Blog Archives

Star Wars and Carland at Walt Disney Worold Hollywood Studios?

With two major themeparks in the Orlando are, Walt Disney World and Unversal Orlando, there is some stiff competition for our tourist dollars. Universal added the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and it seemed like Disney responded with the New Fantasyland. Rumors are starting, however, that Disney is about to launch a new response using the recently aquired right to Star Wars and by bringing the success of Carsland east and landing both in the Hollywood Studios.

Of course rumors are just rumors. Many of them seem to originate with a dog that was

Maybe it's not in a galaxy so far away after all?
Maybe it’s not in a galaxy so far away after all?

recently in the pound with a dog that was formerlly owned by someone who knew a castmember or some crazy connection like that. But this one has some good sources on it and is starting to pick up steam. Unfortunately the earliest we can expect a definitive answer will be at the upcoming D23 Expo which will not start until August 9th.

Till then we can indulge in the rumors though! The following are things I have found on various sites.

While rumors on what will go and what will stay vary almost all include the closing of the Backlot Studio Tour and Lights, Motor Action! Extreme Stunt Show. Closing both of these make sense to me. When is the last time you ever heard someone say I cannot wait to get to the Backlot Studio Tour? Never! The Stunt Show, while enjoyable, has to be high cost to put on. Then consider the fact that if it rains the show is cancelled. It’s a good show but it is a lot of space that could be better used.

Some of the other rumored closures include Mama Melrose, Sci-Fi Dine In Theatre and the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular. Sci-Fi is hit or miss. My parents loved it. My wife and I tried it and would have preferred almost any place to what we got and what it cost. I would hate to see Indiana leave the Studios so I am keeping my fingers crossed on that one. I have never eaten at Mama’s.

What are your thoughts? What would you keep and what would you add?


Star Wars Weekend Update

Every year Star Wars lands at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Characters and actors show up. Check out this video that gives some of the details from the first week of Star Wars Weekend 2012.

Quick Update continues to grow. New galleries have been added and the pages for each theme park have been created. The next step is to flesh out the pages with all the information you need to know if each attraction is for you. Grumpy will be diligently working on this over the next few weeks or more but the emphasis is on quality and not quantity. I hope you enjoy the work!

If you have missed it be sure to see one of grumpy’s personal favorites, Kilimanjaro Safaris!

Top Five Walt Disney Resort Stories

Big news or big let down?

With the year winding down the official Disney Blog has declared their top five stories of the year. Those top five stories of the year? The 40th anniversary of the Magic Kingdom, a meet and greet under development with Mickey where the big cheese actually speaks, the Avatar expansion, a behind the scenes look at the construction of Beast’s castle in Fantasyland and the installation of Nemo icons the Art of Animation resort.

The question I must ask is simple, “Is anyone else let down that these are the top five stories of 2011?”

Don’t get me wrong each of them is at least mildly exciting in their own way but Beast Castle and the Nemo icons are not really news. They are just updates of stories from previous years. Disney is just letting us know progress is being made. Now if either of these items were announcements that work was complete that might be news. But saying hey we painted a wall? Well that might be a slight exaggeration of what they announced but it isn’t far off is it? I am not saying it isn’t news worthy but a top story?

As for the 40th anniversary story its not like there was a major tie in event. Sure guests who were there that day received a few special items like pins and maps but again this is the best news you had in all of 2011?

And don’t get me started on the Avatar expansion. Grumpy does not claim that this isn’t worthy of top news status. It certainly is. Grumpy’s problem is this: He’s not sure if it’s good news or bad. Avatar does nothing for me. At all. If they wanted something based on a movie why not something that was an established series? Jurassic Park would have suited me better! But they have a Dinoland already I suppose. What about Middle Earth? If you want to compete against Harry Potter world I would put Gandalf up against anything Harry has to offer! Still, it is an expansion I guess and I look forward to seeing what comes of it. Disney just better hope the next two Avatar movies don’t bomb.

