From sunny southern California Laura Gilbreath, Jeanine Yamanaka and photographer Jason Dz bring a west coast perspective as they blog about trips to Disneyland, D23 events, Disney cruises, runDisney events and occasional pilgrimages to Walt Disney World.
As you might expect, prices have increased, though that's mostly at the counter service locations - the table service restaurants in the parks had few/no price increases.
The price of a regular fountain beverage has risen from $2.99 to $3.19, though the price of a large remains $3.49. The prices of juice, coffee, hot tea, milk, bottled water, and cocoa have remained the same. Price for a souvenir cup is up $.50 to $6.99, and that for a souvenir travel mug has increased from $5.69 to $6.29.
Most entrees at the counter service locations have seen a 30-cent to 50-cent price increase. If it has the word "salad" in it, then it's gone up 50 cents. Does anyone else find that odd? I always thought meat was more expensive than vegetables, but salads are usually the same price as burgers or other entrees!
Most of the desserts that used to be $4.99 (pies, cakes, tarts, etc.) are now $5.19.
The prices for the kid's meals are unchanged this time (most of them went up 50 cents earlier this year, though). Mickey Check meals are available at most restaurants - according to Disney, these are: "Choices that receive the Mickey Check must meet Disney Nutrition Guidelines that limit calories, saturated fat, sodium and sugar...."(Kids' Complete Meals must be ordered without substitutions and include at least three of the following food groups: fruits and vegetables; low-fat dairy; whole grains or lean protein, beans, eggs and nuts.)" Some examples: Seared Salmon at Blue Bayou, the Kids' Power Pack, available at many counter service locations, and Turkey Meatball Sandwich from Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta.
Rancho del Zocalo has added two new menu items: Pollo en Mole and Burrito Guadalajara. The former is 1/2 chicken with a spicy chocolate/peanut sauce for $13.49. The burrito is filled with carnitas, refried beans, rice and cheese, topped with tomatillo sauce. Also $13.49. They both sound pretty good to me! Another change - the fish tacos are now baked fish tacos.
Harbour Galley has a new menu, also. They now serve a seasonal soup in a bread bowl in addition to clam chowder and broccoli and cheese (the chili and steak gumbo are gone). The salmon salad has been replaced by a shrimp salad with chilled poached shrimp, bacon, blue cheese, tomatoes, egg, avocado and green onion over shredded romaine ($10.49). And they've added a lobster roll to the menu, served in a brioche roll with Old Bay seasoned chips for $13.99. (The lobster roll doesn't do much for me but the chips sound good!)
The baked potato menu has been tweaked and features barbecue chicken & slaw or bacon & sour cream for $6.39, or a shrimp salad baked potato for $6.99. I tried the shrimp salad baked potato and it was very good. Covered in chilled poached shrimp, arugula, and a white sauce. I'd order that again.
At Paradise Garden Grill in Disney California Adventure there's a Beef Gyro on the menu: sliced beef with cucumber salad and tzatziki sauce, rolled in a warm pita bread and served with tabouli for $11.99.
The Sonoma Terrace at the Golden Vine Winery now serves a varied selection of craft beers. Also on the menu are California wines, Bavarian pretzels, and meat/cheese plates. I haven't tried this yet, but I plan to do that soon! That's the area where they used to offer the World of Color picnics, and it's really a very nice and relatively quiet area to relax and hang out.
As part of Limited Time Magic this year there have been various limited time food items offered. My favorite so far has been the English Toffee Caramel Apple, which was available in September. I'm going to be very sad not to be able to buy one (or two) to bring home like I have on previous visits!
Right now there's a lot of seasonal menu items available, but I'll have a separate blog on that! Can you say: "pumpkin"? :-)
One more dining note...On October 3 Disneyland will (finally) offer us the option of making dining reservations on-line. I'm really happy to see this - I have spent far too much time on hold when calling to make dining reservations. But we'll now be required to provide a credit card, and a $10 charge/person will apply for no-shows who don't cancel at least 24 hours in advance - though cancellations can also be done on-line. I don't have a problem with that.
Recently, Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS) hosted a sneak peek at their upcoming productions "Get A Horse," and "Frozen," over at their Burbank offices.
"Get A Horse," the latest short to come out of WDAS and the first to be directed by a woman, combines 1928 artistry with 2013 technology to produce a rollicking interlude starring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, and their old nemesis Peg-Leg Pete.
Director Lauren MacMullan and her co-heads of animation Disney Legend Eric Goldberg (2D) and CG artist Adam Green (3D) collaborated to create footage incredibly authentic to the first Mickey shorts, even down to combing all the originals for voice clips from role originators Walt Disney, Marcellite Garner, and Billy Bletcher.
Although a huge amount of effort went into making the animation identical to the loose, rubber-limbed animation of the 1920's, every line of the short is new and created specifically for this short.
MacMullan and Producer Dorothy McKim presented the short, along with a short talk on the various challenges they had giving it an authentic period feel. Animated as a theatrical short shown on a cinema stage, the action begins with black-and-white footage of our characters enjoying a musical hayride, until Peg-Leg Pete comes upon them and tries to intrude on their fun. Numerous fast-paced episodes of conflict lead up to a grand chase sequence in which the characters constantly pop in and out of the flat black-and-white screen to emerge colored and in 3-D across the screen's stage.
Care was taken to make sure the 3-D versions were consistent with the time--rather than have real world textures, the characters have a "fondant" appearance, with the colors taken from old company Christmas Cards (the only color representations from then.) The 2-D footage was also aged appropriately, as if subject to the same errors and skips inherent in early hand-drawn animation.
I thought this short was an amazing example of what the combination of CG and hand-drawn animation can produce and certainly puts the lie to the "one or the other" mentality. The care and detailing involved in making it is evident in every frame and will hopefully spark a revival of interest in revisiting this style of animation, which is sometimes unfairly disregarded by people who equate "old" with "unsophisticated."
The short was premiered for the first time in the US at the D23 Expo and will be shown in front of "Frozen" on November 27, 2013.
Disclaimer: As invited media, AllEars was granted access to the Walt Disney Animation Studios and Production Team.
Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Saturday, October 5, 2013.
As part of Limited Time Magic Downtown Disney is hosting a chalk art festival this weekend. I had intended to visit later and got sidetracked. So not many pictures.. but here is a sample.
Work on the Downtown Disney Starbucks is moving along.
First stop today, DCA. The view from a very windy Fun Wheel this morning looking toward Disneyland.
A backdrop for a meet and greet in the Maliboomer Park area, looks to be for Toy Story characters, it matches the Midway Mania facade down the boardwalk.
The Pacific Wharf facade work looks to be complete.
The Blue Sky Cellar is closed now as they prepare a new exhibit. The Fantasy Faire banners are gone.
Several weeks ago the Carthay Circle Restaurant started a new tour. This tour happens daily at 10:30am and is free. I was finally in the park in the morning and made a point to give it a try today. You do not need to sign up, just hang around the sign around 10:30 and a cast member will greet you and start the tour.
Our host for the tour. Our group as about 10 guests.We started in the lobby with a history of the Carthay and description of some of the pictures on the wall.
