The Force is strong at Disney’s Hollywood Studios with an addition of all new Star Wars-inspired entertainment and shopping experiences.
Star Wars Launch Bay
At the all new Star Wars Launch Bay, guests can interact with some of their favorite Star Wars characters by choosing to encounter the Dark Side in a Star Destroyer themed area, or visit with the brave Rebels in a makeshift Rebel Base. One path leads to Darth Vader, while the other leads to Chewbacca.
The Launch Bay also includes two different exhibits – Celebration Gallery and Celebration Hallway to view iconic ships from the Rebel Alliance and Imperial Navy fleet, as well as replica Star Wars props and murals. Guests excited for the upcoming film Star Wars: The Force Awakens can head to Preview Gallery to explore an area filled with costumes, artwork, models and more from the new film. And of course, guests will be able to shop at the Launch Bay Cargo, where they can shop a variety of Star Wars merchandise, including original artwork.
Star Tours – The Adventures Continue
This well know attraction has been enhanced to feature new characters and adventures from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Including minor additions to older adventures so be sure to keep an eye out for those extra touches.
Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple
The popular Jedi Training is back and ready for guests to experience something a little different and new. In this experience, Younglings join with the rebel alliance as young Padawans and learn how to become a Jedi at the Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. This popular offering also has been enhanced to feature new characters, including a new villain – the Seventh Sister Inquisitor from Star Wars.
Star Wars: Path of the Jedi
For those who may not be up-to-date on the Star Wars film franchise, will have the opportunity to do so at the Star Wars: Path of the Jedi. Here, guests can view an abridged cinematic reel that reviews Star Wars episodes I-VII.
All New Star Wars-inspired food items have been added to menus throughout the park. These menu items will include foods such as Blue Milk Panna Cotta, Padawan Limeade, BB-8 Lemon and Butter Cream Cupcakes, and much more.
“Symphony In The Stars: A Galactic Spectacular”
Blasting off on December 18, 2015 an all new nightly firework show, “Symphony In The Stars: A Galactic Spectacular” will be added to the line up of great entertainment.
Starting January the 6th, guest will be able watch the fireworks from a reserved viewing area during a special dessert party – “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party.” There will be Star Wars-themed desserts and drinks. Guest will also receive a souvenir stein featuring one of the most beloved Star Wars characters, Chewbacca.
– Cody Woodbrey
Mickey’s Boo-To-You Halloween Parade at the Magic Kingdom is fun for the whole family and is one of my favorite parades to watch. This parade goes along the streets of the Magic Kingdom twice each night during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party with the first one starting at 8:35 p.m. and the second one starting at 11:15 p.m. When choosing which parade to go to, I highly recommend watching the second parade because more guests watch the first parade, making it a lot more crowded. To start off the parade the Headless Horseman rides down the streets, which is pretty cool to see! Shortly afterwards you will see amazing floats decorated in all things Halloween, such as Characters dressed in costumes, grave diggers dragging their shovels, villains being bad, pirates scavenging for loot, and many more fun and exciting things to see. Below you will see some of the photos and a link to the photos I took during my last two visits. I hope you enjoy looking looking at this fun and spooky parade photos.
– Cody Woodbrey
“Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” is the newest spooky addition to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party at the Magic Kingdom Park. The mischievous Sanderson Sisters from Disney’s “Hocus Pocus” return for one night during the Halloween season. With only a few hours to run amuck, the three sisters decide to use their magic to throw the best, evil Halloween party this side of the graveyard!
“Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular” features appearances by Dr. Facilier, Oogie Boogie, Hades, Maleficent and other great Disney villains, along with dancers, projections and special effects that combine to make this new show a not-to-be-missed Halloween treat.
This new show really is the highlight of the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. l enjoyed watching the show so much, I saw it five times between the two parties I attended. With having a great story line, the Sanderson sisters and the amazing performers, this show is by far the best thing this party has had in years. This answers the question, “Is the Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party worth the extra money?”… Yes, its worth every penny.
Below are some of the pictures I took while on my visit. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them!
– Cody Woodbrey
Brunch Chef Mickey’s at Disney’s Contemporary Resort is now a daily offering.
The Chef Mickey’s restaurant has been one of the more popular Walt Disney World Resort restaurant and now guests can experience even more. This spot has been one of the top places for guest to meet some of their favorite Disney Character, such as Mickey and Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Chip and Dale and a few others.
