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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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Our Dinner With Dreamfinder

Published January 13, 2015 by Disneyways.com

Most Disney fans are familiar with the the way that Epcot opened ceremoniously on October 1, 1982. In the early days, there wasn’t a Disney character in sight! Can you imagine? But then, from 1982 – 1987, the one and only Ron Schneider, Epcot’s original Dreamfinder, helped to change all of that. To this day, Dreamfinder is one of the world’s most iconic theme park characters. He is loved by Disney fans all over the world, and how could he not be?

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With his top hat, beard and loveable sidekick Figment, Dreamfinder had a mission to encourage children of all ages to use their imagination. He brought wonder and excitement to Disney guests of all ages. As a child of the 1980’s I was one of those (probably millions!) of kids whose favorite part of the original Journey Into Imagination attraction – was seeing and hearing Dreamfinder. To meet him outside of the attraction – was not an encounter that one could ever forget.

Fast forward to January 2015, when my friend Shelby suggested that we have an event with Ron Schneider. We thought it would be really fun to celebrate Ron, and the gift of joy he has given to so many. I contacted the original Dreamfider, and although he is VERY busy, he was incredibly gracious and agreeable to taking time out of his day to meet with us. January 8th 2015  – a handful of us sat down for an excellent meal at the Garden Grill – and had an absolute blast being in the presence of this man.

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Ron was so cool, he even let me put on his hat! OK…well maybe I just put it on when he wasn’t looking. Still…he could have very well told me not to…but he didn’t.   🙂

Ron's Hat

As we finished up our meal, we had drawings for some fun gifts, sponsored by Travel Planner Mary Morales. Thanks Mary!

By this time, I had grown quite attached to the hat, and decided it made me feel in charge as I handed out raffle tickets!

I knew this would be a great time, and I knew it would be special because of Ron, and just being at Epcot with so many good friends – new and old. But during dinner, one of my (other) very favorite parts of the night began to happen. I met and spoke with Leo for the first time ever. My new friend Leo, over at the end of the table, with tears in his eyes, began telling me how much this event meant to him. Leo has loved the Dreamfinder character almost all of his life. He showed me his photo with Ron from long ago. LOOK at little Leo!! I can’t even take the cuteness in this photo.

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My heart was so full as I was able to take Leo’s photo with Ron, and recapture the magic of that day so long ago!

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After dinner, we all followed Ron to his attraction in the Imagination pavilion. Leo and Ron sat together in the front seat!

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Of course a few shenanigans may have ensued along the way. As we exited the ride and visited with Ron, there seemed to be a some sort of signal spreading like wildfire among the cast members that there was a celebrity in the building! Everyone from sales associates, to leads, and everyone in between, started approaching him for photos. There may even have been an Imagineer or two!

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Our group spent some more time together at Epcot until finally, we all had to say goodbye. I don’t think any of us will soon forget this magical night! Our thanks to Ron, our server Barry, and all the people who had a part in making it so very special! It was truly something that Disney dreams are made of.

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.

Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World Celebrates First Holiday Season by Joshua Snyder

Published November 26, 2014 by jpmdo

four seasons hotel

If you’re one of the thousands of people that want to escape the wintry doldrums to someplace nice and warm, the Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World has holiday excitement to spare as it celebrates its first Christmas season.

As you enter the lobby of the resort, you’re greeted by a beautifully decorated 12 foot Christmas tree, along with festive wreaths and columns wrapped in garland, seasonal floral arrangements, and a few surprises. You’ll also get a chance to view Executive Pastry Chef Rabii Saber’s gingerbread masterpiece while sipping on complimentary cider and hot chocolate from 2:00pm to 5:00pm daily.

If you’re looking to indulge your sweet tooth, you’re covered too. Throughout the resort there are chances to try sweet delicacies, such as peppermint bark, gingerbread cookies, ice cream (served each afternoon in The Hideout) and an awesome chance to decorate your own holiday cookies with Chef Saber on select dates. Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi has even created some gelato masterpieces for the season such as chocolate peppermint, gingerbread, and cranberry (yum).

