Arm Chair Imagineering: Increasing the Halloween Fun at Walt Disney World

Boo to you! Halloween season is upon us! Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party is in full swing in the Magic Kingdom.  Aside from Walt Disney World’s flagship theme park, Halloween seems to be an afterthought in other parts of the resort. With that in mind, I thought I would do some arm chair imagineering in an effort to enhance the seasonal Halloween offerings throughout the resort. Thanks to Shanghai, I’m sure none of these ideas will ever come to fruition.  A Disney fan can only dream.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom:

Much like the storytellers outside the Haunted Mansion at the Halloween party, Disney can have a storyteller in the Serka Zong Bazaar outside of Expedition Everest telling the story of the Yeti. While a personalized short version of this story is told as part of the Wilderness Explorer program, with a little more theatrics Disney can produce a show similar to the ones the storytellers in Epcot put on during their Holiday’s Around the World presentation.

Over at the Conservation Station in Rafiki’s Planet Watch, children can experience and learn about a huge variety of creepy crawlers. Like the short story of the Yeti, this is also included in the Wilderness Explorer program, ;however, multiple insect stations can be set up around the attraction instead of one zoo keeper standing at a table on the Discovery Island Trails (as they appear now).

Epcot:

Even with Food and Wine Festival, this park can embrace Halloween. If they can have a cranberry bog, why can’t they have a pumpkin patch? They can put it in the gardens between Club Cool and the Imagination Pavilion which is currently occupied by both the Greenhouse Guru and CHEW Collective Marketplaces. Here, Disney can sell custom jack-o-lanterns along with pumpkins with Disney characters painted on them. A marketplace featuring various pumpkin related foods along with pumpkin beer and pumpkin spiced coffee drinks can also be placed here.

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In the Odyssey Center, a small exhibit showing models of the current Disneyland Haunted Mansion Nightmare Before Christmas overlay could be featured. The craft beer marketplace currently occupying this spot can be relocated to the Festival Center over at the old Wonders of Life Pavilion. That would in turn increase foot traffic for this part of the festival.

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Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

The behind-the-scenes movie offered in the theater at the Star War’s Launch Bay could be temporarily replaced with the Star Wars: Path of the Jedi movie currently being offered in the old Sounds Dangerous attraction. That current space could then be used to feature a presentation of the classic Mickey, Goofy, and Donald cartoon short “Lonesome Ghosts,” along with compilation that pays tribute to great Disney Halloween moments.

Aside from that, experiencing The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror in the pitch blackness like Disneyland is doing with its current “Late Checkout,” promotion would be epic!

Next month I will talk about how I would tweak Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party and share my ideas to allow the Grand Floridian to get in on the Halloween fun.

Take My Money, Please

Disney is very good at separating us from our money, there is no question about that. From tickets, to park hoppers (which despite what people think should not be included), to hotels and tons of fantastic food (have you had a cronut today?!). But, what could Disney do to get MORE of our money, specifically merchandise wise?

 

MAGICBANDS:

Love them or hate them, they are here to stay and Disney has what would probably equate to a metric ton of options, I personally still enjoy my Limited Edition Olaf. But I feel that Disney is missing a huge option for this and that is: resort specific Magic Bands! Think about this, everyone staying at Disney needs one of these why not make them unique to each resort, and to make it even better, you could make that an option for an extra cost (of course) as your default magic band. It would just add another reason to try to stay at every resort to complete your collection.

 

Special Events:

Before you get your pitchforks out, I am fully aware Disney has plenty of these in existence. Mickeys Not So Scary Halloween party (which is one of the best parties in existence) Mickey Very Merry Christmas party, the now extinct Frozen Summer Spectacular at Hollywood Studios are all available for you to do. But what if you don’t go to the parks during the holiday seasons? Why should you be left out of these extremely fun parties? My suggestion is to add a semi-regularly scheduled after hours hard ticket event kind of like Disney After Hours Event but nowhere near the cost, the event started at $150.00 before Disney realized that was far too much and most certainly with a hard capacity.