The brunch menu expands some of the breakfast favorites along with soup, salads and hot dishes, including barbecued ribs, seafood étouffée and baked salmon. Plus, the famous Mickey waffles are also on the brunch menu. The ice cream bar and bakery items will also be a part of this expansive buffet.
Hours for brunch are 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Brunch at Chef Mickey’s is included on the Disney Dining Plan as one table-service entitlement.
– Cody Woodbrey
Photo and content provided by Disney
Four new “Eat to the Beat” concert acts debut and several fan favorites return to America Gardens Theater during the 20th Annual Epcot® International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 25-Nov. 16, 2015.
Scheduled to perform are:
- David Cook – Sept. 25-27, 2015
- Wilson Phillips – Sept. 28-29, 2015
- Christopher Cross – Sept. 30-Oct. 1, 2015
- Starship – Oct. 2-4, 2015
- Smash Mouth – Oct. 5-7, 2015
- The Pointer Sisters – Oct.8-9, 2015
- 38 Special – Oct. 10-11, 2015
- Rick Springfield – Oct. 12-13, 2015
- Sugar Ray – Oct.14-16, 2015
- The S.O.S. Band – Oct. 17-18, 2015
- Air Supply – Oct.19-21, 2015
- Fuel – Oct. 22-23, 2015
- Tiffany (NEW!) – Oct. 24-25, 2015
- Dennis DeYoung – Oct. 26-28, 2015
- Jo Dee Messina – Oct. 29-30, 2015
- Everclear (NEW!) – Oct. 31-Nov. 1, 2015
- Boyz II Men – Nov. 2-4, 2015
- Sister Hazel – Nov. 5-6, 2015
- Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – Nov. 7-9, 2015
- Hanson – Nov. 10-12, 2015
- Maxi Priest (NEW!) – Nov. 13-14, 2015
- Chaka Khan (NEW!) – Nov. 15-16, 2015
Please note: Daily show times take place at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. Entertainment and appearances are subject to change without notice.
– Cody Woodbrey
Photo & content provided by Disney Destinations
Harambe Market, a bustling marketplace alive with the aromas and flavors of African street foods, adds an exciting new dimension to the expanded Harambe Village experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park in Walt Disney World® Resort.
Built around a Colonial-era train depot design complete with a 1960s water tower, Harambe Market invites you to sample true flavors of Africa before or after you embark on Kilimanjaro Safaris®. The following four themed shops offer fresh meals, snacks and beverages like those found in an African street market:
- Kitamu Grill featuring skewered chicken and kebab flatbread sandwich.
- Famous Sausages showcasing a corndog made with a South African boerewors sausage dipped in curry-infused corn batter.
- Chef Mwanga’s spice-rubbed Karubi Rib paired with green papaya-carrot slaw.
- Wanjohi Refreshments quenches thirsts with craft draft beers, South African wines by the glass, sangria, frozen drinks, non-alcoholic tangerine lemonade and fountain beverages.
Harmabe Market offers shaded tables for dining, and area shops sell wares from Africa. And from the marketplace, you can enjoy direct access to Kilimanjaro Safaris, the Wildlife Express train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch and a path to Asia attractions, including Expedition Everest®.
– Cody Woodbrey
Now open at Downtown Disney, The BOATHOUSE: Great Food, Waterfront Dining, Dream Boats is the first of several new restaurants coming to The Landing, a new neighborhood that will be part of Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort.
The BOATHOUSE is an upscale waterfront dining experience where you can feast on fresh seafood, a raw bar, steaks and chops while enjoying a display of rare dream boats from the 1930s – 1950s.
And, if you want more, you can purchase tickets for guided tours on The BOATHOUSE Amphicars, which launch from land and enter water with a splash, or The Venezia, a breathtaking 40-foot wooden Italian Water Taxi.
Plus, Harbor Master festivities take place throughout the day and evening. You can experience flag ceremonies and lively musical performances of beloved bugle songs. Inside, they can enjoy live entertainment featuring a variety of musical styles.
– Cody Woodbrey
A total of 13 new tenants were recently announced, including eight retail shops. With new retailers already aboard and new restaurants either open or coming soon, Downtown Disney is transforming into an exciting new waterfront district for world-class shopping, unique dining, and high-quality entertainment.
