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

Thursday, March 30, 2023

New Disney Cruise Ship To Homeport Exclusively in Singapore

 by Beth Keating



March 30, 2023


Disney Cruise Line and the Singapore Tourism Board, under a new Memorandum of Understanding, have agreed to bring a new Disney cruise ship to Singapore for at least five years, it was announced yesterday (March 29, 2023).

Disney Parks, Experiences and Products Chairman Josh D’Amaro and Singapore Tourism Board Chief Executive Keith Tan, with Captain Mickey and Captain Minnie  (Courtesy of Disney Cruise Line.)

The ship, the recently purchased Global Dream, will homeport exclusively in Singapore beginning in 2025, bringing Disney cruising to Southeast Asia for the first time. Disney has said that details about the maiden voyage, itineraries and onboard experiences will be announced at a later date. The Global Dream was acquired in November by Disney when its former owner declared bankruptcy, and was purchased with the intent to visit new global destinations, with a planned base outside the United States.  The ship will be renamed as part of the Disney Cruise Line fleet when Disney takes the helm of the partially-completed vessel.


“This is a very exciting year for The Walt Disney Company — 2023 marks our 100th anniversary,” D’Amaro said. “As part of this, Disney Cruise Line is currently undergoing an ambitious expansion with new ships and new destinations around the world. We are incredibly excited to make Singapore the home port to our seventh-launched ship, which will sail from here year-round starting in 2025.”


“We look forward to welcoming the magic of Disney Cruise Line to Singapore in 2025,” said Keith Tan, Chief Executive, Singapore Tourism Board (STB). “This is an important milestone for STB and reflects Disney Cruise Line’s strong confidence in Singapore and Southeast Asia. The new Disney cruise ship will be an attraction itself and is expected to boost the tourism sector in Singapore for many years to come.”


Singapore is already a busy cruise hub in Southeast Asia. According to Disney, “the addition of a Disney Cruise Line ship in Singapore has the potential to add millions of local and foreign cruise passengers across the five-year period, including fly-cruise passengers who arrive in Singapore by air. It is also expected to bring about significant spillover benefits for the wider economy. These include greater demand for port and ship-related services, as well as on-ground spending in Singapore for the lifestyle and hospitality sectors.”


The new 208,000-gross-ton ship will be the seventh to launch in the Disney fleet, and is being built by Meyer Werft at the MV Werften shipyard in Wismar, Germany. Meyer Werft built the Disney DreamDisney Fantasy and Disney Wish. Two additional “Wish-class” ships are also on order. The new vessel has a passenger capacity of approximately 6,000, with around 2,300 crew members.  (Current Disney ships clock in at 4,000 guests or under.)


In addition to its larger size, the new ship will run on green methanol, one of the first in the cruise industry to use the low-emission fuel. The Disney Cruise Line first launched in 1998. Its current fleet boasts five ships, including the Disney Magic (1998), Disney Wonder (1999), Disney Dream (2011), Disney Fantasy (2012), and Disney Wish (2022), with more to come. The Disney Treasure, the sister ship to the recently launched Disney Wish, is expected to arrive in 2024.  The Disney Cruise Line fleet sails to destinations in The Bahamas, the Caribbean, Europe, Alaska, Mexico, Canada, Hawaii, the South Pacific, and Australia and New Zealand. 




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

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Job Cuts at Disney Eliminating Metaverse and Acquisitions Divisions

 by Ray Keating



March 28, 2023


The process of eliminating positions and cutting jobs at Disney has gotten under way this week. The larger share of staff reductions reportedly will be happening in April, with CEO Bob Iger saying in a company memo that the process of eliminating 7,000 positions will be completed by the start of summer.

Iger wrote in part:


“This week, we begin notifying employees whose positions are impacted by the company’s workforce reductions. Leaders will be communicating the news directly to the first group of impacted employees over the next four days. A second, larger round of notifications will happen in April with several thousand more staff reductions, and we expect to commence the final round of notifications before the beginning of the summer to reach our 7,000-job target.”


