disney

Shanghai Disneyland in Calgary? A visit to F & D Scene Changes

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This weekend I was lucky enough to take a tour of F & D Scene Changes  as part of Doors Open Calgary, an annual event that gives the public access to places around the city they normally would not be allowed to visit. What is F & D Scene Changes you ask?  They are a company that creates “projects that range from scenery for theatre, television and film to theme park elements, museum exhibits, and trade show and retail displays.” They’re located right here in Calgary, behind the Stampede grounds in a gorgeous historical building and I had no idea they existed!

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Imagine my excitement to find out in my very own backyard that they work on set pieces, parade floats and other amazing projects for Disney Parks, Universal, Cirque Du Soleil and more. Everything from design, lighting, welding, sculpting, prototyping, the list goes on. Talk about a hidden gem in Calgary.

During our visit, our tour guide was not allowed give us many details or even mention the name of some of their clients, including their Florida Client. We figured out pretty quickly that was Disney. We got some insider access and saw them working on projects for what I assume was Shanghai Disneyland Resort, as well as a new mall called Tsawwassen Mills (very similar concept as Vaughan Mills or CrossIron Mills .

Based on all the Shanghai Disneyland concept art I’ve seen, I could pick out a few things that were clearly headed overseas to the park. One was a smaller parade vehicle that had hidden Mickey heads printed all over it, another was the giant tree (we’re talking 40-50 feet high) that I assume will be the centrepiece for the Tarzan Show.Tarzan Call of the Jungle Show

They were even working on some concepts for a project based on a very popular “cold & icy” movie…..I’ll let you figure out which one.
It was really interesting learning about how they take the idea and have to figure out a way to engineer it so it looks good, is safe and can survive in any situation possible. They consult with engineers on many projects to ensure people are safe when climb, ride, carry, hold and interact in any way with their pieces. An example was that if a performer passes out in the middle of the show on a tree branch, will the weight of two additional people be okay to climb out to assist them. In addition, are there enough hand holds for three people to safely climb out and back.

Due to the nature of the projects they work on, we were not allowed to take photos of anything in the works. I did however take a bunch of pictures of completed projects they had laid out in their main office. They helped with the Little Mermaid rides at Disneyland & Walt Disney World, Transformers at Universal Studios, tons of other Tokyo & Hong Kong Disney projects, Broadway. Calgary Stampede…The list goest on. It was an awesome tour and highly recommended if you ever have the chance.

Here are some pictures of past projects they have worked on, very impressive!

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D23 Expo 2015 Review: We had a blast!

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We’re back from the 2015 D23 Expo which took place at the Anaheim Convention Center over the weekend and let me just say I had an awesome time! Being a first time attendee, I didn’t know what to expect. I’d heard so much about the event from previous years, and I must say it did not disappoint. With celebrities, panels, presentations, exhibits, previews, exclusive content, concerts, cos-play, signings, merchandise, giveaways, contests and much more, this event is larger than anything I have ever experienced. Almost to the point of being overwhelming.

We wanted to experience as much as possible at the event with an open mind, and we definitely accomplished that. Throughout the two days there (we skipped the third day as we didn’t see much we wanted to do), we overheard a lot of positive and negative feedback, and being in the events industry had my own two cents to add in as well. Looking across social media and message boards, you can find a giant range of comments saying it was terrible to it was amazing. It boils down to what the expectations of the attendee was and what actually happened. Sadly it’s the people who are negative that have the loudest voices and will be first to share an opinion, versus the people who had a great time who won’t voice it as loudly or at all.
Our goal is to give our unbiased, unfiltered views based on notes made during the event. Going in with no expectations other than having a good time gave a good starting point to review the event. Here is our review of the event, starting with the good, then the bad, and finally a wrap-up. Enjoy!

