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5 Disney Things

5 Disney Things You Should Know This Week – May 27, 2016

Each Friday, I provide 5 Disney things all Disney fans should know from this past week, just in case you missed them. This week was a very, very slow Disney news week. Here are the super important Disney news items for this week:

Fall 2017 Disney Cruises Announced

2017 disney cruise

This week Disney Cruise Line announced their Fall 2017 schedule, including cruises from New York, Galveston and San Diego in addition to their Florida based cruises. These cruises are now available to book, and if you want to get the best deal possible on a Disney Cruise, book early.

For more information: Fall 2017 Disney Cruises Announced

Adventures by Disney Discount

adventures by disney

Announced this week was a brand new discount on Summer Adventures by Disney. Act soon, as dates are very limited. We rarely see discounts on Adventures by Disney, so if you are thinking about going on one, this would be a great time. Adventures by Disney is a world class tour service featuring tours all around the world. While no Disney characters will be joining your tour (unless you are on one of the adventures around the parks of course), you will be treated to first class hotels, guides and experiences.

For more information: Special Rates on Select 2016 Adventures by Disney

Frozen – Live at the Hyperion Now Open

frozen live

“Frozen – Live at the Hyperion” officially opens today, bringing to the stage all the heart-warming emotion of Anna and Elsa’s story, along with show-stopping production numbers, elaborate costumes, special effects, surprising scenic transformations and a few unique theatrical twists. Of course, nothing beats the magic of experiencing live theater firsthand, so you will definitely want to catch a performance on your next visit. “Frozen – Live at the Hyperion” is now playing daily in the beautiful Hyperion Theater at Disney California Adventure Park.

Animal Kingdom at Night Opens Today

jungle book

For the First time in Forever, wait, that is Frozen. OK, for basically the first time ever, the Animal Kingdom theme park will be open at night time starting today, May 27. In addition to special night time entertainment, the nightly show on the tree of life and Kilimanjaro Safaris all lit up, there will be a brand new night time show available in the Animal Kingdom for the first time. This Summer, we will be able to see The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic, and eventually the permanent show, Rivers of Light, will open once it is finished. I have been in the Animal Kingdom at night a few times for private parties, and it is spectacular. I can’t wait to see what it is like with all the night time additions that have been made. Night time is the best time in any Disney theme park.

‘Inside Disney Parks’ Newscast #2

Welcome back “Inside Disney Parks” Newscast with a brand new episode, featuring a special look at what’s happening at Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort, Ample Hills Creamery at Disney’s Boardwalk, the reimagined Autopia at Disneyland Park and more! Check it out!

Did I miss any Disney news this week that should have been included?

memory maker

Memory Maker Pros and Cons

At Walt Disney World, Disneyland and Aulani, you can purchase a product called Memory Maker. Let me let Disney describe it for you:

Memory Maker is an incredible new way to enjoy unlimited digital Disney PhotoPass photos captured at hundreds of locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort—including select attraction and dining locations. The photos are conveniently connected to your online Disney account with a touch of your MagicBand or card.

You can conveniently view, download and share your Disney PhotoPass memories on and on the My Disney Experience Mobile App.

There’s no need to purchase each photo individually. You can simply enjoy your vacation knowing that your memories are being captured for you.

Disney has another product called PhotoPass, which you will notice mentioned in the text above. PhotosPass is technically the photos that Disney captures, you still have access to them all, same as with the Memory Maker. However, if you do not have the Memory Maker, you must pay to download any of the photos, and they are expensive, $10+ per photo. With the Memory Maker, you have access to every single photo and video, and you can download them all for free. The cost for the Memory Maker is $169 unless you add it to your Disney package or purchase it at least three days in advance, which then lowers the cost to $149. That sounds expensive, but is it worth it?

Memory Maker Pros

  • Fantastic picture quality – Most photos are taken by experienced Disney photographers with top notch camera equipment, and the results are usually out of this world. Usually you have to ask a stranger to take a photo of your family using a phone they have never even seen before, and the results can be disappointing. The Disney photographers do this all day long, and know how to get the best shot available.
  • Disney Magic Shot – Just tell your photographer you want to do a Magic Shot, and he will pose you perfectly to fit in with the animated Disney characters that will be added to your photo. Imagine you with your hand out, holding Tinker Bell. Or maybe a photo with Ariel or Olaf. Anyone can have a boring theme park photo, but who can say they got a photos with Stitch, and survived!
  • Ride Photos and Videos – Since the introduction of the Magic Bands, Disney has been adding new and interesting uses. Currently, for many rides that take your photo (or a video) of you on the ride, these photos are automatically linked to your account, by using your Magic Band and a little location awareness science (or black magic, totally up to you). No need to wait in line, find your photo and buy it at the ride, you can just download it once you get home.
  • Sharing – While the Memory Maker works, imagine if you are traveling with 20+ people. Well, Disney has made it so that only one party has to purchase the Memory Maker, and can then link all of their family and friends to the one account. Once you are home, just download everyone’s photos.
  • Everyone is included – No longer will you get home and realize that Mom or Dad is missing from every single photo, as they were the ones behind the camera.
  • They are your photos – Once downloaded at home, you can then print any of the photos you want wherever you want, you don’t have to pay the crazy prices Disney charges.
  • Customization – Once home, you can add borders, character signatures and stickers to the photos before downloading. You can have several different version of each photo, so adding a border does not permanently change the photo.
  • More photo – I have found that usually, I get home and have about 10 photos of my family/kids on my phone from a week long trip. But, when I do the Memory Maker, we take the 30 seconds it takes to stop and get your photo done by a Disney photographer. When I get home, I often have 100+ photos from my vacation.

