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*Disneyland loses power.
The month started off with some bad news when the 4th of July fireworks out in California weren’t seen in the sky. Instead they could be found at Guest Relations, as guests at both Disneyland and Disney’s California Adventure saw power outages affect numerous attractions. Rides affected at Disneyland included Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Haunted Mansion, and Indiana Jones Adventure. Rides affected at DCA included the Incredicoaster, Grizzly River Run, Radiator Springs Racers, and the new WEB SLINGERS: A Spider-Man Adventure.
TPEI Score: -7 The good news for California guests is that – unlike Walt Disney World – each of their theme parks have more than a dozen rides in them so there was stuff to do even with those attractions being down.
*Disneyland Paris offers pay for play access to replace free FastPass.
In what is surely a harbinger for what will be coming to the North American theme parks, Disney announced they would be replacing the free FastPass service at Disneyland Paris with Premier Access, a new paid service. Pricing for Premier Access will be dynamic, similar to how the cost for a day ticket to WDW can vary throughout the year. Pricing will also be per ride, and range from €8 to €15 depending on attraction and day of visit.
Here’s the catch. Disneyland Paris will still offer a free standby queue option for guests, however once attractions reach a certain wait time, guests will need to obtain a Standby Pass. This Standby Pass essentially works as a virtual queue like we already see at Universal’s Volcano Bay. Guests will only be able to obtain one Standby Pass at a time, so if multiple E-Ticket attractions have waits which would trigger the start of a Standby Pass, the only way to overcome this barrier would be to purchase Premier Access.
TPEI Score: -22 Neat idea in theory, but with great power comes great responsibility. I recommend everyone reading this to check out the book Freakanomics as it’s an entertaining and – more importantly – educational book about the Big Picture of things that may at first seem simple but are much more complex. Take for example, Premier Access. It’s not hard to imagine that it won’t be long before front line Cast Members (and definitely management) are incentivized to sell more Premier Access. The Disney parks in America already inflate wait times, but that is more to give guests a feeling that the actual wait “wasn’t that bad” compared to what they thought it would be. If someone can financially benefit from selling more Premier Access, it’s human nature they will be compelled to goose the numbers to achieve those goals. Some humans more than others…
*Disneyland Paris inducts first sign into the Disney Signage Hall of Shame.
On the other side of the coin, we got some positive news out of Europe when the first sign in the history of Disneyland Paris was inducted into our prestigious Disney Signage Hall of Shame.
TPEI Score: +18 Sacré bleu, great day for signs across the world.
Meanwhile, in America…
*Disney Releases Picture of Joe Biden’s Hall of Presidents Audio-Animatronic.
Four years ago Walt Disney Imagineering dragged its feet when adding the newly elected President into the Hall of Presidents at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. The audio-animatronic for our 45th President didn’t make its debut in the park until December. It was rumored that a planned audio-animatronic for a different President had to be converted to the person who actually won, and spikes had to be installed into the Hall of Presidents theater to prevent guests from jumping onto the stage. And you thought 2020 was weird.
Disney released photos of the upcoming audio-animatronic for our 46th President, Joe Biden, who will be joining the Hall of Presidents in the near future. In a change of pace compared to recent President AAs, the Biden figure does – in fact – look like Joe Biden and there will be a table next to him holding his trademark aviator glasses along with other items.
TPEI Score: +46 No malarkey here.
*Even More “Fab 50” Character sculptures are announced.
This year Walt Disney World will begin its 50th anniversary celebration, and it kicks off on October 1st when 50 golden character statues will make their debut.
However, this past week we got the news of some of the characters who will be part of this “Fab 50” and they seem a bit head scratching.
Now I consider myself a huge fan of The Incredibles. It’s firmly entrenched in my Pixar top 5 along with Rataouille, Toy Story 2, Finding Nemo, and Cars (my secret shame). That said, why would Edna Mode of all characters be one of the 50 characters you would make a sculpture for?
TPEI Score: -13 One of Edna Mode’s lines in The Incredibles is “I never look back, darling. It distracts from the now.” Apparently that is the same line of thinking from a company celebrating its 50th anniversary…
THAT SAID, this story did get us to thinking at the SAT SIX headquarters (which is a rare event). If Edna Mode is appropriate choice for the Fab 50, who else should make the cut? Who has made an indelible mark on the theme parks…someone that you and your family would want to get a photo with? Our first choice was easy, so we commissioned a life-sized gold plated reproduction of eBay Pirates loaded up with Splash Mountain merchandise.
So when you and your family are in the Magic Kingdom, you’ll be able to get a Disney PhotoPass Photographer to take your picture in front of these legendary and iconic characters.
Meanwhile, over in EPCOT guests will be able to take a romantic photo in front of the Mexico Pavilion with a newly created gold statue of The Guy Who Tried To Climb It. We’ll be back with more Fab 50 character sculptures in next weekend’s SATURDAY SIX, so stay tuned true believers!
*Orlando Magazine Says Best Theme Park Restaurant is…. BLAZE PIZZA?
Back in our celebrated 2019 Theme Park Turkeys of the Year article, we wrote about a magazine titled America’s Most Amazing Theme Parks. The cover of this magazine touting America’s most amazing theme parks included Disneyland Paris. Stuff like that is almost impossible to top but Orlando magazine sure tried…
In the Best of 2021 edition, the Top Three THEME PARK RESTAURANTS were listed. For me personally, # 2 is a no-brainer. It’s a controversial take because many think the restaurant is trash now, but I’ll knight up for the dinner experience at Be Our Guest Restaurant every day of the week. It’s an experience. Especially taking friends and family who have never been before. Now then, BaseLine Tap House, which came in at # 3 is certainly pushing it when it comes to being called a “restaurant.” You can’t even get mad at that though because # 1 is Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza in Disney Springs. So the best theme park restaurant not only ISN’T in a theme park, but it’s a restaurant which has over 250 locations in the U.S., including 20 alone in Florida.
