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Three New Year's Eve Celebrations Announced for Walt Disney World
DisneyDan  Saturday, July 8, 2017 9:53:26 AM
Hello everyone,

Yesterday the Disney Parks Blog announced three premium dining options for New Year's Eve at the Contemporary Resort (WDW), two of which involve character appearances.

Disney Countdown to Midnight

Disney Countdown to Midnight is described on the Disney Parks Blog as follows:

For an evening of dining and dancing, “Disney Countdown to Midnight” includes delightful dining, live music, libations and more. An interactive band and DJ will fill the dance floor (and we hear that Mickey and Minnie may make a special appearance). Then welcome in 2018 with a flute of bubbly and a viewing of those legendary New Year’s Eve fireworks in the Magic Kingdom.

Hours are 8pm to 1am in the Fantasia Ballroom. This party is designed for guests 18 and older.

This one sounds very much like a dance party for over 18s, and while they mention Mickey and Minnie, it is very vague and I suspect that they'll be there either dancing or on a stage; not greeting.

Pixar Party: A New Year’s Eve Celebration

Pixar Party: A New Year’s Eve Celebration is described on the Disney Parks Blog as follows:

“Pixar Party: A New Year’s Eve Celebration” is for children of all ages, a family-friendly way to ring in the New Year with a Disney•Pixar-inspired dinner.

Sarge welcomes you to the Ballroom of the Americas that features vignettes of beloved Pixar movies. From Andy’s Room in “Toy Story” to and Metro City with The Incredibles, the immersive celebration will include theatrical backdrops, dramatic set pieces and fun props that re-create the fantastic worlds of the Pixar films. And, of course, favorite characters will be on hand from “Toy Story,” “The Incredibles,” “Cars” and “Up.”

Kids can have fun at Pixar face painting, a balloon artist and a boot camp with Sarge, while an interactive DJ will spin hits from Radio Disney (he’s going to be in a “Cars”-inspired DJ rig from Radiator Springs). Dinner is buffet style.

At midnight, head outdoors to ring in the New Year with a viewing of the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Hours are 8pm - 12.15am.

This one sounds like it could be a lot of fun, though I suspect the characters may be of the simpler variety rather than any rare ones from any of those movies listed. It would be amazing to see the likes of Bo-Peep show up, but I wouldn't expect it, sadly.

Down in New Orleans: A Disney New Year’s Eve Dining Experience

Down in New Orleans: A Disney New Year’s Eve Dining Experience is described on the Disney Parks Blog as follows:

Fine dining is the theme of the third party, “Down in New Orleans: A Disney New Year’s Eve Dining Experience” in the Grand Republic Ballroom. Inspired by the Disney animated film “The Princess and the Frog,” the room is beautifully decorated French Quarter style to transport you to the Big Easy.

Actions stations will feature flavors such as oyster beignets, smoked salmon mousse cones with caviar, Kobe beef tartare and sheep’s milk ricotta gnocchi. Signature dishes will include herb-crusted Louisiana redfish, crayfish étouffée, Black Angus beef cooked two ways, braised short ribs and filet of beef with truffled celery root silk.

A N’awlins jazz band will entertain during dinner, joined later in the evening by a vocalist who will bring to life the Academy-Award-winning classics from the film. Then slip outside with a glass of bubbly just before midnight to ring in 2018 with a private viewing area for the Magic Kingdom fireworks. Hours are 7pm -12.15am.

This last one sounds pretty neat, but unfortunately does not detail any character appearances. The meal is "inspired by" the movie, and the main draw seems to be the musicians. It would be awesome to see all four characters appear there, but like with the other meals above, I wouldn't expect anything beyond what the post specifically states.

The Disney Parks Blog did not release any pricing information, and recommend that you find out more details, and book, via the Walt Disney World Dining line, at (407) WDW-DINE.

Have a great day everyone,

Dan.
Discover the 25th Anniversary Celebrations at Disneyland Paris! (Updated 1st Feb!)
DisneyDan  Tuesday, January 31, 2017 1:00:59 PM
Hello everyone,

As always, I have been pressed for time to write updates recently, but I am here today to share with you some things that I thought worth mentioning regarding the imminent arrival of the 25th anniversary celebrations at Disneyland Paris. Over the past week or two a lot more information about the celebrations has been coming to light, with various sites and pages leaking information, and of course Disneyland Paris revealing a little more themselves, too.