Newly announced tenants include:
- Zara: Owned by the Inditex Group, one of the world’s largest fashion retail groups. Zara is known for its men’s, women’s and children’s clothing and accessories, and how it expertly interprets current fashion and style trends of the season, delivering original designs to the consumer in a matter of weeks.
- Tommy Bahama: Iconic island lifestyle brand Tommy Bahama embodies relaxed sophistication. The hallmarks of this casual collection include island-inspired sportswear, denim, and swimwear for men and women in luxuriously soft silks and cottons, richly woven textures and eclectic prints.
- Lilly Pulitzer: The authentic American resort wear brand, Lilly Pulitzer, is landing in the heart of Disney and will be offering their clothing and accessories, optimistic outlook, and happy prints to those who’ve loved the brand for years and new Lilly Girls out there.
- UNIQLO: Leading global retailer UNIQLO designs, manufactures, and sells casual apparel that comes from the company’s Japanese values of simplicity, quality and longevity. The simplest design hides the most thoughtful details in clothing that is constantly being innovated to bring more warmth and lightness, better design and comfort to people’s lives.
- PANDORA: Building on its existing relationship with Disney Parks, the popular jewelry brand offers classic yet modern charm bracelets, along with necklaces, rings and earrings, as well as a line of exclusive Disney-themed jewelry.
- UGG: The UGG® brand is recognized as a premium lifestyle brand offering men’s, women’s and kid’s footwear as well as loungewear, outerwear, home products, cold weather accessories and handbags.
- L’Occitane en Provence: L’Occitane en Provence is an international skincare and beauty line celebrating the culture and beauty of Provence, France.
- Edward Beiner: A leading eyewear designer, purveyor and retailer, Edward Beiner offers today’s aspiring lifestyle-oriented customer the world’s most original, authentic and innovative designer, fashion and high performance eyewear.
- Edison: Inspired by The Edison venue in Los Angeles, this lavish “Industrial Gothic” -style restaurant, bar and nighttime destination is themed to a 1920s-period power plant, recalling an exuberant era of invention and imagination. It will feature exceptionally good classic American food, craft cocktails and live entertainment including cabaret and music.
- Sprinkles: The world’s first cupcake bakery, as named by Food Network and others, serves up handcrafted cupcakes, slow churned ice cream and homemade cookies. Their innovative Cupcake ATM satisfies sweet-toothed epicureans 24/7.
- Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza: Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza is a modern day “pizza joint” known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies. The fast-casual restaurant features an interactive assembly-line format that allows guests to customize their pizza, choosing from over 40 fresh, artisanal toppings – all for one price. The generously sized, 11-inch pizzas are “fast-fired” in a blazing hot open-flame oven and ready to enjoy in just 180 seconds.
- Vivoli Gelateria: Vivoli Gelateria serves expertly crafted gelato made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, panini sandwiches and espresso drinks.
- Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s: Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s specializes in premium loose-leaf teas (hot, iced, blended) featuring customs blends, accessories and packaged teas from all over the globe; created to go or for a tea experience in the café.
Stay tuned for updates as Downtown Disney continues to expand into Disney Springs.
– Cody Woodbrey
Photo & content provided by Disney Destinations
There are several ways in which to get the most out of your “meet and greet” with your favorite Disney Characters. As a performer at Walt Disney World, I can tell you that I’ve seen and experienced it all – the good, the bad, and everything in between. I have therefore compiled some tips and information for you in order to help make this experience the best for your family. This blog post is created to help you better your experience and maximize your “meet and greet” time with the characters.
Lesson 1: Be Prepared
There are a couple of things you can do to be prepared before you ever meet the character.
1. Have your autograph books and cameras ready. This will give you more time to play and interact with the characters versus trying to get your book out or camera ready. This also helps the line go quicker.
2. Take off jackets, bags and/or ponchos. Doing this makes for better-looking pictures. Waiting until you get up to the character takes away from your time to interact with them.
3. Put down any food or drinks. The characters will not take pictures with them in the picture.
Lesson 2: The Approach
When you approach the Disney character, don’t shove your book into their hands.
