Saturday, January 30, 2010

Disney Cruise Line Unveils New Features for Next Ship!

The Dream is Disney's first new cruise ship in more than a decade. It's scheduled to debut on Jan. 26, 2011, the 128,000-ton Dream will be about 40% larger than the current Disney ships and will hold up to 4,000 passengers. But it was designed around the same basic principles as the earlier vessels, says Greg Dauberger, one of the top Disney designers on the project.

"It's designed around Disney hallmarks of storytelling, creativity and innovation," Dauberger says in an exclusive interview with USA TODAY, and "it's purpose built for family cruise vacations."

Like the 11-year-old Disney Magic, the Dream will echo early 20th century ships with a sleek bow and circular portholes, and it's over-riding design elements are Art Deco, says Dauberger. But a number of interior spaces will have a contemporary look.

The top of Disney Cruise Line's next ship will feature a miniature golf course themed around Goofy and a water play area for kids that has Nemo as its inspiration.

The 2,500-passenger Disney Dream, currently under construction at a shipyard in Germany, will feature a
miniature golf course themed around Goofy, a water play area for kids that has Nemo as its inspiration, an adults-only decktop pool area with a swim-up bar plus a high-speed flume ride that will wrap around the top of the vessel -- a cruise industry first.

Disney says Goofy's Golf, as the nine-hole miniature golf course is to be called, is part of an interactive sports deck that also will have two digital sports simulators and two mini-sized sports courts where small children can play soccer and basketball. There also will be a full-court basketball area that can be transformed into a mini soccer pitch or volleyball court. The sports deck also will have table tennis and foosball tables, and it will be ringed by a walking track.

The Nemo-themed water play (illustration above) will feature a small water slide, water jets and other water features. It'll also be enclosed with glass. Disney says the adult-only area will be called Quiet Cove. Its pool, notable, will be fresh water (as all three pools atop the Dream will be). Disney says the ship also will have a Mickey Mouse-shaped pool for small children (something already found on the line's two existing ships) and another family-focused pool called the Donald Pool.

Disney Cruise Line
is upping the ante in the battle for family cruisers today by announcing plans for a high-speed flume ride. The 765-foot-long attraction, to be called AquaDuck, is like nothing ever before seen on a cruise ship. It will wind around a good portion of the top deck of the 1,250-cabin vessel. Billed as a "water coaster," the flume ride will employ the same Master Blaster technology used at Disney theme parks to shoot riders upward and forward as they careen through a series of twists, turns and drops while riding an inflatable raft through a clear acrylic tube.

The AquaDuck will rise four stories off the top deck of the ship and be intense enough that Disney plans a height limit for riders. Among the highlights of the ride: A slide through a loop that swings out over the side of the ship that will give riders an unobstructed view of the ocean surface 150 feet below. Riders later will be whooshed through the forward funnel of the ship and travel through one of the ship's indoor children's areas before reemerging outside for a 335-foot-long stretch of "river rapids." There will be no charge to ride the AquaDuck.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Latest Construction Photos & Some New Details for Epcot's New Pizzeria!

Here is the latest look at Epcot's new Pizzeria which is now rapidly rising at the rear of the Italy Pavilion.

The pizzeria will be the newest flagship restaurant in the Patina Restaurant Group’s portfolio. One of the special touches at the Epcot location will be the water. It will be imported from a source where the composition most resembles water used in Naples, Italy, to make the authentic Italian dough.

The as-yet unamed restaurant will be 14,000 sq.ft of traditional Florentine architecture, featuring 300-seats with outdoor dining. The restaurant will feature wood-burning ovens, genuine Italian dishes and vaulted ceilings.

The new location will open late 2010.

Photos are courtesy of

First Retirement & Suspensions for 2010!

The Walt Disney Classics Collection is pleased to honor Basil and Dr. Dawson ("Curious Clue") from Disney's The Great Mouse Detective (1986) as a dry retirement via their website on Thursday, January 28th.

Basil and Dr. Dawson made their WDCC debut in May 2009. The first (and only) release from this film was released as a boxed set and sculpted by Jacqueline Perreault Gonzales.