Hey, I like Blaze Pizza and would do anything for Blaze to replace ANY of the Disney run pizza places at the WDW theme parks. But what normal human – when choosing even just best theme park pizza – would pick Blaze over Via Napoli in EPCOT? Let alone above ALL other restaurants. As the late, great Gorilla Monsoon would say, “Will you stop?!”
TPEI Score: -12 I guess we should just be happy Orlando Magazine at least didn’t choose McDonald’s by the All-Star Resorts…
*Universal becomes like Disney…and not in a good way.
For years I’ve been advocating many of my “Disney Only” friends and families to bite the bullet and take a chance on incorporating Universal Orlando into their Florida vacations. One of the selling points for families who have been driven crazy by how much you have to plan for a Walt Disney World vacation is how easy it is to plan for trips to Universal. Take dining: families frustrated by having to wake up early months in advance to try and get elusive ADRs for Disney restaurants – only to be shut out – would often ask me what they have to do in order to eat at the good restaurants at Universal.
Until recently, I had a standby answer: when you’re hungry, just go wherever you want to eat.
Unfortunately, in these unprecedented times, dining at Universal has become almost as challenging as dining at WDW. Guests are now encouraged to make reservations, and we have heard many stories of just absurd wait times being given to guests trying for a walk up table. Part of this is a staffing issue that we are seeing in businesses of all times across the entire country. Another part of this is that Universal is just becoming more popular. On a recent earnings call, Universal said it has reached attendance goals it was achieving pre-pandemic except now it is being done without international travelers. What is going to happen when people from outside the United States are allowed to visit the theme parks again?
TPEI Score: -21 Check please.
*SeaWorld vs. Universal on social media.
You never know where a conversation may end up on DisTwitter, and this past month we had a doozy that started innocently enough when @SuperWeenieHtJr was visiting Universal’s Dockside Inn & Suites and tweeted about a certain brand of liquor being offered.
The official Twitter account of Universal Orlando replied to the tweet.
However, when a person responded to Universal’s tweet, business picked up.
For those who don’t know, Ice Breaker is a new attraction at SeaWorld Orlando which has been completely finished for a while now, but has yet to officially open. Last year, a ride manufacturer contracted by SeaWorld to build Ice Breaker filed a $2.7M lien against SeaWorld for work they did on the coaster. Now liens are used as legal leverage against all theme parks, including Disney and Universal, but its a bad look nonetheless.
TPEI Score: +8 For fellow wrestling fans, Universal’s twitter account gave a Stone Cold Stunner to SeaWorld’s Twitter account.
*Glorious Purpose for The Contemporary.
If you’ve been to Disney’s Contemporary Resort recently, you may have noticed it’s been going through a little refurbishment.
Both the outside and inside of The Contemporary seem to be covered up in the same paper bags I used to cover my high school text books with.
The refurb is part of a massive change to incorporate The Incredibles into The Contemporary. Below is a sample look into one of the refurbished rooms.
Just weeks after the incredible series Loki on Disney+ finished up in early July, a true hero on DisTwitter made the following tweet…
I’m absolutely in love with this.
TPEI Score: +10 “For nearly every living thing, choice breeds shame, and uncertainty, and regret. There’s a fork in every road, yet the wrong path always taken.'” – Loki, apparently explaining the decision by Disney to inundate it’s flagship hotels with characters.
*Your Monthly Taste of the Disney Outlet Stores.
Whose decision was it to have the hitchhiking ghosts basically hitchhiking into the crotch of the shorts? Just amazing.
TPEI Score: – 8 Just when I thought I was out, they pulled me back in…
*WHAT THE WHAT??!!!!!
Imagine yourself minding your own business, enjoying the day scrolling through DisTwitter and you come across the following…
Who in the world brings home turkey legs from Walt Disney World, freezes them, and then reheats them THREE MONTHS LATER?!! They aren’t even that good fresh!
TPEI Score: -33 PRO TIP: If you want to experience “Disney at home,” just go to your local supermarket, because they sell a bunch of Disney food items. However, if you are bound and determined to have “pixie dust” by eating something months old from Disney items, buy a packaged Disney rice crispy treat. They expire in like 10 months anyway.
Regular readers of the SATURDAY SIX know how much we love the charming artistic style of @SonderQuest. Each month the TPEI will share one of his recent pieces of work. By now you should also know how much we love the Disney Sing Along Series, as we’ve covered Disneyland Fun, Happy Haunting, Campout at Walt Disney World, Flik’s Musical Adventure at Animal Kingdom, and Beach Party at WDW. So what could be better than good ol’ Sondy drawing Bertie Birdbrain and Professor Owl from Disney’s Sing Along Series? Just fantastic.
Last month’s Theme Park Enjoyment Index: We’re just starting baby!
This month’s net change: + 2
Current enjoyment level: 52
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 fourth most famous person from this country following Alexander Graham Bell, Gerard Butler, and Groundskeeper Willie.
Digital Artist @HackermanJoe has been faithfully adhering to the stipulations in the restraining order placed on him by Adam Sandler, yet still finds the time to perform the Dunkaccino song at least three times daily.