BB-8 To Greet Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios This Spring

Guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will have more Star Wars fun to look forward to this spring when BB-8, the loyal droid from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, begins character greetings at the park’s Star Wars Launch Bay.

BB-8 will appear in addition to Kylo Ren and Chewbacca, two characters from the Star Wars galaxy who guests regularly encounter at Star Wars Launch Bay. In addition to character greetings, the location also offers guests the chance to explore galleries full of treasured memorabilia and authentic replicas of large-scale Star Wars artifacts, including some from the latest film in the franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Star Wars Launch Bay is just one experience that has debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the delight of Star Wars fans over the past two years: “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” daytime show features characters from around the Star Wars galaxy; while the guest-favorite “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” nighttime spectacular lights up the park each night. Guests age 4-12 can also become Jedi recruits and put their skills to the test in an unforgettable battle against villains like Darth Vader or the Seventh Sister Inquisitor. And just a few months ago, the park’s Star Tours – The Adventures Continue attraction began offering guests randomized destinations, making different planetary destinations possible for every galactic journey.

Walt Disney World Announces Expansion of Coronado Springs, Caribbean Beach Resorts

Walt Disney World on Thursday unveiled expansion plans for its Coronado Springs and Caribbean Beach hotels.

The expansion at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort will include a new 15-story tower that will add 500 rooms, featuring suites and concierge level services. The resort will also refurbish its current resort rooms and transform its landscape with floating gardens and an island oasis that connects the resort through a series of bridges.

The new tower overlooking Lago Dorado, the resort’s centerpiece lake, will allow guests to experience something truly unique, rooftop dining with panoramic views of popular nighttime fireworks from nearby Disney theme parks.

Also there will be additions to the Caribbean Beach Resort, including new waterfront dining and retail shopping areas at the Centertown marketplace. Disney said in a blog post “this centralized location will offer the resort’s guests more convenient access to services, amenities and dining.”

The Southwestern-themed Coronado Springs opened 20 years ago, aiming to capture the convention market.

Caribbean Beach Resort has been around since the late 1980s.

Disney Plans Midnight ‘Star Wars’ Event to Unveil ‘Last Jedi’ Merchandise

Walt Disney Co and major retailers will release the galaxy’s newest “Star Wars” toys at a September 1st midnight event ahead of the holiday debut of the next film in the saga, “The Last Jedi,” company executives told Reuters.

The marketing push called “Force Friday II” is a sequel to an event Disney used to build buzz for merchandise tied to the 2015 movie “The Force Awakens.”

Star Wars products were a big contributor to the financial success of the series reboot. BB-8 droids, lightsabers and other playthings made “Star Wars” the U.S. toy industry’s top-selling property for 2015 and 2016, with $1.5 billion in sales over the two years, research firm NPD said.

Hasbro Inc cited “Star Wars” sales when it reported its biggest quarterly revenue rise in nearly five years for the December 2015 quarter. Mattel Inc also posted a surprise rise in sales for the same period with help from “Star Wars”-based Hot Wheels toys. And at Disney, licensing income from “Force Awakens” merchandise drove record quarterly operating income in the consumer products unit.

Force Friday II will begin just after midnight on September 1st. Lego, Hasbro and others will release the first toys, apparel, books and other products tied to “The Last Jedi,” both online and in stores at retailers including Wal-Mart Stores Inc, Target, Toys R Us, Kohl’s, Amazon.com Inc and Disney Stores.

Disney will incorporate new technology to its “Last Jedi” products like it did with the popular BB-8 droid, said James Pitaro, chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. New products will feature returning characters such as Rey and Finn, plus new ones, and will span a broad range of categories for male and female fans, he said.

“One of our top priorities is to expand the audience,” Pitaro said.

“The Last Jedi,” the eighth installment in the “Star Wars” movie saga that began in 1977, debuts in theaters Dec. 15. Toys typically hit shelves closer to a movie’s release, around four to six weeks in advance.

At the 2015 Force Friday, fans dressed as Stormtroopers and Jedi waited in line for hours ahead of the midnight store openings.

“There was a certain mania that took over,” said Marty Brochstein, a senior vice president at the International Licensing Industry Merchandisers’ Association. The excitement around “Star Wars” in 2015 was unique because it had been so long since the last film, Brochstein said.

“It would be unfair to expect the same kind of volume generated this time around by consumer products,” he said, adding it was too early to assess demand.

Pitaro said Disney continues to see “very, very healthy sales” of “Star Wars” merchandise. “We have a lot of confidence we will continue in that direction,” he said.

Disney bought “Star Wars” producer Lucasfilm in 2012 for $4 billion and reintroduced the franchise with “Force Awakens.” That movie became the third-highest grossing ever, selling $2 billion worth of tickets worldwide. Disney also released “Star Wars” spinoff “Rogue One” in 2016.

