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Star Wars Galactic Nights, April 2017 - A Review
DisneyDan  Tuesday, May 9, 2017 3:41:47 PM
Hello everyone,

Last month, on the 14th April, Disney's Hollywood Studios held its first ever Star Wars Galactic Nights; a premium ticketed event held after park closing.

When Disney first announced Galactic Nights, it was kind of bittersweet. 2015 saw the last ever Star Wars Weekends at the park, which at the time we didn't know would be the final event. Star Wars Weekends were held over four or five consecutive weekends in May and June since 1997. The weekends were insanely popular, and involved many fun character greetings, shows, celebrity appearances, special dining options, special merchandise and much, much more. They were quite simply the ultimate Star Wars fan event. Without warning, Disney announced, after the 2015 event, that they had decided to cancel them, and so anyone who missed 2015 - or had already made plans for 2016 - were left very disappointed, and honestly, as diehard fans we were left bitterly let down and a little stunned.

Disney have tried in the past year to increase the Star Wars presence at Hollywood Studios, including the Star Wars Launch Bay, the March of the First Order, the fireworks spectacular and other small offerings. When Galactic Nights was announced, with the celebrity appearances, cavalcade and special character greetings, it felt like they were trying to give the fans a little bit of Star Wars Weekends back, if only for one night, and at a high premium.

With all that in mind, I was a little skeptical, honestly. How could one night live up to the all-day activities that lasted for four weeks per year? And how could we possibly get everything done in one night? I imagined it being a little frustrating, and actually anticipated complaining to guest relations at the end of the night, based on our recent experiences at Disney events. I don't deliberately go into these things wanting or intending to complain, but I think I was so jaded by the loss of Star Wars Weekends, and now having to pay a lot of money to just even get a slither of that back for one night, that I just expected to dislike it.

  [ Read More... ]
Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast Dining Review, April 2017
DisneyDan  Tuesday, May 2, 2017 2:07:48 PM
Hello everyone,

A couple of weeks ago we dined at Trattoria al Forno at Disney's Boardwalk (Walt Disney World) to try the new Bon Voyage Adventure Breakfast character dining experience. You do not need to enter the Boardwalk resort hotel in order to access the restaurant; it is located along the Boardwalk area itself, and not within the hotel.



For those who like to know these things, for planning purposes or whatever, we had a 7.45am reservation. Our reservation was on a Saturday, and it seemed to be fairly quiet at that time.

  [ Read More... ]
A Walk Through the Parks, February and March 2017
DisneyDan  Tuesday, April 11, 2017 1:55:03 PM
Hello everyone,

As Jon and I spend an increasing amount of time at the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks, I find it correspondingly redundant to post "trip reports", in the more traditional sense. You may have noticed that, for example, recently I posted a stand alone review of the Garden Grill, a report on meeting the stars of Cars 3, and my report on the DVC Moonlight Magic event here on Character Central, and over on Two Lost Boys, my review of Flower and Garden 2017 at Epcot. I thought that it would be nice to share the more "generic" things we saw, too, over the past two months, and so decided to make this report more of a round-up of multiple visits, rather than breaking it down into separate trip reports. We will actually be back at the parks again this week and next, and so you should expect to see a similar round-up and more specialised individual reports once I get around to doing them, too.

Let's start our February-March walk though the park with the Magic Kingdom.   [ Read More... ]
Chip 'n' Dale's Harvest Feast, A Review - March 2017
DisneyDan  Thursday, April 6, 2017 10:33:59 AM
Hello everyone,

A couple of weeks ago we had lunch at The Garden Grill, inside The Land pavilion at Epcot. We had eaten there several times in the past, but it had been several years, so we thought it was time that we went back to get an updated view.

The Garden Grill is a character dining experience, which has its own title of Chip 'n' Dale's Harvest Feast. Throughout your dining experience, Chip and Dale, as well as Mickey Mouse and Pluto, make their way around the restaurant for hugs, photos and autographs. Prices can be up to $60 per adult, depending on the time of day, plus tax and tip. You should plan to be in the restaurant for at least an hour. Reservations are accepted, and can be made on the My Disney Experience app.

  [ Read More... ]
My thoughts on PIXAR's 'Inside Out', and what it can do for Epcot
DisneyDan  Monday, June 15, 2015 10:16:25 PM
Editor's Note: I originally posted this article five days ago, but for matters outside of my control, I had to remove it until today. Below is the original article in its unedited format (I mention we saw the films "last night", when in fact now it was five days ago) - Dan.

Hello everyone,

I don't usually write posts like this, but something struck a chord with me last night that I just have to share. Last night Jon and I were very fortunate to be given the opportunity to watch Disney-PIXAR's latest movie, 'Inside Out'. The movie doesn't come out for general release for another eight days yet, so seeing it nine days early was a real privilege.