I am going to skip the details.. since I was taking pictures and not notes or video.. We then went into the main lounge.
(Laura says: I also took this tour recently, so I'll fill in some of the details. The tour is advertised as 15 minutes, but with larger groups and/or more questions it might take longer - mine was 30 minutes but there were also almost 20 people.)
This painting is a replica of the curtain from the original Carthay Circle Theater.
Laura: The original curtain still exists, but is too large (and fragile) to display.
A look around the main dining room.
Look closely at the table.. notice anything?
Can you make out what the wood has in it... a hidden Evil Queen from Snow White
Laura: All of the outside corner tables in the main dining room have that design embedded.
This large table is in a private dining room off the main one, you can reserve it for your party, there is a min. fee to use the room.
Laura: It's called the Premier Room. The table will seat up to 12 people There are two smaller private rooms with tables for 4-6: The Hollywood Room and The Buena Vista Room.
The table has a fun hidden tribute.. the base is inspired by Snow White's wishing well. (Yes, I had to go down on the floor for the picture.. you know you would have too).
One last look at the main dining room on the way out.
Walked through Elias & Co.. they now have signs up between the rooms telling you what merchandise is in it.
Also signs for Big Top Toys.
Next stop Disneyland.. Main Street USA
Spent a few minutes checking out the newly opened Market House. It now features Starbucks coffee. The main room is mostly a queue with a large counter in the back.
Some of the old props remain, such as the party line phones.
The old Disneyana store is now the Book Rest, and it contains a handful of tables.
The old stove found a place in the new store too.
There is no door to the Book Rest from Main Street you have to go through the Market House...but the windows give a nice view of Main Street.
A look at some of the bakery options
Facade work on Main Street and due to the high winds the tarps are down so you can see the work.
The Halloween Popcorn bucket selection this year includes Mickey as the Hat Box Ghost.
Looking back down Main Street USA.
The work on Snow White's Grotto is complete.
The walls are down on the walkway from the Fantay Faire to Frontierland, but barriers still up. Looks like the wall was redone.
Stopped by the Big Thunder Ranch Jamboree and the Halloween Carnival. Pirates League was not open this afternoon.
A look at some of the pumpkin creations at the Halloween Carnival. Seems like a lot more use of color than we've seen in previous years.
Donald playing follow the leader with a group of kids.
In Fantasyland the Carrousel work continues, but the tarps were down due to the wind.
The Court of Angels is still open, though.
The Haunted Mansion
Continuing the celebration of its 13th season.. each scene now has something to do with 13..
For example 13 dog bones.
The 13 doors on the advent calendar. Each week they are opening one. So far 3 are open.
In the graveyard 13 snowflakes scattered around.
For the final scene the question mark has been replaced with a 13.
Cut through the shops.. some Halloween Treats.
Time for the Flag Retreat. The Dapper Dans in their Halloween finest.
Captain EO is still running.
Thor is moving into Innoventions.
Stopped by the Royal Swing Big Band Ball at Fantasy Faire for a set. Swing dancing returned early in the summer to the former Plaza Gardens stage. It is now branded at the Royal Swing Big Band Ball but the concept is the same. On most Saturday nights the theater floor is cleared and a band brought in to play for those who want to dance or those who just enjoy the festivities.
Tonight Swingtown was performing.
Some chalk art on the way out.
Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.
It's Halloween season - time for tricks and treats, right? The Disneyland Resort chefs have had a few tricks up their sleeves, and have rolled out a huge line-up of special menu items for the season, both savory and sweet. (Though admittedly there's a lot more of the latter!). Some of these items are available at only one location, while others are available at multiple locations in the parks.
I had the opportunity to speak with Pastry Chef Christina Oregel about some of them.
(Warning: If you're hungry, you might not want to read this blog right now - or else have a napkin handy. I am not responsible for keyboard damage due to excess drool. Nor is this blog equipped with Just a Taste technology.)
I'm not even sure where to begin! But let's start with treats inspired by our favorite Halloween decoration: the pumpkin. Did you even know that pumpkin could be used in all of these forms?
At the Mint Julep Bar and Cafe Orleans you'll find Mickey-shaped Pumpkin Beignets. I first tried these on September 13 and enjoyed them - they were puffier and lighter than I expected, with an interesting pumpkin/spicy flavor. They were a little heavy on the nutmeg, but they have since tweaked the recipe and they aren't as heavily spiced. They are $4.19 for three or $7.19 for six.
Another fried pumpkin offering is the Pumpkin Squash Fritters at the Royal Verandah. ($3.69) These were really good - I liked them better than the beignets. I only wish that they were served warm. They are more like doughnut holes rolled in cinnamon sugar. Some of them had chunks of cooked pumpkin in them - that may not sound appetizing, but I really enjoyed them.
At various bakeries throughout the resort you'll find Pumpkin Streusel Muffins, Pumpkin Cheesecake, Pumpkin Loaf, and Pumpkin Pie. I had one of the muffins and it was really good - not too overwhelming on the pumpkin/spice flavor, and topped with a few crunchy pepitas. Yum. (Prices for these items range from $2.79-$5.19)
Jolly Holiday Bakery has its own version of the pumpkin muffin, which is filled with cream cheese frosting. It's pretty good, but I preferred the other one.
There's also a Pumpkin Halloween cupcake with chocolate mousse, topped with "worms and dirt" and other fun decorations as you see below. I liked this a lot - the chocolate mousse frosting tastes very good with the pumpkin cake. ($5.99)
This year's "demitasse" dessert, served in a Minnie pumpkin demitasse cup, is a flourless chocolate cake topped with pumpkin and chocolate mousse. Again, the pumpkin and chocolate pair nicely, but you have to dig down deep to get cake AND mousse together. It's available in most bakery and buffeteria locations. ($7.49)
Rancho del Zocalo is offering Dia de Los Muertos Dessert Pumpkin Flan with Orange Cake for $5.19. This looks good, but I haven't tried it.
If you prefer to drink your pumpkin there's a Pumpkin Spice Latte, available at the Market House, Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Cafe, Jolly Holiday Bakery, Mint Julep Bar, and Royal Street Verandah.
But it's not (quite) "All Pumpkin, All the Time".
Another seasonal beverage is the Spiced Caramel Apple Cider at the Jolly Holiday Bakery.
There's an Oreo Mousse Coffin at the French Market. ($5.19)
Zombie gingerbread cookies are available at several locations. It's kind of fun to be eating the zombie, instead of the other way around. I've always liked Disneyland's gingerbread, and these are soft and chewy and spicy, though they aren't actually made by Disney - they come pre-packaged from Selma's Bakery.
Other sweet treats include Mickey Bat cookies, seasonal Crispy Treats, and candy corn cotton candy.
At the Candy Palace, Pooh Corner, Trolley Treats, and Marceline's there's various types of Halloween-themed caramel apples, cake pops, chocolate-covered marshmallows and pretzel rods and other candies.