That just leaves one story to talk about: Talking Mickey Mouse! Okay I have to admit this one doesn’t thrill me personally. But hey I’m grumpy right? It is big news though and it is good news. For forty years Mickey has been greeting guests at the Magic Kingdom and never spoken a word to any of them personally. Now he’s going to strike up a conversation. While talking Mickey may not excite me too much I can understand what an effect this will have on the youngsters and if it makes them happy it makes me…well less grumpy I guess. And there is technology behind talking Mickey and that does excite me because we don’t know what else that technology may eventually be used for. Watch the video for a short glimpse of how this may end up working.

So there you have it. The grumpy report of the top five stories from Disney World in 2011. Your thoughts? Even if you don’t want to reply take the poll and let me know if I am way off track. If you want to read the official post from Disney click here.

Turned Away At The Magic Kingdom?

Since 1971 the Magic Kingdom has been entertaining, quite literally, millions of guests. For the most part that entertainment has been every day of the year. There have been a few exceptions. The park has been closed for hurricanes. It was closed and effectively evacuated on 9/11 (For more info on how terror affected Disney World click here.) Under those circumstances it is perfectly clear why the gates would be shut on your vacation dreams.

But are there other circumstances that would result in you being shut out? There is at least one more. Sometimes the park reaches capacity and people are turned away at the gates. Can you imagine making your way to the Magic Kingdom, taking the ferry or the monorail to the TTC and then being turned away at the gate? Surely that doesn’t happen does it? Why yes it does. In fact it happened this past Christmas! Christmas dreams were turned into a Clarke Grizwald nightmare!

It doesn’t happen often though and the good news is not everyone was turned away! If you met certain criteria you could still get in. One of those criteria was being a guest of of one of the the Disney World resorts. Just another perk of staying on property.

Here are the four phases of Park Closing:

Walt Disney World closing phases

Phase 1
Guests with ‘Magic Your Way’ base tickets, or a ‘1-Day 1-Park Ticket’, Guests without an admission ticket, and Cast Members using Main Gate & Silver Passes will be turned around at the parking lot booths.

Phase 2
Admission is limited to:

  • Disney Resort Guests (including the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, and guests arriving by bus from the Hotel Plaza Boulevard hotels)
  • Annual and Premium Annual Passholders
  • Guests with Hopper tickets coming from another park
  • Guests re-entering the park
  • Guests with dining reservations
  • Magic Kingdom Guests with reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or The Pirates League
  • Guests using Walt Disney World Resort Transportation will be admitted.

Phase 3
Admission is limited to:

  • Disney Resort Guests (including the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin, and guests arriving by bus from the Hotel Plaza Boulevard hotels)
  • Annual and Premium Annual Passholders
  • Guests with dining reservations
  • Magic Kingdom Guests with reservations for Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique or The Pirates League

Phase 4
Closed to all guests.

I searched high and low (okay I did two quick searches) for images of this evacuation but couldn’t find any so instead I will let Darth Vader explain it to you.

Extra Magic Hours

Extra Magic Hours! Even the name sounds great. I am getting something extra, something out of the ordinary! Something special!

Imagine having the Magic Kingdom all to yourself. Well Extra Magic Hours can't do that but you can get closer to the dream!

So what are Extra Magic Hours? Put quite simply they are hours that select Disney guests get to be in one of the theme parks when general admission guests cannot.

Extra Magic Hours are broken down into two categories, Morning and Evening. For the Morning version a park will open one hour early. For Evening hours the park will normally stay open three hours later.

Unfortunately Extra Magic Hours do not include every park every day. Only one park will be having Extra Magic Hours at any given time. However, during the busier seasons of the year one park may have Extra Morning Magic Hours while a different one may have Extra Evening Magic Hours. Unfortunately, at least in Grumpy’s mind, sometimes one of those parks during busy season may be one of the water parks.

When a park is operating under Extra Magic Hours not every attraction will open, again unfortunately! For a list of what is open for a given park during Extra Magic Hours click here.

So who gets in on these Extra Magic Hours? Basically it is anyone who is staying at any of the Disney owned resorts/campgrounds or the Swan and Dolphin on the day the Extra Magic Hours are being offered. In fact you have to show your valid resort ID to use the Extra Magic Hours.

