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Theme Park Enjoyment Index for JANUARY 2024 (Latest of EPIC Universe, Mickey Mouse Goes Into Public Domain, DCA Lunar New Year and MORE!)

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The Theme Park Enjoyment Index (TPEI) is a monthly look at the events that have made an impact, both positive and negative, in this wild world of theme parks we all love so much. Each TPEI comes out on the last Saturday every month, and we assign each piece of news a positive or negative number, tally it all up at the end and chart it. The range goes from 0-100 with 0 being Stitch’s Supersonic Celebration while a perfect score of 100 would be Pandora: The World of Avatar.

Remember, all links in TPEI open up in a new browser window. So feel free to check stuff out, we’ll be here when you get back!

*Mickey Mouse Goes Into Public Domain

Mickey Mouse in Steamboat Willie (1928)

January 2024 started off HOT when after 95 years, the character of Mickey Mouse has fallen from the tight grasp of Disney Intellectual Property Lawyers and into the hands of public domain. This was something I didn’t think I would ever see happen because over the course of my time Disney has fought many legal battles to extend Mickey’s copyright extension. The foundation of the Walt Disney empire that we know today has a foundation built on many strong bricks; including Snow White (1939), the opening of Disneyland (1955) and Walt’s famous quote “If you can dream it, you can do it” (well, maybe not that one.)

However, years before any of that was Steamboat Willie. It is impossible to fully understand now what type of impact Steamboat Willie made on the public upon its release in 1928. One of the first ever animated cartoons to use synchronized sound with what was playing on the screen, it was also – for all intents and purposes – the debut of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, two beloved characters whose popularity with the audience continues to this very day.

Over the years, Disney has been notorious about protecting its copyright, including making legal threats to Florida preschools over painted murals that featured Disney characters. Why was Disney so protective? Well we found out once Mickey Mouse and Steamboat Willie entered the public domain on January 1st. IMMEDIATELY there were brands that announced films and video games that used the character of Mickey Mouse in a not-so-Disney way, including the upcoming movie MICKEY, which will tell the tale of “a sadistic mouse who torments a group of unsuspecting ferry passengers”…

Art from MICKEY (2024.)

A live-action horror film called MICKEY’S MOUSETRAP will also be rushed into distribution.

Another upcoming horror movie is named THE RETURN OF STEAMBOAT WILLIE.

After 95 years of being locked away, Willie is free and he wants his Steamboat back.

With that tagline, we’re not even sure if the people involved with this movie understand that the STEAMBOAT was named “WILLIE” and that Mickey Mouse was the captain.

The Return of Steamboat Willie trailer begins in an idyllic world of color before transforming into a horror-ish black & white.
The Return of Steamboat Willie.
The Return of Steamboat Willie trailer ends with the character on the attack.

A trailer was revealed for MOUSE, a first person shooter video game featuring Mickey Mouse using a variety of weapons to take out “a corrupt city of crooks and danger.”

Mickey using a gangster-style Tommy gun.
Mickey using a shotgun.
Mickey using a six shooter.

A pizza place in Pittsburgh started using Mickey Mouse on its receipts…

Spak Brothers Pizza logo. (photo by Justin Wier)

HBO’s Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, a talk show which has skewered the Walt Disney company for years (and rightfully so,) used the following graphic to tease the new season coming in February…

Rumors and Innuendo suggest that unscrupulous people even using Mickey as the logo for their theme park blogs. Have they no shame?!!

Welcome to the new and improved TPEI! (art by Brian Cooper, pixie dust by Scott Cooper)

Meanwhile, the Walt Disney Company is over here like…

One of my favorite weekly pieces of entertainment on the interweb is Ruben Boling’s Tom the Dancing Bug (which you can subscribe to by CLICKING HERE.) Earlier this month they released an amazing piece introducing Mickey Mouse as their newest character. It was chock-full of biting commentary on the public domain situation, including the comic strip below…

From Tom the Dancing Bug (Ruben Boling)

On social media, you couldn’t go anywhere without someone bringing up the situation…

Now that is a great idea if I ever heard one. Even better, artist Jess Feldman brought that idea to life!

You knew that Universal’s social media team wasn’t going to let this news go without taking a lighthearted jab…

TPEI Score: -95 When it comes to copyright law I get it, I really do. In fact some of my favorite pieces of media were ones that re-used characters that went into public domain (such as Alan Moore’s League of Extraordinary Gentlemen comic book series.) It was a completely different world when copyright law was originally created. Thanks to the current crash grab world we live in combined with – ugh – Artificial Intelligence doing the work instead of actual creative humans, we are about to be overwhelmed with a metric ton of Mickey Mouse/Steamboat Willie related GARBAGE.

