The Disney News is Good | Disney World

  • The news is good

    Have you heard the news?

    Or seen it?

    If so, you might think it’s really July 4 or the US Independence Day is still being celebrated.

    No wonder.

    Especially when you see or hear the fireworks at Walt Disney World Resort on the 4th of the July.

    Once is not enough, in this case.

    They’re in three theme parks.

    Each and every night.

    Actually, it’s hard to miss them -- whether you’re in the park or even nearby.

    Does anybody not like fireworks?

    So it’s news that is a bonus not only for Disney-goers but also for anyone who lives or is visiting local attractions near the park.

    Which reminds us of something to consider:

    Not all news is bad.

    Some of it is good.

    It’s time (overdue, perhaps) to take a closer look at the good news at Disney these days.

    And what it means as well.

    Or we should say: what it means to you, the visitor.

    But first, let’s explode some myths about the fireworks.

    Fireworks a symbol of happy times

    First myth: Does Disney do this to please its guests?

    Well, sure, they like it.

    But more importantly: The bottom line, as they say.

    Disney officials quoted in newspaper stories are frank about the practice: it helps keep visitors in the park where they presumably will buy more turkey legs, Mickey Mouse ears and any other generally overpriced souvenir possible.

    Nothing wrong with that.

    The productions serve both as a cherry-on-top moment for park guests and a benefit for park coffers, an industry observer says.

    Last month, "Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular" fireworks show, based on "Star Wars" themes, debuted at Disney's Hollywood Studios.

    "IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth" runs at Epcot and guests see "Wishes" at Magic Kingdom nightly.

    Guest reaction: explosive

    The reaction was highly positive -- especially because of the anticipation of the new under construction Star Wars Land.

    "If you know the story of 'Star Wars' up to this point, the fireworks actually tell it through use of color and music and quotes," said one regular attendee.

    Celebrate the Fourth from The Contemporary Resort

    Another person quoted on the fireworks issue, Mike Tockstein, is what is known as a pyrotechnics expert.

    “Disney's fireworks show is not just fireworks," he said. "It's just an entire production that makes them unique in regards to fireworks displays."

    The three-shows-a-night set-up might indicate Disney World is getting bang for its buck, according to a news story.

    "For most people coming down to Central Florida, the fireworks traditionally have only been at one time a year at Fourth of July and now they have the opportunity to see them two or three nights on vacation," said a Disney official

    Is this making some visitors stay longer, as Disney hopes?

    No exact figures are available. But who cares?

    What it means:

    It’s good for you, no matter what the motivation, because, as we said, no one dislikes fireworks. Everyone likes it.

    And everyone also likes the music accompanying it. Who does not like composer John Williams?

    But even more related good news:

    Disney has asked FAA permission to fly drones as part of their nighttime programs.

    What it means:

    We can only hope that in addition to your love of fireworks, you also like drones.

    We don’t want Star Wars to dominate news but the movie and the upcoming land has also led to another delicious development: “Star Wars: The Sweet Tooth Strikes Back.”

    A dessert party, naturally.

    It’s tied to the fireworks.

    But the guests of honor are not Luke or Darth but more down-to-earth (sort of) Minnie Mouse.

    “An epic feast,” Disney describes it. “Just in time for the Academy Awards Season.”

    Held at the new Minnie’s Silver Screen Dine at Hollywood & Vine at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

    There’s a familiar red carpet for diners. Close-up photos of stars (diners).

    The event runs from now until March 20.

    What it means:

    One more food option, and a sweet one at that.

    It’s been said that Walt Disney must have liked to eat. Why?

    Because there are so many dining options these days at Disney.

    In other foodie news, an old favorite, California Grill atop Disney’s Contemporary Resort “soars to new height,” Disney says.


    Guests for the first time can enjoy the daytime skyline of not only the Magic Kingdom, but also Epcot and even Disney resorts.

    They can do this while dining brunch-style at the California Grill (which is best known for serving fresh cuisine).

    Brunch at the Top offers sushi and homemade breakfast pastries, including caramel apple Monkey bread and Tillamook Cheddar biscuits and Lake Meadow Natural Eggs.

    Following that, diners can visit the show kitchen.

    What it means:

    Don’t let cost deter you though it’s $80 for adults (Includes a cocktail and fake “mimosas” for the kids).

    Then, there’s the Thirsty River Bar and Trek Snacks at Animal Kingdom.

    It’s described as an eating adventure with “exotic drinks and food.”

    What exactly is that?

    Pastries in the morning and sushi and sandwiches later on.

    Breakfast pastries include assorted muffins and Danish, croissants and a chocolate twist.

    Healthful snacks offered include fresh fruit, crudité and hummus, edamame and an Asian noodle salad.

    To drink, indulge in Khumbu Icefall, or a Himalayan Ghost. Or try a Flying Yak or Pink Lotus.

    What in the world is in those drinks?

    We haven’t tried them and don’t know. A description was not given.

    But we know the last two, the Yak and Lotus, are non-alcoholic, at least.

    What it means:

    Let us know when you find out what is in the Yak and Lotus, but they sound fine to us.

    A new theme-park restaurant has the unlikely long name of Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen. Whew (hope the service is faster than the name).

    Call it the Skipper Canteen.

    It’s themed to Magic Kingdom's Jungle Cruise attraction, and is directly across from the Swiss Family Treehouse.

    There, you can eat in the meeting room of the Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Dishes are said to have more spice than normally found at theme park food.

    What it means:

    You might prefer to be seated in the parlor full of animal imagery rather than the huge mess hall where you might get lost before the waiter finds you (only kidding but it’s all part of the adventure). No plastic or paper, either, but real plates and silverware.

    Another restaurant opening is of note for a major reason: it will not accept reservations.

    Not. Not.