During the 25th anniversary celebrations, you will be able to experience two brand new stage shows, a brand new parade, meet and greets, and other offerings such as the new versions of Space Mountain (Hyperspace Mountain), and Star Tours (Star Tours - The Adventures Continue), and the new nighttime spectacular, Disney Illuminations. Of course, being Character Central, I am going to share with you the character based offerings in this article.

To begin, let's take a look at the parade.   [ Read More... ]
Breaking News! Massive Expansion and Rebuilding Project Coming to Hong Kong Disneyland!
DisneyDan  Tuesday, November 22, 2016 8:54:09 AM
Hello everyone,

In a bold and and virtually out of the blue announcement, Disney today announced a massive regeneration project for Hong Kong Disneyland.

The most shocking of all the details was by far the revelation of a brand new castle! Yes, you read that correctly - Sleeping Beauty Castle will be transformed into a towering structure, completely unlike what we see there today.

Instead of me paraphrasing everything, I am going to provide the full press release below, followed by the press images. Then I have some additional information from the New York Times, and finally I'll provide my thoughts on it all.

Hong Kong Disneyland Resort (HKDL) announced a multi-year development plan to take the park to a new level of excitement, leveraging some of the most beloved and successful franchises of The Walt Disney Company. Plans include new themed areas, attractions and entertainment, launching almost every year from 2018 through 2023.

Guests will experience Marvel and “Frozen” like never before as HKDL leverages the best of Disney to bring both these world-renowned franchises to life in their own immersive areas. The centerpiece of the park and the gateway to Fantasyland – the castle – will also be transformed to create spectacular entertainment experiences for guests.

“We are more excited than ever about the future of Hong Kong Disneyland,” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We are bringing the best of The Walt Disney Company to this wonderful tourist destination, giving guests from around the world an experience only Disney can deliver and an experience they can only have with us at Hong Kong Disneyland.”

Some highlights of the new experiences that will delight Disney fans and guests from around the world include:

  • An epicenter of Marvel Super Heroes that will continue to unfold. From the launch of Iron Man Experience, the Marvel universe continues to grow at HKDL. Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters will be reimagined into a brand new experience for guests to fight alongside the icons of the Marvel Universe. Further, another thrilling attraction dedicated to one of the most popular Marvel franchises will be added to expand the epicenter of Marvel Super Heroes as exciting events unfold in phases.

  • An exciting new “Frozen” themed area where characters and stories from the kingdom of Arendelle will come to life in ways guests have never experienced before at a Disney park. Guests will enjoy two new attractions and be immersed in Arendelle with uniquely themed dining, shopping, and entertainment.

  • A completely transformed Castle and Hub area to showcase brand new daytime and nighttime shows and entertainment offerings that will celebrate every prince and princess who ever wished upon a star and dared to follow a dream. An “Adventureland Show Place,” which invites guests to “Moana’s Village Festival” through a series of daytime entertainment offerings anchored around a lively stage show in a new interactive entertainment environment. In addition to experiencing live shows and immersive Disney storytelling, guests can meet Moana, heroine of the new Disney animated film that will be released globally starting November 2016.

The major development plans extend the excitement and amazing growth at HKDL, as the resort is set to open the eagerly anticipated Iron Man Experience officially on January 11, 2017 and the richly themed Disney Explorers Lodge resort hotel later in the first half of the year.

HKDL has continued to grow since its opening in 2005 and has broadened its appeal to families and young adults as well as diverse markets, including local, mainland China and overseas guests.

The three themed areas launched between 2011 and 2013, Toy Story Land, Grizzly Gulch and Mystic Point, have enhanced the park’s attractions and entertainment offerings and boosted the park’s attractiveness to different market segments. In 2013, Mystic Manor was awarded the prestigious Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement – Attraction, the equivalent of the Oscar in the theme park industry. In the following year, the nighttime parade “Disney Paint the Night” was launched and subsequently honored with a Thea Award.

In celebration of HKDL’s 10th Anniversary in 2015, the new stage show “Mickey and the Wondrous Book” and a new walk-through experience “Fairy Tale Forest” were introduced. This past summer, “Star Wars: Tomorrowland Takeover” presented attractions and offerings themed after another classic Disney franchise.

“The all-new developments will further reinforce HKDL’s position as a world-class tourist destination for everyone, including families and young adults, and help build lifelong memories across generations of families,” said Samuel Lau, executive vice president and managing director of Hong Kong Disneyland.

HKDL’s two shareholders – The Walt Disney Company and the Hong Kong Government – have agreed on the development plans, subject to funding approval by the Company’s Board of Directors and Legislative Council for their respective share of investment.

