The Walt Disney World Theme Parks Podcast:
by Mike Scopa
AllEars® Feature Writer
This article appeared in the January 12, 2010 Issue #538 of ALL EARS® (ISSN: 1533-0753)
(EDITOR'S NOTE: This month, Feature Writer Mike Scopa, who co-hosts the popular WDWToday podcast in real life, imagines a fictional podcast. During this imaginary interview, Mike hosts each of the Walt Disney World theme parks, who share with him their "New Year's Resolutions" for 2010, based on Mike's own wish list for changes he perceives to be needed in the parks. While some of these changes may be scheduled to occur, we have no way of knowing whether all of these "resolutions" will ever be kept.)
MIKE SCOPA: It's Tuesday, January 12th and this is episode #1 of The Walt Disney World Theme Parks Podcast. I'm your host, Mike Scopa, and on today's show we have several guests, the first of whom is the Magic Kingdom. Welcome to the show, MK.
MK: Thanks Mike... it's wonderful to be here on your first show. Sort of magical you might say (chuckles).
MS: Thanks for coming, MK. Also on our show today is the one and only Epcot. How is your world today, EC?
EC: You might say I'm always ready to... showcase it, Mike (we hear a boo).
MS: Heh, heh. And also with us today is Disney's Hollywood Studios... what's cooking, DHS?
DHS: Yo, Mike. As I hear all day, let's get on with the show.
MS: Appropriately said. And of course, last but not least is the youngster of the group, Disney's Animal Kingdom. Thanks for dropping by, DAK.
DAK: Hey, this should be as much fun as a barrel of monkeys -- like me.
MS: Well, on today's show we're going to talk about New Year's resolutions. I've asked each of the four Walt Disney World theme parks to come on the show and share their top two resolutions for 2010. We will go in the reverse order of introductions -- so first up is Disney's Animal Kingdom. DAK, what have you resolved for 2010?
DAK: Well, Mike, first and foremost I resolve to have better scheduling of attractions during my evening Extra Magic Hours. What is happening now is that guests find themselves frustrated because of the staggering of certain attractions and the absence of others. For instance, The Festival of the Lion King is available on evening EMH but not Finding Nemo: The Musical. I resolve to try to have them both available and schedule their performances so that guests won't be faced with having to see one or the other. Guests should be able to see both attractions. But beyond that I want as many attractions open and my guests having as much fun as possible.
I also resolve to try to improve my character Meet and Greet arrangements. We currently have several areas throughout the park where guests can meet and greet characters, but I want to expand upon that if I can. With so many guests visiting me each day I want each one to have an opportunity to meet their favorite Disney character. That means adding a few more places beside Camp Minnie-Mickey to see these characters.
Mike, I even have a third resolution. I also resolve to work hard and perhaps extend my operating hours each day. I am thinking of possibly opening up an hour earlier each morning or staying open an hour later. I'm concerned about the animals and will always protect them, but I also want my guests to have as much access as possible to what I have to offer them. Those are my resolutions, Mike .
MS: Wow, I like them DAK, especially anything that offers more access to the wonderful attractions you have. Thanks for that insight. Now onward to the smallest of the theme parks. It's certainly not smallest in terms of excitement, though: Disney's Hollywood Studios. So DHS, tell us about your New Year's resolutions.
DHS: Well Mike, my first one is easy. I resolve to do everything I can to bring back -- even if it's for just a few nights each month -- Sorcery in the Sky. It was real popular in the '90s and I think I would like to offer it on those nights in which Fantasmic is not scheduled. It is a wonderful nighttime spectacular and if you never visited me in the '90s you would have never seen it. The other resolution I have is to assess some longtime attractions to begin making decisions on refurbishments or replacements. I think it's important to do this from time to time.
MS: Good idea, DHS. Can you give us a hint as to what attractions you are looking at?
DHS: Sure thing. I will be looking at Star Tours, for one thing. I think it's time for a new movie, don't you? Also, perhaps Sounds Dangerous has seen better days and should be replaced. Those are a few that come to mind. Bottom line, I resolve to assess myself.
MS: There is always room for improvement, DHS. It's exciting to hear you speak of this type of resolution, thanks. Now, Epcot. Perhaps a resolution here or there may take care of some things you have been thinking about over the last decade.
