests that Gringotts Bank is “the safest place on Earth.” If that’s true, than the Club Level at Royal Pacific may be the second safest place. The room is fully equipped with social distance markings, hand sanitizer stations, and highly trained staff. I’m often asked if Club Level at the Universal resorts is “worth it,” and for the most part that’s a personal decision on what matters to you as a guest. For our family, we like that there are a lot of grab and go options for early in the morning when we are going to rope drop the parks. (They even have the coffee station set up outside the room in the morning to make it even faster.) We also like the fact that there is always a vegan option during the dinner hours, and it’s nice to be able to stop by at any time to grab sodas or water bottles. (It doesn’t hurt to have unlimited beer or wine at night either.) While Disney runs its on-site resorts, Universal partners with a luxury hospitality company in Loews Hotels. Because of this partnership, the level of service at all of Universal’s hotels is extremely high, and this is especially true in the Club Level.
# 5 – The South Pacific Theming
Our family has vacationed in many areas of the world, but my absolute favorite place that we have visited was Hawaii. I love the tranquility and relaxing nature that you find there, and that feeling exists in Royal Pacific’s exotic theme. The entire resort is filled with ambiance in the form of landscaping, torches, statues, and water elements. Fresh orchids are found throughout the resort, and the outdoor courtyard near the lobby is amazing with elephants playing in the water (along with a great sign asking guests not to disturb them). The whole resort has an exotic Pacific-region theme that just draws you in, and is the perfect area for either a break during the afternoon after battling the Florida sun, or a great way to unwind after a hard day of hitting the parks.
The entrance into the Royal Pacific may be my favorite in all of Florida. The large covered bridge is lined with cute frogs “playing” instruments.
Among the various pieces of Royal Pacific Resort-branded merchandise is this glassware. One is shaped like a bamboo stalk and the other is a tiki.
OF COURSE I BOUGHT THEM!
How amazing is this bench?!!
There are statues throughout the grounds of the resort.
Over at the Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, there is a Bocce Ball court tying into the Italian theme. At Royal Pacific there is a Croquet Lawn.
A running theme throughout the resort is “travel,” whether by old steamer ships or the air. Along with artwork on the walls, there are scale models of ships and planes as well.
One of the most popular photo-ops in the entire resort is the full-size sea plane located in the lagoon directly outside the Royal Pacific. The storyline behind this plane is that its pilot, Jake McNally, loved island-hopping through Southeast Asia checking out all the local bars. This leads us to….
Jake’s American Bar
Located on the ground floor of Royal Pacific is Jake’s American Bar, a deceptively large table service that has a lot of seating inside, outside, and at the bar. The original theme park resort bar themed to a sea pilot (cough – we’re looking in your direction Jock Lindsey), Jake’s is inspired by the adventures of Captain Jake McNally. Throughout the restaurant you will find references to the golden age of travel, with gorgeous posters featuring exotic locales along with many references to the mysterious disappearance of Captain Jake.
For the “unprecedented times” that we are currently in, Jake’s American Bar has social distancing measures put in place for both the indoor and outdoor seating areas.
We enjoyed eating outside during the pleasant weather we’ve been having. The homemade pretzel rods appetizer is always a hit.
# 4 – The Rooms
Not too long ago, every single room at the Royal Pacific was completely refurbished. The new aesthetic combined the older Polynesian theme with a more modern take on the concept. Standard rooms are 335 square feet–about the size of a room at Disney’s moderate resorts–and feature one king or two queen beds. King rooms sleep up to three people with an optional rollaway bed, and queen rooms sleep five with that rollaway bed. Rooms include a 32-inch flat-panel LCD television, refrigerator, coffee machine, and an alarm clock with a lightning connector iPhone docking port. The refrigerator is an actual “fridge” in that we put a gallon of room temperature water into the fridge when we entered the room, and later that evening it was nicely chilled. Other amenities include a small desk with two chairs, a comfortable reading chair, chest of drawers and large closet. There are several outlets equipped with USB ports located near the beds and desk. As with all the Loews hotels at Universal, the unique lighting features always blow me away.
Every room is thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after each guest checks out, and remains empty for a minimum of 24 hours.
Rooms at the Royal Pacific have a dressing area with sink, and the dressing area is separated from the rest of the room by a wall. Adjacent to the dressing area is the bathroom, with a tub, shower and toilet.
Jurassic World Kids’ Suite
These two-bedroom suites contain one King Bed in one room and two Twin Beds in the dinosaur-loaded second. The kids bedroom beds are covered with rings like the geospheres from the popular Isla Nublar resort of Jurassic World. The bedding, flooring, and wall mural are all dino-themed and even the door and drawers are industrial like a Jurassic Park laboratory. The suites can sleep five with the addition of a roll-in bed. Like the nautical themed kids suites in Sapphire Falls, the door in the kids’ room only leads to main room.
As a kid, I would have flipped out being able to stay in one of these rooms.
You can also get a King Suite, which is a 670 square foot room that features a living room (with pull-out sofa) and a separate bedroom.
While the NBA players are discovering the luxurious rooms inside the Disney bubble, real “ballers” know that the Captain’s Presidential Suite at Royal Pacific just may be the best room at the Universal Orlando Resort. Here how it is described: You’ll be swept away by the lush and exotic grandeur of out aristocratic Presidential Suites. This expansive 1,340 square foot suite becomes your own exclusive island retreat comes complete with a large dining and conference area, separate study area, service pantry with refrigerator & separate sink, one and one-half bathroom, oversized shower, and luxurious furnishings. I’ve lived in many an apartment that were smaller than this hotel room.
A TV is built into the bathroom mirror.
The shower in the Captain’s Presidential Suite just may be the greatest in the history of man. Not only is there a rainfall shower head above you, and the now-standard shower head attachment that you can detach, but there are three jets on the wall that also have water spraying at you. It’s an incredible experience.
The room service menu at Royal Pacific features many items from the hotel’s restaurants, including Jake’s American Bar. You can have a complete contactless experience, in which the items are left at your door. When we ordered food (and later, towels) they were delivered by a cart. When I answered the door, the Team Member stepped back, allowing me to pick up the items.
One item we ordered was the vegetable spring rolls, which are an appetizer at Island’s Dining Room.
We also ordered the vegan “lasagna.” This is an entree at Jake’s American Bar. It is comprised of vegan cheese, zucchini, squash, eggplant, potatoes, roasted red peppers, hummus, vegan bolognaise, and tomato sauce.
The “lasagna” was incredible, and the best item we had during our entire trip (which included eating at CityWalk and the parks).
I thought the bottle of ketchup that we got at Jake’s American Bar was small, but apparently that was the supersized version compared to the bottle of Tabasco we got from room service.
Room Service offers a kids’ menu along with a Loews Loves Pets menu, where you can order items like “Bow Wow Beef.”
“Dinner is served.”
# 3 – Pet Friendly
As you can see the Royal Pacific is pet friendly, which means you can bring your favorite furry friend. You are allowed up to two pets per room, and the cost is $100 per length of stay. For this trip we traveled with Bacini, the official dog of DisTwitter. We’ve had great experiences bringing Bacini with us to Orlando and having him stay at various kennels, including Best Friends Pet Resort over at Walt Disney World, but because of the coronavirus many of these places have adjusted the hours for which you could visit your pet, as they have reduced staffing at night. It’s completely understandable, but when you have a very demandingspoiled rotten loveable pup like Bacini, you want to be around them more. So for this trip, we brought him with us.
It’s great that we can now take Bacini with us to Disney and stay at some of their dog-friendly hotels, but each of those venues (including the Yacht Club and Art of Animation) had dog relief areas shoehorned into them. Royal Pacific was built with pets in mind, so the dedicated area for them is just a much better experience.
There’s even statues in the pet park!
The pet park area is huge, and is shaped like a large “L.”
