Disney Fans: You Can’t Have It Both Ways

You can’t complain that nothing new is being added to the parks and then complain when new things are announced. Continue reading

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A Final Farewell To The Osborne Lights

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights will have its final dance tonight at Disney’s Hollywood Studios before its lights go dark to conclude its 20th, and last, season.

A spectacle that has become a family tradition for many guests is going away as construction on Star Wars Land is expected to start some time this year in the very area where the lights have danced every holiday season for the past 20 years.

Even though I only had the pleasure of visiting the lights the past two years, I am still deeply saddened to see them go. They truly are a special sight and you can’t help but feel happiness as you stand in the middle of their twinkling beauty. 

While Disney has said that this is the final year for the lights…there has also been some signs that they might not be gone forever!

First, Disney extended the date of the lights from the 3rd of January until tonight, the 6th.

Second, when asked on Twitter if this was, in fact, the final season, they replied that this season was currently planned to be the final season. And, as the crazy theme park fan and lover of Disney that I am, I certainly read that as there being a slight chance that they could, in fact, bring the spectacle back in the near future. 

Whether they choose to bring the lights back or not, guests have been blessed with 20 years and I think we can all agree it’s been quite a run. But, even if they put some new holiday festivity in its place while construction is underway, it just won’t be the same.

Here are some pictures from my final trips (yes, I made two trips from Naples to see the lights because necessary) that I hope bring a smile to your face as we all say goodbye to the Osborne Lights.

  
  
  
  

   
    
 

Find Your #DisneySide at #StarWarsWeekends

The month of May brings us a variety of things. Flowers (courtesy of April showers), the end of school (for those of us in college), graduation (congratulations class of 2015!) and beautiful weather (for the most part).

But…what May brings us at the Walt Disney World resort is an immersive experience that you cannot get anywhere else.

Star. Wars. Weekends.

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Whether you are a super fan or someone who is just getting into the famous saga, Disney does not disappoint, and this year is bound to break past records for attendance and sales.

Sunday concluded weekend 3 out of 5, with two more weekends of Star Wars fun to be had by all. And if you haven’t been yet…well…I’m going to tell you why going at least once will be worth your while.

1) Characters

Everyone loves characters; Little kids, big kids and even bigger kids (aka adults) love to get a picture and get some one on one time with their favorite characters, and Star Wars Weekends is chock full of them. You have Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald and Chip and Dale dressed as some of your favorite SW characters (which goes over really well with little kids who may not be as into the movies as their parents!) and then, of course, you have your classic SW characters. There are character meet and greets set up throughout the park where you can meet them, and some of them walk around the Coke bottle area near the former Studio Backlot Tour (still bitter about this) entrance. There are also two character dining experiences you can choose from: Star Wars Dine-In Galactic Breakfast at the Sci-Fi Dine In Theater where you will meet classic Star Wars characters, and Jedi Mickey’s Star Wars Dine at Hollywood & Vine where you will meet Mickey and his pals.

If neither of those appeal to you, wait in the hot sun to meet your favorites, you must.

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2) Merchandise

What would a special event be without LIMITED EDITION MERCHANDISE?! To answer that question, the event would be lame. Super lame. But thankfully, Disney goes above and beyond in the merchandise department for SWW, and this year may be the best yet. Darth’s Mall has been a staple at SWW for many years and is normally housed in the sound stage building directly next to Toy Story Midway Mania. However, with the Backlot Tour space being vacant (and again, still bitter) and the former home of Darth’s Mall being occupied, Disney decided to put Darth’s Mall in the backlot area, and it’s bigger and better than ever. Darth’s Mall is made up of two locations: Watto’s Grotto and X-Wing Collectibles. Prop Shop (directly next to the Mike and Sulley meet and greet area) is also considered part of the shop complex, but you’ll find more of your normal Star Wars merchandise in this store. Watto’s Grotto (which I got to work in!) houses your soft line merchandise (clothing, including Her Universe merchandise by Ashley Eckstein), toys, build your own droid and build your own light saber stations, a create your own name tag area, pins, magicbands and autographed photographs.  X-Wing Collectibles, as the name suggests, houses all of your limited edition merchandise and more pricey merchandise, such as artwork, figurines, and Dooney and Bourke. In addition, there is a new stein and popcorn bucket available this year–Boba Fett in stein form and Han Solo in Carbonite in popcorn bucket form.  There is a little something for everyone, no matter what your level of love is for Star Wars.

