Wednesday, April 23, 2008

The Disney report

This year, most of Disney's news happens at the park formerly known as Disney-MGM Studios, now called Disney's Hollywood Studios.

No, we're not talking about new park areas or major changes. There is one new ride on the way -- that's the 3D Toy Story Mania! ride through shoot out -- but it doesn't debut until late May. Meanwhile, Studios offers three smaller but energetic additions. Times for each can change daily so you'll need to consult the park schedule when you arrive.

Last December, the megahit High School Musical 2: Schools Out! literally rolled into the park. Think singers and dancers on a stage that glides through the "streets'', stopping at Mickey's Magic Scorcerer Hat. Kids are encouraged to join in, which means every little girl (and a few big ones too) can have her shot at a moment of cheerleadering glory.

New is the musical parade Block Party Bash. Floats decked with characters from Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and other Pixar faves winds through the park, then stops for a high-energy dance party where -- once again -- pint-sized partiers are invited to join the festivities.

For the smallest park visitors, Playhouse Disney Live offers a chance to learn a few of life's lessons (the importance of friends, everyone can play an important role) in the company of Mickey, Minnie, Tigger and Pooh and Roo. The show offer plenty of chances for kids to clap and dance along -- yes, it's a pattern -- so they won't get bored.

At Epcot, Spaceship Earth has been refreshed -- the story line used to end about 1980 -- with the addition of touch-screen interaction and a new voice-over by Dame Judi Dench. But the most fun may come in the "post-show'' at the ride's end called Project Tomorrow, when parkgoers can make postcards based on photos shot during the ride, explore the human body via a 3-D game and find out what happens during an auto accident -- courtesy of technology by Siemens.

Oh, and lest the Disney PR people bang me on the head for forgetting, the annual Epcot Flower & Garden Festival runs through June 1. (Don't miss the topiaries, which are truly amazing.)



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