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The latest news from The parks

Maybe You Don't Always Need To Wait an Hour Before Swimming...

By Kat Garbis Beacraft

Wandering around Typhoon Lagoon with a donut addiction? That's me every time. Don't worry donut lovers, Disney's got you covered. If you're visiting Typhoon Lagoon and are looking for a sweet treat, make sure you add the mini-donut hut to your foodie itinerary.


After enjoying some tubing or wave crushing, be sure to grab some freshly baked, warm donuts, with a touch of sugar to snack on. If you want to feel like the food critic in "Ratatouille," enjoying some of the best donuts Florida has to offer, this is your spot.


You have the option to get chocolate or raspberry dipping sauce. Hint: Get both!

What was announced at D23?


We got some very exciting news this past week out of the D23 convention.  Let’s review!


First off let me address all the folks who are sad to see some of the old attractions close to make way for the new stuff.  Change is hard.  And change at Disney usually means something special from our youth is going away.  We won’t be able to relive those memories of the past again as may have become tradition trip after trip after trip to Disney.  I get that. I was genuinely upset when the 20,000 League Submarines were removed and when Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride was driven away. Hey I never even got the chance to ride the Rocket Rods at Disneyland. And I completely missed my chance to experience ExtraTerrorRestrial.


But in most cases we have to be honest with ourselves. Those attractions had lived out their lives and for whatever reason (too dated, too operationally problematic, etc…), it was time for them to go.


I personally love Ellen’s Energy Adventure but compared to many of its neighbors in Epcot, it is a bit of a yawner.  It has become popular on blogs to list this attraction as the best place to beat the heat and get a good nap in the middle of your Epcot day.  That’s not the kind of thing Disney (or most guests) really want out of an attraction.  I can only hope that when the Guardians ride takes its place there will be a reference to Stupid Judy and Ellen will have a cameo somewhere in it. Please oh please, Imagineers, please let that happen!


When it comes to the mild uproar over the closing of The Great Movie Ride over at Hollywood Studios, let me quote Queen Elsa, “Let It Go!”  I rode the GMR a few weeks ago and felt a little embarrassed for the Cast Members at times.  The opening sequence supposed to be a tribute to the water pageant extravaganzas of the 30s comes across as a big storage area for mannequins. And Tarzan was not working. He was just hanging in mid swing.  Now keep in mind the Tarzan swing is cheesy when it is working normally. Its just sad when its not working at all.  Still I love the Wizard of Oz Munchkinland scene a lot.  I can only hope Disney will get the rights to a full-fledged Wizard of Oz dark ride so we can see the amazing Wicked Witch again someday.


1 The Great Movie Ride is being replaced by a Mickey Mouse Adventure-   Since we are already talking about it, lets continue the thought here. If you are going to replace an iconic ride from a park (and it could be argued that the GMR was the signature ride when Hollywood Studios opened) it should be replaced by something worthy of the space.  Disney fans have been begging since the opening of Disneyland for a dedicated Mickey Mouse attraction.  Now we are finally getting our wish.  I cannot wait to see what they have in store for us and to learn what exactly a 2 and a half D attraction may be.  We will all find out in about a year!


2  Ellen’s Energy Adventure being replaced by a Guardians of the Galaxy Adventure- I already said what I hope the Imagineers will do to commemorate the original attraction being replaced by a Guardians of the Galaxy themed ride. Lets presume it is going to be a thrill ride. And a mega sized one considering how big the current attraction is. Some rumors say it will even consume the space formally used by the Human Body pavilion.  That’s exciting. Some might regret the influx of franchise driven attractions sprouting up around Epcot, but Disney can still be true to Epcot’s original mission of edu-tainment while introducing a major Marvel title to the mix.


3 Mission Space Upgrade and a Restaurant-  Having enjoyed the undersea dining experience at The Seas, I can very easily imagine how Disney might launch a restaurant into space.  I am a little concerned that having a spinning planet earth outside big observational windows might actually make people a little motion sick, but I am sure Disney has figured out a way to minimize this potential issue. Love the idea. Cannot wait to dine here in the near future.  Disney has also extended what was to be a short refurbishment on Mission Space to include the restaurant and new bigger clearer viewing ports in the Orange Mission Mars Vehicles to enhance the ride experience. They are also completely re-visioning the Green Mission so that its more of a complete, but tame, mission for riders not ready for the high G experience featured in the Orange Mission.