Pumpkin fudge is usually available also, though it was sold out on my recent visit. :-(
One unusual item I found: Spiced Pumpkin Seed Brittle. This is available in bags at the candy stores - it's brittle with pepitas instead of nuts, and spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. It's addictively good. A six ounce bag is $4.99.
There are some other interesting packaged treats in the candy stores also, like Gummy Body Parts and Gummy Candy Corn. The latter are larger and puffier than regular candy corn, with a softer texture than regular gummy candies, but they have that buttery candy corn flavor. Pretty sweet, but I enjoyed them.
It's not ALL sugar, though. There's some special food items, also.
Pacific Wharf Cafe offers a pumpkin loaf - sourdough bread in the shape of a pumpkin. :-)
Rancho del Zocalo features a Holiday Chicken Tamale Plate for $9.99 and a Holiday Chicken Tamale and Carne Asada Plate for $12.99.
The French Market offers a Muffuletta Sandwich for $13.29, served with Cajun chips.
Tomorrowland Terrace features a Monster U Style Cheese Burger, served with fries that are covered in a blue parmesan-ranch ooze. I'm not sure if this is available for the season, or only on days when there's a Halloween Party.
At Boardwalk Pizza and Pasta there's the Anti-Vampire Chicken Flatbread Pizza with roasted garlic sauce, chicken, smoked gouda, mozzarella, roasted red peppers, harissa, and fresh chives.
The Carthay Circle Restaurant's seasonal soup is Pumpkin Tortilla Broth. Chunks of chicken and crisp tortilla strips in a pumpkin broth (which has a kick to it), drizzled with cream fraiche. I didn't taste pumpkin - mostly it just added some thickness to the soup. It was very good.
I haven't had a chance to try everything, but so far I'd have to say that the Pumpkin Seed Brittle is my favorite, though I also really enjoyed the Pumpkin Streusel Muffin and the Pumpkin Fritters.
I wanted to share some dining notes and experiences from a recent trip to Disneyland. We tried the new breakfast menu at River Belle Terrace, and the updated Autumn lunch menu at Carthay Circle Restaurant.
First off - Disneyland has finally given us the ability to book Disneyland Dining reservations on-line! On the Disneyland web site, go to the "Things to Do" tab, and under "Dining" there's a "Make Reservations" selection. Once you've selected a restaurant and time you'll have to provide a credit card to confirm the reservation. Reservations can be canceled up until the night before with no penalty - cancellations can also be made on-line.
Disney has added new menu items or completely modified restaurant menus at several of the park restaurants over the last few months - it's nice to see some of these changes.
There are new breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus at Ariel's Grotto at Disney California Adventure. Breakfast and lunch are still character meals featuring the Disney princesses, while dinner has no characters, but offers the World of Color ticket. (I was told that the menus are still being tweaked, so there may still be some changes to come.)
For breakfast, instead of shared platters of food as in the past, there's a shared pastry/fruit platter, but then everyone gets to order their own breakfast entree, such as a spinach frittata, American breakfast, Belgian waffle, or tri-tip and eggs.
The lunch and dinner menus are very similar, and feature choice of entree with either soup or salad, and a shared dessert platter. The entrees are all new - shrimp and pasta, BBQ tri-tip, fish of the day, etc. Looks good, but I haven't had the chance to try it.
The kid's menu is the same for lunch and dinner (just a $2 price difference). It starts with choice of veggies and dip or popcorn soup (I wonder how popular the latter will be with kids). The entrees have fun names, like Ursula's Octo-Dog, Whozits and Whatzits Fries and Nuggetz, and Angel Hair Pasta a la Dinglehopper.
When Disney stopped offering the World of Color picnic meals last summer the distribution area at the Sonoma Terrace began offering wines and a selection of beers, including craft beers, instead. This is a really nice, out-of-the-way area to sit and relax. There's quite a bit of seating, much of it in the shade, and it's a really pleasant area to relax and unwind. In addition to the beer and wine selection they offer cheese or cheese/meat plates, and (my favorite), freshly baked Bavarian pretzels. These are quite large, and served with either spicy mustard or sweet mustard, for $5.00. It would be nice to see soft drinks on their menu, though.
River Belle Terrace
At Disneyland, River Belle Terrace has updated their breakfast and lunch/dinner menus. We had breakfast there recently. The classic Mark Twain, Steamboat and Mickey Mouse Pancake items are still on the menu, but there are some new items, like Country-Style Biscuits n'Gravy and "Build Your Own" Yogurt Parfait. The biscuits are different than they were before - a skillet biscuit rather than a square biscuit.
I tried another of the new menu items, Cinnamon Roll French Toast, served with scrambled eggs and choice of bacon or sausage. It was really, really good, especially when I got a piece with some of the ooey, gooey cinnamon filling. I will definitely order this again!
The regular menu still offers some of the sandwiches and salads it did before, but there are new menu items, also, such as a turkey dinner, carved roast beef, catch of the day, and black bean cakes. There's also new dessert choices: red velvet cake, cafe au lait cheesecake, key lime pie, and minty grasshopper pie. All are $5.19 each.
The Market House The Market House on Main Street has recently re-opened as a Starbucks location. It expanded into the space next door formerly occupied by the Disneyana Store, so it's quite a large and nice area now. It's very popular, but Disney kept that in mind in the design, and it has a built-in queue and multiple ordering stations and registers so the line moves quickly.
There's also a seating area, which includes some of the old-fashioned elements that were in the original Market House location.
The menu features the usual variety of Starbucks beverages. There's also a wide selection of pastries but no hot foods or sandwiches.
Carthay Circle Restaurant
On our recent visit we had lunch at the Carthay Circle Restaurant. I was the only one in our party who had eaten there before, and it had been over a year for me. The Carthay Circle Restaurant menu changes seasonally, and they had recently introduced their Autumn menu. Most of the menu items don't change much, but there are always a few new items introduced which highlight the freshest seasonal ingredients.
The restaurant itself is quite beautiful inside - in some ways it seemed a shame to be wearing our theme park clothes in such an elegant setting. But there's not a dress code, so it's not an issue. In a recent blog entry Jason talked about the History of the Carthay Circle Restaurant Tour he took recently, so there is some additional information and photos there if you are interested.
There were four of us, and we were seated near the kitchen at one of the corner tables that features the image of the Evil Queen in the wood. Being seated near the kitchen is actually kind of interesting, since the kitchen is somewhat open and we could see what was going on in the dessert prep area.
We started our meal with the Carthay Signature Fried Biscuits. These are stuffed with cheddar cheese, bacon, and jalapeno, and are served hot - hot enough that the middle was still liquid - it was like cheddar cheese soup inside! They are served with apricot honey butter. That combination didn't do much for me, but others enjoyed it.
For my meal I ordered two of the appetizers, including the seasonal soup, which was Pumpkin Tortilla Broth with chicken, tortilla strips, and cream fraiche. Pumpkin soup meets tortilla soup. It was very good, but be aware that it's a little bit spicy.
I also ordered the Heirloom Tomato Salad, with several different colorful tomato varieties, shaved parmesan, basil, olive oil and parmesan aioli.
