Jim Henson Co. Develops New Puppet Talk Show for Disney+


The Jim Henson Co. has created a new comedic half-hour series for Disney+ featuring a blue-skinned alien and his sidekick. Earth to Ned, has the title character hosting a talk show, along with his lieutenant Cornelius.

The story goes that Ned and Cornelius were sent to Earth as scouts, preparing for an eventual invasion. Instead, they grew obsessed with popular culture and now host the talk show from the bridge of their hidden spaceship.

Ned will interview real-life celebrity guests from around the world, learning as much as he can about human culture.

Jim Henson’s Creature Shop will bring Ned and Cornelius to life, along with other characters for the show like BETI, their artificial intelligence, and an army of CLODS (cloned living objects of destruction).

Dan Silver, Disney+ vice president for unscripted originals, said of the announcement:

Disney has a long history of giving audiences a glimpse at faraway lands and bringing new talent into the spotlight. We believe Ned is next in line. We’re lucky to have the talents of the Jim Henson Co. and the folks at Marwar Junction Productions helping Ned, Cornelius, BETI and the Clods to execute and fully realize their vision. And I’d be remiss if I didn’t thank Ned for promising to entertain us, rather than destroy us all.

Disney+ launches November 12th, but there is no word yet on a premier date for Earth to Ned.

Source: Hollywood Reporter / Disney+

Tervis Introduces New Disney Villain Tumblers


With Halloween being right around the corner, we thought we’d let you all know that Disney Villains Tervis tumblers are now available!

Take a look at the designs below:

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For now, these gorgeous tumblers can be purchased directly from the Tervis website, but we’re keeping an eye out to see if they appear on the shopDisney app.

Source: @DisneyVillains

A Review of this Year’s Halloween-Inspired Treats at Disney’s Hollywood Studios


Disney’s Hollywood Studios has a new lineup of Halloween-inspired treats, and last week, Ryan Clavin and I stopped by to try them out.

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Our first stop took us down Sunset Boulevard to Sunset Ranch Market. Both Catalina Eddie’s and Rosie’s All American have a featured Halloween-inspired snack, and both sell for $4.99.

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At Rosie‘s All American, guests will find the Graveyard Worms and Dirt dessert. This treat features chocolate cookie crumbles, layers of whipped cream and chocolate pudding with sprinkles, gummy worms, and Boba balls. This was a cool and creamy sweet snack, and is a lighter dessert option if that’s what you’re looking for. I am someone who specifically goes into Disney’s Hollywood Studios simply to make a beeline for a hot fudge sundae at Hollywood Scoops. My beloved hot fudge sundae usually leaves me feeling quite stuffed. The Graveyard Worms and Dirt will not leave you feeling overly stuffed, and would be the perfect sweet treat for a busy park day. It was definitely a fun and inventive option, and I would definitely purchase it again.

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At Catalina Eddie’s, the Candy Corn Verrine features layers of cake, whipped cream, and pudding with a chocolate spiderweb garnish. The word “verrine,” as I understand it, means “small glass”. Even though this dessert takes its inspiration from classic candy corn, it is in looks only. Don’t get me wrong; this treat was yummy. The pudding at the bottom of the verrine is citrus flavored, and tasted somewhat like key lime. The cake was more of a vanilla flavor, and the whipped cream on top provided a nice cool and creamy contrast to the cake just below. We noted at the table that perhaps they could call this “Florida Flavors“ as it could be something that draws inspiration from the citrus grown in the Central Florida region. Regardless, this dessert looked like candy corn and was good. It’s also another nice treat that won’t leave you feeling stuffed.

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Our second and last stop of the afternoon took us to Trolley Car Café (the Hollywood Studios Starbucks location) at the corner of Sunset and Hollywood boulevards. The Instagram-worthy Poison Apple Mousse sells for $5.29. This dessert is filled with apple purée, chocolate mousse filling, and a dark chocolate glaze coating all on top of a cookie covered with Oreo crumbles. This dessert is beautiful. Such care has been taken in the design and implementation of this treat, and it is readily apparent.

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The apple purée pairs nicely with the chocolate mousse that surrounds it. It reminded me of a chocolate covered apple that you would get in The Confectionery on Main Street U.S.A. in the Magic Kingdom. As you continue to dig through the desert, you will also discover vanilla custard. The shortbread cookie underneath the apple is covered in Oreo cookie crumbles and is quite good in and of itself. This, like the other treats we tried, is a cool and creamy dessert, but the Poison Apple Mousse stands head and shoulders above the other offerings. The bluish-black glaze covering the apple is flecked with gold, and it tastes as good as it looks. I would definitely purchase this dessert again.