The Good

Badge Pickup: We didn’t get our badges mailed to use as we live outside the US, so we headed to the convention centre the day ahead to pick up our badges. It was quick, efficient and had no lines.
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StagePass Distribution: Thanks to this pass, we were guaranteed admission into the “A Goofy Movie” 20th Anniversary Reunion without waiting in line outside the theatre. We did wait in a long line to get the pass, but it saved us as the animation panel ran long so we sprinted to the panel and got there just in time to see it. Whew!
Presentations: Most sessions we attended were awesome, with one exception which we’ll get to later. We got into the Disney/Pixar Animation presentation as well as the “A Goofy Movie” presentation and both were filled with amazing surprise guests. Animation was hosted by John Lasseter and has guest appearances by: Dwayne Johnson, Ellen Degeneres, Ty Burrell, and Ed O’Neill to name a few. Goofy had Jason Marsden & Jenna Von Oy, Bill Farmer (voice of Goofy), plus videos from Pauly Shore, Wallace Shawn and a surprise Powerline concert with Tevin Campbell. Disney sure knows how to put on a show!
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Disneyland: The Exhibit: An amazing collection of past and present artifacts, props, videos and models from the park that started it all. So well put together and when we visited the line wasn’t too long which meant we could take our time looking at everything.
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Shanghai Disneyland Preview: This was a comprehensive overview of the amazing new resort currently being built-in China. With many unique attractions and Asian flair, this looks to become one of the most incredible Disney Parks on the planet!
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The World of Avatar Preview: Many folks have been critics of this concept for a while, but after seeing the model in person and hearing Joe Rhode speak so passionately about the details, we’re sold on this being a perfect addition to Animal Kingdom in Florida.
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Star Wars Land Announcement: Finally the cat is out of the bag, and it looks to become a giant hit! Taking a cue from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal and Cars Land at Disney California Adventures, the theme park wars continue to go full force. A full 14 acres of Star Wars sensory overload, look for this to become the most incredibly themed land in any theme park to date.

The Bad

Insane lineups and mass confusion as to which lineups people were supposed to be in: In order to get into the halls, there were three separate lines outside: D23 Gold/ Silver Members, General Admission and Ticket Sales. Problem was, the lines were not clearly marked so it became a treasure hunt to find which line was the correct one. The crowd control people seemed untrained, which is shocking as right across the street at Disneyland Resort they are masters at moving people.
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Badge scanning/ entry: Slowest staff ever. They need to get RFID badges to expedite the lines into the hall. There is no reason a venue of this size can’t have multiple entrances and quicker scanning to get in. Once in the expo hall, there were virtually no crowds for the first couple of hours, with the exception of lines for the panels & shopping. Meanwhile the lines of people outside were dying in the heat wave.
StagePass Distribution: There were 12 kiosks available but only four open for the most popular sessions (ie. A Goofy Movie), resulting in it taking over an hour to get the pass! We’re glad we got it, but there was no reason they couldn’t have used all the kiosks the distribute each option available to expedite the line.
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Food and drink: Simply not enough places to eat or get a drink. Lineups were insane (45 minute waits) and with no vending machines available, you had to line up for everything including beverages. We settled for Mickey Pretzels for lunch! Day 2 we brought our own Lunchables, snacks and drinks so we wouldn’t spend half the day in line for food!
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Shopping: Three separate locations with every long lines (reportedly 4-6 hours at some points). If you didn’t sleep overnight in line, it almost felt like there was no point in trying. Waiting hours to possibly buy something is not how we wanted to spend our Expo. In addition to the three separate stores, you would need to know which store the items you wanted would be located in and then wait in line hoping the item wasn’t sold out.We did get into the Dream Store with minimal line, only to find out what we wanted was in another store! Nowhere was a list of items available so you could make an educated decision. In addition, many people were clearly there solely to buy merchandise to sell for 5x the price on eBay, which is totally unfair to actual fans that just wanted the damn John Lasseter Rayne Spooner shirt (me, me, me!).
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Too many people: With the acquisition of Marvel & Lucasfilm, this event is quickly heading towards San Diego Comic-Con territory without the experience to do so. We wouldn’t be surprised if they announce this as an annual event soon as it’s such a cash cow.
Late Sessions: The Disney/Pixar Animation session started late for no apparent reason, and took over 45 minutes to load in. When you’re running a tight schedule to see as much as possible, timing can become a setback. Other sessions ran late as well.
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Star Wars Land Announcement: This happened right at the end of the Live Action presentation, not during the Parks & Resorts presentation as was expected. As all the parks fans were waiting for that presentation, the internet blew up with the announcement making everyone in line question what exactly we were waiting for now that the cat was out of the bag. Yes we got more details, however the WOW moment was lost.
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Ok, we’ve gone on long enough. To wrap up, events of this magnitude are difficult to pull off flawlessly, and they did a great job. This is a living, breathing event and sometimes things don’t go off as planned. There are typically hundreds of temporary staff that receive little to no training as to what their job will be and how to best make quick decisions without someone in charge being around. In addition, you have three crazy popular brands (Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm) with massive fan bases, all congregating in one place. Sometimes people don’t play well together and that can’t be controlled. As I said before, it’s all about setting the right expectations for  yourself.
 