Lee tried the Angus Beef Arugula Salad, which included radicchio, and a gorgonzola crostini with Cabernet vinaigrette. It was topped with onion straws. He said the beef was good but he wouldn't order it again because he found the arugula very bitter. It was a very beautifully presented dish.
My brother ordered the Mediterranean Grilled Eggplant Sandwich - this was a real winner. It included artichokes, marinated tomatoes, greens and melted cheese. I tried a bite and it was very good, really great flavors, crisp and toasty bread. It came with French fries, which were also very good. I'd order it in the future.
My sister-in-law tried the Carthay Strawberry Chicken Salad. I think initially it was because she was so intrigued by the "lacquered bacon" in the description: "Lacquered bacon, Avocado, Haricots Verts, Cherry Tomatoes in a Fresh Strawberries and Thyme Vinaigrette". But she said it was excellent. (The "lacquered bacon' was caramelized bacon strips.)
We didn't have room for dessert, but our choices were:
Warm Rocky Road Brownie - Toasted Macadamia Nut with Coconut Shavings, Caramel Sauce and Marshmallow Ice Cream.
Warm Apple Pecan Pound Cake - Salted Carmel and Green Apple Sorbet.
Cordillera Chocolate Decadent Layer Cake - Classic Dark Chocolate Layer Cake with Raspberry Sauce.
Warm Autumn Pear and Dried Apricot "Pie" - with Old Fashion Vanilla Ice Cream.
They all sounded really good, and we saw a lot of the chocolate cake come out of the kitchen.
It was really a very nice meal, and we enjoyed having a relaxing break, since it was a very warm day in the parks. But not something I'd do all the time - it was expensive, and there's a lot of other foods in the parks I enjoy just as much as what we had.
The Carthay Circle Restaurant has a fairly new prix fixe World of Color menu now - it used to be that diners could get a World of Color Fastpass just by ordering an entree and either an appetizer or dessert. Now there are three-course lunch and dinner menus - $39 for lunch and $59 for dinner. (That's actually a pretty good deal if you look at the regular menu prices!)
Contributing photographer Jason of disneygeek.com sends us these photos from his trip to the parks on Friday, October 18, 2013.
We start off on Main Street USA today. The Penny Arcade and Candy Palace renovation work is ongoing.
Inside the windows/doors are covered.
Some of the Halloween treats.
Christmas preparations are underway around both parks. The lights are up in the trees around the hub.
The fall protection wall work on the left side of the Castle is complete.
Tiana greeting guests on the way into Fantasy Faire
A railing has been added on top of the new wall on the trail between Frontierland and Fatntasy Faire. I was disappointed to see the seating/ledge is gone. So it means no place to sit and relax anymore.
Cast Members by the exit of Pirates to issue return times to guests as part of the new Disability Access Service Card (DAS) system. (Please see AllEars' Special Needs Overview page for additional information.)
The Court of Angels is walled off as work is underway to convert it for Club 33 use. Another part of Disneyland is now off limits to regular guests.
The L'Ornament Magique is also closed and will be the new Club entrance from what I have read.
Some renovation work further down the street.
A Limited Time Magic Cookie option at several New Orleans Square locations, including Mint Julep Bar and the snack cart near Haunted Mansion.
A podium near the entrance to the Haunted Mansion to request a DAS return time and ask questions.
The Hungry Bear has a holiday special going on.
Another Guest Relations DAS kiosk near the Harbor Galley.
Jack was out for pictures near the Rivers of America.
Next stop the Halloween Carnival.
Pluto playing the ring toss/hat toss game.
Some of the latest pumpkin creations/artwork.
The new castle walls/fall protection projects look to be done.
A new turret on the roof.
A new turret.
The carrousel is completely under wraps now as the work continues. It is scheduled to return to service in early November.
Random Toad Hall pictures as I walked by.
Another Guest Relations podium, this time in Fantasyland.
The Mad Tea Party is closed for renovation.
The facade for Small World is receiving its holiday lights. It will be closing soon for the annual transformation.
Some work on the monorail beamway, they are adding the overhang under the track. Interesting since this is over the old motorboat area and is not guest accessible.
The Monorail is still operating during the project.
Another new DAS kiosk, this one in Tomorrowland. The pin trading tables that were in the area are now gone.
Christmas has arrived. As you exit the park two of the racks are full of Christmas items now.
Over to DCA. The Fall/Halloween Buena Vista Bugle is on News Stands.
They are renovating the main lobby of the Animation Building, so it is blocked off. The Animation Academy and Turtle talk are still accessible from side doors.
Flik's Flyers are behind walls for some work.
Christmas ornaments at the entrance to Flik's Fun Fair
At the Cozy Cone they were setting up a Pop Up Tune Up for a quick pit stop for Lightning.
Along Route 66 the second set of poles for the Christmas decorations have been installed (on the left in this picture).
Bayside Brews is the site of a current Oktoberfest Limited Time Magic Promotion. They offer bratwurst sausage, a Bavarian pretzel and gingerbread bundt cake. In addition to the regular beer selections, Karl Strauss Oktoberfest and Hofbrau Munchen beer are also available.
And some light decorations/signage.
Continuing on, the Maliboomer Park area has a new Meet and Greet. Here Woody is heading off, but working the line on his way by.
Jessie was out for photos at the new location.
Another new guest relations podium.
Walls up around the Paradise Pier meet and greet. Guessing they are preparing it for the Christmas overlay
Caught some of the Minnie's Fly Girls Charter Airlines show since it is slated to end its run soon.
Back to Disneyland and the Halloween Carnival.
Heimlich is completed now.
Billy Hill and the Haunted Hillbillies.
A special Disneyland verse to I Have Been Everywhere.
Since it was Friday there were preparations for the Mickey's Halloween Party that night. The Columbia is a backdrop for a photo op during the Halloween parties.
Setting up a trick or treat trail along the Rivers of America
Some random Haunted Mansion Holiday pictures.. the line was posted at 45 minutes.
Just after 6:30pm there was a brief lighting moment for the Mansion. It takes places every night about dusk.
Another photo backdrop for the party, this one in New Orleans Square.
The trail looks just about ready for guests.
I made another pass through the Big Thunder trail area.
Villains out on Main Street for the party.
The park closed to non-Halloween party guests at 7:00. Since I was not attending the party I made my way over to DCA (along with a large number of other guests).
Christmas lights and Santa Flik at the entrance to the Fun Fair, plus a fuzzy full moon.
Passed through the Mad T Party
They ended the set with This is Halloween.
Here is a video from a few weeks ago if you missed it.
The park was crowded thanks to Disneyland closing early. The Little Mermaid was using its extended queue.
The new Meet and Greet location on the Pier. The characters are long gone, but it is lit up and available for pictures.
A closer look at the center one.. notice Slinky Dog on one coaster and the little Green Aliens on the other (behind Rex).
After this I circled the Pier, caught the opening of World of Color and then walked by the Mad T Party before heading for home.
Hope you enjoyed this highlight tour of the Disneyland Resort. For additional photos and details from this trip you can check out the full Disneyland Update I posted on my site, http://disneygeek.com Also be sure to follow me on twitter @disneygeekcom for pictures from the parks.