Have you tried any of the Halloween-inspired treats at Walt Disney World this year? If so, please leave your thoughts and comments down below. I’m always on the lookout for another great treat, so please leave suggestions. Especially if the suggestions involve sugar.

If you’d like to virtually join Ryno and I as we tried the Halloween treats at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, click below:

FuelRod Swapping Will No Longer Be Free of Charge at Walt Disney World Beginning Nov. 1


Since the day FuelRod became the preferred portable device charger at the Walt Disney World Resort, there has never been a swap charge.

Beginning November 1, 2019, guests wishing to swap out their drained FuelRod for a fully-charged one will be required to pay $3 for that swap.

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As you can see in the image above, signs are being added to the kiosks around the theme parks and all over Walt Disney World property to advise guests of the upcoming change.

Edited to add: This charge will take effect at the Disneyland Resort beginning November 1, 2019, as well.

Six Walt Disney World Character Meals in Seven Days – Am I Crazy?


In August 2019, my family took a trip to Walt Disney World where we spent eight nights and nine days at the Port Orleans Riverside resort. We took advantage of the free dining offer, and, with a family of three that includes two daughters ages 6 and 1 and my 4 year old son (along with my mother and wife), we had a lot of decisions to make about where we were going to eat. If you’d like more details of the trip, you can read my trip report linked above. This article will focus on our experiences at six different character meals during the seven full days we were on property.

This article could be turned into a debate about the value of the Disney Dining Plan, but I’m not going to do that. Suffice it to say, if you want to come close to realizing the full value of the Dining Plan versus paying out of pocket, you need to do character meals. Our benchmark for value is based on the cost of the Disney Dining Plan’s face value of $282.43 per day for three adults and two kids. The cost of your average dinner at a character meal comes close to that value.

In order, we visited the following restaurants:

  1. The Crystal Palace
  2. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
  3. Cinderella’s Royal Table
  4. Tusker House Restaurant
  5. Hollywood and Vine
  6. Chef Mickey’s Buffet

The individual review articles for each restaurant are linked above so that you can read them. I would do so before continuing.

There are plenty of reasons why you would want to do this many character meals when you’re herding three rugrats around the parks. You’re guaranteed nearly two hours of air conditioning and a place to rest. If you’ve been running around the parks since 9 am, a 6pm reservation at The Crystal Palace seems like a great idea as it’ll allow you to take a break and ease into the evening of fireworks and a few more rides.

Depending on where you go, and which characters you’ll be meeting, these character meals are an excellent substitute for waiting on line for character meet and greets inside the parks. The only downfall is that you won’t get the high quality photos you would get with a PhotoPass character meet and greet.

So, now you know my reasoning for setting these up, but the real question is “Am I crazy?” The answer: maybe.

Right off the bat, I want to say that I had an amazing time at each restaurant and felt like I got average to fantastic value out of each experience. My children loved every single place, which I guess is what really counts at the end of the day. There are few things that I would do differently and I’d like to share those with you if you’re ever thinking of running this kind of gauntlet.

Tip #1

Don’t line up The Crystal Palace, Hollywood and Vine and Chef Mickey’s Buffet all in a row. All the food in these three restaurants are very generic and very heavy or filling. By the end of the second meal, you may risk losing your taste buds. Places like Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, Tusker House Restaurant, and Cinderella’s Royal Table offer high quality and different kinds of food. Luckily, in between the 5th and 6th restaurant, we did only quick service food and got a break.

Tip #2

People say the Disney Dining Plan offers way too much food. This is true. These are all buffets (with the exception of Cinderella’s Royal Table), so you can load up on food if you want to. View these experiences as half character meet and greets and not a way to maximize your food intake.

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The Big Picture

Each one of these character meals offered something different, and, when you compare all of them inside a small window of a single week rather than over the years, it becomes apparent what the pros and cons are of each.

These are some of my hot takes:

Cinderella’s Royal Table is an amazing and unique experience, but, for the price point, it’s not really worth repeating. Skip it if you’ve been within the last few years.

The Hollywood and Vine isn’t worth going at all unless you have some extra table service credits or cash rolling around. Ending up here is probably the result of poor planning or last minute decisions (like me).

