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WDW Radio # 662 – 2021 Disney Year in Review: Part 1 – The Disney Parks

In Part 1 of our 2021 Disney Year in Review, this week, we’ll look at some of the most important happenings in the Disney Parks, before turning our focus next week to the big and small screens, Marvel, Star Wars, and the Disney Company as a whole.

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Click Here To Read The Full Podcast Episode Transcript

Lou Mongello: Choose the good is a motto and mantra that I, I guess I've lived with most of my life, but I didn't actually realize it until I sort of accidentally articulated it one night during a Wednesday night live show. And it really is. It's how I approach everything. I think it keeps me grounded and positive and as a result very happy.

And while the last couple of years have been interesting to say the least it's also how I've approached everything. That's happened in the world and in the world of Disney and the past year 2021 has given us a lot to choose from to look back on and reflect on good, bad and otherwise. And no matter how you view some of these occurrences, it's always fun to look back on our annual Disney year and review.

We are going to look at our 10 or 12, like one per month or what will probably be a much longer list, most important happenings in Disney in 2021. And of course, I want to welcome back to the show to help us dissect and discuss is of course, one Becky Mankin CEO and chief magic maker at MEI and mass travel.

[00:01:26] Beci Mahnken: I'm going to start calling myself chief enabler, dream enabler. I've been working on that for 2022.

[00:01:34] Lou Mongello: When you say enabler, it almost sounds like I know you have a problem, but I'm here to sort of help foster maybe enabler, not the right word.

[00:01:42] Beci Mahnken: Have you actually looked at the travel industry in the past two years?

If you think about it, it's actually kind of fitting.

[00:01:49] Lou Mongello: I also want to welcome back because I believe in ladies first, Liza DiNardo, Glastor from the castle run and core memory candles. His

[00:01:57] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: business cards actually say enabler of joy

[00:02:03] Lou Mongello: to conceal each other for the use of the word enabler and somebody who find your use of the word enabler here is Connor brown from WDW opinion.com.

[00:02:17] Conor Brown: Thank you for having me. Yeah, I need no one's help enabling me. I have enough problems of my own. Thank you very much.

[00:02:25] Lou Mongello: And speaking of problems, nice segue.

2021 was insert, you know, quotation marks here. It was a very interesting year and it was one in which the world I think Disney and otherwise was in a state of renewal and recalibration drama, woes, and, and wonder like guardians of the galaxy, some good, some bad, a little bit of both. And some things in the Disney world, both in the parks and on screen were lost changed.

And I think. Okay, I'm going back to the choosing of the good. I think there was a lot that we actually gained in 2021. I was actually very surprised to see just how much we did as I started mentally assembling and brain dumping my list. So that's why I wanted to talk about, and the only instruction I gave you was the 12 most important happenings in Disney, not just restricted to Walt Disney world, but I think we could maybe start off looking at the parks as a whole.

And parks can include cruise line Alani, wherever you want to include in the definition of parks. And then we'll move on to anything that might've happened on the big and small screen, as well as there anything that maybe doesn't fit into either of those classifications. And that'd be, we'll have a little bit of a lightning round.

I'll give you a sample of a lightning round question in the same order in which I introduced you to describe 2021 in one word

it's lightening Becky Becky, me lately usually.

[00:04:12] Beci Mahnken: Well, because you can definitely go in all directions with 2021, it was much more

[00:04:16] Lou Mongello: hopeful. First thing that comes to your mind. Well,

[00:04:18] Beci Mahnken: hopeful was the thing that came to my mind and, you know, and then December happened. So I'll use hopeful.

[00:04:28] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: Re-emergence I think is the first word that comes to mind. And if you'd give me two words, I'd say tentative re-emerge we all sort of like crept out of our houses and peeked around and saw our shadows.

[00:04:44] Lou Mongello: So our shadows, we saw how much weight we gained and we went right back inside onto the couch where we belong.

Connor brownie not have had seven minutes to think of your word.

[00:04:54] Conor Brown: Yeah. You know, I was initially going to say a purgatory, but that might be able to Catholic. So I was gonna say limbo. Cause that's kinda what it was, you know, it wasn't a full sort of thing there, but there were definitely good times, bad times, like led Zepplin would say it was a rollercoaster for sure.

[00:05:13] Lou Mongello: Very much so. Very much so. And I think that's one of the things that I know was. Kind of going through the list, not even chronologically, but just sort of, as things were hitting my mind there was that mix and that's why I sort of introduced it this way, in terms of there was some good things that happened.

There were some things that were certainly interesting and co and, and, and maybe a little controversial that happened. There were things that we lost and there were things that we gained. So again, because I believe in ladies first and then the order introduced you let's start off with the parks, Becky.

And what was the first thing that came to your 10 ish list of most important happenings in Disney, in the parks in 2021.

[00:05:58] Beci Mahnken: Okay. And I have to, I have many more than that over parks. I know how many years have we done this and how many years have I actually followed the rules? Because there were two kind of hand in hand for me.

And the first two things I wrote down were Disneyland reopening because that was a very large step to take forward after it had been closed for so long, but hand-in-hand with. The number one thing I would say, because this is what gave me hope was the opening of adventures campus. That was probably the thing that helped me come out from the shadows and go, okay, we're coming back.

