RUMOR: New Hotel Planned Near Walt Disney World's Swan & Dolphin Hotels

The Swan & Dolphin hotels are undoubtedly very unique resorts. While they are not owned by the Walt Disney Company, these resorts were built in an excellent location, being just steps away from Disney's BoardWalk Resort, Disney's Yacht & Beach Club Resorts, Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf, as well as two of the world's busiest theme parks: Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios. These hotels are already very large, but it looks like a new resort may join them in the near future.

Photo Credit: Disney

Photo Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotels are currently operated by Marriott International, Inc., a company that already operates countless hotels and resort around the world. While the company is already investing money on its existing hotels, it appears that there are plans to build a completely new boutique resort right next to Disney's Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf.

Not too long ago, some height balloons were spotted in and around the tennis court area of the Swan & Dolphin hotels, which is located directly across from the miniature golf course. You can see the tennis courts in the scale model below:

According to some rumors that we recently heard, a new hotel will replace the tennis courts. While it is expected to be a small building, it will require a reconfiguration of Fantasia Garden's existing parking lot, which will be expanded by taking up some backstage areas located behind the Dancing Hippo and Sorcerer's Apprentice pavilions.

The project will impact the Fairways course at Disney's Fantasia Gardens, but changes should be minor. The first hole could be reconfigured to make way for a new pathway and a new storage space will be created (that will be necessary to make up for the storage space that will be lost due to the parking lot expansion):

Here's an aerial view of the location showing the area where the new resort should be built (from Google Maps):

Photo Credit: OTPN

Photo Credit: OTPN

Source: Orlando Theme Park News

Banner Photo Credit: Todd F. Burgess

'Talking Skull' Returns to 'Pirates of the Caribbean' After 12 Year Hiatus

The talking skull that was removed in 2006 has returned at Pirates of the Caribbean. The skull is used to draw guests attention to the direction of the new on-ride photo. A flash of lighting and clap of thunder are used to mask the flash of the photo quite effectively. Here’s our low-light video of the effect.

Much like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, there is no area after the ride to review photos. The on-ride photo is automatically linked to your account via MagicBand, if you’re wearing one.

Source: Blog Mickey

Banner Photo Credit: Blog Mickey

'Cars 3' Races Past The Competition at the United States Weekend Box Office

A $53.69 million box office debut is certainly respectable for Cars 3, the latest project from Disney and Pixar, that’s fair to say.

However, the release of the threequel also raises two questions. Namely, how does the opening compare to the first two Cars movies, and perhaps more importantly, how does it compare to the opening weekends of the other 17 movies that Disney and Pixar have turned out?

Firstly, if you don’t adjust the opening weekends for inflation, Cars 3 falls behind both the original Cars movie ($60.12 million) and the critically maligned sequel, Cars 2 ($66.14 million). Although Cars 2 opened stronger than the first film the franchise, Cars ended up in pole position when it came to final domestic box office whether you adjust the ticket sales for inflation or not.

In order to answer the second question, I’ve ranked the 18 Disney-Pixar releases to date by their opening weekends - all figures are for domestic box office take and are unadjusted for inflation. So far, they have collectively taken $4.56 billion at the domestic box office, unadjusted for inflation - that figure increases to $5.89 billion adjusted. What will probably strike you straight away is that two big movies are in 18th and 17th place, A Bug’s Life and Toy Story 2 respectively. The reason is they opened in just one movie theater and then went wide.

18. A Bug’s Life (Disney) 1998

Opening Weekend: $291,121

Final Box Office: $162.8 million

Inspired by Aesop's fable The Ant and the Grasshopper, production on A Bug's Life began not long after the release of Toy Story in 1995 and was Roddy McDowall's final role before his death. The film went on to inspire the theme park attraction at Disney's Animal Kingdom in Orlando, Florida, It's Tough To Be A Bug.

17. Toy Story 2 (Disney) 1999

Opening Weekend: $300,163

Final Box Office: $245.9 million

Made in nine months and initially envisioned as a straight-to-video sequel, when story reels went down well, Disney upgraded Toy Story 2 to a full theatrical release. Pixar wasn't happy with the film so director John Lasseter and his team redeveloped the entire plot in one weekend. The whole film was turned around in nine months - they usually take two years.