The resort also offers a complimentary kids camp each day for kids 4-12 years old. Open from 10:00am to 6:00pm, the Kids For All Seasons has all sorts of offerings for children, ranging from lazy river races to face painting and candy cane scavenger hunts. Each week the KFAS camp will also offer classic holiday movies along with a chance to write a personalized letter to Santa.

four seasons hotel kids club

And of course you can’t forget the adults. The resort offers Mixology Classes each week, taking place in the Ravello demonstration kitchen from 3:00pm to 4:00pm. These classes are led by a highly qualified team of master mixologists and range from rum based cocktails to cocktails from exotic locales. These classes are sure to be a hit and may fill up quickly. And for those looking to catch a quick NFL football game, they can visit Ravello Bar, which will be transformed into Cigar City Brewery’s Fan Club. And don’t forget to check out the spa and golf course for special holiday offerings as well.

Of course, who can pass up an excellent dining adventure during the holidays? Not this writer. In addition to the character breakfasts offered daily from the resort, they will offer special holiday dinners at several of the resorts restaurants. In PB&G, you can find a Craft Beer & Holiday Cheer event, held on December 19th from 6:00pm to 8:00pm. At a cost of $49.00 per person, this event includes small hors doeuvres and unlimited (yes, unlimited) beer tasting on more than 20 season beers across the country with a souvenir 5-ounce glass to take home with you. The resort’s Cuban American restaurant, Plancha, will be offering an amazing family style dinner Cuban-style. Chef Pedro Sanchez Negron will be presenting a few of his family’s favorite holiday recipes, offering a new and exciting take on the traditional Christmas dinner. Dinner at Plancha will be served December 22nd from 7:00pm to 10:00pm and will cost $55 per adult and $22 per child. On December 29th, Plancha will transform and offer a unique Turkish take on Christmas dinner. At a cost of $75 per adult and $26 per child and will feature fresh vegetables, herbs, and fish with a Turkish flair. On Christmas Eve, Ravello will offer a five-course prix-fixe dinner menu for $95.00 per person. Also, Capa will serve a prix-fixe dinner menu for the same price on Christmas Eve. On Christmas Day, look for a brunch buffet served at Ravello at a cost of $95.00 per adult and $35.00 per child. Capa will once again offer a prix-fixe dinner menu at a cost of $95.00 per person. On New Year’s Even the resort comes to life with several different dining options. At Ravello, enjoy an amazing holiday buffet for $115.00 per adult and $45.00 per child. At Capa, they will offer two seating options for dinner: between 5:00pm and 7:00pm they will offer a three-course prix-fixe seating at a cost of $145.00 per adult and $65.00 per child. They will also offer a second, five-course prix-fixe seating between 8:00pm and 11:00pm at a cost of $295.00 per adult and $95.00 per child. Both seatings at Capa will offer access to the amazing New Year’s Eve “After Party”, held in the grand Ballroom. Featuring a DJ, dance floor, balloon drop, cash bar, appetizers, deserts, and more, this event is not to be missed. Resort guests also have the option of attending the “after party” with dining reservations for a rate of $65.00 per adult and $35.00 per child. Kids For All Seasons will be open New Year’s Eve for Resort guests only at a cost of $95.00 per child.

four seasons hotel ravello restaurant

Space for most of these options is limited, so make sure to make your reservations early by calling the resort at 407-313-6161.

What holiday options will you and your family enjoy most at Four Seasons Resort at Walt Disney World? I’d love to hear your stories and see your pictures. You can send them to joshua@mousehunterstravel.com with the subject line “Four Seasons Holidays”.

Joshua Snyder is a Disney fanatic and Travel Agent, working with MouseHunters Travel. He is an annual passholder for Walt Disney World, Sea World, Aquatica, and Universal Studios. In his spare time, he enjoys reading everything he can about the parks and visiting as frequently as possible. He currently resides in the Orlando, FL area. He can be reached at joshua@mousehunterstravel.com.