Park Specific Merchandise:

Now I realize that Disney has been getting better with this than they had been however, the generic merchandise needs to stop. This is one of the most magical places in the world and easily one of the most unique, so why is all the merchandise the same? Even the resort mugs are all the same and those are more different than all of the options that you can find at a Starbucks. It cannot be too hard to find some more options than just the generic Walt Disney World ‘insert year here’ t-shirts, sweat shirts, and sweat pants (but apparently it is).

 

What merchandise would you like to see Disney add? Let us know in the comments below and don’t forget to subscribe to the show and the blog

The Bubble

The bubble?  No, I’m not talking about those harmless (yet annoying) bubble machines you buy for your children right before any night time spectacular.  I am speaking of the ‘Disney Bubble’.  The translucent phenomenon that encapsulates the entire Walt Disney World property.  You can’t see it, but you sure as heck can feel its presence any where on property.   Once you take exit 64, 65 or 67 off of I-4 and you have passed under the Magic Kingdom Sign, or drive through the Disney Springs gate, you have entered the bubble.

This anomaly serves two purposes.  The first is to shield you from all the evil and stress of everyday life.  You may have had a couple of days at work that have been gnawing at you before your trip, but the bubble helps you by blocking those stressors from entering the World with you.  It will also soothe, and let you know that everything is going to be alright.  Personally, I have a extremely high stress job with long hours and shift work.  No, it’s not a completely difficult job but it does take its toll on my mind and body.  When I make that drive to the World, I am excited that we are on the way, but still may be tired or stressed from the work week.  Once I enter that bubble, it all melts away and the feeling that nothing bad can happen washes over me.

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A stress relief better than popping bubble wrap
The second purpose of this bubble is that all you need is inside.  Everything from food, lodging, transportation, entertainment, etc. is inside.  When I finally get to my resort, unload and park the car, the family and I go nowhere near it for the rest of the trip.  Disney transportation will get us anywhere we want.  Left a toothbrush at home?  No need to head to the closest drugstore off property; head to the gift shop and get a new one.  If you are not willing to pay Disney prices for items that you normally needed (eg. toothbrush), there are 3 Speedway Gas Stations in the Bubble that don’t match Disney Prices.

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The oldest when he was the youngest, enjoying Disney Transportation at its best
For me and the family, the bubble is a safe place that provides everything we need.  We don’t like leaving it because 99% of the time we are heading home and that gloominess that was blocked, grabs us as soon as we leave. So, try it one trip.  Stay on property, don’t leave, and take advantage of everything that Walt Disney World has to offer.

Joffrey’s and Disney: a phone call, a tie, a perfect marriage

 

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Going WAAAAAAY back for this one.  Chris with a Mullet! 
In this second installment of my interview with Joffrey’s head roast master Chris de Mezzo, we learn how Disney and Joffrey’s said “I Do.”

“I know that originally there was a single Joffrey’s kiosk at Typhoon Lagoon in 1995, but how did the partnership begin?”  Chris chuckled as soon as I asked this question, and I knew it was going to be a good story.  

We go back to Tampa, 1993, when Chris was working in that little one-room roasting place.  Chris’ wife came in excited about a phone call.  “There is a man on the phone…you want to take this call!”  Chris had no interest in the call; as usual he was engrossed in his latest batch of coffee.  His wife insisted, explaining it was from Disney.  Chris still didn’t understand, but he took the call.  “Hey Chris, I recently had the best coffee in the world – how would you like to sell it in our parks?”

Two weeks later, Chris had a meeting in Orlando at Team Disney.  It’s important to note that every day, while roasting the most amazing coffee on the planet, Chris wears jeans and a t-shirt to work.  This meeting required a shirt and tie, and his closet offered few options:  he wore a white collared shirt and a tie he had for many years.  As he was doing initial introductions, with a colleague from one of Joffrey’s Orlando stores, Chris notices her eyes practically bulge out of her head.  Was it the shirt? Did it have a stain? Was the tie too old?  It was none of those.  Chris was informed that the characters on his tie were not Disney, in fact they were Bugs Bunny and the Tasmanian Devil!  Feeling a tad foolish, Chris wanted to take the tie off, but there was no time, in walked the Disney corporate team.  Despite this faux pas , Chris said the meeting went off without a hitch.  I guess when you have the best coffee in the world, even wearing a competitor’s tie can be overlooked.  Joffrey’s was off to Typhoon Lagoon, Blizzard Beach, Test Track and eventually all of Disney!