16. Toy Story (Disney) 1995

Opening Weekend: $29.14 million

Final Box Office: $191.8 million

This was Pixar's first full-length feature having previously only turned out shorts. At the time Pixar was just a small company with a handful of employees and budgets were tight. The release, critical and commercial success of Toy Story changed everything.

15. The Good Dinosaur (Disney) 2015

Opening Weekend: $39.16 million

Final Box Office: $123.09 million

Set on a fictional Earth in which dinosaurs never became extinct, The Good Dinosaur grossed $332 million worldwide, making it Pixar's lowest-grossing film. Even though critics liked it, audiences failed to get onboard with the 3D animated adventure.

14. Ratatouille (Disney) 2007

Opening Weekend: $47.03 million

Final Box Office: $206.45 million

Ratatouille, directed by Brad Bird, grossed $620.7 million at the box office and received worldwide acclaim. It went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and was nominated for four others including Michael Giacchino's first Oscar nomination for Best Original Score

13. Cars 3 (Disney) 2017

Opening Weekend: $53.69 million

Final Box Office: TBD

Projected to open with a domestic take of around $60 million, it debuted with $53.3 million but that was still enough for Cars 3 to take the top spot at the weekend's box office. The 16th Pixar film to debut at number one it was, however, the lowest opening tally of the Cars series.

12. Cars (Disney) 2006

Opening Weekend: $60.12 million

Final Box Office: $244.08 million

Cars opened to mostly positive reviews from critics and was nominated for two Academy Awards including Best Animated Feature. Merchandise based on the film broke records for retail sales of merchandise based on a Disney-Pixar film, bringing an estimated $10 billion for 5 years after the film's release.

11. Monsters Inc. (Disney) 2001

Opening Weekend: $62.58 million

Final Box Office: $255.87 million

John Goodman and Billy Crystal led the cast as top scarer Sully and his colleague Mike Wazowski as two monsters employed at the energy-producing factory, Monsters, Inc. - the help generate their city's power by scaring children. Originally released in 2D, Disney and Pixar re-released Monsters, Inc. in 3D a year later.

10. WALL-E (Disney) 2008

Opening Weekend: $63.09 million

Final Box Office: $223.81 million

Pixar's first animated film with segments featuring live-action characters, WALL-E was an instant smash hit, grossing $533.3 million worldwide over a $180 million budget, and getting almost unanimous acclaim from critics. It also went on to win the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, one of five things it was nominated for.

9. Cars 2 (Disney) 2011

Opening Weekend: $66.14 million

Final Box Office: $191.45 million

Cars was only the second Pixar film, after Toy Story, to have a sequel as well as becoming a franchise. However, on Rotten Tomatoes, Cars 2 has, based on 205 reviews, an approval rating of 39% making it the only Pixar film to be certified as "rotten".

Source: Forbes

Banner Photo Credit: Disney•Pixar

New Changes Coming to Disneyland's FastPass System Starting June 21, 2017

In preparation for Disneyland's long-in-the-works MaxPass option, some changes are being made to the resort's current free FastPass system. Starting June 21st, guests will still obtain their FastPasses as normal, but they will be redeemed slightly differently.

Instead of scanning their printed FastPass in order to gain entry to attractions, guests will now scan their ticket or Annual Pass instead. However, guests will still receive paper FastPasses as a reminder of their return time.

Source: Laughing Place

Banner Photo Credit: Justin Brown

Pixar Reveal New Insights Into 'Coco' at the Annecy International Animation Festival

The 2017 Annecy International Animation Film Festival (in Annecy, France) is well underway with Pixar Animation Studios sharing some insights into their fall feature, Coco. According to Variety, the presentation was lead by co-director Adrian Molina and producer Darla K. Anderson who shared design elements and delighted the audience by showing the first five minutes of the film.

With each Pixar film, there is a creative team that focuses heavily on research to ensure the accuracy of their films and Coco was no exception. “These trips [to Mexico] have greatly influenced every part of ‘Coco’s’ production, from story to music to design, even to the way we’re lighting the film,” Anderson said. We can't agree more, after watching the official Coco trailer and teaser, the film is vibrant and colorful with beautiful ambient lighting that is sure to enhance our emotions as we join Miguel on his journey.

