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Walt Disney World July 2016 Trip Report
DisneyDan  Tuesday, November 29, 2016 10:47:42 AM
Hello everyone,

I realise that this is a little late, but better late than never, right?

Back in July we made one of our several trips for this year to the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. As always, we had an agenda for visiting at the time that we did, and filled our short trip with everything that was wondrous and new!

Let's start with our hotel, Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge Jambo House. We have previously stayed at Kidani Village several times, and of course have visited Jambo House (but up until this trip never stayed there), and while we have enjoyed our stays at Kidani Village, Jambo House is clearly the better of the two.   [ 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.
Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part Six
DisneyDan  Monday, October 3, 2016 10:45:01 AM
Hello everyone,

In this sixth installment of my Shanghai Disney Resort trip report, we are going to explore the magic of Fantasyland. In case you missed any of the previous parts, I have provided the links for you, below:

Shanghai, September 2016 Trip Report on Two Lost Boys
I shared my experience travelling to Shanghai, arriving at the airport, getting to the resort, and then visiting the Disney Store in the city.

Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part One on Character Central
In part one of my main Disney report I shared with you all of our experiences at the two Shanghai Disney Resort hotels, Disneytown, and character dining at Lumiere's Kitchen.

Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part Two on Character Central
In this report I took an in-depth look at Mickey Avenue, with over 230 photos of all the details on the little entrance street to the park.

Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part Three on Character Central
In this report I took an in-depth look at the Gardens of Imagination, Mickey's Storybook Express parade, the Golden Fairytale Fanfare castle show and the Ignite the Dream nighttime spectacular, with over 210 photos of all the details.

Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part Four on Character Central
In this report I shared with you the futuristic world of Tomorrowland, with over 150 photos.

Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part Five on Character Central
In the fifth part of my report, I shared with you our time at Enchanted Storybook Castle and the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto, with over 140 photos.

Standing with your back to the castle, facing into Fantasyland, you discover that the view isn't quite the same as the other parks. There is no Castle Courtyard, Carousel or Sword in the Stone (the Carousel is in the Gardens of Imagination, as I discussed in a previous post). In fact, you have to make a right or a left to get anywhere else in the land - and in this instance we are going to turn left.

  [ Read More... ]
News - TDR release 2017/18 plans, DLR AP Days, Muppets at WDW, Halloween in HKDL, and MUCH more!
DisneyDan  Friday, September 23, 2016 9:43:11 AM
Hello everyone,

This is a fairly large update today since there is a lot of news, which of course is a great thing for character fans!

Let's start with the US parks, where at the Magic Kingdom, the Disney Parks Blog today gave an official opening date for the new Muppets show coming to Liberty Square (which I discussed here on the blog last month). The 2nd October is the official start date, with Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy, Fozzie Bear, The Great Gonzo, Sam the Eagle and a new park character named J.J. Jefferson making appearances in several shows daily. I still find it interesting that they have decided to debut this in the Magic Kingdom, when they have made an effort to convert a part of Hollywood Studios to the "new" Muppets Courtyard, including turning Pizza Planet into a new Muppets dining location. Nonetheless, it will be neat to see the Muppets out in the parks again, and it is always great to have new character entertainment.

On the West Coast, at Disneyland Resort, they have been holding AP Days at DCA, which have featured character appearances exclusively for annual passholders. Running from 6th September until 2nd October, you could meet Wizard Donald and Skeleton Goofy (from 6-18 September), and Pocahontas and Meeko, and Patriotic Minnie Mouse (from 19th September - 2nd October). There has also been a lot of cool merchandise and giveaway items, such as buttons, artwork, recipe cards and more. Disneyland continues to really give back to its AP holders, while WDW sadly leaves them feeling quite left out.

Jumping westbound across the Pacific Ocean, we come to Tokyo Disney Resort, where we have the bulk of today's news.

To start with, popular Tokyo Disney Resort fan site, TDR Explorer updated their older news post regarding the new Westernland Woodchuck meet 'n' greet (opening 22nd November) to include a first-look image of Donald and Daisy Duck. I can't use the image here because I don't know where they got their one from to start with, but nonetheless, check out their page - the outfits are amazing! We can't wait to see them there on our next visit!

OLC, the operating company of Tokyo Disney Resort this week released all their parks entertainment information for 2017 and even the start of 2018! There were actually a few surprises, too. There was a lot of information, so I'm just going to cover the core character stuff here, but you should know that there was a lot about attractions, merchandise and food, too (which you can read about on sites that cover more general news).

