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Breaking news: Star Wars Episode VIII’s title revealed!

Attention Star Wars fans! The title of Episode VIII has been revealed.

From WALT DISNEY STUDIOS:

We have the greatest fans in this or any other galaxy.  In appreciation of the fans, we wanted them to be the first to know the title of the next chapter in the Skywalker saga:  STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI

star wars last jedi

THE LAST JEDI is written and directed by Rian Johnson and produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Ram Bergman and executive produced by J.J. Abrams, Jason McGatlin, and Tom Karnowski.

STAR WARS: THE LAST JEDI is scheduled for release December 15, 2017.

Review: Tiana’s Riverboat Party and Festival of Fantasy parade viewing

I recently had the chance to attend Tiana’s Riverboat Party – Ice Cream Social at Walt Disney World, complete with a VIP viewing location of the Festival of Fantasy parade. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a fun and special experience on a Magic Kingdom afternoon.

Riverboat paradeThe party begins with check-in at the Liberty Riverboat dock, 45 minutes before the parade begins. However, as with most things of this nature at Disney, we were allowed in 15 minutes before that, at 2 PM, instead of 2:15.

At the boat dock you’re greeted by a plethora of Cast Members and a variety of treats. The desserts and ice cream are pre-plated for you, with ice cream fixings on a side table.

riverboat paradeThere is almost no seating on the dock — just one bench right at the door — just tables scattered around for standing. You are welcome to go on the boat at any time, where there are seats to be found, but if you want to meet Tiana right away, you need to stay on the dock. Having said that, there’s plenty of time to go back and forth, and more meet & greet opportunities later.

Tiana leaves for the parade and the Liberty Belle Riverboat pulls away from the dock, just slightly moving closer to the street and parade path. This map shows the parade route (yellow line) and where the boat parks for the duration of the parade (orange).

riverboat parade

The big question is, is the view any good from there? I would answer yes and no. It was better than I was worried it would be, and yet there were still some issues. There’s plenty of room to line up along the railing of the boat to watch; we were on the upper level, where I would assume the angel is best. And you can see rather well, considering:

riverboat parade

But unless you stand in the exact right spot at the railing, there are a lot of trees in the way. Also, you’re not up close and personal, to be sure. Lastly, you miss out on seeing the front of the floats, since they go by you, not towards you, if that makes sense. It’s not a bad view, and if you’ve seen Festival of Fantasy before, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it just fine. But if you haven’t, or if you have little ones who enjoy the characters waving to them and interacting, you might be disappointed.

riverboat paradeAfter the parade, Tiana and Naveen rejoin the party and the Liberty Belle takes a cruise around the Rivers of America, circling Tom Sawyer Island. You can relax, meet & greet, and enjoy more snacks. Drinks and popcorn were available in ample supply.

One thing I hadn’t seen mentioned anywhere was the fact that a PhotoPass photographer was available during both the party and the cruise. I assume he took meet & greet photos, but he also was happy & willing to take any number of shots of visitors at the railing, watching the parade, or any other pose your heart might desire. It was nice — we love getting all the poses we can.

riverboat paradeOverall, we had a very nice time at the party. Cast members were above and beyond in regards to helpfulness and customer service. Treats and snacks were plentiful. The riverboat ride was relaxing, and it was nice to have a place to watch the parade from. But it wasn’t an ideal place. I can’t help thinking this special event would work better if, when it was time for the parade, guests were escorted off the boat and to a reserved viewing area on the street, much as they do for other parades, and then back onto the boat for the cruise. I still recommend the party the way it is, but think Disney should consider this small adjustment and improve the experience further.

Tiana’s Riverboat Party & Ice Cream Social tickets are available for $49 per adult and $29 for children ages 9 and under (tax included). For reservations, you can book online or by calling (407) WDW-DINE or (407) 939-3463.

MagicBand 2.0 Review

Disney has, as was rumored earlier this year, revamped MagicBands with a new removable “icon” that allows users to accessorize and wear their MagicBand in new ways. As an annual passholder, I received my new band in the mail just yesterday. As reported, new and renewing passholders are now being sent the new bands. While it’s expected that Disney will start shipping them to resort guests sometime soon, there’s no word yet on when. For the time being, then, for those who haven’t experiences them yet, here’s my hands-on review.

magicband

My hands-on review of Disney's new MagicBand 2.0 Click To Tweet

In every picture I’ve seen of the MagicBand 2.0, they look huge. Huger than the old band, big, kind of enormous. Mine in the picture above sort of looks gigantic too, even! The strange thing is that they’re not, really. When you’re wearing them, they feel the same. The Michey-head icon area is definitely wider than the rest of the band, which is the same size as before. But looking at it, I think it’s natural to focus on the icon, and not the rest.

