We spent a considerable amount of time covering rope drop touring strategy in Part 1 and Part 2 of that series earlier this week. In this post, we’ll catch up on construction, menu updates, and what else is going on around the Park.
Nothing says “two billion dollar upgrade” like pulling up to a temporary auto plaza that looks like it’s small enough to be serviced by porgs.
But alas, you’ll need to be staying at the new Star Wars Hotel for an opportunity to partake in that particular Enchanting Extra. Disney provided a brief update on the new resort that will “combine luxury with complete immersion into an authentic Star Wars story” at the Japan version of the D23 Expo last week. Lucas might not consider Grand Admiral Thrawn canon, but it’s nice to know that you and I are only a blank check away from joining the Star Wars Universe in an authentic capacity.
Most of the work in the current parking lot looks to be complete, which is probably good.
On the other hand, every minute you spend walking through the parking lot is one minute less you spend in Hollywood Studios.
“Follow all signage.”
As with past updates, very little construction is visible from inside the Park with the top of the Slinky Dog Coaster barely rising above the construction wall. Here is what the new land currently looks like from the sky with a closeup of the Slinky Dog track here. Disney confirmed that the new land will officially open on June 30, 2018.
It’s the same story over in Grand Avenue, which will eventually lead to the main entrance of Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge.
How many of us will live through the 25-year wait to enter the new land remains to be seen. “Gladys, we’re only 19 parsecs away from the last holding area.” You might want to start on that #prfriendly vlog now in order to have a shot at a precious “media” invite come fall of next year. Heaven forbid anyone writing puff pieces to their 150,000 fake Twitter followers actually experiences what Walt Disney World is like for your average visitor.
Also along Grand Avenue, this smoking section has opened.
You can also take a moment to sight read some music.
I play a mean French Horn myself.
This window is probably still more entertaining than Mulch, Sweat, and Sheers ever was, though I sort of miss trying to get away from them as they would follow you around in their truck. But that sort of horror movie doesn’t fit so well with the current theme of the Park, which is…ummmmmm…
Also at D23 Japan, Disney announced that Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway will open sometime next year.
The ride “will feature a new catchy theme song created especially for the attraction as well as a new experience that defies logic that we’re calling 2 ½-D.” Since it already defies logic to go to Hollywood Studios, I think we would have been fine with 1.75-D or maybe go in the other direction with just .46-D. The full Disney Parks Blog post on the subject includes a few more details and is available here.
There’s actually a preview of the ride available right now. If you stare cross-eyed at this construction wall long enough, you’ll see a sailboat in approximately 2 ½-D. Don’t give up if you can’t see it at first.
It’s mostly hula hoops instead of Galaxy’s Edge that you’ll see over in Pixar Place. Here is what the current state of Star Wars construction looks like from the air with another angle here. It’s massive.
“Rumors” circulated over the last couple of weeks that the new name for Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be “Disney Cinemagine Park.”
That’s not quite the dumbest name possible.
“Jim Hill Memorial Library” might be worse. I imagine an episode of Scooby Doo where the gang is trying to find Jim Hill’s source only to unmask the perpetrator and find that it’s still Jim Hill. Then they take off that mask and it’s still Jim Hill. Then you think, “Oh, it’s one of those episodes of Scooby,” but it isn’t because they keep taking off masks and it’s always Jim Hill.
It might be a bad episode, but I would still watch it.
Disney has introduced this line of merchandise over the last couple of weeks. The Tower of Terror is represented along with an X-Wing from Star Wars, a parachuting army man from Toy Story, the trolley, and the main entrance, among other things.
I was going to pick up this top myself.
But I’m not so good with zippers.
“Di$ney’s Hollywood $tudio$” has a ring to it.
Since Disney will eventually buy every intellectual property, they could basically start work on a land based on anything from Batman to easywdw.com.
I’m not sure what we would do in my land other than be annoyed at each other for also being there.
I heard they are re-theming the Tower of Terror to the amount of traffic this website gets.
We can plummet straight down together.
Something else to start and never finish.
A limited amount of Galaxy’s Edge merchandise is available.
No zipper at least.
I don’t think I’ll ever forget the time I made fun of the high price of a Rogue One shirt only to find out that all of the proceeds on the sale of said shirt went to charity. I’ll see myself out.
These are “Ufufy(s)” apparently.
The Beauty and the Beast line smells vaguely of roses, while the Star Wars characters smell like money going through a bill counter faster than you can leave Universal Studios after experiencing Harry Potter World.