From 4th April through 14th June Disney's Easter will return to Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea. Tokyo Disneyland will get a brand new Easter parade that will feature Nick Wilde and Judy Hopps at the Japanese resort for the first time. Besides what sounds like giant Easter Eggs wearing bunny ears (really!), no other details about the parade have been released yet.
At Tokyo DisneySea the main harbour show doesn't specifically say it will be new, but instead that the characters will have new Easter bonnets; so you should expect that the show will be the same as this year.

From 15th June until 7th July Disney's Tanabata Days will once again be celebrated, with the entertainment again being similar to previous years. Tokyo Disneyland will feature a cavalcade, and Tokyo DisneySea will have a show on the harbour. Both will feature Mickey and Minnie wearing traditional Japanese Hikoboshi and Orihime attire.

For the summer season, from 11th July until 31st August, Disney Natsu Matsuri will return to Tokyo Disneyland. Again, the release doesn't specify that the event will be new, so while you should anticipate some costume and music changes for the main show at the castle, expect it (for now at least) to be the same as this year's event.

At Tokyo DisneySea however, this year's event will not be returning, much to our sadness! Instead of the Disney characters in bright, colourful, fruit themed outfits (and Panchito and Jose riding a gigantic inflatable banana - yes, really!), we are getting a Pirates of the Caribbean event, to tie in with the new movie being released in July. At the moment, the only details in the release are that Jack Sparrow and pirates will be in the show, but I imagine (knowing Tokyo) that the popular Disney characters will also appear - perhaps in pirate costumes?

Last month I told you all about the new floats coming to Dreamlights at Tokyo Disneyland. Now, in this release, OLC have given the official debut date as 11th July - the start of the summer season. The brand new floats feature Frozen, Beauty and the Beast and Cinderella.

The 11th July seems to be the date that a lot of things are changing at the resort, with yet another major announcement in this same release. The popular A Table is Waiting show, which replaced Over the Waves as a "sequel" several years ago will end on 17th March, and a brand new, as yet unspecified show, will begin on that same summer events start date.

Halloween will return to Tokyo from 8th September until 31st October, and apart from some likely costume and music alterations, it sounds as though it will be the same as this year, with the Halloween Pop'n Live parade returning to Tokyo Disneyland, and Villains World returning to Tokyo DisneySea. This year was only the second year of Villains World and the debut year of this particular parade, so it is of no surprise that next year will be the same, since Tokyo tends to run on three year life cycles.

As with Halloween, Tokyo's Christmas Fantasy (TDL) and Christmas Wishes (TDS) events sound the same as this year/last year, with the same parade (Disney Christmas Stories) at Tokyo Disneyland (which I anticipate will be its last year, since it will be the third year for it), and the same harbour shows at Tokyo DisneySea (A Perfect Christmas and Colors of Christmas).

From 1st January through 5th January 2018 (yes, they are going that far ahead!) Tokyo Disney Resort will once again celebrate New Year with special events at both parks, featuring Mickey and his friends in traditional kimono. While they don't go into any further detail, the tiny images used are from this year, which show a parade at Tokyo Disneyland and a harbour show at Tokyo DisneySea.

And that's not all! From 11th January until 19th March 2018, their popular Anna and Elsa's Frozen Fantasy event will return to Tokyo Disneyland, with the parade and castle projection show.

Under the same date heading as the Frozen event, but dropped down a line for some separation - perhaps deliberately a little vague for now - OLC finish up the release with a really surprising announcement. A brand new PIXAR event will be coming to Tokyo DisneySea, that will feature character greetings and shows! Not only that, it sounds like Gelatoni may gain a larger presence in the park around the same dates, too, with hints of a new greeting ("photo locations where delightful keepsake photos can be taken") - but like I said, they are really vague about it for now.

Wow, so that's everything for Tokyo! It is really exciting to have so much information about the next 18 months already, and we cannot wait to hear more details about everything.

Finally for today, we come to Hong Kong Disneyland. While their Halloween season has already started, some of you may not be aware of how awesome it is this year! As well as having two entertainment offerings (one cavalcade, the other a mini-parade/show of sorts) which feature popular characters in cool costumes and the Disney Villains, they also have some really awesome villains out greeting, including Oogie Boogie! Others include the Big Bad Wolf, Captain Hook, the Queen of Hearts, Cruella de Vil, and Jack and Sally from The Nightmare Before Christmas. It is truly awesome to see Oogie Boogie making daily appearances, and the Big Bad Wolf in his regular outfit is pretty cool, too (he appears in Toontown in Tokyo often, but only in his "bling" outfit).