The film had its first premiere in Cannes on 18th May this year, and this week had its US debut. Many of you probably saw the photos floating around social media of the characters Sadness and Joy, who appeared at the US premiere.


(C) Disney/PIXAR. Taken from their Facebook page.

Initially character fans were really excited to see Sadness and Joy appear, giving us a glimpse of, hopefully, what to expect at the parks. A short while later, the rumour mill started, and various inside sources on Twitter, including the usually accurate @DCharacternews, implied that this will be pretty much the only time they'll appear. To send characters back to their own worlds before a movie has even had its general release is a real blow to fans who are excited for the movie and for the characters. The characters at the parks are a way of fans connecting with their heroes and step into some of the movie magic with them. How could Disney be considering not having them out?!

So, then we come to last night, when we saw the movie ourselves for the first time. The short story at the start, 'Lava', was cute, and probably one of the better ones I've seen in recent years. It involved a lonely island volcano who pined for a female companion. I won't give it away, but it seemingly has a twist at first.

Now we come to the main feature. 'Inside Out' follows the five core emotions inside Riley Anderson's head. Riley is a twelve year old girl whose family moves from Minnesota to San Francisco. There are a variety of hiccups along the way, including a delayed delivery van, that all contribute to Riley feeling rather down. With good intentions, the emotions inside her head plan to keep her happy.

We meet five core emotions; Joy, Sadness, Anger, Fear and Disgust. All of these emotions have their own distinct characteristics, but all also contribute to the overall wellbeing of Riley. As we discover, sometimes everyone needs to be sad, or angry, or whatever else, in order to function as a human being - and that really gets you thinking. With that in mind, the movie can be quite deep and emotional, but at the same time, it has a lot of comedy moments, which I must admit are more adult than I was expecting for a Disney-PIXAR film, and it definitely has one of the saddest moments of any PIXAR film I have seen in a long time.

The message of the movie, to me, was that it's ok for you to be sad sometimes, and that is a good thing. Sadness brings out a quality in us that can only simply be described as 'human'. It probably won't connect with young children as well as adults, but you know what? This movie proves to us that PIXAR still have what it takes to be the best at what they do. Please, no more sequels. Let's have this kind of quality again.

So how does this all fit with the title of this article, I hear you ask?

For the longest time now, the Imagination pavilion at Walt Disney World's Epcot has really lacked something. This is a company that built itself on the ideas and dreams of its founder, with the vision that there is always something else to be done, so long as we have imagination. So why has the Imagination pavilion sat all-but-abandoned for the past fifteen years or more? That only Disney can answer, but what I do know is that with 'Inside Out', they have the perfect opportunity to start over again.

As much as I love Figment as the next person, nobody I think disagrees that the current incarnation is nothing more than an insult to its former self. It would be better for it to disappear with some dignity left, than carry on for another twenty years, floundering along. Cue 'Inside Out'. A movie that has entire scenes set inside a little girl's imagination, abstract thought, and dream studio (you have to see it to understand), not to mention featuring her awesome imaginary friend, Bing Bong, is perfect for an Imagination revamp. Let's take the Train of Thought (again, wait until you see the film), and ride through a real imaginary place (well, isn't that an oxymoron?), filled with imaginary friends like Bing Bong and all the cast of the dream studio. I know it's probably just a pipe dream, but I really hope that this was the kind of movie Disney was waiting for in order to revitalize Imagination. Let's have the characters walking around; let us meet all five of the core emotions. Let's breathe
life back into Imagination once again.

Let me know your thoughts by clicking here and going to our forum to discuss this article.

Dan.
2014 - A Character Filled Year in Review
DisneyDan  Wednesday, December 31, 2014 11:05:51 AM
Hello everyone,

Well, 2014 is nearly said and done, and 2015 draws ever nearer! It’s been a fantastic year here at Character Central, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank each one of our fans for supporting us for another year of laughter and magic.

In 2014 we had so many adventures, it would be impossible to claim any one of them was our favourite. From starting the year with the Einsteins at Disneyland Paris, Easter with the Aristocats, meeting Oswald for the first time in Tokyo DisneySea, to Christmas at Walt Disney World, it has been simply incredible. If I tried to share every magical moment we had in 2014 I’d not only be here for a week embedding the photos, but you would also get bored! So, this year, instead of my epic "post ever single character we saw" review, I thought I would share with everyone a selection of our favourite character moments from the year (just characters, because if I shared other photos and moments too, again, I’d be here forever!). Having said that, a "selection" from the incredible amount of things we've done means that this post is still really long, so just be warned if you have a slow internet connection!