This was actually Bacini’s second time at Royal Pacific’s pet park, as we stopped by on trip last year while staying at a different resort.
There is also a dedicated entrance from the hotel leading to the pet park.
With outdoor seating at the restaurants, it allowed us to spend more time with Bacini at the resort.
# 2 – The Lagoon Pool
The lagoon-style pool at the Royal Pacific Resort is massive. While it is the only Premier resort pool at Universal without a slide, it does feature the gigantic Royal Bali Sea interactive water play area connected to the pool. This play area is themed to a ship, features water cannons, and seemingly dumps about a million gallons of water on the people playing around it. When I was a kid all the pools were the same shape: a rectangle. If pools and play areas existed like this, I’m not even sure my parents would have been able to drag me away to go to the theme parks.
For adults, there is plenty of (social distanced) seating, a white sand beach, zero entry, cabanas, and the Bula Bar & Grille. The pool area offers towels, magazines, and newspapers to read while laying out in the sun, and games such as ping pong. While there is plenty of covered seating at the Bula Bar, servers will come out to the pool area to deliver drinks and food. Our recommendation: Shipwrecked Loaded Nachos (but you can’t go wrong with the Char Siu pork lettuce wraps either).
Ducks have been a controversial subject in the theme park world this week (don’t worry, if you don’t know what I’m talking about we’ll cover it later in the annual Turkey of the Year Awards), but it is always nice seeing ducks enjoying the pool area at Royal Pacific. Is there anything cuter than baby ducklings following their mother around?
Outside the lagoon pool area is a relaxing beach area where you can relax the day away while the water taxis make their way back and forth. This was also the very same place where the next level bonkers ending to Sharknado 3 was filmed.
# 1 – The Location and BENEFITS
Disney has several resort areas where location is king. Who doesn’t want to stay at one of the monorail resorts and enjoy a quick ride over to the Magic Kingdom? A stay at Disney’s BoardWalk is a hop, skip, and a jump away from both EPCOT and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Because of the compactness of Universal, a room at the Royal Pacific is within walking distance to everything at the Universal Orlando Resort. You’re less than 10 minutes door to door from your room to Toothsome or Voodoo Doughnut. Unlike the Contemporary, where your walk to the Magic Kingdom includes a stoplight and waiting for traffic, your walk from the Royal Pacific is along a gorgeous garden walkway filled with lush landscaping. One of my favorite things in Orlando is walking from Royal Pacific to the parks, because as you venture further towards CityWalk, the Ocean Trader Market background music from Islands of Adventure’s Port of Entry begins to get louder and louder. It truly is magical.
You don’t have to walk if you don’t want to, as Universal provides complimentary water taxis to CityWalk. It’s also worth noting that the water taxis service only their home resort, so you don’t have to wait long for one or have to sit as they make multiple stops like Disney’s resort watercraft.
For this trip, we were spending a day at Volcano Bay, so we were going to take bus transportation over to the park as the water taxis only service CityWalk and Universal’s two theme parks. As is almost always is the case with Universal buses, as we walked up to the bus area there was a bus pulling in.
I wanted to time how long the bus ride to Volcano Bay would take, so I started my stopwatch as soon as the bus started moving away from Royal Pacific.
Less than three minutes later, we arrived at Volcano Bay. Now, I figured it would be pretty quick, but I didn’t realize it would be even quicker than walking to Volcano Bay from Sapphire Falls.
One of the great benefits of staying onsite at at Universal hotel, including Royal Pacific, is the early access to the theme parks and Volcano Bay. For the first time ever, we were first in line at the turnstiles for a park opening.
Having the early park admission at Volcano Bay is incredible as all the open attractions have zero wait. For this trip we were actually able to ride the Krakatau aquacoaster three times in a row without even having to get back in line!
Even better, not only does staying at the Royal Pacific give you early park admission to the Wizarding World over at the theme parks, your room key is also an unlimited express pass. This means you can ride your favorite attractions like Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk Coaster, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, or Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts over and over again with little to no wait.
Honorable Mention – Tuk Tuk Market
We mentioned the rooms at the Royal Pacific had undergone a complete refurbishment. Once that was done, the hotel focused on completely transforming the lobby. This included adding a much-needed quick service location in Tuk Tuk Market. While other hotels like Cabana Bay and Surfside have a dedicated Starbucks location, Tuk Tuk serves Starbucks coffee along with a wide variety of grab-and-go items, ice cream, and made-to-order hot foods.
This gorgeous chandelier now hangs above the lobby bar area.
Seating at the bar is very guest friendly. Looking forward to experiencing this once the world gets more back to normal.
The lighting fixtures next to the bar look like hanging lanterns. Just a great design choice.
The Royal Pacific Resort’s incredible refillable mug was released shortly before the theme parks closed down in March. I absolutely love that it pays tribute to the playful elephants in the lobby courtyard.
The worst part of a trip to Royal Pacific?
The Ride Home…
I think I know what he is dreaming of…
So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Spends a Night at Loews Royal Pacific Resort!See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! articles covering the latest from the Disney Outlet Stores. You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).
If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following:
This week on Getting to Know Universal we are back in the parks to cover the iconic Leaky Cauldron restaurant. Located inside Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, the Leaky Cauldron serves English pub food based on London dishes.
Universal Studios’ version of Leaky Cauldron foregoes the secrecy and is only accessible from Diagon Alley; look for the hanging sign featuring a witch and cauldron across from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes. Leaky Cauldron’s interior mimics the one seen in the movies with communal seating and a (fake) inn above the guests.
The Food & Drink
Leaky Cauldron features fresh British pub food such as fish and chips, stews, meat pies, and sausages. Entrees come with a side of either salad, vegetables, or potato wedges. The star of the menu is the Ploughman’s Platter, a feast for two including salad, several types of cheeses, crusty bread, and fried Scottish eggs. For less-adventurous eaters a grilled chicken breast sandwich is available; do not expect to find burgers or chicken tenders here. Kids options include fish and chips, mac and cheese, and a mini pie.
As with all Wizarding World locations, no Coke products are offered. Instead, totally unique and new drinks were created for the land and this restaurant. The famous Butterbeer is offered in frozen and cold varieties along with Tongue-Tying Lemon Squash (fizzy lemonade), Otter’s Fizzy Orange Juice (fizzy OJ), Peachtree Fizz Tea (fizzy peach tea), and Pumpkin Juice on tap (fizzy apple juice with pumpkin spices–notice a trend?). If you are adventurous try the boba Fishy Green Ale with flavors of mint and blueberry boba.
For adults, there are imported British beers like Strongbow, Heinekin, and New Castle on tap and exclusive beers, Wizards Brew and Dragon Scale, brewed by Florida Beer Company.
Breakfast is also offered but we advise to avoid; items are either “college dorm” levels of quality or severely overpriced. We advise you to skip breakfast and hit Leaky Cauldron up for an early lunch instead.
Leaky Cauldron receives a 91% approval rating on Touring Plans, ranking it a top 10 counter service location at Universal Orlando. While we cannot recommend breakfast, I always find myself at Leaky Cauldron for fish and chips or a pie at least once per trip. A trip to the Leaky Cauldron is a must-do for any Potter fan.
Have you eaten at the Leaky Cauldron? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
You may recall that back in the fall of 2019, it was announced that FuelRod — the service with locations sprinkled around Disney that allows you to pay once for a portable charger and then swap it out for a free one each time you needed more power — would begin charging for swaps at Disney properties. You may also recall that that announcement was met with predictable outrage from the Disney community, that a class action lawsuit was filed against the manufacturer of FuelRod, and that FuelRod reversed course and kept the swaps free. Well, what you may not realize is that while that resolved the issue in the short term, the lawsuit continued. The matter has now been settled, however, and we finally know how this service is going to work going forward.