A dry retirement means that there is no longer product in the warehouse. Please check with your authorized dealer for availability.

Suspension News

Also announced Suspension of Mickey Mouse ("A Swell Pal) and Peter Pan ("Forever Young") from the Spotlight Collection (Quintessentially Disney).

Mickey Mouse was released in October 2005, sculpted by Patrick Romandy-Simmons.

Peter Pan was released in August, 2005, sculpted by Dusty Horner.

Special Note Regarding Suspensions: When an Item is Suspended it is out of stock and there are no plans to re-order for at least a year. However, it could be decided to change the status from Suspended to Retired (Dry Retirement) at some point.

If interested in a suspended item, you may want to check with retailers regarding availability as there is no guarantee that the item could be put back into production and its status changed back to active status.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

What Are You Celebrating?

As you enter the parks, you are still greeted by the 'What Are You Celebrating?' banners. This past November, our BFF's Bob & Toni celebrated their 10th Anniversary and living miles apart, we were unable to celebrate with them.

We had dinner reservations on Sun. night with our other BFF Terry at the Kona Cafe at The Polynesian Resort and were able to adjust our ADR's with no problem. I contacted the Polynesian early Sat. morning to see if possible to have a cake at dinner but all that was available was a basic cake but they offered to put me in touch with The Grand Floridian Bakery.

I spoke with Pat, who said they can usually do a cake within a 24 hour notice and it wouldn't be a problem. We went over some options, cake flavors, icing choices, etc. and she assured me that it wouldn't be a problem having the cake delivered to the Polynesian. This was the first time we've ordered a cake on Disney property, so was not only a new experience for us but hopefully a magical evening for a special couple.

After dinner, our server Amy brought out the cake. Whoa! What a beautiful job The Grand Floridian Bakery did. All heads were on our table as the cake was presented to Bob & Toni.

The cake was a three layer, almond flavored cake with one layer of pudding and one layer of creamy icing in between the layers, covered in off-white and chocolate swirl icing. The cake was decorated with shaved white chocolate around the base of the cake and an edible Cinderella's Castle, rose and banner atop the cake.

The cake was one of the best tasting cakes we've ever had. The almond flavoring of the cake mixed with the pudding and icing served with Kona Cafe's famous coffee made for a perfect ending to a great dinner.

We'd like to thank Amy (left) for making it such a special evening and was great meeting Nina (center), our hostess and Debi (right). Nina, major props for taking part in the Marathon the weekend before and hope you all enjoyed the cake.

If ever in need of a cake for a special presentation, I highly recommend contacting The Grand Floridian Bakery at (407) 824-2474.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Special Day with Friends

Our second full day started out with mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Mary, Queen of the Universe. The National Shrine is located at 8300 Vineland Avenue. It was built to service the large number of Catholic tourists who visit the attractions in the Greater Orlando area. While it is a 2,000 seat church and parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orlando and provides mass for the faithful, it has also become a regional tourist attraction. In 2009, it was designated as the 63rd minor basilica in the United States.

One of our closest friends, Terry (who was one of the first people I met via Disney), came up from Clearwater to spend the day with us. Since this is to be a relaxing trip, spent time hanging at the house and catching up before heading to Downtown Disney.

While there, we ran into Rich and Pauline, who now live in Orlando and happened to be there meeting a friend of theirs from Chicago. Had a nice lunch at Earl of Sandwich (toss up between the Caribbean Jerk Chicken or the Hawaiian BBQ with the Caribbean Jerk Chicken winning!), caught up with them before heading off for some shopping. Hit all our favorite stores .. The Christmas Store, Art of Disney, Aribbas Brothers and World of Disney.

Before heading to the Polynesian for dinner, Toni & Mary wanted to stop at Trends. Turned out to be a wise decision, as Mary finally got her Dooney & Bourke wristlet! Castmembers were awesome, letting her look at all available and couldn't beat the 20% annual pass discount!