1. They want to say hi first with a hug or a high five. They want to know you are there for more than just a signature.
2. Make sure the character sees you approaching. They don’t have the best eyesight, and at times they don’t even realize there is a young child by their legs.
3. Please do not jump up on them.
4. Be careful when touching their heads – it’s actually preferred that you don’t touch their heads at all.
5. Everyone must be wearing shoes unless they are being held.
6. They cannot hold your baby.
7. Don’t be rough with the characters. They can be hurt!
Lesson 3: Helping Unsure Kids
I’ve seen hundreds of families that wait in long lines to see the characters only to get up to them and find that their child no longer wants to see them or is crying. These tips will help you get those pictures without the big hassle or need for convincing.
1. Let them watch the character interact with the other families and talk to them about all the fun the other families are having.
2. Holding the child or getting down to the child’s level helps the child feel safe and protected.
3. Hold the child’s hand while walking up to the character.
4. Ask someone to take the picture for you so you can stay with your child. I usually ask the family behind me to do it just in case there isn’t someone at the front of the line to do it. Always check the photo before moving on, as not everyone knows how to use a camera correctly.
5. When taking a picture with your child, put them on the outside shoulder away from the character. By doing this you will help keep them from looking at the camera instead of at the character and/or help them stop crying.
6. If the opposite shoulder strategy doesn’t work, take several steps in front of the character, get their attention to look at the camera, and take the picture. This helps because the child is far enough away that they feel a bit safer and you still get a picture with the character.
Lesson 4: Writing Material for Autographs
By having the right kind of writing utensils it will help you get the best signature possible.
1. Even before you hand the character the autograph books, make sure you use the words “Please” and “Thank You”. These words are often forgotten, but greatly appreciated!
1 – 2-inch pens are hard for anyone to write with, and with a paw it is even harder.
2. Light ink pens or coloring utensils make it hard for the characters to see what they are signing. Use dark ink or colors for signing. When the character can see what they are signing you will get a great signature.
3. Larger-than-life pens are also not the easiest to write with for the characters. The thickness of the pen does make it a bit hard to get a good grip for a great signature.
4. Disney characters’ favorite type of writing utensil is a regular-sized SHARPIE. The inks are thick and they are extremely easy to hold.
5. Characters love it when you use different colors – For example: Tigger loves using Orange colors, whereas The Green Army Man loves using Green to write.
6. The characters also love writing with the fun different Disney pens. They love tickling your faces with the ones with the fuzz on the ends or twirling the character on the end of the pen. They especially love pens with themselves on them.
7. 2-inch size papers or loose papers without something hard behind them are hard to sign on. If you are going to have the papers loose, then use a small clip board. Doing this will help you get the best quality of signatures possible.
Lesson 5: What Characters Can Write On
Disney characters love to sign their name on things, but there are a few things they cannot sign.
1. They cannot sign currency, checks, receipts, other important documents, or things with inappropriate materials on them.
2. They can sign shirts, hats, toys, blankets, and things like that
3. They can’t sign anything while it is being worn. You can take the item off only if it doesn’t reveal skin or undergarments.
4. They can sign the cast of a broken arm or leg – this is the only exception to the previous rule. (Signing casts at the Walt Disney World parks is allowed but NOT at Disneyland parks)
Lesson 6: Creating a Little Bit of Extra Magic
1. The characters love holding, signing, and playing with things that have them on it. Buzz Lightyear loves pretending to fly with his action figure… Or should I say, “Falling with style.”
2. They love giving hugs and high fives
3. Be creative with your pictures. Don’t just stand there; strike a pose! They take thousands of pictures a day with guests posing the same way and they are eager to do something different. Go with the flow – If they want you to pose a certain way, do it. They do some great poses. You can even ask them, “What pose should we make today?” and they will respond with some great ideas. If you have some ideas, they will also join in, as long as it is appropriate.
4. Use more than just your phone camera – you will get better pictures using a real camera.
5. Take a “Selfie” with the characters.
6. Share with the characters why you love them and are there to see them.
Lesson 7: Leaving
When you leave, make sure you thank the Disney characters and the character attendants for letting you come and see them. It’s not easy standing out in the heat all day, but it’s worth it when they feel appreciated and loved. Give last minute high fives and hugs!
If you are planning a trip to one of Disney’s theme parks or a Disney Cruise, please contact me for more information.
– Cody Woodbrey