Incredible Summer Preview & Thoughts
Summer 2018 is the calm before the storm at Walt Disney World in terms of new attractions and entertainment. Sure, there’s Toy Story Land, and new shows coming to Magic Kingdom, Animal Kingdom, and Epcot. However, nothing on the scale of next year’s opening of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, or even last year’s debut of Pandora – World of Avatar.
This year, the big promotional push is “Incredible Summer,” which is a name tie-in with the upcoming Incredibles 2, which is the Pixar tentpole release. I wasn’t even planning on previewing the Incredible Summer as its key components don’t really interest me, and I also don’t want to overhype things that I anticipate being fairly small-scale.
However, after watching the Magic Kingdom Sunrise Live Stream, I’m now pretty hyped about our summer visit to Walt Disney World…and this seems like a good outlet for some of that hype. By the way, if you’re a sucker for atmospheric ‘yule log’ style videos like I am, you should totally watch the replay of that live stream. Put it on in the background while you work, make dinner tonight, etc–guaranteed to improve your mood!
Anyway, for this post I’ve gathered the new offerings of Incredible Summer to share with you, along with our commentary for each piece of new entertainment (save for Toy Story Land, which we’ve covered sufficiently elsewhere). We’ll share what expect from the new summer offerings at Walt Disney World, as well as what my be next on the horizon for 2019 and beyond…
Guardians of the Galaxy — Awesome Mix Live! – Star-Lord and Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy will take guests on a musical journey through the cosmos this concert series. Performances will feature music from the soundtracks to both movies, and will be held at the America Gardens Theatre in Epcot’s World Showcase five times per day from June 9 until August 19, 2018.
My Thoughts: You know how there are some things that occur at Walt Disney World that, with the benefit of hindsight, seem so goofy? We have an entire “Weird Epcot” post, which highlights such gems as Barbie’s Birthday Party, Daredevil Circus, Carnivale, and more. The late 80s and 90s were a crazy time!
You might thus be inclined to shrug at Guardians of the Galaxy – Awesome Mix Live, thinking in a decade we’ll look back and say, “the twenty-tens were a crazy time!” I doubt it. Yeah, it’s pretty odd (and sorta cool) that a movie about a talking raccoon, tree, and band of misfits has found an audience…but this is not just some cult classic. It was a box office smash. As for their presence in Epcot, this is not entertainment born of a crazy time; it’s the new normal.
Guardians of the Galaxy won’t just make a temporary, one-and-done appearance in Epcot. They have a permanent attraction on the way. Once this concert debuts, I expect people will claim that it “works” in World Showcase because the music is a lot like the other summer concert series that have been performed at America Gardens Theatre. I think this requires glossing over the presence of the Marvel characters, who are decidedly out of place in World Showcase.
Then again, it seems to me Epcot has largely lost its soul over the last two decades as people willingly accepted additions fundamentally at-odds with the park’s mission and aim. It has been a gradual erosion, with small thematic inconsistencies explained away with, “it sort of works because…” The problem is, the cumulative impact of each small inconsistency is a big one, and has turned Epcot into a park without any direction.
Incredible Tomorrowland Expo – Pixar Super Heroes will take over Tomorrowland from May 25 until September 3, as part of an Incredible Tomorrowland Expo that celebrates “all things super.” Guests can interact with Mr. Incredible, Frozone, Edna Mode, and other characters from Incredibles 2. Tomorrowland will be decked out with Incredibles décor and sounds from the film. There will also be a “SUPER” dance party on the Rocket Tower Stage.
My Thoughts: As the unfailing curmudgeon, my first reaction to this was, “oh great, noise I’ll have to endure while watching Carousel of Progress.” Then I read the part about ‘sounds from the film’ throughout Tomorrowland, and my second reaction was, “oh great, noise I’ll have to hear while riding the TTA PeopleMover.”
Suffice to say, I’m definitely not the target audience for this. Kids will probably love it as these Tomorrowland dance parties always tend to be popular with families, but I find them so intrusive to the otherwise-exceptional nighttime atmosphere of Tomorrowland. I just hope all the other stuff isn’t too over the top. Obviously, your mileage will vary–especially if you’re not a Carousel of Progress enthusiast, or if you have kids who are the right age for this.
Donald’s Dino-Bash! – This is a “dino-tastic” celebration is a meet & greet/dance party with the premise that Donald Duck is taking over Dinoland, U.S.A. to celebrate his recent discovery that ducks are descendants of dinosaurs. Donald will be joined by Scrooge McDuck, Launchpad McQuack, and other feather friends of Donald. Donald will also throw a nightly dance party where everyone is invited to “shake their tail feathers.” (Opens May 25, 2018.)
My Thoughts: After reading complaints that this doesn’t fit the story of Dinoland and Dino-Rama, I “joked” that they could open a used VCR & Furby shop (that’s right, a single store selling both and nothing else; every business needs a niche!) and it would still be, at worst, a lateral move. I’ve harped on this before, but I’ll reiterate: Dino-Rama is a garbage land.