We were supposed to be on the Disney Magic October 20-25 for the first cruise after its "re-imagining"....but last Thursday we received notification from Disney Cruise Line that the cruise had been canceled. The Magic encountered weather during the Atlantic crossing that delayed work, and it just wasn't going to be ready.
We had planned our cruise over a year ago, when we first heard that the Magic was getting enhancements, so as you might imagine, we were VERY disappointed. In addition to experiencing the new Magic we were also looking forward to spending time with friends on the cruise.
Disney is offering compensation:
"Therefore, in addition to a full refund of their voyage fare, [guests] will also receive a complimentary sailing up to 5-nights in length on the Disney Magic when sailing from Miami or Port Canaveral, Florida, before May 16, 2014. This complimentary sailing is subject to availability, offered in the same category stateroom with the same party mix originally booked aboard the Disney Magic and is non-transferable. Guests who are unable to take advantage of this complimentary cruise offer are invited to sail at a 35% future cruise discount on any Caribbean or Bahamian sailing of up to 7-nights in length, taken by October 31, 2015, excluding holiday and select peak sail dates."
That's quite fair, but it's all still very disappointing because we wanted to be the first guests on board. And the next three cruises are already sold out. We'd also made all of our plans and travel arrangements and had scheduled time off work - not to mention that we were REALLY looking forward to a vacation!
We will still get to see the Disney Magic, though - AllEars has been invited on the Media Cruise scheduled for October 25-27, and Lee and I will sailing then. I don't think two days is going to be nearly enough time to see/experience all of the new things on board, but we'll do our best.
The following is most of a preview blog I wrote before our cruise was canceled, when I was looking forward to five days aboard the Magic instead of just two!
If you're a Disney cruise fan, I'm sure you've been following the posts on the Disney Parks Blog, Twitter, and Facebook describing the changes and upgrades the Disney Magic received on its recent dry dock in Cadiz, Spain.
From the atrium to the staterooms to the restaurants, kids' club, spa, pool, and adult areas, it's all new - in many ways it sounds like a brand new ship. (Click on the photo below for a larger version.)
Some of the things I'm most looking forward to checking out:
Carioca's is the new restaurant replacing Parrot Cay. Named for Jose Carioca, the parrot from "The Three Caballeros", the restaurant will offer cuisine inspired by South American dishes, with decor inspired by Rio de Janeiro.
Animator's Palate has been updated (yay!) and will offer the new Animation Magic show from the Disney Fantasy. I really enjoy this show, and am looking forward to seeing it again. And according to the Disney Cruise Line site, we can also expect to "enjoy a visit from favorite Disney and Disney*Pixar characters too, such as Rapunzel from Tangled and Remy from Ratatouille." Will these be interactive visits? I hope we'll find out!
Cabanas will replace Topsider Buffet on Deck 9...we'll see how this works. I have not been a fan of Cabanas on the Dream and Fantasy (though I have found the food to be much better) because of the way the aft stairwell comes out into the middle of the restaurant, but that might not be an issue on the Magic.
Most of the quick service dining on deck 9 will be changing. Pinocchio's Pizzeria remains, but Daisy's De-Lites replaces Goofy's Galley, and Pete's Boiler Bites takes over for Pluto's Dog House. As on the Dream and Fantasy, Eye Scream and Frozone Treats will be serving soft-serve ice cream and smoothies and other frozen concoctions. I'll be interested in seeing where these two are located.
After Hours is the new adult entertainment area. There are still three spaces, but they've been re-named and completely re-done: O'Gill's Pub, a sports bar, Fathoms, the show/dance club, and Keys, a quieter, more relaxed piano bar. (And I have to admit that after seeing what they did on the Fantasy, I want to see what the public restrooms are like in that area, too!)
Lots of changes in the pool area...The AquaDunk will be the Disney's Magic water thrill feature. It's a three-story body slide through a translucent tube that partially extends over the side of the ship. Apparently it starts with a near vertical drop. I'll try it, but I'm not sure how much I'll like it! There's also going to be a version of the AquaLab, first seen on the Disney Fantasy. That's a fun place to cool off! Kids will have their own new Twist n' Spout water slide, and there's the Nephews' Splash Zone for toddlers.
The Oceaneer's Club, for kids 3-12, has been extensively remodeled, and offers four "storybook worlds". I kind of wish I was a kid! I'll definitely be touring it during the Open House they offer on boarding day. There's Andy's Room, where kids will feel toy-sized, which features a Slinky Dog slide. I wanna slide!!!!
In the MARVEL'S Avenger's Academy, "Young crime fighters are invited to swoop into this top-secret command post of S.H.I.E.L.D., where earth's mightiest Super Heroes, The Avengers, train and prepare for special missions." And: "Avengers Academy is a multi-day, immersive entertainment experience where children interact with Marvel characters and unleash their inner super heroes." How fun is that???
At the Mickey Mouse Club kids can engage in various craft activities and play games. There's also Goofy Gears, "a wacky, large-scale wall game." That's as much as I've been able to learn about it so far.
Pixie Hollow offers crafts and costumes for dress-up play, in an area inspired by Tinker Bell's pixie home.
The Oceaneer's Lab will be offering new pirate-themed activities and experiments. "Navigator Simulators let young buccaneers steer a ship through the mysterious waters of The Caribbean."
The spa has been renamed Senses Spa and Salon. In addition to the traditional spa services a barbershop and "Smile Spa" are new offerings. The new Chill Spa provides spa services to teens aged 13-17.
We're really excited to see it all, and we'll be doing our best to share it with you. We'll be tweeting like crazy as we explore the ship before we leave port, and you can follow me on Twitter: @AllEarsLaura. On such a short cruise I don't know if I'll write a daily blog - though I hope that some of the Magic's upgrades include better internet service!
What do you want to know about the Re-Imagined Disney Magic? Leave a comment below or use the Feedback Form to send me an email, and we'll do our best to find the answers.
A Look Ahead: "Get A Horse," and "Frozen" Part II.
Surely by now, you must have heard of "Frozen," the upcoming film from Walt Disney Animation Studios (WDAS.) In case you haven't, here's one of their latest trailers:
To better appreciate the work that went into this film, WDAS invited us to hear from some of the artisans that collaborated to produce it.
In the first panel, "The Artistry of Arendelle," Assistant Art Director Lisa Keene, Art Director Michael Giaimo, and Visual Development Artist Brittney Lee showed us some of the research the art department conducted to construct the fictional kingdom of Arendelle.
With the blessings of John Lasseter, the art direction team went on a research trip to Norway, from which they took away three major design components: Fjords...
And the idea of Rosemaling, the folk art decorations that adorn both the architecture and the characters in the film.
All three combine to give an appearance to the castle complex of Arendelle unlike any of the other Disney films, with the "rustically elegant" castle nestled beside a lake, surrounded by the massive vertical faces of the fjords.