One of the challenges that the Coco team faced during the production of the film was how to move the skeletal figures in the Land of the Dead. “Skeletons don’t have muscles, so there’s nothing holding them together,” Molina said, as he explained to the Annecy audience that the skeletal characters didn't respond well to the traditional character rigs (depicting human movement) - making us wonder if the team created new character rigs for the film.

When the concept of Coco was first announced back in April of 2012, it was noted that it would have a strong musical presence with the film centering around Miguel's dream of becoming an accomplished musician like his idol, Ernesto de la Cruz - all while navigating through his family's baffling generations-old ban on music. As the presentation at Annecy came to a close, there wasn't a real mention of any of the music from the film. However, Molina did share that he wrote the lyrics to the song featured in a scene with Miguel disguised as a skeleton set to perform on-stage to prove himself in the Land of the Dead and earning his family's benediction to get back to the land of the living.

Source: Pixar Post

Banner Photo Credit: Disney•Pixar

Monorail Suspended at Walt Disney World Due To Monorail Blue Losing Large Piece Off The Track

The Walt Disney World Monorail System is currently down and Monorail Blue is being evacuated following a piece of the vehicle falling off at Epcot.

Photo Credit: @iOSTrade on twitter

Photo Credit: @iOSTrade on twitter

The photo above shows a guest finding a piece of the monorail on the ground, having fallen off as it departed from Epcot.

Monorail Blue is currently being evacuated on the turn just before Disney’s Contemporary Resort on the Epcot line. We assume that this breakdown is related to the piece that fell off, but can not confirm at this time.

Needless to say, all Monorail lines are currently down until further notice.

We will provide updates as they are available.

Source: WDW News Today

Banner Photo Credit: DreGGs

'Fantasmic!' To Return July 17th and Disneyland Railroad To Open July 29th

This summer, iconic Disneyland park attractions make their return with the reopening of “Fantasmic!,” the Rivers of America attractions and the Disneyland Railroad. We know these classic attractions – many of which have delighted guests since the park’s opening day – are very special to Disneyland park fans, and we are excited to celebrate their return.

For 25 years, “Fantasmic!” has taken Disneyland park guests on a journey into Mickey Mouse’simagination, and its return on July 17 – in celebration of the park’s 62nd anniversary – will bring new magic to this beloved nighttime spectacular! The treasured Disneyland park experience guests have loved for years, complete with its original fanfare and theme song, will be taken to brilliant new heights. New mist screens will combine with innovative, state-of-the-art projection technology for brighter and more vibrant visuals than ever before, and the show will feature new scenes inspired by Disney animated classics such as “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

Also this summer, the classic Rivers of America attractions will reopen, starting with Pirate’s Lair on Tom Sawyer Island this Friday, June 16, followed by Mark Twain RiverboatSailing Ship Columbiaand Davy Crockett Explorer Canoes on July 29. For decades, guests have traveled the landscapes inspired by four of America’s majestic rivers: the Mississippi, the Columbia, the Missouri and the Rio Grande; each carefully recreated, complete with indigenous rock formations, natural forests and wildlife. The return of these watercraft will bring even more breathtaking views for guests to discover, including an enhanced adventure featuring the new Columbia Gorge section, highlighted by five picturesque waterfalls. Last year, we shared the artist’s rendering above, courtesy of Walt Disney Imagineering, showing the gorgeous new north bank of the Rivers of America, which will feature a beautiful new waterfront.

This new waterfront will also include several elevated trestles over which the Disneyland Railroad will travel when it reopens along with the Rivers of America attractions on July 29. An icon for more than 60 years, the Disneyland Railroad holds a special place in the hearts of our guests, and we are excited to take them on the grand circle tour of Walt Disney’s original Magic Kingdom once again. This classic experience will also feature new and enhanced adventures! For the very first time, the Disneyland Railroad will make a left-hand turn to continue around Disneyland park, and I’m excited to tell you that Walt Disney’s legendary dioramas of the Grand Canyon and Primeval World have been carefully restored to their original splendor, with a bit of new magic added to both!

Don’t miss this iconic summer as some of your favorite attractions return to Disneyland park.

Source: Disney Parks Blog

Banner Photo Credit: Disney

WATCH: New Preview Released For Pixar's 'LOU' That Will Debut With 'Cars 3'

Before audiences hit the speedway in Cars 3, they’ll first tread a different kind of asphalt — that serenely hopscotched tarmac of an elementary school playground — in the latest short from Disney and Pixar Animation Studios.