MagicBand 2.0 is no heavier than earlier versions — I don’t have a scale that accurate to measure precisely, but comparing my new band to the one I received on a trip a few weeks ago, they seemed to weigh the same.

magicband

The other big difference is that the icon, that center Mickey-head puck, is removable, as you can see from the screws above. According to the Disney blog, if you buy an accessory or MagicKeeper, it will come with a tiny screwdriver to help you install your icon. Well, that’s helpful, but it brings home again that contrary to some initial thoughts, this change did not come about to save on producing multiple RFID units or because of conservation in general.

Speaking of MagicKeepers, which is what Disney is calling the alternatives to wearing your MagicBand on your wrist, they’re not for sale yet. Here’s a preview of what initial offerings will look like:

magickeepers

To be frank? So it’s a band or a keychain… not very exciting, in my opinion. I’m not a person who needs a MagicKeeper — I don’t mind wearing mine on my wrist — but I’m always interested in new Disney gear. This is underwhelming. Anyone could have just looped their previous MagicBand around a keychain fob in the first place, without all this icon removing business. I wear a watch on a lanyard that way, sometimes. I’m hoping future MagicKeeper offerings are a little more exciting.

Walt Disney World, a few seconds a day – December 2016 edition

Just got back from an 8-day visit to Walt Disney World! Much to report — we did a bunch of great signature events I want to share reviews on, but in the meantime, here’s a few seconds each day from our trip:

(I made this using 1SE — the 1 Second Everyday app on iOS. I love it and highly recommend it for all kinds of fun video projects!)

ROGUE ONE Special Extended Trailer: “Trust”

A new Rogue One: A Star Wars Story trailer, “Trust”, gives us more insight into the characters of this new chapter in an epic tale.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, “Trust”

From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story,” an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.

“Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, with Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are producing, with John Knoll and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers. The story is by John Knoll and Gary Whitta, and the screenplay is by Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy.  “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” opens in U.S. theaters on December 16, 2016.

Official trailer and Facebook Live for Disney’s Beauty and the Beast

From Walt Disney Studios: Check out the new trailer for Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic ”Beauty and the Beast.”  One of the most beloved tales ever told, the film brings it to life in a stunning, cinematic event directed by Bill Condon with an extraordinary ensemble cast, including: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Ian  McKellen and Emma Thompson. Beauty and the Beast opens March 17, 2017. #BeOurGuest

Check out the official trailer from Walt Disney's live-action Beauty and the Beast opening 3-17-2017 Click To Tweet

Also, don’t miss stars Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, and director Bill Condon answering questions in a Facebook Live session this morning — at about 8:20 Pacific, 11:20 Eastern time on the Beauty and the Beast page.

New Beauty and the Beast teaser film poster

Just posted by Emma Watson on Facebook — the new teaser poster for Beauty and the Beast. I’m DEFINITELY going to need one hanging on my wall.

 

poster Beauty and the Beast

The poster is for Disney’s upcoming live-action adaptation of the studio’s animated classic Beauty and the Beast. The film, which stars Emma Watson and Dan Stevens in the title roles, brings the story and characters audiences know and love to life in a stunning, cinematic event, is directed by Bill Condon and features an extraordinary ensemble cast which also includes Luke Evans, Kevin Kline, Josh Gad, Ewan McGregor, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Audra McDonald, Ian McKellen and Emma Thompson.

Beauty and the Beast will be released in U.S. theaters nationwide on March 17, 2017.

Disney’s just a short drive away…

Disney moving to FloridaWe did it: last week we made the two-day drive (not fun) from Long Island and moved into our new house in Florida. I’ve gone from being a born New Yorker to a transplanted Floridian. There are a lot of reasons I’m happy about that, but I cannot tell a lie: being close to Walt Disney World is definitely right up at the top of the list. We’re about a two hour drive away from the Happiest Place on Earth, and as anyone who’s ever lived in the tri-state metro NYC area can tell you, that’s a piece of cake. We’ve driven longer (but shorter distances) just to go to lunch.