That's everything for today! I have heard rumblings of character dining changes at Disneyland Paris, and of course their first ever runDisney event is this weekend, but I'll save those updates for next week, once I have more concrete information!

We recently travelled to Shanghai Disney Resort for the first time, and I have been writing some massive updates here on the blog, which you can find the links for below.

Shanghai, September 2016 Trip Report on Two Lost Boys
I shared my experience travelling to Shanghai, arriving at the airport, getting to the resort, and then visiting the Disney Store in the city.

Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part One on Character Central
In part one of my main Disney report I shared with you all of our experiences at the two Shanghai Disney Resort hotels, Disneytown, and character dining at Lumiere's Kitchen.

Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part Two on Character Central
In this report I took an in-depth look at Mickey Avenue, with over 230 photos of all the details on the little entrance street to the park.

Shanghai Disney Resort, September 2016 Trip Report - Part Three on Character Central
In this report I took an in-depth look at the Gardens of Imagination, Mickey's Storybook Express parade, the Golden Fairytale Fanfare castle show and the Ignite the Dream nighttime spectacular, with over 210 photos of all the details.

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 - Shanghai Disney Resort reveals characters and entertainment, and June 16th opening date! (UPDATED 14/01)
DisneyDan  Wednesday, January 13, 2016 10:37:19 AM
Hello everyone,

Today the full Shanghai Disney Resort website went live for the first time, complete with park information, hotel information (with prices coming soon, apparently) and character and entertainment listings!

Yesterday Disney announced that the resort would open on June 16th this year, and so launching the official website today was a smart move.

So, let's take a look at what character offerings and entertainment we can expect at this brand new park!

  [ Read More... ]
Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Report, November-December 2015 - Part Two
DisneyDan  Monday, January 4, 2016 2:46:53 PM
Hello everyone,

In the first part of this report, I shared our adventures at the Hong Kong Disneyland (HKDL) hotels, resort esplanade area and train, Main Street USA, Flights of Fantasy Parade, Disney Paint the Night Parade, the Disney in the Stars Fireworks, and the Frozen Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony.

  [ Read More... ]
Hong Kong Disneyland Trip Report, November-December 2015 - Part One
DisneyDan  Tuesday, December 29, 2015 11:32:56 AM
Hello everyone,

At the end of November Jon and I travelled to Asia for a multi-stop trip to Tokyo and Hong Kong. We started in Hong Kong, flew to Japan, then flew back to Hong Kong before coming back home. In this part of my report on our travels, I will be sharing with you our adventures at Hong Kong Disneyland on both ends of the trip, which ended up stretching from the end of November, until the first week of December. I am actually going to break up this Hong Kong Disneyland report into several smaller parts, as it will be quite long. Here, in part one, I'll talk about the resort overall, resort hotels, and Main Street USA (including characters and entertainment on Main Street).

During the first part of our stay, we actually stayed in a hotel in the city, and used the opportunity to visit various places in the city. You can read my report for that, which I published this week, on my Two Lost Boys blog, here. On the second part of our stay in Hong Kong we stayed on site at Disney's Hollywood Hotel. Between the two ends of the trip, we ended up having a total of four days at the resort and in the park.

Rather than jump around, telling you everything in the random order in which we did them, I'm going to group different themes together to keep everything organised and less confused.
  [ Read More... ]
NEWS - Spider-Man coming to Disneyland, Hans, Trolls and Gelatoni coming to Tokyo Disney Resort
DisneyDan  Monday, October 19, 2015 9:38:13 AM
Hello everyone,

The other day the Disney Parks Blog announced that Spider-Man would be making his US Disney Parks debut on November 16th at the new Super Hero HQ, in Tomorrowland at Disneyland. In the comments section, Communications Manager, Shawn Slater, confirms that Captain America would be leaving Disneyland for the time being, but didn't rule out his return in the future. Spider-Man made his grand Disney Parks debut eighteen months ago, in April 2014, at Disneyland Paris. We were the first guests in his line, and have met him numerous times since. The meet 'n' greet there is well set up, and we have no doubt that Disneyland will do an equally good job when the Super Hero HQ opens next month.

Before we move onto the other news for this week, let's take a moment to   [ Read More... ]
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