Everything is starting to return to a little bit of normal. We have a brand new piece of the park is something that I very much love. I love the whole Marvel MCU universe. And I was so looking forward to the opening of ventures campus, which of course was put off for so long because of, of COVID. And to see that open up kind of allowed me to believe that we were going to be recovering from that

[00:07:05] Conor Brown: point forward.

[00:07:08] Lou Mongello: Any thoughts from either of you, was it was Avengers campus Disneyland on your list?

[00:07:16] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: Yeah, of course. I mean, obviously the reopening of Disneyland you know, it was high up on the list. And well, I didn't plan on talking about it myself, cause I know you guys have spent time there. Needless to say it, vendors campuses on the

[00:07:27] Beci Mahnken: list.

[00:07:28] Conor Brown: I'm so bad with dates. You could have told me that open five years ago. So I'm glad that you invited me on a date based podcasts, I guess, is what I'm getting at. But yeah, I'm excited about that shawarma. How can you not be, but I think so good. I think just overall, you know, it's, it's nice for any one attraction to open in particular, but it's awesome when it's a land with an attraction with meet and greets with food, with new merchandise, all sorts of stuff like that.

So it was awesome to see.

[00:08:03] Lou Mongello: I could very easily have put Avengers campus opening number two on my list because I have one that for me is clearly number one, which I will get into at the end. And I think when I looked at Disneyland, it wasn't just Avengers campus. Even things like that, just the reopening of the park, put the re-imagining of, of a classic attraction like snow, whites and chanted wish.

The, the, the represents that that park even the most classic beloved attractions are continuing to evolve, to change, to grow, to get more in a war and a hands-off through the use of technology without technology overtaking the storytelling of the. We've talked about a vendor's campus at length and my love of that place and that space, not even specifically the web slingers attraction itself, but just that immersive environment in which I really think.

And yes, places like Butsu, I'm looking at you. It is, is not to use too many superlatives here, but it is the most interactive. It is the most detailed story-based understandable relatable place, where there is always something going on, the character interactions that flying Spider-Man audio animatronic, which you still see people go, there's no way that's a robot that has to be a real live person in that suit.

And while that the web sling there's attraction itself, when an open look, there were some people that were not as excited and weepy and giddy as I, and many other people were. But when you, cause they're like, well, this is just toy story mania. And I, and I would respectfully disagree. I think not only is it sort of toy story turned up to 11, but from a technology perspective, the use of things like gesture recognition in a group based setting like that, as opposed to just standing with your Oculus or, or doing something with your X-Box connect is introducing the next step of interactivity into the.

But I have yet to find anywhere in any of the Disney parks that I just felt I wanted to be present in. It was just an, a, an, a vendor's Gibbs is not a big place, but Becky you, and I know when we went together and then when my family was there, it was that like, you just don't want to leave because there's always something happening.

There's always that what might happen next. And I think it is some of the most brilliant storytelling in an, a 3d environment. I like not to sort of get all like, you know, Walty but like, I think Walt would be like, yeah, this is exactly what I wanted fantasy land to be in terms of you living within these worlds.

[00:11:03] Beci Mahnken: Yeah. And the cool thing about it for me was that you didn't just walk through you. Didn't just walk in, go stand in line, do an attraction, leave, grab something to eat and walk out. You want to just stay, like you said, you, you, you pull up this the side and you're just kind of waiting for what might happen next, what characters are going to do?

What, what battle is going to happen in front of you? What is going to just appear? And it's so spontaneous, it's probably the most spontaneous land that Disney has. And you don't want to leave because you don't want to miss what's coming in.

[00:11:40] Lou Mongello: And it is a place I find myself wanting to return to most Lisa, what for you was first or last or however you want to sort of rank these on your list from a parks related perspective.

[00:11:52] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: So just kind of looking at our, the size of our list, Sierra and how many big park things they're out to talk about. You'll forgive me. I hope for doing a sort of swath of things for my, for my number one or number first. But I'll just say that the slow return of nighttime shows and entertainment as, as, as my first thing I couldn't believe this as I was going back as 2020 to 2021 is just a blur for me.

And the biggest challenge of this was kind of figuring out what happened before January 1st and what happened after January 1st of last year. But this summer is when we got fireworks back, like at all. And that was just such an enormous thing. I remember like watching the testing from our windows and getting emotional and you know, getting back that sort of climactic end of the night for ourselves and for the guests was just such an amazing thing.

And then obviously with another little detail that I'm sure we'll mention along the way we later switched from happily ever after to and Chapman and from. I've got forever to the new harmonious. We have kite tails now at animal kingdom, which I adore perhaps more than enchantment or harmonious.

And and, and the return of entertainment, like being able to sit in the lion king and see the celebration, the festival, the lion king, and you have Bob over at port Orleans and like Indiana Jones just came back. I just love, like, there were some, so many of us, myself included that like the parks aren't about attractions and things like that are about sort of the, the, the experiences, like what we're talking about now and sort of seeing those trickle back into the parks over the course of this year has just sort of made life, come back into it for me in a way that we didn't maybe have it when they first opened in 2020.

[00:13:30] Lou Mongello: I don't think you can overstate the importance of the live entertainment and the shows. Excuse me. And when I thought about this specifically, I thought on a very micro macro level from the simplest to of, of Casey corner piano player to co-writing a Tinger in Disney's animal kingdom to scaling further up to character interactions festival the lion king, Indiana Jones, all of those are so critical to the park experience, both here as well as.