We have a week-long Disney vacation coming up in December (planned before the move!) where we’ll get our annual passes. I can’t wait to start visiting WDW at the drop of a hat!

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party : Everything You Need to Know For Festive Fun!

There’s plenty of festive spirit to go around this holiday season at Disney World, especially at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party! Planning your party visit can be daunting, but we’ve gathered together a lot of great information to help you right here.

Christmas MVMCP

Here's everything you need to know about Magic Kingdom's Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party! Click To Tweet

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (also known as MVMCP) takes place on select evenings at Magic Kingdom in November and December. It features exclusive holiday entertainment, snow falling on Main St., and complimentary cookies and hot cocoa.

Here’s everything you need to know to have a very merry time!

Tickets – Dates and Times

Buy tickets HERE! This is a special event with its own ticket. People with event tickets can enter Magic Kingdom at 4 PM to enjoy the park before the party officially kicks off at 7 PM. Park visitors who do not have  a party ticket have to leave Magic Kingdom by 7 AM.

Tickets are non-refundable. Some party dates, especially close to Christmas, do sell out.

2016 event dates are:

November: 7, 8, 10, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27 and 29
December: 1, 2, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18 and 22

Tickets for 2016 went on sale May 5 and can be purchased online or by calling 407-WDISNEY. Prices vary depending on the date and whether or not you purchase in advance.

Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade

Christmas MVMCP dwarvesMickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade is a fun, festive experience that is one of the highlights of the Very Merry Christmas Party.  Mickey and Minnie start the parade and Santa finishes it (of course), with all sorts of festive friends marching in between — marching toy soldiers, reindeer, gingerbread men, and classic characters dressed in their holiday best . And on Main Street USA, there’s even snow!

There are two parades at each party. The second parade will generally be less crowded than the first, so see that one if you can. If you would rather see the first one,  grab your spot early. The parade starts in Frontierland, so you might consider looking for a good spot there.

Celebrate the Magic

Christmas MVMCPThe nightly castle projection show you love, but with a holiday twist. Past Christmas scenes have wrapped the castle in colorful bows and boughs, gift paper and ribbons, ornaments, candy stripes, strands of lights, and gingerbread.

Celebrate the Magic takes place at 9:15 PM, just before the fireworks begin.

Holiday Wishes – Celebrate the Spirit of the Season

Christmas MVMCPThe Christmas Party features a fantastic fireworks spectacular. Holiday Wishes is a festive show featuring a delightful score of all your favorite holiday and Disney songs.

There is only one performance of Holiday Wishes, at 10:00 PM.

A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show

Christmas MVMCPA Totally Tomorrowland Christmas Show is a stage performance held near Space Mountain that lasts about 20 minutes and is held several times per night. It stars an eclectic mix of characters including Mike Wazowski from Monsters Inc. and Stitch. Part entertainment and part dance party, this show will get you moving!

Times: 7:40, 8:30, 9:20, 10:45, 11:35 PM.

A Frozen Holiday Wish

Christmas MVMCPQueen Elsa from Frozen appears twice each evening to get the Castle Dream Lights lit up for the night in a 7-minute show called “A Frozen Holiday Wish.”

This special ceremony happens each night at Magic Kingdom from early November to January, not just on party nights, at 6:30 and 8:15 PM.

Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration

New for 2016!  Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration will make its debut for the 2016 holiday season. From Disney:

It’s just days before Christmas and all through this house, excitement is stirring thanks to Mickey Mouse.

Mickey is thrilled that the holidays are here, and he knows the only way to make this season more special, is to share it with friends. So he’s throwing a Most Merriest Celebration and inviting lots of Disney pals—and you—to join the festive fun!

Minnie, Donald, Daisy, Goofy and Pluto are dropping by dressed in their Christmas best. Peter Pan is flying in from Never Land, Alice and the White Rabbit are hurrying over from Wonderland and Woody and Jessie from Toy Story are galloping in for this holiday ho ho hoedown. Plus, Snow White and Dopey, Pinocchio, Jiminy Cricket and many more surprise guests will be stopping by.

Mickey’s Most Merriest Celebration will feature medleys of holiday songs both old and new, special effects, projections and all of your favorite character friends. The new show will be presented on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage during Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.

Times: 7:40, 9:25,10:30 PM, 12 AM (midnight).