In conjunction with the settlement, FuelRod has agreed to the creation of what it is calling a “Founders’ Club,” and if you owned a FuelRod as of that October announcement, you’re eligible to become a member. The focus of the lawsuit was that in conjunction with the initial purchase, FuelRod promised to provide “Free Unlimited Swaps,” and as part of the settlement, they have agreed to provide that for members of the Founders’ Club. You’ll download an app, create an account, and any time you need to swap out your device, the app will give you a QR code that you will scan at the kiosk. That QR code will allow you to swap for a fresh charger for free, even if FuelRod chooses to charge new customers to swap going forward.
To take advantage of the settlement, and become a member of the Founders’ Club, you need to do the following:
Set up an account using the same email address as indicated in the questionnaire.
If you are already a user of the app or otherwise in FuelRod’s database, watch your email for a message that will allow you to quickly click to verify your eligibility.
For any questions or assistance in verifying and activating their account, customers can call FuelRod’s customer service number (844) 383-5763, or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have any questions about the litigation, you can contact James Rosemergy, who represented the Plaintiff in the case.
Consumers who did pay to swap their device at any time will have the charge automatically refunded to the card used to pay for the swap without further action on their part. This agreement applies to the current generation of FuelRods only, but FuelRod has not announced plans to introduce a new version, and has agreed to refrain from doing so for a minimum of two years.
Disneyland Resort’s Downtown Disney has reopened new health and safety measures in place. In this post we’ll take a look at these new procedures and go over what guests can expect during their visit.
These signs can be seen as you aproch the entrance from either Harbor boulevard or the screening area near Disneyland Hotel. All guests must go through a temperature screening. It’s a simple process which includes you standing there and a Disney cast member scanning your forehead with an infrared thermometer. It only takes a couple of seconds and then you are cleared to go in.
The temperature screen tent us located in the area that is usually used for bus transport to and from the Toy Story parking lot.
The social distancing markers can be seen at the entrance in to Downtown Disney and at the queues for many shops and restaurants.
Signs with information about the safety measures in place at Downtown Disney.
Many hand washing and hand sanitation stations have been set up throughout Downtown Disney and the esplanade.
Taking a look at the Disney California Adventure entrance you can see barriers set up between the turnstiles and where the cast members would be located.
The same setup can be seen over at the Disneyland entrance as well.
All stores in Downtown Disney are limiting the amount of people they let in. Most of them have queues set up, but World of Disney and The Disney Dress Shop use a virtual queue system to gain entry. You provide a Disney cast member your phone number and then you’ll get a text when it’s your turn to enter.
Once inside you’ll see signs and cast members enforcing social distancing rules.
Inside World of Disney.
Disney face masks are available for purchase, 4 for $20.00.
Disneyland 65th birthday merchandise available at World of Disney.
As you can see, there’s a lot of new items for Disneyland’s anniversary.
One last look at World of Disney before we head out.
Some restaurants remain closed, but others, such as Naples and Uva Bar remain open with only limited outdoor seating.
Here’s the locations that are currently open:
Both Starbucks locations
Asian Street Eats by
Black Tap Craft Burgers & Shakes
Disney’s Pin Traders
Earl of Sandwich
Rinse Bath & Body Co.
Salt & Straw
Sugarboo & Co.
The Disney Dress Shop
The LEGO Store
Uva Bar & Cafe
World of Disney
The following locations remain closed at this time:
Ballast Point Brewing Co.
La Brea Bakery Cafe
Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen
Splitsville Luxury Lanes
Downtown Disney is open 10:00 AM to 8:00 PM daily. Both Disneyland, Disney California Adventure, and the three Disneyland Resort hotels remain closed. Parking for Downtown Disney is only available in the Simba parking lot on the corner of Katella and Disneyland Drive.
For this installment of our “Better Know a…” series, we’re checking out Asian Street Eats, a counter service restaurant in the Downtown Disney District.
What is Asian Street Eats?
Asian Street Eats is a walk-up counter service restaurant serving casual Asian-inspired fare from Chef Hung Huynh, winner of Season 3 of Bravo’s Top Chef.
Where is Asian Street Eats?
Asian Street Eats is located on the far western side of Downtown Disney, past the Monorail Station and just before you would get to the Disneyland Hotel. Walking from the esplanade, it will be on your right-hand side.
What You Need to Know About the Menu at Asian Street Eats
Don’t let the “quick service” label dissuade you — Asian Street Eats is one of the better options for food at Downtown Disney, especially with many of the table service restaurants remaining closed for the time being. The menu is fairly limited — primarily bowls and scallion pancake wraps with your choice of chicken, beef, or tofu, but the food at Asian Street Eats is excellent, especially for the price.
What the Dining Experience Is Like at Asian Street Eats
Asian Street Eats essentially presents a grab-and-go sort of concept. It’s intended to be quick food that you can eat more or less on the go.
What are Some Items to Target at Asian Street Eats?
Chef Hung’s food is very good, and you’re really not going to go wrong with any of the options; it’s just a matter of personal preference as to which protein you prefer.
What You Need to Know About Accessibility for Asian Street Eats
Asian Street Eats is fully accessible and should not present any unique challenges for visitors in wheelchairs or ECVs. There is no need for a guest to get out of a mobility device.
Does Weather Affect Asian Street Eats?
In a word, yes. The entire operation is outdoors, both the ordering area and the surrounding area where you might eat. If it’s raining, you’re going to get wet.
What is a Good Time to Visit Asian Street Eats?
Asian Street Eats is not large, but a simple menu means they are generally able to turn around food fairly quickly, making it a good option for quick, quality food pretty much any time. With that said, waits will be longest at the apex of lunch and dinner times.
Are you a fan of Asian Street Eats? What’s your favorite dish? Let us know in the comments!
Earlier this week, Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom began reopening and many Disney fans had mixed emotions, myself included. One of the ways I am working through my concerns is to focus on the attractions and activities that are outdoors. I would much prefer to remain outside as much as possible for the foreseeable future. So, if you’re like me and feel more comfortable with outdoor activities right now, you may find it helpful to think about the best outdoor activities at Walt Disney World.
I put together a quick list of outdoor activities at Magic Kingdom. Now let’s take a look at EPCOT. This park is having a rough time. In the middle of its massive transformation it shut down, like the rest of Walt Disney World. Its future and relaunch is now on shaky ground. Moreover, every single ride in this park is indoors, other than the Friendships – which are more of a mode of transportation than an attraction. Thankfully, EPCOT is full of beautiful scenery, architecture, and entertainment that are outdoors.
Best Outdoor Activities in Future World
Test Track does have one outdoor portion, but the vast majority of the attraction is indoors.
Future World West gardens – one of the ways I remember Future World West vs. East is that West has beautiful water features. W is for West and for water. (Can you tell I have a toddler?) With EPCOT’s lack of outdoor attractions, just strolling and appreciating the scenery of Future World West is a treat itself.
Yesterday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis extended a mandatory quarantine order for residents of the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut tri-state area. According to the order, residents of those three states must immediately quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Florida.
Here’s the nesting doll of FL Executive Orders that cover this topic.
I hereby direct all persons who enter the State of Florida from an area with substantial community spread, to include the New York Tri-State Area (Connecticut, New Jersey and New York), to isolate or quarantine for a period of 14 days from the time of entry into the State of Florida or the duration of the person’s presence in the State of Florida, whichever is shorter. This Order shall not apply to persons employed by the airlines and those performing military, emergency or health response. This Order shall take effect immediately and apply retroactively to all persons who have entered Florida after being in any area with substantial community spread within the previous 14 days. All persons isolating or quarantining under this Section shall be responsible for all costs associated with their isolation or quarantine, including transportation, lodging, food, medical care and any other expenses to sustain the person during the period of isolation or quarantine.
Order 20-80 also states:
This Executive Order shall expire upon the expiration of Executive Order 20-
52, including any extensions. [emphasis mine]
(The means of executing Order 20-82 was detailed in Executive Order 20-86 on March 27, which set up roadway checkpoints and other modes of identifying travelers from the tri-state area.)