Shopping done for the day, time to head over to the Polynesian for dinner at the Kona Cafe, one of our favorite restaurants on Disney property. Decided for the first time to have a Lapu Lapu, Myers rum and tropical juices served in a pineapple, topped with Bacardi 151 .. why has it taken me SO long to try one of these!! :)

Dinner was a no-brainer for me, as I had the Coconut Almond Chicken, sauteed chicken breast served with Asian greens tossed with a honey-lime dressing, golden pineapple, strawberries and toasted almonds.

Time to get ready to head to the Magic Kingdom. More on a special dessert and the greastest servers we encountered so far this trip in my next entry ....

Enjoying Time Outside the Parks

Hard to believe we've already been here two days and haven't spent time in the parks. We did plan on hitting Magic Kingdom after dinner on Saturday night at the Whispering Canyon at the Wilderness Lodge.

We've done Whispering Canyon many times for breakfast but never dinner. A popular favorite is the Canyon Skillet, which consists of smoked pork ribs, pulled pork, oven-roasted chicken, beef brisket, mashed potatoes, cowboy beans, corn on the cob, mixed greens salad with apple vinaigrette, coleslaw and fresh-baked cornbread.

Not much of a red meat eater, so opted for the Meatloaf, which was more up my alley. The meatloaf wasn't like my Mom's or Mary's but enjoyed it none the less. Love vegetables and thought the snow peas mixed with carrots and squash was a nice compliment. The skillet looked great and did enjoy the beef brisket I tried.

After dinner, we headed towards the dock to take the boat over to the Magic Kingdom. Skies were clear, nice breeze off the water, perfect for a moonlit boat ride. We left Wilderness Lodge, encircled the new Bay Lake Towers and then got our first glimpses of Cinderella's Castle and Tomorrowland!

Docked and as we headed towards the Magic Kingdom, started to feel some raindrops. Got through the turnstyle and just as we entered the Magic Kingdom, the rain began to fall (and I mean fall!), so ducked into the shops along Main Street to do a little shopping. The forecasts were calling for hard rains all day but ended up having gorgeous weather, so really couldn't complain.

Merchandise in the shops was pretty much the same as when we were last down this past May. No luck locating a Dooney & Bourke wristlet for Mary but I did score two (2) Cutester vinyl chasers for Mary & Amanda (maybe the rain brought me luck
), so overall not too bad. The special Cinderella vinylmation that released a few days earlier was already sold out, castmembers we spoke with weren't sure if they would be getting any more in or not :(

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Greetings from Walt Disney World!

Mary and I rescheduled our trip to WDW and arrived yesterday afternoon. We typically take an early morning flight but opted for an early afternoon flight instead. Was a different feel arriving later in the day but such a welcome change weatherwise to what we left behind in Western PA. The past few weeks have been below zero temps, snow and ice and watching the forecast last weekend for FL, couldn't help but wonder if we weren't going to arrive greeted by much the same weather as we were having. Thankfully the cold snap has seemed to move through and temps yesterday afternoon felt so good and last night was perfect for a stroll before and after dinner in Epcot.

As you may recall from past blog entries when at WDW, food is a major planning part of the trip and we decided for our first meal to eat at Tutto Italia. This was our first time eating here since the changeover from Alfredo's. Other than the name change on the building and the large canoli no longer inside, everything looked much the same as how we remembered when we ate there right before Alfredo's closed.

Our BFF's Bob & Toni from Syracuse, NY surprised us and coincided their trip with ours and met us at Magical Express when we arrived and joined us for dinner. We initially planned to take the boat from Boardwalk to Epcot but due to Disney's Hollywood Studios just closing and Epcot having Extra Magic Hours, the boat was full and we were going to have to wait for another. We decided since it was such a beautiful evening, we would walk to Epcot instead.

Once inside Epcot, we headed straight to the Italian Pavillion. We decided to start the meal with an Italian Margarita, made with limoncello and grappa. Was a perfect start to the meal!