I really like the new look of the treat packaging, here with a clever ‘Take-Along Treat Pack.” The pretzels, gummies, and cheese crackers are all shaped like Mickey heads.
There’s some new chocolate bars:
The Waffle Cone sounds good, at least compared to what I’m sure are natural flavors in the Key Lime Pie Truffle.
Here’s the current status of the Buy More…Buy More promotion.
As well as the backpack.
I have read that the backpack does not hold up very well, which checks out considering $20 is relatively inexpensive for a backpack and relatively expensive for the tote. Not sure if anyone has a more recent experience.
These miniature snow globes caught my eye.
Some play music.
Some light up.
“Rumors” indicate Sweet Spells is on the way out in favor of a store largely dedicated to Toy Story stuff. The space seems awfully far from Toy Story Land and the Pixar merchandise currently housed inside doesn’t “feel” particularly popular, but it could certainly happen. The sweets section of the building is on the small side and few people are probably aware that there’s something like Main Street Confectionery just inside. Maybe they will start selling the carrot cake cookies at a bar inside the Tower of Terror.
A preview for “A Wrinkle in Time” has taken up residence inside Walt Disney Presents.
Granted, I am probably not the target audience, but the CGI looked cheap and the acting “felt” campy, forced, and unnatural.
Maybe it will be really heartwarming though. I think I remember enjoying the book, but that was back when I had hopes and dreams of my own.
Speaking of drinking, BaseLine Tap House has proved to be much more popular than I was expecting.
I reviewed everything on the menu in my initial review back in September in this post.
The Anchor Meyer Lemon Lager, Napa Smith Lost Dog Red Ale, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, and Lagunitas IPA are no longer available, switched out for the selections above marked with an elegant red dot.
Word is that the distributor couldn’t keep up with demand, which is odd considering we have a less popular Lagunitas style with the PILS and the ubiquitous Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is lost in favor of the Sidecar Orange Pale Ale.
The selections remain solid. The Angel City IPA is the only one I hadn’t tried – it’s easier to drink than the Lagunitas it replaces – nicely balanced without a lot of the hop bitterness that you’ll find from the Stone. The PILS is a good choice if you’re looking for a full-bodied beer with a lot of flavor that isn’t quite as heavy as some of the others. Very drinkable. I was expecting much more of a citrus-forward aroma to the Sidecar, but it was surprisingly muted against the natural orange flavor on the tongue. It’s a refreshing selection that the Blue Moon crowd should enjoy. Ballast Point is somehow opening a brewery in Downtown Disney at Disneyland later this year and they bring their Black Marlin Porter to BaseLine. Almost everything they do is excellent and the Marlin is incredibly dark and rich with your typical roasted malts, coffee, and caramel throughout each sip. Very good if you’re a fan of the style.
BaseLine has also added Skywalker wine and Moet & Chandon Imperial Champagne to the offerings, though there’s no mention of that anywhere on the menu.
We were also impressed with the snack & small plates selections.
For ten bucks, it’s a nice cheese and meat spread.
The $11 “Coffee-rubbed Rib-eye Steak Puff with Olive Salad” was added a few weeks ago.
This reminded me of a similar item offered during Star Wars Galactic Nights.
The steak was tender and flavorful with just a little bit of an espresso coffee bean vibe from the rub – there was also a ton of it packed into the chewy, flaky puff that’s lined with sweet, slightly crunchy caramelized onions. The horseradish sauce is creamy and mild, but there’s a little bit of a kick there considering how much there is on top. You can always ask for it on the side if you’re adverse.
The small side of olives was fresh with a nice spicy kick in its own right – a nice mixture of kalamata olives, green olives, peppers, and spices.
Overall, it reminded me of a very large Epcot Food and Wine Festival dish that seems a little random showing up here. It’s table service quality – probably better than anything you’d order from Sci-Fi. But it’s a little awkward to eat alongside a beer with plastic cutlery. I could see this working if you’re hungry and want to eat something that isn’t a million carbs or cheese, but I’ve never personally found myself in that state of mind.
But I think smaller bites and nibbles would work better in this atmosphere. I otherwise love BaseLine. It isn’t as relaxing and moody as Nomad, but it makes up for that by offering a front row to the traffic passing by.
Never fear Macaroni and Cheese fans, the pasta returns to the Charred Strip Steak. I feel like I could make that announcement into its own blog post.