Overall this was an amazing event that we had the greatest time attending. We got to see so many things we would never see anywhere else, and got to be the first to preview some amazing upcoming movies and attractions. In addition to the star power, being around so many fans brought such a positive energy that you can only really experience there. We had a blast and would definitely go back, thank goodness we have two years to rest up!
Did you attend D23 Expo…tell us about your experience! Would you go back, what would you improve/change? Leave a comment below!
 
 

One Week Until D23 Expo!

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We’re down to one week until the D23 Expo starts, and we couldn’t be more excited! We’ll have a couple of days to play in the parks before the event starts, but we’re so close that we are just finalizing our game-plan for the event. As always, we’ve made a list of must have essentials for any Disney trip, with special considerations for an event of this scale. Being first time attendees, we want to be prepared for anything!

Here’s what we’ll be taking with us in addition to the usual essentials:
iPad Air 2: We plan on waiting in a lot of lines, so having a device loaded with things to read, watch and play is essential.
GoPro Hero 3: How else will we capture all the magic?
Extra Batteries: The GoPro is notorious for terrible battery life, so extra batteries will keep us going all day
Mobile Phone: Staying connected is a must, especially so we can follow along and see what’s happening onsite at the event.
External Battery Pack: Always a must when you’re taking photos, videos and posting on social media. This will help us avoid having to waste time sitting along the wall charging our devices.
D23 Mobile App: So much is going on at this event, we’ll have our schedule set up beforehand but can also get push notifications & stay connected to find out what else is going on.
Disneyland Mobile App: To see up to the minute wait times and optimize our visits to the park.
Roam Mobility USA SIM Card: An essential for us Canadians visiting the Unite States and not wanting to pay astronomical mobile roaming rates. Unfortunately as of this writing the Anaheim Convention Center and Disneyland Resort do not have WiFi (with the exception of the hotels).  The mobile app has some cool features we want to use, but having a data connection is a must. We’ve never used this service before, so look for a review once we’re back.
Small Backpack: To carry everything in and make our lives much easier!
That’s the list so far, did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments!

Run Disney Tower of Terror 10 Miler Report

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Have you ever got the urge to try something completely out of your comfort zone? You want to combine your love for all that is Disney and get your fitness on?

I highly recommend looking into the RUN DISNEY events that have recently become a phenomenon throughout the lands.