*Legacy Store Closes in CityWalk

This one was a heartbreaker, to the point where we did an entire article paying tribute to the Legacy Store earlier this month. For Universal fans, the Legacy Store in CityWalk was a true unicorn and the one place where you could get a look into the history of the Universal Orlando Resort.

Universal Legacy Store. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Disney fans have many books, websites, and filmed documentaries looking at the creation of their theme parks, but Universal fans have nowhere near that type of coverage for the Uni parks. The Legacy Store was loaded with amazing photos of the creation of Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.

Picture of Spider-Man in the Legacy Store with the construction of Islands of Adventure behind him. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

One thing I love at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is One Man’s Dream, and seeing scale models of attractions from Disney parks around the world. The Legacy Store was the only place where you could see something similar featuring the attractions from the history of Universal.

Scale model of E.T. Adventure ride vehicle. (photo by Hunter Underwood)

Unfortunately, January 2024 they turned off the lights at the Legacy Store…literally.

The Legacy Store says goodbye (photo by @bioreconstruct)

TPEI Score: – 2 This was hands down one of my favorite stores in all of Universal and one I went to every single trip. Make sure to read our in-depth article covering the Legacy Store to see why. I firmly believe that if a store existed in EPCOT with 1/10th the amount of TLC that Universal put into the Legacy Store it would draw some of the longest lines in the park. Plus imagine the bank Disney would make on merchandise for things like Captain EO, Horizons, and Kitchen Kabaret. Rumors and Innuendo suggest that later this year the Legacy Store will be transformed into an EPIC Universe Preview Center. If that’s true, that could be even cooler than the Legacy Store. Here’s hoping.

Speaking of EPIC Universe, in January a Universal Instagram page released a video that shared footage of EPIC Universe construction. Universal is very tight lipped on almost all their projects, and this was some of the first real info we fans got on EPIC since the park was announced several years ago. The video featured various Team Members working at Universal Orlando – including ones at the EPIC Universe construction site. One of those Team Members had more than a passing resemblance to former Disney CEO Bob Chapek (who was fired out of nowhere at the end of 2022, something we covered in that year’s Theme Park Turkey of the Year Awards.)

*The Latest on EPIC Universe Construction

Blogger-in-the-sky @bioreconstruct took some amazing photos this month of what’s going on at Universal’s upcoming theme park. Let’s check out some of our favorites, including this shot which shows the ride vehicles for the upcoming Yoshi attraction in Super Nintendo World.

Aerial look at completed theming of Mount Beanpole near the Yoshi’s Adventure track. Theming continues in areas underneath the track. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Aerial photo of blue test dummies in Yoshi’s Adventure. Ride cars are in a mix of protective plastic and also fabric. The ride track is within temporary scrims and fencing, with lighting above to observe the testing. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Another ride vehicle was spotted in How to Train Your Dragon Land…

Aerial photo of a covered train in the second launch of the How To Train Your Dragon roller coaster. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Dark Universe, the land featuring Universal Classic Monsters is going to be absolutely jaw dropping.

Aerial overview of Dark Universe. Classic Universal Monsters land in Epic Universe. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Rumors and Innuendo suggest the blades of The Burning Blade Tavern will indeed be “on fire.” Pinch me, I’m dreaming!

Aerial overview of The Burning Blade Tavern in Dark Universe. Zoom in, seems like the mechanism for rotating the windmill blades is installed in the tower. At right is a recently added walkway and landscaping near roofed outdoor seating. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Aerial look at construction of the manor in Dark Universe. Purple exterior board recently added for the side towers. At left is current exterior of a a quick service restaurant. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The Wizarding World in EPIC Universe has to be the best one that Universal has created, solely for the fact that it won’t have any of the “cheap pops” that every other Wizarding World has. As Harry Potter fans, we know everything about the world IOA’s Hogsmeade Village and USF’s Diagon Alley are based on. The attractions in those two lands feature beloved characters from some of the most well known movies in the world. Unless there are things I don’t know about, the EPIC Universe Wizarding World won’t have any of that. This is an opportunity for Universal Creative to really show us something.

