Sunday, May 29, 2016

BEHIND THE SCENES: Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular!

Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular premieres June 17th at Disney's Hollywood Studios Theme Park in Orlando. It is a new fireworks (and so much more) show that promises to be like no other! It is definitely a MUST SEE!
Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Concept Art, Disney
I had the opportunity to sit down with J. Michael Roddy, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Show Director-Projections, at the recent Awaken Summer media event at the Walt Disney World Resort. He shared a few of the behind-the-scenes details on what Guests can expect from this new Spectacular. And it sounds AMAZING! 
This is not a show for Guests to just "watch." This new show is meant to be an experience that will pull you in emotionally. Michael explained, it will take you back to that feeling of the first time you ever sat down in a movie theater to see Star Wars, and "felt the adventure of what it would be like to travel to a galaxy far, far away..."

To hear even MORE about my interview with Michael Roddy, including details on Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular and other events coming to the Disney Parks this summer, tune-in to The Disney Dream Girls Podcast, Episode 109 HERE!!
Myself, J. Michael Roddy
Along with their partnership with ILM (Industrial Light & Magic), Disney created this experience through the use of specially designed music, sound F/x, storytelling, and practical F/x. Here are just a few of the details that Guests can expect to see and FEEL in Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular.

The soundtrack of a film can be one of the most powerful tools in heightening the emotional-pull of the story. The iconic music from the Star Wars franchise will be a key element in this new show. In creating the music for A Galactic Spectacular, Disney worked hand-in-hand with John Williams' music director and gained the "full-blessing" of John Williams, himself. The music will also be enhanced by the familiar and distinctly Star Wars sound F/x of quintessential elements such as tie fighters and lightsabers.

For any Star Wars fan who can't get enough of the films, A Galactic Spectacular will give you more of what you already love. NEW, NEVER BEFORE SEEN FOOTAGE was created EXCLUSIVELY FOR DISNEY and can ONLY be seen in THIS SHOW! 
Original movie models were used to create the new scenes, which have never been used in any of the Star Wars franchise films. Additionally, the technology used will allow for changes and additions to the footage as new films emerge.
A Galactic Spectacular will show Luke going through the Death Star trench in a whole new way and have Guests traveling along on the Millennium Falcon through asteroids! Projections will turn the Chinese Theater and several other buildings around the Park into the twin suns of Tatooine, a field of battle droids, the trench of the Death Star, and Starkiller Base.
Michael shared, "It will feel like you are in the middle of a light saber fight!"

As if this Spectacular couldn't get any more exciting, Michael pointed out that it will include the LARGEST "shells" (fireworks) ever used in ANY Disney production! The addition of other F/x such as lasers and 50 foot flare bursts (WHAT??!) make the magnitude of Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, difficult to comprehend! And if all of this description doesn't already have you excited, there's one final phrase to consider...

 "Massive lightsaber in the sky!"

You can see Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular starting on June 17, in Disney's Hollywood Studios Theme Park at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
New Awaken Summer Merchandise Preview

New Awaken Summer Merchandise Preview
A special thank you to J. Michael Roddy for speaking to me in such detail about this exciting new Spectacular. I'm looking forward to many, many, trips to a galaxy far, far away.

In addition to the Disney Dream Girls Podcast Episode 109, you can hear me discuss this and find more great Star Wars fun on Skywalking Through Neverland Podcast Episode 122.

*Find Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers, Facebook @ThePrincessPapers or @JeanieGallo and as a regular correspondent on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast, on Twitter @DisDreamGirls and The Disney Dream Girls Podcast on Facebook.   
*For your next Disney Vacation, contact Katherine at and let her know the Princess sent you!

BEHIND THE SCENES: Frozen in Norway, Epcot!