EC: Possibly, Mike. One of my two resolutions is to seriously consider opening up World Showcase an hour earlier during the busiest times of the year. Rather than have my guests wait until 11 a.m. to visit the many wonders of the World Showcase I think that it would be a good idea to open that part of me one hour earlier during those busy times. I'd also like to see all the World Showcase restaurants offer breakfast on those days. I also resolve to look into replacing the World Showcase Players with something along the line of the Citizens of Hollywood like you have, DHS, or what many still refer to as Streetmosphere. Yeah, World Showcase Streetmosphere. I resolve to look into that possibility.
MS: Wow! Two good resolutions, EC. It sounds like you have your eyes on World Showcase. I am looking forward to seeing where they go. And last but not least, of course, is The Magic Kingdom. Well, MK... what say you?
MK: Well Mike, every day I seem to see more and more people coming through my turnstiles, so I was thinking of what kinds of resolutions would help these crowds enjoy their day even more. I am quite busy all the time and lines continue to be long. I think I need to resolve to look into the FastPass system and perhaps tweak it a bit.
MS: What do you mean, MK?
MK: Well, during busy times I still see long lines for many attractions, especially in Fantasyland. So I am resolving to look at the FastPass system and think of ways to help our guests spend less time in line.
MS: Wait... do you mean... ?
MK: Yes, it's time to relax some of the FastPass rules. That means allowing more than one active FastPass at a time. It has come to that.
MS: That's a huge New Year's resolution, MK -- one that I personally hope you can keep. Good luck with that one.
MK: The only other resolution I have involves the Tomorrowland Terrace Noodle Station. After several frustrating years, I resolve in 2010 to finally figure out what to do with it. Should this eatery be open all the time or not? Better yet, should it be replaced? I resolve to figure this out in 2010.
MS: I think you are focusing on two areas that a lot of us are always thinking of, MK. Good choices.
I'd like to thank all my guests for coming on and telling us their New Year's resolutions. Since they have given their resolutions, I think it's only fair that I disclose mine.
First, I resolve to take every opportunity to pay tribute to any cast member who I notice is going beyond the call of duty to make a guest's experience extra special. This means going into Guest Relations and saying, "I just want to say I just noticed Valerie do a wonderful thing for a guest, and wanted to somehow let someone know how impressed I was. Valerie should be complimented."
MK: You know Mike, too many times I see people complaining, but these same people hesitate to pay compliments whenever one of my cast members really goes out of his or her way to do something nice. I like your resolution.
EC: I agree, MK.
DHS: Me too. Nice one, Mike.
DAK: Hey Mike, maybe more guests will have the same resolution.
MS: I have to think so, DAK. My other resolution is to spread out my park touring a bit. That is, rather than stick to the four or five attractions I visit in every theme park, perhaps I should give some time to the other attractions I don't visit as often.
EC: For years you never visited the films in World Showcase and then recently you came back and were pleasantly surprised, weren't you?
MS: That's right EC. I think there is some good in all attractions. I'm going to resolve to reserve judgment and give each one a chance.
MK: Hey, does that mean you're going to give Stitch's Great Escape another chance?
DHS: ... and Sounds Dangerous another shot?
EC: ... and visit the Gran Fiesta Tour more often?
DAK: ... and come see Dinoland, USA?
MS: Whoa, take it easy, guys. This is a fantasy podcast, not Fantasy Island. I will, however, resolve to enter every attraction with an open mind and try not to overdo it with my own favorites.
Well, that's it for our show today. Thanks for listening. On behalf of my guests, Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney's Animal Kingdom, I'm Mike Scopa. As we like to say, "See you real soon."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mike Scopa has been a huge Disney fan for as long as he can remember. He first visited Walt Disney World in 1975 and has returned many times (how many? he's lost count!) since. Mike is a contributor to the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World and Cara Goldsbury's Luxury Guide to Walt Disney World, and has served as keynote speaker for the 2006 and 2007 MagicMeets. He is also co-host of the WDWTODAY Podcast and writes a regular blog, The View from Scopa Towers, for AllEars.Net: http://land.allears.net/blogs/mikescopa Other AllEars® articles by Mike Scopa: http://allears.net/btp/mikescopa.htm
Editor's Note: This story/information was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all current rates, information and other details before planning your trip.