Disney have thus far provided the following concept images for the brand new areas:




















All images (C) The Walt Disney Company and their associates.

There are some very interesting things in these images, which I'll discuss in a moment, but first I also want to direct your attention to a New York Times article from today that states (according to them, at least), that the new castle will stand 197 feet tall, versus the current 77 feet, and will be the tallest Disney castle in the world upon completion. They also suggest that the cost of the park's regeneration will be around $1.4 billion.

So with that in mind, what does all this mean? To be absolutely clear, everything from here on is my own opinion.

First of all, the new hub area is going to be very neat, and clearly they are going for something akin to the area in front of Enchanted Storybook Castle at Shanghai Disneyland. However, having been to Hong Kong multiple times, and looking at this concept art, it will be very interesting to see how they are going to fit this in exactly. Even if they manage to make it look like the concept art, it'll be very small. I doubt the seating area capacity will be very high at all.

The castle itself is a mixed one for me. Ultimately, it is definitely a good thing that they are making such massive improvements. However, in my opinion, it's a real shame that they have lost such confidence in their own brand that they would go to such lengths. Nothing like this has ever been done before, and it really shows that they are admitting their mistakes. Why didn't they just spend the money to make it awesome in the first place?

The castle show images are also interesting because they give us a glimpse of who we might come to expect in the new performances there. There are two character based images - one that depicts the daytime and one depicting the nighttime. Why these images show us what appears to be two different shows, with two different sets of characters, is not made clear at this point, and I don't think we should read anything into who we see in the images until Disney themselves know exactly what they are doing. However, it is interesting to note the presence of characters such as the Cheshire Cat and Br'er Bear.

The Marvel area looks utterly epic, with the new hangar looking building completely swallowing Autopia and transforming the face of Tomorrowland altogether. Replacing Buzz Lightyear is a smart move, especially since there is one in every park, and the nearby Shanghai has the far superior newer version.

The Moana area is cute, and doesn't appear to envelop anything existing, except perhaps a small water area and some trees. It's a smart move to have an area dedicated to her, and we look forward to seeing it.

The Frozen area looks really nice, and while Frozen is used on overkill these days, I actually have hope that they'll do a real good job of it, looking at the pictures we have so far. Of course, the Oaken's Dancing Sleigh Ride looks completely adorable!

Finally, the it was inevitable that with a brand new castle will come a new nighttime spectacular. Disney seem to be upping their game on nighttime spectaculars all the time, so by the time the new castle is completed, hopefully we see something really awesome there!

Despite some of my slight criticisms (mainly the workability of the hub, and them losing faith in an iconic Disney castle), I am very excited for all these changes. Hong Kong Disneyland is a beautiful park already, and I constantly sing its praises here on the blog and to every Disney fan I meet. Looking around the internet today, though, I see that there is a lot of resentment swirling around already, and, right or wrong, I think that the following perfectly sums up how a lot of people feel.

To rebuild an iconic Disney castle is unprecedented, and virtually unthinkable. Some may say that this investment is just what the park needs - and to a degree they are right. However, perhaps what the park needed was a little love and investment from the beginning though, and not being sold out for a bigger, better park just a few hundred miles away in Shanghai. A couple billion dollars later, and perhaps Disney have realised that money should have gone to Hong Kong in the first place.

Now fans can blame Shanghai even more for US cutbacks... but at least Hong Kong will be pretty, right?

What do you think?

Have a great day everyone,

Dan.
News - PhotoPass character fun coming to WDW, and new floats being added to Dreamlights at TDR
DisneyDan  Tuesday, August 16, 2016 9:19:27 AM
Hello everyone,

Yesterday the Disney Parks Blog announced that this coming Friday, 19th August, Epcot and the Magic Kingdom would be celebrating "PhotoPass Day" with special character appearances throughout the parks. The DPB has so far suggested that Dopey would join Snow White in Germany, Mushu would join Mulan in China, the Queen of Hearts would join Alice in the UK, and Gideon and Foulfellow would meet with Pinocchio at Storybook Circus in the Magic Kingdom. While this is a neat idea, it is a shame that they have given such short notice, since many character fans will find it hard to get there for Friday, and additionally, these are characters that up until a couple of years ago, used to appear daily at the Walt Disney World Resort anyway! Nonetheless, it is nice to see them using some initiative that character fans can benefit from, and we hope they continue to do things like this - hopefully with more notice in the future.