Among the casualties, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Metaverse division at Disney set up by former CEO Bob Chapek in February 2022 has been shut down. The Journal noted that the 50 people in the division have been let go, with the division head, Mike White, staying at the company in a yet-to-be-announced position. The Journal also noted that another effort that White was involved in, i.e., setting up a membership division like Amazon Plus, has been terminated.


Also, The Hollywood Reporter highlighted some high profile names that have been let go:


“Among the notable staffers let go Monday are Jayne Bieber, senior vp production at Freeform/Onyx Collective; Mark Levenstein, head of production and postproduction at Hulu; and Elizabeth Newman, head of Disney’s acquisitions department. Sources note Newman’s entire acquisitions team has been dissolved, while Bieber and Levenstein’s production teams will be folded under Carol Turner, exec vp production at ABC Signature.”


Will the Disney theme parks remain untouched? Not likely. Reuters noted, “Josh D’Amaro, chair of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, sent a memo to theme parks employees in February warning that the profitable division would experience cuts.”




Ray Keating is the editor, publisher and economist for DisneyBizJournal.com; and author of the Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries, and the Alliance of Saint Michael 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? 


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 The Weekly Economist: 52 Quick Reads to Help You Think Like an Economist. Signed paperbacks at RayKeatingOnline.com or paperbacks, hardcovers and Kindle editions at Amazon.com.


• Cathedral: An Alliance of Saint Michael Novel. Signed paperbacks and/or paperbacks, hardcovers and the Kindle edition at Amazon


• The Pastor Stephen Grant thrillers and mysteries. You can pre-order the latest book in the series – Under the Golden Dome: A Pastor Stephen Grant Novel. Get the signed books here, or paperbacks and Kindle editions right here.


• The Lutheran Planner: The TO DO List Solution combines a simple, powerful system for getting things done with encouragement, inspiration and consolation from the Christian faith.


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

Friday, March 24, 2023

Grand Floridian Café Offers Relaxed and Varied Menu

 by Beth Keating



March 24, 2023


The first time we went to the Grand Floridian Café, we were expecting the dining room to match the rest of the Grand Floridian Resort – upscale and maybe too fancy for our theme park t-shirts. But we were new to Florida at the time, and hadn’t yet been able to get annual passes, so we had been making the rounds of the various Disney Resorts, getting a Disney fix without breaking the bank buying individual park tickets, biding our time until the annual pass sales resumed.  Grand Floridian Café turned out to be a lovely evening, and so much more relaxed than we’d anticipated.

Now, a few years later, we were heading over to the Grand Floridian to take in the chocolate Easter egg display (see our article and video here), and we decided to check out the Grand Floridian’s lunch offerings.  It was once again a lovely, albeit extended, meal.


The Grand Floridian Café does offer breakfast, lunch and dinner seatings, but there is a brief closure between lunch and dinner. The café is closed from 2:00-5:00 so the cast members can prepare for the meal switchover.


Lunch at the Grand Floridian Café is served as “Blunch,” as our cast member explained. It’s the opportunity to order lunch items, but breakfast items continue to be offered as well. It’s not a large menu, but the widely varying offerings include everything from Banana Foster Oatmeal, steak and eggs, avocado toast, quiche, pancakes, and Brioche French Toast, to Reubens, salads, burgers, salmon, and Lobster Benedict.


We were hoping the famed Strawberry Soup from the not-yet-reopened 1900 Park Fare next door was available, but alas, it wasn’t on the day’s menu.  Instead it was a butternut squash soup ($12.00), which we skipped in favor of the Chilled Jumbo Shrimp Cocktail ($16.00) and the Heirloom Apple Salad ($13.00).

Normally, you would see a shrimp cocktail served draped over the edge of a stemmed glass, hovering over a splash of cocktail sauce.  But this delicious appetizer was far from the ordinary presentation of shrimp cocktail.  The Grand Floridian Café’s rendition featured five very large, very chilled shrimp, perched on top of a bed of greens and a layer of grapefruit sections, paired with a side of freshly sliced avocado.  It was, indeed, served with the obligatory cocktail sauce, but the dish was so fresh and citrusy tasting that you really didn’t need it. 

The Apple Salad was also an unexpected treat, a pretty substantial starter-sized salad of organic baby lettuce, tossed with heirloom apples and sharp cheddar, and topped with crunchy pecan brittle and a salty prosciutto.  It was dressed with a sweet honey-apple vinaigrette that I would love to have again and again.