Disneyland on the overseas parks as well. I agree about the importance of the nighttime spectaculars, whatever was your favorite, what you liked. Didn't like, however, they may have met not met or exceeded expectations. I think, and unless forgive me if this is not something that you well, all right.

I'll, I'll, I'll keep it separately, but I do agree that whatever time of day and wherever, and however you care to enjoy the return of this type of entertainment, both in the sky projected on, on on a building. And more especially I think performed by live entertainers and cast members who were able to return to their roles, doing what they love and doing what we love so much is, is without question one of, if not one of the highest and most important things, I think that happened in 2021.


[00:15:07] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: I just love sort of sharing in their joy. Like seeing the cast, a festival lion king perform, like you just felt their, their joy is so much, and he have Bob being able to be back and that the Tyco drummers being back, that's the reason I like seeing them be bad. Like, there's just like, it's, it's just like family coming home again.

And that feeling in 2020, when the parks first reopened, it was amazing, but it felt a little hollow in a way, because it was just. You realize how much more Disney is than the attractions when you're there in an empty park and all the, it was get on attraction.

[00:15:37] Beci Mahnken: Well, that's what I was going to say too, is that the, that type of entertainment is a hallmark of Disney.

It's the thing that sets it apart from other types of entertainment. So without that, it was kind of hollow. It was kind of empty, even though you still have the attractions and you have the cast, but without that, an entertainment, it just with it, I guess it brought it up to another level. And, and you really do feel a little bit more magical when you have the, the nighttime spectaculars and the entertainment around you and the ability to see a character.

All of those things were, are really important to the Disney experience.

[00:16:14] Conor Brown: Just add so much more life to all the parks, which I think for us, who, you know, are our fans that go all the time. That's why we keep going back. Whenever we want it's to be in it, to exist in it and to be part of all that life that's going on around

[00:16:31] Lou Mongello: us, when the Park's reopened, we all were excited to go back and we just we're emotional in our return.

We did step back and go, well, there's one thing that's missing and it's. Whether it was crowds or entertainment. Okay. Mind you crowds have been turned up to 12, which we can sort of scale that back a little bit, but it's, it's just shows the importance of, you know, not just the people making dreams a reality, but the life and the energy that that's both the entertainment and the people in the park and the difference that they make.

So Connor brown.

[00:17:10] Conor Brown: So for me, I think the one I'm going to go with is when I definitely want to talk about and I want to make sure no one else steals it. So that's how these episodes work is what I'm realizing. It's very cutthroat. I'm very scared, but I'm going to talk about one day in particular.

And that was October 1st of 2021. And obviously that was the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney world. I was lucky enough to be in the magic kingdom and that's a day I will cherish for the rest of my life. I think it was just, it was so awesome. I was so grateful and blessed that I got to be in the magic kingdom on that day.

But at the same time, it, it, it wasn't about, you know, getting to ride these attractions or see these shows or whatever. It was just about being there. And I don't know the next time that that's going to happen when it's a park that was filled. And that was a crowd that I hadn't seen in a very long time since COVID, but a park was that filled with just hardcore Disney fans.

You know, there were no waits for the attractions really that day. It was people went there because they wanted to be there on that special day and getting to mug one of the two, or they wanted the Starbucks mug, which jokes on them because they're back, baby. And again, I apologize for getting into that fight on mainstream.

I don't know how many times I have to say. I'm sorry. I'm sorry. But for me it was just so cool to. Meet new friends to see old friends to run into all these people who live all over the country. And they just descended upon Disney for this one day in particular. I think the last, not just in Disney world, but in everyone's lives, I think reflecting upon the last 50 years, the macro sort of reflection of what Walt Disney world is and how important it is.

It was so awesome to do on, on October 1st and all those other announcements and all those other new things that opened and started it on October 1st, that was all gravy for me, being there on that day was truly, truly magical and something I will always, always hold on to. And, and that's just the one day of all of last year that sticks out to me in particular.

[00:19:36] Lou Mongello: So I think it's really interesting Kotter, excuse me. Cause I think you validate our previous point that it is in fact about the people. And I think the people here were not necessarily, and sort of follow me around the room with this. When I say the people, I don't mean the people being the cast members and entertainment, it was the guests who were excited to be there, who just wanted to be in that place with each other to experience it together.

I think all of us were there that. We could admit that might've not been the smoothest day in the parks. You know, there was technology issues, there were long lines due or some additional long lines surrounded by a few other long lines, but, but we didn't care, excuse me, because we were happy to be there to say I was there for Walt Disney world's 50th.

We really did sort of make our own magic that day. And when I say that, I do want to be clear because I have sort of mentioned this in the past as a, a sentimental unapologetic, nostalgic. I think I was not alone in sort of a little bit of disappointment in what we didn't see that day, I think. And I, and I also completely acknowledged and understand that because of COVID and because of supply chain issues and, and staffing issues, things that I know were planned for that day could not happen.

And I am very, very much aware of that and appreciate that and, and our understanding of that. But I think there was a few simple things that could have been done that would have gone a long way. Wouldn't have cost a lot. I would have loved to have seen some, some type of rededication of the park. I would have loved to have seen the Bob

Presentation not happen after our hours to a small select group of people. I wish he would have been front and center in front of all the people who were there. There was less ceremony. I think then I would have liked to have seen. I think that was the only thing that was missing, but I agree that that was easily overcome by just the thrill and excitement of being there with family and with friends.