EW is pleased to exclusively introduce you to Lou, the star of Lou, the new short running before Cars 3 (in theaters June 16).

Lou himself is… well, up for debate. It’s probably easiest to describe him as a friendly monster who runs the school’s lost and found, inhabiting all sorts of mismatched and misplaced objects in his duty as omniscient playground watchdog. Lou keeps a close eye (or two) on the kids and makes sure everyone is reunited with the treasures they’ve lost — even those who didn’t realize they’ve parted ways with something precious.

In a new clip, above, from the six-minute film, directed by Dave Mullins and produced by Dana Murray, you’ll get a good glimpse at Lou’s happy world — and meet the very rude reason why Lou has to come out of his shell. Well, technically, sweatshirt.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Banner Photo Credit: Disney•Pixar

WDI & Hanson Robotics Developing Artificially Intelligent Disney Characters

Dr. David Hanson, founder and CEO of Hanson Robotics, made a big announcement at the TechXLR8 conference today.  Hanson Robotics is partnering with Disney to bring artificially intelligent Disney robots to life. This may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie but in the not-too-distant future these robots could be everywhere, even your home.

Hanson Robotics is developing amazingly expressive and lifelike robots that build relationships with people through conversation. Hanson works to create Genius Machines that “will have emotional intelligence matching – and one day surpassing – human emotional intelligence”. All of this achieved through the use Artificial Intelligence.

It has yet to be announced which Disney character will be the first to make it’s robotic debut but Hanson did use a slide of Elsa at the conference to reveal how people are drawn to characters with human options. It would make sense if Elsa was chosen with Frozen 2 on the horizon. Good news is we won’t have to guess for too long. Currently, the launch date is scheduled for 2018.

Source: Chip and Co

Banner Photo Credit: Abigail Campbell

WATCH: New Disney Short, 'Olaf's Frozen Adventure' To Debut Alongside Pixar's 'Coco'

Icy hearts will be significantly easier to melt this Christmas season in part thanks to Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, a new 21-minute featurette starring Frozen snowman Olaf (Josh Gad) on his quest to find an apt holiday tradition for sisters Anna (Kristen Bell) and Elsa (Idina Menzel) in their first merry season together as non-estranged princesses.

Photo Credit: Disney

Photo Credit: Disney

“People forget that the first movie took place in the middle of summer, so this is really the first holiday season after the girls have come together, but what they’re realizing is that because they were separated for so long, they don’t have any family traditions” explains John Lasseter, chief creative officer for Disney and Pixar animation, speaking exclusively to EW about the new original (the trailer for which debuted on Good Morning America earlier this morning). “So, Olaf is so sad about this that he decides to step out with Sven the reindeer to go around Arendelle to find the greatest family tradition for Anna and Elsa.”

Initially announced as an ABC television special, Olaf’s Frozen Adventure was bumped up to theatrical run status after Lasseter and the filmmakers decided it was too cinematic to not inhabit the big screen (to wit, it’ll now run in 3-D). Moreover, as an apt thematic match for Coco, Pixar’s upcoming Nov. 22 release about a boy uncovering his own family’s traditions on Día de Muertos, the opportunity was clear as ice crystal, and the result will be Pixar’s first movie to feature a lead-in from Walt Disney Animation Studios. (Cool your comment fingers: Yes, on the flip side, there indeed have been plenty of Pixar shorts that ran before WDAS films).

Photo Credit: Disney

Photo Credit: Disney

“When we put shorts in front of features, I always love to have shorts that contrast, that aren’t about the same subject or setting or environment, but with this, both stories are incredibly emotional and so much about family that they really fit,” Lasseter says. “And both celebrate two completely different holidays, so I think that was also fun to put them together.”

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure reunites the principal cast (including Jonathan Groff, returning as Kristoff), enlists decorated directors Kevin Deters and Stevie Wermers-Skelton (Prep & Landing) and producer Roy Conli (Big Hero 6), and adds four new original songs to the Frozen canon, this time from a new composing duo, Kate Anderson and Elyssa Samsel. “This was a high hurdle I set, but one of my dreams was to create a new Christmas standard in one of those songs, and Kate and Elyssa just killed it,” says Lasseter. “The song that’s actually in the trailer is ‘When We’re Together,’ and it just brings tears to your eyes. It has such great meaning for frankly anybody coming together for the holiday season.”

