WDW News Today

“Limited Time Magic” Brings a Winter Wonderland to Canada at Epcot 1/14-1/20

Posted on January 11, 2013

From the Disney Parks Blog:

It’s Friday, and time to share our next “Limited Time Magic” surprise at the Walt Disney World Resort. Our latest extra sprinkle of Pixie Dust begins on Monday at the Canada Pavilion in Epcot.


The forecast at Epcot this week is sunny with a chance of flurries. For one week only, January 14-20, there will be a magical Winter Wonderland location with falling snow where you and your family can meet and take photos with some of your favorite Disney characters. It’s an all new character greeting location in the Canada Pavilion.

Times for the Winter Wonderland location at Epcot are:

  • 10:30 a.m. – 2:10 p.m.
  • 3:05 p.m. – 5:45 p.m.

What do you think of this Limited Time Magic offering?

Topics: Epcot |

Comments: 3 Comments »

Dirk Wallen’s 1/10/13 Epcot Photo Report

Posted on January 10, 2013

WDWNT Reporter Dirk Wallen visited Epcot earlier today to see the newly remodeled Boulangerie Patisserie in France and the IBM Think exhibit inside Innoventions, so let’s take a look at what’s going on around the park:

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Guests with RFID tickets are using the new entrance area all the way to the right, meanwhile more of the new RFID scanners are being installed

Kodak picture spots are still up

Daisy got a new meet and greet backdrop near the front of the park a few weeks ago, it is pretty retro-tastic

Epcot Character Spot is still being remodeled

Preparations underway for the Flower and Garden Festival

The new IBM exhibit quietly opened today inside Innoventions

The new exhibit is simply called Think

A look inside

There is a theater portion to the experience, still doesn’t look like much

Habit Heroes is still closed

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Work was completed on the FastPass+ entrance at the Seas with Nemo and Friends

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Ready for use

Another Kodak Picture Spot

Boulangerie Patisserie has finally opened in its expanded new home

The new indoor seating area


They have fancy gold trays…

More my speed… there is an assortment of Phineas and Ferb snacks now available around World Showcase

Holiday decorations are gone

Topics: Epcot, Photo Reports |

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Disney Parks Management Shake-Up Makes George Kalogridis WDW President

Posted on January 9, 2013


BURBANK, Calif. (Jan. 9, 2013) – Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Tom Staggs today announced key leadership changes across one of the world’s leading providers of family travel and leisure experiences to better position the organization for growth.  Effective Feb. 1, Meg Crofton will fully assume her global role as president, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, U.S. and France – a position she has held since July 2011 – while concurrently serving as president of Walt Disney World. With Meg’s transition complete, George A. Kalogridis is named president of the Walt Disney World Resort, and Michael Colglazier is named president of the Disneyland Resort. Both Kalogridis and Colglazier’s roles are also effective Feb. 1.

“With all that we currently have in flight across our resort destinations in the U.S. and France, the time is right to move forward with this leadership transition,” said Staggs.  “This group of Disney veterans has the knowledge and expertise needed to continue delivering on our legacy of creating unforgettable experiences that our guests have come to know and expect. I would like to thank Meg for her tireless devotion and the extraordinary contributions serving in both positions, and wish George and Michael the best of luck in their new roles.  They both bring a wealth of operational expertise, leadership and passion to these roles, which will contribute to the success of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.”

With the appointment of a Walt Disney World president, Crofton will focus all of her attention to providing strategic oversight of the broader initiatives that impact Disney destinations in the U.S. and France.

Kalogridis brings a tremendous amount of knowledge and expertise to his new role at Walt Disney World, including more than 40 years of experience at Disney parks in a number of positions around the world. Most recently as president of the Disneyland Resort, he oversaw one of the most extensive expansion projects in the Resort’s history — including the immensely successful transformation of Disney California Adventure.  Throughout his career, Kalogridis also has proven himself to be a leader in the travel and leisure industry, as well as a respected partner in the community.

For the last several years, Colglazier has served as head of Disney’s Animal Kingdom where he has been instrumental in the planning and development of an Avatar-themed land.  He brings more than two decades of wide-ranging experience to his new role at the Disneyland Resort, including leadership positions in Operations, Global Development, Operations Strategy and Technology and Strategic Planning.

The company also announced several other corresponding changes. As part of the organization’s approach to providing new opportunities and challenges to leaders, each of these transitions is designed to give seasoned executives the opportunity to broaden their knowledge of the segment’s diverse businesses and operations around the world.