Executive Order 20-82 was set to expire at the end of the valid term of of Order 20-52, which was 60 days after March 9. This means that the initial term that covered NY/NJ/CT quarantining upon arrival in FL was supposed to end on May 7, 2020.
So far, this makes sense. In mid-March, New York was awash in Coronavirus, while Florida was a relative safe zone.
On April 29, Executive Order 20-112 specifically extended Orders 20-80 and 20-82 (the mandatory tri-state quarantine for) until July 7. This was further strengthened by May 8th’s, Executive Order 20-114 which continued the state of emergency established in Order 20-52 for an additional 60 days.
Again, at the time this made sense. New York was still a hot spot in late April, while Florida did not have as many active COVID cases.
Fast forward to July 7, when NY/NJ/CT case prevalence was largely under control and Florida’s cases were running rampant.
Despite the vast change in circumstances, on July 7 Executive Order 20-166 extended the FL state of emergency (originally outlined in Order 20-52 and extended by Order 20-114) by an additional 60 days, until September 5, 2020.
So, since the tri-state quarantine was ordered to remain in effect until Order 20-52 expired, this means that the rule remains, even though NY is now much safer than Florida. The penalty for non-compliance is, “punishable by imprisonment not to exceed 60 days, a fine not to exceed $500, or both.”
Complicating matters is a similar tri-state area quarantine mandate which applies to residents of now 19 states. Travelers from these states (AL, AR, AZ, CA, DE, FL, GA, IA, ID, KS, LA, MS, NC, NV, OK, SC, TN, TX, and UT) must quarantine for 14-days. Those violating the quarantine could face up to a $10,000 fine.
So, and we’re finally getting to the relevant part for Touring Plans readers. If you live in the NY/NJ/CT area, and are planning to visit Walt Disney World, you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days upon your arrival in Florida. Then, you’ll have to quarantine for 14 days upon your return home from Florida. So if you want to go to Disney World, you’re looking at a month of sitting around, plus your time on vacation.
I am NOT a lawyer, so forgive me if I’m misreading these orders. But, since the language above states, “I direct all persons who enter the State of Florida from an area with substantial community spread … to isolate or quarantine for 14 days,” this could mean that, while NY, NJ, and CT are singled out, it is possible the Florida quarantine rule would also apply to other areas with community spread – which is essentially the entire list of 19 states that New York is now requiring to quarantine. Meaning that, theoretically, someone coming to Walt Disney World from, say, Georgia, would also have to isolate upon arrival, though they would not currently have to isolate upon their return home.
Though enforcement is likely to be spotty, the letter of the law is indeed cumbersome. And, as always, all of this is subject to change at a moment’s notice.
With the uncertainty about quarantine requirements, has this changed your plans for a 2020 vacation to Walt Disney World? Let us know in the comments.
With the recent opening of Magic Kingdom, it is fair to make comparisons to other theme parks to see how things are the same or different. Shortly after its reopening last month, my family and I visited the LEGOLAND resort. This park in Winter Haven, Florida, opened on June 1, several days before SeaWorld and Universal Orlando. As you read this, you will find out what cleaning, social distancing, dining, and changes to attractions LEGOLAND came up with. This post was drafted by my 9-year-old son and revised by my considerably older self. We arrived at the LEGOLAND Florida Resort on June 14, less than a two weeks after the resort opened to the public after its multi-month closure.
The first thing LEGOLAND has done is to put red brick stickers that say STAND HERE in every line. The red bricks are spaced out to keep people social-distanced. Each party should stand on a red brick. When the red brick in front of the party is open, the party should move up. In queues with switchbacks, the red bricks were staggered so that one group would not stand right next to another. Sadly, when we were at LEGOLAND not many people were standing on their red bricks. There was no enforcement to make them stand on a red brick. On the bright side, the red bricks helped a bit.
The next thing LEGOLAND has done is recommend masks. Cute signs conveyed this message and that groups should distance from each other, but in this case “recommend” meant that very few guests wore masks. All the workers, however, were required to wear masks – even microphoned performers at the hotel. (On a related note, all guests had to pass a temperature screening before entering the park or hotel; hotel guests received a wristband and were thereafter not subject to subsequent checks at the hotel or park.)
In the past we have been fortunate to visit LEGOLAND Florida on slow days; my general impression is that the park’s location in Winter Haven (a 30-minute drive after you leave Interstate 4) is a deterrent to most tourists. The crowds were similar to other times we had been to LEGOLAND – very low. Even though ride throughput was adjusted to keep parties apart, there was no wait for most rides. In the park’s many outdoor sections, it was easy to avoid other guests. The only places we felt near other people were in certain walled-in queues and at The Big Shop just after park closing.
Food and Drink
Most of the dining at LEGOLAND was closed. This has been true during other slow times we have visited the park, but this time it was even more restricted, with only a three or so venues where you could get an actual meal. (Rest assured that Granny’s Apple Fries and Firehouse Ice Cream were open, so we got our non-meal fix just fine.) There were lines at some venues, and guests made an effort to separate themselves from other groups. Counter-service venues in the park had plexiglass separating guests from employees, and only plastic payments were accepted (the plastic payment still had to be handed around the plexiglas). In addition, only The Big Shop near the park entrance and shops integrated into attraction exits were operational. The other major shopping venues in the center of the park were shuttered.
At the LEGOLAND hotels, breakfast is included in the room rate, so breakfast was served at both Bricks Family Restaurant and Shipwreck Restaurant. Bricks changed its self-serve buffet into sort of a school cafeteria-type of restaurant. There, guests walked the food line in socially distanced groups, pointing and food and requesting that a worker put the desired items on a tray. The tray was given to the guests at the end of the line. We were sad that no LEGO waffles were available, but the food was good. Getting beverages could be a bit chaotic; basically guests had to tell workers what they wanted from machines designed for self-service. Shipwreck Restaurant took a different approach, serving its food “family-style,” with the server bringing a large plate with everything (you can request more of any item), along with drinks.
Just like grocery stores that I’ve visited, LEGOLAND shut down its water fountains. Any location with a soda fountain (including staffed Coca-Cola Freestyle refill stations) would provide a small cup of water free of charge, but this was time consuming if you wanted to collect water for your whole family or to fill an entire personal water bottle.
LEGOLAND has implemented new cleaning processes, and that increased our waits in line on a few occasions. While one of the workers was cleaning a ride, we asked about the process. He said that rides are shut down every 30 minutes, when touchable surfaces are cleaned with a disinfectant that must be sprayed-on, allowed to work for 5 minutes, and then wiped off. At the LEGOLAND water park, rafts were cleaned after every use. In places with big bins of play bricks, some sort of spray-based sanitization happened at regular intervals.
At the LEGOLAND Hotel (which is expensive, even with a Passholder rate), the room was clean on check-in, but there was no housekeeping, so bathrooms were not cleaned, beds were not made, etc. (This is common in other hotels right now, too.) A bag of towels and other items was dropped off just inside our hotel room door each day, and other items could be requested by calling housekeeping. In the lobby, huge bins of bricks were available for play, and they were sanitized regularly. Children’s resort activities continued, but performers wore masks and did their activities (LEGO building classes, building competitions, stories, etc.) in more spread-out areas than usual.
Other Operational Notes
LEGOLAND did not have any major changes to attractions, but there were several noticeable differences to operations:
LEGO bricks meant to keep kids entertained while in line were removed from queues, although the Indoor Imagination Zone and the LEGOLAND Hotel had plenty of bricks to play with.
Hand sanitizer stations were at each attraction at at hotel elevators. Detailed hand-washing instructions were on restroom windows.
All toddler play areas and playgrounds were closed, as was the baby care center.
