Monthly Archives: September 2014

Friday Five Facts – Test Track in Epcot

Happy Friday out there! It is time for the Friday Five Facts! This week’s topic is Test Track at Epcot in Walt Disney World!

Test Track

Test Track

Friday Five Facts – Test Track

1. Test Track is a car themed attraction at Epcot. The ride is a simulated excursion through the rigorous testing procedures that GM uses to evaluate its concept cars, and ending in a high-speed drive around the exterior of the attraction.

2. General Motors (GM) was the original sponsor of the attraction, but when it was refurbished in 2012, the ride re-opened with Chevrolet (a GM brand) as it’s sponsor rather than GM as a whole.

3. There is a pre-show area where guests “design” a new car for testing in the Chevrolet Design Center, then they will board Test Track’s existing six-passenger ride vehicles, to be known as “SimCars”, to see how their design fares on the Center’s driving course.

4. After riders board the sim-cars, the car that they designed will undergo four different tests: capability, efficiency, responsiveness, and power.

~ Capability test – the car first connects to OnStar, then accelerates past a rain/snow projection and skids out of control. Next, the sim-car turns around to speed up again. Then the sim-car makes a sharp left turn as a lighting bolt strikes. The car then passes by a futuristic city. Following the capability test, the results of which car designs scored the best in the test are displayed.

~ Efficiency test – In the first part, the sim-cars are scanned for “optimum eco-efficiency”. The second test performs an aero-dynamic test on the vehicle. Finally, a “hyper-spectrum imaging” takes place. Again, after the test is complete, the best scores are displayed.

~ Responsiveness test –  The sim-car accelerates around hairpin turns with laser-projected trees. It then enters a tunnel and encounters an 18-wheeler. When the vehicle exits the tunnel, the results for the responsiveness test are displayed and all of the test icons are displayed.

~ Power test – the sim-car stops for a moment then accelerates through flashing purple arches to a wall with the ride’s logo on it leading to the outside portion of the ride. As the sim-car’s speed is increased, it makes a right turn, followed by a wide left, a straight section, and one final long left turn. When the test is complete, the vehicle returns to the loading station.

5. When you exit the ride, guests use the card that has their sim-car that they made in the Design Studio to play games in the “Chevrolet Showroom” where the people play games with their sim-car. Test Track exits into a themed gift shop featuring merchandise associated with the attraction. Guests could also view and purchase photos taken of their vehicle on the ride. There is also an area where there is a showroom of all new, prototype, or legendary GM vehicles.

 

What do you think of Epcot’s Test Track? Have you experienced it before? Too fast for you? Interesting to learn some of the testing that GM puts their vehicles through when designing a vehicle? Let me know your thoughts on this attraction in the comments below!

 

 

Melissa Furches is a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. If you are interested in booking your own family vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line, please contact Melissa at melissa.furches@magicalmemoriestravel.com or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Must.Meet.Mickey. All travel agent services are free, and can take the questions and worries out of planning your family vacation! Contact Melissa today!

Studio Backlot Tour at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is Closing

I write this morning with some sad news for those who are fans of the “original” park rides at Walt Disney World. Disney has confirmed the rumors that the Studio Backlot Tour at Hollywood Studios Park will be closing on September 27, 2014. The tour has been in operation for 25 years.

Studio Backlot Tour

Studio Backlot Tour

The attraction, which features both a walking tour and a tram ride, takes you through a behind the scenes look at the making of action movies, and some of the tricks that filmmakers use when filming disastrous situations.

The beginning of the tour is a walking experience where several volunteers are picked from the crowd to participate. You enter a stair climbed viewing area that surrounds a boat in water. The volunteers are used to act out a scene somewhat reminiscent of the movie Pearl Harbor. This scene that is filmed is called Harbor Attack and explains how water tanks and other props are used to film an action scene that features things like rain and waves.

The next part of the tour is a walking trip down the movie memory lane. Guests are funneled down lines into a large prop warehouse. Here as you are walking in line you can see props from such movies like Honey I Shrunk the Kids, Pirates of the Caribbean, Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.