Claire Bilby will relocate to Paris as senior vice president, Sales and Marketing Disneyland Paris and Europe, reporting to Leslie Ferraro, executive vice president of Global Marketing and Sales and Philippe Gas, CEO of Euro Disney S.A.S.  Bilby has held a variety of executive positions around the world, including several in sales and marketing, and most recently she has been instrumental in leading the Disney Vacation Club business, making it a priority to deliver an exceptional experience to the more than 175,000 Member families.

As a result of Bilby’s new position, Ken Potrock has been named senior vice president and general manager, Disney Vacation Club and Adventures by Disney, reporting to Karl Holz, president of New Vacation Operations and Disney Cruise Line. Throughout his Disney career, Potrock has been a leader in a wide array of Parks and Resorts businesses, and has become known as a creative catalyst with deep experience in marketing and operations.  Most recently leading both the sports and Downtown Disney organizations, his leadership abilities have been apparent with the sports business and the unprecedented growth of the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend.

Topics: General Resort News |

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Dirk Wallen’s 1/9/13 Hollywood Studios Photo Report

Posted on January 9, 2013

WDWNT Reporter Dirk Wallen made a quick trip over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios earlier today and has a couple of newsworthy photos to share with us from his trip. Let’s take a look:

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Peter Pan blu-ray billboard in the parking lot

We’re still letting the memories begin…

More RFID entrances are being installed in preparation for the rollout of MyMagic+ and MagicBand

Plenty of Kodak references still up all over the park

The stage is finally down in front of the hat

Peter Pan and Frankenweenie billboards in the Animation Courtyard

The Monsters Inc. 3-D billboard is now a billboard for Monsters University

Comedy Warehouse is gone…

Muppetvision 3-D is still presented by Kodak currently

Osborne Lights are coming down

Topics: Disney's Hollywood Studios |

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Walt Disney World 2013 – Coming Attractions

Posted on January 9, 2013

So, 2012 is coming to a close and you’re probably now asking, “Well, what is happening at Walt Disney World in 2013?” It’s going to be nearly impossible to top all the changes and additions we had in 2012 at the Vacation Kingdom of the World, but there will be a steady diet of exciting offerings coming in 2013:

Princess Fairytale Hall

Princess Fairytale Hall

Disney princesses including Cinderella, Aurora, Snow White, Jasmine, Tiana and Rapunzel will have a new home for meeting their loyal subjects when Princess Fairytale Hall opens in 2013 in the shadows of Cinderella Castle. The castle-like entrance will feature walls of stone and stained glass windows leading to a large, high-ceilinged room where portraits of the princesses adorn the walls. When summoned, Magic Kingdom guests will proceed to elegantly furnished chambers to meet the princesses.

Limited Time Magic

Disney Parks guests will get an extra dash of pixie dust in 2013 with Limited Time Magic. Themed weekly surprises and special offers will surprise and delight Disney Parks guests with 52 weeks of the unexpected. Plans include everything from dance parties, new festivals and character meet and greets to culinary treats, special entertainment and commemorative keepsakes. The bicoastal offering — created to remind guests about the importance of family vacation time together — is full of unique, magical, memory-filled experiences – all available for a limited time only. Special experiences include Valentine’s week with enchanting dinners, or photo shoots with famous Disney character couples; a patriotic salute during July 4th week with red, white and blue lights adorning castles on both coasts and limited edition souvenirs; or the popular Dapper Dans barbershop quartet swapping their old-time melodies for surprise renditions of today’s boy band hits. Each Limited Time Magic offering will have a varying length from a day to a week to a season adding to the element of surprise.

The Kinsey Collection at the American Adventure

The Kinsey Collection Opens at Epcot in 2013

The American story of determination, courage, hope, struggle and inspiration will be told through more than 40 pieces of art, artifacts, books sculptures and documents on display at Epcot. The American Adventure Pavilion will be home to the Kinsey’s personal treasures of African-American art and history, amassed from their travels to 90 countries with some works dating to the 17th century. The Kinsey Collection is the intersection where art and history meet, a virtual history book opened wide, giving voice to untold stories of accomplishment and contribution. After previews during African-American Heritage Month in February, the Kinsey Collection is scheduled to open in March 2013. The Kinsey Collection, at the American Heritage Gallery, will be included in Epcot admission.

Disney Senses Spa Opens at Grand Floridian, Coming to Saratoga Springs
If the new year means a new you, the just-opened Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort welcomes Walt Disney World Resort guests to renew and rejuvenate in 2013. The newly-remodeled spa, owned and operated by Disney, blends Grand Floridian Victorian elegance with modern touches – plus a dash of Disney whimsy.

