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Ears the News with Richard

The largest test so far of Disney's NextGen MyMagic+ is in place this week for select pre-invited guests staying at either Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge or Disney's Contemporary Resort.

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog
Beginning on 6/20/2013 and running through until 6/26/2013, the test will for the first time allow guests taking part to use all the capabilities of MyMagic+ including 'Touch-to-enter,' 'Touch-to-pay,' FASTPASS+, and use both the RFID Key to the World Card and the MagicBand. The test is invite only, so you will not be able to take part in this unless you have already been contacted by Disney.
As with previous tests, guests will be able to preselect three FASTPASS+ experiences via the My Disney Experience app or website. There will also be kiosks available for those guests who do not own or wish to use their own device to select FASTPASS+. 

The kiosks are located at:
Magic Kingdom: City Hall, Buzz Lightyear FASTPASS distribution, Splash Mountain FASTPASS distribution.
Disney's Hollywood Studios: Tower of Terror FASTPASS distribution, Star Tours FASTPASS distribution.
Disney's Animal Kingdom: Guest Relations and Primeval Whirl FASTPASS distribution.
Epcot: Captain EO FASTPASS distribution and Maelstrom FASTPASS distribution.

There will also be full self-service kiosks giving guests access to the entire My Disney Experience site at Town Square Theatre in the Magic Kingdom, and at Guest Relations in the other three parks and Downtown Disney. The lobbies of the two participating resorts will also have kiosks available. During the test, guests will also be able to take part in the regular paper-based FASTPASS, and the standby lines.
This test looks to be a significant step towards the full deployment of MyMagic+ later this year, when it is expected that all guests will be able to use the system throughout Walt Disney World.

The details for the 4th of July Celebrations at Magic Kingdom, Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood studios has been release.

Independence Week will bring 7 straight days of perimeter fireworks to the Magic Kingdom from 7/1/2013 to 7/7/2013. The spectacular July 4 firework show 'Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky' will perform nightly. The shows on the 3rd and 4th will feature full 360 degree fireworks and the Seven Seas Lagoon Island mirror location. The remaining shows will feature 180 degree perimeter fireworks and no island mirror show (the same setup as used during the Halloween and Christmas Party nights).

To continue the patriotic theme, there will also be a patriotic pre-parade featuring Goofy, Donald, Pluto, The Main Street Philharmonic, the Citizens of Main Street and Walt Disney's historic horse-drawn calliope.

There will also be special patriotic themed merchandise and treats throughout the Magic Kingdom.
At Epcot, guests can meet with Disney characters adorned in patriotic dress. An afternoon of live entertainment kicks off at 12:30 p.m. in the America Gardens Theatre with the Voices of Liberty Fourth of July concert. This holiday special is a harmonizing partnership of the eight-part, a capella Voices of Liberty, Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps and Disney characters. The Heartbeat of Freedom, a special tribute following IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth lights up the sky at 10:00 PM.

Characters in patriotic dress are on set from 11:30 AM – 2:30 PM and from 3:30 PM – 6:00 PM outside near Kidcot (under the porte-cochere).

Voices of Liberty show times at America Gardens Theatre are 12:30, 1:45, and 3:00 p.m. They are also doing two sets inside the American Adventure Rotunda at 4:15 and 5:00 pm.

Special show times for Slippery When Wet (Sounds Like Summer concert series) on the Fourth of July are 5:15, 6:30, 7:45, and 9:00 PM.

Heartbeat of Freedom fireworks at 10:00 PM.

Disney's Hollywood Studios will present an all-new 'Rockin' 4th of July Celebration' fireworks spectacular to celebrate Independence Day 2013. 

The party begins at the Sorcerer Hat with a DJ at 6:00 PM. At 7, 8, 9 and 10:00 PM, Mulch, Sweat & Shears will take guests on a musical road trip through America. Everything leads up to a special rock ‘n roll fireworks presentation at 10:15 PM.

Photo courtesy of Disney Parks Blog
The all new Magic Kingdom Main Street Bakery reopened on 6/18/2013 as a Starbucks location with a number of changes. Besides the all new interior decor and layout, here is a quick run-down of what you can expect:
The full Starbucks drink menu is offered, beginning at park opening each day.
All drinks are offered under the Disney Dining Plan as a snack credit.
The bakery is staffed by Disney Cast Members and not Starbucks employees.
There is no longer any indoor seating at the bakery.
Until 11:00 AM only Starbucks items will be sold. From 11:00 AM onwards both Starbucks and Disney treats will be available. The Disney items are mostly cupcakes, cookies and brownies.
The cinnamon rolls are not available, but continue to be offered at Gaston's Tavern in the New Fantasyland.
Until 11:00 AM there are four hot breakfast options, three are sandwiches and one is a wrap (a vegetarian offering). There are also grab and go cold sandwiches available.
You can use your Starbucks gift cards and mobile apps for purchases.
The cups are branded with both Disney and Starbucks artwork.
It is not possible to redeem My Starbucks Rewards, but your purchases do earn you My Starbucks Rewards.

The newly expanded bus load zones at Disney's Animal Kingdom are now open. As a result of the additions the vast majority of the zones have been reconfigured, so if you are used to heading to a particular stop for your resort, take note of the changes. Here is a full rundown of the stop numbers for each resort.
  1. Wilderness Lodge/Grand Floridian
  2. Contemporary/Polynesian
  3. Yacht Club/Beach Club
  4. Boardwalk/Swan/Dolphin
  5. Saratoga Springs
  6. Caribbean Beach
  7. Old Key West
  8. Fort Wilderness
  9. Coronado Springs
  10. Animal Kingdom Lodge
  11. Port Orleans
  12. All-Star Resorts
  13. Art of Animation
  14. Pop Century
  15. Epcot
  16. Transportation & Ticket Center
  17. Hollywood Studios

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