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Insider's Update: Unleash the locals!

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Published: August 23, 2014 at 11:04 AM

It's time for the Villains Unleashed event tonight at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. Perhaps we should consider this the official transition from summer to the theme park Halloween season. If you're going tonight, please tweet us photos and updates to @themepark, and we will share them with other Theme Park Insider readers and followers. Guests will event tickets can arrive as early as 5pm this evening, and should drive in through the south entrance, off World Drive. New events this year include a Guardians of the Galaxy "Awesome Mix Tape Dance Party," and the "Villainy in the Sky" fireworks go at 12:45am.

Villains Unleashed
Photo courtesy Disney

This was probably easy to see coming, but it's now official — there won't be a Festival of the Masters arts event at Downtown Disney this year, due to Disney Springs construction claiming so much of the space that the event needed.

Walt Disney World is tweaking the Magic Kingdom's "Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It!" street party this fall with a new name ("Move It! Shake It! Dance and Play It!") and the addition of Stitch as well as Phineas & Ferb to the roster of characters appearing on Main Street USA daily. Guests will get to vote for one of three dance songs to be played for the finale. The current version of the event will continue until the new version debuts.

Perhaps inspired by corporate sibling ABC's cooking show, The Taste, Disneyland's Jolly Holiday Bakery Cafe is now offering a one-spoon "Spoonful of Sugar" for $3.29. But this spoonful might outdo anything featured on the show. Here's Disney's description, and photo: "This Mary Poppins-themed Spoonful of Sugar involves pâte à choux, chocolate caramel ganache, rainbow sprinkles, chocolate pastry cream, dark chocolate gloss, white chocolate coating, a sugar penguin and marshmallows." Just one more thing to entice the locals, returning to the park after the summer blockouts.

Spoonful of Sugar
Photo courtesy Disney

Speaking of appeals to locals, Universal Orlando is holding a "Passholder Appreciation Month" for its annual passholders in September. Among the benefits offered next month will be early access for passholders to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley on weekdays. Currently, that benefit is available only to Universal Orlando hotel and vacation package guests. Universal's also offering a variety of extra discounts to passholders during the month, too. And, by the way, Universal Orlando just launched a new website design — check it out.

Yours truly spent many years of his early career working at newspapers. But if you want great theme park coverage, you really ought to rely on, well, a theme park insider, and not news reporters who don't specialize in theme parks. Case in point: this truly embarrassing article about Shanghai Disneyland, from a Japanese news site. The reporter and her editor thought they had an exposé on delays in construction at the resort, running photos of the supposed construction site that showed no signs of development. Too bad the reporter was in the wrong place! Heck, Stefan Zwanzger's been documenting the rapidly progressing Shanghai Disneyland construction for months now.

By the way, Stefan recently completed this awesome Google Map of theme, amusement and water parks around the world. Have fun zooming in and discovering parks you've probably never heard of in places you might never have dreamed of visiting. It's a great, fun time-killer for the weekend!

Readers' Opinions

From James Rao on August 23, 2014 at 11:58 AM
It is because of events like Villains Unleashed that I would love to be a lot closer to the action. Being 18 hours away from WDW I have to live vicariously through others, so please do as Robert requests and send your updates and photos to @themepark if you are lucky enough to attend.

And that Spoonful of Sugar sounds wonderful. When will you head to Disneyland and force yourself to try this new delectable dessert for your loyal TPI Family, Mr. Niles?

From Iris Hernandez on August 23, 2014 at 2:23 PM
Sea World is also celebrating pass holders in September with bring a friend for free for 1 day. Got the email about it a few days ago. So, more locals will be unleashed....enjoy :)
From 107.77.68.95 on August 23, 2014 at 11:07 PM
I just finished the event. To say I was disappointed is an understatement. Way too crowded (seriously 2 hour wait to meet many villains), and food/drink waits were 45 minutes to an hour. When an event is only 5 hours, 70 bucks without having a cap on capacity is too much. We met Constantine (way worth it) a villain from lilo and stitch, darth maul, and saw the oogie boogie show (good). 4 things for 140 for my gf and me. And I couldn't even get a snack. Terrible and I will never go again unless they severely limit the number of guests.
From Melissa Donahue on August 24, 2014 at 11:17 AM
I always thought that a Disney park (or at least a land) devoted strictly to the Villains would be an intriguing concept. Has Disney ever discussed this possibility?
From Robert Niles on August 24, 2014 at 1:22 PM
The answer to the "has Disney ever discussed" question is almost always "yes."

People at Disney talk about just about every concept, IP, contingency or idea imaginable. It's a huge company. The real question is, has anyone who's talked about an idea been able to get the company to commit any resources toward making it happen?

To that, Disney's done some work looking at the possibility of a fifth park in Florida, and villains have been talked about as a potential theme for that. But the work's never gotten enough traction to move beyond a preliminary, "blue sky" phase.

From Felicia Singleton on August 24, 2014 at 1:44 PM
I agree what was previously said about the Villains Unleashed party...I was there and it didn't feel special, like if you're going to do these "special events"-keep them special by limiting how many tickets sold-I mean, they were STILL selling about an hour before! It felt like a typical day at the park-with a theme...it was over-crowded, the lines to meet the characters were about 2 to 3 hours long-the party was only 5 hours, so how were you to see anything else? the line for Maleficent was ALREADY closed before the party began, and to get the event merchandise you had to walk a ways through the park, and had to wait in yet ANOTHER line...I know I'm venting, but this should have been done better-
From James Rao on August 24, 2014 at 1:45 PM
Anon poster 107.77.68.95, I feel your pain. Disney should limit tickets to these types of events and if they are popular, which it appears last night's event was, they should add more dates to handle the demand. It stinks that your night was ruined by an overwhelming crowd.

One day Disney will realize it has a cash cow on its hands with their Villains and do something really amazing....

From Tony Duda on August 24, 2014 at 3:17 PM
Robert, a fifth WDW park with a Star Wars Scum and Villainy Land would be fantastic. DHS could have the good guys section.
From 107.77.68.32 on August 24, 2014 at 6:23 PM
Same anonymous poster here: I was looking most forward to the unique food and drinks last night. However, waiting an hour in line for food is ridiculous. For 5 hours it was the biggest rip off. In line for stitches villain there was a family of 7 in front. They waited 2 hours with us, as the villain took 30 minutes off every 30 minutes. The kids were antsy and fussy as 2 hours for a 30 second meeting is awful. The parents traveled for this event and could not believe they spent 500 for this. I will not go to another until they add more nights and lower capacity. As an annual passholders who goes often (I live 3 hours away) I have never been disappointed with them until now. If you look at their twitter feed it's all complaints (especially entertainibg are locals who live within earshot and got woken up at 1 am for specialty fireworks. I'm also suggesting looking at the line to guest relations on the way out at 1 am, incredibly long. I didn't meet one happy person.
From 107.77.68.32 on August 24, 2014 at 6:45 PM
Also my girlfriend waited 45 minutes in line for merch. This was done during the lull of the stitch villain line but seriously.
From Eric Orlando on August 25, 2014 at 4:23 PM
In yet another money grab by Disney (that I am sure will sell out. Which is truly the sad part) they announced a desert party with the villains at Cinderellas Royal Table during each night of MNSSHP. $99 on top of your MNSSHP ticket.

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