All the senses are engaged in an ultimate relaxation experience – flavorful and soothing elixirs, color variations in lighting and Disney orchestral music harmonize with the treatment selected. Spa-goers walk through the new Victorian-style entryway and indulge in the spa’s relax, renew, or imagine themes aimed at creating a custom experience. The centerpiece of the spa’s lobby is an original mural reflecting old Florida landscape and nature. Glass mosaic tiles in the Jacuzzi rooms further enhance the elegance and sophistication of the spa.

Fifteen treatment rooms offer pampering services such as water therapy, sugar exfoliation body treatment, rejuvenating citrus facial, a restorative hand and foot ritual with Chinese Jasmine oils, plus a Princess Pedicure or Magical Manicure for youngsters ages 4-12. Lounges, whirlpools and treatment rooms all provide rejuvenation through the healing nature of Florida citrus and botanicals.

The new menu of services also includes a signature 80-minute Grand Floridian treatment featuring a special aromatherapy massage.

Guests can book a spa appointment at the new Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort by calling 407-WDW-SPAS (407-939-7727) or learn more by visiting www.disneyworld.com/spas

All of the spas, salons and fitness centers will be owned and operated by Disney beginning Jan.16, 2013. On that same day the spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort will temporarily close for renovation and reopen in the summer as Senses – A Disney Spa at Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort.

“Sophia the First” and “Doc McStuffins” join Disney Junior – Live on Stage
Disney Junior – Live on Stage! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney California Adventure is periodically updated to feature the latest, most popular characters and stories from the Disney Junior line-up on television. In 2013, the top-rated “Doc McStuffins” and “Sofia the First” join the show. The new version of Disney Junior – Live on Stage! debuts at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in mid-February and comes to Disney California Adventure one month later, in March 2013. “Sofia the First” as a regular series premieres Friday, Jan. 11, on Disney Channel and Disney Junior.

Starbucks comes to Magic Kingdom and Epcot
Starbucks will be opening locations at Disney theme parks at the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort. The first two Walt Disney World locations will open in 2013. At Magic Kingdom, Main Street Bakery will close for refurbishment in January 2013. When it reopens in early summer, Main Street Bakery will keep its name and theming and continue to serve Disney favorites like cookies, brownies and seasonal cupcakes, in addition to Starbucks signature beverages and other menu items. At Epcot, Fountain View will temporarily close in March 2013. When Fountain View reopens in midsummer, it will serve Starbucks products. Each Starbucks location inside a Disney Park will reflect the theme of its surroundings. At Magic Kingdom Park for example, Cast Members will wear a costume consistent with the early 20th century look and feel of Main Street, U.S.A. At Future World in Epcot, the new Starbucks location and Cast Member costumes will be designed to match the park’s futuristic theme.

New Dining

Other 2013 additions Disney has not confirmed at this time include The Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, Tapaz (a waterside restaurant to be constructed in the Morocco pavilion at Epcot), and a rather large refurbishment project for the Jungle Cruise. We’ll have more on these projects as they become available.

So… what are you most excited for in 2013?

Topics: Dining, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Epcot, General Resort News, Resorts, Shopping, The Magic Kingdom |

Comments: 3 Comments »

Sweeping Renovations Completed as Work Continues on Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort

Posted on January 8, 2013

In preparation for the opening of the Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, the rest of the resort has been undergoing sweeping changes overt the last few months. Most of this work has been completed, so let’s take a look at the current state of the resort:

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Gasparilla Grill and Games is now Gasparilla Island Grill

The old mats are still here

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The seating area was expanded and remodeled

The ordering area is generally the same, just freshened up


There are a lot more seats now

The arcade is now next door

Arcadia Games

The arcade has a separate exterior entrance

Sandy Cove Gifts and Sundries reopened recently too

There is now a huge refrigerator section for cold drinks and food

Some new Grand Floridian Resort merchandise was released when the store opened

Mizner’s Lounge is back

Nothing different inside

They added food to the menu though

Senses recently opened as well

The new parking lot near the Wedding Pavilion is open for the most part

Topics: Photo Reports, Resorts |

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From Pirates, to Princesses, to Cars, Guest “MagicBands” Will Be Fully Customizable

Posted on January 7, 2013


Disney released a few MagicBand press pictures not too long ago, and if you look closely, you can see guests using bands of various designs and colors


If you look really closely, you can even see one child has a Pirates of the Caribbean themed MagicBand

This is really just the beginning of the customization options for MagicBand, as there will be bands representing characters such as the Fab 5, Disney Princesses, and PIXAR characters, just to name a few. There are even rumors that companies like Dooney & Burke and Swarovski will produce upscale vanity bands that guests can buy as well. If a wristband isn’t your thing, Disney plans on creating watches, keychains, and various jewelry that can also serve as your MagicBand.