Star Wars Celebration to Welcome Kathleen Kennedy and Rian Johnson

Huge news from a galaxy far, far away! Some very special guests will be appearing onstage at Star WarsCelebration in Orlando, coming up this April… namely, Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy and Star Wars: The Last Jedi director Rian Johnson! We’ve been told there’ll be a ton of big surprises—and other special guests on that can’t-miss Last Jedi panel on Friday, April 14—to keep the excitement (not to mention speculation!) bubbling throughout the weekend.

Kathleen and Rian join the already-announced Felicity Jones (Jyn Erso in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), Ian McDiarmid (Emperor Palpatine), and Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett)—who’ll all be signing in the Star WarsCelebration Autograph Hall.

Heading down to Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center for all the Star Wars fun? Visit StarWarsCelebration.com for tickets—and check back as we get closer to the event for guest updates, queuing info, and wristband details.

Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! Opens May 27 with Summer of Heroes and All-New Epic Experiences

Disney California Adventure park will soon be the destination for adventure, intrigue and triumph as recruits from around the world – like you – join forces with legendary Super Heroes in an ever-expanding universe of stories that will grow even bigger over time. This summer, we are kicking off the action with the May 27 grand opening of the thrilling, rocking attraction, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT!

gotg-mission-breakout

This new adventure blasts you straight into the “Guardians of the Galaxy” story for the first time ever, alongside characters from the blockbuster films and comics. As you help Rocket bust his pals out of the Collector’s Fortress, you will experience randomized ride experiences complete with all-new visual and audio effects and music inspired by the popular film soundtracks. You never know which adventure you will get!

There will be even more ways to step into Super Hero stories with Summer of Heroes, May 27 through September 10. Answer the call for this limited-time celebration as you join the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy for all-new epic experiences.

Summer of Heroes will launch these new, year-round experiences:

  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Dance Off! – Don’t be surprised if you run into the Guardians of the Galaxy on their way to the Milano, with Star-Lord firing up his old-school boom box to get the party started. Gamora may prefer to stand back and observe, but everyone else is bound to get in the groove and show off their moves during this awesome rock ‘n’ roll bash!
  • Super Hero Encounters – For the first time, citizens of Earth will come face-to-face with Groot, one of the Guardians of the Galaxy! You can also step up to meet the First Avenger, Captain America, along with everyone’s favorite web slinger, your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

And for a limited time, step up to the challenge with new adventures during Summer of Heroes:

  • Avengers Training Initiative – Black Widow and Hawkeye assemble young recruits for a series of tests to see if they have what it takes to join the ranks of the Avengers.
  • Heroic Encounter: Black Widow – Black Widow will arrive on the scene several times throughout the day in an armored Avengers vehicle for her heroic encounter with park guests.
  • Grab a Piece (or Bite) of the Action – All that heroism making you hungry? Want a token as proof of your adventures when you get home? Special themed merchandise and food will be available throughout Hollywood Land.

The summer brings even more to get excited about over at Disneyland park as classic favorites return with the reopening of the Disneyland Railroad and Rivers of America attractions, with the “Fantasmic!” nighttime spectacular returning later in the summer. We’ll have opening dates to share soon for these attractions. And don’t miss your chance to see the classic Main Street Electrical Parade during its limited-time run at Disneyland park through June 18.

#HeroUp at Disney California Adventure park with Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! and Summer of Heroes, beginning May 27!

Entertainment and attractions are subject to change and cancellation without notice. Please check the show guide for days and times.

Disney Signs Niki Caro to Direct Live-Action Mulan Movie

Disney’s live-action adaptation of the 1998 animated musical Mulan will be directed by Niki Caro (The Zookeeper’s Wife), according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Caro will be the fourth woman to ever solo-direct a film with a budget over $100 million, joining a very tiny club that includes Kathryn Bigelow (K-19: The Widowmaker in 2002), Patty Jenkins (Warner Bros. upcoming Wonder Woman movie), and Ava DuVernay (Disney’s upcoming A Wrinkle in Time). Disney, by merit of hiring two women to direct blockbusters ever in its history, is somehow leading the pack for major Hollywood studios.

Hollywood studios have begun to feel the pressure to hire more female directors for tentpole films, after multiple controversies around the hiring of young, comparably untested male directors for massive projects like Jurassic World and Star Wars, as well as a federal investigation of sexist hiring practices in the industryLucasfilm head Kathleen Kennedy was also recently the subject of heated criticism due to her comments about the “search” for a female director capable of handling a Star Wars movie.