Aerial photo of the portal to a Harry Potter related land in Epic Universe. At right of the copy of Porte Saint-Denis is start of a mural. Likely an ad themed to the time period. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Aerial look at facades where scaffolding was recently removed. In the Harry Potter related land in Epic Universe. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Let’s check out the hotel that will led directly inside the EPIC Universe park…

Aerial photo of the arrival side of the Epic Universe in-park resort. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

…as well as the two “value” resorts across the street from EPIC Universe.

Aerial look at Terra Luna and Stella Nova resorts, South of Epic Universe. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Current colorful reflective tile on the pool side of Terra Luna resort. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Landscaping underway near the Kirkman Rd extension through the Epic Universe development. Colorful reflective tiles also completed on this side of Stella Nova resort. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

TPEI SCORE: +8  Are you excited or what?!!!!

*Sacre Bleu! Another Guest Hops out of it’s a small world…

If it sounds like you’ve heard this story before, it’s because you have. Back in October, a guest jumped out of a it’s a small world boat in Disneyland and proceeded to take off all their clothes (as one does.) This month it happened out in Disneyland Paris.

Boat rides at Disney often stop and are backed up for a while. Down here in Florida we experience it all the time for rides such as Pirates of the Caribbean, it’s a small world, and Gran Fiesta Tour. Out in Disneyland Paris, boats were backed up on their version of its a small world and for whatever reason, an adult woman rolled up her pants and took off her shoes before stepping into the water. She then helped four kids get off the ride. While this was happening, a Disney Cast Member was repeatedly telling guests to stay on the boats. This was all captured on video and posted on Tik Tok.

This video went VIRAL, with thousands of people adding their comments on the situation and more than a few having fun with it as well. The poster Gratuitous Theme Parks tied the its a small world story in with the antics that went down during a Kansas City Chiefs/Buffalo Bills game in which NFL player Jason Kelce jumped out of the club level and into the stands (a moment that also went viral on social media.) This was classic two great tastes coming together, like when chocolate met peanut butter, pepperoni met pizza, or former Disney CEO Bob Chapek met nickle-and-diming guests.

Jason Kelce jumps out of its a small world. (meme by @gratthemeparks)
Jason Kelce enjoying its a small world. (meme by @gratthemeparks)

TPEI Score: – 2 Stop. Getting. Out. Of. Ride Vehicles.

*Festival of the Arts at EPCOT

We are so blessed with awesome seasonal events in Florida. Universal outdoes themselves with a great Mardi Gras and Christmas season, while Disney’s Flower & Garden and Food & Wine are staples of the theme park calendar. Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights may be my personal favorite, but EPCOT’s Festival of the Arts is a close second as it is so unique compared to any other event at Disney or Universal. The festival pays tribute to artists and the art they create, which is tremendous for a theme park world which – in general – gives very little credit to the amazing artists who work tirelessly behind-the-scenes creating what we cherish in the parks.

Aside from being able to meet various artists in the parks, one of the annual traditions of the Festival of the Arts is the Chalk Full of Characters scavenger hunt gimmick where various Disney characters are “hidden” throughout the park. Be sure to check out this fantastic article over at Mousesteps which has wonderful photos and video of all the characters you’ll discover as you walk around EPCOT.

Duffy the Disney Bear and his pal Gelatoni using their paws to paint Mickey.
Pascal from Tangled painting a sun.
Mushu and Cri-kee from Mulan. (photo by @Mousesteps)
Remy from Ratatouille. (photo by @Mousesteps)
Characters from Great Mouse Detective. (photo by @Mousesteps)

We mentioned the history of EPCOT in our discussion of the Legacy Store earlier in this article, and Festival of the Arts is your chance to see various artists show their affection for this era, including this graphic featuring a character that was in Communicore.

SMRT-1 as Festival of the Arts graphics in EPCOT. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

One of the best attention to details Disney does in any park occurs in the Germany Pavilion. In the giant model train area, the banners that hang from the tiny light posts reflect the current festival.

Festival of the Arts banners in the EPCOT Germany pavilion model train town square. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Another great part of the Festival of the Arts is the amount of Chalk Art that is drawn on the ground. These range from “simple” drawings of various Disney characters up to elaborate murals that give a wonderful 3-D effect for photo-ops. What I love about the Chalk Art is that it gives a glimpse of “the process” artists use to create these drawings as pretty  much everything is done in front of guests. That means you get to see the art come to life so to speak in front of your eyes.