Resort guests and Annual Passholders will be the only guests receiving bands complimentary at first, with all other guests using new RFID tickets at launch of MyMagic+. All guest can then customize or buy vanity bands at their leisure. Eventually the plan is for all guests to get bands instead of tickets.

So, what do you think of MagicBand?

Topics: General Resort News |

Comments: 12 Comments »

2013 Epcot Flower & Garden Festival to Feature Food & Wine

Posted on January 7, 2013

20th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival

Yep, you heard right… here’s the latest press release from Disney with some new details on this year’s Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival:

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – A blooming bounty of festival firsts will welcome Disney guests to the 20th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival presented by HGTV March 6-May 19, 2013 at Walt Disney World Resort.  First, the news:

  • Epcot chefs will cook up first-time festival food and beverage fun, with special cooking stations offering exclusive-to-the-festival bites along the park’s World Showcase promenade.
  • A new circus-like “Land of Oz Play Area,” based on the Disney fantastical film adventure “Oz: The Great and Powerful” to be released in March 2013, will debut a kaleidoscope of interactive fun.
  • Disney topiary experts will grow, shape and manicure a Fab Five Disney character topiary with Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck (with Daisy Duck in a cameo) featured in a celebratory floral cookout scene in living topiary color at the park’s front entrance.
  • New illuminated gardens in the park’s Future World and World Showcase will cast a colorful glow over each festival evening.

Throughout the 75-day garden party, guests will discover festival surprises around every corner including new topiary triumphs, colorful garden displays, a butterfly bounty, HGTV celebrity designers, interactive gardening seminars and whimsical children’s play areas.  On weekends, top Flower Power rockers of the 1960s and ’70s will perform.

Every Friday through Sunday, HGTV design celebrities will host Festival Center seminars.  During opening weekend, March 8-10, Chris Lambton of “Going Yard” will appear; other designers scheduled to take the stage include Brandon Johnson of “My Yard Goes Disney” and Meg Caswell of “Meg’s Great Rooms.”

Now the details:

  • Festival-themed flavors:  Guests will discover culinary creations and refreshing libations at multiple festival-themed food and beverage locations.  Chefs are tweaking the menu to include backyard barbecue and a variety of garden-inspired and global tastes.  Around the World Showcase promenade
  • Fab Five topiary barbecue: 14-foot-tall topiary Goofy will bobble an anniversary cake while Donald and Daisy play badminton, Mickey fires up the grill, Pluto swipes a link of hot dogs and Minnie chills out on a colorful blanket of blossoms. At Epcot Front Entrance
  • Land of Oz Play Area:  This interactive new children’s play zone will feature play systems adorned with giant flowers and designed to stretch kids’ imaginations and muscles. Midway-style games, red-and-white circus-themed tents and the “Oz Movie Garden” of intriguing plants will capture the spirit of the upcoming “Oz: The Great and Powerful.”  Also on tap: fun games, photo opportunities, the “great and powerful Oz’s” crashed hot-air balloon and lush plants inspired by the movie.  On the Imagination Walkway
  • Illuminated Gardens Every night when the sun sets, many of the festival’s world-famous Disney topiaries and gardens will twinkle and shine in a new light.  Throughout World Showcase and Future World
  • “Monsters University” topiary:  Floral representations of Mike and Sully from the hit Disney-Pixar film “Monsters, Inc.” and stars of Disney-Pixar’s June 2013 release, “Monsters University,” will join the festivities as new topiary family members.  On the Future World Walkway
  • Phineas and Ferb topiary:  The popular Disney Channel animated celebs limit their shenanigans to go green for a family photo-op.  Behind Spaceship Earth
  • “Radiator Springs” interactive play zone:  Race car Lightning McQueen and tow truck “Mater” of the Disney-Pixar film “Cars 2″ will be the well-maintained topiary stars of this play area.  On the Test Track Walkway
  • Flower Power Firsts:  1970s top disco band The Village People (April 19-21) and 1960s singer-songwriter Tommy Roe (May 3-5) bring on the Flower Power beat when they take the concert stage.  At America Gardens Theatre

And a new twist:

  • Fawn’s Butterfly House: Eight fanciful fairy topiaries of Pixie Hollow, including Tinker Bell, Fawn, Vidia and Terrence, take over the Butterfly House this year where hundreds of colorful winged beauties flit to life.  On the Imagination Walkway

In all, more than 100 topiaries, 240 floating mini-gardens, dozens of flower towers and sweeping beds of multi-colored blooms will add floral splendor to the park landscape.  Daily hands-on gardening seminars, and other Festival Center events will offer innovative ideas, design tips and gardening know-how to park guests.