The 4D movie theater had areas blocked of for social distancing, with every third row in use and all aisle seats blocked off.
Some rides naturally provided safe spacing, while others left a row or two between groups.
The Great LEGO Race’s virtual reality goggles were removed.
Overall, things at LEGOLAND were mostly “normal”, and that was jarring for us. This was especially true walking around the hotel, where almost no one wore masks. While in the park, most of our time was spent in open-air environments, and waits were short enough that we were seldom around other groups for long. There were some situations (like exiting rides) where we got close to other groups, but that did not last long. Entering the attractions, the red squares remind people to stay in their groups, but we saw kids run right past these on a few occasions (people get excited when rushing toward a ride), plus it’s not like a family of six can fit on a single square. Workers were not proactively enforcing the use of the red squares, but I felt like groups were generally mindful of the personal space of others.
The only time that I felt uncomfortable from a health perspective was at The Big Shop (the main LEGOLAND Florida store) at park closing, which is undoubtedly its most popular time of day. The park limits the number of patrons in the store, but it’s literally an indoor big shop where folks can roam freely, and – as you’d expect in a theme park – lots of children were excitedly milling about. In contrast, I also visited Disney Springs during this trip, and nearly everyone was wearing a mask, both indoors and out. Although some folks will always disregard rules, requirement vs. recommendation makes a big difference in guest behavior.
LEGOLAND Florida is a fun park for families with pre-teen children. That has not changed, and my family’s trip was enjoyable. Although the experience has changed a bit, slightly lower wait times and less physical crowding made touring a bit better. This may not, however, be a sustainable way to operate: LEGOLAND Florida laid off workers last week, so its recent business did not justify the staffing levels the resort had when I visited. We like the park, and I am glad to have supported it in 2020.
To all who come to this happy place, welcome back! It is with an equal balance of elation and trepidation that the reopening of Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom has arrived. The world’s most attended theme park reopened yesterday for Cast Member and affinity previews. Capacity was limited and TouringPlan’s own Len Testa was on hand to experience the first day of Magic Kingdom in the new, temporary, reality. Let’s take a look at some of the measures in place and what it is actually like to be inside a Disney theme park as this new chapter begins.
The security checkpoint now offers individual clear plastic bags for guests to place loose objects into when going through the bag check and temperature check area. Temperatures checks are performed by employees of AdventHealth, one of Florida’s largest healthcare and hospital organizations.
Plenty of Disney characters are on hand to welcome you back, except they arrive in short cavalcade style experiences that are not announced ahead of time. This is in hopes of preventing crowding ahead of time. It is important for guests to be mindful of social distancing especially during these impromptu appearances as excitement can easily outweigh caution.
The queues for attractions have ground markings to help with physical distancing and hand sanitizing stations at the entrances and exits. In fact, all attractions, restaurants, and stores have sanitizing stations at the entrances and exits. The ride vehicles of many attractions, such as The Jungle Cruise, have plexiglass on them where practical. For many attractions, like Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, guests are seated at every other row. Select seats are also marked off as unavailable at show-based attractions.
There are lots of precautions with dining, as well. Tables are marked as unavailable to allow for physical distancing. QR codes are used instead of traditional menus. At Liberty Tree Tavern the waiting area has benches that are spaced apart. Be Our Guest Restaurant had less space in the ordering area at certain moments, but overall spacing was kept.
Our field research team has visited Disney Springs and now Magic Kingdom, and they have some important tips.
Bring a couple of masks, as you will sweat. (And it is Florida in the summer, so you will be caught in the rain.)
Make sure you wash your hands any time you touch your mask, including putting it on and removing it. Keep this in mind if you chose to use the Relaxation Stations.
Drink water and hydrate.
Pay attention in queue lines and follow the ground markings.
Use the hand sanitizer provided and wash your hands when you can.
Have fun, take breaks, stay hydrated, and be diligent about your health and the safety of others.
Most of all, have a magical time.
It is fascinating to compare Magic Kingdom’s first day of operation and its final day of operation back in March. You can view the photos of that day here. We’ll continue to have news and updates about Walt Disney World and other happenings in Orlando as we all continue to work through these ever-changing times.
Ahoy, mateys! I’m Heather, and I’ll be bringing you the up and coming on all things Disney Cruise Line. Welcome back again this week. Let’s see what’s new in the DCL world!
It’s been awhile since we’ve shared the latest specials that are available on DCL. However, with last week’s announcement of the flexible date change policy, it has renewed a spark of hope for the future of cruising, maybe even a return in 2020! This girl is SO ready for a vacation again! There are a decent number of specials currently available for booking, check them out:
Pretty good options, right? It’s hard not to want to speculate on the October 10 date being the earliest available…the Dream and Fantasy sailings are currently canceled through September 15. Is this an omen of more cancellations to come? Or a beacon of hope for the return of cruising? Feel free to cast your glass half empty/half full vote in the comments!
While you are home waiting for your next cruise, how about a little DIY pirate craft? The Disney Parks Blog has a fun 3-D paper craft featuring your favorite characters in pirate gear, which you can download and make at home. Craft up, me hearties!
The Disney Cruise Line Update is brought to you by Storybook Destinations. Storybook Destinations specializes in Disney travel, is consistently highly rated by our readers, and is owned by our own blogger extraordinaire, Tammy Whiting. Storybook also offers free subscriptions to TouringPlans to clients with qualified bookings.
It is hard to believe that soon the gates to Walt Disney World’s theme parks will open for the first time in what feels like forever. Many people are apprehensive with Walt Disney World’s theme parks reopening. I am one of the apprehensive folks.
One of the ways I am dealing with this apprehension is to focus on the attractions and activities that are outdoors. I would much prefer to remain outside as much as possible for the foreseeable future. So, if you’re like me and feel more comfortable with outdoor activities right now, as opposed to indoors where air recirculates easily, then this list of best outdoor activities at Magic Kingdom is for you.
Best Outdoor Activities in Tomorrowland
Tomorrowland Transit Authority – PeopleMover
Best Outdoor Activities in Fantasyland
Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (partially indoors)
Prince Charming Regal Carrousel
Dumbo the Flying Elephant
Mad Tea Party
Casey Jr. Splash ‘n’ Soak Station (status – not part of the July 2020 reopening)
Barnstormer Starring The Great Goofini (status – not part of the July 2020 reopening)
Best Outdoor Activities in Liberty Square
Liberty Belle Riverboat
Tom Sawyer Island
The rocking chairs near Hall of Presidents or outside Liberty Tree Tavern–yes these count as an attraction in my book
Best Outdoor Activities in Frontierland
Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade (status – not part of the July 2020 reopening)
Big Thunder Mountain
Best Outdoor Activities in Adventureland
The Jungle Cruise
The Magic Carpets of Aladdin
Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse
Another favorite outdoor activity of mine is to view the windows on Main Street U.S.A. The merchandise shops have precious displays, but don’t forget to look up so you can see windows that pay tribute to Disney leaders who have made an impact on the company. There’s also the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, which is an interactive role-playing game that encompasses multiple lands.
You can learn more about the best strategies for enjoying a day at the Magic Kingdom here.
You may recall that several months ago, I had a microchip implanted in my hand with an eye towards seeing if I could get that chip to duplicate the functionality of my MagicBand as kind of a Disney biohacking experiment. You may also recall that back in early March, I went on a fact-finding mission to Walt Disney World to see if I could get it to work. And you may recall as well that at the time, the answer was a resounding “no.”
Well, in the last installment, I had indicated that part of the problem was getting around the security features baked into Disney’s MagicBands, and that a big part of the challenge was trying to make it appear that the chip in my hand was Disney’s own device, rather than a third-party RFID tag. One suggestion for how to get around that was to literally use Disney’s own media by taking an existing MagicBand, removing the RFID components, and having THAT implanted into your hand. I had indicated at the time that someone had indeed had the tags put into a custom chip, but that they had not yet had the opportunity to have it implanted or try it out, which was the best information I had to me at the time.