A dimensional WALL-E chalk art starting as lines in EPCOT. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Artist working on chalk art. (photo by @Mousesteps)
Artist working on chalk art. (photo by @Mousesteps)
Minnie holding Figaro. (photo by @mousesteps)

Now lets check out this larger drawing featuring characters from Raya and the Last Dragon. It looks impressive enough from this angle…

Raya. (photo by @Mousesteps)

…but when you look at the chalk art straight on it has a next-level dimensional feel in which guests can put themselves “into” the drawing via a photograph. It is crazy how good these artists are.

Raya. (photo by @Mousesteps)

To learn more about Chalk Art at this year’s Festival of the Arts, make sure to check out THIS ARTICLE over at Mousesteps that has a ton of awesome photos showing artists working as well as the finished pieces. There’s so much chalk art on the ground at EPCOT that Mousesteps even did A SECOND ARTICLE on it!

EPCOT even has an area where guests can do their own chalk art on the ground!

Another annual tradition guests can take part in is the paint-by-number mural. Always a crowd favorite.

Figment’s Brush with the Masters scavenger hunt is back. This is hands down my favorite scavenger hunt at Disney or Universal. Guests first purchase a Brush with Masters map for $9.95. The back has stickers of various pieces of art that have Figment included in them. The front of the map has the various countries you’ll find these paintings in. You match the sticker with the country. Whether you complete the scavenger hunt or not, you also get a Festival of the Arts figurine which you get to paint (figurines included Figment, Mickey, and Minnie.)

The pieces of art that incorporate Figment are so bonkers and I LOVE EVERY PART OF IT. Here is the painting “Dragon Crossing the Delaware.”

Festival of the Arts merchandise is usually a step above the stuff we see Disney make for their other annual events. Here is this year’s backpack featuring Figment…

…and a fantastic plush that has Figment coming through a piece of art. Love it!

It wouldn’t be an EPCOT Festival without a ton of food options, and the mega popular Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese item returned to the Pop Eats! outdoor kitchen.

Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese (with pimento cheese, bacon, and fried green tomato grilled cheese)

The outdoor kitchens at Festival of the Arts – in my book – blow away the offerings at Food & Wine and Flower & Garden. Sorry, but to quote Olympic gold medalist Kurt Angle, “It’s true, it’s damn true.”

Neapolitan Dessert Trio.
Deconstructed Key Lime Pie.

Like most of EPCOT’s Festivals, there’s also the opportunity to try items from various outdoor kitchens to earn an exclusive item. The Wonderful Walk of Colorful Cuisine gives guests a list of 7 different items found around the park, and if you try 5 of them you’ll get a complimentary Artist Palette Cookie and a mixed berry smooth in a keepsake plastic cup.

Who can forget 2022 and the insanity of the Figment Popcorn Bucket that was released for that year’s Festival of the Arts? Well, this year Disney went back to the Figment well and created another popcorn bucket that featured everyone’s favorite purple dragon, except this time he was inside a recreation of the Imagination Pavilion!

Imagination Pavilion Popcorn Bucket. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)

This just may be the greatest popcorn bucket Disney has ever created.

Imagination Pavilion Popcorn Bucket. (photo by @Blog_Mickey)

EPCOT, with the time honored tradition of brining back Figment any time they need a quick fix…and you know what? IT WORKS!

In Case of Emergency Break Glass and release Figment. (pixie dust by Scott Walker)

TPEI SCORE: +50 Once again the Festival of the Arts goes harder than it has to and over delivers, a rarity in the current Walt Disney World.


*DCA Celebrates Lunar New Year

Out in California, TouringPlans own Guy Selga covered the Lunar New Year celebration at Disney California Adventure.

It features Mulan’s Lunar New Year Procession, which includes songs and characters from the animated film Mulan, along with acrobats, drummers, and dancers.

Outdoor kitchens served exclusive items for the Lunar New Year Celebration.

A Sip and Savor Pass is available which gets you six tasting-size items from the festival food booths and select quick-service restaurants in DCA. The 2024 Sip and Savor Pass costs $46 for regular park guests and $43 for Magic Key holders.
Mickey Mouse-shaped Hot Dog Bun, a photogenic hit with guests.
Quesabirra Eggroll and Mandarin Orange Mousse Cake,
Full-size entrees are also available at Paradise Garden Grill, including Guy’s personal favorite, the Whole Fish.

Merchandise game for Lunar New Year is ON POINT.