[00:22:00] Conor Brown: I didn't, I didn't, the more I think about it, the more, I, I don't care that there wasn't that ceremony. I think, you know, going into it that day, we don't know what was going on. You know, I showed up at, at six in the morning, cause I didn't know if I was going to get shut out the parking lot, you know? We didn't know who was going to be there, what they were going to say, all sorts of things like that.

And of course, I think we were expecting something, but when it didn't occur, I think as the months have gone on and I continue to reflect upon that I don't think I would have strong memories about being at a rededication ceremony as much as I have about who I was there with. And when I look back on the memories that I spent in the 50 years, first 50 years of Walt Disney world, it was all with the people that, that.

I loved and care about. And on the college program, my college program was great because of my coworkers, because of my roommates, because of the people I experienced it with. And, and now it's the same sort of thing. It's, it's, the parks are great because of the people that we get to experience them with.

And it would have been cool, I guess, for a ceremony, but I think I'm just so ecstatic that I got to experience it with with really, really cool people, regardless of what occurred on that

[00:23:15] Beci Mahnken: day. Well, the night,

[00:23:17] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: and I think there's, there's two ends to the 50th for me and what you guys have been talking about and what you just said, kind of, kind of helped me encapsulate it in my mind better than I think I've been able to, to date and saying that, and this is stronger than what you were saying, Lou, but to some extent I felt.

Misunderstood by Disney on the 50th. And what was important to us and what would have been important to us? You know, like you said, Lou, obviously somethings couldn't be helped certainly because of the state of the world and everything related to that. But you know, it's, it's it, and, and I'll go when I said I prefer kite tales to harmonious and then chairman, please don't take me at face value completely.

I'm a bit tongue in cheek, but I do a dork.

[00:23:55] Conor Brown: Hightails take me at face value because I do have that opinion. Well, it doesn't

[00:24:00] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: take itself too seriously and I can just wholeheartedly enjoy it while every time I watch in Tampa and harmonious, I wonder how those got through without any mention of Walt. So I, I felt a bit misunderstood by Disney, perhaps on the day of the 50th, still ambassador for the brand and I adore it, but little bit misunderstood that day, but far and away above that.

And you've just helped me. So to get this crisp in my mind for the first time, I think that was outweighed so much by how understood I felt by my community that day, that it didn't matter. I loved looking at the wait time list and magic kingdom on the 50th and seeing what the longest wait in the park was the TTA and the carousel progress.

And like, you know, the stuff that

[00:24:37] Lou Mongello: cost of Greystar, like, well,

[00:24:40] Conor Brown: still waiting on that burger by the way. So wait for that burger.

[00:24:44] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: Yeah. Leave that conversation for another week. It's true. Like the things that I kind of would have loved to have seen from Disney on the 50th, you know, whether they happened or not just sort of all paled in comparison to the fact that.

W our people were together and celebrating what mattered to us. So

[00:25:02] Beci Mahnken: that's true because I felt that same way when we went there, we were there on a day of celebration and we were all together and I don't think we rode one thing. We rode one or two things, but I mean, it wasn't about the attractions that day.

However, I was lucky enough to be there the night before for the, the ceremony that they did, I would have much preferred to see that ceremony surrounded by the community people that we were with that day. So I did miss that piece. I would have loved to have shared that with all of the people that we spent the entire day with on the first, but with everybody else, I was just so happy to be part of a celebration.

Didn't have to, again, didn't have to ride anything, just wanted to be there and soak it all in and be with the people that I cared about and, and share it with them.

[00:25:58] Lou Mongello: So, and just to sort of close this, you know, tightly with a bow and just to sort of clarify my, by saying, I think that the one person that was talking about people, the one person that was missing for me was Walt.

And I think I just, I wished there would have been some sort of. Acknowledgement attribution recognition, something about Walt and Roy. Like, you know, I think Roy too, there should've been some sort of mentioned, and even if it just allowed people to think for a moment or go back and go, oh, I didn't know, realize that Roy did so much to make this all happen.

I think that was the thing that I felt was missing and it doesn't cost anything. You know, obviously I understand that there are fixed costs, et cetera, but on a grand scale, it's not like we're trying to launch a brand new parade, like just some sort of acknowledgement of the two men of those two individuals.

And all of the, obviously the, the teams of people that made it all happen. I'm back and forth on what I want to mention on my list, but you know what, I will, I will sort of follow my, my line of thinking in terms of sentiment and nostalgia. And I'm going to sort of lump these in together. And they weren't necessarily major.

They were not groundbreaking. They're not gonna necessarily impact every single guest, but I sorta really dug the classic 71 resort updates, the updates to the contemporary and the updates to the Polynesian. They were not groundbreaking. We did not get a new tower. We didn't get a new this, but I loved the introduction of the Mary Blair vibes and even the theming of the Incredibles room in the contemporary, the update and the characters in the Polynesian.

It's that sprinkling of Disney on top of that Polynesian theme, which made me feel very much like Alani as opposed to a Disney themed resort, that was just all sort of character base. They were so subtly laid in that it brought us back to those 71 vibes without it being overly whimsical for lack of a better word.