More than anything, the holiday featurette sticks to Lasseter’s philosophy on sequels — “No matter the length, you only do it when you have a great story” — and serves as a fundamental foundation for Frozen 2. In a string of projects set in the world of Arendelle, the animation chief stresses that everything you’ve seen thus far of Frozenwill coalesce in the November 2019 sequel, which will pick up after this timeline and examine the next chapter of Anna and Elsa figuring out how to co-exist on a united front. “In Frozen, they dearly loved each other but were separated, and now they’re back together and never going to close the doors again. But now what? What are they going to do with their first birthday? That’s Frozen Fever. Now, they have their first holiday season together. [That’s Olaf’s Frozen Adventure.] And then what? We go from there, and it fits in perfectly with Frozen 2,” he says. “It’s interesting to have this continuity between FrozenFrozen FeverOlaf’s Frozen AdventureFrozen on Broadway… all of these projects really lead to Frozen 2 and this new story we’re creating that’s all, in a weird way, connected in the life of Anna and Elsa. You could sit and watch Olaf’s Frozen Adventure and Frozen 2 as one big marathon. And it’s all in [Anna and Elsa’s] learnings. As we learn, they learn.”

For the purposes of Olaf’s Frozen Adventure, the big lessons this time around are most felt by Olaf, who remains committed to discovering everything he can about the seasons — only he’s now less concerned with what happens to snowmen in summer and more by what befalls fir trees in winter. “It’s fun for him to go around and listen to everybody’s traditions and analyze them very blankly, like a Christmas tree—‘You cut down a tree and dress its corpse with ornaments!?’” Lasseter chuckles. “Olaf is one thousand percent enthusiastic and positive, but also one thousand percent naïve about everything. And he’s so much fun because of it. Every now and then, you create a character and you’re just like, ‘Oh, this is comic gold.’”

Olaf’s Frozen Adventure debuts in front of Coco on Nov. 22; you can also catch the trailer in front of this weekend’s Cars 3.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Banner Photo Credit: Disney

The Walt Disney Company Finally Takes Full Ownership of Disneyland Paris

In a rather exciting piece of new, the Walt Disney Company has successfully taken full ownership of Disneyland Paris.

Disney required more than 95% of the stock via buyout to complete the transaction by ;last week, and they reached 97.08% which will eventually grant them full ownership of the entire resort for the first time in its 25 year history. The remaining shareholders will see their shares automatically redeemed at the price of €2 each.

Before the buyout, Disney stated that this deal “affords maximum flexibility to shareholders, addresses the group’s financial needs and reflects its ongoing support for the long-term success of Disneyland Paris”. To this end, Disney said it will support Euro Disney’s recapitalization to the tune of 1.5 billion euros. This follows a 2014 rescue plan in which Disney committed to at least 1 billion euros over 10 years.

Disneyland Paris racked up a net loss of 858 million euros (over $900 million) in 2016 after the terrorist attacks in Paris in late 2015 led to a downturn in the tourism industry across France.  Additionally, the European economy hasn’t been been kind to businesses across the continent.  In 2015, the company recorded a net loss of 102 million euros.  The financial saga of Euro Disney is frequently discussed in most writings about the resort, including the recently released "Building Magic – Disney’s Overseas Theme Parks" and the earlier "Once Upon an American Dream: The Story of Euro Disneyland".

Source: WDW News Today

Banner Photo Credit: Disney

EPCOT Introducing 'Frozen Ever After Dessert Party' with Fireworks Viewing Area

Epcot is getting a new fireworks dessert party focused around the Frozen Ever After attraction in Norway.

Frozen Ever After takes guests through the kingdom of Arendelle from the Disney animated hit, “Frozen.” Located in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot, Frozen Ever After celebrates a “Summer Snow Day” on a journey through a frozen willow forest, past Troll Valley and up to Queen Elsa’s palace high up on the north mountain. (Matt Stroshane, photographer)

The dessert party portion of the event will take place just steps away from the current FastPass+ viewing area for IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. After guests enjoy a spread of delectable desserts, drinks, and the nightly fireworks show, they will then be whisked over to Frozen Ever After to enjoy a ride on the attraction with little-to-no-wait after normal park closing time.

