News and Views around Walt Disney World this week-second week of June 2014

News and Views around Walt Disney World this week-second week of June 2014

By Cassie

Hi everybody! Are you ready for a whirlwind tour of 3 parks and Downtown Disney today? Let’s roll! We are going to Disney’s Hollywood Studios to see the Star Wars Motorcade today with Mark Hamill in his first visit to Walt Disney World. If we hurry, we should be able to get a good spot for it. Ok, got through bag check with only one joke about “Canons” not being allowed in the parks. Ha ha. Wow, we are here an hour and a half before the parade and the streets are already lined. I see one spot that may be a good spot. The street lights here block your view of some parts of the street so I am going to the corner to give a bigger window for the photos. Make sure you look at all those down at the bottom of the page because I had to tag all of those and it took a long time.

Today there are platoons of Florida divisions of Star Wars clubs that have made amazing costumes. These groups are the characters you have been enjoying over the years at Star Wars Weekends. These fans did such a great job creating their costumes and studying their characters that Disney hired them to interact with guests during these special weekends. These costumes are off the chain. The quality, the materials, the details are really exceptional and many of them are great in character too. The crowd loves it all. I did not know we would be treated to so many different Star Wars characters and it is really exciting the crowd. Here come the Disney characters; I see Jedi Mickey, Princess Leah Minnie, Darth Goofy, Ewoks Chip and Dale and Storm Trooper Donald. The first car in the motorcade is carrying the beautiful Ashley Eckstein. Next is Taylor Gray, Ray Park, then Billy Dee Williams, and here comes Mark Hamill. He looks blown away by the crowd’s response to him. Mr. Hamill is not available for autographs this time so this is the best shot for most of us to see him. The crowd here at Hollywood Studios has brought him a very warm welcome. It is also very hot today and I am wondering how those furry Star Wars characters are doing. The motorcade pushes up to the stage and our stars disembark and join the costumed Star Wars characters on stage. The crowd is very excited with this group of celebrities and many of them are dressed in costume as well.

Across the street from us is the Cinema Storage which is closing for a long refurbishment and it is possibly the location for the new Hollywood Studios Starbucks. If they were open today they would make a killing on their iced coffee!

Did you hear there is going to be an after-hours, hard ticket event here at Hollywood Studios on August 23, from 8PM to 1AM? This is crazy, there is going to be 50 Disney Villains here that night! It is called “Villains Unleashed”. That may sound familiar to you, because it was the name of the event hosted here last year, at no additional charge to those in Hollywood Studios. It was awesome to see rare villains! But 50! I need more time Disney! How about making it a whole day? Tickets for Villains Unleashed are $67.00 for adults, $62.00 for children, plus tax.

We better get a move on. Next up is Animal Kingdom. Tamu Tamu Refreshments has made some changes to their menu now offering a beautiful fruit plate for the summer, thick milk shakes, and now even Pineapple Dole Whip with or without Rum. I am interested in checking out the popcorn cart across the street from it in Harambe. I have Ocarina players in my family, so when I heard about this special Musical Tumbler that has an Ocarina for a handle, I had to see it. You can get the mug with “Jungle Juice” or soda in it. I chose “Jungle Juice Slushie” shown on the sign, for $11.99+ tax. It is definitely not a slushie. Slushies should have ice and this does not. It is not a balance of all the juices in its description but rather mostly orange juice. Still, it does not taste bad, if you like orange juice. The mug has a lid with a plastic straw, which is pretty unusual for a beverage in Animal Kingdom. I was given a small booklet with instructions on how to play the Ocarina and portions of the songs “I Just Can’t Wait to be King” and “it’s a small world”. I was hoping that the ocarina would be removable so it could be played independently of the mug, but it is not made that way. Drinking oj and then blowing air through the ocarina may be messy for some kids so be sure to rinse it out when the drink is done. It looks like a wood carving with a lion on the front. This area of Animal Kingdom is getting a lot of attention these days. The special after hour’s event “Harambe Nights” got fairly good reviews and looks like it will be a sell out on Saturdays through the Summer. The new Lion King theatre is now open and the show has not lost any of its excitement. Go see it, you won’t regret it!

Downtown Disney is changing as we speak. On our way down there you can see where they are widening the road. It is going to be a full seven lanes wide soon. Look over to the right, which is where a direct exit from I-4 will be bringing people from the highway, over our heads, and to the parking garages. The garages are still moving up, a little more each week. I was just down here last night to see Maleficent. It was great, not what I expected at all! Walking from Disney Quest toward the Marketplace we can see the new Starbucks is open and it is the flagship location for Walt Disney World. That’s cool; there is grass on the roof, kind of like in Norway. That is going to be cool to look down on from the elevated platform that is going in here. The Food Truck Park is not open yet. They are located down next to World of Disney tonight. You can’t walk through the old Pleasure Island location anymore so let’s turn and go down the waterside promenade. Right now there is only water taxi service between this dock and the one down by House of Blues. This is due to the work on the Causeway between Rain Forest Café and the Lego store. We are routed around back of the Lego store then it looks like we can cut through the Lego store and go on down toward the rest of Marketplace.