Our entrées had a delightful twist as well.  I ordered the Buttermilk-fried Chicken and Waffle ($26.00), which came with two hand-breaded crispy chicken cutlets served with a sriracha-honey drizzle that was just delicious.  The drizzle was sweet, with the barest hint of a kick from the sriracha, and it was expertly applied, because it was the perfect amount of glaze. The chicken wasn’t drowning in the sauce, but it also had an adequate amount that flavored the chicken without overwhelming the crunchy texture.  But the big surprise was the malted waffle that was the centerpiece of the dish.  It was one large waffle, fluffy and uniquely flavored… and in the shape of Mickey!  How can you not love Mickey-shaped food at Disney World?   My son, who was dining with me, thought I was nuts because I was so excited over the Mickey waffle.


My son chose the Lobster 'Thermidor' Burger ($26.00), a dish that the Grand Floridian Café is famous for, and it did not disappoint. A 7-oz burger patty topped by a creamy lobster-parmesan Thermidor sauce, the burger is served on a seared brioche bun, with a bonus cheese crisp perched on top. The burger came with a small handful of seasoned fries on the side.  The Thermidor sauce was exceptional, and was happily more lobster than sauce.  There were large, whole pieces of tender lobster, which made for a decadent feel to our lunch. It was more “luncheon” than “lunch.”

Sadly, we were so full by the time we finished that we did not make it to dessert, which was disappointing because there were several interesting choices, including a Key Lime tart, and a cookies n’ cream Mickey Dome.   


The Grand Floridian Café is a good choice for lunch, with its very diverse menu, but for us, we were glad that we were not staring down Lightning Lane reservations at the Magic Kingdom for the afternoon.  While the service was excellent, the kitchen was very slow, with an hour and a half meal time for us.  To be fair, it was Spring Break week, and there wasn’t an open seat in the restaurant, and I suspect there were also conferences going on because we watched large trolleys of food trays heading down the sidewalks during our meal, but meals were slow to come out of the kitchen.  It wasn’t a problem for us because we were meandering our way through the chocolate egg displays that afternoon, but just be aware that your yummy lunch may take longer than you thought.  Take it as a sign that you should relax and stay awhile.


The restaurant itself was clean (in the care taken at the restaurant, as well as the architectural lines of the room) and bright, with lots of huge windows looking out on the beautiful grounds of the Grand Floridian.  It was a lovely, peaceful meal, and I am sure we’ll find ourselves dining here again in the future.  Especially knowing there’s a few Mickey-themed foods waiting for us!




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

Thursday, March 23, 2023

“Disney100: The Exhibition — Making the Magic” To Air Tonight on ABC

 by Beth Keating



March 23, 2023


What are you doing tonight?  If you are a Disney fanatic, you might want to make sure you tune in to Disney100: The Exhibition — Making the Magic on your local ABC station, or stream it on Hulu.  The 30-minute special premieres this evening (Thursday, March 23, 2023) at 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT across ABC owned television stations on linear, digital, and streaming platforms, as well as on the Localish network. For participating stations and times, check your local listings.  

A celebration of 100 historic years of making magic, the TV special, Disney100: The Exhibition — Making the Magic, goes behind the scenes of Disney100: The Exhibition, the Disney Archives’ exhibit which debuted earlier this year at The Franklin Institute in Philadelphia.

The Philadelphia exhibit runs through August 27, 2023, before it goes on the road to other locations. Guests will get a chance to see many rare Disney artifacts, some of which have never been available to the public before.  The special will also explore some of the incredible moments from Disney’s rich 100 year legacy.

According to Disney, “Disney100: The Exhibition – Making the Magic is a dazzling journey through this immersive exhibit, featuring more than 250 artifacts and works of art, costumes and props, and memorabilia from the Walt Disney Archives’ vault of treasures.”


