Friday, June 5, 2015

Ears the News with Richard 6/5/15

The Walt Disney Company and the National Basketball Association have announced that 'The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort' will be coming to Disney Springs.
According to Disney, the expansive, one-of-a-kind destination will feature hands-on activities that put families and guests of all ages right in the middle of NBA game action. Guests will enjoy immersive NBA video productions and numerous interactive experiences, as well as a restaurant and a retail store.
“We’re thrilled to work with the NBA to take our guests inside the world of professional basketball with an extraordinary entertainment experience,” said Robert A. Iger, chairman and chief executive officer, The Walt Disney Company. “We’ve had a long and successful partnership with the NBA through ESPN, and we will continue to build on that foundation as we bring the Disney and NBA brands together for the first time in this exciting and innovative way.”
“We look forward to uniting the passionate, global fan bases of the NBA and our longtime partner, Disney,” said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. “Working with the world’s top creator and operator of themed entertainment attractions, we can’t wait to bring the magic of Disney and the excitement of the NBA to guests from around the world.”
“Basketball fans of all ages will be able to experience the game in a whole new way when they visit ‘The NBA Experience at Walt Disney World Resort,’” said Bob Chapek, chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. “We’re excited to join the NBA in offering this unique form of family entertainment. It will be a terrific addition to the world-class lineup of shops and restaurants coming to Disney Springs.”

Beginning on May 31 2015, Disney introduced a number of enhancements to the Disney Dining Plan with the aim of increasing the flexibility and usability of the popular inclusive meal plan.
The changes apply to most Disney operated locations throughout Walt Disney World, and include an expanded range of snack offerings, more flexible substitutions, and changes to the way adult and child entitlements can be used.

Here is a run-down of the changes and how you can use them.


The snack entitlement has been updated to now include:
  •  All items that are marked on the menu as snack eligible, including those that cost more than $5.
  •  All single serve non-alcoholic beverages not served in a souvenir container.
  •  All ice cream novelties.
  •  All hand-scooped ice cream not served in a souvenir container.
  • All quick service menu side dishes.
  •  Fresh popped popcorn (pre-bagged popcorn is not available as a snack item).
 At breakfast, the following are considered snacks:

  • Cereal with milk (including Create Your Own)
  • French toast sticks
  • Oatmeal or quinoa (including Create Your Own)
  • Grits
  • Side of bacon
  • Side of sausage
  • Side of eggs
  • Side of potatoes
  • Biscuits and gravy
  • Hard-boiled eggs
There is no longer a restriction on the number of entitlements that can be used at a meal. Eg. A group of 2 guests on the Disney Dining Plan could use 1 additional entitlement for a guest in that party - making a total of 3 entitlements used for the group of 3 diners.

If using the Deluxe, Premium and Platinum Plans, child meal entitlements can be used to choose adult entrees.

At some locations, a dessert may be substituted for a side salad, soup or fruit plate if available.  

A dessert or beverage from the Quick Service Meal entitlement can be substituted for any snack item on the menu within the same order.

A Quick Service Meal can be substituted for 3 snack eligible items within the same order.

At Quick Service locations, child meal entitlements can be used for an adult meal.


The Turner Classic Movie channel sponsorship of The Great Movie Ride officially got underway at Disney's Hollywood Studios with the debut of several new updates to the ride.

The sponsorship updates include new TCM signage throughout the exterior and interior of the Chinese Theater, new digital posters in the lobby queue area, a new pre-show, Robert Osborne commentary during the ride, a new finale montage sequence, and finally a TCM photo opportunity at the exit of the attraction.

No changes have been made to any of the physical sets, audio-animatronics, or ride vehicles.
The TCM sponsorship deal was announced back in November 2014, and also includes 'Treasures From the Disney Vault' programming block to appear on TCM, featuring such shows as 'Walt Disney’s Wonderful World of Color,' and vintage movies and cartoons.

One of the most significant updates is the brand new pre-show movie, which is much longer than the original, and features host Robert Osborne describing the scenes playing. The pre-show takes guests through the full range of movie genres, providing insight and background.

The attraction is also sporting a brand new finale montage sequence. Once again hosted by Robert Osborne, the montage retains some of the old favorite clips, such as Robin William's "Good Morning Vietnam," and brings in some new sequences from more recent movies, such as Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy.


Disney has just released the Eat to the Beat performer line-up. Appearing for the first time at the Food and Wine Festival is Tiffany, Chaka Kahn, The S.O.S. Band, Everclear and Maxi Priest.

     David Cook – September 25-27, 2015
     Wilson Phillips – September 28-29, 2015
     Christopher Cross – September 30-October 1, 2015
     Starship – October 2-4, 2015
     Smash Mouth – October 5-7, 2015
     The Pointer Sisters – October 8-9, 2015
     38 Special – October 10-11, 2015
     Rick Springfield – October 12-13, 2015
     Sugar Ray – October 14-16, 2015
     The S.O.S. Band – October 17-18, 2015
     Air Supply – October 19-21, 2015
     Fuel – October 22-23, 2015
     Tiffany (NEW!) – October 24-25, 2015
     Dennis DeYoung – October 26-28, 2015
     Jo Dee Messina – October 29-30, 2015
     Everclear (NEW!) – October 31-November 1, 2015
     Boyz II Men – November 2-4, 2015
     Sister Hazel – November 5-6, 2015
     Big Bad Voodoo Daddy – November 7-9, 2015
     Hanson – November 10-12, 2015
     Maxi Priest (NEW!) – November 13-14, 2015
     Chaka Khan (NEW!) – November 15-16, 2015

Part of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, concerts take place daily at 5:30 PM, 6:45 PM and 8:00 PM, and are included with park admission.

A  new piece of concept art on display at Disney Springs gives a glimpse of the new-look Planet Hollywood Observatory set to open next year.

Image courtesy WDWMagic.com
Opening in Spring 2016, Planet Hollywood Observatory will be a complete rework of the existing restaurant. Taking design cues from a turn-of-the-century observatory, the four story building will also feature a new outdoor terrace and bar called Stargazers. The outdoor terrace will give guests views out onto Disney Springs and will also bring live entertainment to Planet Hollywood.

On the inside, there will be a completely reworked menu, and a new interior design - but still retaining the movie props and celebrity memorabilia that the restaurant is known for.
The restaurant is currently still open and operating as normal, with the work expected to begin on the exterior changes later this year. Early 2016 should see the beginning of the interior work, which is likely to see a closure of the restaurant.

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