In our planning and making our ADR's, we used Deb's website, to check out the menus and reviews. Decided for an appetizer, being such a fan of eggplant to try the Melanzana alla Parmigiana, a baked eggplant (thinly sliced as I like it), mozzarella and parmesan cheese in a red sauce. Typically prefer a 'sweeter' sauce but this sauce had more of a 'sour' taste for lack of a better word which was out of this world. As any true Italian knows, when you get your bread and soak up the remaining sauce, that's a good sign it was perfect! :)

The appetizer was a great compliment to my entree choice, Tortellini di Zucca, a pumpkin tortellini filled with cheese. The sauce was quite similar to the sauce used in the eggplant appetizer.

I'm known as not too adventurous of an eater, usually sticking with those options I'm most familiar with, so me ordering this dish was quite a surprise to everyone. I'm a fan of both pumpkin and tortellini, so was curious enough to try this and enjoyed each and every bite :) Our next time in Epcot this trip, I will get a more accurate description.

It seemed fitting to close the meal with a nice cup of coffee and dessert. Looking over the menu, one dessert caught my eye, a lemon flavored ricotto cheesecake with strawberries marinated in limoncello. It ended up being a perfect choice, light and very flavorfull.

We had an excellent waiter, Cesare who was assisted by Fabio. They were both very attentive, personable and made for a first great evening of our trip! Have read both good and not so good reviews for Tutto Italia but from my first experience, I highly recommend. Looking forward to a return visit!

D23 Announces 2010 Special Events Schedule!

BURBANK, Calif. – Jan. 14, 2010 – D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans today unveiled a host of special events that have been designed especially for its growing worldwide membership base.

Among the exciting offerings for 2010 are exclusive D23 one-year anniversary parties at the Disneyland® Resort and Walt Disney World® Resort, free “50 and Fabulous” film screenings at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, and a special 40th anniversary celebration event to honor the Walt Disney Archives.

“In our first year, D23 created some truly memorable event opportunities for our members, and this year we plan to outdo ourselves with a mix of all-new events and encores of fan favorites,” said Steven Clark, head of D23. “D23 Members are going to have more opportunities than ever to be part of the Disney magic through the events we have planned in 2010, and we hope they’ll be as excited as we are to experience them alongside their fellow members.”

D23 Members will receive notification of special events and reservation times via e-mail, and all events are offered on a space-available basis. More details on events, and on becoming a D23 Member, can be found at

SAVE THE DATE! D23’s special-event lineup includes:

January 22, 2010: A Practically Perfect Night of Surprises with D23 and Mary Poppins

D23 Members will attend a performance of the critically acclaimed Mary Poppins at the Ahmanson Theatre in Los Angeles – plus an exclusive post-show experience with the Mary Poppins cast… and a top-secret surprise guest. (Hint: It’s an actor from the classic 1964 film.) D23 Members will receive 20 percent off select tickets for the January 22 performance (in various seating locations and price ranges). Visit the D23 website at for ticket information and availability.

February 13, April 10, August 14 and November 13, 2010: D23 Day at The Walt Disney Studios and Archives

D23 Members will get a behind-the-scenes look at the legendary Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank and at the Walt Disney Archives on a two-hour tour hosted by D23 and Archives staff members. Three tours will be held on each date, and each tour can accommodate 50 people. In D23’s Charter Year, these special tours sold out almost immediately. Tickets for the February 13 and April 10 tours will be available at 10 a.m. Pacific time Tuesday, January 26, and are $50 per person.

March 5, 2010: D23’s First-Anniversary Party at the Walt Disney World® Resort

Hundreds of D23 Members are expected to gather from around the country – and around the world – for a once-in-a-lifetime night of magic and memories. The evening’s festivities include a private dinner inside the Magic Kingdom’s Diamond Horseshoe Saloon, followed by an exclusive D23 viewing of Mickey’s PhilharMagic. Afterward, guests will hear insider details about the upcoming Fantasyland expansion from Walt Disney Imagineering. The celebration will also feature a sumptuous dessert party, a special commemorative pin for everyone attending, and a host of surprises. More details, including reservation availability and pricing, will be announced shortly on D23’s website at