The exhibit includes items such as:


• Disneyland Employee Badge No. 1, issued in 1955 to Walt Disney


• Costumes from Black PantherJungle CruiseCruellaEnchanted and more


• Prop storybooks featured in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs and Sleeping Beauty


• Skywalker Lightsaber Hilt from Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, used by Daisy Ridley


• Attraction vehicles from Matterhorn Bobsleds and Peter Pan’s Flight at Disneyland Park


During the TV special, viewers will also visit the Walt Disney Archives in Burbank to see how the 15,000-square-foot exhibition, featuring 10 themed galleries at The Franklin Institute, was produced, getting an insider’s look into the creation of some of Disney’s characters and films along the way. 




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

Wednesday, March 22, 2023

Pre-Order New Book by DisneyBizJournal's Ray Keating

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Pastor Stephen Grant and his wife, economist Jennifer Grant, are invited to a conference at the University of Notre Dame. While they look forward to speaking at the same gathering, unexpected dangers materialize, fueled by distorted, political impulses among some in the Church. 


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Tuesday, March 21, 2023

Blocked Out of Dining Reservations with Spring Break Crowds? Try Disney’s Lounges

 by Beth Keating



March 21, 2023


I hesitated to write this article because, quite frankly, if too many people figure this little trick out, it won’t really work anymore.  It was a great find for our family during the busy winter holidays when the parks were packed, and we even discovered a few new gems in the process. With spring break crowds pouring into the parks right now, this is a good time to share these tips.  Allow me to explain…


When you live near the parks, you aren’t waking up 60 days out at 6:00 a.m. to make dining reservations the way you used to when you were planning a long distance vacation to the Most Magical Place on Earth. Instead, you usually find yourself scrolling through your My Disney Experience app, frantically trying to find an open dining room the day of your visit (or, if you are super organized, maybe the night before.) Sometimes that results in a gift – a favorite restaurant shows up in a desired time slot and you grab it quickly before it disappears. More often than not, and particularly so during packed park days, you are left staring at a set of weird meal times, or restaurants that are nowhere near the park you’re visiting.

That was the case for us over the winter break, when parks were still jammed with visitors.  Even the quick-serve counters had long lines, and mobile ordering (when the app was working) had meal times that were hours away.  During these visits, we did, however, discover a few tricks. By heading out of the parks, even for a short reprieve for a meal, we had a greater selection of places to eat, and we uncovered a couple of places that are now among our favorites.    


First up was a new old restaurant.  Back in 2021, at the beginning of the Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration, “The Wave… of Contemporary American Flavors” at the Contemporary Resort wrapped up its renovations, and reopened as Steakhouse 71, a tribute to the opening date of Magic Kingdom.  You can walk to the Resort from the Magic Kingdom, or take a quick monorail jaunt, with the monorail pulling right into the cavernous atrium of the Contemporary.  


While we didn’t manage to snag a table in the Steakhouse 71 dining room itself, we were able to walk right up, no waiting necessary, and grab a seat in the Steakhouse 71 lounge.  And we discovered what is, by far, the best burger on Disney property.  I’m not kidding.  No exaggeration.  Oh, my word, I sometimes think of this burger when I am nowhere near Disney, and suddenly wish myself there.  The Steakhouse 71 Stack Burger ($21.00) is a signature blend of smashed patties of beef with pork belly, smothered in melty American cheese, garnished with lemon aioli, red onion, a smattering of house-made pickles, and served on a lovely soft Brioche bun. On the side is a small basket of parmesan fries.  Wait, hold on.  I’ll be back in a little while. I’ve got to go grab that burger now…


I can’t begin to tell you what else is served at the Steakhouse 71 lounge because I’ve been there three times now, and I’ve never wanted anything but that Stack Burger.  The lounge is open from noon to 11 p.m.  The entrance to Steakhouse 71 pays tribute to the opening days of Disney World, with its long hallway filled with black and white photos of the construction of Magic Kingdom.  It’s located on the bottom floor of the Contemporary.


On other days, when the Magic Kingdom has simply swallowed us up, and we’d decide it was time to get away from the crowds, we’d hop on a Resort-bound boat at the front entrance, and head out across Bay Lake, where we’ve had great success trekking over to Wilderness Lodge.  Two fabulous eateries there have gained our loyalty.  