The Flower Power concert series kicks off March 6-10 with Micky Dolenz (“I’m a Believer”) and continues each weekend with pop favorites including:

March 15-17:             Chubby Checker & The Wildcats

March 22-24:             The Guess Who

March 29-31:             Nelson

April 5-7:                    The Turtles featuring Flo & Eddie

April 12-14:                Paul Revere & the Raiders

April 19-21:                The Village People (new!)

April 26-28:                The Orchestra, Featuring Former Members of ELO and ELO II

May 3-5:                     Tommy Roe (new!)

May 10-12:                 Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone

May 17-19:                 Starship starring Mickey Thomas.

The festival, including all gardening programs and exhibits, is included in regular Epcot admission.

Topics: Epcot |

Comments: 1 Comment »

Introducing… Disney PhotoPass Booths?

Posted on January 7, 2013

We’ve seen some interesting changes to Disney PhotoPass recently, but the most interesting has to be this booth I came across at the Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. Arcade:

I thought at first it was just a photo booth sponsored by PhotoPass, but is is more than that

You can scan a PhotoPass card

Not only can you print photos from the booth, but you can now access photos and video from the booth using your PhotoPass card

Pretty neat, huh? What do you think about Disney PhotoPass booths?

Topics: General Resort News, The Magic Kingdom |

Comments: 4 Comments »

“MyMagic+” and “MagicBand” Are About to Change the Way You Visit Walt Disney World

Posted on January 6, 2013


We’ve been keeping you updated on tests of FastPass+ and “Order Ahead” dining over the last few months, well, now we have the official word from Disney on how all of this “Next-Gen” technology will tie together to change the way guests experience Walt Disney World. If you have been following this site and our podcast for any amount of time, you have probably heard us discuss much of what we will explain in this post, but this is the first time we are getting the info straight from a Disney document. To protect our sources, we will not be showing you the document itself, but rather telling you the more interesting or important points of a release that was given to certain WDW cast members. Alright, let’s take a look at what “MyMagic+” and “MagicBand” mean for the future of Disney Parks:

Soon, Walt Disney World Resort will introduce tools that allow guests to use technology to customize and personalize their vacation, along with more guest enhancements that will continue to be tested and implemented in the coming years. Many of these efforts are part of MyMagic+, which has the ability to connect nearly all aspects of the guest experience.

  • My Disney Experience, a new website and mobile application, will provide a one-stop shop for all things Walt Disney World during every phase of a guest’s vacation. Guests may use My Disney Experience to get information on all Walt Disney World offerings, reserve dining and other experiences and make FastPass+ selections in advance.
  • Disney FastPass+ service will allow guests to lock in some of their must-do attractions and show experiences in advance, freeing them to explore and discover the magic in Walt Disney World theme parks and resort hotels. For the first time, guests will be able to reserve firework and parade viewing areas, shows, Disney Character Greetings and more.
  • The new MagicBand, worn on the wrist, will become the key to unlocking the magic, serving as room key, park admission, access to FastPass+ selections, PhotoPass card and payment account (optional) all rolled into one.
  • MyMagic+, as well as other guest experience enhancements, will continue to be tested and implemented in the coming years. We are continually looking at ways to take the entire Disney Parks experience to the next level at all of our destinations based on the unique ways our guests enjoy diverse sites. Guests, Cast, Crew, and Imagineer feedback will continue to be a critical part of the process in shaping these offerings.

“MyMagic+” has been slowly rolling out to guests over the last few weeks, most noticeably with the installation of “touch to pay” machines at most stores and RFID scanners at the entrance to all 4 theme parks. The new Walt Disney World website is also prepared for these additions including FastPass+:

Picture 1

If you try to make a dining reservation for the Be Our Guest Restaurant and it is not available, it will tell you that Disney FastPass+ Quick Service may be available. This will be the system that allows you to get a time window to go to the restaurant and even allow you to order your food before you arrive, just like the “Order Ahead” test from a few weeks ago. Of course if you hit the “Request Now” button, it does not work yet.

So, when will “MyMagic+” and “MagicBand” roll out? We don’t really know yet. We’ve heard as early as February we could see the first guests walking around the parks with the RFID MagicBand, but only time will tell. Stay tuned for more information on this breaking story as it becomes available.

What do you think of the concept of “MyMagic+” and “MagicBand”?

Topics: General Resort News |

Comments: 35 Comments »

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