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!
*RetroWDW Celebrates WDW’s 50th Better Than WDW
This past week was a true highlight of the entire month, as the crew over at RetroWDW.com held the RetroMagic 50 Celebration at Disney’s Contemporary Resort and the event put more TLC into celebrating the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World than The Disney Company itself has.
If you remember last week in this fine blog series, when we covered recent Disney Parks related Little Golden Books, we talked about the history of The Orange Bird and the feathered friend’s long history with Disney. This storied history included being a walk around character in the 1970s. Well look who was at RetroMagic to greet guests…
Each ticket holder at RetroMagic 50 received this exclusive set of 5 “floating pens.” These were custom made and exclusive to the event. I don’t know many things in life, but one things I *do* know is a little something about is theme park merchandise, and I can say this pen set is one of the greatest pieces of theme park related merchandise I have ever seen. I am completely blown away as each pen gives a small glimpse into a piece of WDW history.
Another surprise bonus giveaway to some of the attendees was this Vacation Kingdom of the World map seen below. Working in conjunction with the Lake Buena Vista Historical Society, the creative geniuses at RetroMagic.com spent over 120 hours creating this masterpiece. The map itself is based on an actual “vacation kingdom” map that Disney produced in 1975. There are 71 Easter Eggs to find within the map, which is a loving tribute to the history of Walt Disney World.
Event attendees got a chance to look at rare Disney memorabilia.
The main focus of RetroMagic 50 was a series of panels held in the Fantasia Ballroom. These panels included Disney Legends, Imagineers, and notable Cast Members from over the years. Invited guests included Bob Gurr, Tom Nabbe, and Jerry Rees, with panel subjects such as Preserving Disney’s Documents, We’re Gonna Need a Bigger (Swan) Boat, and Opening The World. If you were a fan of WDW history, this was The Place To Be.
Each panel would include stories from the various Disney personnel, along with rare documents and photos from the past.
Along with theme park merchandise, another subject near and dear to my heart is theme park food. One of the all time legendary Disney created foods was the Handwich. Attendees at RetroMagic got to hear the whole story behind the creation of this incredible food item.
Even better? You could get a Handwich during the RetroMagic 50 lunch break!!
The Handwich buffet included Moo Shu pork, pulled BBQ chicken, taco beef (along with various taco related toppings), and tuna salad.
TPEI Score: +50 RetroMagic 50 is one of those events you kick yourself for not finding a way to get to. What an amazing event. The fact that Disney fans produced a better piece of merchandise related to Disney’s 50th anniversary than all of Disney’s own 50th related merchandise COMBINED shows you where we are right now in theme park fandom.
There was a lot of discussion on DisTwitter this past month on the subject of Mousekeeping at Disney Resorts and housekeeping in general at hotels. It was sparked by this post…
Many people read Carly’s and had their own stories of dealing with Mousekeeping.
Twitter user Ben Wsalek had a very good thread (that I would consider a Must Read for anyone who vacations in hotels, Disney or otherwise) on the subject of housekeeping. Ben is a former WDW Housekeeping Manager and was able to add some context to a subject which is a bit more gray compared to the stark black & white many of us see it as when waking up to knocks on the door at an early hour. You can read Ben’s thread by CLICKING HERE. Some of the points brought make a lot of sense. Many guests are checked out of their rooms before 8AM (and either at the theme parks or on their way back home) so it makes sense to get a jump start on cleaning those rooms. Like just about every business right now, Housekeeping is short staffed, yet demand seems to be as high as ever, putting a lot of stress on an already overworked labor force. There’s a lot of other interesting tidbits and behind the scenes info in Ben’s thread, and I again encourage people to check it out to get a better idea of the Big Picture of housekeeping.