Disney has also expressed its intent to hire a woman to direct its first female-led superhero film, Captain Marvel. Caro had previously been included on the studio’s short listalongside Lesli Linka Glatter (the principle director on Homeland) and Lorene Scafaria (Nick & Norah’s Infinite PlaylistThe Meddler), though The Hollywood Reporter suggests this new assignment likely takes Caro out of the running for the 2019 film.

Caro made her breakthrough critical hit Whale Rider in 2002, following it up with the star-studded North Country (Charlize Theron, Frances McDormand, Sissy Spacek) in 2005, but — as is typical for female directors in Hollywood — her career largely idled after that. Since 2005 she’s released only two films: the low-budgetoverlooked TIFF submission The Vinter’s Luck in 2009 and Disney’s moderately successful McFarland, USA in 2015.

Mulan will be executive produced by Bill Kong (best known Stateside for House of Flying Daggers and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) and rely on input from Chinese cultural consultants and the large co-production team that Disney maintains with Shanghai Media Group. It will be interesting to see how Disney navigates the more culturally delicate live-action project, particularly considering the fact that it also has a live-action Aladdin on its plate. Big studios have a nasty habit of casting famous white faces in roles that shouldn’t belong to them — see the recent uproar over Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell or Rooney Mara as Pan’s Tiger Lily.

Mulan is set for release on November 2, 2018. It will likely be a treat to watch a young woman perform a live musical number that snarkily defines masculinity around violence and endurance as part of an ongoing dramatic irony bit.

From The Verge

7 People Treated, 8 Cars Burn In Disneyland Parking Structure Fire

At least eight cars caught fire at a Disneyland parking structure Monday night, injuring park staffers, prompting some evacuations and causing nearly $180,000 in damage, authorities said.

During the blaze, seven Disney employees suffered minor injuries from smoke inhalation, four of whom were taken to the hospital, said Sgt. Daron Wyatt, a spokesman for the Anaheim Police Department.

No foul play is suspected, and the cause of the fire is under investigation.

The fire was reported just before 4:40 p.m. on the second floor of the Mickey & Friends parking garage, a six-level structure off Disneyland Drive near the northwest corner of Disneyland Park, Wyatt said.

The parking structure has floors named after Disney characters and provides about 10,000 parking spaces.

By 5:35 p.m., the fire was extinguished. Four cars were destroyed and another four cars had major damage. A few other vehicles had minor damage, police said.

Photos shared on social media showed clouds of smoke billowing out of the parking structure as parkgoers crowded outside, waiting to return to their cars.

Police said most parkgoers began to return to their cars by 7 p.m., but those parked on the level where the fire broke out had to wait longer.

Helene Elliott, a sports columnist for the Los Angeles Times, was visiting Disneyland on Monday and her car was parked on the floor where the fire occurred.

She learned about the fire while waiting in line for the tram to the parking structure. The park halted the tram while firefighters battled the blaze. Park employees did not provide an explanation for why the tram service had stopped, she said.

“When I saw on Twitter [about the fire], I didn’t say anything out loud. I was afraid others were going to panic,” Elliott said.

By 7:50 p.m., those parked on the level where the fire occurred where allowed to retrieve their cars, she said.

The Mickey & Friends structure is a recognizable area for the millions of tourists visiting Disneyland and the adjacent California Adventure Park, the heart of Disney’s resort complex in Orange County.

At its opening in 2000, the massive garage was considered the largest parking structure in North America.

From the Los Angeles Times

Disneyland to Get Limited-Time Beauty and the Beast Experiences

Disneyland guests will soon be able to step into the beloved “Beauty and the Beast” story in new ways! For a limited time, Fantasyland at Disneyland park will bring this tale to life with special experiences that celebrate the classic Disney animated feature.

Red Rose Taverne – This dining location at the northwest edge of Fantasyland will magically transform from Village Haus Restaurant into a lively French taverne, with delicious quick-service meals perfect for all ages! Adorned with beautiful murals depicting favorite scenes from Disney’s animated feature, “Beauty and the Beast,” and draped with inviting curtains, each room of Red Rose Taverne tells a different chapter of the tale as old as time. The menu will transform as well, featuring some of your favorite tastes with a French taverne-inspired twist, as well as new signature beverages. We’ll have details to share on these delicious additions soon – and yes, you will be able to try our own version of the Grey Stuff. (I hear it’s delicious!)

Royal Reception – This special merchandise location adjacent to Red Rose Taverne offers keepsakes, apparel and collectibles inspired by both the animated Disney feature as well as the new, live-action film, “Beauty and the Beast,” in theaters March 17.

That Gaston – We all know Gaston loves a taverne, so don’t be surprised if you find him preening around Fantasyland. Stop him and ask him to flex his biceps – he loves that.