To use the hours simply hop on the Disney transportation system and head to the selected park. Transportation will be running early enough to make it for the Morning hours and late enough to get you back to your resort after the Evening hours. During the Morning hours you will have to show your resort ID to get into the park. That is normally not a problem because it is usually your park ticket too. Then you are free to go! For the Evening hours cast members will ask for your ID before they allow you to enjoy any of the attractions open for the Extra Magic Hours.

So now you have the nuts and bolts of the program but is it worth it? YES! Grumpy takes advantage of all the Extra Magic Hours even if I have to Park Hop to do it! In fact I get extra grumpy when my family members make me even think I might be late for the morning magic hours! And Grumpy doesn’t leave till the park is closed, well most of the time.

Of course lines are shorter during the Extra Magic Hours but are they really that short? Well there are lines but you can get a lot done during the Extra Magic Hours. One sunny morning Grumpy and Mrs Grumpy rode Aerosmith five times before the park “opened.” Of course we were using single rider line for some of that but by the time my brother, we will call him Dopey tonight, and his daughter got there we had ridden so many times we gave them our Fastpasses!

Grumpy considers the Extra Magic Hours so important that I would rather pay extra to stay at a Disney resort than save the money. So there you have it. What are your thoughts on the Extra Magic Hours? Is it worth the money or just extra hype?

Making Disney Magic Part Three: The Tricks

It looks like its super tall but it’s only Disney magic at work. Its actually only 189 feet tall. Imagineers used forced perspective convince us its much grander than it actually is.

Disney World is a magical place. There is no other way to describe it. Walt’s team of imagineers have built a wonderful illusion. As much as we would like for the illusion to be real it is still an illusion. This article will focus on some of the tricks Disney uses to pull us into that illusion.

One of the best tricks Disney uses is the entrance to the Magic Kingdom. If the Magic Kingdom is a show the show begins as soon as you cross under the Walt Disney World Railroad and find yourself on Main Street USA.

There are several things about Main Street USA designed to draw you into the show. For example the buildings look much taller than they actually are. Disney is using a trick called forced perspective on you. It’s really quite simple yet brilliant and they use it all over the park. It works like this. The first story of the buildings are normal. The second story and third stories are not. The second story windows are smaller than the first story windows. The third story windows are smaller than the second story. Because of the way your eyes and your brain communicate you perceive those smaller windows to indicate that the windows are much farther from you than they actually are. Therefore you think the buildings are much taller than they really are.

Main Street USA is not the only place forced perspective is used. Cinderella Castle is another prime example of Disney using windows to make you think the castle is hugely tall when in actuality it is less than 200 foot tall. The windows at the top of the tower have been made very small to help created this illusion.

While we are on Cinderella Castle let me introduce a Disney term you might not be familiar with. That term is weenie. It is not used in any negative sense. It is simply a term to describe something that draws you in. Cinderella Castle is the ultimate weenie. Once you pass under that railroad Main Street USA has been laid out to give you a view of the amazing castle and draw you into the Disney illusion.

One other trick I want to tell you about before we move off Main Street. It’s an old trick. My real estate agent first explained it to me when I was trying to sell a house. She said to bake a pan of cookies before anyone came to view the house. The point was not,  however, for me to leave cookies for them. The point was for the house to smell like cookies which put people into a good mood. Disney has gone to the extreme with this idea. Even though Main Street Bakery is right there as you enter the park you are not smelling their fresh baked cookies. Disney is piping in a synthetically created cookie smell to improve your mood instantly! Of course if you stop and buy a cookie before you get started they will be very happy too.

Have you ridden Space Mountain? What is your opinion? How fast are you going? Would you believe it is only an amazing 28 mph. It seems like its faster because of the rapid twists and turns. And of course the darkness! If Space Mountain were outside it would probably be at best a kiddie coaster but because it’s dark it’s an E Ticket Ride.

Disney combines sight, sound, smell and touch to create illusions in several attractions. Most notably Soarin’. Soarin uses a movie screen, airflow, smell and a top rate sound system to convince the guests they are actually flying. Watch people pick up their feet as they fly over the pines to see if it doesn’t work. This same type of system is used in It’s A Bugs Life and Mickey’s Philharmagic. In both of these they add 3d for an added boost to the illusion. I have watched children actually grabbing for the items in the Philharmagic if you think it doesn’t work!