Obviously what comes in that to are places like steakhouse 71, which I have come to love for a variety of reasons. And I sort of dug the, what was old is new again. And I, you know what, I'm all I'll stay on. The I'm gonna include this too. Even things like the, the citric goes up to. Over at Disney's grand Floridian that, that subtle Mary Poppins themed or inspired re-imagining oh, that restaurant, while keeping the menu elegant and sophisticated and flirty and, and fun.

Those two, well, like I think, so those are some of the best sort of refurbishments that we would have gotten in 2021. But I, I sort of love that. I love sort of the taking what was old and original updating them while still being respectful of where they came from, if that makes sense

[00:29:25] Conor Brown: contemporary so interesting because it it's always suffered, I think the same problem that tomorrow land or even future world suffers, how can it constantly be contemporary if it's remaining in the same sort of design sort of thing.

It was contemporary when it, when it opened for sure in 71. But how was it able to continue that sort of thing? So I think with, you know, going back to its roots and focusing on that mid century modern vibe, which is a design style that I absolutely love, I think it's just so well done. And that lobby is.

All those cool pictures from the building of Walt Disney world that they have in the lobby and in the hallway leading into steakhouse 71. I just think it's a very well done. Very cool. And it's still, you know, it's a design style that makes sense today, but totally fits for what it's representing in the

[00:30:22] Beci Mahnken: seventies, steakhouse 71, especially I haven't had a chance to eat there, but when I did go and look at the, the design, I stood in that hallway and looked at those pictures for an hour, it was really neat, kind of reliving the, the history.

It reminded me a lot of steakhouse, 55 over from Disneyland. It had that same type of feeling and an appeal from a history standpoint. So it was neat to see everything being refreshed and still retain a little bit of that historic charm that we all like about, you know, the contemporary area. I loved it

[00:31:01] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: away from our conversation about what was Putin perhaps wrong with or.

Not right with us with October 1st, because I feel wonderfully understood every time something happens in the resorts, whether it's re-imagining the wave into stakeout 71, which I thought was a beautiful, almost honoring of the original space, just sort of freshening it and updating it and giving the menu a little bit, you know, tweaking the menu up a level to it.

I mean, this didn't happen this year, but when they read it and chanted and chanted rose over at the grand Floridian, and we were all very worried to hear that Meissner's was going to become a beauty and the beast themed lounge, but then it opened its stores and it was done so beautifully. And I think the same thing about the different hotel rooms spaces that are being sort of done over with a little bit of inspiration from some of the IP.

I just, I feel very much understood when things happen in the resorts like that, because I feel like they're, they're making things new without losing touch with where they started.

[00:32:00] Lou Mongello: All right. So Becky back to you and what's next on your list? Me

[00:32:04] Beci Mahnken: again. Oh, wow. All right, let's talk about the 800 pound blue guy in the room, I think should be the new change. I did not say that

[00:32:18] Lou Mongello: comments to Connor at WDW,

[00:32:20] Beci Mahnken: W w with the. Putting away a fast pass and the release of Jeannie Jeannie plus enlightening lanes.

I think that that is going to have and has had great impact depending on what side of the line that you're falling on on how the park operates and how we have to move within the park and how we have to plan. It seems like every time they'd come out with something, it makes you change the way you approach a visit to Disney and that's world or land because the, the planning of the entire thing completely changes where before you had 180 days that you had to figure out if you want a pizza in 180 days in Japanese food and 181 days.

So all of this kind of changes it up, makes you have to think about your, your visit differently, how you're going to approach the planning phase. And then when you get there, how you're going to spend the money, if you want to spend the money for the genie plus, or one of the things that I do appreciate is lightening.

The individual lightening lanes, the individual purchase, because a lot of people aren't like us. We're, we're lucky we're able to visit the parks several times a year. And for those of you who are local a lot more than that. But if you think about that family who's saves for three years or a year or two to go and visit one time every three years.

And they have a kid that loves star wars and has to ride rise of the resistance. If you're not going to be able to get in, or if there's going to be a wait or before, when you had to try to get the virtual queue, which was almost impossible for every single family that had that little kid that had to see it.

Now they have an option. Obviously the controversy is that it does cost money to have that option. However, if you were the mom or dad of that kid, who has to be, it has to see there and you don't want to leave Disneyworld until you do. It gives them an option to do.

[00:34:24] Lou Mongello: I'll just quickly say, because I spoke about this at length, a number of times on Wednesday night, live shows and WWF nation calls, as this was coming out. Look at UI. I tell, I say this, you know, tongue in cheek all the time. If you want to make Disney enthusiasts, lose their marbles, change something because we don't always, always necessarily embrace change, especially when there is a cost associated with it.

And I get that. Let me be clear. Like, you know, I have a family, all these things cost me the same. I have the same understandings, Becky. I agree that. This now gives you the option to do something that would have been possibly impossible before that $15 or $7, whatever it might be to be able to ride that attraction that you or your child or your friend or your spouse needs to do is without a doubt it's worth it.

Right. And understanding that worth. It is very subjective. And I understand everybody's financial situation is very different. I think this is one of those things that it's announced there is this knee jerk reaction, but as not only does the system and the cast members understanding and the guest understanding of it, get more clear, refined, simplified, and improved upon.