The Tokyo Disney Resort Blog today announced that five new floats would be joining Dreamlights at Tokyo Disneyland from July 2017. There will be one new float featuring Anna and Elsa, two new floats featuring Cinderella and Prince Charming, and two new floats for Belle and Beast. Tokyo Disney Resort for the past couple of years have been going through and renewing and replacing the Dreamlights floats, with some recent ones being Pete's Dragon, the Blue Fairy and Peter Pan. The old floats were always better than the US parks versions, but the new floats are beyond stunning in every possible way. We look forward to seeing these newest floats glowing through the streets of Tokyo Disneyland next summer!

In case you missed it, last week I reported new about Paint the Night and the Electrical Parade in the US, Halloween at Disneyland Paris, and Christmas at Tokyo Disney Resort, so check all that out, here!

Have a great day everyone,

Dan.
NEWS - Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps coming to the US Parks, Kristoff and Olaf coming to Blizzard Beach
DisneyDan  Wednesday, March 2, 2016 11:42:42 AM
Hello everyone,

Today the Disney Parks Blog made two announcements regarding character offerings coming to Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

In the first, it was announced that Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps from the latest animated movie, 'Zootopia', would be coming to both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort. At Disneyland guests will be able to meet the pair on Hollywood Boulevard, at Disney California Adventure. At Walt Disney World, unfortunately, you will only be able to wave to them - and maybe dance, depending on how they use them - from the sidelines, as they appear in Move It! Shake It! Dance and Play It! Street Party at the Magic Kingdom.
While I generally try to remain neutral here on the blog in most cases, I have to say that it is immensely disappointing that, once again, Walt Disney World are getting the bad deal out of new characters. For example, Olaf has been greeting in Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland for what seems like forever now, yet he is nowhere to be seen at Walt Disney World. It is very frustrating that guests to Walt Disney World are going to have to suffer watching the street party in order just to see the characters, when guests in California can meet them. In addition, while the movie comes out this week, we will have to wait until "later this spring" to even see them, whenever that may be!

The second announcement is just about as frustrating as the first. It was revealed that during the "summer" (again, with no definitive time frame given), guests will be able to see Kristoff and Olaf at Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park, hosting "Frozen Games".
To quote the Parks Blog:

"Guests visiting the waterpark can to join "Team Kristoff" or "Team Olaf" and participate in a variety of activities, including Ice Pail Relays, a Snowball Toss to Ski Pole Limbo and Slide Races.
Olaf and Kristoff will join the Winter Games Committee members in the games’ Opening and Closing Ceremonies, and will give updates throughout the games to report on their team’s achievements."

Clearly Disney understand that these characters are popular, so why aren't they out greeting? As I said above, meanwhile at the other parks, guests can meet Olaf.

I have created a poll for this blog post, which you can participate in by logging onto our forum and clicking on this thread, here.

Have a great week everyone,

Dan.
NEWS - Olaf FINALLY coming to DHS, Zootopia characters debut in Hollywood, character cuts and a new show at WDW, and much more!
DisneyDan  Thursday, February 18, 2016 10:20:38 AM
Hello everyone,

Let's start today's news in Walt Disney World, where this week has seen the start of some unfortunate character cutbacks. At Epcot you can no longer meet Chip, Dale, Tigger, Winnie the Pooh or Princess Aurora, while at the Magic Kingdom Lady Tremaine is on her way out, too. The schedules no longer list those characters, and their spots are empty. Hopefully we will see improvements in other areas in the coming months, and these cuts are just temporary in order to bring new experiences to the parks.

Having said that, while there have been definite cut backs, at least one new character   [ Read More... ]
News - Christmas around the world, TONS of new Tokyo entertainment announced for next year, and more!
DisneyDan  Friday, September 18, 2015 12:06:13 PM
Hello everyone,

Today I have a round up of the latest character news out of the Disney Parks around the world, including Tokyo Disney Resort where is there is a huge amount of information about the coming 18 months at the resort.

Let's start with Walt Disney World in Florida, where this week saw the first of the Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Parties. This year there is a new stage show, titled "Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular", featuring the Sanderson Sisters, and other Disney Villains, including   [ Read More... ]
NEWS - Goodbye Halloween at DLR, WDW to FINALLY welcome Olaf and a new Villains show, Christmas at DLP and MUCH more!
DisneyDan  Tuesday, September 1, 2015 10:57:59 AM
Hello everyone,

It has been a while since I have had chance to make a full news post here on the blog, but today I thought it would be nice to finally share some of the things we have learned recently.

Let's start with Disneyland Resort in California,   [ Read More... ]

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