Short story short, that was apparently incorrect. Someone HAS had that custom chip implanted, she DID have the opportunity to test it out before everything shut down, and…
I want to introduce you to Jen a/k/a Mrs. Fett, the world’s first legit Disney cyborg, who succeeded where I could not. She had a custom chip manufactured by Dangerous Things from an existing MagicBand, and had that chip surgically implanted in her right wrist. She’s confirmed that it works, and I was excited to have the opportunity to sit down with her recently to talk to her about the experience on her nightly stream. You can see the whole exchange here, but I’ve excerpted some of the highlights below:
How did you decide to do this?
About two years ago, I was introduced to biohacking, and I got my first little NFC sticker that went underneath my nail. And that was how I was opening up my hotel rooms. And that’s snowballed into “okay, well, I wonder if there’s a better way to do this” and that led me to Amal [from Dangerous Things]. I live in Celebration, which is five minutes from Disney World, and I always had my MagicBand on. And it wasn’t until one day that I was on my motorcycle with my boyfriend going to Disney World, and the magic band popped off as soon as they hit throttle. And I had to go in the highway to go get it. I was like, hey, this isn’t convenient. This is super inconvenient. Can we do this?
Now, the problem was, the chip that is inside of a MagicBand is not RFID. It is actually a MIFARE DESFire-3 [which is a particular type of NFC chip manufactured by NXP], but it’s not as simple as I’m just gonna write to this. And that was where you ran into your problem because it doesn’t actually read RFID whatsoever. RFID can’t hold that much data. After trying to clone it to just a regular MIFARE, it didn’t work, so Amal and I decided okay let’s see what happens when we actually open this thing. Maybe you can actually figure out what that means and we can go from there.
So I sent him two MagicBands. He finally got them out, got them encased in the bio protein casing so it can go inside without freaking out my body and he sent them back. We ended up going to Disney Springs with these, and at the [World of] Disney store. I went and bought something and when I would go pay, I said I was gonna use my MagicBand to pay and I had it in my hand. I was super sneaky. They didn’t even know what they’re looking at, because I didn’t want anyone to know. It was still super confidential, so I had the empty MagicBand [and the implant held] in my hand. I just tapped and it pulled up.
So when was this that you went to Disney Springs and tested it out?
I tested it back in December. . . . It was sent to me at the end of December and that is when we finally actually got them encased and they held their structure. So when the new ones came in December, we went down to Disney Springs and tried it. It was right before everything started, so they just went back in their Rick and Morty case and just stayed there till everything was ready to actually be executed.
When did you actually get it implanted?
I actually got implanted four days ago.
Tell me what the implant procedure was like.
There is a tiny teeny itty bitty baby incision here that is about half an inch long, and the implant sits actually through here. So what they had to do was numb it, and we did everything you possibly think of to numb it–obviously it’s not a painless procedure. None of these are, but it’s kind of like your stepping stone. That’s how you earn it.
So, we made the incision. And then he used this super awesome splitter that it looks like a rounded screwdriver. It goes under the skin and it makes a 40 millimeter pocket. He just had to keep poking in there to remove the skin from the muscle tissue underneath to make a pocket. After we made the pocket, it was as simple as sliding it in, a butterfly stitch shut, and done. We did it really relaxed and it took us 45 minutes. If I wanted to go in there and just do straight business we could have gotten it done about 20 minutes.
From the time of the first incision until you had it stitched up and done, how long was that?
From the time that the incision happened to him butterfly stitching it was probably no longer than 10 minutes. It’s a simple process, but it is definitely not a 100% pain-free process.
How’s recovery coming along?
Oh, recovery is great. I had minimal swelling, but as you can see I can completely move my wrist. I don’t feel it at all. This implant is a lot like this one has the finger, but the one that is in here is actually the VivoSpark, and the only time I ever feel these two is if either my Husky jumps on me or I knock it on something, but if I’m just chillin’, I don’t feel any of my implants whatsoever–none of that.
Can you feel it under your wrist at all?
It lays completely flat and, you know, the placement is perfect. The only time I can feel it is if I actually intentionally try to feel it. But it’s like the rest of them where it’s so well hidden and just deep enough that, like, you can’t actually see the indentation in my hand.
Before you had it implanted, did you have a chance to try it at the parks at all?
When we first got them, besides doing just what I did at Disney Springs to make sure it worked, no. Everything was completely low key and that was right at the beginning COVID, so I actually never really got the chance to go over there to actually use it at the parks. I am 99.9% positive it is going to work without a hitch. It picked up perfectly on my app, it’s completely bound, and at Disney Springs they were able to get off my information from it effortlessly, so I don’t see any reason why it would not work.
Now, obviously there’s no battery in your arm. So do you miss out on any of that functionality with the long-range stuff?
The only thing that I’ve been told that the long range is for is for the PhotoPass when they actually use long range to scan your MagicBand while you’re on rides to send you your PhotoPass photos. That being said, I mean if that’s all I’m losing out on, it’s not really that big of a deal. Everyone that I’m with usually has their MagicBands on, so I’m not really missing out on anything.
And this does not stop me from buying MagicBands. My boyfriend likes them. We’ve got over $1,000 in MagicBands we love them to death. This wasn’t really a replacement. This was just a closer way to further my experience at Disney World. It’s definitely more of an immersive experience when you use these for anything, and [all of my implants] were done for selfish reasons because they make me happy. They were done because I wanted to further my human experience in the biohacking world and be closer to Disney.
I really appreciate you taking the time to have me on and talk about this. It’s super cool, and congratulations on succeeding where I failed. It’s really, really neat and I thank you for having me on.
Note: Excerpts have been edited for length and clarity.
I want to offer a HUGE thank you to Mrs. Fett for taking the time to talk with me about her experience, and I also wanted to throw a shout out to Leo at Dungeon Tattoo & Body Piercing there in Orlando in case any of you locals are interested in any biohacking (or even just tattoos or piercings) yourselves. You can follow Jen on Twitter or catch her streams on Twitch.
So, now that you know that it actually works, would you get a MagicBand implanted in your arm? What if it was just a simple injectable chip like mine? Let us know in the comments!
As Walt Disney World awakens from its three-month slumber, a modern staple of Disney property has returned. The full-service McDonald’s located on the Western side of Disney property underwent a massive renovation. In fact, the building was stripped down to its bare bones. Now, it has reopened with a focus on the environment.
What’s different about this Disney McDonald’s?
Green architecture that makes use of plants
Environmentally friendly building materials
Expanded outdoor dining area
Interactive menu kiosks
Enhanced indoor dining
Only drive-through on Disney property
McDonald’s at Walt Disney World – Exterior Enhancements
For months, it was emphasized that this Walt Disney World McDonald’s is covered in solar panels. Even the parking lot lights are solar powered. This isn’t the first solar-powered McDonald’s location, however. In 2018, a flagship location in Chicago was converted to solar power.
The use of solar power panels on top of the building provide a nice covering and shade for the massive outdoor dining area. Outdoor dining areas have become incredibly important as studies show being outside is an easy way to combat the spread of COVID-19. There is lots of seating and extra space in the outdoor dining area. We encourage you to review the CDC’s guidelines before deciding what activities to engage in.
Besides the use of solar power, the building itself is constructed with materials that have less of an environmental impact than traditional building materials. Use of plants on the exterior walls reduce the need for additional materials, and provide a cooling effect on the building. This eases the use of the air conditioning system. It also provides cleaner air.
McDonald’s at Walt Disney World – Interior Enhancements
Inside the building there are multiple kiosks, making it easier for guests to customize their order. The kiosks also reduce the person-to-person contact. When you place your order at a kiosk you will take a number to place wherever you decide to sit so your food can be delivered to you. You can also place your order at the counter with a team member.