I recently had the unique perspective of assisting in the preparation of a Disney Marathon with my step brother Shane. Not a seasoned runner by any means but has over the last year participated in several different Disney Marathon offerings, I thought during my recent trip to explore the running world with him and all that Disney has offered for these events.
The Twilight Zone Tower Of Terror 10- Miler Weekend provided all the chills and thrills that an October run should offer, including plenty of villains thrown throughout the course to make it scary but so much fun!!
Now, I do NOT recommend using this race as your very first Disney Marathon unless you are a seasoned person because it does offer a challenge course wise, length wise and you certainly have to keep a steady pace or Disney officials will sadly disqualify you. HOWEVER, it is a nice challenge for someone who has trained for these type of races.
Set late at night, throughout the streets of Hollywood Studios, The ESPN Wide World of Sports Fields and then back through the Studios, Disney certainly pulls out all the stops for their events. With many character stops to special surprises, you have the opportunity to combine your love for athletics and getting your fitness on to seeing special not so often seen characters throughout the course.
Waiting for the race to start, I noticed that the runners are corralled into groups. Inside your corral, you are with runners of similar pace, therefore you’re not with a seasoned pro runner if your just starting with your very first race and then the seasoned pros are not with the newbies and so on.
Thousands of athletes are moving like cattle through gates to commence the race. This was a fantastic opportunity to us the spectators to scope out the athletes. So many different costumes and characters here. We saw the sublime runner with merely a set of earjacks for some night music to elaborate Tu-Tu’s created especially for races to Villain’s of every shape and size. Men in Tiara’s to Twilight Tower Of Terror costume replicas complete with bell boy hat to complete the outfit. I suspected with the extremely high humidity that some of those racers would be rethinking their attire once the race commenced.
It was the energy and emotion that I saw not only on the face of the racers but the spectators as well. it was truly an experience, and one I was very grateful to be a small part of.
Once you sign up for a Disney Marathon, you arrive a few days before and are invited to the ESPN Wide World Of Sports Complex to pick up your packet and register. Thousands of runners, family & friends gather in this tight-knit community to share stories, war wounds and  to merely participate in the fun. There is also a fantastic opportunity to purchase any and all types of gear from many participating sponsors. From running shirts, socks, compression gear to assist with the pain caused from the sport to New Balance special RUN DISNEY RUNNING SHOES especially created exclusively for Run Disney events, there was literally something for everyone. Was looking like BLACK FRIDAY inside the retail coral and I attempted to get involved by taking a stroll through. Anything you could have thought of was there and so much more. Plaques for your medal, special tracking devices and there was so much my head was spinning. The energy from the participants was really charging and I wasn’t even running. The Expo is INTENSE SO BE PREPARED!!

The event is extremely well-organized and since Disney has been doing them for a few years now, they have become more seasoned and have been given much feedback and the likes and dislikes and have included something for everyone. HOWEVER, do remember that this IS a Disney event, there are going to be characters and situations happening throughout your event, photo ops which I highly recommend taking full advantage of unless you plan on returning for many more.
Speaking of characters, from the Old Hag from Snow White, which I can throw in here since I am a pretty versed expert in Snow White character sightings, she is NEVER, EVER OUT so I would take COMPLETE advantage of this one which I am kicking myself I am NOT in any shape to run but certainly HAS pushed me into wanting to start training so perhaps I might FINALLY be able to see the Hag.
But I digress, I am here to discuss the Mile Markers and characters. Shane would start sending photos of the mile markers which are electronic tote boards with the time clock timer so paces can be set by the runners, but there was sprinklings of themes throughout. Shane agreed that if Disney truly wanted to do something scary, they could. There was sightings of Scar and the hyenas from The Lion King and Pride Rock.  A haunted woods set up through the dark which took a few runners off guard as they came rounding the trail. Cruella De Vil was spotted although with Malificent and so many more along with a really awesome surprise for the avid Disney fan, one of the beloved submarines from 20,000 leagues under the sea was spotted on top a flat-bed truck which you could have your photo taken alongside.
Also a special note here, Run Disney also provides some of the very best medical in the racing community and they truly do look out for their athletes. With spots to stop throughout to get things from Vaseline to gel to assist your muscles to medic tents for more serious injuries, Disney has you covered. Multiple athletes were in serious need post race, wheelchairs from racers passing out from heat exhaustion to leg cramps and even a few protein spills……..Disney has got you covered in case your race didn’t go totally as planned.
As you came along close to the finish line, you could hear the commentators and the crowds started to get closer and the mere thought of the finish line was certainly  enough to provide some drive to get moving and finish. Flames shooting out of the finish line area was an awesome touch as you passed and the bleachers set up filled with literally hundreds of family, friends and spectators made it truly a memorable experience.
Afterwards, racers and special ticket holders were treated to a Villains Party until 4am. There was food and drink stations set up everywhere throughout the Park. It was interesting to walk through Hollywood Studios at 2am and be able to get a glass of wine or spirits or even a hearty beer and walk to an attraction. This is truly magical for some because Disney is obviously dry and not providing alcohol is pretty standard so this was a surprise.
Villains, Villains and more Villains was the theme. It seemed that since the race was over, EVERYONE was in the celebration mode. Photo spots are set up strategically throughout and if you wanted to snap a photo with the Evil Step Sisters well this was certainly the time.
PLEASE NOTE- this event was NOT free. It was a separate purchase ticket needed. $70+ taxes race day and for 6 hours, and not everything in the Park opened, it is certainly something to consider prior to going if you are a family member. It IS however included in the race fee so if you’re participating, HAVE FUN!!
All in all, from an outsider looking into her first Run Disney event, it was very well-organized, smooth transition and well executed.
The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10- Miler was certainly filled with chills and thrills and an event that I would highly recommend if you’re a Disney fan and someone who enjoys the sport of Marathons. I would also recommend going to RUNDISNEY.COM for more details on the plethora of offerings for up coming Marathons and the different types available