The third part of the tour is a tram ride tour. The tram takes you to several areas of the park while the tram driver explains where you are and what you are driving past. During the tram ride, guests will get the closest they can get to the Mickey Earful Tower, a water tower that was originally to be the park’s icon (like the castle in Magic Kingdom and the globe in Epcot and the tree in Animal Kingdom), but it was felt that the tower wasn’t large enough or central enough and was replaced as the icon by the Sorcerer’s Hat which is now located in the center of the park.

Earful Tower

Earful Tower

The tram takes you next to an area called the boneyard. Here you will ride past larger vehicle props that were used in movies. This area features sights like the steam roller from Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Herbie the Love Bug, the ship from Flight of The Navigator, ships from the original Star Wars films and motorcycles from the Indiana Jones movies.

The next part of the tram tour takes you into Catastrophe Canyon. The driver tells you that you are entering a movie set while the film crew is taking a break. The canyon is a large rocky area with a fuel truck and large water tanks. While the tram is stopped and the driver is telling you about the set, the filming starts up again suddenly and a simulated earthquake starts. The tram starts shaking, the fuel truck explodes sending a large ball of fire into the air, and a flood of water comes over the rocks entering the canyon. When the earthquake and the flood stops, the set starts to “reset” itself for the next tram coming into the canyon, and your tram driver takes you around to see the back side of the canyon set.

Catastrophe Canyon

Catastrophe Canyon

The final part of the tram ride drives you past some of the practice areas for the stunt drivers in Lights, Motors, Action! and you get to see Walt Disney’s personal plane. When the tram stops, you exit the attraction through a museum dedicated to villains in films that features life size figures of them in display cases, costumes and props from their movies, and artist renderings of the characters that the costumes were based on.

This is the second attraction in a short period that Disney has announced its closing. Last week, Disney announced the closing of Maelstrom, an original ride in Disney’s Epcot Park, located in Norway. The ride is a boat ride through the history of Norway. Guests board a Viking ship and are transported to a mythological version of Norway’s Viking days. There are trolls that cast a spell on the boat and the Viking god Odin, polar bears, living trees and waterfalls. The remaining part of the ride focuses on the importance of the sea to Norway’s culture. Guests exit the ride into a theatre that repeatedly shows a 6 minute film about the country. The attraction is set to close on October 5, 2014 so that the ride can be converted to a new attraction featuring the Disney movie Frozen.

Maelstrom

Maelstrom

At this time, it has not been announced exactly what will replace the Studio Backlot Tour although there are many rumors and speculations circulating about a Hollywood Studios version of Pixar Place, Carsland and a Star Wars themed area in the park.

 

Melissa Furches is a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. If you are interested in booking your own family vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line, please contact Melissa at melissa.furches@magicalmemoriestravel.com or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Must.Meet.Mickey. All travel agent services are free, and can take the questions and worries out of planning your family vacation! Contact Melissa today!

 

Friday Five Facts – Swiss Family Treehouse at Magic Kingdom

Happy Friday everyone! Today’s Friday Five Facts are about one of my absolute favorite attractions at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park! Yes, I mean that! While it is not my #1 favorite, (because I don’t honestly think I could choose one,) it is something I never miss! Funny thing is, when I talk to people about this attraction, many people tell me that they’ve never once walked through it! My response to them is that just because it isn’t a ride, doesn’t mean it should be skipped over!

Swiss Family Treehouse

Swiss Family Treehouse

You may know that there is a room, located in Cinderella’s Castle in the Magic Kingdom that one special family gets to win a stay in it every night. Now no doubt, the room is gorgeous! If you’ve never seen pictures, google it. The royal treatment all the way! But I tell ya, if I ever win, I want to spend the night in this treehouse! I always have wanted to. I just love they way the whole thing is done, and if I ever get stranded on an island with my family, you better believe I’m gonna find a great big tree and build my house in it! 🙂

Swiss Family Crest

Swiss Family Crest

Friday Five Facts – Swiss Family Treehouse

1. The Swiss Family Treehouse is designed to be a visual walk-through attraction based on the 1960 Disney film “Swiss Family Robinson”. The film was Disney’s adaptation of the book written by Johann David Wyss, written in 1812.