Memory Maker Cons

  • Cost – Yes, $149 is a lot of money, so you need to make sure it will work for you in advance. Plus, the price is the same regardless of the length of your stay, so shorter trips may run you $50 a day or more.
  • Time – If you don’t take the time to stop and get photos done, you just wasted your money.
  • 30 Days – All of the photos in your account are deleted after 30 days, so when you get home, don’t forget to download and customize everything you want ASAP.
  • Character Meals – Typically, there are Disney photographers with all characters at character meals, however, that isn’t a hard and fast rule. I have been to a few character meals lately where no photographers were present, so I had to take my own photos.
  • Lines – Sometimes, especially at popular places or times, there can be a wait to get with a photographer. Want to stop and get a photo of your family first thing in the morning on Main Street? Disney usually places a bunch of photographers there, but you still may have to wait, which is especially tough with little kids are are ready to hit the rides.

Who should purchase the Memory Maker?

  • Large Groups – Anyone traveling in a larger group should purchase the Memory Maker and split the cost, makes total sense.
  • Longer Trips – If you are staying 7+ nights, then the cost of the Memory Maker is $20 per day or less.
  • Picky Moms – Do you insist on perfect photos of your kids? Don’t leave your memories up to another vacationer, leave it up to Disney

I have found that when I buy the Memory Maker I end up with quite a few more and much better quality of photos once I get home. They are easy to download and customize and for my family, it is totally worth the cost.

Have you ever purchased the Memory Maker?

disney change

Disney and Change

For many of us, we have been visiting Disney for years and years, and remember fondly the Disney of our childhoods or first visits. I started visiting Disneyland in the early 70’s with my family, and didn’t make it across country to Walt Disney World for another 20 years. As a child, my two favorite rides were Rocket to the Moon and Adventure Thru Inner Space. I still miss the PeopleMover at Disneyland, but fortunately I can still visit a similar one the Magic Kingdom. Sometimes that nostalgia for rides, parades and attractions keeps us from seeing that they need to replaced, or better options have come available to Disney as a replacement. We all want to go to Disney and replicate that fantastic trip we had years ago, but that is nearly impossible as the parks change. Remember what Walt Disney said:

“Disneyland will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world. It is something that will never be finished. Something that I can keep developing and adding to.”

Of course, this philosophy applies to Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Disney Cruise ships, etc. When you sit down and think about it, Disney has done a remarkable job of keeping the original Disneyland rides open and fresh, while adding additional attractions that change from time to time. Look at the list of rides that were available at the grand opening of Disneyland:

  • Autopia
  • Disneyland Railroad
  • Jungle Cruise
  • King Arthur Carrousel
  • Mad Tea Party
  • Main Street Cinema
  • Mark Twain Riverboat
  • Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride
  • Peter Pan’s Flight
  • Snow White’s Scary Adventures
  • Storybook Land Canal Boats
  • Casey Jr. Circus Train*
  • Dumbo the Flying Elephant*

*These two attractions were not quite ready at grand opening, but opened within a month.

Every single one of these rides is still in existence at Disneyland. If you had visited Disneyland in 1955, and again in 2015, you could ride these exact same rides just as you had 60 years before. But of course, there are also a large chunk of rides like my beloved Adventure Thru Inner Space that closed long ago. The real question is how do we look at change and Disney? Are we upset that Disney changes anything or are we excited for the future?

Maelstrom opened in Epcot during July, 1988, about a month after the Norway Pavilion opened. Maelstrom featured a boat ride through Norwegian history, including an encounter with trolls and a backwards ride over a waterfall. While definitely not an “E-Ticket” ride, it was pretty popular. I think most of it’s popularity was because at the time it was the only real ride in the World Showcase other than the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico (which isn’t much of a ride). In 2014, Disney announced that Maelstrom was set to close to be replaced by a Frozen themed attraction called “Frozen Ever After”. For my kids, Maelstrom was one of their favorite rides in all of Disney. My guess is that each trip we rode Maelstrom 10 – 15 times, maybe more. It was a sad day when I had to explain to my kids that Maelstrom was going away and we would not be able to ride it any more. In the next month, Frozen Ever After is scheduled to open along with a new Anna and Elsa Meet and Greet. From the description of the new ride, it sounds like the ride itself will be similar, but it will be Frozen rather than Norway. I am sure the Norway people are thrilled as this will now be the most popular area of Epcot. Sales of Norwegian sweaters and salty licorice are going to skyrocket. While I will miss Maelstrom, I am sure my kids will love Frozen Ever After, as will many, many other people.

The Disney parks are going to change as time goes on, and we want that! If Disneyland hadn’t closed down Adventure Thru Inner Space, we wouldn’t have Star Tours now. As much as I loved Adventures as a child, I have to admit that Star Tours is a much better ride. Disney messes up from time to time (I am looking at you Rocket Rods), but for the most part, closed attractions make way for much better attractions, which makes our Disney experiences just that much better.