Disney nuiMOs Chinese Lunar New Year Display
Mickey Year of the Dragon plush.
Walt Disney World Lunar New Year Keychain

*2024 runDisney Marathon

The runDisny Marathon returned to Walt Disney World this January. For many in the theme park community this year’s event was a somber reminder of what happened shortly after last year’s runDisney Marathon weekend. runDisney Hall of Famer Ian Barritt passed away, and blogger-in-the-sky @bioreconstruct went to the E.R. and was diagnosed with Leukemia. Both men had just completed each race in the 2023 runDisney Marathon weekend of events.

Thankfully this year’s runDisney marathon weekend went off without a hitch, outside of some atypical Florida weather.

Interesting castle or fortress type of theming at the base of what will be the starting line for all 4 races of WDWMarathon weekend. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Close up of the theming. photo by @bioreconstruct)

While a lot of the runDisney marathon is running through roads in Walt Disney World that aren’t interesting at all, you’ll also get the unique experience of running through the Magic Kingdom.

A highlight in the WDW 26.2 mile marathon is the routing under the Tron canopy and through Storybook Circus. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
The much-feared Balloon Ladies are reaching the finish of the 2024 WDW Marathon. They are the visual end of the race, and maintain a 16min/mile pace. Fall behind and you can be removed from the course. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Medals of the 2024 WDW Marathon 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon. Plus Goofy half/full combo and Dopey all 4 events. Full, Goofy, and Dopey seen here with additional Perfect attendance lanyards for completing all of them over the years. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Each of the medals had a unique feature…

This weekend’s WDW 5K medal is a slider with Pluto. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
This weekend’s WDW 10K medal is a slider with Chip and Dale. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
This weekend’s WDW Half Marathon medal is a spinner. Donald and Daisy rotate around the raised center. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Today’s WDW full marathon medal has separate sliders for Minnie and Mickey, and the center is a spinner. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
This weekend’s Goofy Challenge medal is slider, as if Goofy is running through a finishing line tape.
Goofy is wearing 3 medals, like a Challenge finisher does! Half and full marathon medals, and the challenge medal. Note the 4 park icons. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
This weekend’s Dopey Challenge medal is battery-powered, with a sealed electrical component on the reverse. Click the switch and jewels light up! The Dopey Challenge is completing all four events at WDW. 5K, 10K, Half Marathon, Full Marathon. 48.6 miles over four days. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Because of impending thunderstorms, the Half Marathon was changed from a 13.1 mile course to 7.1 mile one.

Interesting design change of the normally 13.1 mile half marathon to a 7.1 mile event. Due to possibility of thunderstorms. Keeps everyone nearby in case weather worsens sooner. Race also starting 4:45am instead of 5. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

This led to DisTwitter creative machine Howard Bowers came up with an amazing design that plays off the shortened race. The design is available on pins, t-shirts, and more items. You can buy yours by CLICKING HERE.

“I Ran The 69/256th Half Marathon – 7.1 Mile” merch, a fun gift for anyone who ran the shortened runDisney race. (art by Howard Bowers)

*Bibbidi Bobbidi BOOtique Coming To Universal?

As we said earlier, Universal plays things tight to the vest, so imagine our surprise this past week when out of nowhere there was a MONSTER MAKEOVER display in the gift shop located next to the Horror Make-Up Show in Universal Studios Florida. Rumors and Innuendo suggest that this is going to be something like Disney’s Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique, except instead of princesses, kids can get makeovers to monsters.

Monster Makeover. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)

When I’m in the parks, I always see kids sitting at the face painters and getting elaborate designs, so I imagine this concept is going to be a big hit.

Monster Makeover. (photo by Hedgehogs Corner)

*DisTwitter Getting Real Bad, BUT….

I would never encourage anyone to sign up for Twitter (which is ridiculously – and unsuccessfully – trying to rebrand itself as X: the everything app) with how awful the social media site has become. I was recently explaining to a friend who isn’t on Twitter what has happened to the app over the last year and everything sounded absolutely awful when I brought them all up. I guess when you experience them slowly over the course time you just get used to it. THAT SAID, the competition to Twitter just isn’t good enough… yet. I signed up for all of them and quickly lost interest in most, although you can find TouringPlans’ own Len Testa, Bioreconstruct, and myself posting regularly over at Bluesky, which is the best Twitter equivalent so far in my book.

