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Ears the News with Richard

Photo from Disney Parks Blog

Disney was kind enough to share the logo for the 2013 Star Wars weekends as well as some of the celebrity appearances. This year’s logo has Mickey zipping away from scout troopers with Chip and Dale, on the Forest Moon of Endor. Mickey’s wild speeder bike ride on this year’s artwork has historical significance, as 2013 marks the 30th anniversary of “Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi” — the film that featured the Battle of Endor.

Fan favorites (well some of my favorites at least), Ray Park (Darth Maul) and Warwick Davis (Wicket) will both be in attendance for not just one, but two Star Wars Weekends. Ray Park will be there on weekends one and two and Warwick Davis will be there on weeks two and three.






The greatly anticipated new restroom area in Fantasyland is now open!
This new restroom area replaces the former Fantasyland Skyway station; the area takes its theme from the movie Tangled, and brings a level of detail comparable to a major attraction. It features outdoor seating, electrical recharge stations, stroller parking, water features, and its own musical score. The area takes restrooms to a whole new level. The theming isn't just restricted to the exterior either; inside the restrooms are some great details, and on a more functional note, there are automated power towel dispensers and Dyson Air Blade dryers.  The new area also greatly opens up the walkway through the Peter Pan and Small World section of Fantasyland, and provides additional walkway space directly through to the Haunted Mansion in Liberty Square.

WDWMagic has provided some great pictures of the new area as well as a video walk through.

Now that the Tangled restroom has opened, the adjacent restroom located behind the Peter Pan attraction has closed. There is a long standing rumor that these bathrooms will be gutted and turned into an interactive queue for the Peter Pan attraction.

The American Adventure's Heritage Gallery reopened on 3/8/2013 with an all new exhibit - 'Re-Discovering America: Family Treasures from the Kinsey Collection.' Featuring an extensive collection of rare art, documents, books and artifacts collected by philanthropists Bernard and Shirley Kinsey.
The exhibit is themed around hope, belief, courage, imagination and heritage, and includes narration from celebrities such as Whoopi Goldberg (“The View”), Diane Sawyer (“ABC World News with Diane Sawyer”), and actors Chandra Wilson & James Pickens, Jr. (“Grey’s Anatomy”), Kerry Washington (“Scandal”), Zendaya Coleman & Roshon Fegan (“Shake It Up”), China Anne McClain (“A.N.T. Farm”), Tyrel Jackson Williams (“Lab Rats”).

Along with traditional touch screens that provide more information, the exhibit also features a number of lanterns, that when activated by the guest, come alive to tell more of the story. 
WDWMagic has again provided a great walkthrough video.

Disney is making a change to the age of admission policy for all of its US parks, including all the gated attractions at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort. Locations included are Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Blizzard Beach, Disney's Typhoon Lagoon, DisneyQuest, Disneyland Park and Disney's California Adventure.
Starting 3/23/2013, guests under age 14 will need to be accompanied by a guest age 14 or older. Currently, the policy is that guests under 7 years of age must be accompanied by a guest age 14 or older.

The refurbishments keep coming at Disney's Grand Floridian, with the Beach Pool now closing for a short refurbishment in late May 2013. The Beach Pool will be closed from 5/30/2013 to 6/2/2013. The Beach Pool slide will be closed from 5/27/2013 to 6/2/2013.

Disney's PhotoPass service has introduced a new package called 'Attractions+'.  The new service gives you digital files of all the participating attraction photos taken within a 14 day visit to Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort for a cost of $44.95. Currently the service has to be purchased at a photo center on-property, it is not available online. Here are the full details from Disney:

NEW! Disney Attractions+ now available at Walt Disney World® and Disneyland® Resorts.
Take home all the thrills, spins, and speed with Disney Attractions+. Disney Attractions+ is your all access pass to all your Attraction images – for one price.

Product Details:
- Attractions+ is sold at participating Attractions Photo Sales Centers. 
- With Attractions+ you will have digital files of all the participating Attraction photos taken within a 14 day visit to Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort. 
- Once you arrive home from your vacation, you can view and download all the high resolution photos plus a limited license agreement, which allows you to print photos at any local photo processing center.

Walt Disney World Resort Participating Attractions:
- Space Mountain® Attraction
- Splash Mountain® Attraction
- Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin® Attraction
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
- Rock ‘n Roller Coaster® Starring Aerosmith
- Expedition Everest® Attraction
- Dinosaur Attraction
- Test Track® Attraction

Disneyland Resort Participating Attractions
- Space Mountain® 
- Splash Mountain®
- Radiator Springs Racers
- The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror™
- California Screamin'

Disney Attractions+ Includes:
- Disney Attractions+ Card
- Digital Downloads of select Attractions
All for $44.95

The walkway between Storybook Circus and New Fantasyland is now open to allow easier access through that area. Located just by the Little Mermaid attraction, the pathway opens daily at 10:00 through to 10:00 PM in the evening and is expected to remain open to guests through the busy spring period in mid April 2013.

Photo from Disney Parks Blog
Disney has officially announced 'Disney Springs', the massive redevelopment of Downtown Disney. 
Here is the full post from Tom Staggs.
Earlier today, we unveiled plans for Disney Springs, the exciting, multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney at the Walt Disney World Resort, and I’d like to give you all a glimpse into what we’ve got planned.

Walt Disney World Resort guests and local Florida residents have been enjoying Downtown Disney for more than 30 years, but we knew we had an opportunity to re-imagine and reinvent this corner of the resort. We’ve spent a good deal of time thinking through just what we want this area to be, and how to bring it to life to make it a place unlike any other. And we have even scrapped a few preliminary plans that we felt didn’t measure up to our aspirations for this place.
Our fundamental goal is to create a welcoming, comfortable space where families can enjoy time together and instantaneously feel right at home. We want to give them opportunities to relax, to be entertained, to wander in and out of unique and distinctive shops or enjoy a world-class dining experience. And because we are Disney, we’ve anchored the entire experience around a story that gives us the ability to deliver on the legendary place-making and creativity for which we are known. The result is Disney Springs, a timeless and vibrant place that celebrates the turn-of-the century lakeside towns that dotted the Florida landscape.

The story of Disney Springs begins at our new Town Center, which is oriented around a series of bubbling natural springs that first attracted settlers to the area. From there, the town grew to encompass three additional neighborhoods: The Landing, Marketplace and West Side – each with its own distinct charm and atmosphere. For more about each of these districts, click here.
Once complete, Disney Springs will expand from 75 to more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues, featuring some of the world’s most iconic brands and restaurants. Construction is set to begin next month. The expansion will open in phases and we expect to complete our development in 2016. We look forward to sharing more details in the future here on the Disney Parks Blog.


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