  [ Read More... ]
Disneyland Paris August 2014 Trip Report and Photo Round-Up Part 2!
DisneyDan  Saturday, August 23, 2014 7:43:08 AM
Hello everyone,

Two weeks ago Jon and I were in DLP, and I put together a photo trip report which you can read here. Last weekend we were at DLP again! So, here's another photo report from our three days in the magic!

Let's start at Disneyland Park.   [ Read More... ]
Disneyland Paris August 2014 Trip Report and Photo Round-Up - including Ratatouille!
DisneyDan  Thursday, August 14, 2014 11:56:17 AM
Hello everyone,

Last week Jon and I were in Disneyland Paris again for three days. As always, we had an awesome, action packed time! I wanted to share with you some photos from our trip.

Let's start on Main Street USA with the brand new "New Century Notions - Flora's Unique Boutique" that has replaced the former Town Square Photography. It should be noted that PhotoPass pictures can still be viewed and purchased here.
  [ Read More... ]
Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise - A Review
DisneyDan  Thursday, June 19, 2014 10:38:21 AM
Hello everyone,

On our most recent trip to Tokyo Disney Resort we had the pleasure of dining at the Polynesian Terrace for Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise dinner show. The Polynesian Terrace is a table service dinner show venue that offers two different shows daily (the other being Lilo's Luau and Fun at lunchtime).

Lilo's Luau and Fun at Polynesian Terrace

Reservations are always required, but sadly can only be made on the Japanese Tokyo Disney Resort website or by calling their reservation line, both of which are in Japanese language only. Fortunately we have some very good Japanese friends who are able to make the reservations for us. If you are able to get someone to make reservations for you, or you can read Japanese (which if you're reading this report is unlikely), then you should ensure that you do it well in advance of the date and time you want. In our experience, reservations for table service and buffet dining at Tokyo Disney Resort sell out virtually instantly, unfortunately.
On the plus side, the respectful and thoughtful nature of the Japanese means that if they cannot make their reservation they usually call to cancel it, which means times can show up at any moment. We have actually gotten several reservations this way in the past, so it's definitely worth checking back everyday before your trip to see if the venue you want has any availability.

On the day of your reservation you will need to go to collect a ticket for the meal at the will call window at the side of the restaurant. This must be done at least half hour before show time, I believe, but it might be more than that. You will not be allowed to enter later on without the ticket. Once you have the reservation ticket you simply come back later at the time specified (printed on the ticket). The Japanese are very particular about details, and so once you have your reservation there is no need to show up any more than about 5 or 10 minutes before the specified time. There will be a line outside the restaurant, but once the doors open everyone is let in very quickly, and your table is preassigned which means that you do not stand any better chance of a better table than if you were in line half hour before opening.

There are three categories of seating available for the shows, "A", "B" and "S", which all increase in price the closer you are to the stage (with "S" being the closest to the stage). The most expensive category was just short of US$50 per person. Prepayment is required and is non-refundable.
The restaurant is located at the back of Adventureland near the Western River Railroad and Enchanted Tiki Room.

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Once you have entered the restaurant and taken your seat dinner is served and the show begins shortly after.
The food is a set menu and is very difficult to change, however, being the awkward westerners that we are, we are vegetarian, which is non-existent in Japan. We had a Japanese friend with us who was able to call over the manager, and after some discussion they said that they could prepare something just for us! We have to say that we were exceptionally impressed with their willingness to accommodate us and the fact that we actually got something fairly decent to eat, despite their restaurant not being equipped for vegetarian diners.
For starter on the regular menu, there is ham, salad, cheese and various mixtures of seafood cocktails. The regular set main item is a pork steak with rice.
For dessert the regular menu was yellow and soft, but honestly, I don't know what it was! It was served with fruit, sauce and a cracker of some sort. It's probably best you see the photo below! Drinks are included, and are refillable.

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

For our vegetarian selection they prepared us some rice, carrot, broccoli and potatoes, with fresh salad. For dessert we had mixed fruit. The vegetarian option was a bit lacking, but honestly, this is a country where everything has some sort of meat product in it, so by all accounts we were grateful for their efforts! Next time I think we would make sure to have something else in the park beforehand, as the food we received was not substantial enough. Otherwise it tasted good, and it's not their fault we are vegetarians in a country that doesn't know that means!

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

The show doesn't really have a story, but is more a wonderful showcase of Polynesian style dancing and music, which is beautifully presented. The show features Mickey, Minnie, Chip and Dale who all dance and play along with the performers and musicians. There are several costume changes for the characters and performers, which include some really amazing ones for Mickey and Minnie. The entire show from start to finish is a delight to watch and really adds something enchanting and magical to their Adventureland.

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

During the show there is an audience participation section. The hula dancers will come to tables and invite the men in your party up onto the stage for what appeared to be a dance off competition! I have to say, without any disrespect to the men who were brave enough to do it, it was an odd sequence, and almost fascinating to see how competitive Japanese men are when presented with a hula dancing competition at a Disney dinner show!