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Let’s go see the new Marketplace Co-Op that just opened! It looks pretty bland from the outside, but let’s go check it out. This is the old Team Mickey building. The inside has been loosely divided into several smaller shops with partitions and signs signifying what was inside. There is a Trophy Room, Beautifully Disney, Jelly Pickles, but my favorite is Disney Centerpiece that has melamine dinnerware with maps and illustrations of Disney attractions inside the parks, mostly Adventureland and Frontierland. Plates, glassware, decorative items, coasters, kitchen linens, and also a section of faux chalkboard art on an actual chalkboard but also various dinnerware pieces and decorative accessories. Next door I can see is a whole bunch of Vera Bradley. There are people with large stacks of the Vera Bradley merchandise since there is no limit on it in this shop today. You could buy all you want! These new Disney prints and styles are so great for the parks and to take some of it home with you. By the way, after waiting for what seemed like forever to get checked out in the Disney Centerpiece shop I discovered that you can stroll through all the stores in the Marketplace Co-Op and check out of any shop that you choose. The Cast Members said that business has been booming since they opened the doors. Some stores were busier than others. If you want to get some nice gifts of Disney memorabilia on home goods, Vera Bradley, makeup and accessories, sports themed merchandise, or the latest in girly fashion, come check out the Marketplace Co-Op. Now we have to walk all the way back through and around shops to get back to the water taxi. I need a Goofy Glacier to stay hydrated. How about you? This weekend the Car Masters Weekend will be down here so bring Dad on down!

Epcot. I tried to get FastPass+ for Epcot, very early in the morning, but all the things I like to ride were already gone. I even ran over there early, before the park was open for 30 minutes to try the kiosk but they were all gone. The FP+ has gone through yet another metamorphosis today. Hollywood Studios and Epcot have a different list of attractions in their tiered approach to the FP+. As of today, the category 1 group (select one from this tier) of attractions at Epcot include: IllumiNations, Soarin’, Test Track and Living with the Land. Group 2 (you can select two from this group) is now: Captain EO, Journey into Imagination, Maelstrom, Character Spot, Mission: SPACE, Spaceship Earth, The Seas with Nemo and Friends and Turtle Talk with Crush. Up until today I could still manage to get something to ride. The problem with this is your category 1 may be for IllumiNations, which is the final event of the evening so you will never be able to get those additional FP+ after you use the first three.

(The Tier 1 group at Hollywood Studios, from which you can choose one FP+ is Toy Story Midway Mania, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, Fantasmic!, Beauty and the Beast and now the Great Movie Ride. Tier 2 attractions, from which you can choose 2, are: Tower of Terror, Star Tours, Indiana Jones, Lights-Motors-Action! MuppetVision 3D, Disney Jr Live on Stage. )

I visited The Land this morning and found several breakfast options in Sunshine Seasons restaurant. I have several foods I would like to try today, so I chose Croissant Berry Pudding. While I was there I asked a Cast Member about a new item I noticed on the Lunch/Dinner menu: Spicy Thai Green Curry Shrimp with Jasmine rice $11.79. He said that it was very good and there was a brand new item starting today, Fish Tacos, $11.79, made with breaded Tilapia, cilantro-lime sauce and a cole-slaw topping in a soft flour taco shell. There are two tacos served and they come with German Potato Salad or chips. You could tell he really liked them! I took my Croissant Berry Pudding and I really enjoyed it. It is served warm, about a cup and a half, berries in each bite, warm buttery goodness, and yes, I would definitely eat it again! I did come back later and took photos of them for you, so check it out! Disney is currently giving out coupons, on the bottom of your receipt, when you eat at a Disney counter-service location, for 20% off merchandise in specific Disney parks stores, at specific times so be sure to check your receipt for that special offer.

In Les Halles in France they have brought back the Leek and Potato Soup in the Bread Bowl, which I enjoyed very much. The bread bowl is crispy on the outside and soft inside. The soup was thick, creamy, flavorful, and a good value. If you have not tried the soup here, you should. The Lobster Bisque is also very, very good!

There is a section of Future World, about where Tinkerbell’s Butterfly Garden had been that is now behind construction walls. Not sure what is going on in there, it may just be drainage issues. We will keep an eye on it.

There are new Frozen desserts in Norway this week an Olaf pop cake on a swirly straw, and a Bundt cake that has a Frozen-themed decoration on top. In the shops are several crispy rice treats that have Frozen-themed icing designs. You will also see the “Limit of five (5) per item per Guest” for Disney Frozen Merchandise sign.

I have been trying to collect Cast Member costume photos, thank you CM’s that were agreeable to this!

See you next week guys!

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About Cassie

Cassie L. I am a lifelong Disney fan. I attended Walt Disney World in 1971, and was there during the opening week of EPCOT, and have visited the Disney Parks for than 30 times. I have had the privilege of visiting Disneyland as a child, and then again with my children. My family recently moved from the northeastern United States to the Walt Disney World area. I now have cast members in my family and enjoy hearing the magical stories at the end of a shift. I love visiting all of the parks and getting to try more Disney food and being able to share it with you to help you plan your own magical day at Disney.