On the subject of snow and ice, they described the conceptual difficulty of lighting and coloring something that, on the surface, is completely monotone. As they continued to examine the subject, however, they found a wide variety in the quality of light that filters through icicles or reflects off crystals, and additionally added in coloration through Elsa's magic.
To research this, they visited ice hotels in Quebec and studied the ice structures lit from within.
Ultimately, the jewel-like palette of the film reflects both the physically realistic quality of light found in nature, and the more magical elements introduced by Elsa and her emotions.
They finished by talking about how each character incorporates rosemaling distinctive to their personas into their costuming--Anna being carefree and light, has floral motifs, while Elsa's dress is initially reserved, and then subsequently snowflake-based after her power is set free.
Elsa's snowflake theme is shown even in the ice castle she creates for herself, a six-sided structure that grows by mimicking the growth patterns of crystals.
Next up was "Meet the Directors and Producer of "Frozen," in which Producer Peter Del Vecho and Co-Directors Jennifer Lee and Chris Buck spoke on a number of different topics touching the development of the story and the process of putting the various pieces together to make a movie.
Some of the items discussed:
--When the story was initially conceived, the girls were not sisters. This relationship was added later, to give them an additional emotional bond.
--The ending (which we were not shown,) is original and distinctive enough that it never changed from inception. Their main concern through script development was to ensure that the story earned the ending.
--Robert Lopez (The Book of Morman, Avenue Q) became involved as songwriter from a past project he had done with Del Vecho.
--Challenges included being asked to move up the finishing date, which required them to start production while they were still developing the story.
--While Elsa is seen as the antagonist in the trailers, she and Anna are created to both have issues and arcs that need to be resolved. The true villains of the piece are those that exploit fear for their own personal gain.
In "Acting Through Animation," Head of Animation Lino DiSalvo and Animation Supervisors Wayne Unten and Becky Bresee recounted all the different measures they took to breathe life into the cast of "Frozen."
To this purpose, they brought in actors and acting coaches to show them techniques for building an authentic internal life for each of the characters. Even details such as how Idina Menzel's muscles move when taking breaths during a song were carefully incorporated.
They also went over how they construct a scene, often recording themselves acting out the performance and then taking notes on key, strong poses on which to base the animation.
They had brought in a reindeer to take notes on its behavior, however they were disappointed to find that reindeer are only slightly less smart than cows, and that their behavior lacked animation in general. They eventually used a hybrid of dogs as a model for Sven.
(Subsequent to this event, a minor firestorm broke out around the internet over a comment that DiSalvo made, to the effect that women were difficult to animate, because you have to show them emoting, but also keep them pretty and distinguishable from each other. Many used this as an example of what they perceive to be Disney's reinforcement of a monotonous and unrealistic standard of attractiveness. While such a debate is clearly beyond the scope of this article, as someone completely biased pro-Disney, I can only observe that it seems like a lot to hang on one off-handed comment, particularly directed towards two characters who are sisters and who could reasonably be expected to look somewhat alike.)
In the "Rigging Lab," Effects Supervisor Marlon West, Principal Software Engineer Andy Selle, Animation Technology Manager Evan Goldberg and Effects Supervisor Dale Mayeda demonstrated the Character of Snow, and some of the devices used to pan around a previously-mapped virtual world.
In an effort to make the snow in the film believable, the team worked with a CalTech Professor to recreate the branching and plating growth of crystals in order to generate snowflakes and Elsa's castle.
Later, they demonstrated the camera rig used to naturally shoot different angles and viewpoints on a virtual landscape with the same physical movements used for a real one.
While we were not shown the entire film, it's clear that "Frozen" has the same technical excellence and gorgeous artistry one could reasonably expect from a studio with such a pedigree. The story, far from the "wacky hijinks" air of the earlier trailers or the chauvinistic bent anticipated by some, is one of surprising gravity--the tale of two sisters who start off at an impasse between freedom and responsibility, and who ultimately must make an emotional and literal journey to reconnect in the middle. Like "Sense and Sensibility," except with magic and a singing snowman.
The movie is currently being promoted as the biggest film event to come out of WDAS since "Lion King;" only time will tell whether "Frozen" can live up to such illustrious company, but from what I've seen, it has the potential to be a very good movie, indeed.
Also? I am totally Team Elsa.
"Frozen" will open in theaters in 3D on November 27, 2013. For more information, you can see their website at Disney.com/Frozen.
Disclaimer: As invited media, AllEars was granted access to the Walt Disney Animation Studios and Production Team.
Lee and I have just come off a two-day cruise of the Re-Imagined Disney Magic. There have been a lot of changes, so there was a lot to try and cover in just two days!
Disney Cruise Line considers the Magic their flagship, so rather than simply trying to re-make the Magic into the Dream class of ship, they chose to continue to innovate and bring something special to the Magic. While there are some new elements inspired by the Dream class, they developed new enhancements that are exclusive to the Magic, so the Magic retains its own identity.
I found it interesting that even when there were guest favorites that they really couldn't do because of size or structural reasons (e.g. AquaDuck) they still found ways to bring us something that was at least as much fun, if not more (AquaDunk).
As you may know, the first scheduled cruise of the Disney Magic (which we were supposed to be on) was canceled because it just wasn't ready. Despite that extra five days, there's still things that were unfinished, and there were some problems on board. As we were boarding the captain announced they were still "spreading pixie dust". We noticed a number of finishing touches that weren't done - things like missing blinds, masking tape that hadn't been removed, areas where touch-up paint was still required, faulty lights, missing trim, etc.
I will tell you that I was a little disappointed - from what Disney had said, it sounded like the Magic would be a brand new ship. But we saw a lot of areas that needed significant TLC: rust, damaged railings, and dinged up paint. And all of the carpet - I was very surprised that the carpet in the staterooms, the hallways and many of the stairwells and elevator lobbies had not been replaced.
There were some larger issues, also - a group of staterooms on deck 6 had toilets that didn't flush reliably for most of the cruise, and there were hot/cold water issues. Many of the stateroom TVs didn't work (ours didn't, but it was later fixed), and some staterooms were missing refrigerators and/or safes. In addition to the TV problem we had minor nuisances like a shower drain that was stuck closed, and a verandah door that didn't lock - and the handle pulled right off. Our refrigerator did not fit well into the (new?) cabinet and we had to twist it slightly to open/close its door. We saw a lot more technicians and work crews in the hallways and public areas than we usually do - they usually work at night.
That said, it was still a nice cruise, and these things did not really detract from our experience (though if I'd had a non-working toilet I might not feel that way).
There are many things I could write about and many, many details to share about the Re-Imagined Disney Magic, but for this blog I'm going to focus on an overview of the enhancements and my overall impressions. I promise more detail later. Lee is working on editing some videos that will also provide additional visual detail - if a picture is worth a thousand words, how much more is a video worth? :-)
The first thing Lee and I noticed when we were waiting to board the Magic is a modification to the stern - appropriately called a "duck tail". It's 22' long, and adds stability and buoyancy to the ship to compensate for the additional weight added by features like the AquaDunk and AquaLab.