I could open “Tom’s Zany Commercial Waste & Trash Incinerator” and invite you to visit because I have a really clever, 40-page backstory about just how fun and wacky my business is. That doesn’t change the fact it’s a garbage-burning business. Ditto Dino-Rama/land. Elaborate backstory is no substitute for substantive attractions and quality theme. (And yes, I’m still bitter that Imagineering took the coolest living creatures of all-time, and gave us this.)
But I digress. Donald’s Dino-Bash looks fine. While we enjoy meet & greets from time to time, I’ve never been excited about the opening of one, and this is no different. I’m totally here for Chip & Dale in dinosaur costumes, and I like that a couple of rare characters will be present, but I’m definitely not the target audience.
Typhoon Lagoon H2O Glow Nights – The water park will transform into a “glow party” on select evenings June 21 – August 11, 2018. This is a hard ticket party, with tickets costing $55 per adult or $50 per child for the 3-hour event. At the event, you can make waves with Rex, the Dinosaur of Ceremonies, and his Toy Story pals at this “luminous event” inspired by the Toy Story short film, Partysaurus Rex.
My Thoughts: A couple of summers ago, we attended Typhoon Lagoon Beach Bash; as I wrote in our event report at the time, I had a blast, and really loved going to a water park in the evening. That was a free event for Disney Vacation Club members, just as Extra Magic Hours at Typhoon Lagoon used to be free.
So, on the one hand, I’d really love to return to Typhoon Lagoon at night. I think that’s the best time for visiting water parks, as there’s none of that pesky sunlight to make the ground hot, and I can’t get sunburnt at night. On the other hand, $55 is a ridiculous price for a 3 hours at a water park. On the other other hand, due to that price, I’m guessing ticket sales will not be strong for this, making it a great time to do water slides with minimal waits. On balance, the cost is still just too much to justify–we won’t be attending.
I think that about covers it for the main additions debuting at Walt Disney World as part of the Incredible Summer promotion. Some other potentially new-to-you things have also recently debuted, including UP! A Great Bird Adventure at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and new restaurants at Disney Springs.
As you can probably surmise, I’m not even remotely excited for any of this. Nevertheless, I am really looking forward to our next Walt Disney World visit. I’m cautiously optimistic that we picked a time to visit that will have low crowds now that early summer is relatively uncrowded (although I would’ve said the same thing about our January travel dates before we took that trip, and you can read how that went).
I’m looking forward to this, as it’s probably the last Walt Disney World trip we’ll take in the next 5 years that will have low crowds. Even with the expected heat, it’ll be a nice chance to revisit favorite attractions and soak up the atmosphere of the parks in a leisurely environment.
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What do you think of the Incredible Summer lineup for Walt Disney World? Do you agree or disagree with my lack of excitement? Will you or your family enjoy this entertainment? Any questions we can help you answer? Hearing feedback about your experiences is both interesting to us and helpful to other readers, so please share your thoughts below in the comments!
I know this is a tangent, but I think Dino land could be saved and keep the story it has going AND become not just a mild distraction, but a downright hit.
So first you take out at least the carnival midway section of Chester and Hester’s. Hate to see that go, right? You keep the spinner ride maybe, but it’s all on the table. So, here’s the thing. Make the gas station more central to the story. It still looks cheesy and all that, but stay with me. Instead of just being a tourist trap near the institute, somehow Chester comes into possession of a rock that looks quite a lot like you might imagine a dinosaur egg to look, just don’t think too hard about how big the animal would have to be to lay an egg that size, ok?) So, they wall it off like the bearded lady at the circus and have big posters saying to come see the “authentic” fossilized dinosaur egg, etc.
Now, unbeknownst to C&H, a real dinosaur snuck through the wormhole at the institute. Since the institute was not built to study live dinosaurs, it escaped easily. Confused by it’s new surroundings, the dino hides beneath an addition C&H put on their building, which is where their dino egg is housed.
So, as you get on the omnimover or boat that takes you to the egg, you notice some thudding around, but can’t place where it’s from. As the ride reveals the fossilized egg, you also notice a sizable hole in the floor near it. In that hole is another surface, that’s moving like it’s breathing. In the next scene, we learn that this dino was on her way to her nest to lay an egg when she became an unwitting time-traveler, because we can see the baby through the floorboards! The rest of the ride follows the baby dino’s adventures from there. Of course the baby is super cute, Of course she or he does incredibly cute dino-things in the most adorable way possible. Eventually he gets back to his time with his mom, but it’s an interesting and exciting story to see unfold.
On the way out you see the pair at full-size at Disney’s animatronic best. So, in one fell swoop of hundreds of millions of dollars, you’ve made Dino-land thrilling and fun without needing a franchise tie-in, makes the storyplus it’s for all ages and a respite from the heat. Wins all around, wouldn’t you say?
We are coming in early June for our first ever Summer trip (thought it will still be technically Spring). Tom, do you have any touring advice for beating the heat? I was thinking rope drop until lunch then back to the condo until at least dinner time, then back to the parks. Is this workable?