The event will be offered on Sundays, Wednesdays, and Fridays starting in July, replacing the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party which concludes July 14th. The price will be $79 per adult and $47 per child. Bookings should open following a Disney announcement.

Source: WDW News Today

Banner Photo Credit: Matthew Cooper

RUMOR: Disney Dining Plan Adding Alcoholic & Specialty Beverages in 2018 at Walt Disney World

According to internal rumblings, 2018 Disney Dining Plan packages should include alcoholic and specialty beverages.

With the new plans, guests will now be able to enjoy a choice of either one speciality non-alcoholic or alcoholic (if they are over 21 years of age) beverage with each meal.

A single serving non-alcoholic specialty beverage may includes items such as Artisanal Milkshakes, Smoothies, Premium Hot Chocolates, Soda, Coffee, or Tea. A single serving alcoholic beverage might include items such as Beer or Cider, Wine or Sangria, or even Mixed Drinks such as specialty cocktails.

With these additions, prices for the Disney Dining Plan should be raised again. It is unclear if guests can opt out of these additions for a cheaper plan, but it seems doubtful. Reportedly, those who have already booked 2018 packages will get these new entitlements at no extra charge.

An official announcement from Disney is expected this week.

Source: WDW News Today

Banner Photo Credit: Disney

Disney Files Patent to Enhance Audio Animatronic With New Interactivity

Reports have surfaced that Disney has filed a patent to “have amusement-park rides sense when an occupant is in a seat.” By doing so, Disney is hoping to synchronize the sounds heard in the ride with the movement of the animotronics’ mouths so the rider will be able to see the mouths of the animatronics’ move in-sync with the words and music of the attraction.

The Dis did some research and found the exact patent that was filed with the United States Patent Office. “System for controlling robotic characters to enhance photographic results” is the name of the patent filed. With this patent Disney is hoping to enhance the animatronics’ interactions with it’s guests with robotic heads. Disney is hoping to have animatronics’ that will blink and smile and eve posts for guests’ photos. They are also hoping to expand this technology to shows and parades.

For now, that is about all the information that can be pulled from the patent. We will let you know when Disney releases additional information on these exciting upgrades.

Would you be excited to see these changes to your favorite Disney ride? The only downside I can see is that your favorite ride(s) might be closed for refurbishment for a period of time.

Source: Chip and Co

Banner Photo Credit: Disney

Disneyland Are Renovating 'Adventureland' To Ease Crowd Congestion Ahead Of 'Fantasmic!'

The adventure of walking through Adventureland at Disneyland should get easier in a few weeks.

Park officials confirmed plans to close two shops, move another, and create an indoor dining space for the Bengal Barbecue Restaurant to make walking in the area smoother for visitors.

Regular park visitors have long known that the area between the restaurant and the entrance to the Indiana Jones attraction is one of the most congested areas to walk through on almost any day.

Along with that choke point, strollers are parked in the middle of the walkway, creating an additional bottleneck.

To ease the congestion, the Indiana Jones Adventure Outpost and South Seas Traders shops, both next to the restaurant, will close Monday, June 12, to begin conversion into an indoor seating area. Park officials said the space will also be air conditioned.

Another part of the project calls for the Tropical Imports shop to close Thursday, June 29. That shop sells fresh fruits and a variety of drinks and is located next to the exit to the Jungle Cruise.

It will move into a space adjacent to the Bengal Barbecue, and the space it vacates will become the stroller parking for the area, moving it out of the middle of the walkway.

Additionally, the park plans to remove a planter near the barbecue to improve crowd flow.

Plans call for the barbecue, which opened in 1992, to remain open for the entire project, which is expected to be complete by the end of June.

The restaurant offers skewers of barbecued meat and vegetables, among other items.

It occupies a space that previously housed an orange juice bar run by Sunkist. When Sunkist left the park, Disney Imagineers at the park were tasked with coming up with ideas for a new food operation for the space.

“We came up with a back story that a tree in Adventureland was struck by lightning, hollowed out the tree and left a permanent fire,” said Steve Feicht, the Imagineering art director on the project.

