Epcot Resort Area Friendship Boats Have Resumed Service

The Friendship Boat service on Crescent Lake resumed yesterday according to reports.

The service was closed Wednesday reportedly due to high water levels associated with Hurricane Irma.

Advertisements

Toy Story Land Model Now on Display at Walt Disney Presents

Today, Walt Disney Presents opened its doors to  a re-imagined version of the One Man’s Dream attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to offering guests a new look at the past, present and future of Disney Parks.

One of the exciting pieces of the “future” that Walt Disney Presents showcases is a model of the park’s Toy Story Land expansion, which will be on display for guests to view starting today.

The Toy Story Land expansion, which will open in Summer 2018, will shrink guests to the size of a toy and allow them to explore all the fun of Andy’s backyard, which as you can see in these images, has been delightfully filled with familiar toys and sights from the “Toy Story” films.

You can also see some of the charming detail our Imagineers have created for this new land and its two major attractions – Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers.

The Slinky Dog Dash attraction will be a family coaster themed as if Andy used his Mega Coaster Play Kit to build the ultimate coaster for Slinky. The land’s other major attraction, Alien Swirling Saucers, has been designed as a toy play set that Andy got from Pizza Planet, in which Aliens are flying around in their toy flying saucers and trying to capture guests’ rocket toy vehicles with “The Claw.”

But the Toy Story Land model isn’t the only exciting draw to Walt Disney Presents. Tracing Disney history from Walt Disney’s beginning sketches, photos and storyboards, the attraction celebrates milestones in Disney film and theme park history up through today and beyond. Expect to see models, maquettes, sketches, artist renderings, a portion of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge model, concept art for the new Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway attraction and more.

Walt Disney Presents will also continue to host greetings with characters like Star-Lord and baby Groot, plus special sneak previews of upcoming Disney films.

Disney Announces ‘Disney After Hours’ Dates for 2018

Last year, the Disney After Hours ticketed event nights debuted at Magic Kingdom Park and delighted guests with quick access to some of the park’s most popular attractions and character greetings. We’re happy to share today that Disney After Hours events will return for select dates in January, February and March 2018.

If you’re new to Disney After Hours, an event night is limited to a small number of guests, allowing attendees to maximize their time in the park with little to no wait at 25 attractions and experiences, like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Under the Sea ~ Journey of The Little Mermaid, Space Mountain and many more. The Disney After Hours ticket allows park entry as early as 7 p.m., which gives attendees time to enjoy the park’s nightly “Happily Ever After” fireworks, and then remain in the park until 11 p.m. and some nights to 12:00 a.m.

Disney After Hours event nights are currently set for January 19, 26, and 30, February 8 and 15, March 1 and 8. (Please note that Disney After Hours does not replace Extra Magic Hours (EMH) for our resort guests and are instead held on non-EMH dates.)

Disney’s Vero Beach Resort to Re-Open Today

The Disney Vacation Club has announced that Disney’s Vero Beach Resort on the east coast of Florida is reopening today after being closed for nearly a week due to Hurricane Irma.

DVC has also announced that it’s other beach-side resort, Disney’s Hilton Head Island Resort will tentatively reopen on September 18th.

Crescent Lake Friendship Boats Shut Down Until Further Notice

WDWMagic is reporting that the Friendship Boat service on Crescent Lake has been suspended until further notice.

Operating between Epcot, the Epcot area resort hotels, and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Friendship Boats are a popular choice for guests staying at the Epcot area resort hotels.

Disney has not yet indicated the reason behind the suspension of Friendship Boat service.

Bus service continues to be available, along with walkways for those guests wishing to walk.

Jungle Cruise Remains Closed due to Hurricane Irma Clean Up

While Magic Kingdom re-opened yesterday following two days of closure for Hurricane Irma, the Jungle Cruise attraction remains closed at this time.

While the majority of the park is in good shape following the hurricane, the high winds caused considerable damage to the Jungle Cruise landscaping.  Disney is saying more time is needed to get the ride ready for guests.