Guardians of the Galaxy — Awesome Mix Live! – Ugh enough of GotG already. Its approaching Frozen and Star Wars for extreme overuse IP. I hope its not loud enough to intrude on the atmosphere of American Adventure or nearby World Showcase countries.
Incredible Tomorrowland Expo — ugh another loud Rocket Tower Stage playing dreaded pop songs that ruin the wonderful Tomorrowland atmosphere.
Donald’s Dino-Bash! – I like meet & greets possibilities with rare characters and the classic characters wearing different costumes.
Typhoon Lagoon H2O Glow Nights — sounds fun although it must be hard to allocate night time toward this since its prime park time to get away from the hot summer heat during the day.
I’m a bit bummed because we’ll be arriving and leaving just prior to the Awesome Mix concerts starting, because, the music is, well, awesome! We’ll also miss the Typhoon Lagoon nights, which probably makes little difference, because as much fun as it’d probably be, we likely wouldn’t spend the extra cash (we have Parkhopper Plus, and will be hitting both waterparks many mornings during our stay. It might work as an option to getting a Parkhopper plus, for those who only plan to make one trip to the waterpark.
The rest seems to be harmless fun. I agree: Just about anything would improve Dinoland. As for the Dance Party, seen it before, enjoyed it the last time, almost certainly I’ll enjoy it this time (it helps that the original movie is my all-time favorite Pixar film).
Chip & Dale in cute, colourful dinosaur costumes! I agree that almost all of this is meh, but those cute little chipmunks dressed up like that?! I’m all over it!
Was Epcot ever thematically consistent? Future World isn’t a theme. It’s a business park with contemporary stylized buildings with different science and philosophical missions. The country pavilions were supposed to provide cultural education, but it’s a mere international food court with a paucity of attractions. They have in common the corporate or national sponsorship model that broke down in the past 3 decades. Ultimately, Disney is the only corporate sponsor that matters and people go to Disney theme parks to see Disney IP.
Guardians of the Galaxy may not appear consistent with Epcot. (Fill in the blank blah blank). It doesn’t matter. If Disney ever tried to be consistent to it’s original mission, it wouldn’t last. Edutainment is difficult to pull off. It is outdated almost immediately after it opened to the public. I barely remembered the edutainment ride (Energy, Imagination, Horizons) after disembarking, yet I remember a fun attraction for quite a long time.
Epcot may be the only park that needs a name change. World Kingdom?
All these new changes with the new musical entertainment make these parks more lively. I’m quite glad about that.
Tom, I believe there’s a hipster cynic in our midst,doling out cold takes to support… a summer music event? That’s weird.
I agree EPCOT has lost its way, but I think its mission can still be vital and the educational aims can still be central to the theme, if Disney can muster a grander vision for the place and work from there rather than just try to make each future world pavilion an attraction that could be in any of the parks. I had a thought a while ago when Phineas and Ferb was still on, that they would be the perfect hosts for Epcot, they have the enthusiasm and interest in doing cool new things and could take you to where the cool stuff was happening at each pavilion. They wouldn’t have been in each pavilion, just guiding you to them because you won’t believe how cool it is. My driving thought was that when you leave the park, you’d see a big mural or something that showed P&F walking in the same direction you are, and Phineas is saying, “Ferb, I know what we’re gonna do tomorrow!”
I’m not holding my breath, but nothing says that GotG can’t fit in to tomorrow world, It may not be that Asimov vision, but may not be completely divorced from it. I’d love to see Imagination take over the old Communicore area and serve as the centerpiece of that part of the park (after spaceship earth, of course) and be the driver to the other pavilions. I could go on, but it’s all possible, it just needs a push and to be made flexible enough to change without it being so expensive, the beancounters put a halt to things. Piece of cake, right?
Could of, Should of, Would of. DIDN’T.
“if Disney can muster a grander vision” They already have a grand vision that they couldn’t pull off. Now, you suggest a grander vision that they will fail as well.
Epcot will be fixed with a BILLION dollars. It’s as if this isn’t enough because they need to triple it for the GRANDER vision that they will never achieve.
You’re the cynic to suggest my comment is all about the summer music event. Of course not, but I’m not against it because who can be against music. You’re suggesting Epcot’s theme is betrayed with the style of music being played. Epcot survived the 1980s. It will survive 2018 playing 1980s music. Laughing at you. You’re weird.
SPOILERS for INFINITY WAR.
This is…. not the best summer to be pushing a Guardians of the Galaxy song-and-dance spectacular.
Retcon explantion: Teleportation. 😉
I have to admit, as a child of the 80’s I’m somewhat excited to see Scrooge and Launchpad in DAK. (Although we have a child and dance parties have still never been out thing.)
I’m looking at all the wild colors in Donald’s Dino Bash and I see similar whimsy like the shows Minnie Oh Minnie or One Man’s Dream II in Tokyo! Gotta love that!