Elsa Inspired Jamberry Nail Wraps by Guest Author Tanya Shores

Published November 20, 2014 by jpmdo

I’m back with more information on Jamberry and some new Disney-inspired designs! If you are planning a Disney vacation anytime in the future, it would be awesome to take a long what us Jamberry consultants call a “Jamicure”! Since Jamberry nail wraps last up to 2 weeks on fingers and 4 weeks on toes, you won’t have to spend a minute thinking about your nails and worrying about chips during your vacation. Jamberry nail wraps are completely water-safe, so you can definitely spend all day in the pool at your hotel or go on any water rides at the parks without worrying about ruining your beautiful nails. Also, no last minute trips to the salon while you’re busy prepping for your trip – you can EASILY give yourself the perfect Jamicure!

Jamberry is much more cost efficient than a mani/pedi at the salon (a single sheet gives you 2 pedicures, 2 manicures, and 8-16+ accent nails!), which means more money for your Disney trip!

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In my last post (https://disneyways.com/2014/09/06/meet-tanya-your-official-jamberry-consultant-for-disneyways/), I shared some fun Disney-inspired character designs that I created in our custom Jamberry nail art studio. I’ve now created a few Princess-inspired designs. It would be so much fun to have Elsa-inspired nails when you meet Elsa in the new Frozen attractions at Epcot! I have also created designs inspired by Cinderella and Aurora (my favorite princess!).

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Let me know if you have any other characters or princesses you would like to see a design for. I’ll be posting soon with some beachy-Disney designs to get everyone ready for those Disney cruises! Winter will be over before we know it (unless you spend too much time around Elsa ;-)).

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You can contact me on my Jamberry Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/tshoresjamberry) with any questions or to get info on how to order these special Disney-inspired custom nail wraps. Find out more about Jamberry on my Independent Consultant site (http://tshoresjam.jamberrynails.net).

tanya

Magic in the Details: Digging DINOLAND U.S.A. ~ by Guest Author Adam M. Berger

Published November 17, 2014 by jpmdo

As a professional attraction show writer, I’m always fascinated by the many ways the Disney Imagineers use their mastery of visual storytelling to immerse guests in their themed environments. But you don ‘t have to be a theme park designer to appreciate the countless details that fill every Disney theme park, helping to communicate the storyline and adding so much enjoyment to your experience.

One of my favorite examples of this is also among the most easily overlooked—especially if you are visiting without a young child in tow. I’m talking about The Boneyard playground in the Dinoland U.S.A. section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. You may think The Boneyard is all kid’s stuff…but you’d only be half right, because it’s also an example of Disney themed storytelling at its finest.

 boneyard

The story plays out on several levels, and you can decode it by simply looking around and paying attention to the details. First, you’ll notice that this is very clearly a paleontological dig site, with the fossils of dinosaur bones exposed in the various layers of earth that have been deposited over millions of years. If you take a few moments to study the (fake yet very realistic-looking) rock formations, you can clearly make out the different layers or “strata” in which the fossils have been trapped.

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Superimposed over this is the architecture of the paleontologists’ camp. The scaffolding, netting, and debris chutes double as climbing structures, slides, and other play elements. But check out the graphics, signage, and audio and you’ll discover an intriguing conflict that is at the heart of the Dinoland U.S.A. storyline.

 b

The conflict is a generational one. First we have the professors of the fictional Dino Institute and their outdated understanding of dinosaurs. Then we have the youthful graduate students and their new (and occasionally radical) ideas about the subject based on the latest scientific research. Take a few moments to examine the plaques, signs, and whiteboards posted around the dig site and you’ll see the conflict in full blossom, with the students tacking their own handwritten corrections onto the Institute’s official descriptions. In places, the professors have pushed back with their own tacked-on notes.

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As it happens, the conflict between the professors and the grad students is not just an example of the eternal “generation gap” between young people and their elders. It’s also an example of an uneasy real-world transition that’s been occurring in recent decades—from traditional scientific ideas about dinosaurs to newer theories that have revolutionized our understanding of these prehistoric beasts.

