Welcome to DisneyBizJournal.com - News, Analysis and Reviews of the Disney Entertainment Business!

Brought to fans, investors, entrepreneurs, executives, teachers, professors, and students by columnist, economist, novelist, reviewer, podcaster, business reporter and speaker Ray Keating

Friday, May 20, 2022

Starter List of Performers for 2022 EPCOT Food & Wine Festival Announced

 by Beth Keating

News

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 20, 2022

 

The 2022 EPCOT International Food & Wine Festival runs July 14 through November 19 this year, and today, Disney announced an early list of scheduled performers for the Eat to the Beat Concert Series at the America Gardens Theatre during the Festival. 



Concerts take place at 5:30 pm, 6:45 pm and 8:00 pm.  The bigger name performers will be showcased Friday through Monday, while some excellent local musicians perform Tuesday to Thursday to fill out the week.  

 

A number of slots are still to be filled, but the announced performers so far are:

 

  • July 14-15 – Baha Men
  • July 16-18 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy
  • July 29-30 – Taylor Dayne
  • July 31-Aug. 1 – Tiffany
  • Aug. 5-8 – Joey Fatone & Friends
  • Aug. 12-13 – The Devon Allman Project
  • Aug. 14-15 – Christopher Cross
  • Aug. 19-20 – Journey former Lead Vocalist Steve Augeri
  • Aug. 21-22 – Air Supply
  • Sept. 2-3 – Southern Avenue
  • Sept. 4-5 – Kris Allen & David Cook
  • Sept. 9-10 – Hoobastank (NEW)
  • Sept. 16-17 – Los Amigos Invisibles (NEW)
  • Sept. 23-24 – BBMak
  • Sept. 30-Oct. 1 – Stokley (NEW)
  • Oct. 2-3 – Sheila E.
  • Oct. 7-8 – Mark Wills
  • Oct. 9-10 – 38 Special
  • Oct. 23-24 – Billy Ocean
  • Oct. 28-31 – Hanson
  • Nov. 4-7 – Boyz II Men

 

Eat to the Beat Dining Packages will be available Friday-Monday, and packages will go on sale beginning May 24. Each dining package includes an appetizer, entrée and dessert or one (1) full buffet (where applicable), along with a non-alcoholic beverage. Participating restaurants include the Biergarten (Germany Pavilion); Coral Reef Restaurant (Living Seas); Garden Grill (Land Pavilion); and Le Cellier (Canada Pavilion). Prices range from $57.00-$79.00, depending on the restaurant.  Same day dining packages will be available at Regal Eagle Smokehouse ($34.00, American Adventure) and Spice Road Table ($44.00, Morocco Pavilion) for a limited number of concert passes.  

 

EPCOT admission is not included in the price of the dining packages, and guests must have a separate ticket and park reservation for EPCOT.


Dining packages guarantee park-goers a seat in the America Gardens Theatre, while concert-goers without a dining package will need to wait in the stand-by line. More details on the dining packages are available at TasteEPCOT.com

 

There will also be 25 Global Marketplaces (food booths) set up around World Showcase during the Festival, providing a wide range of foods and flavors from around the world.

 

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Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

 

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Want to Ride the New Guardians Ride at EPCOT? Make Sure Your MDE is Ready Now!

 by Beth Keating

News/Analysis

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 19, 2022

 

While some EPCOT guests, such as annual passholders and D23 members, have been able to get a sneak peek at the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind ride, the coaster will officially open to the general public in just a week, on May 27.  (By the way, see Ray Keating’s DisneyBizJournal.com review of the ride here.) If you want to maximize your chances of getting to save the galaxy with the Guardians, there are a few things you need to know before hitting up the park.

 

For starters, when the ride opens, there will not be a stand-by line, which means that you will either have to buy your way onto a Starjumper via a limited number of Individual Lightning Lane openings, or you will have to snag one of the free virtual queue spots, either at 7 am or 2 pm. 



And, no doubt about it, those seats will go faster than a jump to lightspeed. So, if you show up at EPCOT expecting to stroll over and hop on a line and shuffle your way to the front, you’ll be disappointed if you haven’t booked a ride in advance. Best to make your acquaintance with the ins-and-outs of your My Disney Experience (MDE) app now, so that you are not let down on the morning of your visit. You can’t waste time fiddling with setting up links when everyone else is blazing their way through the virtual queue request that day.