As I think it always will like, just like the app digital, that's why there's app updates. I think it will be. And I think that it already has already been embraced more by people. Once that quote unquote sticker shock goes away, I'm a firm believer. And I, again, I have no horse in this race, but I have a firm believer just understanding the business of the business that.

When this, and as this continues to roll out and be utilized in the way that the app and the algorithm and the AI is going to allow it to it is going to make for an overall better experience for all guests, whether they use genie plus or lightning lanes or not, because it is going to, my hope is my belief in the thinking is this system will make for a better overall guest experience because lions will be loader shorter.

Guests will be more spread throughout the park. This is something that we have to just continue to monitor and see, but I know just from my. The sort of finger on the pulse of people that have spoken to me about their experience has been overwhelmingly positive.

[00:36:58] Beci Mahnken: Yeah. And I would, I've liked to have seen max pass just kind of picked up from Disneyland and moved over and dropped down on Walt Disney world shore.

Obviously there had to have been a reason why they weren't able to do that. And so we're in the algorithms. This is going to make much more sense. I'm going to trust in the numbers. I'm going to trust in the, the science behind it because we see, we saw how it worked so well with max pass, rolling out that I think that you're right somewhere within this.

And as soon as everything kind of works itself out with the app and the other, obviously this test and adjust everywhere that they have to do to make this work, but it will have a positive impact on everybody. Whether you purchased unit plus, or you just rely on G D on genie and not spend an extra dime, I think it's going to benefit everybody in the long run.

Yeah, that's

[00:37:46] Lou Mongello: it. Because if you go down this road too deeply, if we think back pre COVID days, fast pass was a system that needed to be fixed. The fast pass system as it was operating was not. The most efficient. And I think we've been generous when we say that

[00:38:04] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: well, and you know, we've, we've talked a lot about genie plus and the paid aspect of this.

And we all know, I certainly wasn't easy on Disney when this was first announced. So I'm, you know, definitely been revising my opinion along the way, but it it's, but it is you know, it, it is functioning very well. And I think that's because of the other half of this equation that we haven't really talked about much, which is the free service, which is Jeannie Jeannie.

And, you know, Jeannie is, is, is free. It was launched on the same day as genie plus obviously. And it's this incredible system that's right there in your phone and we'll help you sort of navigate your day if you're new to the parks or just kinda want some fun suggestions along the way, about how to make the most use of your time and that too, whether you choose to be on your phone using that service or not.

Well, most certainly trickle down to have a beneficial effect on people who aren't using the service because crowds are being redistributed by the people who are using it, which is great.

[00:38:56] Conor Brown: I think it's often, we just always have to remind ourselves to remove our self from the equation when it comes to where the diehard Disney fans, right.

When the vast majority of day guests that are in the park are, this is the, this is the one trip we're taking, you know, we'll go twice with the kids. And then, and then that's that? How does this system. Effect, I guess you could say the greater good, right? The, the, the vast majority of people that are going into the parks, I think it could be very beneficial for them.

I work with a lot of people who are, you know, going that one time they'll go twice or whatever. And to them buying genie plus is a no brainer. You know, they see the benefits, they see what it is and they see the price and they're like, we're actually going to do this. This is the trip we're taking. This is the big blowout trip or whatever at the same time, I think it's just, you still have to do your research, right?

Like anything Disney related. Now you just have to invest time into research and you have to invest money into the purchasing of it. Even if you go the free route with regular genie, that still has some quirks and it's still being worked out for sure. But you still have to do a little bit of research before you get there on your trip and that's going to go a long way, but it's not like the magic pill where everyone's going to have a great time using it

[00:40:22] Beci Mahnken: or whatever plug you find a Disney specialty travel agency that can help you see, don't have to do all the research yourself.

[00:40:30] Conor Brown: Yeah. I still think it's nice. You're still, you know, you're speaking Chinese and they are speaking English a lot of the times, you know, unfortunately, which. Advice that you can get from an expert. I think it's so crucial, especially nowadays, which is so interesting, like there's these apps and things that are supposed to make things better, but now using a travel agent is so much more important than it ever was before, which is pretty incredible.

[00:40:58] Lou Mongello: Lisa, what about for you?

[00:41:02] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: Gosh, where do I want to go? So this isn't a huge conversation probably because we've sort of started it already with the idea of genie, but I'm going to pigtail on that or on that a little bit or dovetail on that a little bit and just go to the sale of APS again, or at least for some period of time.

It can be a short conversation. We don't have to talk about this for too, too long. I'm sure. But like so many of us have wonderful dear friends who have just recently relocated to the area because they were huge fans of Disney. And of course sat here staring at, you know, staring at the castle from, through the gates for so long unable to, to get in.

And, and it was so wonderful to see those people will be able to get their, their annual passes. And you know, other people who are new to the fandom who wanted to join this fun club that we're all in and get their APS. And of course, along with that, we got the re-imagining of the system. It's also worth mentioning, we got park hopping back this year, which was a really big deal and it kind of goes in the same bucket to me.

And of course it's all over. Disneyland as well. Becky knows a lot more about this and Luci than me, but I know that system has been re-imagined as well. And it's just been nice to see how Disney has continued to figure out how to navigate the waters that we're all now in with the reservation system.