2. The Swiss Family Treehouse was an original attraction when the Magic Kingdom opened in 1971. While the tree looks real, it is actually made up of concrete, steel and stucco.

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Kitchen and Dining areas

Kitchen and Dining areas

3. The tree is 60 ft. tall and 90 ft. wide, and looks exactly like the one in the Disney film.

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 A look inside one of the rooms and the bridges that connect the rooms

A look inside one of the rooms and the bridges that connect the rooms

4. Since the story of the Swiss Family Robinson is about a family that is shipwrecked in the early 1800’s, the articles you will see throughout the house are 19th century items – items that the family would have salvaged from the wreckage. Make sure to get a glimpse of antique books, lanterns, dishware and furniture.

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The bedrooms complete with actual beds and hammocks!

The bedrooms complete with actual beds and hammocks!

5. The water system – At the base of the tree, a large wooden wheel gathers water from a stream and carries it up to the various rooms inside the treehouse. This is a really neat thing to watch, and it is working the entire time you explore the treehouse!

Water wheel system

Water wheel system

What are your thoughts on the Swiss Family Treehouse? Is this a must do attraction for you like it is me, or is it a must skip over attraction? Have you ever walked through it and just thought about what life would be like if you were shipwrecked and alone on a deserted island? How would you survive? What would life be like if it were all so simple again? Anyone want to see if Disney will let us stay a night in the tree? I’d love to know what you think about this! Comment below with your impressions of this fun attraction!

 

Melissa Furches is a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. If you are interested in booking your own family vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line, please contact Melissa at melissa.furches@magicalmemoriestravel.com or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Must.Meet.Mickey. All travel agent services are free, and can take the questions and worries out of planning your family vacation! Contact Melissa today!

Friday Five Facts – Expedition Everest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Happy Friday everyone! Today’s Friday Five Facts are all about Expedition Everest in Disney’s Animal Kingdom!

Expedition Everest

Expedition Everest

Friday Five Facts:

1. Expedition Everest is a steel roller coaster ride that is themed around a Yeti that lives in Mt. Everest. It is listed in the 2011 Guinness Book of World Records as the most expensive roller coaster in the world.

Ride car

Ride car

2. The ride queue begins at the office of the fictional “Himalayan Escapes” travel agency, and then progresses to a replica temple with little holy figures. Guests then enter a tea garden, and next a room with equipment from a successful expedition, and then the “Yeti Museum”, which contains information on the Yeti and a moulding of a Yeti footprint. There are also about 8,000 artifacts brought in from Nepal in the museum. If you choose the single rider line, you will board faster, but will miss all of these exhibits.

Artifacts from Nepal in ride queue

Artifacts from Nepal in ride queue

3. Expedition Everest has six steam-like trains, each with six cars that seat a total of 34 riders per train. The trains are bear the logo “Anandapur Rail Service” and are made to look old and rusty. Riders must be at least 44 inches tall and are secured by a lap bar. To create the illusion of a “steam powered” train, engineers placed vents under the station. When a train comes into the station, steam comes up through the vents and enters the loading platform.

4. The ride: On the way up the mountain, the train passes through a ransacked temple with murals of the yeti, warning the riders that the mountain is his territory. At top of the mountain the train curves around the main peak and goes through a cave. When it emerges, it draws to a halt in front of track that has been torn apart, presumably by the yeti. During this brief stop, one can hear the hissing of the brakes as a switch behind the train is thrown. The train then rolls backwards along a new route that spirals down through the mountain, coming to a halt in a large cave, where riders see the yeti’s shadow on the wall as he tears up more track. As the shadow moves away, the train rolls forward out of the mountain and down the main 80-foot drop. It enters a 360° helix and speeds back up through another cave in the mountain, where the roars of the yeti are heard once more. The train exits from the rear of the mountain and enters a large helix before being lifted back into the mountain a final time. The train drops through a cave, where a large yeti is reaching down toward it. On reaching the bottom of this drop, riders return to the unloading dock and depart into a gift shop. One ride takes about 2 minutes and 50 seconds.