Feicht helped design the facility, including the fake tree that serves as the barbecue. On one side of the tree, which sits behind the order counter, are three monkeys carved into it just like the ones depicted as “See No Evil, Hear No Evil and Speak No Evil.”

“The rest of our back story was that traders in the area found the smoldering tree and decided to turn it into a barbecue,” Feicht said.

The restaurant has long been popular with visitors and there is frequently a line to order the skewers. But its location across from the Indiana Jones attraction has long been a choke point for crowds that also has to make their way around the entrance to the Tarzan’s Treehouse attraction to get to New Orleans Square and points beyond.

Besides the regular menu, the restaurant is also serving some special menu items for a limited time that include an Ahi Poke Spring Roll, a hummus trio and a tropical drink called a “Jungle Julep,” a slush made with grape, orange, pineapple and lemon.

Source: OC Register

Banner Photo Credit: Todd F. Burgess

'Big Thunder Trail' Finally Reopens at Disneyland, Showing New Path To Star Wars Land

With Disneyland‘s (and Walt Disney World’s) tremendous new Star Wars expansion still two years away, it’s always exciting to get any major updates on construction at the park. And it’s even more thrilling when guests can see progress on the land up close for themselves.

Today Disneyland re-opened its Big Thunder Trail path between Fantasyland and Frontierland– which has been closed to guest traffic since Big Thunder Ranch was shuttered in January 2016– and finally unveiled the amazing new rock formations and a closer look at the soon-to-relaunch Disneyland Railroad track, not to mention two (count ’em, two) entrances to the still-unnamed Star Wars Land along the trail.

Walking through the area today for the first time in a year and a half, I couldn’t help but get the chills. This is a big step in the process of transforming the northwest side of the park, and it gets us that much closer to entering the Star Wars expansion itself.

The new theming and landscaping on display along the trail is very impressive, and blends in perfectly with the parts that Imagineers thankfully chose to leave in place– most notably the tunnel and other remnants from the former Mine Train Through Nature’s Wonderland attraction.

It’s great to be able to walk this route again, not to mention the fact that it will alleviate some of the congestion problems Disneyland faces on busier days. I’m definitely looking forward to more areas of the park, including the Rivers of America and the Disneyland Railroad, opening later this summer.

Source: Inside The Magic

Banner Photo Credit: DizFeed

The Reason Why Julie Andrews Will Not Appear in 'Mary Poppins Returns'

It’s been a good week for fans anxiously awaiting any snippet of information they could find about Walt Disney Pictures’ Mary Poppins Returns. The studio released a batch of new photos from the movie showing off Emily Blunt as the new (and perfectly cast) Ms. Poppins, as well as our first look at the rest of the cast, which includes Lin-Manuel Miranda, Ben Whishaw, Emily Mortimer, and more.

But there’s some bad news for those hoping the new movie would feature the best part of the original. Now we know that Julie Andrews, the woman who made P.L. Travers’ beloved nanny a cinematic icon, won’t be appearing in the new movie.  

Entertainment Weekly spoke with director Rob Marshall (Chicago) and discovered why Andrews won’t be cameoing in the new film. It’s certainly not because she has any ill will about a sequel being made, or that Blunt is taking over the role – Marshall says Andrews supports the sequel “one thousand percent” and loves the idea of Blunt taking up the mantle:

“She had known it was in the works, then we said, ‘We’re doing it,’ and she said, ‘Oh, thank God,'” the director recalls. “Then we said, ‘And we’re thinking of Emily Blunt,’ and she just threw her hands up in the air and said yes. I think a lot of people feel that way about Emily’s work.”

It turns out the reason Andrews won’t be showing up is because she respects Blunt’s work so much that she doesn’t want to distract from it. Marshall continued:

“Julie was incredibly gracious, and we talked about it in a very general way but she made it clear right up front. She said, ‘This is Emily’s show, and I really want it to be Emily’s show. I don’t want it to be, “Oh, here comes that Mary Poppins.” I don’t want that. I really want her to take this and run with it, because she will be brilliant.'”

On one hand, it may have been nice to see Andrews pop up briefly and put a smile on people’s faces, especially since her original Mary Poppinsco-star Dick Van Dyke already has a cameo role (but he won’t be reprising his role as Bert). But then again, it’s nice that the film won’t have to come to a complete stop to pay tribute to yet another icon, because that almost never benefits the current story the filmmakers are trying to tell. Andrews knows that a majority of the sequel’s audience would be thrilled to see her, even if just for a moment, so the fact that she respects the storytelling enough to take a cameo off the table actually makes me respect her even more.