Right now though, Twitter is really the only place you can have great interactions with current and former creative members of Disney and Universal. This month former Disney Imagineer Eddie Sotto shared pictures of a Disneyland model that he made as a kid and it is TERRIFIC!

I was trying to show WED I was hoping to be taken seriously (at 13!) after being turned away. It took a few rejections over the years. Once Marty Skylar said “we already have a Steve Kirk.” Instead, one day Tony Baxter called me! HIRED. Love that guy! – Eddie Sotto

Look at this attention to detail. Are you kidding me?! Sotto was building this stuff from scratch back in the early ’70s and I wouldn’t be able to come close to recreating something like this TODAY given all the advantages we have in terms of access to supplies. I feel like the engineer in the first Iron Man film who gets dressed down after he couldn’t recreate something that Tony Stark did “in a cave using a box of scraps!

Eddie went on to explain the level of detail he put into his work…

I was so obsessed I made tiny construction fences when I redid areas so miniature guests could not see in!

Young Eddie Sotto with Disneyland 1/200 Scale Model.

Former Universal Creative member Dave Cobb shared an incredible ride photo that he was able to purchase from the original version of Test Track at EPCOT back in 1998. The ride vehicle is barely in the picture, let alone any actual people.

User @tyler_c_world posted this pretty amazing chart created by Disney way back in 1957 that shows the synergy between the various aspects of the company and how they should work together in order to optimize the entire company. 

I got a hold of the current flow chart for the Disney Company…

Mentioned earlier that as theme park fans we have tons of access to behind-the-scenes stuff for attractions at Disney, but it’s much more rare to see similar things for Universal parks. This month we got to see some fantastic concept art of Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, which I think is one of the best coasters in ANY park, Universal or Disney. I love seeing concept art for attractions because it gives you a glimpse of “what if…” the ride could have been if they had gone in a different direction.

Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure Concept Art. (art by David Goodwin)
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure Concept Art. (art by David Goodwin)
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure Concept Art. (art by David Goodwin)
Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure Concept Art. (art by David Goodwin)

User Henry Taylor posted these pics from Liberty Tree Tavern which point out a great detail in the Franklin room.

Liberty Tree Tavern. Franklin Room. (photo by Henry Taylor)
Liberty Tree Tavern. Franklin Room. (photo by Henry Taylor)

Imagine being in your local library and discovering this….



So much happens over the course of a month on DisTwitter that it would take 10 articles just to explain a fraction of it. However, to give you a glimpse of the level of insanity (and genius) going on, below is a picture of Hondo Ohnaka from Smugglers Run in Galaxy’s Edge. Hondo is wearing a nametag because of a discussion that went wild on DisTwitter discussing whether or not guests at the parks need to be familiarized with the characters who are in the pre-shows of attractions.

Signage Hall of Shame Gets New Entrants…

Been a banger month for signage at Walt Disney World and we are happy to induct some new entrants into our prestigious Disney Signage Hall of Fame. For our first sign we have to remember that the Governor of the state of Florida had a hissy fit last year and replaced the Disney-run Reedy Creek Development District with a board comprised solely of his hand-picked cronies. The new name for this board is the Central Florida Tourism Oversight District and one of the things they are responsible for is the upkeep on signs across the roads of Walt Disney World. As you can see, things are going just great down here…

One of the heavily weathered Central Florida Tourism Oversight District road signs. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Our long national nightmare ended earlier this month when Disney finally changed the park hopping restrictions at its theme parks in Florida. Previously, you could start your day in one park but couldn’t park hop until 2PM. To accommodate for this, the Disney bus systems didn’t start operating for transport between parks until 1:30PM. All the signage on the Bus Information boards reflected this. When the park hopping rules changed, the signage would also need to be changed. OR you could just put tape over what you didn’t want people to see…

Animal Kingdom Bus Signage. (photo by @NomadLounger)

Reminder that the Disney Company’s gross profit in 2022 was $28.321 BILLION dollars. Profit.

Animal Kingdom stickers. (photo by @FiBelleFi)

Last year the company which produced the H2O line of bath products ended its long running relationship with Disney after discontinuing the line. In theory, Disney *could* use that opportunity to put new bottles in the bathrooms of their various hotels and cruise line staterooms with guest friendly characters. Imagine seeing Mickey Mouse body soap or Elsa conditioner. You can even do specific theming, like at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort you could have Lightning McQueen shampoo, Sally conditioner, and ‘Mater body wash. Guests, especially kids, would love it.