You can also see the grad students’ rebellious streak demonstrated in other ways. Although you won’t find any of the grad students at work on the dig site, you’ll hear two of them yucking it up between tracks as the wisecracking deejays of the Institute’s pop rock radio station. And be sure to seek out a certain wall of excavation tools, which reveals at least one student’s non-conformist impulses.

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 So have you visited DAK’s Boneyard playground? Were you surprised to discover the depth and detail of the storytelling in what is nominally a “kids zone”? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.

 

Adam M. Berger is president and senior show writer at Berger Creative Associates, Inc., an Orlando, Florida-based creative writing and consulting firm serving themed attraction and design clients around the world. He is also 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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Epcot’s Test Track – The New Version

Published November 4, 2014 by jpmdo

Test Track is a giant slot car attraction at Epcot’s Future World in Walt Disney World. The ride uses some of the rough tests that General Motors uses for its concept cars, ending in a high-speed drive around the outside of the attraction. It closed for refurbishment in April 2012 when sponsorship changed from GM to Chevrolet and re-opened on December 6, 2012.

In the queue, instead of crash test dummies and cars being tested, the way it was before the refurbishment, it shows two Chevrolet concept cars. Guests then have the choice of designing their own car that will be tested on the sim-track. While guests wait to board the sim-cars, they’re told to scan their design key to upload their car design to the ride.

Test Track Re-imagined

After riders board the sim-cars and go through the seat belt check, the car that they designed will go through four different tests: capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power. In the capability test, the car first rushes past a rain/snow projection and skids out of control. Next, the continuing path disappears and the sim-car turns around to speed up again. The sim-car then makes a sharp left turn as a lightning bolt strikes, and then passes by a futuristic city. The sim-car then starts the efficiency test. It’s scanned for “optimum eco-efficiency” and has an aero-dynamic test. During the responsiveness test, the sim-car accelerates around hairpin turns with laser-projected trees. The power test is where the sim-car runs on a track outside of the ride, increasing its speed. After the test is complete, the car returns to the loading station where the riders leave.

I still like to ride Test Track, but it’s not the same as the original version of the ride. In the old version, it felt more like it was actually testing the car. The ride used to have real people explaining each test, real temperature rooms, and different kinds of roads that the car would drive on. In this new version, everything seems too digital and virtual. Even the voices explaining the tests sound like they’re computerized.

About the Author: 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.12

Big Hero 6 ~ About Advanced Screenings and Free Printables!! By Guest Author Terri Miller

Published November 2, 2014 by wdwhints

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Advanced Screenings

I attended a special screening of Big Hero 6 on Saturday, November 1st. Advanced screenings (aka – special screenings, pre-screenings, etc.) actually aren’t all that special. Yes, they are free to the viewers and yes, they occur anywhere from 2 days to 3 months in advance of their release date… but other than that – there’s nothing special about them. Depending on the film, there may not even be previews. They just lower the lights and BAM! – the movie starts. Pretty anti-climactic.

How does one get invited to an Advanced Movie screening? Generally those in the press, media, and blogging world receive the invitation first, usually from a Public Relations company in their area. Personally, a PR representative will contact me about 10 days in advance offering complimentary tickets. For the general public, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled for theaters that offer special screenings, businesses that offer free ticket perks, or sign up for free advanced screenings from film membership websites. I’ve noticed that the PR company in my area will release any extra pre-screen tickets 24 hours in advance to the public.

Big Hero 6 Movie Thoughts

When agreeing to view a movie in advance, you’re agreeing to the embargo rules of that film. For Big Hero 6, the embargo date is the same as the movie release date – November 7th (2014). Which means, my hands are tied for movie reviews and spoilers… What I can say is that it’s truly a heartwarming story, very humorous, and everyone will fall in love with Baymax… (move over Olaf!)

Free Printables

What can we give you? PRINTABLES!! And they’re fun for the whole family – activities, recipes, decorations and science experiments! Click on each link below and print up some Big Hero 6 fun!!