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My Favorite Joffrey’s Kiosk outside Tower of Terror.
Thank goodness Chris’ wife insisted he take that phone call.  Isn’t that just the way the world works, men often owing wonderful things to their amazing wives.   If only she had picked out his tie too!  

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Hey I think this is a pretty great marriage too.

Then And Now – Part 2

Walt Disney World – Then And Now

Walt Disney has said that ‘Disneyland will never be complete’ as it is constantly going to evolve. This is the same as Walt Disney World. Since it opened, Walt Disney World has opened and closed several different attractions and shows. Some have progressed to being classics in their own time, while others have crashed and burnt into obscurity.

Everyone has their own opinion on the closing of attractions, from the departure of Mr Toad’s Wild Ride, to the scandalous re-theming of Alien Encounter. However, Disney was never one to listen to their customers and would push on with their decisions regardless of how unpopular these may have been.

The filling in of the lagoon, where the submarines of the 10,000 Leagues Under The Sea attraction was located, was an unpopular decision that Disney progressed with. This was a great attraction, which took a pretty obscure film and thrust it into the middle of the Magic Kingdom. The submarines took you into the depths of the waters where you looked out of the portholes into the open ocean and where you could view the bright coloured sea-creatures. As everything was going great you all of a sudden were attacked by a giant squid, which put the whole vessel into distress. New regulations from the US Government for access to disabled and wheelchair guests were passed, and this made this attraction unviable and would have been more hassle than it was worth to change the boats and access ramps to let this ride carry-on. Nevertheless, the filling in of the land and it changing to a play area based around Winnie The Pooh was just a cop-out. I can understand that Disney may have been looking at the bigger picture and was putting the plans for New Fantasy Land in place, but this attraction was unbelievably good and I have very fond memories. I for one was glad that I was able to ride this before it was removed.

Probably the biggest area that has been re-themed has been the strip between the hub in the Magic Kingdom heading towards Tomorrowland. Attractions such as The Timekeeper and The Extra TERRORestrial – Alien Encounter have been stripped and replaced by somewhat tamer attractions such as Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Stitch’s Great escape. Again, this has been fitted into this land in order that popular characters are prominently placed in the Park. Calls for Stitch to be re-themed again has been widely discussed within the Disney community (one of which I totally agree with). Recent rumours are bound that Stitch shall be re-themed again to have a Virtual Reality ride featuring Wreck It Ralph, which shall tie into the release of the sequel feature film in March 2018.

If you think that the previous replacements were being crammed into the parks – the two biggest franchises of the last decade are about to come ‘over the hill’:


• Although there has been a presence of Star Wars in the Studios, with Star Tours and the Jedi Academy, tied in with the hugely successful Star Wars Weekends, the emergence of Star Wars Land shall shake the whole theme park community, much the same way that Universal Studios have done with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Star Wars Land has taken over a huge chunk of land at the Studios and has taken the whole area previously tenanted by Lights Motors Action. Lights Motors Action, was a crowd puller and took a large amount of people out of the park, letting the other attractions become less congested. But, while the new land is being built, the guests that would have been eaten up by this attraction would be spread throughout the rest of the Park. This may be an issue due to the depleted number of attractions currently running at Hollywood Studios.

• With the huge success of the James Cameron film ‘Avatar’ in 2009, the decision to put ‘Pandora’ into The Animal Kingdom Park may have again been a knee-jerk reaction to the Harry Potter phenomenon. Although this may bring further guests into the Park and elongate the hours of opening, would this ever had been considered knowing that George Lucas was selling the rights to Star Wars only a couple of years later?

As the Parks are constantly evolving there shall always be guests who are unhappy at the closure of classic (or not so classic) attractions, but on the other side, there shall be guests who are excited about newer rides and shows coming.


I for one am glad in the whole of newer attractions coming to the Parks, but only if these are of a higher standard of attraction than the one that was replaced. Disney have been guilt of this not following through on this concept, which they must be addressed especially with the competition coming from down I4 from Universal.

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