Geyser Point Bar & Grill is an open-air venue that has a handful of low-slung tables around a central bar, as well as a take-out window if you’d prefer to find seating elsewhere at this beautiful resort, or if you are spending the day poolside.  We’ve never had to wait more than a few minutes to grab a chair at this national parks-feel dining location.  It has amazing views of the waterfront, and while it is only a short trip from Cinderella Castle, it feels eons away.  It is officially a “quick-serve” spot, but its relaxed vibe and rustic seating make it one of the most chill venues at Disney.  And if you’re missing your favorite sports teams, there are usually a bunch of games on the monitors over the bar.  At night, you might even catch the Electrical Water Pageant floating by.


On Geyser Point’s “lounge menu,” we’ve enjoyed the cheesy barbecue brisket ($11.00), a ramekin of melty cheese infused with tender brisket (or is it brisket infused with cheese?), served with house-made chips for scooping.  I wouldn’t be telling tales out of school if I didn’t mention that we’ve scarfed down more than one of these dishes while sprawling in the wide, cushioned chairs.  Another time, we chose the “Shrimp on a Wire” ($13.00), a set of jumbo shrimp with a tasty soy-lime vinaigrette and chili aioli.  We almost always wrap it up with the Bison Burger ($21.00), a super-high quality, juicy and always cooked to order burger with bacon, marionberry sauce, garlic aioli, and crispy onion straws on a soft roll.  Sometimes the roll has been grilled, but not always.  Definitely on our list of top five burgers in Disney World.  


If the weather isn’t cooperating for a meal at Geyser Point, we’ll also head to Territory Lounge at Wilderness Lodge.  They’ve recently revamped the menu there, and it’s wide-ranging, to say the least.  A tiny little room right off the main lobby of Wilderness Lodge, there are only a smattering of tables around a short bar area which seats little more than a dozen guests.  That doesn’t stop Territory Lounge from having some excellent appetizers on their lounge menu, however, and we’ve paired a bunch of small plates together into a pretty substantial meal. 

Help yourself to the quirky Territory Popcorn Sampler ($12.00), with spicy, caramel, sea salt, truffle or barbecue flavored popcorn.  Strange and unexpected, but good!  Over multiple visits, we’ve covered nearly all their available apps, from the Charcuterie Board ($22.00); a delicious Loaded Baked Potato Flatbread ($17.00); the Salmon Run ($25.00), a triple salmon featured flatbread; the Bacon On A Wire ($25.00), a candied bacon and deviled egg combo served on an adorable clothesline, with a bourbon drizzle that was so good we asked for more drizzle!; and the Loaded Macaroni and Cheese ($18.00), with sausage and pickled Chiles that was as unusual as it was yummy (and a tiny bit spicy). The only app we haven’t tried since the menu revamp has been the Bone and Brie ($25.00), because while we would love the honey baked brie with marionberry jam, the roasted bone marrow just scares us. Territory Lounge serves from 4:00-10:00 p.m. 


We’ve also escaped the Magic Kingdom crowds to head to Tambu Lounge on the second floor at the Polynesian, a simple ride away on the monorail, and no reservations needed.  In fact, if you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably miss Tambu altogether, since it is a tiny little spot with only a handful of seats, tucked into a corner by some windows at the entrance to its famous cousin, ‘Ohana.  Most people stop by Tambu for a quick drink while they are waiting for their ‘Ohana reservation to be called.  But those in the know seek out some of ‘Ohana’s legendary noodles, ordered off a secret menu from the bartenders. While the noodles aren’t always available at the bar, it’s certainly worth asking.  Appetizers are served from 4:00-10:00 p.m., with only four real selections on the published lounge menu here. The California Roll ($18.00); the Pot Stickers ($13.00); the Big Kahuna Hot Wings ($14.00); or the Kaikane’s Barbecue Pork Ribs ($16.00) are all staples of the menu, but if you can snag those noodles, don’t hesitate.  The lounge also has, obviously, a full selection of alcoholic and non-alcoholic libations, but we honestly have never strayed from the Lapu Lapu ($19.50), a hollowed out pineapple served with a fabulous fruity rum concoction topped by, of course, a festive paper umbrella.  It sets the tropical vacation mood.