The inside dining area has enhanced seating. Curved booths allow groups to sit together. Some tables have interactive LED lights. The interior is bright and welcoming thanks to the natural light and other touches.
McDonald’s at Walt Disney World – Higher Prices
The higher prices at the Walt Disney World McDonald’s is nothing new. I remember when I was a Cast Member and I would stop in for a quick bite going to or from work, and used my Cast Member discount. Even with the discount prices were 10-15% higher than a regular McDonald’s. Still, it’s the only drive-through on property.
Besides the convenience of the drive-through, it is easily accessed. You do not have to enter a resort or navigate a massive parking area, like that of Disney Springs, to get to it. In fact, for guests of Disney’s All-Star Resorts, you can walk to it. It’s right next to the All-Star Cast Member parking lot so you’ll often see these Cast Members stopping in for a bite.
One additional note about this location is that, at present, it is not open during breakfast hours and opens for lunch at 11 a.m. This will likely change when the All-Star Resorts reopen, but it is worth keeping in mind if you’re looking for a quick breakfast on the go.
If you seek the comfort of familiar food at McDonald’s, but wish to save a few pennies, there are other nearby McDonald’s locations.
Personally, I have not been to a McDonald’s location, anywhere, in quite a long time. But seeing this Disney location with its flagship style and environmental enhancements brings back some memories. It is a nice option for anyone looking for something quick and casual.
What are your thoughts about this new design? Would this make you more likely to dine at a McDonald’s on your next trip? Let us know what you think in the comments.
Cute Disney magnets are a lot like cute Disney coffee mugs – I have way too many, and I am always tempted to pick up a few more. These new magnet sets we spotted at World of Disney at Disney Springs are full of color. There’s a set for “it’s a small world”, colorful metallic Mickey Mouse magnets, classic Mickey and Friends, and a particularly adorable set featuring kitchen utensils with Disney styling.
The kitchen utensils set includes five magnets: a set of Mad Tea Party teacups, an oven mitt with a castle motif, a castle shaped spatula, Mickey Mouse rolling pin, and a tiki totem butter knife. Each set of magnets is $12.99. It does not appear that these sets are available on shopDisney online.
Are any of these magnets going to be stuck in your kitchen soon?
Touring Plans are step-by-step customizable guides for touring each of the parks at Walt Disney World, saving guests up to four hours in line. We even have Ultimate Touring Plans designed to help guests see every attraction, show, parade, and live performance in a Disney theme park in a single day.
Marc Davis was a legendary animator, Imagineer, and one of Walt Disney’s Nine Old Men. As an animator, Marc Davis animated Bambi, Thumper, and Flower for Bambi, Tinkerbell for Peter Pan, Cinderella, Aurora, and Maleficent for Sleeping Beauty, Alice for Alice in Wonderland, and Cruella De Vil for 101 Dalmatians.
Walt Disney recruited Marc to Imagineering where he played a vital role in creating some of the greatest Disney attractions of all time. Marc’s wife Alice Davis was also drafted by Walt Disney as a costume designer. Today, both Marc and Alice have windows next to each other on Main Street, U.S.A. at Disneyland.
The Marc Davis Imagineer Touring Plan Challenge
I created a Personalized Touring Plan on the Touring Plans site by entering in the attractions I wanted to experience and then utilizing the “optimize” option. This organized my list of attractions into an order that saved the most time in line.
Note: While this plan can’t include every project Marc Davis worked on, the attractions and activities I’ve included hopefully best reflect his work and overall impact on Walt Disney World.
1) Big Thunder Mountain Railroad
While it’s true Tony Baxter is the Imagineer responsible for Frontierland’s Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, much of the ride was inspired by Marc Davis’s plans for the Western River Expedition pavilion for the Magic Kingdom.
Unfortunately this massive and ambitious attraction was never realized due to its expense and the fact guests wanted a Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. However, as mentioned, a number of the ride’s elements were used for Big Thunder Mountain and other future Disney attractions.
2) Country Bear Jamboree
The origins of the Country Bear Jamboree is rooted in Walt Disney’s plans for the Mineral King Ski Resort in California. While the resort was never built, Walt tapped Marc Davis to work on a show for its guests. The Country Bear Jamboree is one of the last attractions Walt oversaw.
Marc’s show found a home at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and opened with the park in 1971. Due to its popularity, another version of the show opened at Disneyland in 1972.
According to Marc Davis, his last conversation with Walt was about the Country Bear Jamboree. Walt was pleased with Marc’s work on the bears; and before he left, he said, “Goodbye, Marc.” At the time, Marc thought it was strange as Walt never said that. It was only three weeks later that Walt passed away.
The Country Bear Jamboree is still going strong at the Magic Kingdom today and represents Marc Davis’s humor and emphasis on character, as well as one of Walt’s last dreams.
3) Hall of Presidents
One Nation Under God was Walt’s idea for a show featuring all of the American Presidents. Unfortunately, that idea was deemed too ambitious for the early day of audio-animatronics. Walt then decided to focus on one President – his childhood hero Abraham Lincoln.
When Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln debuted at the 1964 World’s Fair, an audio-animatronic Lincoln would stand and give a speech. A version of this show then opened at Disneyland in 1965 and can still be seen today.
“You know, on Mister Lincoln I didn’t turn the knobs that controlled him myself, but someplace you’ll find my “dialogue sheets” all marked out just like you do for animation … every move Lincoln was to make … and whether it was a larger move, to turn his hand at this point, and so on.”
When Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom opened in 1971, it offered The Hall of Presidents, a show that finally realized Walt’s original dream.
4) Haunted Mansion
Walt Disney and the Imagineers grappled with ideas for a haunted house-style attraction for years. Marc began working on concepts for the attraction following the 1964 World’s Fair. He was eventually brought on as one of the Haunted Mansion’s main designers along with Claude Coates.
Coates gravitated towards the spooky and creepy while Davis liked gags and character. Both of their respective styles are reflected in the Haunted Mansion with its creepy beginning and whimsy conclusion. The Haunted Mansion finally opened at Disneyland in 1969 while Walt Disney World’s version opened with the park on opening day in 1971.
“As I say, we had a lot of art directors there. And these were guys—you know, most of them were architectural or like motion-picture art directors. And as far as producing the ideas, I produced most of the ideas. I’d say maybe 85 percent of the ideas that are in the Haunted Mansion are things that I did. But they were trying to tell a story about a bride who was stood up at her wedding and so on—and Walt kept saying, ‘No.’ And that was another reason why when I inherited my part of the thing, I didn’t do that.”
5) “it’s a small world”
This charming, whimsical boat tour around the world with its famous (infamous?) ear worm was a last-minute attraction for the Pepsi-sponsored UNICEF pavilion at the 1964 World’s Fair. A number of Disney legends worked on “it’s a small world,” including Mary Blair, Marc Davis, and Alice Davis who designed each of the dolls’ authentic costumes.
The Magic Kingdom’s “it’s a small world” is unique in that it doesn’t include the extra Disney character-inspired dolls that have been added in recent years.
6) Jungle Cruise
In the early 1960s, Walt Disney asked Marc for his input on Disneyland’s Jungle Cruise that had opened with the park in 1955. Back then, the quirky, corny Jungle Cruise we know today was much more serious with no gags or jokes at all.
What was Marc’s suggestion? Humor. Using his visual storytelling skills, Marc drew several scenes for the Jungle Cruise. Today his trapped safari scene and the elephant pool scene are some of the attraction’s most memorable and beloved.
“When I started working down there, there was nothing that was funny in any of the attractions that I can recollect. And this was a thing all the way through that I have tried to do, is to bring in humor… And I think the trapped safari was probably the first laugh that Disneyland had in an attraction.”
7) Peter Pan’s Flight
An opening day attraction at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom, Peter Pan’s Flight has maintained its popularity with guests through the years and is still just as charming and magical today as it was then.