Broken track

Broken track

5. The yeti is the largest and most complex audio-animatronic figure ever built by Walt Disney Imagineering.  It is 25 feet tall. Its “skin” measures 1,000 square feet, and is held in place by 1,000 snaps and 250 zippers. Its movement is controlled by 19 actuators (when functioning in “A-mode”, its full mode of operation). It can move 5 ft horizontally and 18 in vertically when functioning in “A-mode”. However, the yeti has not been in full “A-mode” operation since a few months after the ride’s opening, when its framing split, causing significant risk of catastrophic malfunction if it were operated. It currently only operates in the alternative “B-mode”, which is limited to a strobe-light effect designed to give the appearance of movement, earning it the nickname “Disco Yeti”. The problem was caused by damage to the yeti’s concrete base structure, which is unlikely to be repaired until a major refurbishment in the distant future, because the design limits access to the yeti without major disassembly of the superstructure.

Yeti

Yeti

Have you experienced the Expedition Everest attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom? Were you scared, thrilled or excited? Tell me what you thought about this ride in the comments below. I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

Melissa Furches is a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. If you are interested in booking your own family vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line, please contact Melissa at melissa.furches@magicalmemoriestravel.com or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Must.Meet.Mickey. All travel agent services are free, and can take the questions and worries out of planning your family vacation! Contact Melissa today!

Training for the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler

(Also blogged on my running blog, so if you notice the verbiage to be a bit less “Disney travel agent” and more “runner girl”, this is why. LOL! )

There are just a little over three weeks to go before the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror 10 Miler. Many of those that know me personally know that this is totally a bucket list items for me! This is my first RunDisney race. This is my first 10 Miler! I decided last summer that I really wanted to do a RunDisney race, and looked them all over and selected the Tower of Terror 10 Miler. At that time, the 2013 race was sold out, so I had to settle for the 2014 race. I got the registration in, and I’ve been working towards this distance ever since.

At this point, I have run two 9 milers. TWO! Holy cow. A couple of years ago I would have NEVER thought I would ever say such a thing. But yes, two 9 mile runs behind me. I will be running again on Saturday morning. I am thinking I want the 9 miles one more time before pushing to 10. We’ll see how it goes. I have learned one thing since school got back in session though. I certainly do better on long run Saturday when I get several shorter distance runs or walks completed during the week. I was really able to get these weekday distances pounded out during the summer when there was no school, no baseball practice and games for my son and no softball practice and games for my daughter. But once they all geared up again, I was done for on weeknights. I really noticed that my Saturday long runs were getting more difficult all of a sudden. The past week and a half I have really focused on making sure I got those weeknight miles in, and the past two Saturdays are easing back to the lower level of difficulty I remember. Fingers crossed this holds true this Saturday also.

On another note, the shirts I ordered for my husband and myself have come in! I ordered shirts from Raw Threads. http://www.rawthreads.com . After reading countless blogs and posts about how really hot it was going to be at 10:00 pm in October during the race, I second guessed my earlier idea of running in costume. Yes I understand that part of the whole RunDisney experience is about the costuming, and many runners go through great lengths to create their one-of-a-kind running costumes. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, simply Google “RunDisney costumes”. You’ll get the idea pretty quick. But I am going to have a hard enough time just finishing this race and still being able to enjoy a day of vacation before the race and a couple of days of vacation afterwards. My kids won’t understand “Mommy is tired” when in Walt Disney World. So rather than focus on an elaborate costume, I decided to settle for shirts from Raw Threads. This way, my husband and I will still be wearing something character-like, but won’t be worried with finding time to make costumes, or ending up with aspects of those costumes becoming an annoyance, causing blisters or rubbing areas, or materials that are too thick, not breathable or too layered and hot. So here’s what we’re wearing:

Dee and Dum

Dee and Dum

What do you think? They’re bamboo! Breathable, light weight, soft and glow in the dark! My husband already had gray shorts, and I also purchased a black running skirt that had persimmon (red) accents from Raw Threads that will match. Costume done.