March 10, 2010: D23’s First-Anniversary Party at the Disneyland® Resort

D23 will hold its one and only West Coast anniversary celebration in the most magical land at the Happiest Place on Earth: Fantasyland. D23 Members will take over all of Fantasyland for one amazing night filled with classic attractions, familiar characters (as well as a few you may not have seen in a while!), and a chance to see rare pieces of Disneyland history up close. Plus, D23 Members and their guests will enjoy an array of delicious Disney-inspired desserts, a special commemorative pin for everyone attending, and other surprises. Additional information, including reservation availability and pricing, will be announced shortly at

March 27, 2010:
“50 and Fabulous” Screening of Toby Tyler

At last year’s D23 Expo, Disney fans had a chance to see Disney masterpieces that were celebrating their Golden Anniversaries… a new D23 tradition that continues in 2010, this time in the recently renovated, state-of-the-art, 400-seat Studio Theater on the Walt Disney Studios lot in Burbank. Tickets to the “50 and Fabulous” screenings are free for D23 Members and their guests, and the series kicks off with a movie that hasn’t been seen on the big screen since its first release in 1960: Toby Tyler, or 10 Weeks with a Circus. D23’s screening of this lighthearted, live-action comedy will combine with special D23 surprises and the opportunity to enjoy a movie in this exclusive cinematic venue. Reservations may be made beginning at 10 a.m. Pacific time on Tuesday, January 26. (A $5 processing fee for each ticket will apply.)

As with all live events, dates and times are subject to change.

Additional D23 special events are planned throughout 2010, including:

· May 8: “50 and Fabulous” screening of Pollyanna at the Walt Disney Studio Theatre;
· May 29-30: “Flowers and Fireworks” event at the Walt Disney World® Resort, adding all-new elements as D23 expands the festivities to two days;
· June 26: A special celebration at the Walt Disney Studios marking the 40th anniversary of the Walt Disney Archives;
· July 10: “50 and Fabulous” screening of Swiss Family Robinson at the Walt Disney Studio Theatre;
· October 15-16: “Sip & Stroll” at the immensely popular Epcot International Food and Wine Festival;
· October 23: “50 and Fabulous” screening of The Sign of Zorro at the Walt Disney Studio Theatre
· December 11-12: “Magic and Merriment” weekend at the Walt Disney World Resort;

D23 is also in the planning stages for even more exciting 2010 events, details of which will be revealed in the coming months.

For more details on becoming a member of D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans, or renewing existing memberships, visit

Thursday, January 7, 2010

D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans Announces New Tiered Membership Levels!

BURBANK, Calif. – January 7, 2010 – Becoming a member of the fast-growing D23: The Official Community for Disney Fans just got easier, as D23 recently announced new tiered membership options.

D23 celebrates its first anniversary in March, having grown to encompass tens of thousands of members from more than 30 countries around the world. To mark the occasion, the only official Disney fan community introduced two tiers of membership, Gold and Silver, for the 2010 calendar year.

“D23 Members are the most passionate, excited – and exciting – Disney fans in the world, and D23 wants to constantly change, grow and expand to meet their needs,” said Steven Clark, head of D23.

D23 Members in both the new Gold and Silver tiers will receive a membership card; a suitable-for-framing member certificate (for new members); opportunities to attend special D23 Member events throughout the year; access to exclusive, limited-edition merchandise and collectibles; and 2010 gift of “Disney Undiscovered: A 23-Month Calendar of Disney’s Unrealized Masterpieces.”

“Disney Undiscovered” presents rare and never-before seen images from Disney theme-park, live-action and animation projects that were not completed, many of which have achieved legendary status among Disney fans. The calendar features art from never-built project like the Mineral King ski resort and Walt Disney’s St. Louis Project; theme park lands such as Discovery Bay at Disneyland and the Switzerland pavilion at Epcot; and unproduced films including a watercolor from the original Little Mermaid that Walt had in early pre-production in the late 1930s.

In addition to all of these benefits of D23 membership, Gold members will receive a one-year subscription to Disney twenty-three, a stunning, oversized collectible quarterly publication that brings new perspective and insight into Disney’s past, present and future.