The park schedule currently shows the ride will remain closed through September 17th, but this may change.

Walt Disney Company Commits $2.5 Million To Hurricane Irma Recovery Efforts

The Walt Disney Company has committed $2.5 million to help relief efforts for those affected by Hurricane Irma. The donation will help aid humanitarian relief across Florida, the Caribbean and other places that Hurricane Irma has affected. The American Red Cross, UNICEF, Save the Children and other nonprofit organizations will be supported by the money. Donations from Disney employees to eligible relief organizations will be matched by Disney Employee Matching Gifts: A Program of The Walt Disney Company Foundation.

“As millions of people now face the daunting challenge of putting their lives and communities back together in the wake of these historic hurricanes, they need our help,” said Robert A. Iger, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company. “We’re donating $2.5 million to support relief and recovery efforts in response to Hurricane Irma. This is in addition to nearly $16 million we raised after Hurricane Harvey to help ensure storm victims have the support needed to recover and rebuild.”

In addition, eligible Disney employee donations to qualified organizations involved in the Hurricane Irma relief effort will be matched dollar for dollar by Disney Employee Matching Gifts: A Program of The Walt Disney Company Foundation.

During Hurricane Irma, Walt Disney World and the Disney Cruise Line donated meals, provided storage for supplies and power-utility vehicles, donated bedding to shelters, and made rooms available for first responders. Disney will also be donating goods and services throughout the region as other needs are identified.

The donation comes after Disney raised almost $16 million to help relief after Hurricane Harvey, which devastated Houston, TX and the surrounding areas. The number includes donations to the American Red Cross, employee donation matching and money raised across the company though initiatives, social media outreach, campaigns in Disney Stores and more.

Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground along with Disney Saratoga Springs Treehouses Remain Closed

All Walt Disney World Resorts will resume normal operations today with the exception of Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground and Disney’s Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas.

Fort Wilderness will remain closed until further notice while assessment of the damage to the property is completed.

In order to allow Fort Wilderness to prepare the property following Hurricane Irma, all shows at The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue and Mickey’s Backyard BBQ have been cancelled up to and including September 15th.  Any existing reservations will be or have been cancelled and refunded.

Disney’s Saratoga Springs Treehouse Villas will re-open on Thursday September 14th.

 

J.J. Abrams to Direct ‘Star Wars: Episode IX’

Disney and Lucasfilm are turning to a familiar face to take the helm of “Star Wars: Episode IX” following the exit of former director Colin Trevorrow.

J.J. Abrams, who helped reboot the franchise with “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” has landed the directing job, Variety has learned. He will also co-write the film with Chris Terrio, according to a press release on StarWars.com.

“With The Force Awakens, J.J. delivered everything we could have possibly hoped for, and I am so excited that he is coming back to close out this trilogy,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in the release.

Disney and Lucasfilm moved quickly to replace Phil Lord and Chris Miller with Ron Howard this summer while the film was still in production. The companies see Abrams as the perfect fit for “Episode IX,” given his proven track record in the “Star Wars” universe.

Trevorrow and Disney could not see eye-to-eye in regards to the script of the last installment in this latest “Star Wars” trilogy, sources say, and decided to part ways before getting further along in pre-production. The plan was to begin production by February 2018, but even if Abrams agreed to come back as director, meeting that start point still seems like a challenge.

Sources say producers already giving talent a heads up that there was a possibility of the shoot pushing two to three months and that once a director was announced the timeline would then be focused on.

While “Force Awakens” broke multiple box office records and “Rogue One” was hit at the box office, Lucasfilm and Disney have still had an issue with directors, dating back to when Tony Gilroy had to step in to shoot a significant amount of footage for “Rogue One” before its release. The studio has also fired Josh Trank from a standalone “Star Wars” pic and moved on from Lord and Miller, even though the film was far from done shooting.