 

This week, Disney Parks Blog released information on how the virtual queue system will be set up for this ride.  (By the way, make sure you have both a valid ticket and a park reservation for the day and for EPCOT before attempting the process.)

 

Virtual Queue  

 

Beginning at 7 am on the day of your park reservation, you will be able to check for an available (free) boarding group via the My Disney Experience app, and request access to the virtual queue. (Go find this spot on your app NOW, so you don’t waste precious time that morning!)  You can actually request access before you leave your resort, or on your way to the park, but the countdown begins precisely at 7 am. If Remy’s Ratatouille and Rise of the Resistance, both of which used virtual queues upon their opening, are any indication, the spots will be gone in mere seconds. No kidding.  

 

If you and your travel party are successful in obtaining a boarding group, the MDE app will assign you a boarding group number, and you will wait for that group to be called before making your way back to the ride, sometime later in the morning. (You’ll get a notification on your phone via the My Disney Experience app when it’s time to come back, but keep checking so you know when your time is getting close, so that you don’t get on line for a different ride or sit down to eat and miss your window accidentally.)

 

If you weren’t successful in getting one of those coveted spots at 7 am, you can try again in the afternoon.  At 1 pm, you can again request a boarding group on the MDE app via the virtual queue, through the same process, but the only catch is that for the afternoon requests, you must actually be inside of EPCOT to join the virtual queue.  (And if you already rode in the morning, you can’t request a second ride during the afternoon boarding groups.) 

 

One last shot at a boarding group exists at 6 pm, but only if you are staying at a Disney Deluxe Resort, Disney Deluxe Villa Resort or other select hotels. On certain dates, Disney offers extended evening theme park hours to those guests, and Deluxe hotel guests can make use of the third shot at getting a boarding group on those days. (Deluxe hotel guests do not need to be in EPCOT to request to join during the 6 pm boarding group process).   Additional information, including tips for getting into the virtual queue, is available at disneyworld.com/virtualqueue.  

 

Individual Lightning Lane 

 

If you don’t mind shelling out the additional cash, you can also try for an “Individual Lightning Lane” entry.  Guests can purchase Individual Lightning Lane entry in the My Disney Experience app by using the Disney Genie service on the same day of their visit. (Prices weren’t released yet for the ride, and they do vary by day and season, but as a comparison, the top tier Rise of the Resistance is currently $15 per person.)  Individual Lightning Lane is subject to limited availability, and again, those seats go – well, lightning fast.  Guests at Disney resort hotels can purchase Individual Lightning Lane rides starting at 7 am on the day of their visit.  Other guests can make their purchase when the park opens. For more information on Lightning Lane access, go to disneyworld.disney.go.com/genie/lightning-lane/

 

Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is billed as a “family-thrill attraction” that is a completely new generation of storytelling rollercoaster, with the “first ever reverse-launch.” Located in World Discovery at EPCOT, it’s also one of the largest indoor coasters in the world, and the Starjumper cars rotate 360 degrees in the dark to direct guests’ attention to the action going on around them in both projections and set pieces during their intergalactic chase. A selection of six different songs provide the soundtrack to the ride, and guests don’t know in advance which song they’ll be treated to.  Kids must be at least 42 inches tall to ride.

 

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Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

At Long Last, A Visit to La Hacienda de San Angel

 by Beth Keating

Review

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 18, 2022

 

When you come to Disney World on vacation, you typically only have a few days to sample the various restaurants around the world. That means, by and large, that you tend to go back and visit the favorites over and over again, or, if you were up really early and the stars were aligned just right, you were able to snag a coveted advanced dining reservation for the exciting, newly opened venue about which everyone has been talking. Rarely do people venture off to try some of the lesser known spots, unless they haven’t been able to get their earlier choices.

 

That was always the case with us. We’d talked about trying a half-dozen or so other restaurants on our short list over time, but between eating our way through festivals and returning to our favs, we just never seemed to find a spot in our limited time at the parks to venture further afield.