As someone who has stayed in onsite hotels almost exclusively as an adult, I think my frustration with housekeeping is more related to lack of communication from the hotel itself. I’m generally not one of those people who puts a “Do Not Disturb” on my door. If I were told at check-in that the Standard Operating Procedure for housekeeping was to assume I was out of the room if that “Do Not Disturb” sign was not hanging on the door, I would be putting it out every single day. I can’t blame housekeeping for that. I know they have a job that I could never do and anything I can do to make their lives easier, I try to do. Others had suggestions to help the situation, including….
What’s interesting is that Universal Orlando is already offering these options, so it can be done. The goal is to incentivize guests to check out early, which relieves pressure on the housekeeping team AND will give a much better chance for rooms to be available earlier than the 4PM “check-in” time. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist or see 10,000 guest surveys to know that the two things almost every hotel guest wants are “rooms ready earlier” and “late check outs.” Now those two wishes completely contradict each other in the Real World, but that’s what we want.
TPEI Score: – 8 With the situation currently at WDW, this is a lose-lose situation. The guests get frustrated, and the housekeeping team gets blamed for what is really poor communication from levels of management much higher than them. I know the practice of tipping is a controversial one in the theme park community, but my policy is to pretty much leave $5 for every day I have housekeeping (more if the kiddos left some sort of mess.)
*Disneyland attempting to put Genie+ back into the lamp…
Imagine loading up your Disney app and seeing the following push notice…
It stands to reason the only reason Disney would ever consider putting out a notice like that is because of how many complaints they are getting from guests and are trying to be proactive and cutting some of them off. The notice above says Disney Genie+ is nonrefundable, but we have seen many first hand accounts of people being refunded pretty easily at the parks, most likely because so many people are dissatisfied with the overall service.
Genie+ also leads to the following…
TPEI Score: – 10 There is no easy answer to the problems Genie+ has created other than another total complete overhaul. Back in 2015 we had the famous “this better work” quote from Bob Iger in relation to how much money Disney was putting into infrastructure and things like MagicBands over building rides for capacity. Maybe by 2025 we are going to have another massive turnover at the top of the food chain until someone realizes that maybe the company should be looking at how to improve guest experience rather than nickel and dime everyone to death.
*Connections Eatery Opens: Doesn’t Suck
Back in 2015, the SATURDAY SIX made the case for why EPCOT’s Electric Umbrella needed to be taken to the Disney Dump. In 2020, Disney finally shuttered Electric Umbrella. In April 2022, its replacement opened in the form of Connections Eatery. Here is a look at the entrance to Connections Eatery…
…along with a view from inside looking out that same entrance.
There is a lot of seating in Connections Eatery, and if there is one thing all theme parks need more of, it’s seating. I am being 100% serious there. The floor to ceiling windows give a great viewing experience to guests dining.
This table has wireless charging for smart phones.
While other seating options have outlets to plug your charger into.
Electric Umbrella was not known for its fine dining. Connections Eatery does the basics, but it does them all well. You can read TouringPlans’ review by CLICKING HERE.
As far as Disney quick service pizza goes, Connections Eatery probably has the best in all of WDW. The pizza also comes with a side salad. Note the actual plates and silverware being used.
One of the biggest hits at Connections Eatery is the liege waffle dessert.
TPEI Score: +12 I had no interest in ever returning to Electric Umbrella again, but with ADRs challenging to get at places like Via Napoli, I’ll definitely be stopping by Connections Eatery for some pizza and waffles.
*Main Street Electrical Parade Returns!
What a shock, Disneyland gets the Main Street Electrical Parade back (as we in Florida seethe with jealousy). For me, the MSEP is like the Electrical Water Pageant at WDW, just wonderful pieces of entertainment that are timeless and should stay around forever.
So many iconic parade floats. MSEP is on the Mt. Rushmore of theme park parades.
A new float was added for the return, featuring characters from Encanto.
Disney livestreamed the first-night-back performance of MSEP, and thankfully Jeff Gordon was there to say what needed to be said…
But that’s not all. Of course not. This is Disneyland, the “golden child.” Not only do they get the nighttime parade back, they get a themed popcorn bucket to boot!
