Hope everyone’s spring break was fantastic. It was certainly eventful.  I’d like to start off with a shout-out to my personal RSS feed, Brian STewart (yes, with the capital T) for sending me so many cool news alerts!

Let’s get the bad stuff out of the way first:

Tragedy at the Exotic Driving Experience

At Walt Disney World, a beloved husband and father from nearby Davenport was killed on the job as Senior Operations Manager at the Richard Petty Exotic Driving Experience. Both Gary Terry and guest Tavon Watson, who was driving the Lamborghini, were in helmets and fully buckled up, and the driver had gone through the program’s training before taking the wheel. In the last moments after the car lost control at 100+MPH speed, Terry tried valiantly to turn the car, grabbing the steering wheel, but the vehicle crashed into a guard rail, hitting the passenger side of the car. Both men were taken to Celebration Hospital, where Terry was pronounced dead. Watson is recovering from his injuries. MiceChatters are known for their big hearts; friends and family have put together a fund to help his bereaved family: http://www.gofundme.com/garyterrymemorial . Please give them a hand if you can.

The Driving Experience is set to reopen May 1, and remain open until permanent closure in August. Disney will be making improvements to the Magic Kingdom parking lot which will reclaim that patch of real estate, as previously announced.

Disney to begin European River Cruises

amaviola

Disney River Cruises? Well….kind of. But I’d still like to go on one. AMA Waterways will carry Adventures by Disney guests down the blue Danube (can you hear the waltz now?) on weeklong cruises, four in July and a special European Christmas cruise. Don’t expect an Oceaneer’s Lab or Animator’s Palate – Disney is chartering the gorgeous new boat, the AmaViola, but do expect it to be more family-themed than the usual. Being Adventures by Disney, it will be more hands-on tourism than “magical”, with falconry and soccer, tours and tastings. For more information or to book a cruise or other Disney adventure, contact Fairy Godmother Travel.

Disney Parks Unveil New Food Allergy Menus

allergiesDisney Parks have always been great about bending over backward to accommodate people with food allergies, even receiving a FARE (Food Allergy Research and Education) award for their efforts. The new menus debut in Signature (that’s “fancy” to you and me) restaurants April 14, and the rest of the eateries will roll out implementation between now and September.

Here’s the Walt Disney World food allergy info page.
Here’s the Disneyland one. 

Why do this now, when Disney Parks has such a great program already in place? Well, there is that small fact that over half a million guests had special dietary requests last year, and that’s no small potatoes. (Sorry.) Chefs will still come to the table to consult with guests who need adjustments to the menu, but there’s also a standard set for food substitutions across the board. I recall several conversations online concerning which restaurants have the gluten-free rolls some guests love, and it seemed like hit or miss. Now, guests can be absolutely sure of what their menu means. Thanks, Gary Jones and culinary team!

Hurry Baaaaaaaaack….

The day I dreamed of. It’s coming. May 9, if my sources are correct (and they’re still pretty good, and I still adore them). My old pal/nemesis, The Hatbox Ghost, is returning to the Haunted Mansion. My uncle was opening cast on The Haunted Mansion and we went to the soft opening of the attraction. I was two, so take this with a grain of salt. I was okay with the mansion, til I saw him. He looked right at me and I lost it. I had nightmares about him into my teens, and when I was a young mother, the E-Ticket Magazine (don’t you miss it?) did a huge story about The Haunted Mansion, but mentioned nothing about him. I wrote them a letter, because kids, that’s what folks did in the olden days, and asked why he wasn’t there? The Janzens didn’t know, but Imagineer Tony Baxter came to the rescue, and told the story of The Hatbox Ghost, one of Marc Davis’ most spectacular character creations. Yale Gracey (who was mysteriously murdered a few years later) tried so hard to get the effect to work, and the hand to hold up the heavy box he was holding, but it just didn’t work out. The bride was moved to his spot and he was partially dismantled, and some of his parts scattered to Audio-Animatronics all over Disneydom, but the largest amount was resurrected to become Sam the Eagle in America Sings (sorry, don’t know which one.) I, for one, am happy that he’ll be returning to his old haunting grounds (seriously, I’ve been waiting all week for that one) but I hope it’s the original Marc Davis design and not the one that they had on display at the D23 Expo. It can be recreated; it’s been done before.

The original with Yale Gracey
The original with Yale Gracey
Photo by Fab
Photo by Fab
Disney's concept art for the returning specter.
Disney’s concept art for the returning specter.

Oh hey, we’re getting a new Yeti, too. That might just get me back on the Matterhorn!

tomorrowland-movie-logo-700-700x235

The Tomorrowland Theater to Open…wait, where?

In Epcot, of course. The MOVIE Tomorrowland. Captain EO Tribute closed permanently this week, to be replaced by a preview of the upcoming Brad Bird film Don’t-Spoil-It-For-Me-Or-I’ll-Kill-You Tomorrowland, which looks awesome but don’t tell me about it. I mean it. My concern with calling it The Tomorrowland Theater is similar to the concern I get when Disneyland guests ask how to get to Magic Mountain when they mean The Matterhorn. You know, and I know, but It’s going to confuse the newbies. But we’ll have the Tomorrowland preview with a few extras at Disneyland as well (it opened to annual pass holders last night). . . where it belongs . . . say it with me now . . . in Tomorrowland!

New Mickey and Minnie Character Costumes

Disneyland has released photos of the Mouse and his main squeeze in their Diamond Anniversary finest. Folks either love it or hate it. What’s your take on their new duds?

Mickey-and-Minnie-Day

Dream Suite Do-Over

If you didn’t get a chance to stay in the Dream Suite during Disneyland’s 50th Anniversary, you may just get a chance during the 60th.

Dream-Suite

Disneyland’s Diamond Days sweepstakes begins on May 22, 2015. Daily prizes will be awarded at random to lucky Disneyland Resort visitors. Prizes may include individualized tours of the parks with preferred access to select attractions. And, you guessed it, some of you may just win authentic diamonds, custom-engraved just for Disneyland. Of course, the big prize for many folks will be a stay in the magical Disneyland Dream Suite above Pirates of the Caribbean. Other prizes include a Cinderella crystal slipper,  a private party in Fantasyland, a romantic cruise aboard the Mark Twain Riverboat, or a tailgate party in Cars Land.
I never turn down free diamonds, what about you?
If you’ve got news to share, please email me at [email protected] or share below. I look forward to hearing from you!