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PARKER: Downtown Disney springs to life, things get unforgettable for the Disney Parks, EPCOT gets off its Duff, Disney Passes Out on Guests, and a new scent makes its way into the Country Bear Jamboree.
Hello and welcome to the October 10th edition of “Guest Room” on ENN, the Ears News Network, bringing you Disney news you won’t believe…..and probably shouldn’t. I’m your host, Parker Byrd.
Downtown Disney is no more! On September 29th, the shopping and entertainment district in Walt Disney World in Orlando officially changed its name to Disney Springs. This is part of a massive renovation, retheming and reimagining of the area which some say has grown stale over the years.
In fact, two new eating establishments made their debut the very same week: Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, themed from Indiana Jones, and Morimoto Asia, a new restaurant from Iron Chef Masaharo Morimoto. These go along with some other new restaurants including The Boathouse, which opened earlier this year, and several more which are expected to open in the coming year.
In addition to dining there will be be close to 150 shops and numerous entertainment offerings.
Now Disney is really counting on this redo and is hoping they can draw some guests from the already overcrowded restaurants in the park. In fact they wrapped Disney busses with ads promoting the new dining option. The ads however caused much more excitement than Disney anticipated! With the restaurants literally besieged by guests the very first night. Why the big response? Well, it may have had something to do with the ads saying “Disney Springs for Dinner”.
In other marketing news, Disney has a new slogan for promoting their parks and resorts. The “Show your Disney Side” slogan has been replaced by the simple, and elegant, “Unforgettable Happens Here”.
The main thrust of the campaign is that families create their own “unforgettable story” when they visit any of the parks at either the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, or the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California.
Our parks reporter, Erin Dole, joins us in studio with her thoughts on the change….Hi Erin.
ERIN: Hey Parker.
PARKER: So this new slogan was announced a few weeks ago…
PARKER: …but I haven’t seen too much buzz on it.
ERIN: No, there hasn’t been any buzz.
PARKER: Is it a bust right out of the gate? Or just slow to catch on?
ERIN: Well Parker, I did a little thinking…and a little asking around. I think this slogan is a bust because…quite frankly… it’s just too complicated.
PARKER: Complicated? Erin, what’s complicated about “Unforgettable Happens Here”?
ERIN: Just hear me out Parker. You are right to a point.
The first word, “unforgettable” is pretty straightforward. Disney tales are often thought as “unforgettable”, and Disney is suggesting to families that they too can build a magical tale through their experiences in the parks.
PARKER: Exactly…brilliant marketing!
ERIN: Perhaps, but then it goes completely off the rails with the next part.
PARKER: What part “Happens here”?
PARKER: I don’t follow you…
ERIN: It’s simple…where exactly is here?
ERIN: I know that. But which park?
You see, let’s say for instance unforgettable happened in the Disneyland Park. At that moment, Disneyland is here. But if something else unforgettable happened at California Adventure where would it occur?
It can’t be here because here is Disneyland, so it would have to be there? But obviously “Unforgettable Happens There” lacks a certain punch.
ERIN: And then there are the four Florida parks as well. Anyone one of them could end up being here, which would make the rest of them and the two Disneyland Parks there.
PARKER: I suppose…..
ERIN: So if what could possibly be here ends up being there, then which there is where…. and why isn’t it here? You see what I am saying here?
PARKER: Not in the slightest.
ERIN: Come on it’s elementary my dear Parker. There can only be one here but infinite theres.
PARKER: Well you got me here…uh…there.
ERIN: So if the here is here, say at EPCOT, and not at Disneyland, then our here is the here, and not theirs.
Conversely, their there cannot possibly be here although there are lots of theres that could be here.
But until that first here we won’t know where…there is. It could be here. It could be there. It could be anywhere! Just as long as it’s not all here.
PARKER: Erin…sometimes I don’t think you are all here.
ERIN: Parker…don’t even go there!
PARKER: Erin Dole everybody. ENN Parks reporter…uh…here and there…
In other news, Duffy Bear, a Disney character originally designated as Mickey’s huggable teddy bear, and one that was a huge hit in Japan, has been meeting and greeting guests in EPCOT since 2010…that is, until last week.
On October 3rd, Duffy made his last appearance in World Showcase. His meet and greet spot was taken over by Daisey Duck.
Now, his leaving has met with mixed opinions, but a mostly underwhelming response. This is due to Duffy having just never really caught on here in the US.
However, while Disney fans don’t see this as a huge loss, Disney clearly sees it as big news! And they have gone to great lengths to get the message out, particularly to arriving guests. In several locations along the side of the roads that criss cross the resort signs can be found saying “EPCOT Resort…Bear Left”
Back after this.
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Welcome back to ENN, the Ears News Network.
In financial news Disney made big headlines on October 5th when they announced major changes to the pricing structure for their annual passes. In the Orlando parks, for Florida residents, a pass with no blockout dates will now cost $649, an increase of $120, with the cost for non-residents an additional $100. Gold Passes for Florida residents (with some blockout dates) are $549 and silver passes with blockouts dates went from $329 to $389 for Florida residents.
But the news is even more disturbing on the West Coast. Besides steep increases in the cost of the lower-tier passes for California residents, Disney eliminated the Premium Passes with no blockout dates and replaced it with two other options. The Signature Passport which costs $849.00 but has a few blockout dates including December holidays, and the Signature Plus Passport, with no blockout dates, but a record setting price tag of $1,049!
Most annual pass and passport holders, though accustomed to yearly price increases, were left stunned by this year’s changes. And while experts say that the move is more about getting a handle on heavy park crowds than increasing the bottom line, it is of little consolation to those passholders. In fact many of them have indicated that they will either forego renewing their passes….or take the extreme measure….of waiting until there’s a Groupon.
And finally, on October 1st, the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe in Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom in the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, reopened with an entirely different menu. The popular counter service restaurant located next to the Country Bear Jamboree was previously a fan favorite for its BBQ, its fixin’s bar, and what many called the best hamburger you could get in the parks. The BBQ and burgers are gone, and replaced by Tex-mex cuisine like fajitas, burritos, rice bowls and Southwest salads. The drastic changes will please some park guests while greatly disappointing others.
However, just a few days after the reopening, Disney was almost forced to abandon the new menu. A strange and rather unpleasant odor began appearing in the Country Bear Jamboree attraction. Imagineers began to suspect that something in the smells from the restaurant was having a chemical reaction with one of the smells common to the older attraction. Since they could not seem to narrow it down, and because the stench was having a huge impact on attraction attendance, Disney made the decision to shut down the restaurant at the end of the first week and revert back to its original menu.
However, the shutdown was averted when the cause of the repulsive odor was finally located. It turns out that after every performance of the show, Big Al was sneaking next door for a Beef Burrito.
And that’s all for this edition of ENN’s “Guest Room”. If you would like to comment on this episode or would like to send along a news story for us to look into drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can listen to this and future episodes by finding us in the iTunes store, just search on Ears News Network. You can also subscribe to our RSS feed. Details can be found on the “How to Listen” page at EarsNews.net. There you can find links to our Facebook page and Twitter account as well.
Until next time, I’m your host, Parker Byrd, saying thanks for listening to the Ears News Network, the mistrusted name in Disney news. Goodbye everybody.