Archive for the ‘Disney’ Category

Disney Drops Foie Gras From Menus

According to a story by Scott Joseph, Walt Disney World has finally stopped serving foie gras at its theme park and resort restaurants.

As of October 1, the company’s last four Orlando restaurants still featuring it – Victoria & Albert’s, California Grill, Citricos and Les Chefs de France – all took it off the menu. I applaud them for the decision, though, as Joseph points out, it’s a move that will surely upset some gourmet diners.

For those that have never had it, foie gras is made from goose or duck liver, and according to several animal rights organizations, farmers produce it by forcing a metal pipe down the throat of the animal and force-feed it massive amounts of grain until its liver swells to 10 times the normal size. There has been huge pressure over the last few years for restaurants all over the U.S. to stop serving it, and an equal fight by some “gourmet” eaters to keep it on the menu.

What do you think of the decision by Disney to stop serving it?

Last Call for Disney’s Pleasure Island

For those who haven’t heard the news, tonight is the last night for the clubs at Walt Disney World’s Pleasure Island. Even though last ditch attempts have been made by fans of venues like the Adventurer’s Club, Disney says they have plans for the space currently occupied by the clubs which include more dining and shopping options.

The Rock’n’Roll Beach Club was closed in February, but tonight is the last hurrah for Mannequins, 8-Trax, BET Sound Stage, Motion, the Comedy Warehouse and the Adventurer’s Club. To celebrate, PI is bringing back Frankie and the West End Boys for one last night to play the waterfront stage (since the West End stage was replaced several months ago by the new pedestrian bridge to the West Side of Downtown Disney). They will play four 45-minute sets at 7:30pm, 8:45pm, 10pm, and 11:15pm.

The Adventurer’s Club will also open early at 6pm with additional Library shows, as will the Comedy Warehouse with shows at 6:55pm, 8pm, 9:10pm, 10:25pm, 11:35pm and 12:45am.

It’s free to be on PI, so you can enjoy the waterfront and DJ entertainment outside. Individual club admission is $10 (plus tax) with a multi-club pass costing $20 (plus tax). Annual PI passes will still be valid this last night, too, and holders can then request a pro-rated refund for the balance. Or you can use that pass and trade it in for a special Universal Orlando CityWalk party pass good until next March.

Even though I haven’t been to PI much in recent years, it’s still sad to see Disney close it all down. When I first moved to Orlando thirteen years ago, I knew nobody and many of the friends I have today are ones I made by going out to PI the first few years I lived here. I also have many good memories of celebrating birthdays and other special occasions with friends there.

So, I think I’m gonna head out to say goodbye and maybe take some photos. Will I see any of you out there?

Two Annual Theme Park Fests Start Today

For who look forward to those fall fests at the area theme parks, two of the biggies start today.

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A trio of champagnesEpcot’s Food & Wine Fest starts today. It’s the 13th year of the festival which offers up samples of food and drink from around the world, and this year’s focus is on “culinary cities,” along with the state of Louisiana. You do need to buy a park admission or have an annual pass of some kind for Walt Disney World, but once inside, you can stroll the World Showcase in the back of the park and try food and drink native to countries and cities from around the world. Average samples will set you back $2 to $5 per item, so it’s an inexpensive way to try something you’ve never had before.

There’s also free seminars daily, which usually offer up samples (though the lines can be very long to get in to one, especially on weekends), and free nightly entertainment from nationally-known entertainers. This year’s fest kicks off with the sounds of ska-swing band Big Bad Voodoo Daddy tonight and tomorrow (Saturday) and continues over the weekend with Sheena Easton on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday.

For more info, visit the official Walt Disney World Food & Wine website.

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Universal OrlandoFor those that would rather be scared than wined and dined, Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights also starts tonight. It’s the 18th incarnation of the annual event and this year’s theme is Urban Legends, Fairy Tales & Myths, epitomized by the legend of Bloody Mary, who comes to life if you chant her name into a mirror. Universal says over 300 new characters were created for this year’s event, which runs September 26-27, October 2-5, 9-12, 16-19, 22-26 and October 29-November 1.

Separate park admission is required for Halloween Horror Nights, even if you have a Universal Orlando annual pass, but special Florida-resident discounts and multi-night passes are available. The event’s official website has all the details.

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Are you planning to go to one or both? Do you prefer one over the other? Let us know in comments.

Disney Free on Your Birthday in 2009

In a New York City ballroom on Sept. 18, 2008, Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Jay Rasulo (pictured) announced that Disney Parks will welcome guests in 2009 with free theme park admission on their birthday.