Maurice’s Treats – The celebration continues in nearby Fantasy Faire, where each twist on the menu at Maurice’s Treats will be presented with … well … a twist! And those of you who have been clamoring for a dipping sauce to go along with your tasty twist will be pleased to know that marinara, strawberry and even Grey Stuff dipping sauces will soon be available.

The Royal Theatre Presents “Beauty and the Beast” – Be sure to drop by the Royal Theatre in Fantasy Faire as Mr. Smythe and Mr. Jones present their take on “Beauty and the Beast” in this daily favorite.

Opening dates and how long these experiences will last have not been mentioned yet by Disneyland.

Morimoto Asia and Wine Bar George Partnering for ‘Wok and Wines’ Pairing Dinner Event

Morimoto Asia and Master Sommelier George Miliotes will be partnering  to bring a special dining event to Disney Springs – “Wok and Wine.”

The event will cost $150 per guest (excluding tax and gratuity) and will take place on February 28, 2017 at 7:30pm. Tickets are available in advance online.

This special collaboration wine dinner is created by Executive Chef Yuhi Fujinaga and will showcase a selection of modern Pan-Asian dishes. Master Sommelier George Miliotes will pair each course with wines that will be served at his wine bar also located in Disney Springs. The dinner will feature the following:

1st Course:
Bluefin Toro Tartare, soy caviar, Jamon Iberico Crisps
Dom Ruinart Rosé Champagne, France

2nd Course:
‘Bag of Pho’ local lionfish, Hudson Valley Foie Gras dashi, mitsuba, rice noodles
Raats Original Chenin Blanc, Stellenbosch-South Africa

3rd Course:
Slow Roasted Crispy Baby Pig, Chinese black bean trotter jus, hot spring Jidori egg
Selbach-Oster Riesling Feinherb, Mosel-Germany

Dessert Course:
Green Tea Panna Cotta
Broadbent Colheita Madeira, Portugal

Geyser Point Bar & Grill Opens at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Opening today at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge is the new Geyser Point Bar & Grill, where guests can grab a bite as they enjoy the resort’s rustic beauty.

Geyser Point Bar & Grill Opens at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World Resort Geyser Point Bar & Grill Opens at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge at Walt Disney World Resort

Located along the water’s edge, Geyser Point is designed with cedar beams and natural stone to fit into the design that’s reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest (especially cool after dark with campfires and the iconic Electrical Water Pageant on Bay Lake).

At the bar, artisanal sips add an authentic touch to beverage menus, including drinks which feature Pacific Northwest brewers and distilleries, and wines focusing on heritage varietals grown in Oregon and Washington.

Moscato Colada from Geyser Point Bar & Grill Opens at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Whipper Snapper Sour from Geyser Point Bar & Grill Opens at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Small plates pair beautifully with beverages, including crispy fried oysters with miso tartar sauce; edamame with chili salt; cheesy barbecue brisket with house-made chips; “Shrimp on a Wire” with miso-lime vinaigrette, togarashi (Japanese spice mixture), shishito peppers and chili-aioli; salmon rillettes with sourdough crisps, and handcrafted charcuterie.

Grilled Portobello Salad from Geyser Point Bar & Grill

Salmon Rillette from Geyser Point Bar & Grill Opens at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Bison Burger from Geyser Point Bar & Grill Opens at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge

Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, a quick-service walk-up window next to the bar makes it easy to order and dine alfresco.

Breakfast includes everything from scrambled eggs with sausage and bacon to crab cakes Benedict and maple-cinnamon pancakes. For a lighter bite, seasonal fruit is served with lavender honey-yogurt, and steel-cut oatmeal is topped with dried fruit and nuts. For kids, scrambled eggs, buttermilk pancakes and granola with apples, strawberries and honey-yogurt dip is on the menu.

The quick-service lunch and dinner menu, available at the walk-up window includes:

  • Bison burger with Tillamook Cheddar, sweet onion straws and marionberry barbecue sauce
  • Classic bacon burger with Tillamook Cheddar
  • House-smoked turkey sandwich with cranberry mayonnaise
  • Lump crab cake sandwich with house-made Canadian bacon and spicy cabbage-carrot slaw
  • Grilled salmon BLT with lemon-caper mayonnaise
  • Salad with grilled Portobello, zucchini, roasted red peppers, tomato and multi-grain salad with goat cheese dressing
  • Grilled chicken or salmon with arugula and romaine, apples, seasonal berries, hazelnuts and red wine vinaigrette
  • Seasonal fruit plate with lavender honey yogurt
  • For dessert there’s seasonal pie and a chocolate brownie mousse with caramel popcorn and toasted meringue

Kids’ all-day menu:

  • Grilled chicken strips with dipping sauces, apple or veggie sticks
  • Finger Food Sampler with sliced smoked turkey, Tillamook Cheddar, spiced apple jam, grape tomatoes and sourdough crisps.