Mary Poppins Returns arrives in theaters on December 18, 2018.

Source: Slashfilm

Banner Photo Credit: Disney

Pixar's 'Coco' Might Be Replacing 'The Gran Fiesta Tour' at EPCOT's Mexico Pavilion

Hola Amigos! It is I Anonymouse back with some Disney World Gossip.

The new trailer for Coco, Pixar’s next original film, was released just a few days ago and it inspired me for today’s post. The word around the Disney water coolers is that the Mexico Pavilion is going to be seeing some changes. It is looking like the Imagineers have their eyes on retheming the Grand Fiesta Tour attraction to a Coco based ride. It is unclear at this time if this will be a simple overlay or full re-imagining, but I am hearing that there is a target of mid-2020 for its debut.

Of course this is all dependent on how the movie does when released on November 22, 2017. Now that IPs are now longer off limits in EPCOT’s World Showcase (I’m looking at you Frozen Sisters) it’s not hard to believe that Disney is looking to make some changes. The Three Caballeros have starred in this attraction since 2007 but it rarely sees wait times over 20 minutes. After seeing the popularity shift in Norway, I’m sure Disney has the same high hopes for Mexico.

Source: Chip and Co

Banner Photo Credit: Disney

New 'Star Wars Land' Details To Be Showcased at D23 Expo 2017's 'A Galaxy of Stories' Pavilion

The Force is strong at D23 Expo 2017 thanks to an entire pavilion dedicated to the Star Wars-themed lands coming to Disneyland park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Today, the creative minds behind the pavilion unveiled the amazing logo for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts: A Galaxy of Stories, exclusively at D23 Expo 2017.

Photo Credit: Disney

Photo Credit: Disney

In just a few short weeks, guests can catch a glimpse of the locations, starships, creatures and droids that will populate this remote village on the Outer Rim, and experience the world premiere of a detailed model showcasing the immersive 14-acre lands coming to Disney Parks in 2019. There will be plenty of artwork and media on display to show guests the creative process bringing the Star Wars, galaxy to life.

On Saturday of the D23 Expo, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman, Bob Chapek, will also take the stage for a special Hall D23 presentation on what’s new and what’s next for resorts around the globe. In addition, guests can sit in on three other unique Disney Parks panel presentations:

Friday, July 14
3:30 p.m. Pirates of the Caribbean: 50 Years of Swashbuckling Adventures in Disney Parks

Saturday, July 15
3:00 p.m. Walt Disney Parks and Resorts – Bob Chapek

Sunday, July 16
12:15 p.m. Inspiring Women of Imagineering
2:30 p.m. Voices of Disney Parks

We’re also bringing back Mickey’s of Glendale, the Imagineer-exclusive merchandise store chock full of limited-edition collectibles and souvenirs. It’s all coming up at D23 Expo 2017 on July 14-16 at the Anaheim Convention Center, across the street from Disneyland Resort. Tickets and more information are available now at D23expo.com.

Source: Disney Parks Blog

Banner Photo Credit: Disney

WATCH: Pixar Releases First Full Trailer for 'Coco', In Theatres November 22nd

Coco promises to be unlike anything before it.

The new trailer for Pixar’s latest creation showcases the film’s music, the journey to the Land of the Dead, and its groundbreaking all-Latino voice cast.

Helmed by Toy Story 3 director Lee Unkrich, Coco tells the story of young Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez), who dreams of becoming a musician, despite his family’s confusing musical ban. His path to showcasing his talents leads him to the Land of the Dead, where he will learn the secrets of his family’s history.

Unkrich knows the pressure that comes with taking on the story of an entire culture. He previously told EW, “The day John Lasseter gave the thumbs up for this movie, I immediately felt this huge weight drop onto my shoulders because I knew that we were doing something different than we had ever made at the studio and that for the first time, we were going to have this enormous responsibility to do right by this culture and not lapse into stereotype or cliché.”

Coco dances into theaters on Nov. 22.

Source: Entertainment Weekly

Banner Photo Credit: Disney•Pixar