Disney World and the Banned Selfie Sticks

So, after having enacted a ban on selfie sticks just this past Spring, Disney Parks have stepped up the restriction and just flat-out banned these items throughout the parks. As of June 30, guests who bring selfie sticks into the park will have them confiscated and held at Security until they leave, at which time they can pick them back up.

The ban occurred after the original attempt to limit their use ended up being impossible to enforce; the parks’ first effort was to prohibit their use on fast-moving rides. I’m sure they thought they’d never even have to do that; honestly, what kind of sense does it make to take a high-priced, breakable item like a smart phone and stick it outside of a fast-moving roller coaster attached to nothing but a flimsy pole?!  Nobody would do that, right?

This is pretty self-explanatory, I think. But it's also possible that you might think it means "No square balloons" so I can see where it was unclear.

This is pretty self-explanatory, I think. But it’s also possible that you might think it means “No square balloons” so I can see where it was unclear.

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A slightly-late look at Avatarland

Hey there!  Have you heard?  Disney’s Animal Kingdom is adding a massive park expansion and theming it to James Cameron’s recent film “Avatar”.

What’s that you say?  Of course you’ve heard, because you are a Disney fan and have not been living underneath a rock for the past few months?  Ah, yes, I AM a little late reporting on this. 😉

Oh wait, what’s that from the person in the back?  You say you DIDN’T know, because you don’t live under a rock but you just don’t follow Disney news obsessively?  Ah, well then, glad to help!  So yeah.  Animal Kingdom.  Avatar.  Happening.

…Yeah.

*crickets*

NO WAIT, there’s more!  (Don’t go! I’ll stop deprecating myself now and put up some real info!)

James Cameron et al and a model of the planned expansion. (C) The Walt Disney Company.

James Cameron et al and a model of the planned expansion. (C) The Walt Disney Company.

First things first: after months of rumours and unconfirmed buzzing, Disney finally confirmed the Avatarland expansion a few weeks ago at the D23 Expo in Japan.  A short while later (still like, two weeks ago), they released concept art and a few details of what would be included in this expansion.  Here’s an excerpt:

Disney is working with James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment to bring the land of Pandora from the movie “AVATAR” to life at Disney’s Animal Kingdom® Theme Park.

Apparently everyone will get the chance to “encounter awe-inspiring floating mountains and wander through a nighttime jungle of bioluminescent plants that are alive with light and sound. Guests will also discover what it feels like to soar into the sky riding a Banshee.”

Bioluminescent plants.  Huh.

Bioluminscent... like THIS??  Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company

Bioluminscent… like THIS?? 😀 Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company

So, I’ll take a moment here to relate that I have not seen “Avatar”, nor do I have plans to.  As such I wasn’t excited to hear the rumours confirmed, but at the same time, I’m not qualified to say “That movie is AWFUL what are they thinking?!”  I will say that I have reservations about this expansion for one reason I think is legit, and even that can be argued, so I’ll just put it down here and say it’s fine by me if you feel differently, I’m just admitting my bias: I don’t think Animal Kingdom is the place to have such a major, heavy movie tie-in.  Animal Kingdom has been dedicated to the theme of Earth, conservation, and nature.  And while Pandora/Avatar do promise to keep the conservation and nature themes going, it severs the ties to our planet; it takes you out of the Earth and its history, and into a work of fiction.  Even the abandoned “Legendary Beasts” concept for DAK was based in our own historical mythology, not a recent work of fiction by a Hollywood creative team.

But, your mileage may vary. 🙂

I will also admit that if they can pull off the “awe-inspiring floating mountains” in a way that lives up to their pictures, I will be impressed enough by this to bake them cookies.

Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company.

Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company.

Meanwhile, the concept art and announcements actually strangely lessened my resistance. A little.  More so though, did this:

As part of the largest expansion in the history of the Park, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will also offer all-new entertainment experiences, including a new nighttime spectacular where live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all combine to bring a show to Discovery River …. The Park will introduce more nighttime entertainment as well, including live performers on Discovery Island® and a new nighttime version of the Kilimanjaro Safaris®.

New nighttime spectacular!  This is a big deal; for many years they have held off on having nighttime entertainment at DAK due to not wanting to upset the animals. (Like fireworks are OUT.)  Water screens and swirling animal imagery sounds perfect!  And live music… isn’t that a first for a Disney nighttime show?  That actually sounds really impressive!

Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company.

Concept art (C) The Walt Disney Company.

Nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris, I’m not sure of.  I just mean I need to find out what that is all about, because it’s hard for me to imagine it. I’ve done the Jungle Cruise at night, is it like that?  Is it just that the drivers will go off-script? 😉  No, I keep faith that Disney will put research into finding out what they can or cannot expect the animals to do at night and build the nighttime safaris around that, rather than building the show and forcing the animals to be out in it.  Animal Kingdom has been dedicated to its animals and I expect them to keep that up.