AND A SIPPER?!
AND THEY LIGHT UP?!!!
Loved seeing this piece of art featuring one of our favorite Old Timey MSEP floats.
A full line of MSEP merchandise came out as well, including these Wishables.
All of them glow in the dark. Just amazing.
TPEI Score: + 33 What do we have to do for a nighttime parade is the world’s most popular theme park resort in the world?!!!!
*That’s Not Enough, Disneyland Did Something Even BETTER…
Those of us in Florida were already reeling from seeing the return of MSEP while we sit on the curbs at Magic Kingdom twiddling our thumbs at night, but then another bomb gets dropped on us. All of a sudden pictures start appearing showing Ant-Man and the Wasp in Avengers Campus walking around holding a miniaturized version of A Bug’s Land.
This is one of the most amazing “in story” elements being added to the theme parks, but unfortunately the only people available to take pictures were “Disneyland people,” which means we could only get shots that looked like they were taken by the same folks who photographed Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster for the World Weekly News. Thankfully a proper Florida photographer hopped on a plane and flew to California to get us the photos we deserve.
I have a special place in my heart for the Ant-Man movies, love them both, and another movie I rank higher on my list of MCU movies than most people is Dr. Strange, so imagine my gleeful surprise when I see this…
*Meanwhile, Over in Japan…
Out of nowhere, Tokyo Disneyland announced it will be completely redoing its version of Space Mountain along with a total a retheme of the surrounding area. Kind of an odd choice to make with the look of the original Space Mountain being one of the most iconic structures in all of Disney history.
For those keeping track, Japan is getting a complete overhaul of their Space Mountain area, while us in Florida are getting something slightly different…
TPEI Score: + 4 Can’t say I agree with changing the look of something that is so well known and beloved, but definitely interested in seeing a new take on Space Mountain with modern sensibilities added to one of Disney’s greatest creations.
*Cosmic Rewind Begins Testing
Cast Members have started to have their previews of Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind in EPCOT and early reviews have been off the charts good. James Gunn, the director of the Guardians of the Galaxy films for Marvel along with the live action footage used in Cosmic Rewind, is well known for incorporating music into his forms of art (also be sure to check out his incredible Peacemaker show for HBO Max). So of course the ride has a heavy influence of music, which you can read about HERE.
Scott Walker came up with a great idea, combine Cosmic Rewind with a little bit of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit…
Club 33 and Annual Passholder previews for Cosmic Rewind will be starting soon, but right now it’s looking like EPCOT has a new headliner attraction added to the mix.
A little backstory was revealed as well, as Marvel said that the ride would offer our first look at a Celestial who has been watching Earth for eons named Eson. Celestials were first brought up in the first Thor movie back in 2011. We got a better idea of what kind of power a Celestial has in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Then came The Eternals last year and made Celestials seem like the most boring and nonsensical creations ever made. Hopefully the ride can do a better job of “getting them over” so to speak.
TPEI Score: + 8 Can’t wait to ride this one.
*New Disney Cruise Line Pressed Penny Designs!!
Disney got my letters, as new pressed penny designs arrived in Port Canaveral. These are fantastic and is the first penny design change for DCL in a decade.
TPEI Score: + 2 Thank you Disney! Now let’s have some Galaxy’s Edge pennies…
You may want to go back to last month’s TPEI and read about Bob Chapek’s Bad Month, because it got even worse in April. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis decided to use the Outrage Machine to go after Walt Disney World. This caused next level BONKERS reactions on “both sides.” You had one side protesting complete nonsense, and then the other side comes up with absolutely ludicrous stuff like this…
Move. Walt Disney World. Just pick it up and move. Well, we do have a U-Haul thanks to the Galactic Starcruiser so maybe….