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3) Rebel Hangar: A Star Wars Lounge Experience

Starting at 4pm, a rather large portion of The Backlot Express is transformed into the Rebel Hangar, which is new to SWW this year. Indulge in delectable small plates, drinks (alcoholic and non-alcholic) and desserts while in a nicely themed atmosphere. You may even receive a visit from some characters, so keep your eyes peeled! The addition of this dining experience begs the question: Will Disney add a permanent Star Wars dining experience if they add a Star Wars area to the park? It would certainly be popular whether it was quick or table service, and I’m sure it’s something they’ve already thought about. Nevertheless, if you are able to snag a reservation (because I don’t think they take walk ins), the Rebel Hangar is a unique experience and one worth having. Oh, and don’t forget to try the blue milk 😉

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4) A Parade in DHS

One reason why I love SWW is because Disney’s Hollywood Studios gets a parade! Well, they call it a motorcade, but still, anything is better than nothing! Starting at 11pm, the celebrity guests make their way down Hollywood Boulevard with the help of Mickey and his friends and classic Star Wars characters. They all gather onstage for a few photo opportunities as James Arnold Taylor goes through a run down of all of the events taking place throughout the day. If you didn’t wait since the night before to get a ticket to meet your favorite celebrity, this is the best chance you have to get a good picture of them.

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5) FIREWORKS

Fantasmic! is great and all, but I have always been and will always be a fireworks display loving girl; that’s why Wishes is my favorite nighttime show at Disney. However, yet again, DHS has me in love with their Star Wars themed fireworks. Symphony In The Stars is six minutes of pure bliss, and my only complaint is that I wish it were longer! The music and fireworks fit perfectly together and keep the guests engaged from start to finish, making it one of the best fireworks displays Disney World has to offer. Be sure to get a good spot well in advance though–at least an hour/an hour and a half before it starts. My suggestion is in the middle of Hollywood Boulevard right past where the ice cream cart is. You can see the screen/stage pretty well and you’re in the perfect spot for pictures/video.

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Whether you’re part of the rebellion or the dark side, Star Wars Weekends has a little something for everyone.

Besides, you get to play around with a light saber and battle people. What more could you possibly ask for?

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You’re Gonna See It’s Our Destiny

Today would have marked one month until the end of my college program here at Disney.

Instead, today marks one month until a majority of my best friends leave and embark on new journeys, and I am beyond upset about it.

I was always told that the best years of my life would be spent during the four years of my college career, but my college career has been filled with tons of turbulence and detours. It’s hard to have the best years of your life when you move away from all of your friends and have to start over in a new school…twice.

I’ve always tried to make the best of it, but at some point I decided that the best years of my life would be after college.

That is, until I started the Disney College Program.

This has been, by far, one of the best years of my life. The friends I have made here are the friends I will have for life–I am SURE of it. I will be flying to Illinois, South Dakota, Michigan and Texas in the coming years, and I will be driving down to Coral Springs, Fla. and driving up to Bradenton, Fla. to visit six of the most amazing ladies I have ever had the pleasure of knowing.

My program would not be what it is without them. Through all of the tears, the breakdowns, the upsets, the laughter, the goofiness, the sheer happiness…they have been there. They’ve listened to my ridiculous rants, laughed at all of my attempted jokes, held me when words could not be found, and given me a reason to be excited to go to work every single day.