Last week, we finally made it to one of our “You know, I’d really like to try…” restaurants.  (And in all honesty, it got bumped to the top of the “like to try” list because it was home to one of the specialty desserts that was available for the 50th Anniversary of Disney World. But more on that later.)

 

We decided to finally pay a visit to La Hacienda de San Angel in EPCOT’s Mexico pavilion. You would be forgiven for being confused as to which restaurant that is exactly because, Disney for some reason, gave all of its Mexico eateries similar names.  There’s the San Angel Inn Restaurante (the table service restaurant in the pyramid); La Cantina de San Angel (the quick/counter service known for their tacos and empanadas); and La Hacienda de San Angel, also a table service locale.  (Why, oh, why, does Disney do that with names of locations?) Even my son asked, about six times that day, “Which one are we going to again?”

 

“La Hacienda de San Angel” and “La Cantina de San Angel” are even side by side on the waterfront. “San Angel Inn Restaurante” is inside the landmark pyramid, and in some ways, is the distinct opposite of La Hacienda de San Angel. Where San Angel Inn is dark, and diners are seated closer together, La Hacienda de San Angel is open, bright and airy.  Both restaurants have their own charm, with diners at San Angel Inn eating in front of a volcano in a busy marketplace at twilight, and guests at La Hacienda eating under colorful globe shaped lanterns, surrounded by vivid artwork, in front of expansive glass windows looking out on the World Showcase lagoon. 

 

La Hacienda de San Angel specializes in authentic Mexican cuisine, and is also known for their selection of margaritas, including the frozen Black Magic ($21), created by Neil Patrick Harris especially for Disney. It offers up Ojo de Tigre mexcal, blackberry purée, black currant liqueur, lime and mint. Other margaritas on the menu range from $15-$23.

 

The corn tortillas at La Hacienda are house-made each day, and you really could taste the difference in the care that was taken to make that happen. The moment you lifted the covering over the tortillas, the scent alone told you it was fresh and homemade.  Accompanying many of the dishes were a variety of delicious fresh salsas. 

 

Chips, salsas and queso ($6.00) were available among the starters, but we opted for the Flautas ($14.25), a trio of tortillas filled with chipotle chicken, potato, cheese, and Ranchera sauce. They were delicious, with a crunchy outer shell, a delightfully creamy filling on the inside, a sprinkling of cotija cheese, and a not-quite spicy sauce drizzled on top.  We would welcome those starters again.



One of our diners, a “spice adverse” guest, requested the Pollo Poblano ($30) for their meal. The entrée featured a tender and moist roast chicken breast atop a pool of poblano cream sauce. The poblano sauce had just enough heat to retain its qualification as traditional Mexican food, without scaring away a diner who wasn’t keen on too much spice. The fact that the chicken was served on top of the sauce also made it easy to decide exactly how much sauce should be scooped up on each bite. The chicken was served with a side medley of brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and oyster mushrooms, along with a set of the warm house-made corn tortillas, in case you wanted to eat your veggies and chicken “taco” style. 



Two in our dining party opted for the Tacos de Langosta ($35), the fried lobster in flour tortillas, served with shredded cabbage, chipotle aïoli, and mango relish.  This set of three made for an excellent main course. The fried lobster was rather unique, some crunch on the outside, with tender and flavorful lobster meat inside. Indeed, each taco offered an ample amount of lobster, and the lobster taste wasn’t lost amidst the sauce, which offered a slight kick, and other accompaniments. And yes, the tortilla shells were soft and fresh.



A large bowl of white rice and beans was also brought to the table along with the entrées, and while it didn’t have much flavor on its own, it served as a nice blank canvas to add goodies from our entrée plates, scooped into the tortillas with our lobster tacos. 

