Friday, April 26, 2013

Ears the News with Richard


Epcot's Fountain View Ice Cream closed on 4/6/2013 to begin the remodel into Walt Disney World’s second Starbucks location. Construction walls now surround the building, with the new Starbucks expected to reopen on 8/2/2013. The new kiosk that was built near to the Electric Umbrella has not yet opened. It was originally thought this would open with the closure of Fountain View, although it may operate seasonally during busier times.

Another element of the NextGen MyMagic+ initiative is now live and in use across all of the Walt Disney World Resort hotels.  Called 'Mobile Lobby Experience,' the system equips Cast Members with iPads and allows guests to be checked-in from locations other than the front desk. It is being used to quickly check-in guests from curbside or in the lobby area of the hotel. 'Mobile Lobby Experience' has the big advantage of being able to check-in guests very quickly on arrival at the hotel, without the need to join a queue or even find the lobby check-in desk.  'Mobile Lobby Experience' joins 'Touch to Enter,' 'Touch to Pay,' FASTPASS+, and MagicBand in the suite of new systems coming online this year with MyMagic+.

Disney's Animal Kingdom celebrated its 15th anniversary on 4/22/2013. To mark the event, the park held a special opening ceremony. There were appearances by Josh D’Amaro, Vice President of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and Dr. Jackie Ogden, Vice President of Animals, Science and Environment, and also included a performance of “Circle of Life” from the park's 'Festival of The Lion King.' If you couldn't be there, WDWMagic was kind enough to post a video of it.

WDWMAGIC Forum member ronmeri28 got to take part in a pre-opening playtest of the Magic Kingdom's latest interactive game, 'A Pirate's Adventure - Treasures of the Seven Seas.' 
Check out the video below for a walk-through of the game as it was played in the test. The game takes places in Adventureland, and is expected to be fully open by the summer 2013.
Video from Ron Dumply Jr

The popular BoardWalk Bakery will be reopening on 4/26/2013 following its extensive remodel.  The Bakery closed in January of this year for the refurbishment, which has now been expanded into some of the space previously occupied by the ESPN gift shop. Additions include a new queue area, new entrance and an expanded menu. Along with its usual baked good offerings, it will now serve soups, salads and sandwiches. The BoardWalk Bakery will also feature a refillable mug station for guests at Disney's BoardWalk Inn.

Disney has announced that Imagineer Theron Skees is the project leader on Disney Springs, the massive redevelopment of Downtown Disney.  Skees has an impressive track record at Imagineering - working on Pirates of the Caribbean at Disneyland Paris, Tower of Terror v4 at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and most recently working on the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland.

Skees told the official Walt Disney Company Blog, "I really love the new project I’m working on, Disney Springs. It’s truly a combination of everything I’ve learned over my 15-year career at Imagineering. Disney Springs is urban design at its best – it will double the number of shops, restaurants and other venues for guests to explore, and we are very excited about it."
Theron Skees is the second high profile Imagineer to be linked with Disney Springs, with Kathy Mangum taking part in the Disney Springs announcements.

The official Disney Parks Blog has just released some art of the latest monorail conversion at Walt Disney World. Featuring characters from the upcoming 'Monsters University' movie, Monorail Teal is decorated to mark the opening of the movie in theaters on 6/21/2103. According to the post by Disney, it will be appearing on the Magic Kingdom Resort beams.

There were also some earlier rumblings about equipment being installed on the roof of the Epcot monorail platform. Check out the video below to find out just what that equipment was.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU8sojdkelE
Video from Inside the Magic

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