My heart is literally breaking as I write this, because I know that time is running out. I know that one month from today, four of them will leave, and I will be devastated. I know that I will hold onto them for dear life before letting them go and having to continue my program without them. But I also know this:

If nothing else, doing this internship was the best decision I ever made because I met them. The perks are great, the pay is alright, the connections are awesome, and the work location isn’t SO terrible. But the six girls that have become my family…they top the list of why this program was the best thing to ever happen to me.

So, with this last month upon us, I’m excited to make every moment count. I’m prepared to lose sleep. I’m prepared to be on the go A LOT. I’m prepared for long drives. I’m prepared for so many pictures. I’m prepared for laughs, smiles, and tears. I’m prepared to make memories that will last a lifetime with the girls who have stolen my heart.

If you need a reason to apply to the DCP, this is it…right here. Apply because the friendships you make here are long lasting; they are bonds that cannot be broken.

Katie, Abby, Denning, Erin, Katherine and Mary…this one’s for you. Now let’s have some magical moments and make these last 30 days count ❤ #WODSquad

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Having Adventures in the Great Wide, Somewhere…

Two posts in two days?! I am spoiling you guys 😉

But I did promise to share some of my fun adventures that I’ve had so far on my program, and I always keep my promises.

So, without further ado, it’s time for DCP Adventures with The Theme Park Princess ❤

1) My coworkers are some of the most amazing women I have ever met, and I LOVE spending time with them. About a month ago, six of us (plus a few other people) went to breakfast at Trails End, located at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Lodge and Campground. Trails End is a country themed restaurant that offers an all you can eat breakfast buffet (so delicious and SO worth it!). This breakfast was the first time we all really got to know each other, and we bonded over good food, funny stories and our ever present awkwardness. To say we’ve been inseparable ever since would be an understatement; not only do I see them all the time at work, but we also have a ton of ‘WOD Squad’ dates and sleepovers. I can’t get enough of these girls! That was the day I realized I had made friends for life, and I will be so sad to see the majority of them leave in May 😦

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2) You would think that because I am beyond obsessed with Disney, an annual pass holder AND a cast member that I would have gone to every Disney park in Orlando. Oddly enough…you would be wrong! Up until a few weeks ago, I had NEVER been to a Disney water park! Luckily, my roommate and I changed that and we went to Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon! I’ve only ever been to one other water park, and it’s a very small one right by my house in Naples, Fla., so it really doesn’t compare. But I loved every minute of being at Typhoon! I loved the wave pool (even though I got knocked down every time), I loved all of the water coasters and the lazy river was SO relaxing! The great thing about the water park is that you can get a lot done in a short amount of time and still have the rest of the day to do other things, like visit Downtown Disney 😉 If you’ve never visited a Disney water park, I highly suggest making that part of your next trip! Now I just have to conquer Summit Plummet at Disney’s Blizzard Beach!

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3) Aside from my obvious love for theme parks, I also love baseball! I grew up going to Yankees games and when I moved down here to Florida, I obviously stopped going as frequently. Last week, I went to my first baseball game in about two years, and seeing my team play in the most magical place on earth was a wonderful experience! The next day I went to yet another baseball game, this time it was the Braves against the Marlins, and while I’m not a fan of either team, I just love watching the sport and being with my friends. We also went to Hollywood Studios that night (after a much needed nap), and I got to experience my friend riding all the major attractions for the first time. I love watching someone’s face the first time you drop on Tower of Terror, or when you get launched on Rockin’ Roller Coaster. Baseball and Disney are two of my favorite things, so the fact that I got to combine both over the course of two days was truly magical. (Plus, I got to see my roommate hard at work since she works at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex!)

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These are just a few of my favorite adventures so far, so I promise to have another post in the near future! But none of these amazing experiences would’ve been possible without the wonderful group of people featured in this post, so a huge thank you to Katherine, Katie, Erin, Denning, Abby, Deanna, Tyler, Ryan and Jake for making my program as fun as it has been. You guys are the best.

