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Ears the News with Richard

Following on from the late October test at Disney's Hollywood Studios, MagicBands will now be required across all parks for entry into Extra Magic Hours. Beginning on 11/17/2013, MagicBands will be scanned by a cast member outside of the park entrance to determine EMH eligibility. Once cleared for EMH, guests will be directed to the entrance to enter the park as normal with their MagicBand. Those guests using RFID Key to the World cards can use those in place of the MagicBand.


Guests staying at the Swan and Dolphin, Shades of Green, or any of the EMH eligible hotels on Plaza Blvd can continue to enter using their hotel ID cards.

The Comedy Warehouse is once again returning to Disney's Hollywood Studios for the busy holiday season. Look for shows to begin around 12/21/2013 through until 1/5/2014. 
Epcot is currently restricting FastPass+ selections to groups, meaning it is not currently possible to select all of the major attractions in one day. 

Disney's Hollywood Studios is about to introduce a similar setup, with the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Animal Kingdom still allowing selection of any attraction.
The attractions are split into two groups, with one selection allowed from group 1 and two selections allowed from group 2. Here is the breakdown.

Group 1 (One selection can be made)
IllumiNations
Maelstrom
Character Spot
Soarin'
Test Track

Group 2 (Two selections can be made)
Captain EO
Journey into Imagination
Living with the Land
Mission: SPACE
Spaceship Earth
The Seas with Nemo and Friends
Turtle Talk with Crush

Sid Cahuengas One of a Kind at Disney's Hollywood Studios will have its final day of operation today, and will permanently close tomorrow 11/17/2013. In its place, the MyMagic+ service center will expand to take over the entire space. Service Centers allow guests to get help with MyMagic+ with kiosks and specialist cast members. The porch area of Sid Cahuengas was converted to MyMagic+ in August 2013.

Collectible merchandise will be relocated to the AFI Showcase shop at the exit of the Studio Backlot Tour.

Festival of the Lion Kingdom at Disney's Animal Kingdom is closing on 1/52014 to begin its relocation to the new theater being built in Africa. It was originally thought that the relocation would be largely seamless, but according to the latest Mickey Monitor Passholder publication, it will close for approximately six months for the move.

The Magic Kingdom's Liberty Square Riverboat will be closing for refurbishment on 1/21/2014. The Riverboat is expected to be back in service on 1/31/2014.
The Barnstormer in the Magic Kingdom's Storybook Circus will be closing for a short refurbishment on 2/3/2014 through to 2/5/2014
The Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover is scheduled for a near two month refurbishment begining on 2/10/2014 through to 3/272014, 
Pinocchio Village Haus is closing for a six week refurbishment begining on 2/17/2014 through to 3/30/2014.
The Magic Kingdom's Plaza restaurant is scheduled to be closed for refurbishment from 2/17/2014 through to 3/15/2014.
Disney's All-Star Sports Surf's Up Pool is scheduled to be closed for refurbishment from 1/6/2014 to 1/24/2014.
Pop Century Resort's Hippy Dippy Pool will be closed for a short refurbishment from 12/9/2013 to 12/11/2013.

Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks Blog
The official Disney Parks Blog has today released concept art and a few more details about Epcot's new Spice Road Table restaurant.

Menu items will include zesty harissa chicken drumettes; a Mediterranean omelet with sausage, potatoes and caramelized onion; mussels with preserved lemons and tomato sauce baked in an earthenware tagine pot; Moroccan merguez sausage with a fresh tomato salad; garlicky jumbo shrimp in a spicy chile pepper sauce.

"Inspired by the outdoor cafes along the Mediterranean, the whitewashed façade of Spice Road Table is accented in icy shades of blue from the famous “Blue City” of Chefchaouen in Morocco’s Rif Mountains. A collection of shops in the colorful style of a Moroccan “souk,” or marketplace, stretches along the front of the building – and a henna tattoo artist will create temporary body art from traditional and modern designs.

With 120 outdoor terrace seats, the inside will seat 60 with cozy booths, Moroccan light fixtures, tilework, tapestries and art representing Morocco’s indigenous Berber tribes."

Although not yet officially announced, all signs now point to Camp Minnie-Mickey at Disney's Animal Kingdom closing at the end of operations on 1/5/2014.

The final performance of Festival of the Lion King in Camp Minnie-Mickey is confirmed by Disney to be on 1/5/2014 until it relocates to Africa in the summer of 2014. It is also expected that Donald Duck will be moving from Camp Minnie-Mickey to DinoLand U.S.A. for meet and greets from 1/6/2014. King Louie and Balloo are expected to be moving from Camp Minnie-Mickey to the boat dock in Asia. The new locations for Pocahontas and Chip and Dale are not yet known.

With the above closure and relocations, camp Minnie-Mickey will be completely vacated ready for AVATAR construction to begin.

Height test balloons were spotted  behind the Rainforest Cafe at Disney's Animal Kingdom on part of the land that will be home to the upcoming AVATAR land. There were around 5 balloons, at a height of approximately 3 to 4 stories. The yellow test balloons are commonly used during pre-construction phases to determine how sight lines will be impacted from other areas of the park. 

The balloons are positioned to represent the layout of the building, and its impact on the area is then assessed.

Disney and Nikon have announced that they have entered into a multi-year alliance naming Nikon as the official camera of Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.

As part of the deal, Nikon will have branded photo spots through the resort, which will presumably be replacing those previously sponsored by Kodak. Nikon will also supply all equipment for both PhotoPass and the Disney Fine Art photographers who cover weddings and portrait packages throughout the resort. Read on for the full press release.

MELVILLE, N.Y. – Nikon Inc. and Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts today announced a multi-year strategic alliance naming Nikon the official camera of Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. and Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Ca. Bringing together a global leader in imaging and the world’s leading family vacation destinations, this relationship continues the longstanding commitment to help guests capture every moment of their vacation.

“The alliance between Nikon and Disney allows us to connect with millions of passionate Disney guests who want to tell their stories through the capture of amazing imagery,” said Nobuyoshi Gokyu, president, Nikon Inc. “Through this agreement, Nikon will play an integral role in helping Disney guests to preserve and share every unforgettable moment.”

As the “Official Camera of Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts,” Nikon will have branded Picture Spots throughout the theme parks at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts, providing guests and their families with the opportunity to document their journey at ideal locations throughout the Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, as well as Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. 

“Our Disney Parks are among some of the most photographed locations in the world, so it is only natural for us to further develop our relationship with Nikon, who shares our commitment to capturing magical moments and making memories,” said Meg Crofton, president of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Operations, US and France.

Nikon will also be integrated into the Disney PhotoPass Service, the perfect way for guests to capture their vacation memories in great photos—and get everyone in the shot. Disney PhotoPass Photographers will now be exclusively equipped with Nikon cameras and accessories, ensuring each memory is preserved with the quality that consumers have come to expect from Nikon.

Disney Fine Art Photographers at Disney’s Fairy Tale Weddings and Honeymoons, as well as Adventure Guides with Adventures by Disney, will also be outfitted with Nikon cameras.


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