Marc Davis animated Tinkerbell for 1953’s Peter Pan and was naturally called upon by Walt Disney to help with the design of Peter Pan’s Flight for Disneyland.
8) Pirates of the Caribbean
Pirates of the Caribbean opened at Disneyland in 1967 and is still considered one of the greatest theme park attractions of all time. Initially planned as a walk-through museum, the success of boat ride attractions like “it’s a small world” led to Walt’s pirates attraction adopting a similar ride system.
Walt tapped animator Claude Coates for the attraction’s sets and backgrounds and Marc Davis for the pirate characters. The duo’s strengths and specialties are why the ride works as well as it does. Also, Marc’s wife Alice was again assigned to create the dozens of costumes needed for the audio-animatronic pirates, many of which lasted for decades.
Due to Florida’s close proximity to the Caribbean and the surrounding area’s rich pirate history, Walt Disney World didn’t open with a Pirates of the Caribbean attraction. Disappointed guests soon changed this state of affairs and the Magic Kingdom opened their version of Pirates of the Caribbean in 1973.
9) Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress
Yet another 1964 World’s Fair attraction, this four-act audio-animatronic show all about how electricity’s impact on an American family in the 20th Century was originally called Progressland. Like most World’s Fair attractions, Marc Davis created concept art for the show’s characters and other story elements.
The Carousel of Progress moved to Disneyland in 1967 and then to Walt Disney World in 1975. Its name was changed to Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress in 1993. The show is still in operation today and stands as a testament to both Walt Disney and his Imagineers.
10) Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room
During a trip to New Orleans, Walt Disney purchased a mechanical bird. When he returned to California, he gave the bird to his Imagineers and challenged them to learn how it worked. This was the beginning of audio-animatronics at the Disney Parks and, as Walt saw it, a new medium of animation.
Originally, there were plans for a restaurant where audio-animatronic birds would entertain guests. When that was deemed too distracting, the restaurant concept evolved into a show today known as Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room. The original version debuted at Disneyland in 1963, and many of its birds, flowers, and tikis were designed by Marc Davis!
Walt Disney World’s version of the Enchanted Tiki Room debuted on the Magic Kingdom’s opening day and was titled Tropical Serenade. The attraction was re-imagined as The Enchanted Tiki Room (Under New Management) in 1998 but was thankfully reverted to its classic status and renamed Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room in 2011.
“This thing began to develop as a show. One thing kind of after another happened, and I was asked to do some birds… We didn’t know what they were going to be sitting on, if they had cages, and so on. And like a lot of things we do; a lot of things just happen.”
11) Happily Ever After
The Magic Kingdom’s nightly fireworks display is absolutely worth seeing anytime and on any touring plan; however, it’s more than appropriate for this Marc Davis Touring Plan because it takes place both on and above Cinderella Castle, the very home of the classic character animated by Marc Davis. It also features Tinkerbell flying from the castle down over the park, another one of Marc Davis’s signature characters.
WHERE TO EAT
Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen – Due to the significant influence of Marc Davis on the Jungle Cruise and the experience it offers today, dinner at the Skipper Canteen is the perfect dining destination for this Marc Davis touring plan. After all, the Jungle Cruise’s humorous experience wouldn’t exist without Marc Davis and you may find an Easter Egg or two paying tribute to him.
Cinderella’s Royal Table – Since Marc Davis animated Cinderella for the 1950 animated film, it’s only appropriate for this Marc Davis Imagineer Touring Plan that participants dine at Cinderella’s Royal Table inside Cinderella Castle! Note: Cinderella’s Royal Table is a signature table-service restaurant and is difficult to get advanced dining reservations for due to its popularity and incredible location.
Most likely everyone knows about the Hidden Mickeys Imagineers hide all throughout the Walt Disney World Resort, but there are also a number of hidden references to Marc Davis throughout Walt Disney World too.
When floating by the final scene aboard Pirates of the Caribbean, look above Captain Jack Sparrow’s treasure room to see the name “Marco Daviso” under a crest showcasing chess pieces. “Marco Daviso” refers to Marc Davis and the crest for his love of chess. Note: He’s also responsible for the famous skeleton stalemate chess scene in the attraction’s queue.
Pay special attention to the gravestones at the Haunted Mansion. “Grandpa Marc’s” is referring to Marc Davis!
Be sure to look up when dining at the Jungle Skipper Canteen Restaurant. One of the office doors on the second level is for Skipper Marc!
When in the queue for Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, be sure to keep an eye out for Marc Davis’s name on some of the queue props and signage.
Will you give the Marc Davis Imagineer Touring Plan Challenge a try when the parks reopen? Let us know!
From our friends at touringplans.com Filed Under: Attractions, Walt Disney World (FL), Alice Davis, disney world, Disneyland, Hall of Presidents, Haunted Mansion, imagineer, Imagineer Touring Plan, Imagineering, Jungle Cruise, Magic Kingdom, Marc Davis, Peter Pan’s Flight, Pirates of the Caribbean, touring plan, walt disney world
Your phone goes everywhere with you, and now Disney has released a new line of phone cases that make it even easier for you to keep your phone with you at all times. These new phone cases feature a detachable, and adjustable, strap. This strap can go on your shoulder, or when fully extended, can cross your body.
Besides featuring a convenient strap, the designs are top-notch too. There’s a Mickey Mouse Popcorn style which is a clear base with lifelike popcorn inside. Another looks like a Mickey Mouse-themed camera with a magical castle in its lens. Stitch has his own true blue case, and my personal favorite is the Mad Tea Party-themed case that has a strap and can hold two cards.
Each case is $44.99 which is one of the highest price tags I’ve seen on a Disney phone case, though Otterbox cases run in that range too. We spotted these cases at World of Disney at Disney Springs. They do not seem to be available at shopDisney online.
Will one of these phone cases come along with you soon?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that people wear cloth face coverings in public settings and when around people who don’t live in your household, especially when other social distancing measures are difficult to maintain.
Cloth face coverings may help prevent people who have COVID-19 from spreading the virus to others.
Cloth face coverings are most likely to reduce the spread of COVID-19 when they are widely used by people in public settings.
Cloth face coverings should NOT be worn by children under the age of 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing, is unconscious, incapacitated, or otherwise unable to remove the mask without assistance.
The main purpose of wearing a mask is to limit people from infecting others. There might be some benefit for mask wearers to minimize exposure.
Brian suggested doing a test to see what distance a candle can be blown out. Since Brian is 500 miles away, I had to find a different test subject. A styrofoam head, a hairdryer, and a few holes will have to be my Brian. Meet Brian.
With no mask, Brian can blow out a candle 14 inches away with the hairdryer set on low. All masks prevented Brian from blowing out a candle even with the hairdryer on high.
The scarf/gaiter style masks the candle did flicker when the flame is held directly in front of the masks
The second test required simulating droplets in the air, and to see how efficient each mask was at blocking those droplets. I used flour as a stand-in for droplets. Flour is about 1 µm. Viruses are 0.5 µm and below. If flour can get through the mask, so can COVID-19.
For this test, we need a subject to try to inhale flour. Since my kids would not let me throw flour in their faces, I have a second styrofoam head with a vacuum to simulate inhaling. I’ll call the head Derek. Hi, Derek!
With Brian blowing and Derek sucking, I sift flour between the two. At the end of the vacuum (and inside the mask), I added a black filter to catch any flour that Derek inhales.
Below are the images of each filter from the flour tests.
As all the masks were selected for comfort, not medial use, flour did get through each mask. The force of suction is likely higher than a human mouth, and the filtration is being focused on the intake of the vacuum. Most of the flour did not go through the masks. The filter images are sufficient for comparing masks but is not scientifically conclusive.
We’ll be testing out the masks in the parks when the parks reopen to see which of the masks wins for overall comfort.
Do you have any questions about this experiment so far? Let us know in the comments.