TPEI Score: It’s a wash. I want this to be a negative, because it is literally the dumbest thing that has involved the theme park community in years, but it did lead to some good memes, including the following…
*Most People Don’t Realize…
So during the BANANAS discussion about the feasibility of Walt Disney World packing up in the middle of the night like the Baltimore Colts moving to Indianapolis, we did get some fun memes of people trying to put the scale of Walt Disney World into perspective. That discussion then led to people making some really fun comparisons…
TPEI Score: + 4 ‘Atta boy.
*Moon Knight on Disney+
The first episode of Moon Knight made its debut on Disney+ in the last week of March, and the month of April brought us episodes 2-5. It has been a wild ride with some amazing character work by Oscar Isaac and a story that you can’t out guess. As of this writing there is one more episode to go in the series and I have absolutely no idea how they are going to tie everything up, whereas I had a pretty good idea for Falcon & Winter Soldier, WandaVision, and Loki going into their final episodes.
Another interesting tidbit for Moon Knight is that the show is using QR codes that viewers can actually scan. In one episode a QR code on the screen gave viewers the opportunity to read a classic Moon Knight comic book from Marvel Comics. I wouldn’t consider myself a fan of QR codes in the least (and despise them replacing physical menus at some restaurants) but using them like this to add value to a viewer is pretty neat and unobtrusive.
Episode 4 of Moon Knight ended with a bit of a shock, and the moment of Oscar Isaac (as both Steven Grant and Marc Spector personas) reacting in surprise was used in many memes across social media.
Of course we are biased to the ones involving our beloved theme parks…
TPEI Score: + 2 I like Moon Knight. I like it. But I don’t love it and I’m not waking up at 3AM on days of release like I was for WandaVision, Loki, and Hawkeye. As a longtime comic book reader, that was my relationship to the Moon Knight character as well. There were some interesting storylines along the way, but for the most part the character itself just didn’t hold my interest that much compared to others. Here’s hoping the finale of Moon Knight next week adds something wild to the mix.
*It’s April, so that can mean it’s time for one thing…HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS
HHN fans are a special breed and, bless their little hearts, they don’t stop talking about HHN no matter what. One thing many look forward to every year is the SPECULATION MAP which gives everyone an idea of what might be coming this fall…
That lineup definitely sounds good, but what I love about speculation map season is the parody maps people put out…
TPEI Score: + 3 HHN. HHN. HHN.
A couple months ago we wrote about the story involving Disney’s head of communications accidentally leaking the opening date for Cosmic Rewind.
Well, in the Life Comes At You Fast department, the following news came out yesterday…
TPEI Score: – 10 After the last month of Disney Public Relations, Morrell should have been sent into space and trapped in the Phantom Zone with General Zod. His total career at WDW lasted the length somewhere between “Animal Kingdom Poop Snacks” and “Habit Heroes at EPCOT.”
DisTwitter Fundraiser for World Central Kitchen
This past week, DisTwitter Icon @SuperWeenieHtJr and myself created a fundraiser for World Central Kitchen. For those of you who don’t know what World Central Kitchen is, it is an organization run by chef José Andrés (the same chef behind Jaleo in Disney Springs) that distributes food in areas of distress. Any time you see huge hurricane damage here in Florida, or tornado, earthquake, wild fire natural disasters across the US, World Central Kitchen is there handing out meals to people in need. José Andrés is a national hero, period. Right now World Central Kitchen is focusing efforts over in Europe, helping out in the situation with Ukraine.
Last Sunday, I started up an eBay auction with the proceeds going to World Central Kitchen. You can BID on this auction up until Sunday, May 1st at noon. Here is the original haul that the winner would get…
The drawing is an official Derek Doodle, featuring our PFPs have a normal DisTwitter “discussion.” It is signed by Weenie, myself, and Bacini.
The winner gets a pair of MCO carpet socks, the most highly coveted socks in the entire world.
The SeaWorld Ice Breaker shirt is signed by Vanilla Ice.
Also included, a Bacini air freshener, a SeaWorld passholder magnet, a pair of Dockside Inn & Suites, and a Universe of Energy: Extinction 2017 t-shirt (donated by Autism at the Parks).