Akershus Royal Banquet Hall is really good all around.

Chef Mickey’s Buffet is a great place to go in the middle of the day and take a break from the Magic Kingdom.

Let’s take a look at some scoring and compare the reviews:

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A few things to consider on how I scored each of these restaurants: I scored them in context of each other in a vacuum. I am not grading them compared to any other restaurant, because, obviously Cinderella’s Royal Table is not 10 out of 10 when compared to every other restaurant on property. Also, a score of 5 is borderline mediocre and brings nothing special to the table. Anything less would be an experience where I felt robbed or cheated of my time and money.

Location and Theming Scores

Location scores are based on both the theming of the restaurant and where it’s physically located. If the restaurant is located in an interesting place with good views, it receives a higher score.

When you compare all of the scores together, Cinderella’s Royal Table comes out on top based on the fact that it’s in Cinderella Castle! Beyond Cinderella’s Royal Table, the next two locations offer something interesting. Chef Mickey’s Buffet in the Contemporary Resort offers a really great environment and an excuse to ride the monorail while Akershus’ theming and restaurant aesthetic is really great.

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Food Scores

The food scores should be self explanatory, and are all based on quality of food and selection at that establishment. Cinderella’s again comes out on top as it is a signature dining restaurant, but Akershus is a close second along with Tusker House.

Akershus’ dining experience is more satisfying with its appetizer buffet that comes along with an entree and desert. Tusker House scores high based on its quality and selection of offerings that is different than anything else on property.

Character Scores

It’s very difficult to differentiate between character entertainment as they all do a wonderful job and are nearly identical. Any dings I gave the scores was based on time at the table and whether or not the restaurant characters performed a little parade or extra engagement with the room.

Chef Mickey’s Buffet came out on the bottom of the list only because the characters seemed rushed that day. Overall, each restaurant offered a similar experience.

Service

Service is subjective for the most part, but overall grades were given to how rushed I felt (I didn’t feel rushed anywhere), whether the server was attentive, and the server’s attitude. All of the restaurants offered a pleasant experience with excellent support staff.

Restaurants that were strictly buffets had a ceiling due to it not being full service meals. The only restaurant that had a negative against it was Chef Mickey’s Buffet.

Value for your Money

It all comes down to whether or not the experience was worth the money (or dining plan credits) that you paid for it. Being on the Disney Dining Plan gives me a biased opinion of value since the meals were already paid for, so signing a $350 bill for Cinderella’s Royal Table didn’t really hurt as much.

That being said, you can see a few scores that stand out. Cinderella’s Royal Table, as a signature restaurant, doesn’t really offer the value of money at the price point that is being presented. At two table service credits, the food wasn’t as varied and the experience wasn’t as different as something like Akershus Royal Banquet Hall, whose experience was incredibly similar. The only main difference was obviously sitting a few stories up in the castle.

Tusker House Restaurant also scored high based on the different kinds of food that you will find inside compared to the standard-type fare you find in places like Chef Mickey’s Buffet and The Crystal Palace.

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The Last Word

If you’re on the Disney Dining Plan and have the park tickets to access all of these restaurants and kids in your traveling party, then I would totally recommend hitting up a character meal each day. I’d be careful of overeating, which is easy to do, but the experience of having Disney characters roaming around while you eat is nothing short of amazing with young kids. Doing it every day adds an extra magical experience if you can keep your sanity.

Personally, it’s the only way to keep your sanity because you can at least have a meal where the kids are engaged with characters and you can have an adult conversation without them interrupting every single second.

The scores speak for themselves, and if you’re reading this article before reading the individual reviews, I suggest to click on them above for more in-depth detail.

Original ‘Lizzie McGuire’ Cast Join Hilary Duff for New Series Coming to Disney+


Hallie Todd, Robert Carradine, and Jake Thomas are set to reprise their roles as Jo, Sam, and Matt McGuire, joining previously announced Hilary Duff as Lizzie, in the Disney+ series Lizzie McGuire. This week, the cast convenes for the first time in 15 years for a read-through of the first episode.

“We are incredibly excited to bring back one of the most popular Disney Channel series of all time along with some beloved and familiar faces,” said Ricky Strauss, president, Content & Marketing, Disney+. “With Terri at the helm and Hilary, Hallie, Robert, and Jake back after all these years, it’s our honor to welcome the McGuire family into the Disney+ family.”