 

And, at last, we come to the real reason we were tracking down a reservation to La Hacienda on this particular visit. La Hacienda de San Angel is one of two locales for a spectacularly created 50th anniversary dessert that has been calling us since Disney introduced it in October.  The Chocolate “Fiesta” Pyramid ($34) is a celebratory, molded-chocolate pyramid filled with Mexican chocolate mousse and toffee, perched atop a traditional Tres Leches cake.  And in case that doesn’t sound decadent enough, each corner of the pyramid boasts a scoop of high quality vanilla ice cream, drizzled with a caramel sauce.  Oh, my!  Our very attentive waiter, Miguel, brought large soup spoons to crack our way to the interior of the pyramid to get to the rich, dark mousse, and breaking open the pyramid like a tiny piñata is part of the fun. The Tres Leches layer was closer to a pound cake than the custard-and-milk-soaked version you may have had elsewhere in the past, but it probably needed to be a bit firmer to support the weight of the seven-inch high chocolate building.



Disney claims the pyramid is “perfect for sharing,” but I think they had more than just our party of three in mind when they constructed this tower.  We managed to make a pretty big dent in the confection, but there was still more than enough for at least two or three more diners to join us in a sugar fest.  (If you want to embark on this journey with your own familia, the pyramid is also currently available at San Angel Inn Restaurante, as well as at La Hacienda.)

 

The restaurant only opens at 3:00 pm each day, and if you time it just right and ask nicely, you might be treated to a waterfront table where you would be able to watch the nightly Harmonious fireworks show while enjoying your meal.  

 

We may have come to La Hacienda de San Angel for the Fiesta Chocolate Pyramid, but we’ll be back again for their delicious Mexican food. We’ll move this restaurant from the “like to try” list, to the “we’ll be back again” list.

_______________

 

Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.

 

Please support the efforts of DisneyBizJournal.com to bring news, analysis and commentary on Disney to readers such as yourself. Make a contribution right here via PayPal. Thanks!

 

Monday, May 16, 2022

Raimi Directing Dr. Strange 2 Leads to Creative and Box Office Success

 by Ray Keating

Review

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 16, 2022

 

DisneyBizJournal.com Movie Rating: 5 stars out of 5

DisneyBizJournal.com Box Office Rating:  $$$$ out of $$$$

 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness ranks as one of the very best Marvel Studios movies ever made, certainly by far the top entry since Avengers: Endgame, and it is justifiably getting rewarded at the box office. By the way, I serve up this assessment as someone who has never been a big Dr. Strange fan.

 

And yes, most of the credit for these creative and business achievements goes to Sam Raimi and his skills as a director.



Raimi already had three of the finest superhero films ever made on his resume – that is, Spider-Man(2002), Spider-Man 2 (2004), and Spider-Man 3  (2007) – along with a wide-ranging group of other films. He brought this formidable experience to work in a Marvel film at a time when the studio clearly needed something big. After all, recent Marvel movies haven’t exactly been memorable. Black Widow and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings were little more than adequate, and Eternals was simply abysmal (see our review). Spider-Man: No Way Home, of course, was excellent (again, check out our rundown), but that was a Sony release that plays in the Marvel universe; it was not a Disney-Marvel Studios movie.

 

Raimi accomplished a great deal with Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.

 

The story was solid. It made sense and was entertaining (such basics cannot be assumed – see the Eternals). The characters, for the most part, were interesting. Indeed, some notable characters were introduced, or re-introduced, and wound up going to surprising places, adding unexpected aspects and richness to the film. Also, Raimi provided touches from assorted genres that he has worked in before, including horror, although the film doesn’t go too far. Yes, this is a hard PG-13, but definitely not an R.

 

Multiverse of Madness is a visually enthralling film as well. The special effects add to the movie, as opposed to some recent Marvel films in which very expensive special effects managed to distract and detract from the story (that was the case with Shang-Chi).

 

Perhaps most surprising was one thing that Raimi was allowed to do, and it made a big difference. Dr. Strange corrected or remedied the abysmal ending to the Disney+ WandaVision series (see our take). After committing an assortment of atrocities due to suffering personal losses (both real and imagined), Wanda’s actions in WandaVision were effectively justified or simply shrugged off at the end of the series. Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness tossed aside such nonsense, or moral obtuseness, and made clear the evil that Wanda, or the Scarlett Witch, commits.

 

Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness turned out to be engrossing, fascinating, and entertaining on multiple levels.