Sweets and Treats Included!

Throughout the Magic Kingdom, Cast Members will hand out all kinds of treats to guests. (If you have a particular food allergy, Guest Services at City Hall has allergy-free options.)

Tortuga Tavern: Hot Cocoa and Snickerdoodle Cookies
Heritage House: Eggnog and Ginger-Molasses Cookies
The Friar’s Nook: Snow Cone and Sugar Cookies
Pete’s Silly Sideshow: Apple Cider and Sugar Cookies
The Lunching Pad: Hot Cocoa and Peppermint Bark Cookies

Special Snacks for Sale!

Special goodies are available for purchase only during the party. These can be found at the following locations and include:

• Plaza Ice Cream Parlor: Peppermint Hot Fudge Sundae
• Gaston’s Tavern: Holiday Tree Cupcake
• Main Street Bakery: Frozen Snowflake Cupcake, Peppermint Cupcake, Holiday Cookies
• Sleepy Hollow: Pumpkin Waffle Sundae

Wishes Fireworks Holiday Dessert Party at Tomorrowland Terrace

Christmas MVMCPSweeten your night with this holly-jolly premium experience. For $79 per adult and $47 per child (age 3 to 9), this package includes a reserved viewing location for Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade on Main Street USA, followed by a private dessert party on Tomorrowland Terrace. The party features a host of holiday-themed cupcakes and desserts freshly prepared by our pastry chef, along with a bountiful buffet of sweet treats—like chocolate-dipped strawberries, chocolate mousse, ice cream, cheeses and fresh, seasonal fruits. Raise a cup of good cheer with sparkling cider, signature lemonades, specialty Christmas drinks, hot chocolate, coffee or tea, and then marvel as the sky above explodes with color, music and light with your reserved viewing of Holiday Wishes from the terrace.

For reservations, please book online or by calling (407) 939-3463. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call. Please note: a separate ticket to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party is also required and is not included in the price of this package.

Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom

Christmas MVMCP Sorcerers cardEach year a special new Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card is available only to partygoers. This year’s card features Goofy!

From the Disney Parks blog:

Just in case you’re new to Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom, this interactive game allows guests to team up with Merlin in defeating Disney Villains who are scheming to take over Magic Kingdom Park. Guests search for villain hideouts throughout the park, visit magic portals and use special spell cards to defeat villains. Each spell card stars a different Disney character, each with their own unique powers. The game begins at the Firehouse on Main Street, U.S.A., where you can pick up complimentary key cards, spell cards and maps (additional cards can be purchased at select merchandise locations).

This year’s party-exclusive card is “Goofy’s Festive Fiasco” and, according to Imagineer Jonathan Ackley, “celebrates the glorious holiday chaos created by Goofy as he attempts to decorate for the season!”

Other fun events and sights to see at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party:

  • VoicePlay: This a cappella singing group performs on the Rockettower Plaza Stage in Tomorrowland at 8:10 p.m., 9:05 p.m., 10:10 p.m., and 11:05 p.m. on party nights. VoicePlay, who appeared on the TV show “The Sing-Off,” will share their incredible vocal harmonies and holiday cheer between performances of ” A Totally Tomorrowland Christmas” at the Rockettower Plaza Stage.
  • Meet and greet opportunities with Disney Characters
  • Club Tinsel dance party takes place continuously at Cosmic Ray’s in Tomorrowland.
    For people who like characters, this is a fun way to interact with them. They won’t be signing autographs but it’s a chance to enjoy them in a different way than you normally would.
  • Many rides and attractions are open, with short lines.
  • Exclusive merchandise
  • PhotoPass photographers will take Magic Shots during the party. When you look at your pictures, you’ll see something magically inserted into the shot with you
  • Also for the holiday season, the iconic Jungle Cruise will temporarily transform into “Jingle Cruise” for Magic Kingdom guests. Festive decor in the attraction queue and boathouse gives guests a bit of Christmas cheer. The Jingle Cruise boats each are given a unique holiday name, and the Skippers share a slew of seasonal holiday jokes throughout the tour.

Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party  Guide and Map

Click to see the full-sized map.mvmcpb1

Visiting Magic Kingdom at the end of December, after the final party date?