Oftentimes, Hollywood Studios is another dining problem for us.  It’s one of the most popular parks to begin with, and the restaurants there are well-themed and super-busy. One evening, we strolled around, heading for a Ronto wrap in Galaxy’s Edge because all the dining reservations were already snapped up, and discovered that we could join the “walk-up waitlist” for the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge.  While the Hollywood Brown Derby is the park’s “Signature Restaurant,” the My Disney Experience app told us there was only a half-hour wait at the Brown Derby Lounge.  In reality, it ended up being just 10-15 minutes before our text alerted us to an available table.  We hustled over to the outdoor lounge, and enjoyed the Derby’s famous (and delicious) Cobb salad ($22.00), and experimented with a few non-alcoholic specialty drinks, including the “Pink Palace” ($5.99), a Sprite and watermelon blend, and the Tangerine and Sprite flavored “Sunset Boulevard” (also $5.99), whose name seemed to be particularly in tune with the Hollywood Golden Age theme of the restaurant. And while it wasn’t specifically on the lounge menu, our cast member cheerfully brought my husband a serving of the signature Grapefruit Cake ($13.00), a tart-yet-sweet treat to end the meal.  (If you ask nicely, you can usually get items from the full restaurant menu at the lounge seats, though it may not be on the actual “lounge” menu.)


Want the guest favorite and oh-so-good Indian-style bread service ($21.00) at Sanaa at Animal Kingdom Lodge, but can’t finagle a dining reservation?  Try sneaking in to the Sanaa Lounge, a spot that I hesitate to call a bar because it is so small.  Located just off Sanaa’s main dining room, it barely seats a dozen or so people.  Regardless, if you are one of the few who know this little gem is there when the dining reservations are full, you can find yourself enjoying the bread service with five delicious types of naan bread with NINE different dips, sauces and accompaniments.  It is absolutely filling enough for dinner, even shared with a friend… or not. It’s your trip, have it your way. Sanaa Lounge, though small, does serve a full complement of drinks as well. Plus, when you’re done, you can go outside to the savannah and visit the animals.

There are a few more lounges on our short list that we haven’t made it to yet, places like Scat Cat’s Lounge at Port Orleans-French Quarter for their famous beignets while listening to jazz; River Roost at Port Orleans-Riverside to experience YeeHa Bob’s show while chowing down on Mardi Gras Fritters; or the stunning Dahlia Lounge at Coronado Springs, to watch fireworks from the rooftop balcony while enjoying a Spanish Charcuterie board.


There is a plethora of lounges scattered throughout the Disney World property, many of which are hiding in plain sight at the Resorts. When the parks get crowded, it may be worth your while to seek these culinary havens out, because you just might find a few treasures along the way.  And missing the enormous crowds will be a bonus!




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

Monday, March 20, 2023

You’ll Melt for the Grand Floridian’s Chocolate Egg Display

 by Beth Keating



March 20, 2023


Disney’s culinary team is amazing, but nowhere is that more evident than when they get to set their own creativity free during the annual gingerbread house and chocolate egg displays. That’s when they really get to have a little fun, and let their own personalities shine as well.

Video by Jonathan Keating

There are dozens of chocolate designs at this year’s display at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, with tiny woodland creatures, scenes from some of your favorite Disney movies, and lots of spring critters scampering along the table.  There’s even a special kiosk set up in the center of the lobby to offer some delicious springtime treats for sale.


If you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you might want to indulge in one of the baked goods and candies on display at The Grand Cottage, the treat counter. Just a few of the goodies range from Confetti Cake Lamb Pops ($9.50); to Lemon Blueberry Mickey Whoopie Pies ($8.00); Peanut Butter Cereal Eggs ($5.50); Cream Cheese Carrot Coffee Cake ($9.50); Spring Macarons ($15.00); and Salted Caramel Chocolate Popcorn ($10.00).  Looking for a slightly less sugary treat? There’s also a hot cross bun for $4.50.


Some of our favorite eggs from this year’s display include a marvelous rendition of Alice in Wonderland, complete with a working clock embedded in the egg; a six-foot-plus tall version of Kevin and her babies from Up; and the adorable little Orange Bird perched on a crate of oranges. Another favorite wasn’t the most detailed, but has special memories for our family – a lone, lit lamppost beckons viewers into The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe egg.