 

At the close of its second weekend (as of May 15), the film grossed $292 million domestically and earned $688 million globally. Those numbers run far ahead of the total box office take for each of the three previous Marvel Studios movies – Black WidowShang-Chi and Eternals.

 

Here’s a lesson for Marvel: Don’t shy away from getting top-notch directors to make your films, not to mention your Disney+ series. Disney certainly has enough funds available to get the best directors – ones that can handle the scope and the genre, while telling stories well. Sam Raimi directing Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness makes clear that such decisions make creative and box office sense.

 

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Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at raykeating@keatingreports.com.

 

The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?

 

Two great ways to pre-order Cathedral: An Alliance of Saint Michael Novel, which is Ray’s sixteenth work of fiction, and the first in the Alliance of Saint Michael series. Signed paperbacks here and the Kindle edition here

 

Two great ways to order Ray Keating’s new nonfiction book – The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist. Signed paperbacks here, and paperbacks, hardcovers and Kindle editions here.  

 

Get all of Ray Keating Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries in paperback and for the Kindle at Amazon.com and signed books at www.RayKeatingOnline.com

 

Get more out of the rest of 2022 with The Disney Planner 2022: The TO DO List Solution! It combines a simple, powerful system for getting things done with encouragement and fun for Disney fans, including those who love Mickey, Marvel, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pixar, princesses and more. Also, “The Disney Planner 2022: The TO DO List Solution” comes with a handy spiral binding for easy use. It’s on sale and shipping is always free!

 

Also, check out Ray’s podcasts – the Daily Dose of DisneyFree Enterprise in Three Minutes, and the PRESS CLUB C Podcast.

Sunday, May 15, 2022

What’s the Deal with “Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind”?

 by Ray Keating

Review

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 15, 2022

 

Okay, let’s just state this right upfront: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind is the greatest roller coaster I’ve ever ridden.



Cosmic Rewind in Walt Disney World’s EPCOT pulls together everything one could ever want in a thrill ride. Though it doesn’t officially open until May 27, 2022, annual passholders were able to take early rides. My family had a slot on Sunday (May 15), and I was perhaps never so happy to have my annual pass.

 

First, it offers a story that not only makes sense, but integrates Guardians of the Galaxy characters in such a way that this theme park ride fits in neatly with the movies. Characters from the movies appear, as does a delightful addition. The ride captures the same feel of adventure and humor. 



Second, great music is such an important part of the Guardians movies, in particular, in the story of Peter Quill, or Star-Lord. The imagineers who created the ride wisely understood this, and music is central to the Cosmic Rewind ride. When saying that this ride rocked, it literally rocks. My adventure played out to Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.” Have you ever wanted to sing along while riding a roller coaster? I did on Cosmic Rewind. It was pretty much perfect. The other five songs in the mix (riders are unaware which tune they’ll ride to) are “Disco Inferno,” “Conga,” “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” “I Ran” and “One Way or Another.”

 

Third, this is an incredibly smooth roller coaster ride – even as you're twisting, turning, ascending and descending in one of the largest indoor coasters in the world. For good measure, riders are being rotated 360 degrees to keep their focus on the action. And yes, the special effects riders travel through are immersive. And it all flows together beautifully.



Fourth, given that this was a special event for annual passholders, the wait was not as long as would normally be the case, but what I took in while traveling through the queue was delightful – expanding on the story undergirding the ride.

 

Did I have any complaints? Just one: The merchandise store was not yet open. If it had been, I likely would have emerged with my wallet considerably lighter.

 

What will happen when May 27 rolls around? Disney explains, “When Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opens, a virtual queue will be in place. Guests will need to use the My Disney Experience app to enter the attraction. A standby queue will not be available. Each Guest can enter the virtual queue no more than once per day.”

 

Bottom line: When you visit Walt Disney World, you must ride Cosmic Rewind.

 

__________

 

Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com, and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant novels and assorted nonfiction books. Have Ray Keating speak your group, business, school, church, or organization. Email him at raykeating@keatingreports.com.

 

The views expressed here are his own – after all, no one else should be held responsible for this stuff, right?

