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Walt Disney World Resort Non-Park Discussion Thread

P. 57 - Disney's Blizzard Beach reopens on March 7th, 2021!

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This along with everything else coming to the resort over the next few years is really impressive looking. Can't even imagine the crowds that will be flocking to Hollywood Studios so every additional way of getting people in and out of the area is very welcome.

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This morning we attended the ribbon cutting and grand opening for "Star Wars: Secrets of the Empire" at Disney Springs. This is a Virtual Reality experience created by the folks at The Void who also created the Ghostbusters experience that you can find in New York City as well as other locations. This is a brand new experience and storyline written exclusively for this attraction. From the description we were given, here is how the story unfolds...

 

A galaxy far, far away needs your help. In groups of four, be transported with family and friends into Star WarsTM: Secrets of the Empire.

Under the orders of the budding rebellion, you and your friends will travel to the molten planet of Mustafar. Your mission is to recover Imperial intelligence vital to the rebellion’s survival. Alongside the pragmatic droid K-2S0, your team must navigate through an enemy facility walking into danger at every turn. Disguised as Stormtroopers, grab your blaster, solve puzzles, and fight giant lava monsters in an effort to complete your mission.

 

tl:dr - You shoot a lot of stuff and "Star Wars" things happen in a very impressive virtual reality way!

 

Here is the official trailer for the attraction:

 

The experience and the "game" is great! Easily the best VR attraction I've done. I loved the targeting system with out accurate and responsive it was. You really feel as though you are transported into the Star Wars world and everything around you that you can touch and interact with becomes alive! There are even moments when you're standing on a platform with nothing else around you and looking down into an abyss that your brain tells you that DANGER is right over that edge, even though you know you're just inside a little room with nothing dangerous at all! It's just wonderful!

 

Here are some photos from this morning...

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We are here bright and early for the ribbon cutting at Disney Springs!

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We are about to "Step Beyond Reality!"

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The four key members of each company involved say a few words and then...

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it's time for a ribbon cutting!

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And just like that, the ribbon is cut at the attraction is officially OPEN!

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The first thing you see is the "avatar selection" area where you must choose your Stormtrooper disguise.

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I honestly look much better as a Stormtrooper. The outfit is quite slimming, don't you think? :)

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Here's a look at the vest that you wear like a backpack. The technology is great because when you get hit by an enemy blaster, you do FEEL it!

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Here is the headset. It was quite comfortable, even when wearing glasses.

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Here I am all suited up and ready to go!

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The visuals during the experience are fantastic! When you step off onto those platforms, you really do feel like you are up in the air and your sense of balance comes into play so you don't fall over the side!

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The targeting system is FANTASTIC! Much better than any other VR I've done. The aiming, accuracy, and responsiveness really makes for the "game" aspect of it to be very realistic.

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And yes, you will encounter some familiar characters during your adventure!

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While this is a "production still" it give you an idea of the look of the blasters and probably the actual looks on people's faces as you reach out to see your own hands, shoot each other in the face (yes, you can do that! lol) and check out the VR surroundings!

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More information including how to book tickets can be found at https://www.thevoid.com/ and we do recommend it! Was a great experience!

More information including how to book tickets can be found at https://www.thevoid.com/ and we do recommend it! Was a great experience!

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The experience and the "game" is great! Easily the best VR attraction I've done. I loved the targeting system with out accurate and responsive it was. You really feel as though you are transported into the Star Wars world and everything around you that you can touch and interact with becomes alive! There are even moments when you're standing on a platform with nothing else around you and looking down into an abyss that your brain tells you that DANGER is right over that edge, even though you know you're just inside a little room with nothing dangerous at all! It's just wonderful!

 

Coming from someone with a background in video games this is pretty cool to hear. I didn't know anything about the project until you posted it and it sounds like a great time. Really happy to see these experiences evolving year over year.

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Lake Buena Vista (Dec. 18, 2017) – Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and Walt Disney Parks and

Resorts announce the renewal of their long-lasting relationship with the creation of a brand-new show

to premiere at Disney Springs. The two entertainment companies first teamed up to bring La Nouba to

the stage in 1998. Twenty years later, Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group and Walt Disney Parks and

Resorts are working together on a new project.