LET THE CELEBRATION BEGIN: In a New York City ballroom on Sept. 18, 2008, Disney Parks and Resorts chairman Jay Rasulo (pictured) announced that Disney Parks will welcome guests in 2009 with free theme park admission on their birthday.

In a stroke of genius that in hindsight makes me wonder, why haven’t they done this before, Disney announced they will be offering free admission for people on their birthday in 2009. What a great way to get people out to the park, especially locally. Hitting the parks on your “special day” is always on the list of possible activities for most any local resident, and this move probably just made up hundreds of thousands of people’s minds for what to do next year. No one goes to the park without dropping some cash on food and merchandise and likely won’t go alone. Further, they created a special reason to pull the trigger for tons of people on a rotating schedule every day of the calendar next year! That’s genius! Give the guy that got that idea off the ground over there a raise.

See the full press release here.

Disney and Universal Raise Ticket Prices Again

Yes, you read that heading correctly. Even in the midst of record high gas prices and nickle-and-dime tactics from airlines, two of the three major Orlando theme parks have decided this is a good time to raise prices on their admission tickets.

Walt Disney World was the first, raising its one-day, one-park pass price on Sunday to $75 (plus tax). Now word comes that Universal will also be raising their basic ticket to $75, starting today.

Now you can say that the $4 or so increase is minor, but for most people working minimum-wage type jobs, they now have to work 10-12 hours to afford to spend one day at the park.

To be fair, Florida residents can still save a bit by purchasing annual passes or special ticket combos, like WDW’s Play 3 or Play 4 day passes or Universal’s 1-day/2-park combo tickets. But one has to wonder if it’s a good idea to raise ticket prices when millions of families in the U.S. are already having their paycheck’s stretched thin with basics like housing costs, rising food bills and gas prices that are keeping many closer to home on their vacations.

At any rate, SeaWorld so far appears to be the lone hold-out, keeping prices at $69.95 for a single day ticket, with a $10 online discount for advance purchase. They also allow Florida residents to turn that ticket into a fun card good for admission through the end of the year for free.

How about it? How do you readers cope with the ticket prices of the area theme parks? Do you rely on friends to let you in? Do you have annual passes? Or do you just not bother going anymore? Let us know in comments.

Thrill Ride, Animal Experience, Roller Coaster, and Laundromat (I Think) at Sea World

So now Sea World’s getting a big new coaster too.

It will be part thrill ride and part animal attraction, a theme that visitors will experience from the time they take their place in line until the time they leave the post-ride area, said Joseph Couceiro, vice president of sales and marketing for SeaWorld’s parent company, Busch Entertainment Corp.

“It’s going to have animal components, marine-life components. It will have a very unique, state-of-the-art ride, a roller coaster if you will, that will provide a sensation of gliding,” Couceiro said. “The combination of the animals and the ride is what makes it special.”

As I’ve said, I’m relatively new to Orlando, so I don’t know if these periods of escalation between our theme park overlords are just cyclical. But it certainly seems as though Universal’s acquisition of Harry Potter is putting the other local players on notice…

…although I get the sense we’re still waiting for another shoe to drop over at the Mouse House–they’ve got that Toy Story Mania ride coming to Hollywood Studios but that’s hardly an E-ticket tentpole attraction. Night Kingdom, anyone?

Disney’s Night Kingdom

As always, Disney reporter and blogger Jim Hill has a tasty morsel of theme park gossip to gnosh upon. This Friday morning, it’s a piece detailing the possible fifth theme park at Walt Disney World, an experience-driven high-end environment known as Disney’s Night Kingdom.

Disney World’s next theme park will NOT be Villains themed and/or loaded with lots of coasters. But — rather — it will be an intimate, natural environment that then offers you the chance to have lots of personalized, hands-on, once-in-a-lifetime adventures.

Jim suggests prices as high as $250-300 per person for an evening at this park, open tenatively from 4 p.m. to midnight. Of course, those buying a Disney vacation package would be offered lower pricing. Tickets would include a high-end gourmet meal at a themed restaurant and such experiences as riding a zipline over a pool of crocodiles a la Indiana Jones and spelunking in a cave filled with bats.

(Hell, if Disney’s gonna charge that much for intimate encounters with scary animals, come on over to my place sometime–I’ll let you feed our toddler when she’s had no nap for free.)

So…whaddaya think? Would you pay $250 for a Disney-style high-end encounter experience?

Note to self

I have to construct a giant wire mesh sculpture that resembles a desert in my backyard, maybe I should even try to add some railroad tracks…

wire-mesh.jpg

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