OR you could just put a piece of tape over the H2O branding. That works too.

Disney Cruise Line Sticker H20 (found on Reddit)

Nothing better than a sign pointing to a venue saying it is currently open when it is obviously closed. C’mon sign, YOU HAD ONE JOB. LITERALLY.

Hurricane Hannah’s Open at the Close. (photo by @divotjr)

Quick look back at my personal Mordor, the Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando. Someone apparently thinks this Jawa is Yoda. Star Wars superfan Guy Selga is currently screaming.

Speaking of Guy Selga, this month he posted a story of how Disney took screen shots from one of his blogs to use in their actual marketing for MaxxPass. This is not the first time a TouringPlans blog has been used in a high profile way, as you may remember the story of That Time Someone Photoshopped a Picture From a TouringPlans Blog for a Court Case.


*2024 is the 25th anniversary of Universal’s Islands of Adventure. WHAT IF…


Let’s take a quick look at some of my favorite theme park photos from this past month…

Space Mountain at night looking like an actual spaceship. (photo by @DrewDisneyDude)
Under the Arches. (photo by @Somewareatdiz)

Next month is the start of our 2024 Artist Spotlight series, so imagine how happy we were to see this latest piece of art posted by a member of the Artist Spotlight Inaugural Class of 2021: Sam Carter.

Excited to finally share this art with you. – an illustrative map of Disneyland’s Fantasyland. I’ve always loved theme park maps and this project was a labor of love. I had the pleasure of diving into the details, the concept being treating the land like a real “kingdom” with a spotlight on its own unique neighborhoods within. (with some nods to surrounding lands) Honored to have created something like this to help train Cast Members, so they can go on and help create a story building experience with the guest (art by Sam Carter)

*Latest on Disney Merchandise…

Would love to be in the room when a person pitched the idea of bleach spots being added to this shirt as a selling point.

We’ve covered some of the Disney Resort ornaments in the past and I think they are actually awesome. Unfortunately I wouldn’t be allowed to put any of them on our Christmas trees (that’s right, we have more than one tree in the house and I still have zero input on decorating them.) However I can appreciate how great they are, including this latest one featuring the Beach Club Resort.

Beach Club ornament. (photo by Mark Diba)

Maybe I’ll just do what Mark Diba did and create a display for them in the house….

Speaking of ornaments, this Gaston one was featured on Shop Disney back in December and, well, you know…

Best item of the month was found out in Disney California Adventure, when a dog tag machine in Radiator Springs was selling dog tags for Universal’s Fast & Furious Supercharged attraction. Sounds impossible, but we have the pictures to prove it…


You can’t blame this one on the software of the machine showing an item that isn’t actually available, a look into the machine shows the Universal dog tag inside a Disney park.

C’mon Disney, if you’re going to see products from a Universal attraction, at least make it a good one! (photo by @Marty084)

Constantly amazed at the talent of people out there, including this amazing VelociCoaster train that was homemade by @quinnhaan.

Homemade VelociCoaster train. (created by @quinnhaan)

If they sold this at Islands of Adventure I would buy one IMMEDIATELY.

Homemade VelociCoaster train. (created by @quinnhaan)

Look at the attention to detail!

Homemade VelociCoaster train. (created by @quinnhaan)

Another item I would buy in a milli-second? These hand made Disney Ride Vehicles.

Disney Ride Vehicles. (art by @hiroptx)

We can’t go without checking in on one of the most talented people we know in theme park fandom. @TheHorizoneer makes one great custom LEGO set after another and this month we got to see the Hollywood Tower of Terror along with the Tower’s Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout! makeover. Just brilliant work.

LEGO Tower of Terrors. (created by @TheHorizoneer)

Last month’s Theme Park Enjoyment Index: 67
This month’s net change: -45
Current enjoyment level: 22

Writer Derek Burgan, when not cleaning Len Testa’s pool, can be found reading comic books, watching professional wrestling, organizing his various Tsum Tsums in alphabetical order, and taking his dog Bacini to Universal and Disney.. He will not, we repeat not, be found at a Disney Outlet Store. An official DisTwitter Influencer, you can interact with him @derekburgan

Digital Artist Scott Walker hails from Scotland and is the fifth most famous person from this country following Alexander Graham Bell, Ewan McGregor, Gerard Butler, and Groundskeeper Willie.

Didn’t even have the strength to cover this story, and you wouldn’t BELIEVE what site was used to debunk the rumors…

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