 

The new show created by Cirque du Soleil in collaboration with Disney will draw its inspiration from

Disney's heritage of animation. It will celebrate Disney’s legacy of storytelling in Cirque du Soleil’s

signature way, with a tribute to the one-of a kind craftsmanship that makes Disney so extraordinary.

“This long-standing relationship is built on mutual esteem and the success achieved by our two creative

businesses throughout the past two decades with La Nouba,” said Tiffany Rende, Senior Vice President,

Corporate Alliances and Operating Participants, The Walt Disney Corporation. “We look forward to our

continued collaboration with Cirque du Soleil in developing this new show that will honor Disney

animation’s rich history.”

 

After paying homage to some of entertainment’s greatest artists, such as The Beatles and Michael

Jackson, Cirque du Soleil will leap into the iconic world of Disney.

 

Daniel Lamarre, President and CEO of Cirque du Soleil Entertainment Group, added “We are incredibly

inspired by Disney’s immense creative universe. We are convinced that bringing Disney’s magic to life on

stage will touch audiences and bring them back to their childhood.”

 

The curtain will close on La Nouba on Dec. 31, 2017. Since its première, La Nouba has entertained more

than 11 million guests and has performed close to 9,000 shows. There have been over 2.8 million flips in

the PowerTrack act and the wardrobe department has handled over 21 million costumes and

headpieces.

Edited by robbalvey
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I'm going to be down that way in early January and might check this out. Looks like such an awesome VR experience.

 

I know they put you through in groups (of 10 I think?) but is it suitable for someone to do by themselves or is it a more team-oriented thing? Wasn't sure there was a lot of team work and coordination involved or anything.

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Wow that VR looks awesome, I love how the vest adds a sensory element to it. Always great to see another Disney Star Wars attraction, even if it technically isn't in the park itself. I'm even more excited about the new Cirque de Soleil show! Considering how amazing the Beatles show was I'm looking forward to hearing remixes of beloved Disney music and how they weave through all the iconic films to tell a single story!

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I'm going to be down that way in early January and might check this out. Looks like such an awesome VR experience.

 

I know they put you through in groups (of 10 I think?) but is it suitable for someone to do by themselves or is it a more team-oriented thing? Wasn't sure there was a lot of team work and coordination involved or anything.

 

Groups of 4. If you are solo, they will likely match you up with at least a twosome. There is some buttons to press while others hold off enemies. There is no way to really fail, but there are so many troopers and targets to attack that I think it would be frustrating solo, as you would get hit a lot (your vest would buzz constantly) and it may take too much time to go through. I'd recommend booking your time on thevoid.com. The day we visited, it was reservation only and many walk ups were disappointed.

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Today we were invited to attend the grand opening of "Maria & Enzo's Ristorante" a new Italian restaurant at Disney Springs. The restaurant is owner and operated by Patina which are also responsible for some of our favorite restaurants on Walt Disney World property such a Via Napoli and Morimoto Asia so we had very high expectations going in! I'm happy to report that not only were our high expectations met, but also exceeded! The food we sampled was absolutely fantastic! We are very much looking forward to going back and trying a full meal, and I have a feeling this location will also be joining several of the other Patina Group restaurants as some of our favorites at the resort!

 

The interior and theme of the restaurant is also VERY impressive! From their website, they describe it as: "Open and airy with 50-foot high ceilings, a grand staircase and floor-to-ceiling views of Lake Buena Vista, Maria & Enzo’s serves authentic Italian cuisine amidst a stunning design and décor celebrating the golden age of travel."

 

There is a wonderful "reveal" of the giant open room as you come through the "passenger check-in" area. Anyway, let's have some photos tell the rest of the story...

 

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Today was the grand opening for Maria & Enzo's at Disney Springs!

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Management from Patina & Disney were here to kick off the celebration, but the real bosses of course are Mickey & Minnie!

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And what would be better for the grand opening of a new Italian restaurant on "National Spaghetti Day" but a giant bowl of Spaghetti & Meatballs?

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As the restaurant is "travel themed" you enter through the passenger checkin before going into the lounge.

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Here is the main room! It's wonderful looking! I took a couple of panoramic photos (vertical & horizontal) to give you a better idea of the scale of it.

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And here is the horizontal view.

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Any good party will always have plenty of wine being served! :)

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But we were here for the food...and what we sampled was fantastic! These cheese & veggie skewers... YUM!