Other incredible eggs included a tableau of Snow White’s cottage, with the dwarfs’ mine train chugging below; an Avengers’ egg with your favorite superheroes; Figment atop a light up egg-shaped Spaceship Earth; light-up, egg-shaped versions of several Main Street Electrical Parade characters; a really fun Sword-in-the-egg version of Merlin; and a 3-D version of a glowing Tiana and Princess and the Frog scene. A really unique egg was more than just an egg – it was an entire kitchen scene incorporating Disney’s new Munchlings.

The details on the displays are remarkable, and you have to take more than a single look.  For example, the Walt Disney egg is a “split screen” with the bottom of the egg featuring blueprints of Cinderella Castle, and the top half coming to life with the fully completed colorful rendition of the castle.  But look closely, and you’ll also see Walt’s cast member name tag propped on the edge. Many of the eggs are double-sided, so make sure you check out the fronts and backs of the eggs.

Two interesting changes for this year’s egg display made it all the more interesting, especially if there aren’t as many guests and you can get closer to the eggs.  This year, small cards next to the chocolate confections identified the culinary artist behind the artwork, along with some details such as how long they’ve served on the culinary team, and what inspired them to choose the character or movie that they used for their egg.

A second addition is the opportunity to watch one of the culinary artists with an egg-in-progress. If you are there at the right time of day, you can watch one of the pastry artists adding details to an egg with cocoa butter painting, and you can chat with them, asking questions about the creation process, their backgrounds, how to become a member of the culinary team, and more.  The egg we were able to observe was exquisite, with dozens of Disney characters forming a bright collage over the surface of the egg.  What a fantastic way to add to the experience!


The eggs will be on display in the soaring lobby of The Grand Floridian until Easter (April 9, 2023). The Grand Cottage shop is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. There is no charge to view the egg creations.




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

Friday, March 17, 2023

Magic Kingdom Guests to Get Soft Opening Chance to Ride TRON

 by Beth Keating



March 17, 2023


In a tweet from Disney this morning (March 17, 2023), Magic Kingdom guests got a surprise announcement – there are additional chances to ride the new TRON attraction before its official opening on April 4, 2023.

While many cast members, annual passholders, D23 members and DVC members have gotten a shot at riding TRON through the various preview lotteries that have taken place, guests at the Magic Kingdom from March 20 through April 2 will have two opportunities a day to snag a seat on Team Blue’s Lightcycles during the ride’s soft opening days. Today’s tweet announced:

“ATTENTION USERS: We have a surprise transmission from the Grid. // Between 3.20 – 4.2, Guests may have the early opportunity to experience TRON Lightcycle / Run presented by @Enterprise during a limited soft open via virtual queue or purchase of individual Lightning Lane entry.”


Once the attraction officially opens on April 4, the ride will be accessible only by virtual queue or purchase of Individual Lightning Lanes. There will not be a standby line. 


During the soft opening, guests will use their My Disney Experience app to request to join the virtual queue either at 7:00 a.m. or at 1:00 p.m.  (Guests must be in the park at 1:00 p.m. to join the afternoon queue, but they do not need to be in the park to request to join the 7:00 a.m. queue.)  Guests must have a valid theme park admission, and a Magic Kingdom theme park reservation in order to join the queues.  Riders may also purchase Individual Lightning Lanes (ILL) at 7 a.m., while availability lasts.  (Those slots go QUICK! ILL pricing changes with demand and days, and the day’s cost will appear in your My Disney Experience app.)

TRON Lightcycle / Run is located in the Tomorrowland section of Magic Kingdom.  It is based on the TRON movies that began with the 1982 film featuring video game designer Kevin Flynn, who finds himself “digitized” into an electronic world, racing to find his way back into the real world.  Tron: Legacy, the second movie, revolves around Kevin’s son, Sam, who tries to find his missing father, but finds himself pulled into “The Grid.”  Your ride essentially picks up after the second movie, when Sam has opened another gateway into The Grid.  You don’t need to watch the movies first to enjoy the attraction, but the ride will certainly make more sense if you do.  (If you want a crash course on the TRON saga, check out the Disney Parks Blog summaries here.)  Both movies are currently available on Disney+.




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