 

Two great ways to pre-order Cathedral: An Alliance of Saint Michael Novel, which is Ray’s sixteenth work of fiction, and the first in the Alliance of Saint Michael series. Signed paperbacks here and the Kindle edition here

 

Two great ways to order Ray Keating’s new nonfiction book – The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist. Signed paperbacks here, and paperbacks, hardcovers and Kindle editions here.  

 

Get all of Ray Keating Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries in paperback and for the Kindle at Amazon.com and signed books at www.RayKeatingOnline.com

 

Get more out of the rest of 2022 with The Disney Planner 2022: The TO DO List Solution! It combines a simple, powerful system for getting things done with encouragement and fun for Disney fans, including those who love Mickey, Marvel, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Pixar, princesses and more. Also, “The Disney Planner 2022: The TO DO List Solution” comes with a handy spiral binding for easy use. It’s on sale and shipping is always free!

 

Also, check out Ray’s podcasts – the Daily Dose of DisneyFree Enterprise in Three Minutes, and the PRESS CLUB C Podcast.

Thursday, May 12, 2022

What Happened to the PhotoPass Photographers?

 by Beth Keating

Commentary

DisneyBizJournal.com

May 12, 2022

 

I am, much to my son’s chagrin, a collector of PhotoPass photos. If the cast member happens to be a purveyor of Magic Shots, so much the better. If left to my own devices, I would spend most of my day hitting up Magic Shots for fun, rather than waiting on hour-long lines for rides.  

 

(If you haven’t heard of Magic Shots, those are the specialty photos where Disney magically surprises you by digitally inserting adorable characters or backgrounds into your posed pic. You don’t typically know what they are going to be until the shot shows up on your PhotoPass account.)



And, for reference, I am not in the least bit photogenic. I just love the whimsy and memories inspired by the park photos. My photo albums are full of my kids cradling a baby Simba at Animal Kingdom, laughing at Stitch and his ice cream cone at Hollywood Studios, pointing to a flying Figment at EPCOT, posing with a tiny Tinkerbell in hand at Magic Kingdom, or looking (sort of) terrified of the Headless Horseman at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. If I spot a PhotoPass photographer with a prop, I am immediately on that line, waiting my turn.

 

My youngest son, however, does not feel the same. He abhors the photo taking process. He and I have a deal now when we go into the parks. I am allowed to include him in “one” PhotoPass stop per day, and after that I am on my own.  So, I tend to be choosy about which photo stop I request his presence in.

 

On Mother’s Day, we were visiting Magic Kingdom. By all rights of the holiday, it was supposed to be my turn to set the agenda for the day. I was in charge of picking the rides, shows, etc., because, you know, it was Mother’s Day. But I had only one real objective. Now that up-close character experiences have returned, I wanted a visit with Mickey at Town Square Theatre with his 50th anniversary outfit for my photo collection.  

 

So, we waited on a line for 35 minutes, and finally stepped into the room to meet the Big Mouse himself … and discovered that the dreaded photobox had returned to the rooms, with no PhotoPass photographer in sight.  If you aren’t familiar with them, the “photoboxes” are wall mounted, automated cameras that take a wide angle shot at a specific moment. 

 

Note to Disney: The photoboxes don’t work. They didn’t work before COVID closure, and they don’t work now.  All the spontaneity of the photos is missing, and the PhotoPass photographers who used to engage in the banter and the directions of the Meet and Greet really added to the experience, and helped get the perfect photos. They knew when to snap the un-posed, candid shots of kids’ reactions and character hugs.  My photo of the day was just…okay.

 

In fact, it took additional time from our park day to get our photos straightened out.  When we tapped our Magic Band to the tapstyle on the way out of the Meet and Greet room at the direction of the character attendant, the kiosk registered “success!”  But when the photos showed up on our account half an hour later, they were adorable… but not our family. A cute little girl, her autograph book, and her grandfather had seven photos with Mickey on my phone. My family was nowhere to be seen.  

 

If I had been a less alert guest, and not checked my photos before leaving the park, I might have been out of luck. But since I am photo obsessed, I check it regularly to see the Magic Shots and ride photos come through.  When I realized fairly quickly that we were connected to the wrong photos, I headed to Guest Services to see if we could solve the problem without having to go back through the Meet and Greet room again. Guest services sent us to the PhotoPass counter at Town Square Theatre, where they were able to retrieve my two lonely photos, one of which had people’s eyes closed, so I got one usable photo for our experience.  And the picture of me hugging Mickey?  Hadn’t been taken by the photobox.  We just had two posed group shots.