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The Arancini rice & meat balls were wonderful! Loved them!

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Some meat on a bread stick? Yes, please!

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Of course the real question is... "how was the pasta?" The answer? PERFECT! Having been to Italy many times, I can tell you that this is legit!

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How does Jeremiah like his meatballs? "Heavy, black, and pendulous!" (+10 points if you get that reference!) :p

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They kept bringing us more food! These was some sort of fried cheese....

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Needless to say, Elissa had many, many of these... and continued to have many more after this photo was taken!

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Elissa is also a fan of the meatballs...

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As we were saying...everything we had WAS JUST "PERFECT!"

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Let's take a look at the menu, shall we?

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Here's the full menu...

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A little bit closer up...

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For a higher-end Italian restaurant, which is something that Disney Springs was very much in need of, I find the prices to be very reasonable, and if I are to assume portion sizes are similar to the other Patina group restaurants, I think everyone will be very pleased!

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Look at those amazing views!

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Again, another look at the main dining room area.

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The management came over to say hello to us, but what is that I see they have?

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Oh, hello! Are you a "Cheesecake pop?" Yes, you are! Yum!

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OMG! A whole plate of Cannolis? Just for ME?!?!? THANK YOU!!!

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Please do not make me choose between the Cheesecake pops and the Cannolis! They were both AWESOME!

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Right next door to Maria & Enzo's is Pizza Ponte, a quick-service pizza place.

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Here's a quick look at the menu, again very reasonable pricing for the portions you get.

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The slices look AMAZING!

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Some are thick squares, others are thin...

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But OMG! This round cheese pie!!!

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It's awesome to have these two new locations open at Disney Springs! We will be back soon for a full meal! Can't wait!

 

For more information, or to book reservations, please check out their website: https://www.patinagroup.com/maria-enzos/

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Looks good, that main room is stunning in pictures and I can only imagine it in person.

 

Quick (maybe dumb) question, is this an entirely new building or something that was re-purposed/renovated from the Downtown Disney/Pleasure Island days? I can't keep straight was what was torn down and what was kept.

 

Looking forward to some pictures/review of the Edison that place looks right up my alley.

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Yay. . I got my RHPS +10 points

 

 

and the food looks absolutely amazing -- I'd expect no less from the other restaurants you've reported on from Disney Springs.

 

absolutely LOVE the boarding pass, travel theme at the entrance. Are they able to carry it thru the whole dining experience? (the atmosphere in the main dining room looks like it loses some of it - tho I really like the "gate" entrances, but if the service is done with Airline Steward mode, I could see it being totally immersive and a really fun evening out).

 

thanks for the report.

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Quick (maybe dumb) question, is this an entirely new building or something that was re-purposed/renovated from the Downtown Disney/Pleasure Island days? I can't keep straight was what was torn down and what was kept.

It was re-purposed, but I'm not exactly sure which buildings it was exactly because the entire complex there with Maria & Enzo's, Edison, Pizza Ponte, and the underground bar is pretty gigantic!

 

Are they able to carry it thru the whole dining experience? (the atmosphere in the main dining room looks like it loses some of it - tho I really like the "gate" entrances, but if the service is done with Airline Steward mode, I could see it being totally immersive and a really fun evening out).

To be honest, I don't think the goal here is to be an overly-themed "character" dining experience (character meaning the servers being in character) like Skipper's Canteen, I just think it's supposed to be a nicely themed, high-end restaurant with great food. Personally, I'm not that big of fan of when your servers try to "be a character" so I'm just fine with it being a normal restaurant with some amazing theming.

 

That being said, there are some other "themed" elements throughout the dining room, like the first class lounge, etc...

Edited by robbalvey
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I watched a video today that reviewed The Edison, but the person also showed the interior of Maria & Enzo's, and my immediate thought upon seeing the interior was, "OMG, it's Rapture!" Someday I will absolutely make it back to Florida and check out all these new places at Disney Springs; the food looks amazing!

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Everything looks wonderful. I will admit I got sticker shock on the menu prices, but I live in the Ozarks, so that happens pretty much everywhere. We have just about the lowest cost of living anywhere in the country. It does look like you get your money's worth on the quality.

 

Oh, and Rocky Horror references make everything better.

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