“Just like there is no Lizzie McGuire without Hilary Duff, there is no McGuire family without Hallie, Robert, and Jake,” said Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer, Disney Channels Worldwide. “The original series holds a special place in the hearts of so many, and we can’t wait to introduce fans, both old and new, to an older, wiser, yet still perfectly imperfect Lizzie.”

The new story picks up as Lizzie McGuire is just about to turn 30. She seemingly has it all – her dream job as an assistant to a fancy New York City decorator, her dream guy, and a picturesque Brooklyn apartment – but things aren’t always as they seem. With a little help from her friends, her loving family and her 13-year-old alter-ego in animated form, Lizzie navigates the ups and downs of adulthood.

Original Lizzie McGuire series creator Terri Minsky returns as showrunner and executive producer. Hilary Duff and Rachel Winter will also executive-produce. Ranada Shepard is the co-executive producer. Lizzie McGuire is a production of Salty Pictures, Inc.

McDonald’s on Walt Disney World Property to Close for Refurbishment Beginning Oct. 30


Beginning October 30, 2019, the McDonald’s restaurant located at 1596 W. Buena Vista Drive near Disney’s All-Star Resorts will start a refurbishment project in order to deliver a redesigned, elevated experience.

The restaurant will remain closed during construction and will reopen in 2020.

New Merchandise Collection Arrives at Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa


A new collection of apparel and merchandise has arrived at Aulani, A Disney Resort and Spa and the Disney Parks Blog has shared a first look at a few of the items.

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The design focuses on the greenery of the Hawaiian islands such as the large-leafed tropical ferns that can be found on popular island hiking trails and within Aulani’s landscaping. The pattern also incorporates subtle, hidden touches of Disney.

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The collection also includes a special edition mouse ear headband, a Loungefly backpack and wallet, exclusive plush and other accessories too.

Source: Disney Parks Blog

Why Disney’s Animal Kingdom is More Than a Glorified Zoo


Disney’s Animal Kingdom is not just the newest U.S. park for Disney, but it’s also the one that gets the most criticism as to whether or not it’s a worthy theme park. Some criticize the park and call it a glorified zoo. I was a naysayer myself until I finally visited, but now, it is one of my favorite parks. In order to dispel the myth for those who haven’t gone yet, here are five reasons why Animal Kingdom is more than a zoo.

  • Theming– Like all things with Disney, the theming of the park is incredible. Each section in the park transports you to a new place that can make you forget you’re in a theme park (at least for a while).

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  • Food– I’m sure there are some zoos out there that have decent food, but the food at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is so much better than the average zoo or even theme park food. The park has a good mix of adventurous favorites as well as safe choices for picky eaters. Add in a great character meal with Tusker House Restaurant, and you have just about everything a Disney foodie could ask for.
  • Shows– The Festival of the Lion King is one of the best shows on Disney property, if not the best. The acrobats, costumes, music, and audience participation makes this a show that’s not to be missed, and this is just one of the shows at this park.

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  • Atmosphere– Disney theme parks are filled with little extras, and Animal Kingdom is no exception. While some of the entertainment has been cut recently, there is still so much to love at the park. So, to the naysayers who think Animal Kingdom is just a half-day park or can be skipped altogether, try another visit to see all that you’ve been missing.

Meet Fancy Nancy and Vampirina During Your Disney Cruise Line Vacation


Most fans of Disney Cruise Line vacations already know that the ships are the perfect to meet their favorite Disney characters, but did you know that they’re also a great place to meet Disney Junior characters, including the newest Disney Junior friends, Fancy Nancy and Vampirina?

The pair have come on board and are meeting guests for photo opportunities, plus they’re also hosting special activities in the Oceaneer Club.

During “Fancy It Yourself with Fancy Nancy,” younger guests will create their own artwork and fancy signatures which will be displayed throughout the Club to transform it into a their own Play Palace.

There will also be some fancy lessons and cruisers will learn to walk fancy, talk fancy, and have a fancy tea party.

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The fun continues during the “Dancelvania Dance Party” with Vampirina. Younger guests will create their own spooky looks, then dance to songs from the hit Disney Junior show. Vampirina will even stop by to check out the party.

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The new activities join a host of other Disney Junior-themed activities, including “Doc McStuffins Toy Hospital” and “Mickey Mouse and the Roadster Racers.” The Disney Magic and the Disney Wonder also feature an entire Disney Junior-themed area for younger cruisers.

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Source: Disney Parks Blog