And speaking of the AquaDunk and AquaLab - those are terrific new additions. The AquaDunk is a body slide through a tube that extends over the side of the ship. It starts at the top of the forward funnel with a vertical "launch" where the where the floor literally drops out from under you and ends in a splashdown zone on deck 10. The drop may seem a little intimidating, but we didn't think it was that bad and the slide was a lot of fun - but it's over really fast. I'd definitely recommend that you try it once.
Another new water feature is the Aqua Lab on deck 9.` There's a version of this on the Disney Fantasy, but I think it's been much better integrated into the kids' pool area on the Magic, where it replaces the Mickey Pool. There's the Nephews' Pool (about 18" deep) and the Lab itself where there's all kinds of devices that spray or dump water. A really fun place to cool off.
Right next to it in a shaded area is the Nephews' Splash Zone for kids three and under.
There's also a new water slide: Twist 'n' Spout. This is an open flume slide that corkscrews down from the aft funnel to deck 9. At the moment adults are allowed to ride it also, but that could change - I guess they don't want the adults taking over something that's supposed to belong to the kids? I think this is actually more fun for the adults than the kids because we're heavier and we go faster down the slide!
You can see Lee's video of the new water features, including his ride on the AquaDunk, below:
The first new thing that guests wlll experience as they board the ship is the new Atrium Lobby. It seems much more open and bright than before: one of the staircases was removed; the Helmsman Mickey statue was repositioned; and the hanging Chihuly glass chandelier was replaced by a very bright (and much shorter) crystal chandelier. The new carpet is lighter in color which also makes it seem larger. I have a before and after photo below.
The kids' spaces on deck 5 were all completely re-done. "it's a small world" nursery replaces Flounder's Reef, and it's full of Mary Blair-style artwork - quite precious. And the attendants there could not WAIT to get their hands on some babies - in fact all of the kid counselors we talked to were overjoyed to have children back on board again.
Oceaneer Lab and Oceaneer Club were completely re-done for the ages 3-12 set. These are so much fun - I think they make most of the adults (including us) want to be kids - or wonder why some of this cool stuff wasn't put into OUR spaces. Oceaneer Lab has a new pirate theme - there are pirate ship navigation simulators in addition to science projects, crafts and other activities.
We were intrigued by the Interactive Table (we think it needs a better name than that) which uses a very large touch screen table to play a variety of games, from driving contests to hockey, memory games, and puzzles. There were more than 15 different games.
In the Oceaneer Club is the new activity that we've been hearing about: Marvel's Avengers Academy. This is a two-day immersive experience where the kids become superheroes, and then have to work together to foil the bad guys. Captain America even makes appearances to help train and encourage the new superheroes. Being adults, WE did not get to experience this, but it sounds like SO much fun!
Lee's video shows the spaces, and an interview with Imagineer David Duffy, where he talks about the Avengers Academy in more detail.
Also in that space is Andy's Room, where things are sized to make kids feel like one of Andy's toys. There's all kinds of things under Andy's bed, and an adorable Slinky Dog slide from the top of the bed to the floor.
There's also Pixie Hollow, with a costume closet in Tinker Bell's teapot home.
In the Mickey Mouse Club section kids can play video games or play with the magnetic gears on the Wacky Wall. (That was harder than it looked.)
Almost all of the dining options on the Magic are new or updated - I think Lumiere's is the only restaurant that returns in its original form.
Animator's Palate was totally re-done - technology has changed a lot since the idea was first conceived and developed over 15 years ago.
When we dined here we had a little bit of a surprise - we'd been told that Animator's Palate would feature the Animation Magic show from the Disney Fantasy, and that's what we expected to see, but instead we experienced an all new show that was developed for the Magic: Drawn to Magic. It draws (sorry) on the original concept of Animator's Palate, where the restaurant itself changes as dinner progresses, growing both more colorful and more, well, animated. On screens all around the room we can watch the animation process as it progresses from simple shapes to sketches, animated sketches, and full-color animated sequences.
Favorite Disney and Pixar characters are featured, and, just as in the original show, the finale includes a procession of Sorcerer Mickey and all of the servers through the dining room.
We both really enjoyed the show - it's quite different from Animation Magic, but more heartwarming. I think I'd still rather see/participate in Animation Magic, though. Once the Disney Magic starts sailing longer itineraries next year, Animator's Palate will feature both shows on every cruise.
In the video below we have most of the show, as well as images and video of the other restaurants.
Carioca's has replaced the Parrot Cay restaurant. I was happy to see this, because for whatever reason I just never cared for Parrot Cay. The new Carioca's is casual but elegant, and I thought the new decor, inspired by street festivals in Rio, was quite beautiful.
But my favorite thing about Carioca's is the new menu! Dishes inspired by ingredients and cuisine from all over Latin America, from Argentinian empanadas to Peruvian potatoes (pictured below), Cuban black bean soup, and Brazilian sausage. I'll write more in my food blog, but I had a very hard time deciding what to order...and ended up ordering three entrees just to taste them - and there were STILL three others I wanted to try! We both really enjoyed the new menu.
On deck 9, the new casual restaurant is Cabanas, which came over from the Dream class ships. It's more like a food court instead of a traditional buffet, where you go to different stations that feature different food selections. (Though unlike the Dream and Fantasy, this Cabanas does NOT have the aft stairwell/elevator located in the middle of the restaurant. For which I am very grateful.) For breakfast and lunch Cabanas serves this modified buffet, but they also offer table service casual dining on most evenings (typically every night except the first and last nights). The menu changes nightly, it's an abbreviated version of one of the other restaurant's menus. Right now that's Pirate Night, Animator's Palate, and Lumiere's.
On the Dream and Fantasy I've found the food in Cabanas to be a cut above that served in Topsiders and Beach Blanket on the older ships, and that trend has carried through to the Magic. I'd rather have breakfast in Cabanas then anywhere else - the food is good and there's a nice variety of it - all the traditional stuff as well as some healthier options. Lunch also has some very good choices - higher quality food than at the quick-service places but a lot faster than Lumiere's.
Cabanas expanded the former restaurant space and offers more indoor (air-conditioned) seating now. Outdoor seating is still available at the back and up on deck 10.
The quick-service dining has basically stayed the same, but most of the names changed. So you can still get pizza, burgers, fries, and chicken strips, and sandwiches, wraps, salads and fruit at Pinocchio's Pizzeria (same name), Pete's Boiler Bites, and Daisy's De-Lites, respectively. The ice cream station has been expanded and moved - there are three machines now. They also added Frozone, where smoothies and other frozen beverages are available for an additional fee.
The self-serve beverage station is still located on deck 9, port side, aft. It might have been rearranged slightly - I'm not sure about that.
After Hours is the new adult entertainment district on deck 3. There's three different bars/clubs: Fathoms, O'Gills Pub, and Keys. In the interest of research we spent time in all of them. All of the bars have menus with various signature drinks, though they are all full-service bars and you can order anything.
Fathoms is the show/dance club. It's been beautifully redone with colors and lighting that suggest being underwater. The lighting changes to simulate both daytime and nighttime conditions. During show times it was pretty crowded, but both nights we went in about 9:00 and had the entire place to ourselves - just us and the bartender. Kind of fun having our own private bar!