Here’s to many more memories to be made at the most magical place on earth! ❤

Guests React to DHS Changes

I am a journalism major at Florida Gulf Coast University, and I was given the opportunity to write an article about ANYTHING for one of my classes. Surprise, surprise–I decided to write about Disney.

I’ve seen a lot of articles about the changes coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but they focus on the what is happening and when it’s happening aspect of it, completely failing to speak to guests and get their reactions, which I believe is an important part of the story.

I wrote a story highlighting the changes and what guests are saying about them. Feel free to sound off in the comments and let me know if you agree or disagree!

 

Disney’s Hollywood Studios Gets A Face Lift

By: Monet Massa-Sena

 

If there’s one thing fans of Disney are used to, it’s change.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida is in the process of getting a much-needed park update. Some attractions are closing their doors, some are getting changes, and the sorcerer’s hat—the park’s icon—will be removed in early 2015.

Guests who have been going to the parks for many years welcome the new changes. Priscilla Perez, an annual pass holder and journalism major at Brooklyn College, said that it’s about time for an update to the park.

“Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been a cry for help for many years,” Perez said. “There are empty buildings, attractions that haven’t been updated since opening, uncompleted ‘lands,’ a lack of restaurants and a lack of entertainment.”

Perez isn’t wrong. Disney’s Hollywood Studios has the least amount of attractions of all four Walt Disney World theme parks, 15 to be exact, and hasn’t added a new ride since they opened Toy Story Midway Mania in 2008.

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While new attractions haven’t been announced just yet, Disney has removed several attractions thus far, including the Studio Backlot Tour, which was one of the only attractions in the park when it first opened in 1989, the American Idol Experience and The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow.

The most shocking change that has been announced, and the most controversial in the Disney community, is the removal of the sorcerer’s hat in early 2015. The icon made its debut in 2001, blocking the view of the Chinese Theatre replica that houses The Great Movie Ride.

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Christie Teague, a former Disney College Program cast member and communications major at the University of Northern Iowa, said that she’s not excited about the hat being removed.

“Disney’s Hollywood Studios was my home park for my first college program, so it has a special place in my heart,” Teague said. “I’m sad to see so much change with something I know so well.”

Some Disney fans, however, feel that the hat has overstayed its welcome.

“It was only supposed to be in place for a year or so, probably more, but of course time ran its course,” Perez said. “Essentially, I think Disney has realized that the hat is an icon, but not the right icon for the original envision of the 1989 Studios we were introduced with.”

Another former college program participant and Fairfield University graduate, Jen Fiorillo, said she’s also excited about the removal of the park’s current icon.

“I’m so glad that The Great Movie Ride will be the icon of Hollywood Boulevard again,” Fiorillo said.

The Great Movie Ride, another attraction that has been a staple of the park since its grand opening, will not only be the focal point of the park once more, but will also be getting an update of its very own.

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According to the New York Times, the changes include a remake of the video guests see while they’re in line for the ride and the classic movie montage they see at the end of the ride. These changes will be introduced within the first few months of 2015, and guests are both excited and nervous to see what’s in store.

“Whatever they have up their sleeve with the Great Movie Ride will bring back the classic feel to the park,” Perez said. “The start of refurbishment and partnership with TCM is a perfect start for the new and improved DHS.”

Josh Reyes, a student majoring in the dramatic arts at the University of North Carolina and a Disney Vacation Club member, said he’s looking forward to the changes but is also a bit skeptical.

“I’m excited for the Great Movie update, but that’s one of my favorite rides,” Reyes said. “I’m also a little nervous about the updates coming from TCM.”

Teague said she thinks the update is necessary in order to attract younger fans and keep them engaged while waiting in line.

“I’m excited for the Great Movie Ride refurbishment because I love the concept and I know many people younger than my age have no idea what the movies are that are featured on the attraction,” Teague said.

Even though Disney fans are in the dark on what the concrete plans are for the expansion of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it doesn’t stop them from dreaming about what changes they’d like to see.