The new "Frozen" themed attractions at Epcot in Walt Disney World will open on June 21st, the first day of summer! As part of the Awaken Summer media event, I was fortunate enough to sneak a peek Behind the Wall of the new additions to the Norway Pavilion in Epcot, as well as speak with the Project Manager, Wyatt. I'm happy to report what I learned! The most notable fact is that although the characters and stories of the blockbuster movie, "Frozen," are becoming a large part of the pavilion, recognizing the culture of Norway will continue to be the top priority!
You can hear me talk ALL about the details on the Disney Dream Girls Podcast Episode Episode 109.
There are two parts to the new "Frozen" additions to Norway. The first is the changing of the pavilion attraction from Maelstrom (a boat ride showing the culture of Norway) to Frozen Ever After (a boat ride that explores the land of Arendelle and beloved characters from the movie "Frozen"). This new ride attraction will NOT be a retelling of the movie. Disney has done a bit of a "tweak" as Wyatt explained.
Frozen Ever After will take place after the time of the story that is told in the movie. It begins with Summer Snow Day, a day that Queen Elsa has created for everyone to enjoy. This time she has frozen the village out of love and not fear. Guests will travel to the Troll Valley and go inside the Ice Palace as well. 
What may also be unexpected about this attraction is that those popular songs from the movie will NOT be the same here. The lyrics will be changed. Also, the characters who sing the songs will change. So, expect a fresh look at "Frozen."
Walt Disney Concept Art
The Second part of the change is the addition of The Royal Summerhus, which is an entirely newly built area located between the Kringla Bakeri in Norway and the Mexico Pavilion. I was invited to go into this area and look around at the beautifully detailed design that Walt Disney Imagineering created. Behind this wall is where the Norway culture is most prominent. The main building will be the Royal Summerhus. The story is that this is the cabin where Anna and Elsa used to go on vacation with their parents. Now, they bring their new friends to visit. It is designed after a real house in Norway called the Detli House (built in 1817 and moved to an open-air museum in Trondheim, Norway in 1924). 
In fact, all of this new area is modeled after real places in Norway. The team of Imagineers visited Norway and studied the designs and history in great depth to research for this project. I greatly admire their attention to detail that is something so unique to the Walt Disney World Parks. I even heard stories of Wyatt photographing the grain of the wood on the buildings in Norway as research to replicate it.
Once Guests step inside the Summerhus, they will enter a living room and then a library. The interior of the cabin will be decorated in crafts that reflect the culture of Norway. Finally, a reception hall is where Anna and Elsa will meet with Guests. (At this time, Wyatt expressed that this is stand-by only. No information on fastpasses for the future was known.)
Next to the Summerhus is a stabbur (a type of storage shed commonly built next to cabins and homes in Norway). This will be the new gift shop, The Wandering Reindeer. Inside you will find all of your favorite "Frozen" themed merchandise.
Finally, in the distance is a mountain that currently peeks out above the construction walls and can be seen while walking around the World Showcase. This is Sverresborg. It is considered one of the first fortresses to be built in Norway. It was constructed by Sverre Sigurdsson between 1182 and 1183. In 1184, he became the King of Norway. 
Surrounding this area are also Viking era rune stones. They are large rocks that contain writing and designs. Unfortunately, there are no plans at this time to include any plaques explaining the inspirations and history behind the designs. However, I am holding out hope that that decision will be revisited and the opprotunity to educate will not be missed.
In addition to the new construction, new exhibits will be added inside the Stave Church. I hear there are some amazing discoveries coming from the designers' trips to Norway, including furniture carved from a single piece of wood.

The remaining shops and restaurants in Norway will remain the same. There is a gift shop featuring clothes, snacks, and souvenirs from Norway. The Kringla Bakeri offers quick-service dining options of Norwegian inspired sandwiches and pastries. And the very popular Akershus, a princessed-themed character dining experience that includes Norwegian entrees as well as a Smorgasbord of cold side dishes will remain unchanged.

Important to note: FastPass+ reservations are strongly recommended to ride Frozen Ever After.  Likewise, advanced dining reservations for the Akershus character dining in Norway are highly encouraged. Again, the Anna and Elsa character meet is stand-by only. That may change in the future.
New Norway Restrooms with Companion Bathroom
*Details on disability aaccessibility for the Royal Summerhus and Frozen Ever After is unknown at this time (prior to opening). A companion restroom is available in the new Norway bathrooms.

