Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park in 2015

This weeked on Twitter I asked what my friends thought was the Best Disney News of 2014. The majority of the answers that I got were about Turner Classic Movies partnering on/sponsoring the Great Movie Ride at Hollywood Studios, which is indeed fantastic!  Some related news is the fact that TCM is also showing “Treasures From the Disney Vault“, presenting vintage Disney shows and other material that has not been replayed on the Disney Channel for some time now. YAY, TCM! (Also noteworthy: many people were happy about the recent announcement that the Sorcerer’s Hat is coming down – this is also at Hollywood Studios. Hmmm. Coincidence?)

I nipped this from a recent post at takingthefloridaplunge.com - go there for lots of constant content!

I nipped this from a recent post at takingthefloridaplunge.com – go there for lots of constant content!

This led into a general discussion about Hollywood Studios, what it could be, what it is, what we hope will happen.  Admittedly the bulk of this discussion was with LeBeau, of LeBeau’s LeBlog (yes, this is just an opportunity to plus his blog, but it’s worth it), but a few others joined in here and there!

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A Few Disney News Bites

Hello everyone!  There are a number of little Junior News stories about Disney from the past week or two, so I’m going to toss them at you and ask: what are you most excited for?

1: The Jingle Cruise!

Disneyland and Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom will both be giving a holiday makeover to the classic Adventureland attraction, The Jungle Cruise. The holiday theming will begin “in early November”, so presumably sometime in the next week or two?  From Disney’s description:

In this new seasonal storyline of the attraction, the Skippers have grown homesick for the holidays, so they’ve added holiday cheer to the Jungle Cruise queue and boathouse with decorations that have been mailed to them from home (plus a few they’ve created themselves). The Skippers have also added a slew of new jokes to their tours that are the perfect way to get guests in the holiday spirit. Additionally, Jungle Cruise boats have been renamed with the holidays in mind, and if you listen carefully, you may hear a holiday-themed radio broadcast playing in the background.

My thoughts: I love the idea of a Jingle Cruise – I’m not sure why, I just do – but I’ve always been struck by how the Skippers on the Jungle Cruise are such smartasses. ;D  Somehow it seems weird to me that they’d be so sentimental as to get “homesick” and decorate for the holidays!  But that’s just me.  I’d still love to see this!  What do you think, are you for or against this makeover?

2: New Lounge at Hollywood Studios’s Brown Derby restaurant!

One of the nicer restaurants at Hollywood Studios, the Hollywood Brown Derby is now opening an outdoor patio lounge area for guests.  The area is shaded with umbrellas and menu offerings include beverages (alcohol included), small bites – that’s “fine dining” for appetizers – and some really luscious desserts:

Small bites are on the menu and include artisanal cheeses, charcuterie, duck confit tacos, steamed Prince Edward Island mussels, Derby Cocktail with jumbo lump blue crab, black tiger shrimp, avocado and a horseradish-tomato juice, and two Derby Sliders – a Wagyu beef slider with cognac mustard aïoli, smoked gouda cheese, bacon and avocado; and a house-made chorizo slider with chipotle mayo, manchego cheese, pickles and crispy onions.

You can also just stop for dessert, with Chocolate Three Ways (praline milk chocolate cream, crunchy ganache and orange-chocolate mousse), a banana-white chocolate toffee tower on a cocoa-almond cookie and bananas Foster, or strawberry Champagne cheesecake.

Reservations are not accepted and the lounge won’t take the Disney Dining Plan – this is important to know.  The Brown Derby is on the DDP for *meals*, but not lounge.  However, if you have Tables In Wonderland, it applies!

My thoughts: I’m boring and I don’t go to lounges. I should! but I don’t.  I’m a park commando most of the time, because I need to fill up on Disney experiences while I’m there. Then I think of all the things I missed once I’m back home. 😉

3: Reimagined Disney Magic!

Image (c) The Walt Disney Co./Disney Cruise LInes

Image (c) The Walt Disney Co./Disney Cruise Line

The Disney Magic has been relaunched (cautiously!) with new sailings out of Miami, Florida.  The ship has not been just refurbished, but reimagined, with new spaces and activities and experiences all over the place.  Among the most exciting are the AquaDunk, a water ride that begins with a VERY sudden drop – the floor opens beneath you! – and the Avengers Experience, a kids’ section of the boat with activities and Marvel Comics characters such as a Captain America meet & greet!

My thoughts: They had me at “Cruise ship”. 🙂

So?  What are you most excited about?  Are there any that inspire a yawn and a pass?  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.