And you know, other other realities that we're dealing with right now that they've been able to re-imagine the AP system in a way that works. And I'm hoping that they go back on sale soon. I imagine that they knew that parks were going to be at capacity during this short period of time. And maybe they didn't want to be selling more APS to people who would just be disappointed.

So I'm hoping they're back soon.

[00:42:31] Lou Mongello: Yeah. And let's just say the, the annual pass poll panel pass program, especially here at world has been an emotional rollercoaster for many people. You know, like you said, we knew people who moved down here literally, you know, days before the parks close, they're not able to get their annual pass.

It opens up again, they're not selling annual pass, then they are selling annual pass, but it's not called an annual pass, pass a pirate, pass a picture. We need like these huge algorithmic charts and graphs to try and figure it all out. But it is part of part of the fun. And like you said, hopefully that they, they, as we continue this ongoing sometimes slow move and return to quote unquote normalcy.

You know, everything sort of goes back to the way it was and annual passes, whatever version of it, you, you choose start being still.

[00:43:23] Beci Mahnken: And then you look at the same thing with the annual passes in Disneyland, which were, you know, problematic it at some level because there'd become so many annual pass holders that it was becoming difficult and they changed that into the magic key program.

Now, so there it's, it's difficult and you need a flow chart just to keep track of all the names and the benefits of all of these new programs. But I have to at least be happy that they're looking at ways to try to balance it because, you know, clearly there's a need for annual passes, but clearly there's also a business need to be able to not, you know, make it too weighty on one side or the other.

So while it's been difficult for so many who were standing outside the Cates and Disney world, especially climbing and saying, let me in open, open, open. It was nice to see some progress rather than all of us sitting there going, when is it going to come back? When is it going to come back? You know,

[00:44:21] Lou Mongello: Connor, anything else for you in the parks?

[00:44:24] Conor Brown: I think the only other thing for me has been I just love that. Well, it's kind of a two. We got the Halloween party. We got the Christmas party back, albeit in a new form, kind of merged with the after hours events that Disney had, but more so the Christmas party, because we got one thing back in particular, the parade, the Christmas parade during the party was awesome.

And then we got a surprise, these last two weeks in the magic kingdom, they rolled out the Christmas parade during the day as well. They did it twice every day, which is awesome. You know, just like old times seeing that parade was, was so awesome. I got to see it during the party. I got to see it the first day on the first showing it was back in the park during the day.

People love it. I think it's a sign obviously, of things to come because we know sometime next year we're going to get festival of fantasy back again. But at the same time, I also love that Disney is saying we're still going to have the cavalcades was, which was this kind of thing they created during the COVID times, which I think everyone kind of fell in love with.

And I'm so happy to hear that they're sticking with that, but then old favorites are coming back as well.

[00:45:48] Lou Mongello: Yeah, I will just once again, go on record saying I love the there's an, the new character experiences. Are less intimate and more intimate than they ever have been before, because you don't have the, the hugging, but I loved how you had the sort of continuously moving yet intimate eye contact, sort of one-on-one ish experience, whether it was through a cavalcade, whether it was through some of the individual sightings of characters, even if they're slightly distanced from you where you could sort of say hello, have a conversation, take a distanced photo.

I think it's important to note the, the, how meaningful it is to have those characters back in the park. Again, going back to our conversation earlier,

[00:46:46] Beci Mahnken: I love the cavalcades. I S I hope in some way, shape or form, they stay around even after all of this. Hopefully we do get it after all of this, but I love the spontaneity of it.

I love the fact that you're not waiting an hour waiting for the three o'clock parade. I love to be able to just hear the music wherever you are. And then all of a sudden it's surprised here's a character and you don't even know who it's going to be. And I just, I adore them and I hope they stay around.

[00:47:12] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: I think there's a level or a difference in the creativity of them as well, that I think is very cool. Like some of the socially distance meet and greet or like character that like the, oh, come across an Epcot now where they're kind of behind a gate, like an, on an Elsa or Bella, or someone's like behind a gate and everyone's sort of gathered and then they're chatting and it's just this sort of new sort of creative interaction where you're just sort of engaged in with the characters in an ongoing way with a group of people.

That I think is another sort of thing that came out of having to be creative with how they were doing this sort of,

[00:47:42] Beci Mahnken: and that feels a lot like what they do at Disneyland, which the characters can be in places and do things that you'll never see out at Walt Disney world. For example, you can be checking in to the Disneyland hotel and chip and Dale are there at the check-in desk, just randomly.

And I kind of had that same feeling with the way that they're doing characters now because they aren't just standing in one place they're in in unusual places that you're using that you're not used to. And I guess that kind of brings that spark of

[00:48:09] Conor Brown: magic alive. I mean, he got goofy teaching his boy max out of fish over an echo lake makes me want to cry every time I see it.

Little father son time. It makes it

[00:48:20] Beci Mahnken: real, I guess it gives a little bit of realism

[00:48:24] Lou Mongello: for me, the last sort of major or important thing I want to sort of touch on for the parks before I go through my 17 honorable mentions at the end of the segment. Boils down to Epcot and within Epcot. Cause this is how I sneak multiples into one within Epcot.

I love the fact that we lost our taste meeting when the 2021 Epcot international food and wine festival opened on July 15th, by the way, festival that began in July, it was the first to lose that taste of modified designation when it opened. And I think it was significant. I think that you could very much sense a difference and an expansion of that festival versus some of the taste of live entertainment.

Again was back festival of the holidays. I cannot emphasize enough my love of that festival and the tearful emotional joy that the candlelight processional brings to me each and every year space two 20, I think is a huge addition to Epcot. Like it feels like Epcot. I don't know how else to describe it.

It's like driving a Tesla. It just feels like you're driving Epcot space to 20 fields like Epcot. And I love the fact that they made the choice to make this restaurant slash experience because what you are, and I understand there's a. Significant price tag associated with it. You are paying for the experience as much as you are paying for the food, Buffalo cauliflower, how I love you.

So but I love the fact that they made the choice to make it something that was serene and calm and slow. And it is a lengthy dining experience instead of being something that was kitschy and campy and sort of, you know, whimsical and goofy. There's an elegance and serenity to Epcot to, to space two 20 that I really, really like.

And I think it's part of the reason why I like that restaurant so much. And last, certainly not least my love for the spaceship earth, beacon of magic knows no bounds who would've ever thought. You know, if we just put some little lights in all the little sections where they intersect and come together and what a difference it is it because there's no sort of visible daytime changes to spaceship earth from a distance or up close, but at night when that comes to light and comes to life, that show continues, right?

Cause it even sort of, wasn't enhanced for the holidays, exceeded my expectations for what it could be. To save that. I love the Epcot beacon of magic more than I love harmonious. I, you know, is, is not necessarily untrue. Like I could sit there and stare at it for a long period of time and it's simple and it's wonderful and it doesn't change.

Like there's nothing that I don't love about it. It is the perfect addition and I hope and believe it's certainly gonna stay long beyond the 312 month 50th anniversary celebration. Yeah. Such a

[00:51:52] Beci Mahnken: simple little change makes a huge difference. That was one of the most unexpected heartwarming. Very cool. I have to stay to see this moments and I I'm with you.

I hope that stays. And I'm with you on, on space two 20, because I finally got a chance to eat there. Enjoyed the experience, loved the elevator. It was so it was so cool. I just, I wanted to stay there longer and I watching the. The happenings outside and the different characters and spaceships and things that you see along the way.

I really enjoyed that as well. And if you're going down the Epcot road, I do want to mention that I know harmonious did get a little bit of a dig. We all loved our illuminations, but I really do enjoy that show. I love the, the marrying and the matchmaking of fire and water. I loved the technology behind it.

The versatility is going to be amazing when they're able to put other aspects into the show. I will say I was disappointed that we didn't see any type of Christmas tag associated this year. Hopefully that will change intent. But I personally, I enjoyed it.

[00:53:10] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: I just managed to get the actual show and ending

[00:53:15] Conor Brown: my least favorite part about harmonious is they started at 9 45. I got to sleep, you know,

[00:53:22] Beci Mahnken: it's

[00:53:22] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: tough too, because they do a lot of the coolest patient stuff. And earlier you didn't have to schlep to the front lot street.

[00:53:30] Lou Mongello: So first world

[00:53:32] Conor Brown: problems. Am I right? Yeah,

[00:53:35] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: but you guys saw me start laughing. You guys, let me start laughing when we started talking, because I want other small mentioned that can't go on mentioned, but otherwise I literally had just taken everything else that needed to be said on my list and put it under a list called Epcot.

I'm so poor Ratatouille you haven't.

[00:53:50] Conor Brown: I was about to say there was an attraction that opened this year,

[00:53:53] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: Dewey and the creperie obviously creations, the new shop. We got club cool. Reopened and looks great. My kids are very excited about that. The festivals are kind of back in full soul of jazz. And then along with everything else that you guys just mentioned, like, when I said reemergence as my word, like for Epcot, that seems like the most, it, it just, it seems like it's sort of starting to hatch out of its little shell.

And we're getting a little glimpse of what's to come

[00:54:17] Lou Mongello: for the big things that are coming.

[00:54:21] Conor Brown: I think, you know, I think when it comes to Remy's for us, I think we all probably think, oh, it's good. It's a good addition. You know, and I think that's another action where we have to remove ourselves and kind of think of the every day guest, because we're accustomed to rise to the resistance.

We're accustomed to flying on the back of the mighty Cron of Rite of passage. If you will. Doing those sorts of attractions. That's what we're used to. But, you know, I had plenty of people come who hadn't been to the parks in years, years, and years and years. And they all went on Remy and they said that was fabulous.


[00:55:03] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: you always have to keep in mind that different parks need different things. Some parks need

[00:55:08] Conor Brown: some sections,

[00:55:10] Lisa DiNoto Glassner: entertain children when you're there as a family, right. They would do well about the IP of guardians coming into Epcot. Like that's going to be a huge crowd, pleaser, like a coaster in Epcot is going to be amazing.

So like whether or not we're thrilled by Remy the way we were thrilled by flight of passage, maybe I've cut, didn't need a flight of passage. Maybe it needed a family friendly kid pleaser. And it's a great,

[00:55:32] Beci Mahnken: I love the whole area back there. It's not just the, the attraction, but it has its own flavor.

And it has a great Crips place in, it has some really cool little shopping opportunities. And it is the perfect addition, especially when you have something for the kids and for the families that can relate to that movie because it's, it's still pretty.

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