Since the auction went live, several others in the community have pledged items to the auction winner, including a signed photo by Len Testa’s close personal friend Hank Lonely.
Len’s Disney Dish Podcast co-host Jim Hill offered to send New Hampshire maple syrup. Reminder that Your Humble Author also hails from New Hampshire and can vouch for this being the real deal.
@SchuckJH has donated this rare set of Adventurer’s Club glasses. It includes the entire four glass set and a bonus Colonel Sunchbench glass.
Remember how we started with those great people at RetroWDW.com and the Lake Buena Vista Historical Society? They donated a map of The Vacation Kingdom of the World. This map is HUGE and is a must for any theme park map collectors.
There is more too, and the ONLY way you can get all of this is by BIDDING ON THE AUCTION.
That said, the auction is now at a price point beyond the reach of many people. So we went to the Burgan Fine Art Studio and contracted some talented artists to create Disney based drawings for a DisTwitter Prize Pack. For every $100 donation, you will receive one drawing, a Bacini air freshener, and the knowledge you are helping a truly great cause. All the money collected from the Prize Packs will be combined with the eBay auction total and given to World Central Kitchen (we’ll have an update in these very pages next month). Here are the artists about to work….
Along with some examples of their creations…
This drawing below is titled “Geoff Morrell’s comprehensive Public Relations plan for Disney.”
If you would like a Prize Pack, Venmo or PayPal $100 (along with your mailing address to derek @ touringplans.com) and we will get one out to you. You can also donate any amount you would like and it will be added to the overall amount for World Central. Thanks everyone, we have over $1,000 already and I love seeing what – at times – can be a split community come together for the right reasons.
We already had everything going on in Disneyland already, but Paris also had something pretty cool this month.
Thankfully, the Universal Orlando Resort WAS fair to Florida this month with introducing this monstrous Peeps donut for Easter.
Universal also brought back this Minion popcorn bucket, which hasn’t been sold in several years. Look how great that looks!!
Disneyland took up that challenge and released a Pizza Dog plush, based on a character from the Hawkeye show on Disney+. I still think the Jimmy Fallon ride at Universal Studios Florida should sell a pizza rat plush, but this is good enough for me.
Can you believe this?! Over in Japan there is a CD for the Harmonious soundtrack!!
I tell you what I’m going to do with it, I’m going to listen to it at FULL VOLUME.
*Your Monthly Taste of the Disney Outlet Store
DisTwitter user @FiBelleFi caught these bonkers keychains available in Japan.
Speaking of bonkers merchandise from Japan, here’s a classic one from Guy Selga.
Let’s take a quick jump into the actual Disney Outlet Stores in Orlando thanks to reader @parksguy88. Lots of Halloween and Christmas related merchandise.
Have to love any item under $1.
I loved the merchandise for niche events, like this shirt for the DVC Moonlight Magic water park events.
The highs and lows of Outlet Shopping. The highs come when you see an item you always wanted at a cheap price. The lows when you see an item you already bought at full price, like I bought this Birds of Feather shirt in EPCOT last year…
A Droid Depot hair bow. WHY?!!!!!
We know many of our readers love the bags and wallets at the Outlets.
I’m a fan of Disney’s insane pot holders.
*Please Send Your Thoughts, Prayers, and plenty of Pixie Dust…
Seems pretty crazy right? Not that crazy though. I got this text from my cousin earlier this month and I’m looking forward to hearing how this trip pans out…
We’ll close with this piece of art featuring Bacini, the official dog of DisTwitter.
Last month’s Theme Park Enjoyment Index: -29
This month’s net change: +122
Current enjoyment level: 93
Writer Derek Burgan, when not cleaning Len Testa’s pool, can be found reading comic books, watching professional wrestling, and taking his dog Bacini to Universal and Disney. organizing his various Tsum Tsums in alphabetical order. 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.