There's a legend behind O'Gills Pub. O'Gills was a fish, and one day he rescued a leprechaun from drowning. The leprechaun gave him a wish, but instead of wishing for stuff or riches (or to be human), O'Gills wished to share a pint with his new friend. Awwwww...
O'Gills is the sports and game bar - in addition to TVs all over the room there are some game tables and board games, too. The night we were in there a singer was performing, also. A couple of times each night they put out a small food buffet - things like veggies and dip, wings, chips and salsa, and they had a beef pie the night we visited. It's quite a large space and was not busy on a Friday night - we didn't go on Saturday night, where because of college football I expect it was a lot busier.
Keys is the third bar, and with a name like that, how could it be anything but a piano bar? It's relaxing but elegant (but they let us in anyway!). They had two pianists - one who simply played and one who played and sang. (I have to admit we enjoyed the former more than the latter.) It's the smallest of the three bars but it was also the busiest. Though the crowd tended to come and go, it was almost full at times both nights we were there. While it's not a champagne bar, it does offer our favorite Moet Ice Imperial champagne. We sat at the bar both nights and enjoyed talking to the bartenders and watching them work - they were quite busy.
Senses Spa and Salon is the re-vamped spa on deck 9 forward. This area was expanded and offers additional treatment rooms, as well as some specialized areas like a new barbershop for men, teeth whitening, and the Chill Spa for 13 to 17-year-olds. They also offer some new services like hair coloring and acupuncture.
Lee and I took a tour of the spa on boarding day where we were able to see most of the facilities - he'll have a video on that. I booked a hot stone massage for Saturday, which was quite lovely and relaxing. I tried to talk him into trying the special shave/facial offered in the barbershop, but he wasn't interested.
The staterooms are somewhat different, but I was expecting them to be completely redone. The furnishings, soft goods, and patio furniture are new but the bathrooms and carpet were not changed at all. The bed is a single mattress and no longer supports the split bed configuration - sorry, single travelers. :-( It's very comfortable, though. It's also been raised so that luggage fits underneath. I was hoping for on-demand TV, but that wasn't added.
Our stateroom had two very nice Disney Cruise Line robes and slippers in the closet, though I don't know if that is ship-wide, or due to our category of stateroom (5B).
Well, this ended up being a lot longer than I intended it to be. But the Re-Imagining of the Disney Magic was a huge project and there's a lot to write about. There are so many details that I haven't touched on at all!
Even though there's still some work to be done, I thought most of the Disney Magic is better than ever and I am looking forward to sailing on the Magic again. I have to admit that the Magic is my favorite of the four Disney ships - while there are things I like about all of them, sailing on the Magic always feels like coming home.
Laura Gilbreath was an invited Media guest aboard the Disney Magic. Her opinions are her own.
Re-Imagined Disney Magic - The AquaDunk and AquaLab
For those who are interested, I thought I would provide some additional details on the AquaDunk and AquaLab aboard the Disney Magic.
The AquaDunk is the new water slide that extends over the side of the ship. It's a body slide - no raft. We thought the AquaDunk was a lot of fun, though a little bit scary the first time. But seeing all of the kids lining up to ride it for the third, fourth, or fifth time is encouraging!
Guests must be at least 48" tall, and weigh less than 300 pounds. The exact phrasing is: "The slide entry capsule may prohibit Guests of certain body shapes or sizes from riding and may not operate for Guests weighing more than 300 lbs." (Click on the image below for a larger version.)
No loose items such as hats, sunglasses, cameras, or shoes allowed - there is a storage area at the bottom for those items. Clothing must not have studs, buckles, zippers or other exposed metal that could damage the slide.
The entrance is on deck 10 on the port side of the mid-ship funnel. There are 63 steps from the entrance up to the loading area in the stack, which is just behind the ship's horns (nice view from up there!) Because of that, the AquaDunk is closed during times when the ship's horn is sounded.
But it starts with a near vertical drop - the floor literally drops out from under you. You step into a load capsule (people were calling it a coffin) and lean back, feet crossed, and arms crossed across your chest. The crew member closes the lid (which is clear), and it's almost time. This is another one of Donald's nephews' inventions, so Huey (or maybe it's Dewey or Louie) counts down: "Three, two, one" and whoosh, you drop. Even though the tube is clear and extends over the side I couldn't see anything. The slide itself was fun, and not uncomfortable like Summit Plummet. Be a little careful in the splash zone to avoid getting water up your nose. I saw girls in bikinis come down and there were no wardrobe malfunctions, so it seems safe in that respect.
I found the anticipation of the drop to be the most intimidating part. The load process and the drop all happen very fast, so as long as you don't psych yourself out while waiting you're fine. Lee is claustrophobic, so he was concerned about the load capsule, but he did ok with it. He said it helps a lot that the lid of the capsule is clear, and the person running it is right there to open it just in case. And, as I said before it's all very quick - there's usually only about 30 seconds between people, and the actual slide part is only about six seconds! You can see Lee's ride in this video - it starts at about 2:04:
The line was never that long when we looked - maybe 20 minutes. We waited about 10 minutes the first time and 15 the second.
The "splashdown zone" is on the port side of deck 10. Unfortunately that takes up about half of the walkway there, so it gets congested, AND it gets very wet. Even though there's a plexiglass wall, some riders still make a big enough splash to rain water down on unsuspecting passersby. I also noticed that the water does not seem to drain that well, and was 1/4"-1/2" deep on deck. I'm sure they will be looking at ways to deal with that.
Another new water feature is the Aqua Lab on deck 9. There's a version of this on the Disney Fantasy, but I think it's been much better integrated into the kids' pool area on the Magic. Again, Donald's nephews have been busy, and Mickey's Pool has been replaced by the Nephews' Pool.
On the port side of the pool is the Aqua Lab, where there's all kinds of devices that spray or dump water. A really fun place to cool off.
Next to that, in a shaded area, is the Nephews' Splash Zone, intended for use by kids up to the age of three. On the starboard side there's seating for parents to watch their kids.
Also in this area is another one of the nephews' creations: Twist 'n' Spout. It's an open flume body slide that corkscrews down from the aft funnel, with a splashdown zone on deck 9 (not much of a splash, though).
The entrance is on deck 10 on the port side of the aft funnel. There are about 40 steps to the top. I though it appropriate that it's a spiral staircase.
I was surprised that there's no attendant at the top - riders sit at the slide entrance and wait for a green light, then push off and lay on their backs for the trip down. (Though a lot of kids were sliding sitting up - which might be one reason they were slow.)
Imagineer Joe Lanzisero told us the slide was engineered for adults, too, and for the moment the height maximum (64", I think?) has been removed. We were told that Disney is evaluating this on the first two cruises, and will decide whether to make it permanent or not. I hope they will continue to allow adults because it was a lot of fun. And adults have an advantage because of weight - we slide a lot faster than the kids do, so it's an even better ride for us! The minimum height is 38".
I loved this whole area - the nephews' blueprints are placed throughout the various attractions - it's just all so clever and fun!