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Overall we really enjoyed the show and the food, even if it was a little limiting for us. The cast members were amazing and went out of their way to help us with our needs and our food was very nice.

If you can make a reservation then I'd definitely recommend it, just remember that to do so will require someone who reads or speaks Japanese.

Mickey and Minnie's Polynesian Paradise

Dan.
Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe - A Review
DisneyDan  Tuesday, June 10, 2014 2:05:23 PM
Hello everyone,

On our most recent trip to Tokyo Disney Resort we had the pleasure of dining at the Diamond Horseshoe for the Mickey and Company dinner show. The Diamond Horseshoe is a table service dinner show venue that offers two different shows daily (the other being the Horseshoe Roundup at lunchtime).

The Diamond Horseshoe

Reservations are always required, but sadly can only be made on the Japanese Tokyo Disney Resort website or by calling their reservation line, both of which are in Japanese language only. Fortunately we have some very good Japanese friends who are able to make the reservations for us. If you are able to get someone to make reservations for you, or you can read Japanese (which if you're reading this report is unlikely), then you should ensure that you do it well in advance of the date and time you want. In our experience, reservations for table service and buffet dining at Tokyo Disney Resort sell out virtually instantly, unfortunately.
On the plus side, the respectful and thoughtful nature of the Japanese means that if they cannot make their reservation they usually call to cancel it, which means times can show up at any moment. We have actually gotten several reservations this way in the past, so it's definitely worth checking back everyday before your trip to see if the venue you want has any availability.

On the day of your reservation you will need to go to collect a ticket for the meal at the will call window at the side of the restaurant. This must be done at least half hour before show time, I believe, but it might be more than that. You will not be allowed to enter later on without the ticket. Once you have the reservation ticket you simply come back later at the time specified (printed on the ticket). The Japanese are very particular about details, and so once you have your reservation there is no need to show up any more than about 5 or 10 minutes before the specified time. There will be a line outside the restaurant, but once the doors open everyone is let in very quickly, and your table is preassigned which means that you do not stand any better chance of a better table than if you were in line half hour before opening.

There are three categories of seating available for the shows, "A", "B" and "S", which all increase in price the closer you are to the stage (with "S" being the closest to the stage). The most expensive category was just short of US$50 per person. Prepayment is required and is non-refundable.

Tokyo Aug 2010 - Looking around Westernland

The restaurant is located on the left hand side of the entrance area to Westernland (Tokyo's equivalent of Frontierland), and looks very similar to its sister restaurants in Disneyland and the Magic Kingdom (both inside and out).

Once you have entered the restaurant and taken your seat, the show will begin very promptly. There is a warm up part which introduces some of the characters (not Mickey and friends, they come later!) and dinner service begins soon after.
The food is a set menu and is very difficult to change, however, being the awkward westerners that we are, we are vegetarian, which is non-existent in Japan. We had a Japanese friend with us who was able to call over the manager, and after some discussion they said that they could prepare something just for us! We have to say that we were exceptionally impressed with their willingness to accommodate us and the fact that we actually got something fairly decent to eat, despite their restaurant not being equipped for vegetarian diners.
The regular set items are potato wedges, sausage, grilled vegetables, pumpkin, chicken, corn on the cob and I think shrimp, but since I didn't eat it I can't remember exactly (the picture below shows the food, but I can't make out what is on the back of the plate).
For dessert the regular menu consisted of a fun cake that looks like Donald Duck's bottom! Drinks are included, and are refillable. Bread is in a basket on the table and can be refilled upon request. There is a bowl of salad on the table also, which is prepared and has salmon and eggs in it.

Mickey and Company

Mickey and Company

Mickey and Company

Mickey and Company

For our vegetarian selection we had basically the same, except we were given rice, and potatoes shaped like stars! For dessert sadly we only got strawberries, but it's nice that they made the effort to find out that the dessert had gelatine in it. Strawberries aren't even on the menu, so they must have put some effort in to obtain them, which we appreciate.

Mickey and Company

Mickey and Company

The show involves Mickey and his friends helping a hapless young romantic gain the affections of Slue Foot Sue. There are some really great scenes, including Mickey playing the drums! It's a great show and has a nice happy feel to it. It's something which I really wish that the other parks would bring back to their Horseshoe venues. It adds a life and vibrance to Westernland that sadly the other Frontierland's lack.

Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe

Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe

Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe

Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe

Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe

Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe

Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe

Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe

Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe

Overall we really enjoyed the show and the food. The cast members were amazing and went out of their way to help us with our needs and our food was very nice.

If you can make a reservation then I'd definitely recommend it, just remember that to do so will require someone who reads or speaks Japanese.

Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe

Dan.

Mickey and Company at the Diamond Horseshoe
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