Abrams and Rian Johnson, who helmed “Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” had smooth shoots on their respective “Star Wars” productions. Sticking with someone who knows the story — and posed little trouble in production — would make sense. Abrams has also remained close to Kennedy since working on “The Force Awakens.”

Since directing “The Force Awakens,” Abrams has not committed to his next feature gig, mainly producing movies including the next untitled “Cloverfield” film that Julius Onah helmed.

From Variety

Disney Legend Francis Xavier “X” Atencio Passes Away at Age 98

Disney Legend Xavier “X” Atencio, a former Imagineer and Disney animator, passed away on September 10 at the age of 98. X was responsible for helping bring to life a number of beloved Disney parks attractions including Pirates of the Caribbean and Haunted Mansion, as well as such animated classics as Pinocchio and Fantasia.

Born on September 4, 1919, in Walsenburg, Colorado, X—whose friends shortened his name from Francis Xavier to simply “X”—moved to Los Angeles in 1937 to attend the Chouinard Art Institute. X thought a job at Disney was out of his reach, but the then-18-year-old artist’s instructors prodded him to submit his portfolio. In 1938, when he got the good news from Disney, X ran from the original Hyperion Avenue studio to his aunt’s house shouting, “I got a job at Disney! I got a job at Disney!”

X first saw his work on screen at the 1940 premiere of Pinocchio, and as he watched, he was incredibly moved by seeing the audience’s reaction. That year, he was promoted to assistant animator for Fantasia but left temporarily to join the Army Air Corps in the war effort.

Upon his return in 1945, he picked up where he left off, returning to the studio and working for the next eight years on animated short subjects. His first on-screen credit was for Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom in 1953, an Oscar®-winning film that took audiences through the history of music. Other films X contributed to during this time included Noahs Ark (1959) and A Symposium on Popular Songs (1962), both Academy Award® nominees, as well as Jack and Old Mac (1956). He worked on the “I’m No Fool” series for the original MickeyMouse Club, and in the 1960s, X provided memorable stop-motion sequences for Disney feature films TheParent Trap (1961), Babes in Toyland (1961), and Mary Poppins (1964).

At the request of Walt Disney, X transferred to WED Enterprises (later Walt Disney Imagineering) in 1965 to work on the Primeval World diorama for Disneyland. At first, X was unsure of the move to WED: “I went over there reluctantly because I didn’t know what I was getting into, and nobody there knew what I was supposed to do either,” he recalled. “About a month later I got a phone call from Walt. He told me ‘I want you to do the script for the Pirates of the Caribbean.’” From that point on, X cemented his legacy at WED, playing a key role in the development of music and dialogue for the attraction, including co-writing the iconic song, “Yo Ho (A Pirate’s Life for Me).” For the Haunted Mansion, he wrote the attraction’s dialogue and co-wrote the song “Grim Grinning Ghosts.” For Walt Disney World, he contributed to If You Had Wings and Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom, as well as Spaceship Earth, World of Motion, and the Mexico pavilion at Epcot. Throughout his career, X always said that his reward, as it was in the days of Pinocchio, “is still the audience’s reactions.”

“X was an enormous talent who helped define so many of our best experiences around the world,” said Bob Weis, president of Walt Disney Imagineering. “Some may not know that when he wrote the lyrics for ‘Yo Ho’ he had never actually written a song before. He simply proposed the idea of a tune for Pirates of the Caribbean, and Walt told him to go and do it. That was how X worked—with an enthusiastic, collaborative attitude, along with a great sense of humor. His brilliant work continues to inspire Imagineers and bring joy to millions of guests every year.”

X retired from Disney in 1984, but continued working as a consultant to Walt Disney Imagineering for many years, and was inducted as a Disney Legend in 1996. He is survived by his wife, Maureen; his children Tori McCullough, Judianne, and Joe; his stepchildren Brian Sheedy, Kevin Sheedy, and Eileen Haubeil; sons-in-law Mike McCullough and Chris Haubeil; daughters-in-law Kathy Atencio, Trish Sheedy, and Beth Sheedy; and eight grandchildren.

From D23