So, if there are new opportunities and entertainment at Animal Kingdom, I realized, that really isn’t a bad thing.  Would I like it more if it were not tied into a specific movie I don’t plan on seeing?  Yes, yes I would, but it’s not up to me to decide now is it?  And I would like to hold out hope that fun is fun and, much as I ignore Terk every time I see her walking around DAK, I can ignore any blue people. 🙂

Concept art (c) The Walt Disney Company.

Concept art (c) The Walt Disney Company.

So you know what?  I’ll probably end up OK with this. I usually end up OK with the stuff they do once I get there.  But I hope they keep the hardcore movie references to a minimum because it’s not really fair to go to a DISNEY park and be all “what, you’ve never seen Avatar??  You won’t get this then.” ;P

Construction on Avatarland will begin in 2014, and right now the expected open date is 2017!  Are you wary, or excited about Avatarland? Or mixed feelings, like me?  Leave a comment and let me know!

Actual Disney News: Rapid Fill

Hey, you know how sometimes I actually post news about Disney, and resorts and things here?  Did… did anyone know that?  Um…

 

Anyway, sometimes I do.  Like right now!  On Sunday, July 7, it was announced that Disney World is changing their policies with refillable mugs. In a really cool futuristic kind of way!  If you’re familiar with RFID (radio frequency identification) chips, they are being introduced all over the Disney resorts and parks – and have been in use in various ways for a while already – well, they are adding these to the refillable mugs in a program they’re calling Rapid Fill.  Previously, guests at Disney World resorts could purchase a big ol’ plastic mug for approximately $15 and it could be refilled for the length of the stay.  Rules were that the refills could only be done at the resort you stayed at, and you could only use the mugs from your current stay – no bringing them back year after year.

A sampling of the refillable resort mugs. Photo credit (c) The Disney Food Blog.

A sampling of the refillable resort mugs. Photo credit (c) The Disney Food Blog.

 

As you can imagine, this is hard to enforce.  Disney’s latest RFID venture solves the problem of enforcing the rules and also offers flexibility and new options to the deal!  So the mugs will now have RFID chips embedded within them, and those chips are programmed with a guest-determined length of use for the refillable option.  The price of the mugs varies based on how many days of refills you have, from $8.99 for a single day to $17.99 for four days or more; the time period is determined by the guest, so you can choose fewer days than your full length of stay if you want!  The chips can be programmed for up to 14 days – must be consecutive and you must actively be staying for that length of time – but more days can be added if you are staying longer than that.

 

The mugs will now be able to be refilled at ANY resort beverage station, not only the resort they were purchased at!  The mug’s chip will communicate with the refill dispenser and display how many days remain on the free refills; if the deal is expired, the dispensers just won’t work.  Past mugs can’t be reactivated, and right now the refillable mugs can’t be used at the water parks, or at the theme parks. There are plans to include the water parks as an add-on (for an additional price), but no plans yet to include the theme parks… let’s wait and see how the program does!

 

For those wondering: of course the mugs are not mandatory, and guests can still purchase paper cups too.  Non-refillable paper cups. 😉  The refillable mugs will also still be included on the Disney Dining Plan and there’s no added cost based on days included, you just get ’em.

 

More information can be found at this link announcing the change, and you can ask me questions too!  If it’s not covered in the link I probably don’t know the answer, but you know, I can try. 🙂  What do you think?  I can see where this would be unpopular among people who have been habitually using the old mugs because Disney didn’t enforce the rules, but from the perspective of people who accept the rules, I see only one downside: the $17.99 price tag on these babies for 4 days or more.  Guys! In 2005 these things cost like $9.99!! I’m not kidding!  It MIGHT have been 11.99.  Yeesh!  Also, I wish they’d bring back the resort-specific designs, because those were cool.  The only one I got was a Port Orleans – Riverside one, but it’s a prized possession.

DisNews! 3/5/13

I’m trying to figure out what I want to call these things. Eventually I’ll hit on something catchy.  Right now “Disnews” is what I’ve named the text file I compile all these links in. 😛  I was picky this week…

WDW News:

Disneyland News:

Disney/Park Rumours:

Disney General News:

Disney News Roundup 2/26/13

Morning all… Best Disney parks-and-more headlines from the past week!

WDW News:

Disneyland News:

Disney/Park Rumours:

Disney General News:

Disney Social Media Roundup, 2/9/13

Well, this is something I’d like to try – since I have found it really tricky to sort through Twitter feeds and keep up with all the updates, I thought I’d try consolidating them for readers!  (Of course, this only works if people are reading MY blog, but y’know, something to check back for?)  I do something similar to this at my job, only it’s monthly and sorting through medical news, and I find this a lot more engaging. 🙂

I’ll try to do this daily, though who knows how that will pan out… I also have to say, this is not nearly complete because I can only go by the people I follow, but it’s the best I can do for a first shot!  Note: If you’d rather I NOT include your blogs/feeds here, please let me know and I’ll remove them.

Blog Updates:

Podcasts:

Disney News:

Disney Fandom News: