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10 Disney Films That Will Inspire You to Travel ~ By Guest Author Jason Biondo

Published January 7, 2016 by Disneyways.com

10 DISNEY FILMS THAT WILL INSPIRE YOU TO TRAVEL

Disney films are beloved and admired for their colorful story-lines, enchanting and beautiful princesses as well as handsome prince charmings. All movies that Disney creates are loved not only by children, but everyone who are young at heart because they simply showcase beautiful musical scores and shows stunning pictures. Over time, Disney continues to create memorable
memories and inspiration brought about by magic and dreams.

If you’re a big Disney fan and a travel junkie at the same time, then you must know where you can find and experience being on the setting of your favorite Disney movie. Here are some of the all-time favorite Disney movies that were inspired by real-life locations.

1. Lion King

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This classic Disney movie has surely created wonderful memories because of the morallessons it brings, songs that marked in every child’s life and of course, the stunning settings of this film. The scenery of this film was inspired by a gorgeous desert in Africa – Serengeti, which is located across northern Tanzania and southwest of Kenya. This safari desert is life-changing like how it was pictured in the movie as it holds beautiful landscapes and wild animals that will surely spark your wanderlust. This movie will awaken your adventurous side as well as you desire to see more of this wonderful world. Hakuna Matata and enjoy life!

2. Aladdin

As a child, you were surely dreamt of riding the magic carpet and wonder how it feels like to see the world up in the sky. Aladdin is a movie based on Arab folklore that is full of enchantments – a magic lamp, a genie and three wishes. The movie has highlighted several stunning places like pyramids, palaces, deserts, alley ways and even China. But did you know that the Sultan’s Palace in the movie was inspired by the real life famous architecture in India – the Taj Mahal.

3. Mulan

Showcasing the countryside and unique cultures of China, Mulan is a story about a fearless girl who disguised as a man to go to a war. The Emperor’s Home in the movie was actually inspired by the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. If you remember the famous line told by Fa Zhou to Mulan about life and how it should be enjoyed, you will surely be moved to accomplish your dreams and go on different adventures and explore the world.

4. Frozen

Photo credit Disney

Photo credit Disney

Remember the scene where Elsa went away from her kingdom to elude people’s judgment about her hidden capability? The ice palace she created as a place she could live for isolation was based on the concept of Hotel de Glace in Quebec City, Canada. The hotel is surrounded by snow vaults and crystalline ice sculptures that open during winter. This fortress has 44 rooms, abundant ice sculptures, and imposing snow vaults. This film by Disney will surely motivate you to free yourself from fear and give you the
opportunity to do things you want without worrying about other’s verdict. Do you want to build a snowman?

5. Tangled

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Rapunzel, leaving the tower to take control over her own life brings inspiration to go on the road and explore different adventures. If you have watched the movie and look forward to seeing settings like the places featured in this film, then the real life places that were actually used as inspiration for this movie will completely amaze you. The tower was inspired by the Mont Saint-Michel in Normandy, France – a fortified islandcommune with a population of 44 people. The art director of the movie chose this location in order to create gallant painting style. Additionally, the scene at the lake fullof floating lanterns was taken insights from the annual festivity in China, Taiwan and Thailand.

6. Up

Who would have forgotten about the exceptional and adventurous journey of Carl and Ellie? Ellie’s desire to fulfill his and his wife’s dream of going to Paradise Falls was fortified after his wife passed away. Voyaged through Carl’s house hovering in the air has amazed children and the paradise Falls has enthused people to see a similar setting. Well, you may want to visit the Angel Falls in Venezuela’s Canaima Natural Park where this famous setting has been based. It is known as the world’s highest uninterrupted waterfall, it is also called as “waterfall of the deepest place”.

7. Lilo & Stitch

As Lilo and her family ventured towards the world, it has left a moral lesson about the importance of family and the bond created by traveling together. The settings of this film were enthused by the landscapes of Kauai town in Hawaii which was perfect for its homey-inspired tale.

8. Brave

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Merida, a fearless girl who’s desperate for freedom from her royal family set foot in the woods alone for the liberty she wanted. Brave features beautiful ruins, majestic landscapes and castles along Merida’s journey and some of it were actually real pictures that you can visit. This movie will surely inspire you to visit Eilean Donan Castle, which is known in the film as DunBroch Castle. Built during the mid-13th century, it is located in the Scottish highlands and is overlooking the sea. If you are fond of historic places and folklore, visiting Eilean Donan Castle is what you might need to satisfy your wanderlust.

9. Finding Nemo

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The film was set in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, located off the coast of Queensland, it is one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Watching this movie may inspire you to book a scuba diving classes, go snorkeling to a marine conservation or even urge you to book a trip to Australia.

10. Enchanted

The movie is about some animated characters coming into the real world and becoming real people. Based in New York settings, this film features various scenes featuring the Central Park will surely make you want to visit the busiest city in the world. This romantic comedy movie will surely bring in the wanderlust in you as the urbaninspiration and soundtracks will motivate you to see the world.

Inspired to travel? Open your travel planner now, and create your own magical and enchanting Disney-like escapades!

About the Author: Jason Biondo is a travel junkie and an amateur bodybuilder who loves to share insightful tips to his fellow travelers and fitness enthusiasts. He is also a User Interface Developer Consultant and the founder of Trekeffect.
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Goodies and Prizes at the Ganachery in Disney Springs ~ by Guest Author Kimberlee Thompson

Published December 8, 2015 by Disneyways.com

Goodies and Prizes (brought to you in part by MouseMingle.com) at our Disneyways meetup at the Ganachery in Disney Springs
~ by Guest Author Kimberlee Thompson

I’ve always thought there was something classy, and even romantic sounding about the word “ganache”. Maybe that’s why hanging out at Disney Spring’s new “Ganachery” during their upcoming Grand Opening Tuesday with all the other “cool kids” from Disneyways sounds like the really swanky thing to do.

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If you have never experienced the heavenly mixture of melted gourmet chocolate and cream you don’t know what you are missing. Thankfully, The Ganachery will showcase SIXTEEN in-house made varieties of this decadent treat, so you can quickly acquaint yourself by sampling flavors like their signature Florida orange dark chocolate. In addition to their unique array of ganache flavors, The Ganachery will feature other house-made chocolate confections for the discriminating palate which will be wrapped in fanciful little packages, as well as nine unique flavors of chocolate bars designed to pay homage to Disney Icons and Destinations. Disney Pastry Chef, Stefan Riemer, who has passionately searched for the best chocolate worldwide, has professed that the quality of chocolate will be akin to that of fine wine. To this end, a knowledgeable chocolatier will greet guests and an expert will be on stage fashioning the edible works of art as visitors observe.

This sounds like the makings of a fabulous date-locale…which may be why MouseMingle.com, has sponsored door prizes and goody bags for this much anticipated Disneyways Opening Day Meet Up. MouseMingle.com is the ingenious online site that has combined the merits of online dating with the Magic of Disney, aspiring to help Disney fans near and far make romantic connections through their mutual love of all things Disney.

You won’t want to miss this event, which has all of the elements of both class and romance, just like it’s name would suggest. Anyone wanting to join should arrive at 2pm on Tuesday, December 15th 2015. Goody-bags are limited, so don’t be late. The Ganachery is located in the Landing Section of Disney Springs near favorites like the Boat House and Joffrey’s Tea Traders.

A note from Krista: Please be advised that prizes and goody bags are available only while supplies last and you must be present at the meetup to win. MouseMingle.com has provided a donation to help offset the cost of these prizes but this is NOT a singles meetup. Everyone is welcome! Please visit the event facebook page or contact me (Krista) with any questions. Comments left on this blog post may not be seen in time. Thank you!!

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kimberleeKimberlee Thompson is a Central Florida Native who has grown up “Living the Dream”. She has completely lost count of the number of times she has visited Disney Destinations and she considers herself very blessed to be able to say that. Kimberlee continues to reside in Central Florida with her husband, also a Florida native, and her two children.

Portobello Italian Restaurant Disney Springs Review by guest author Sharon Judy

Published September 10, 2015 by Disneyways.com

Recently I enjoyed my first visit to Portobello at Disney Springs! It was my first time dining at this lovely little place. I was in the company of the Central Florida Lady Bloggers group.

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As we came through the door were  warmly greeted and offered a signature drink… Honey Lemonade. This is made with locally sourced honey from Winter Park Florida. I am here to tell you this was SO good. Usually I am not a fan of lemonade because of its tartness but THIS lemonade was so smooth and sweet that I had 2 glasses!  I asked our wonderful hostess Emily if you are able to get a to-go glass if you were just strolling by and did not have a dinner reservation. She said “absolutely just come on in!”

The smoky smell of this restaurant is wonderful. They make wood fired pizzas that are amazing. I sampled the Margarita Pizza and Mushroom Pizza. Both were very tasty and had that lovely smoky taste.

  
Next our hostess Kristy brought around Goat Cheese and Radicchio Crustinis. This was crunchy and savory and sweet all at the same time. They were so good that I actually I ended up eating 4 of these little Crustinis of goodness!! I probably would have eaten more but figured I really needed to share with the rest of our group.

We had a buffet of meats,cheeses and all the fixings. Can just I say… I didn’t want to stop eating?!

  
  
  
The food was so delicious and the level of customer service we experienced was top notch.

Portobello at Disney Springs – I look forward to visiting again soon!!!!

Disclaimer: In exchange for time and efforts in attending this event and reporting my opinion within this blog, Portobello Italian Restaurant provided me with complimentary food and drinks. This did not influence my opinion and all thoughts are my own.

A Note from Krista:
Sharon Judy is not only a regular contributor to Disneyways – she is also the official hair stylist of Living The Dream Podcast as well as WorldSecrets.TV and Disneyways.com! Sharon is a licensed cosmetologist by the State of Florida. She works in the Grand Floridian, Yacht and Beach Club, and other resorts on Disney property.  She has a magical, pixie-dusted touch that she carries into her own salon as well. Contact her today via her facebook page for a consultation and appointment!

“The Complete Walt Disney World 2015” by Julie and Mike Neal – A Book Review by Samantha Jolicoeur

Published June 24, 2015 by jpmdo

 

The Complete WDW Book

This is not the first time I have read the Neal’s books, and much like their previous years’ books, this one did not disappoint. With extensive details and photos that immerse the reader into the magic, you will find yourself turning page after page!

As a mother of 3, two of which being 1 year old twins, I do not find much time for myself these days and, to my dismay, I am not too hip on the latest news going on with the World, Walt Disney World, that is. I used to pride myself in “being in the loop” and staying on top of news, but it just isn’t feasible these days. I knew, with my upcoming trip, I wanted to get some additional information from more than the Internet. I wanted something reputable, and I knew this book would be a fantastic place to start.

I put the children to bed, finished up the daily chores, and got comfy with the book. Needless to say, I read it all in one sitting, long into the early hours of the next morning. I could not get enough of the detailed information and color photos. ALL of the photographs in their books are in full color and taken by the authors – how amazing is that?

I found only one Tinkerbell-sized error in the book and that was mentioning that 8+ guests will be charged an automatic 18% gratuity on their table service bills (page 360). The correct information regarding this policy is actually 6 or more guests, infants included.

Onto the pleasantries, and this book is chock full of them! Julie and Mike include so many details of each and every aspect of the Walt Disney World Resort. I love how they incorporate their own preferences and opinions. I am always looking for true reviews, in lieu of basic, every day knowledge. It made me feel like I was speaking with the authors, not just reading a book about Disney.

The book is laid-out in a way where you can find any topic very easily: organized by Parks, Accommodations, new information, MyMagic+, Characters, and so much more! They go through the very best of each Park, and then a more in-depth review is done later within the chapter. Above and beyond the detailed explanations of each attraction, you will find Hidden Mickey tips and other special secrets. Personally, I am a fan of the Tips and Facts – you can never soak in enough Disney trivia! There is also other useful information, such as approximate wait times based on time of day, and an example of the best course of action to conquer your Park day. With their vast Park knowledge and experience, I would bet that their plans are top notch!

There truly is not one piece of information you will NOT find in this wonderful book. From where to find ATMs to where to eat the best steak. It is easy to find the information you are looking for, as well, if you are not keen on reading the entire book (although, I do not recommend that). Each section is color-coded, there is an A-Z section that approaches almost every relevant Disney subject, and, finally, an index at the end of the book to direct you to the exact page discussing the topic you are looking for.

I would recommend this book to each and every person, Disney-newbie or veteran, young or old. I have read many different Disney travel guides, books, trivia and, so much more, but this is the very best of the best. They have kept up with the very latest information, and you seriously cannot beat their tips and advice. Children will love to read this book along with you and learn all about the attractions before experiencing them. You will be able to help them get an idea of what to expect before the trip, plus there is information regarding scare factors.

Not that you’ll need help doing so, but this book will increase your excitement about your upcoming trip! You won’t have to worry about whether the information is up-to-date, because these books have been coming along yearly for quite some time now, and I do hope they continue! You can purchase their books online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

“There is more treasure in books, than in all the pirates’ loot on Treasure Island” – Walt Disney

Match The Species – Poop Treats at Disney’s Animal Kingdom by Guest Authors Amber and Jacquie Montes de Oca

Published June 19, 2015 by jpmdo

**UPDATE: Disney discontinued these treats and they are no longer available.**

What do Disney, sweet treats and poop have in common? Our favorite topics of conversation!

When we heard there were new treats at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and they look like animal poop, of course we had to find out more about them and better yet… taste them!

So we started our journey by arriving at Disney’s Animal Kingdom then made our way to Africa.

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We then found the location… Zuri’s Sweets Shop right across from the new Harambe Market.

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And there, among the other sweets… Match the Species Treats (animal poop)!

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Of course we had to try all four. And this is what we thought:

Elephant Poop: Chocolate peanut butter fudge with sweet rolled oats and yellow coconut flakes.

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J: I could tell right away it tasted like peanut butter, then the oats and coconut made their appearance. It’s dense and cakey. Yummy

A: To me it tastes like peanut butter and coconut. It’s a bit hard to bite into.

Hippo Poop: Chocolate fudge caramel brownie with peanut butter and rolled oats.

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J: Very similar taste as the Elephant Poop, except for the coconut. Also dense and cakey. Feels a bit heavy when you pick it up.

A: Same thought, very similar to the Elephant Poop.

Cotton Top Tamarin Poop: Pretzel pearls coated in chocolate peanut butter fudge with sweet rolled oat flakes.

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J: Again, similar taste to both the Elephant and Hippo Poop, however this one is harder to bite into.

A: Also similar taste as the two above, however this one has that extra pretzel taste. Watch your teeth… hard to bite into.

Giraffe Poop: Rolled chocolate fudgy brownie and freshly made caramel.

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J: This one was my favorite. Soft brownie texture and more of a chocolate taste.

A: I liked this one the best as well. Soft and rich.

In conclusion, although it’s a bit disappointing that three of the four tasted almost the same, this is definitely a fun thing to get if anything for the topic of conversation and it definitely will be fun for both kids and adults!

About the authors:

Jacquie is an annual passholder and Disney fan who visits the parks often with her oldest daughter Amber. She is a freelance social media strategist, consultant, advisor, and content creator for Living the Dream Podcast.

 Amber Montes de Oca is a huge Disney fan. She’s an annual pass holder and loves to visit the Disney parks often. Her hobbies are singing, acting, and drawing. She has a BA from the University of Central Florida.

Top 5 Reasons to try American Q ~ by Sharon Judy

Published May 28, 2015 by Disneyways.com

So many people love a great Bar-B-Que restaurant – and there are tons to choose from in the Disney area. So why should you try American Q Restaurant at the B Resort near Disney Springs?  

 

I could probably go on forever, but for now, here are my top 5 reasons!

1. Excellent Guest Service!

Our waitress made sure that we were well taken care of the whole evening. She kept our glasses full and would check back to make sure our food was to our liking. She was great about giving us suggestions on what to order, including letting us know her favorites and why she liked them. Our cowboy carvers were also kind, sweet, and very knowledgeable about what they were carving. 

  

  

 

The meats and chicken you will eat here are locally sourced with no hormones or steroids, and they are all grass fed. Even the eggs they use at American Q come from free range chickens.  

 

Chef Justin let us know that he makes frequent trips to the farms to make sure the food is up to the quality that they expect. When you visit American Q on Swine and Spirits Wednesdays you will enjoy pork from a pig that was chosen very carefully and has come from the same bloodline as the last pig. That way the meat has a consistent quality and taste – every time you visit.

2. Lots of Choices for Picky Eaters!

It all starts with the ’51 Ford F1 Flatbed Truck Buffet. How cool is that?!

There are unlimited soups, salads, baked potato and meat carvings that you can choose from – and it’s all you care to eat. What is especially nice is the cowboy carvers bring the meat to your table to enjoy. Wednesdays at American Q brings the Swine and Spirits menu. Guests can enjoy the buffet and a complimentary beverage that changes out weekly is also included in the price. There is also an additional carving of Tangerine and Whiskey Brined Suckling Pig.

Even if buffets aren’t usually your thing,  there is a regular menu to choose from as well. I had the Texas Bark Beef Brisket. It was so good! It had an excellent smoky beef flavor and was fork tender. 

My daughter Emily had the Q Burger with pepper jack cheese and cross cut fries. This burger was huge – definitely big enough to be shared -and it came out cooked to perfection!

3. They have a wonderful selection of adult beverages!

We sampled the Moscow Mule, Carribbean Passion Picante and Pineapple Mojito.

    

My absolute favorite is the Moscow Mule. It has a very distinct ginger flavor that I love. It is made with vodka, pickled ginger juice and ginger beer, but the ginger flavor was not overpowering. It reminded me of a not so fizzy gingerale with a kick. The other 2 drinks are on the sweeter side.  The Pineapple Mojito is exactly like you would expect it to be, with the flavor of pineapple and mint. The Caribbean Passion was very sweet and fruity – with a spicy flavored finish.

4.Valet parking is free with dinner!

Now who wouldn’t love that? When you are seated, your server stamps your card that the valet driver gives you. After your meal, just hand this back to your valet driver, and he will fetch your car. No need to get caught in the rain.

5. Super cute and elegantly rustic decor!

I love that the buffett is on a flatbed truck!!! It feels like you are right at home on an upscale farm.

   These were my top 5 reasons to visit American Q – but be sure to give them a try so you can come up with your own list! Please visit American Q on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AmericanQ

Celebrating Cinco De Mayo – Disney Style! – By Guest Author Josh Snyder

Published May 4, 2015 by jpmdo

Ay amigos! It’s that time of year again. Time to celebrate Cinco De Mayo. For those of you that are too Central Florida bound to make it to Mexico to celebrate, you can have your own special celebration, right here in Walt Disney World. Head over to EPCOT to start your festivities. There are several different ways to do this. Here’s a list of my top 5 (plus an extra one for adults only).

5. Meet Donald Duck at Mexico – this is an often overlooked character meet and greet, since it’s a little off the beaten path. However, Donald shows his true Mexican love in a great sombrero and Mexican-inspired outfit. He can be found beside the Mexico pavilion on a little off-street.

4. Sombrero Time – take time to try on sombreros. While you’re doing this, take pictures to capture the moments, like Krista has done below. This is a great opportunity to get out of the sun and enjoy a wonderful time with friends (or even by yourself). Post your picture on Facebook, then challenge your friends to do the same thing (maybe even come up with a contest to see who can make the wackiest face).

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3. Lunch at La Cantina De San Angel – for a great way to celebrate without actually going inside the Mexico pavilion, stop by La Cantina De San Angel outside for a quick bite with a Mexican flare. This a counter service location, and the service is pretty quick and always yummy. I recommend the Tacos De Barbacoa. It’s delish!

2. Dinner at San Angel Inn Restaurante – this excellent restaurant is located inside the Mexico pavilion and has seating that overlooks the beginning of the Three Caballeros boat ride (similar to the Blue Bayou Restaurant and Pirates Of The Caribbean at Disneyland). The atmosphere is set to remind of you twilight in Mexico, which is always the right time for a fiesta. This is a very popular restaurant and reservations are HIGHLY recommended.

1. Gran Fiesta Tour starring The Three Caballeros – this ride is the ultimate in Mexican celebrations. Take a fun boat ride through some of the history and sites of Mexico, while in search of Donald Duck, along with Jose and Panchito. This is a great ride for the whole family. It’s indoors, you’re seated the whole time, and it’s nicely air conditioned (great for those hot and humid early summer/late spring days).

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BONUS HIGHLIGHT: For adults, there’s a great little place in the Mexico pavilion called La Cava Del Tequila. That’s right, it’s a TEQUILA BAR and it’s AWESOME!!! Make sure to check this out for some “adult libations”. You can also pick up Kahlua chocolate truffles in the shop outside La Cava. Perfect for some adult alone time at home.

I hope this helps you to enjoy Cinco De Mayo while on your festive trip to Walt Disney World. I know it helped me.

 

MAGIC IN THE DETAILS: JEDI OR NOT, HERE WE COME! Four Tantalizing Clues about Disney’s Coming Star Wars Attractions by Guest Author Adam M. Berger

Published March 18, 2015 by jpmdo

With Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios fast approaching and with Star Wars Episode VII slated to debut in theaters this December, it’s clearly a great time to be a Star Wars fan. And then there’s the expected arrival of an entire Star Wars-themed land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios (and probably Disneyland Park) sometime in the not-too-distant future.

Adam Magic Details

Photo Copyright – Disney

Of course, with the powers-that-be at Disney remaining tightlipped, it’s still anyone’s guess as to what we can expect when that galaxy far, far away finally lands at Walt Disney World. And yet there are some very intriguing hints already to be found in and around Disney’s existing Star Wars attractions…if you only know what to look for. As usual, “the magic is in the details.” So here are four enticing clues about what to expect in the forthcoming Star Wars attractions.

  1. Expect both familiar and new characters, vehicles, settings, and scenarios. Many Disney attractions adhere closely to the movies upon which they are based, replicating the original screen versions as faithfully as possible. However, this has never been the case when it comes to the Star Wars attractions and experiences, which have introduced numerous new characters, vehicles, settings, and scenarios alongside the familiar ones. It’s a good bet that this “expanded universe” approach will continue…full Force.

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Photo by Adam Berger

  1. Expect big themes. While the forthcoming Star Wars shows, rides, and environments are likely to feature new characters and other unique elements, you’ll also see a continuation of the big themes established in the cinematic Star Wars universe. Some of these themes have already carried through into the existing Star Wars attractions, including “humanity versus soulless technology,” “the struggle between goodness and evil,” and “ordinary people fulfilling their heroic potential.” Expect more of the same in future attractions.

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Photo Copyright – Disney

  1. Expect sophisticated technology in the service of storytelling. Though the Disney parks have long been known for their sophisticated ride and show systems, those technologies have always been upstaged by the attraction storylines, creating immersive, fully realized, emotional experiences. This is certainly the case with attractions like Star Tours – The Adventures Continue. You can bet that the ride and show technologies behind the experiences being planned for the new Star Wars lands will be even more advanced…and just as invisible.