Yesterday we received our bib numbers for the race. My bib number is #11158 and my husband is #11159. RunDisney has said that there were some issues with incorrect corral placements, so at this time I do not know for certain which corral I am starting from. By our numbers we should be back of the pack. (There are 11,500 runners registered.) But we are also two of those that did not have our Proof of Time qualifiers accurately applied, so we should be two of the runners that will be issued new start corrals. But we won’t find this information out for certain until the Pre-Race Expo, on Friday, October 3rd.

RunDisney also made live the course map yesterday. We received it in our program books earlier, but this is the first time someone who is not registered can click on a link to view. The course looks the same as the one they used last year based on maps along, but again, I didn’t run before so I am not sure. One thing I do know is that I am excited just looking at the map!

Tower of Terror 10 Miler Map

Tower of Terror 10 Miler Map

Our magic bands came via USPS on Monday, and our travel documents came last week. At this point, we’re just ready to go!

Magic Bands

Magic Bands

I won’t be able to log any miles in this evening, but looking to three or four tomorrow, and then another 9 mile run on Saturday. Last Saturday my 9 miler time was 2:06:07. Really hoping to get that 9 miles under 2 hours before race day, to give me a finish time of less than 2 hours and 15 minutes for the 10 Miler. We’ll see. Happy running everyone!

 

Melissa Furches is a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. If you are interested in booking your own family vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line, please contact Melissa at melissa.furches@magicalmemoriestravel.com or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Must.Meet.Mickey. All travel agent services are free, and can take the questions and worries out of planning your family vacation! Contact Melissa today!

Friday Five Facts – Star Tours – The Adventure Continues

Happy Friday everyone!!!

Today’s Friday Five Facts will be all about Star Tours – The Adventure Continues, in Disney’s Hollywood Studios Park. Probably my son’s most favorite ride in the world, on our last visit to the park, we used our Extra Magic Evening Hours and rode back to back rides about 6 times in a row!

Star Wars - The Adventure Continues

Star Tours – The Adventure Continues

Friday Five Facts:

1. Star Tours – The Adventure Continues originally opened on December 15, 1989 under the simpler name Star Tours, and you assumed the role of “space tourist” and you traveled en route to the forest moon of Endor. (This ride was set to take place after the events of Episode VI: Return of the Jedi)

2. The current version of the attraction, Star Tours – The Adventure Continues re-opened on May 20, 2011 as a 3D motion simulator ride.

3. Star Tours—The Adventures Continues takes guests on a turbulent excursion trip across the galaxy, as droids C-3PO and R2-D2 attempt to safely return a rebel spy to the Rebel Alliance. (This version takes place between Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and Episode IV: A New Hope.)

4. With newer technology, the current version of this attraction offers random sequencing to give each guest a different experience. There are eleven random segments of the film (two opening segments, three primary destination segments, three hologram message segments, and three ending destination segments). When combined, they allow 54 different possible ride experiences.

5. You can find Star Tours – The Adventure Continues in three Disney parks; Hollywood Studios, Disneyland and Toyko Disneyland. The outside exteriors of the Star Tours attractions are different in their respective parks. The attraction in Florida is inspired by an Ewok village on the forest moon of Endor, whereas the California and Japan versions are modeled after a Tomorrowland-esque space port.

Ride Queue at Star Tours

Ride Queue at Star Tours

So what do you think of the Star Tours attraction? Does it do the movies justice? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Melissa Furches is a travel agent who specializes in Disney travel. If you are interested in booking your own family vacation to Walt Disney World, Disneyland or Disney Cruise Line, please contact Melissa at melissa.furches@magicalmemoriestravel.com or on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/Must.Meet.Mickey. All travel agent services are free, and can take the questions and worries out of planning your family vacation! Contact Melissa today!

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