4 Skyliner Gondola Cable Cars- This project is actually underway. They have begun construction of the station extension at Epcot’s International Gateway Station recently. We love the idea of a new magical mode of transportation crisscrossing the property. What I like most about this is that it serves value and moderate resorts first.  I suspect the plan is for this system to serve many of the resort properties and Disney Springs soon enough, but to begin with, they are going to be servicing the least expensive resorts on the property.  How cool will it be to avoid the congestion of some of the roads at opening and closing times by “flying” over them in style in a family sized gondola?  We cannot wait!


5 Tron Coaster coming to Tomorrowland-  I know TRON seems to be a movie money pit for Disney. But the franchise has a serious nerd cult following and it cannot be denied that the neon techno-world of TRON is perfect material for theme park thrill rides.  If you check out the YouTube videos from Shanghai Disneyland, you will see just how cool this addition is going to be in Florida.


6 Toy Story Land opening next summer- Toy Story Land is not new news. It has been under construction for a few years now at Hollywood Studios. But what is news is that its going to be open for our enjoyment so soon.  Next summer to be exact!  This will certainly help DHS regain its reputation as an all-day park.  Right now the Hollywood Studios can be knocked out in a morning if you use your FastPasses effectively.  Opening up Toy Story Land will give us a lot more fun options and keep us there for the really exceptional Star Wars fireworks show.


7 Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge-  It has a name now. And a proposed opening date (Summer of 2019). When the architectural model for the new Star Wars land was revealed at D23, I think all of nerd culture cried out with glee. It is so much bigger than anyone expected. 14 acres to be exact.  The largest expansion of a Disney park in history.  SWGE will be a completely immersive land where characters and supporting Cast Members will all be part of this world. How you do in the interactive attractions will build your reputation with the “locals”. For example, if you are a great gunner in the Millennium Falcon ride, the characters will know about it and show you respect as you wander around the space port village. If you stink and crash the Falcon, bounty hunters might be after you for your failure. All this because of the magic within everyone’s Magic Bands.


8 Star Wars Hotel-  To make things even more interactive, Disney announced the upcoming creation of a Star Wars themed hotel. A completely immersive experience where you and your family will enjoy star fields and planets outside your hotel windows and have Star Wars characters and creatures to interact with at every turn.


9 A New DVC Hotel Property Called the Riviera- It was almost just mentioned in passing as they introduced the new Skyline Cable Car system, but Disney Vacation Club members are going to have another property to call home in the near future.  DVC is Disney’s time share vacation program where you can finance a lifetime of Disney vacations and as a result get special lodging offerings at most of the Deluxe properties and at Disney vacation destinations all around the world. One more classy reason to join the DVC!


10 Ratatouille Ride Coming to France- One of the fine restaurants at the France Pavilion used to feature table-side visits by Remmy the Rat. Of course it was likely the only time a rat has been welcomed at a fine dining establishment at Disney. Well, now the famous gourmet rat will have his very own dark ride attraction. This is a very popular attraction at Disneyland Paris. It should play well here at Epcot’s France.


11 New Movie for the China Pavilion- I know when I was a kid, I was blown away by Disney’s unique 365 degree movie system. I remember how guests used to grip hard onto hand rails as they felt disoriented while the movie wrapped completely around them. Cinema has come a long way since then.  And Disney is upping there game across the parks with new projection technology. This time Disney will be a seamless 365 degree digital system that should be remarkable to experience.


12 Minnie Vans- I think most of us Disney Parks fans can relate.  We have all lost track of time at one park only to come to the sudden realization that you have to get your whole family clear across property to make a dinner reservation and you are no where near a boat, monorail or bus.  I love that now you will be able to pull out your smart phone and summon a cool Minnie Mouse themed SUV and have them come whisk you off to wherever you need to go.  I personally would like to see this replace the Express Bus Services being offered right now, put those buses to better use providing more free services between the resorts and the parks and let these Minnie Vans become the paid express option.


I may have missed a thing or two here. In fact I know (insider information) that even more surprises are coming in the next few years. But lets end here. Let me know what you think about all the changes coming to Walt Disney World in the next few years!


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