    Tables in Wonderland will be strictly walk-up dining.

    Disney says it’s a test.

    What it means:

    We hope it passes the test. It may mean others will follow. Required reservations are ok, but it also helps to have more options. Get there at 10:30 when it opens to be sure to get a table.

    It took a while for Disney to even get around to serving beer. Wine has certainly been acceptable at an even faster pace. So it is no shock that an OrlandoMaster sommelier George Miliotes is planning to open “Wine Bar George” at Disney Springs behind Raglan Road and across from Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar. 

    No definite plans have been announced but it’s no idle rumor but a fact that it is coming sometime.

    What it means:

    This should be a welcome addition. More, varied eating choices.

    Miliotes is no stranger to Disney. Miliotes opened the “California Grill” at the Contemporary Resort with chef if Clifford Pleau in 1995 and worked for Disney until they left in 2002 to help create “Seasons 52″ for Orlando chain Darden.  He then created the wine list for Darden’s “The Capital Grille” in 2007.

    In more news:

    The Disney Vacation Club this year is celebrating its 25th birthday. Several ways have been announced for how members will be able to celebrate:

    ---Members will have special after-hours events throughout the year at Animal Kingdom, Typhoon Lagoon and Magic Kingdom. A “Merry Member Mixer” will be held at Epcot later this year.

    ---A new lounge will open in Epcot’s Imagination Pavilion. Comfortable seating is promised. It will offer free computers. Also, complimentary beverages and charging stations for portable devices.

    ---Other celebrations planned for the 25th anniversary include special merchandise, complimentary member buttons, a new membership card, and special photo kiosks offering an opportunity to take a photo and print it while waiting

    What it means:

    More incentives to join.

    Will they or won’t they?

    That question comes up with news accounts saying Disney is testing paid parking for non-resort guests at resort parking lots.

    These would create a system where guests without advanced dining reservations or non-guests at resorts would pay to park there.

    Disney’s Contemporary Resort was the first resort that began testing this concept. Disney’s Boardwalk Inn Resort is said to be next.

    What it means:

    Critics say it would discourage visitors to quick service bars and restaurants (where diners would have to pay for parking to buy, say, an ice cream cone or a beer), and discourage shoppers who don’t want the added hassle. Well, it’s hard to say something good if this approach is taken, but at least, as far as we know, it is only a concept.

    This news is only in the rumor category but it seems to have some credibility: Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) is working with Walt Disney Imagineering on a boat ride.

    What makes it believable is that ILM is the visual effects group created by Star Wars’ creator George Lucas.

    Past news reports were that Disney is also working on a boat ride for an Avatar themed land in Disney’s Animal Kingdom,

    Sounds ho, hum. The latest boat rumor, that is.

    Just another boat trip (row, row, row your boat, gently down the stream, etc.)?

    But wait a minute.

    Not really.

    What it means:

    This ride would be part of the planned Star Wars land. It is described as “unprecedented.”

    The reason is that it would be controlled down to the smallest millimeter to align frame by frame to a giant projector able not only to provide 3D images but to determine where viewer’s eyes are to create an even closer 3D image.

    For Epcot lovers, this year’s International Flower & Garden Festival will extend to 90 days or three months (a length similar to children’s summer vacations from school). It was previously only 75 days.

    That’s not all that’s new.

    “Fresh farm market flavors at the festival’s Outdoor Kitchens, new Disney character topiaries, interactive play gardens and live rockin’ music will shower spring surprises on park guests,” Disney says.


    ---Dozens of Disney-crafted “flower towers” and beds of multi-colored blooms will add to the floral splendor of the park’s landscape.  At least 70,000 bedding plants will surround the Future World east and west lakes alone; on the water, 220 mini-gardens will be set afloat.

    ---Planned highlights include a Floral Sun Garden behind Spaceship Earth and spring-inspired goods.

    ---The Ranger Mickey topiary garden in Future World will offer a guest selfie and family photo opportunity featuring a Spaceship Earth backdrop.

    ---An innovative new “Fab Five” play garden featuring Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy, Pluto and Donald Duck topiaries will debut with musical instruments built into children’s outdoor climbing systems.

    ---The Garden Rocks concert series will present pop bands with music spanning four decades.

    ---More than 10 mini-gardens will surprise guests around every corner. A new edible flower garden near Morocco pavilion will showcase petals with flavor.

    What it means (whew…if you like this festival, there’s a lot to like) :

    Guests will have more time to see the gardens and try the various foods. Guests will also have more time to dance in their seats at Garden Rocks concerts. There’s also more time to take photos with your favorite plants, topiaries or characters. Should be enough activity for at least three months.

    Also what seems to be in the bad news category: The park is adding new security. Yes, hard to look at this as entirely positive.

    A sign of the times, for sure.

    But it does include officers on horseback at Disney Springs. That is a sort of user-friendly touch.

    Horses were used in the past at Disney but the park stopped using them years ago. The reason: sanitary.

    In other words, horse poop.

    Disney must have worked with the police to create special bags for preventing that type of discharge.

    Other security measures have included metal detectors in front of the parks.

    What it means:

    Random checks of visitors screened for weapons. Part of an effort to make the park even safer, so it’s worth adding the extra security so guests can feel safer.

    Here’s news that you may quickly say “so what?”

    Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, announced in mid-January that Bob Weis will become president of Walt Disney Imagineering.

    Weis is currently a vice president at Imagineering and has been overseeing the work at the Shanghai Disney Resort that opens later this year.

    Weis is another familiar name in creativity here. He has worked on Star Wars, Toy Story and Avatar themed lands.

    He also oversaw the redesign of Disney California Adventure and Disney/MGM Studios.

    What it means:

    Creativity is at the heart of Disney. And it should be in good hands in the future with Chapek in charge.

    Happy news, indeed. ###