 

Now, I might not be as disappointed if I thought that the photoboxes were just a temporary fix with the struggle that so many Central Florida businesses are having in finding and hiring staff.  But as we stepped outside of Town Square Theatre, a mere 15 minutes before the afternoon parade, there were at least five PhotoPass photographers lined up down Main Street, waiting to take guests’ photos in front of the castle.  Let me emphasize that part again… “waiting to take photos.”  Of the three photographers closest to us as we walked down Main Street, looking for a seat for the parade, the cast members were on stand-by for guests who wanted photos, but they didn’t have any takers. Nary a line to be seen. Not a camera shutter going off.

 

I totally understand the backed-up lines those photographers experience at the beginning of the day, when guests are first entering the park looking for the perfect shot with the castle. But several of the mid-day photographers were actually walking over to the crowds sitting on curbs in anticipation of the parade, and asking them if they wanted their pictures taken.  It seems that a reshuffling of assignments, putting real photographers instead of a machine box back in the Meet and Greet room, would garner nicer photos and probably fewer tech glitches, while making better use of the men and women who were customer-less on Main Street. Plus, it’s likely that more attractive and endearing Meet and Greet photos would generate greater photo sales at the end of the day. Just sayin’.

 

I love the PhotoPass photographers. They have been a part of many significant moments in my life… our honeymoon photos; anniversary trips; my kids’ graduation photos; our first time visiting with our new grandbaby post-COVID lockdowns. And in every one of those instances, the personalities of the photographers and their decisions of how to pose us, snapping candid shots along the way, have provided me with a lifetime of memories.  In many cases, I wouldn’t even have been in the family photo at all without their expertise, because I likely would have been the one behind the camera, taking everyone else’s picture.  PhotoPass allows me to be in the memory, too.

 

Sadly, the photobox on the wall in Mickey’s dressing room didn’t get that right on Mother’s Day. I might be in the one solitary picture we received, but it was surely missing some of the magic.

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Beth Keating is a theme parks, restaurant and entertainment reporter for DisneyBizJournal.

 

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“Cathedral: An Alliance of Saint Michael Novel” Released by Award-Winning Author and DisneyBizJournal.com Editor Ray Keating

Cathedral: An Alliance of Saint Michael Novel is a new edge-of-your-seat adventure from Ray Keating. This is his sixteenth work of fiction, and the first in the Alliance of Saint Michael series. 


The Alliance of Saint Michael brings together men and women with varied backgrounds and talents to work covertly against the two most significant threats to Christianity and civilization at the dawn of the 1930s - communism and fascism.

 

In Moscow, the Cathedral of Christ the Saviour is going to be obliterated to make way for the Palace of the Soviets. The Alliance of St. Michael readies itself for its first mission – find and salvage a rare item of great significance from the cathedral before the building is lost.

 

Cathedral is a work of historical fiction filled with interesting characters that readers will come to care about, nail-biting moments, thrilling action, assorted mysteries and questions, love, danger, friendship, and reflections on God, faith, war, one’s calling in life and more.

 

Ray Keating, who is known for penning 15 Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries (with more coming), said, “I’m excited to introduce new stories and characters set in a time of grave dangers. I found it particularly fascinating to explore how these characters choose to act in a time when Western Civilization is confronted by the challenges of both fascism and communism.”

 

Regarding Ray Keating, Kirkus Reviews calls his books “exhilarating.” Lutheran Book Review says, “I miss Tom Clancy. Keating fills that void for me.” The retired host of KFUO radio’s BookTalk declares, “Ray Keating is a great novelist.”

 

Paperbacks, hardcovers and the Kindle edition of Cathedral are available at Amazon.com, and signed books at www.RayKeatingOnline.com

 

Review copies, and author interviews and appearances are available upon request. 

 

Contact: Ray Keating

Phone: 631-909-1122

E-mail: raykeating@keatingreports.com