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Photo Copyright – Disney

  1. Expect more variability, more spontaneity, more guest interaction, and more personalized experiences. No matter how many times you queue-up for Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, you never know which one of 54 different combinations of scenes you are going to get, giving your experience a wonderful element of variability and spontaneity. You can be sure that this approach to keeping your experience fresh and surprising will go into hyperdrive in the new Star Wars attractions. At the same time, you’re certain to see more of the personalization and direct interaction that guest “younglings” are already encountering in the Jedi Training Academy show as they cross light sabers with Darth Vader—but on an even bigger and more impressive scale.

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Photo by Adam Berger

The technological key to all of this will doubtlessly be the same RFID platform that powers your MagicBand. But instead of merely admitting you to the Disney Parks, your Disney hotel room, and your pre-booked FastPass+ attractions, your MagicBand will eventually endow you with Jedi-like powers, immersing you in your own personalized, customized Star Wars universe.

What are your expectations for the new Star Wars-themed sections coming to the Disney parks? Feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section, below. And May the Force be with you!

Every guest a hero

Adam M. Berger is a professional attraction show writer and design consultant, and the author of the book Every Guest is a Hero: Disney’s Theme Parks and the Magic of Mythic Storytelling—available in print and e-reader editions from Amazon.com and other fine online booksellers.

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MAGIC IN THE DETAILS: SCORING FOR BOTH TEAMS by guest author Adam M. Berger

Published February 3, 2015 by jpmdo

The longstanding rivalry between Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, its crosstown competitor a few miles up the road, has become the stuff of legend, with the decades-long battle for tourism supremacy most recently documented by author Sam Gennawey in his enlightening, entertaining, and highly detailed book Universal vs. Disney: The Unofficial Guide to American Theme Parks’ Greatest Rivalry. But through it all, one towering creative figure has managed to play—and score (pun intended)—for both teams. I’m talking, of course, about the prolific film composer and conductor John Williams.

John Williams

Photo by TashTish at en.wikipedia

Mr. Williams’ cinematic career dates back to the late 1950s, with his sometimes uncredited musical contributions to the silver screen including such classic (and occasionally not-so-classic) movies as Some Like It Hot and Gidget. Of course, he is better known for composing and often conducting the scores heard in such blockbuster films as Jaws, all the Star Wars and Indiana Jones movies, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Jurassic Park, and the Harry Potter movies.

Star Wars

 Copyright – Lucasfilm Ltd.

Those are a just a few highlights from the composer’s long and illustrious filmography. (If you’d like to see more, you can find an exhaustive list of John Williams’ credits on the IMDb website.) But perhaps you’ve noticed that all of the movies listed above have also inspired either current or retired theme park attractions at either Walt Disney World or Universal Orlando. Which gives Mr. Williams the rare distinction of being an artist whose works transcend the Disney-Universal rivalry to entertain and engage visitors at both resorts.

At Walt Disney World, Williams’ music adds to the magic of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where it forms the stirring soundtracks of three popular attractions: Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, Jedi Training Academy, and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular.

Indiana Jones Spectacular Show

 Photo by Adam Berger

Travel a few miles northeast on Interstate 4 to Universal Orlando Resort, and you’ll be treated to the sound of John Williams’ distinctive movie scores in both of the resort’s theme parks. At Universal Studios Florida, Williams’ music accompanies your ride on E.T. Adventure, and his themes are heard almost continuously as you explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley. But for nearly two decades before Diagon Alley arrived in the park, another familiar John Williams score was heard on that specific patch of real estate, accompanying—and amplifying—the thrills of the now defunct JAWS attraction.

Harry Potter Universal

Copyright – Universal Orlando Resort

Nearby, Williams’ music again sets the mood and underscores the action throughout the Jurassic Park section of Universal’s Islands of Adventure, while the Harry Potter title theme and other music from the series wafts through The Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade.