“I would love to see Cars Land from Disney California Adventure and additional Pixar attractions and shows be added to the Pixar Place area of the park,” Fiorillo said.

“I’m excited mostly for the ‘Star Wars Land’ concept they’ve announced,” Reyes said. “I think it will be a great addition to the pre-existing elements.”

But for some fans, it isn’t about what they plan to put in place—they’re just excited that change is on its way.

“I hope that The Walt Disney Company takes a distinct look at each corner and crevice of the park,” Perez said. “What was originally envisioned in 1989 has quite honestly gone down the drain in the 21st century, so it’s about time for some change.”

DCP Bucket List

I am now 59 days away from starting the journey of a lifetime in the most magical place on Earth! To say I am excited would be an understatement, and even though I’m nervous…I’m ready to embark on this new path.

As my arrival date rapidly approaches, it has come to my attention that I have not created a Disney College Program bucket list! And, of course, that is unacceptable.

It’s a rather gloomy day here in Southwest Florida, which means it’s a perfect time to brighten my mood by thinking of all the wonderful things I want to accomplish on my program.

If you have any other ideas to add to my list, please feel free to comment below! I’m sure I’ll be adding things to my list up until the day I arrive 🙂

DCP Bucket List (In No Particular Order)

  1. Watch ‘The Kiss Goodnight’ at Magic Kingdom
  2. Dine at Cinderella’s Royal Table
  3. Attend the Hoop-Dee-Doo Revue
  4. Stay at a moderate resort
  5. Take a full day to resort hop
  6. Attend the campfire sing-a-long at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort
  7. Have a Pina Colava
  8. Dine at Chef Mickey’s
  9. Meet every character and get their autograph
  10. Witness a proposal ❤
  11. Celebrate my unbirthday
  12. Visit all four parks in one day
  13. Attend rope drop for every park at least once
  14. Dine at California Grill
  15. Disneybound with friends
  16. Take a tour
  17. Attend the Flower and Garden Festival at Epcot
  18. Pin Trade
  19. Attend at least one Star Wars Weekend
  20. Be one of the last people to leave the park
  21. Try to watch as many nighttime shows in one night as possible (I’ve currently watched two in one night!)
  22. Get an entire car on a ride of just me and my friends
  23. Devour a kitchen sink sundae at Beaches and Cream
  24. Buy a Mickey balloon on Main Street, USA
  25. Go for a carriage ride
  26. Go to DisneyQuest
  27. Go to a Spring Training game at the ESPN Sports Complex
  28. Spend a night out at Downtown Disney or the Boardwalk (House of Blues, Atlantic Dance Hall, Jellyrolls)
  29. Try my hand at archery
  30. Dine at Ohana at nighttime in order to catch Wishes
  31. Watch Wishes from the beach at the Polynesian
  32. Attend the Spirit of Aloha
  33. Explore Tom Sawyer’s Island
  34. Dedicate one day to just watching shows/meeting characters/taking in the sights…NO RIDES
  35. Watch the Hoe Down in Frontierland at Magic Kingdom
  36. Buy something at Company D
  37. Ride the Tower of Terror 13 times in a row
  38. Be kissed in front of Cinderella’s Castle
  39. Have a photo shoot in front of Cinderella’s Castle
  40. Spend a full day in each park at least once–opening to closing.
  41. Get my graduation ears embroidered with my name
  42. Take a roadtrip with friends and go somewhere outside of Orlando
  43. Create a magical moment happen for a guest
  44. Do every attraction/show in every park at least once
  45. Eat/drink around the world with friends and wear matching tanks! These tanks in particular
  46. Design a shirt at Design-A-Tee in DTD
  47. Ride Characters in Flight
  48. Go to a movie night at one of the resorts
  49. Get a bunch of friends together and stay at the Grand Floridian for a night
  50. Go to one of the water parks (or both) at least once

I figured I’d start with at least 50. It seems I already have my work cut out for me!

If you have any more ideas, don’t hesitate to let me know! Totally looking forward to a magical, fun-filled semester!