New in 2010, D23 Members will enjoy new discounts and offers. Members who show their valid D23 Membership card (with a photo ID) will receive a discount at many locations in the Downtown Disney® District at Disneyland and at ESPN Zone locations across the country.

Gold membership is $74.99 a year, and Silver membership is $34.99 a year.

Full details on memberships – and renewing existing memberships – can be found at <>. Gift memberships, perfect for Disney fans of all ages, can also be purchased at the D23 website.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Legendary Location of Iconic New York City Disney Store Revealed; Store to Open Fall 2010!

The closing of 2009 saw the end of an era for New York City in that the World of Disney, located in the world-famous Fifth Avenue shopping area, shuttered its doors forever. A taste of the Disney Parks, the World of Disney store was a sister store to its Downtown Disney counterparts, offering NYC residents and tourists the opportunity to purchase theme park merchandise, Disney on Broadway merchandise and — of course — NYC branded merchandise, some of which eventually became available at Youse Guys Moichendise in Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

The location was a holdover from when the city was virtually covered by Disney Stores. When Disney began closing the stores, all of the New York City stores fell victim, but Disney kept and held on to the Fifth Avenue store (which was the flagship Disney Store at the time) and eventually transferred it over to Disney Parks and Resorts, re-opening it as the World of Disney in October of 2004 as the license to operate the regular Disney Store chain was famously transferred to The Children’s Place.

Believe it or not, since Disney closed all the Disney Stores in NYC, there have been no Disney Stores to pop up in Manhattan. It would be a while before New York City would even see its first Disney Store in the outer boros. Perhaps The Childrens Place couldn’t open one in Manhattan by the terms of the agreement, but as there was no real overlap between the two in terms of merchandise, there was a giant pothole in the hearts of those longing for a local Disney Store.

In 2010, that pothole will finally be filled as Disney announced plans to open a Disney Store in Manhattan, at the tragic cost of losing the World of Disney store. One saving grace, however, is just like most anything in New York City, the new Disney Store will no doubt be a hotbed of activity flaunting the latest and greatest in technological advances and the Disney difference, offering an experience you won’t find anywhere else.
The location of the Disney Store, scheduled to open in fall of 2010, will be located at 1540 Broadway, in the heart of Times Square, between 45th and 46th Street. Now you may not know that address by name (MTV has its home at 1515 Broadway), but you may know the former occupant of that space, Virgin Megastore (as seen in the background of many movies, most recently 2012). At the time, the 3 floor, 60,000 square foot retail location (which included its own multiplex movie theater), was the largest Virgin Megastore in the world. There’s no mention of whether Disney will be taking over the entire space or not, but the location is beyond ideal, located next to the world’s largest toy store, Toys R Us, which itself features a two-story tall ferris wheel.
The new Disney Store will incorporate technologically advanced displays including an interactive Disney Princess castle to serve as one of many magical centerpieces at the new Times Square location. An all-new children’s theater will feature the latest Disney entertainment, classic animation, and continue Disney’s rich tradition of storytelling.

“Bringing Disney Store to the center of Times Square is a monumental achievement, and we have created a retail experience that complements the energy and innovation that Times Square inspires,” said Jim Fielding, president of Disney Stores Worldwide. “We’re focused on reinvigorating retail and providing a unique shopping destination to millions of families from all over the world who travel to New York for a magical experience.”

“Disney’s bold move to restore 42nd Street’s greatest landmark theater in the 1990s was THE turning point in Times Square’s recent history. We are thrilled that Disney is bringing its creative energies yet again to Times Square with this new Disney Store. An iconic brand is coming again to America’s most iconic place,” said Tim Tompkins, president of Times Square Alliance.

Renovations will begin soon at the Times Square location, designed to showcase a wide assortment of products inspired by iconic Disney characters and key entertainment properties. The newly-designed Disney Store will facilitate interactive play and imagination, host children’s activities, special events, and celebrity appearances. Over the next five years Disney Store plans to strategically balance its retail portfolio, enter new markets, and transform more than 300 locations across the US and Europe to feature the new design.

Article courtesy of