Big Hero 6 Pumpkin Instructions

Big Hero 6 Find the Hidden Microbots

Big Hero 6 Postcard

Big Hero 6 Origami

Big Hero 6 Recipes

Big Hero 6 Science Experiment

Big Hero 6 Maze

Remember… Big Hero 6 opens in theaters on Friday, November 7th! You’ll definitely want to meet Baymax!!

Terri Miller is the founder of WDW Hints – where she and her team love to research the lesser known things about Walt Disney World and then share those finding with their readers! Feel free to visit the WDW Hints Facebook page and say Hello!

Magic in the Details: Raven About the Haunted Mansion By Guest Author Adam Berger

Published October 29, 2014 by jpmdo

MAGIC IN THE DETAILS: RAVEN ABOUT THE HAUNTED MANSION By Guest Author Adam Berger

The Haunted Mansion has always been one of Disney’s most popular attractions. Yet no matter how often you may ride, you’ll probably notice details you missed during your previous visits. That’s because the Disney Imagineers intentionally filled the attraction with far more details than anyone could possibly discern, even after numerous excursions. They knew that this approach would entice guests to experience the Haunted Mansion again and again, appreciating previously unnoticed content each time. And now, with Halloween fast approaching, I’d like to share one of my favorite overlooked elements with you: the Mansion’s sinister raven.

Adam Berger HM

Because of the faint lighting levels inside the Mansion, the raven can be difficult to make out. But if you know where to look, you’ll spot the bird not just once, but FOUR separate times during the ride. Its first appearance occurs in the conservatory, perched atop a wreath next to the casket. The large black bird, with its glowing red eyes, is a suitably ominous presence. The Imagineers even recorded the raven squawking, “Nevermore!” in an audio tribute to Edgar Allan Poe’s famous poem, “The Raven.” The bird’s voice, provided by actress Eleanor Audley, (the voice of Cinderella’s stepmother and Maleficent), was never used in the ride. Yet Ms. Audley is still heard inside the mansion…as the voice of Madame Leota.

Adam Berger Raven Disney Copy

Copyright – Disney

Speaking of Madame Leota…the raven’s second appearance is in the séance scene, perched on the back of a chair behind Madame Leota’s table. You’ll see the bird a third time in the gnarled branches of a spooky old tree as your Doom Buggy begins its backwards descent into the cemetery scene. You’ll then encounter the raven one last time, perched atop the stone archway as you enter the crypt scene.

At the Magic Kingdom version of the attraction, you’ll also find a fifth raven: a stylized brass figure that adorns the stone pipe organ in the interactive area in front of the Mansion entrance. The front of the organ is inscribed with the name “Ravenscroft”—a not-too-subtle nod to voice actor Thurl Ravenscroft, the deep bass voice of the broken singing headstone in the cemetery scene.

Adam Berger Organ Disney Copy

Copyright – Disney

Obviously the inclusion of the raven in so many locations can’t be a coincidence. Which leaves you with this chilling challenge: to figure out why the Imagineers decided to give it such a prominent role.

One explanation refers back to the Poe connection—the idea that the Imagineers found inspiration in Edgar Allan Poe’s famously unsettling poem. A second possibility suggests that the designers may have been influenced by Maleficent’s raven sidekick in Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, the production of which coincided with the early conceptual stages of the Haunted Mansion. Of course, ravens have always had a strong association with the spirit world, predating Poe’s 1845 poem. For example, they are prominent figures in both Norse mythology and in the creation myths of some of the indigenous peoples of America’s Pacific Northwest.

So do you have a favorite Haunted Mansion detail that you only noticed after repeated rides? Feel free to share. But remember one thing: Beware of hitchhiking ghosts!

 

Adam M. Berger is president and senior show writer at Berger Creative Associates, Inc., an Orlando, Florida-based creative writing and consulting firm serving themed attraction and design clients around the world. He is also 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.

Adam Berger photo

 

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