Theme Park Pro Secrets: Tips & Tricks to make your visit amazing

Last time you waited in lines that were too long, spent too much money and simply didn’t enjoy yourself. Here at Theme Park Canuck, our goal is to equip you with everything you could possibly need to become theme park fanatics like we are. We’ve decided to reveal some of our closely guarded secrets & strategies so that you can have the time of your life on your next visit. Continue reading

Marvel and Hero Ventures Announce A New Super Hero Themed Entertainment Experience

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4D Motion Ride Is Centerpiece of Interactive National Tour Launching in 2014 by World Class Investor and Production Teams

August 22, 2013, Los Angeles, CA – Hero Ventures, a Los Angeles based entertainment company, announced today that it is teaming up with Marvel Entertainment to create “The Marvel Experience,” an innovative, traveling experience, featuring dozens of Marvel’s iconic Super Heroes. This attraction will appeal to a multi-generational audience and will leverage state-of-the-art interactive and multimedia technology, including a 4D motion ride and original 3D animated features, allowing fans to be a part of the action. The tour comes to life in 2014.
Founded by sports and entertainment industry entrepreneurs Rick Licht and Doug Schaer, Hero Ventures is dedicated to producing unique themed entertainment experiences. Solidifying the management team are Michael Cohl, former Live Nation Chairman and legendary live event impresario, along with his Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark co-producer and PRG founder Jeremiah “Jere” Harris, who will serve as lead producers. The team is rounded out by co-founding partner Jason Rosen.

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Initial “A” round investors include Oscar winning film producer and co-owner of the NFL’s New York Giants, Steve Tisch; Roy P. Disney and Shamrock Holdings; Guess Jeans co-Founders Maurice & Paul Marciano; WWE®; Vista Equity Partners President Brian Sheth; Ross Hilton Kemper and Enlight Media, among others. In addition, Tisch, Shamrock’s Stanley Gold, Maurice Marciano, WWE’s Basil V. DeVito, Jr. and Enlight’s David B. Miller will serve alongside Licht, Schaer, Cohl and Harris on Hero Ventures Board of Directors.
The Marvel Experience is a “first-person” Super Hero adventure in which audiences step into the Marvel Universe to become a part of the story and the action. Innovative tour elements include a one-of-a-kind, traveling dome complex the size of two football fields developed exclusively by Hero Ventures. In addition to the 4D motion ride and 3D animated features, other components will include digitally projected animation, motion-comic origin stories, virtual reality and holographic simulations, original merchandise and integrated social media touch points all carefully woven into the rich narrative story line.

“Hero Ventures is developing a themed entertainment concept that we expect will be a transformative, traveling destination that will deliver to fans and families an exciting, groundbreaking and unique experience,” says Marvel’s VP of Business Development, Sean Haran. The characters and stories of the Marvel Universe are beloved around the world by ages young and old as seen with the recent global box office records for Marvel’s The Avengers and Marvel’s Iron Man 3.

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“The dynamic creative elements we’re developing are going to enable anyone to feel like a Super Hero like Spider-Man or Captain America,” says Hero Ventures’ CEO Rick Licht. “We couldn’t be more excited about our partnership with Marvel. Kids and adults are going to be absolutely inspired, empowered and thrilled from start to finish, with an immersive experience that is not just memorable, but unforgettable!”