*Find Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers, Facebook @ThePrincessPapers or @JeanieGallo and as a regular correspondent on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast, on Twitter @DisDreamGirls and The Disney Dream Girls Podcast on Facebook.   
*For your next Disney Vacation, contact Katherine at and let her know the Princess sent you!

Saturday, May 28, 2016

NEW!! Disney's Animal Kingdom AT NIGHT!

Disney's Animal Kingdom park is now Alive with Magic. For the first time since the Park opened, it now has nighttime hours. During that time, you can see Animal Kingdom in a whole new way. Not only are the attractions like Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest a totally different experience in the dark, but additional entertainment throughout the Park creates an exciting new environment.
Vibrant energy fills the streets of Harambe Village in Africa and Discovery Island during the night. There's new live music, dancing, and even stilt walkers dressed in brightly colored clothing. It's an interactive party atmosphere and Guests were enjoying dancing and being part of the entertainment when I was there.
The most spectacular new happening at Animal Kingdom Park now is definitely the Awakening of the Tree of Life. I recently spoke with Laura Offerdahl, a Producer for Disney's Animal Kingdom at Night. She was very excited about this new experience. 
Awakening of Tree of Life Concept Art
Not only are there several different 4-minute animation sequences that appear throughout the night on the tree (at random times, so please be patient), but the tree is always showing signs of life from evening until Park closing time. You can see my FULL video of one of the beautiful animations HERE on The Princess Papers Facebook page.
I was able to see the Awakening in person and I'm stunned! I watched for over an hour to catch glimpses of "life." You may see a tail twitch on one of the animals that is carved into the side of the tree, another animal move its head, a fluttering of butterflies appear, or flowers suddenly grow up the trunk of the tree.

My favorite is the big wild cat that stands up and then resettles itself for a nap.
It's difficult to grasp how mesmerizing this is until you actually see it. Even THEN it's difficult to grasp. The most common phrase of the evening was, "how did they do that??"  Video and photos do not do it justice. When I asked Laura how it's done, she simply responded with a smile and said, "Disney magic."  And MAGICAL it is!

Another new show has opened as well. The Jungle Book Alive with Magic new evening show takes place in a curved, stadium-style theater surrounding the river. It combines projections from the Jungle Book story onto massive walls of water spray.
In addition, dancers on floating stages, live music, and even fire dancers round out the show. I attended the soft opening on May 27th. The music and performers were fantastic and energizing, but the projections were blurred (at least from my viewpoint). 
I was also distracted by the parts of the show where cast performers stood in the aisles as they blocked my view of the stages. This occurred about five different times (intentionally choreographed ). I believe it was to create a more immersive environment. That would be the case if they were interacting and dancing with Guests, but they were just stationed in select positions on the stairs. Unfortunately it gave the effect of Guests standing in the aisles blocking the stage views.
I liked the show, but as with any soft opening, the bugs need to be worked out. (Please see notes below regarding handicapped accessibility details.) Until the new Rivers of Light show is ready, this is a nice (but not spectacular) evening addition to the extended hours in the park, especially for Guests who may enjoy sitting for an hour or two in the evening, relaxing, and enjoying a snack while waiting for the show.
If you would like to see The Jungle Book Alive with Magic, there are a few tips to help your experience. Either get a FastPass, book a reserved seating dinner package (available by special reservation at Tiffins or Tusker House), or wait for the second showing of the night. Waiting on stand-by for the first show is not recommended.  The crowds are much lower and less hectic for the second show.

To hear about more about this and other Awaken Summer events at Walt Disney World resort such as Star Wars and Frozen, listen to the Disney Dream Girls Podcast, available on iTunes or listen here to Disney Dream Girls Podcast Episode 109!