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Copyright – Universal Orlando Resort

And while certain other artists share dual residency at both Disney and Universal (most prominently director Steven Spielberg, represented by E.T. Adventure and Jurassic Park at the latter and Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular at the former), John Williams easily takes the prize for having the most extensive presence at both resorts. Which just goes to show you that exceptional talent can, on rare occasions, transcend even the most intense and entrenched competition.

So how aware are you of the music when you’re in the Disney and Universal theme parks? Do you have any favorites? Feel free to chime in using the comments section below.

Every guest a hero

 

Adam M. Berger is a professional attraction show writer and design consultant, and the author of the book Every Guest is a Hero: Disney’s Theme Parks and the Magic of Mythic Storytelling—available in print and e-reader editions from Amazon.com and other fine online booksellers.

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Book Review: Jeff Heimbuch’s Main Street Windows: A Complete Guide to Disney’s Whimsical Tributes by Jennifer Vichko

Published December 1, 2014 by jpmdo

There’s no greater feeling of excitement than when you’re ‘walking right down the middle of Main Street, USA.’  There, after walking under the train station, you’ll get first official sighting of the Castle, catch a sweet smell from the Confectionary wafting through the air and maybe even have to step aside for a Trolley or two.  Some guests like to make a beeline to rides and attractions right after rope drop – which is a great strategy! – however I can’t help but take my time and enjoy all the sights, sounds and smells of the street I wish I lived on!

It’s no surprise that the Walt Disney Company pays attention to little things.  From Hidden Mickeys in the parks and resorts to Easter Eggs in movies, Imagineers and Animators alike truly reward their fans for noticing the tiny details.  One of the lesser known hidden gems for guests at Disney Parks are the cryptic tributes in the advertisements in each of the windows that line Main Street.  I’ve walked up and down this Street many times and was shocked to find out how little I actually knew about this huge honor!

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In his new book, Main Street Windows: A Complete Guide to Disney’s Whimsical Tributes, author Jeff Heimbuch takes us on tour of all the Main Street windows of Disneyland, Magic Kingdom, Tokyo Disneyland, Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland.  Much like Hidden Mickeys, Disney has not produced a full listing of the windows anywhere else in the world so Heimbuch’s gorgeous pictures and descriptions now serve as the official catalog.

Each page features a full-color photograph of a window (or two) and a breakdown of the names featured and meaning behind it.  Though most people are well aware that Disney pays attention to even the smallest of details the fact that almost every window pays tribute to someone that contributed something special to the Disney organization is incredible!

For example, one window in Disneyland has the following advertisement:

Ragin’ Ray’s

River Rafting Expeditions

Experienced Guides since ’55

Ray Van De Warker

Owner Guide

The author goes on to illustrate the meaning behind this particular window, describing the career path of Ray Van De Warker.  He started his tenure at Disney as summer help in 1955 and eventually became head of the Davy Crocket Explorer Canoes where he inadvertently helped start a yearly Disneyland tradition of Racing Around the Rivers of America.  I love the humor behind these tributes and am sure the honorees are incredibly grateful for the acknowledgments.

I can’t even being to think about all the time and effort Heimbuch spent in creating this guide.  From obtaining stunning photographs of each and every window in all of the Magic Kingdom-esque parks to researching the details behind the advertisements, his hard work certainly has not gone unnoticed.  Main Street Windows: A Complete Guide to Disney’s Whimsical Tributes is a great addition to any Disney fan’s library and I can’t wait to take it with me on my next trip to the Magic Kingdom to spot some of my new favorite features of Main Street, USA.

Jennifer Vichko is a lifelong fan of all things Disney and is thrilled to be reliving the magic through the eyes of her one-year-old daughter. She resides in Pennsylvania with her Husband of 6 years where her hobbies include decorating, DIY and planning her family’s next Disney vacation.

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