It will be interesting to see what the ability to order a cocktail, beer, or wine on the Disney Dining Plan does to drink menus. I think the expectation should be a dumbing down of options. On menus with more expensive options, Disney designates a lot of the selections as “Limited Production Wines and Spirits” that are “excluded from Disney Dining Plan.” My last full Mama Melrose review is available here.
A reminder that PizzeRizzo still operates from 11am-4pm. That’s true even over the incredibly busy Presidents Day Weekend that’s now upon us.
Rizzo’s menu remains largely the same since the quick service opened back in November of 2016. My review of just about everything on the menu is available here.
One difference is the Frozen Italian Margarita replacing the Wildberry-Basil Limoncello Lemonade.
It was actually pretty good as far as Disney pre-made frozen cocktails go – not too sweet with a little bit of tequila flavor showing through the sour lemon and sweet sugar. I’m not sure I would necessarily seek it out, but it’s easy to order via the app or in-person and it’s a pretty large portion for the money. You might drop by if you’re stopping at BaseLine and have someone in the group that isn’t interested in everything that they’ve got going on over there.
Fried has returned to ABC Commissary. You might remember that the quick service lost its fried shrimp, fish, etc. around the time Pizza Planet closed, ostensibly to increase the speed of food delivery given fewer items to prepare.
That looks like just about the saddest plate of food I’ve ever seen. Four fries, two pieces of fish, and maybe four shrimp? Hey, it’s only fourteen bucks!
Mobile order is your friend and now supports the Disney Dining Plan.
I ordered the “Mom on Day Five of Vacation” – a rum drink for me and a snack for the kid.
The Happy Daze is a relatively new addition.
The Power Pack is a good choice for on-the-go, particularly when junior swears up and down that he’s “not hungry” but you both know that 15 minutes after you finish the meal he’s going to be DYING OF STARVATION.
This is how it’s advertised.
This is how it arrives.
And this is how it’s laid out. For about the same price as a Mickey Pretzel with cheese sauce, it might be a better haul than it looks.
It does arrive with your choice of beverage, in addition to the Danimals Smoothie.
The Power Pack also works well if you’re looking to bring something into a show since everything is easily transportable inside of the bag.
Another look at Dockside Diner on Echo Lake without Min & Bill’s attached.
You can pull up my review of the food offerings here. It’s probably not the “best” choice, but it’s typically an easy, no-nonsense option.
Just in case you were one of those people that thought the Cinderella popcorn bucket was a little too easy to carry around the Park and then sell on eBay, you can opt in to the AT-AT souvenir Bucket that is considerably larger and more expensive.
Hollywood Brown Derby has expanded its lunch menu to include a couple more less-expensive entrees during lunch.
It’s probably not the most attractive picture, but the $22 “Pork Belly Pastrami BLT – Grilled Ciabatta Roll, Whiskey Aïoli, Arugula, Watercress, Pickled Onions, Gruyère, Heirloom Tomato, Prosciutto” is one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten and costs the same as the Fried Chicken from 50’s Prime Time or $2 less than the Chicken Pasta from Sci-Fi. You might not always be in the mood for a “fancier” meal, but Brown Derby isn’t pretentious at all and there is a ton of value with the less expensive items available earlier in the day. I’ll post a full review “soon.”
The outdoor Brown Derby Lounge continues operating with this unique menu and they’ll also happily bring you anything available next door at the restaurant. The space is a little cramped, but the atmosphere is pleasant when the weather cooperates and it’s a good choice if you’d prefer some fresh air to what might be perceived as a little stuffiness inside.
You’ll still find a lot of popup bars around the Park.
It usually makes more sense to order a double on the rocks or with a basic mixer than one of the glow cube drinks. They don’t have the capability to charge you for both a double and a “top shelf” spirit, so going for a double Tito’s is usually smart.
Or keep it classy with an $8.50 Jack and Coke from KRNR outside Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster.
Just about every spot that serves slushes will throw a shot in for about six bucks. Anaheim Produce on Sunset Boulevard is currently serving a Beso del Sol Sangria Slush as well.
I’m still partial to the Dreamsicle Float from Oasis Canteen, which is located outside the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular entrance on the right side.
It’s like an Adult Citrus Swirl with vanilla soft serve, orange juice, and Stoli Vanilla. I review it as part of this post.
Poor Gertie wasn’t serving on this particular afternoon.
That’s what’s going on at the Studios.
Considering the outward appearance of the state of construction on Toy Story Land, they’ve got a lot of work to do before the June 30th opening. Until then, what you see here is going to be most of what you get.
We’ll move on to one of the Kingdoms.