*The Awakening of the Tree of Life is handicapped accessible. However, views may be limited due to other Guests standing around (much like a show at the Castle). The new street shows are out in open areas and are handicapped accessible. The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic has handicapped seating but it is limited. Even if you have reserved seating or a FastPass arrive early. For stand-by you must wait in the regular line and then be directed individually to handicapped seating. For the lower level, there is a special ramp (rather long) on the side of the theater. For the upper level, enter through the normal entrance. If you agree to transfer out of a wheelchair or ECV, NOTE: you will be required to go up and down a few stairs and seats are flat, backless, narrow benches.
*Find Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers, Facebook @ThePrincessPapers or @JeanieGallo and as a regular correspondent on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast, on Twitter @DisDreamGirls and The Disney Dream Girls Podcast on Facebook.
*For your next Disney Vacation, contact Katherine at and let her know the Princess sent you.

Filmaker Jon Favreau at The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic Show

Last night was a surprise soft opening for the new show, The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic, at Disney's Animal Kingdom Park. And sure enough, a special Guest was there!
(May 27, 2016): Filmmaker Jon Favreau congratulates cast members of “The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic” musical Friday, May 27, 2016, during opening weekend of the new nighttime show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Favreau collaborated with Walt Disney World Resort on the epic, limited-engagement celebration, featuring live performers, music, water screens and vibrant costumes, inspired by Indian culture and the blockbuster live-action film, "The Jungle Book.” (Chloe Rice, photographer)

To hear more about this show and all the new Awaken Summer events going on around Walt Disney World, listen to the Disney Dream Girls podcast Episode 109, new episodes released every Sunday!

*Find Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers, Facebook @ThePrincessPapers or @JeanieGallo and as a regular correspondent on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast, on Twitter @DisDreamGirls and The Disney Dream Girls Podcast on Facebook.
*For your next Disney Vacation, contact Katherine at and let her know the Princess sent you!

Thursday, May 26, 2016

NEW!! Disney Merchandise Preview!

Preview of new Disney merchandise from the Awaken Summer media event!!
See VIDEO of the merchandise preview on The Princess Papers Facebook page HERE!


*Find Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers, Facebook @ThePrincessPapers or @JeanieGallo and as a regular correspondent on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast, on Twitter @DisDreamGirls and The Disney Dream Girls Podcast on Facebook.
*For your next Disney Vacation, contact Katherine at and let her know the Princess sent you!

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

6-Month Flexible Florida Resident Disney Ticket!

I had the pleasure of speaking with Liliana Lorenzo, Associate Manager of Marketing Strategy for Disney Destinations at the recent Awaken Summer media event and learned about some AMAZING offers available for Florida residents!! Take a look at some of these great offers and book your trip today!

Proof of Florida Residency Required

The Disney Select Ticket:
*Available in 3-day ($68 per day) or 4-day ($56 per day)
*Includes FastPass+
*Ticket expires 6 months after first use or Dec. 17/2017, whichever comes first
*Proof of Florida residency required
*Blackout dates apply
Blackout dates include: July 1-4, 2016/ Dec. 15-31, 2016/ Jan. 1-2, 2017/ April 8-21, 2017/ June 5-Aug. 10, 2017

Epcot after 4 PM Ticket:
*Unlimited admission to Epcot after 4 PM for an entire year

Water Parks after 2 PM Ticket:
*Unlimited admission to Typhoon Lagoon or Blizzard Beach Water Park after 2PM for an entire year

Annual Pass Tickets:
*Special discounts available for Florida residents
*Monthly payment plan available
*Available in various price structures depending on blackout dates
*Includes FastPass+
*Includes Parking
*Includes PhotoPass
*Includes shopping/dining/room discounts

Florida residents are also eligible for discounted room rates.

Check the Walt Disney World website for further details or contact Katherine at for more ticket and vacation planning information. Tell her the Princess sent you.
*Find Jeanie on Twitter @PrincessPapers, Facebook @ThePrincessPapers or @JeanieGallo and as a regular correspondent on The Disney Dream Girls Podcast, on Twitter @DisDreamGirls and The Disney Dream Girls Podcast on Facebook.