Have you ever noticed that once buildings reach a certain height that they have those annoying blinking red lights to warn planes? Those lights have to be placed on buildings two hundred feet or taller. You know how many buildings are taller than that in the theme parks? None. They are built right up to the limit but not over it because that blinking red light would ruin the illusion. Instead they use that forced perspective thing I mentioned earlier to make them feel much taller.

The last tricks to be covered, for now at least, are the trees at Disney World. Two come to mind quickly, the Tree of Life and the tree at Swiss Family Treehouse. These trees are obviously not real but the work that has gone into them making them look real! But what about some of the real trees on property? Did you know that Disney actually imported trees from all over the world? A prime example is the Animal Kingdom Lodge. Of course these trees don’t necessarily fit very well in the Florida climate so Disney has to go to some extreme measures to keep them alive and healthy. At really cold seasons some even get their own personal heater!

These are of course, just a few tricks that Disney uses to make us believe. If you have more feel free to share them below in the comments and be sure to check out

Making Disney Magic Part One: The Terms and Making Disney Magic Part Two: Plus Is A Verb if you haven’t already.

What is an E-ticket Ride

The coveted E Ticket. Notice what rides in each land required this prize of the Disney World.

Years and years ago when you went to Disney World you paid for admission and then bought tickets for the rides much as you would at the fair. That system is long gone at Disney World but it left it’s mark on our culture. It is from this system that the world got the phrase “E-Ticket Ride.”

When Disney Land opened in California there were three classes of tickets. Those were A, B and C. Each ride and attraction required a ticket that corresponded to one of the ticket classes. As new rides and attractions were upgraded the D ticket was introduced. Then came the E ticket ride.  E ticket rides were the best of the best. Click here for a ride breakdown for Disney Land provided by Just Disney.Com.

In 1971 Walt Disney World opened in Florida and used the same system of tickets. E ticket rides at Walt Disney World in the 70s were:

  • Pirates of the Caribbean
  • Jungle Cruise
  • Country Bear Jamboree
  • Haunted Mansion
  • Hall of Presidents
  • It’s a Small World
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
  • Space Mountain

While I understand why most of those were E Ticket Rides two do surprise me, namely the Hall of Presidents and It’s A Small World. To be honest I hate It’s A Small World but I ride it every time anyway and I don’t even remember the last time I did the Hall of Presidents. Of course It’s A Small World is always packed so I guess I understand it’s E Ticket status but the Hall of Presidents? Either way that was how it worked.

By 1982 the ride ticket system was gone. Competition had forced Disney to adopt the nearly all-inclusive pricing system which we have now. I am not sure we, the consumer save any money this way but it is a lot more convenient. We are not left carrying around a bunch of A and B tickets wishing we could combine them so we could ride space mountain but we do pay a hefty price.

Though the system may be gone we are still left with term. Now anything that is over-the-top cool, exiting or fun is referred to as an E-ticket Ride. In my next series of articles I will be reviewing some of those rides that were E Ticket at Disney World as well as some that definitely qualify as E Ticket but were built after the demise of the ticket book. What rides at Disney World make your E Ticket list?

What Do You Expect From A Great Disney Fan Site?

Okay I know this is not a great Disney Fan site but I want it to be! Help me out and tell me what interests you.

Which park is your favorite?

I know I am getting into dangerous territory here but it can’t hurt to ask can it? After all everyone is entitled to their own opinion even if it is a hard thing to consider.

First lets consider the merits of each park. Magic Kingdom has all the classics and Wishes! EPCOT has the International Pavilion and cast members from all over the world (I love meeting people from other countries and cultures!) Hollywood Studios has the Rocking Roller Coaster and Tower of Terror (Although I refused to ride the tower the first time I went to the Studios.) And Animal Kingdom has…well animals!

I was talking to my wife one day about which one was our favorite and we came to the same conclusion, Animal Kingdom. We are both animal lovers. The environment is immersive. In fact you can almost believe you are in Africa at times. Especially if you are there in July or August!

Don’t get me wrong, with the addition of our newest family member, Magic Kingdom is high on our list! In fact if we could take him to just one park it would be the Kingdom. After all when you get down to it, the Magic Kingdom is Disney World to most people and it’s so kid friendly.

So what are your thoughts?

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