Among the creative visionaries behind this $30+ million production is an elite team of creative award winners of Oscars, Emmys, CLIOS, THEOS and other technical and animation awards to their collective credit.
“The Marvel Universe just keeps getting hotter, as seen by the massive world-wide box office and merchandise success of their characters,” says Michael Cohl. “We can’t wait to bring our Marvel vision to life in this first-of-its-kind event.”

ABOUT HERO VENTURES
Hero Ventures, LLC develops and produces live entertainment experiences that delight and surprise consumers through innovative technology. The Company has brought together the best creative and business minds in animation, interactive technology and the live event space to create unparalleled productions to share in new and unprecedented ways with audiences around the world. For more information visit www.hero-ventures.com.
ABOUT MARVEL
Marvel Entertainment, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of The Walt Disney Company, is one of the world’s most prominent character-based entertainment companies, built on a proven library of over 8,000 characters featured in a variety of media over seventy years. Marvel utilizes its character franchises in entertainment, licensing and publishing. For more information visit www.marvel.com.

Parks of the Future- Fastpass Weekly

Welcome to the this week’s edition of Fastpass Weekly, a collection of interesting posts, videos and updates from around the web that we want to share with you.

This week, our focus is on Parks of the Future. From Middle Earth (The Lord of The Rings park) to the 5th gate at Walt Disney World, here are some interesting parks that could (or will) open in the future:

Disney’s Dark Kingdom

darkkingdomProposed as a new theme park for the Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida, the theme was to be based on the Disney Villains. It was to pre a reverse of the Magic Kingdom as it would be the Disney Villains who would be in charge. The park’s centerpiece was to be Malificent’s castle and the park would have included rides based on Captain Hook, Ursula, and other villains.

Middle Earth

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Unconfirmed rumours are circulating that Universal is talking with Tolkien Estate about creating a Middle-earth theme park. The rumours emerged on New Year’s day on the Orlando United forum where a user reported claims that Universal Studios asked Warner Bros. to raise the topic with Tolkien Estate. At this point, it is unclear whether the user has insider knowledge, or is simply reporting what others have said
Check out the forum thread here and join the conversation!

Paramount Theme Park

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Developers have unveiled plans for a new £2billion Paramount theme park in Britain to rival Disneyland Paris.

Marvel Theme Park

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Captain America, Hulk, Iron Man and more come to life in this possible future park in Dubai! Think Marvel Superhero Island at Islands of Adventure, times 5!

Shanghai Disneyland

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The super top-secret park currently under construction will feature brand new shows and attractions never seen in any other park!

Third Theme Park in California

disneythirdthemeparkFor years there have been rumours swirling of a third gate in Anaheim, even once confirmed by Disney on a now defunct site called Third Theme Park. And if you go way back in time, you can learn about Westcot, what was supposed to be the second gate before California Adventure opened with a thud.

Disneyland character racism -Really!?! Of The Week

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We normally don’t get involved in crazy stuff like this, but it’s just absurd to accuse Disney characters of being racist. The “friends of the characters” can hardly see when they are on stage, let alone clearly treat children with disrespect. Simply, these accusations are crazy and are most likely from people looking for a big payday from Disney. Sadly, the poor child’s picture is now splattered across the media as the debate continues. Great parenting!

  Continue reading

The Battle of New Fantasyland vs. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Disney has posted a new teaser site and map for the New Fantasyland Expansion at The Magic Kingdom in Orlando. The internet has gone wild with a few accusations that they have taken much licence in regards to the map design from a certain boy wizard who resides up the road. In addition to the similarities of the maps, Gaton’s Tavern is going to have its own special LeFous Brew served in souvenir steins and goblets (including a foamy head!) What do you think? Is Disney attempting to copy Universal? After all, they say imitation in the sincerest form of flattery. We’re working on an article to detail more of the similarities between these two hyper-themed lands. Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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New Fantasyland Map

 
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Wizarding World of Harry Potter Map

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LeFous Brew

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