Special holiday entertainment shown during this party will be shown daily after the last party of the year. Beginning December 23, you will not need an extra ticket to see all of the special holiday events listed here. Be aware, though, that crowds during Christmas week tend to be extremely heavy.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: If I purchase a ticket to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, do I need to have a Park ticket for the Magic Kingdom for that day as well?

A: No. You do not need a park ticket in addition to the special event ticket to attend the Christmas Party, which officially begins at 7 PM — however party guests have traditionally been allowed into the Magic Kingdom starting at 4 PM.

Q: Can I enter the Park at 4 PM, leave and come back?

You can, because you’ll be given a special Party wristband. But you’ll be giving up valuable Park time if you do.

Q: Do they really make non-Party guests leave Magic Kingdom at 7 PM?

Yes. As it gets closer to 7 PM, Cast Members will start reminding everyone not wearing a wristband that they must leave before the Party begins. Once 7 PM comes, Cast Members will start escorting anyone without a wristband out of the Park. You’ll always hear stories of people who claim they were able to sneak past the CMs and stay, but some of those may be exaggerated, and besides, you don’t want to be that guy, do you?

Q: What if I’ve got an ADR (Advanced Dining Reservation) at a Magic Kingdom restaurant like Be Our Guest at 6 PM? They’re not going to cut my dinner short, are they?

Definitely not. But when you are finished and leave the restaurant, you’ll be escorted to the gate.

Q: Will I be able to make FastPass+ selections for attractions during the Christmas Party?

No, but also kind of yes.

No — there are no FastPass+ selections available during the Party, between 7 PM and Midnight. The good news is, you won’t need them. Ride lines tend to be much shorter during holiday parties because guests are busy with other activities, like special character meet and greets, trick or treating, and the parades. So it’s a great time to ride your favorite attraction an extra time or two.

BUT… you can make FastPass+ selections between 4 PM and 7 PM on those days, since Party ticket holders are allowed in the gates early at 4 PM, before the official event starts.

Q: Which special characters are available for meet and greets during the party? Do the lines tend to be long? 

There are plenty of characters to meet, and some you can’t see any other time. In some cases, lines can get very long. The Seven Dwarfs, Santa Claus, and Jack Skellington are especially popular. If these character meets are important to you, get there early — as in, before the party starts early.

These are the characters scheduled to appear for 2016 by their locations. These are subject to change — this list will be updated as more information is available.

Main Street, U.S.A.: Santa Claus, Mickey Mouse, Tinker Bell.

Adventureland: Aladdin, Jasmine, Genie and Abu, Captain Jack Sparrow, Peter Pan (roaming).

Frontierland: The Country Bears (roaming) Liberty Square: Jack Skellington as Sandy Claws.

Fantasyland: Ariel, Rapunzel and Flynn Rider, Cinderella and Prince Charming, Belle, Pooh and Friends, The Seven Dwarfs, Snow White and her Prince, Aurora and Prince Phillip, Princess Elena of Avalor, Minnie Mouse, Scrooge McDuck, Donald and Daisy, Santa Goofy, Mary Poppins, Bert, Princess Tiana and Prince Naveen.

Tomorrowland: Nick Wilde, Judy Hopps

Q: Where is the best place to find exclusive merchandise during the party?

A: One of the easiest places to find items is The Emporium, but check out Big Top Souvenirs as well.

New from Disney Weddings — A fairytale Magic Kingdom wedding at night

Found your Prince Charming? Picked out that perfect princess dress? Ready to say I do? Disney Weddings has always had plenty of magical experiences to offer for mouse-obsessed brides and grooms. Now you can say your vows in front of Disney World’s Cinderella Castle under a canopy of stars at night.

disney weddings

From the Disney Weddings YouTube channel:

Imagine saying “I do” inside Magic Kingdom Park in front of the iconic Cinderella Castle or celebrating your reception amid the beauty of Fantasyland at night. Mark your vows in this enchanting venue filled with fantasy and excitement where your every wedding wish can come true and your every heart’s desire can become a reality.

 

Disney World has just announced the Magic Kingdom After Hours Experience, which allows you to get married in the park after it’s closed to the public. At 11 PM, you can say your vows to your Prince Charming in front of the Cinderella Castle in front of up to 300 guests.  The castle will be illuminated to create a magical backdrop. You and your guests will then dine by candlelight in Fantasyland.

This experience — available as part of the Disney Fairytale Weddings and Honeymoons Wishes collection – come with a starting price of $180,000.

 

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