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© 2017 Disney
© 2017 Disney

10 Amazing Additions Coming to Disney Parks and Resorts

© 2017 Disney
© 2017 Disney

Whether you're a Star Wars fan, a Marvel aficionado, or a Mickey and Minnie purist, Disney Parks and Resorts has just announced new rides, hotels, and attractions that are sure to make your mouse ears perk up. Here are 10 of the most exciting changes announced over the weekend at D23 Expo.

1. A STAR WARS-THEMED HOTEL

That sound you just heard was Star Wars fans across the galaxy warming up their lightsabers. Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek announced plans for a completely immersive Star Wars-themed hotel, where guests are declared citizens of the galaxy the moment they check in. "The story will touch every single minute of your day, and it will culminate in a unique journey for every person who visits," Chapek said. More details, including the opening date, are yet to come.

2. A RATATOUILLE RIDE


© 2017 Disney

A bit of Disneyland Paris is coming to the U.S. In 2014, the Paris park introduced a 4-D attraction where guests "shrink" to the size of Remy, the rat from Ratatouille, and scurry across the floor of Gusteau's restaurant. The ride will make its stateside debut in the France Pavilion in Epcot's World Showcase by 2021.

3. A GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY RIDE


© Marvel © 2017 Disney

Sorry, Ellen DeGeneres fans—"Ellen's Energy Adventure" at Epcot will take a bow on August 13. Following the success of Guardians of the Galaxy - Mission: BREAKOUT! ride at Disney California Adventure, Disney has announced a similarly themed adventure for Florida. The new thrill ride will replace the Universe of Energy pavilion, which currently houses Ellen's Energy Adventure. Like the Ratatouille ride, Star Lord and his pals should be ready to escape sometime in 2021.

4. A NEW LIVE ENTERTAINMENT THEATER

To bring more live entertainment to the Magic Kingdom in Orlando, Disney is building a theater inspired heavily by the Willis Wood Theater from 1920s-era Kansas City, where Walt Disney spent part of his childhood. The building will be located just off of Main Street, USA.

5. "MICKEY AND MINNIE’S RUNAWAY RAILWAY" RIDE


© 2017 Disney

There's another new ride headed to Hollywood Studios—and, unbelievably, it's the first ride at Disney Parks to feature Mickey himself as the theme. The attraction puts guests inside a Mickey cartoon, promising "surprising twists and turns, dazzling visual effects and mind-boggling transformations," all in a new format Disney is referring to as "2 1/2 D."

The new attraction isn't without controversy, though—it's slated to replace The Great Movie Ride, which, with its Grauman's Chinese Theater facade, has been one of Hollywood Studios' visual anchors since it opened as Disney-MGM Studios in 1989.

6. A TRON LIGHTCYCLE POWER RUN

The highest-rated attraction at Shanghai Disneyland is coming to Florida. In "TRON: Lightcycle Power Run," riders will board a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles before heading out to explore the TRON universe. Scheduled to be ready for riders in 2021, the new TRON coaster will be situated next to Space Mountain at the Magic Kingdom.

7. PIXAR PIER

The area at Disney California Adventure currently known as Paradise Pier will go through a Pixar-themed overhaul, with "whimsical neighborhoods" featuring characters from The Incredibles, Inside Out, Toy Story, and more.

8. SKYWAY GONDOLAS


© 2017 Disney

Magic Kingdom-goers who miss the old skyway ride that took weary guests between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland have something to rejoice about. The new Disney Skyliner gondola system will connect several of their hotels with Disney's Hollywood Studios and the International Gateway at Epcot. Though an official opening date wasn't announced, construction is already underway, with insiders speculating at a date as early as summer 2018. Also announced: an Uber-like point-to-point transportation system with a familiar red-and-white polka dot motif.

9. A MARVEL-THEMED HOTEL


© Marvel © 2017 Disney

You’ll have to get yourself to Disneyland Paris to experience this re-themed hotel, which is currently called Disney's Hotel New York. After the overhaul, hotel guests will find themselves transported to worlds including the Avengers and Spider-Man, among others.

10. "IMMERSIVE SUPER HERO EXPERIENCE"

Very little detail was provided on this upcoming project, but we do know that Spider-Man and the Avengers will be joining Guardians of the Galaxy heroes at Disney California Adventure sometime in the future.

BONUS UPDATES

Disney also provided new news on two much-anticipated projects that are currently underway: the Star Wars and Toy Story Land additions. Two rides are on the way to Toy Story Land: Slinky Dog Dash, a family roller coaster, and Alien Swirling Saucers, in which the three-eyed green guys try to capture your rocket using The Claw. The toy-centric addition to the park is scheduled to open in summer 2018.

Construction on Star Wars-themed lands, officially called Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, has begun at both Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando and Disneyland in Anaheim. Both lands will feature a ride that gives guests the opportunity to pilot the Millennium Falcon through a critical mission. Another attraction will give guests the experience of being on a Star Destroyer. Both the Florida and California lands are scheduled to open in 2019. Until then, this fly-through will have to tide you over:

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John P. Johnson, HBO
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Charles Dickens Wrote His Own Version of Westworld in the 1830s
John P. Johnson, HBO
John P. Johnson, HBO

Charles Dickens never fully devoted himself to science fiction, but if he had, his work might have looked something like the present-day HBO series Westworld. As The Conversation reports, the author explored a very similar premise to the show in The Mudfrog Papers, a collection of sketches that originally appeared in the magazine Bentley's Miscellany between 1837 and 1838.

In the story "Full Report of the Second Meeting of the Mudfog Association for the Advancement of Everything," a scientist describes his plan for a park where rich young men can take out their aggression on "automaton figures." In Dickens's story, the opportunity to pursue those cruel urges is the park's main appeal. The theme park in Westworld may have been founded with a slightly less cynical vision, but it has a similar outcome. Guests can live out their heroic fantasies, but if they have darker impulses, they can act on those as well.

Instead of sending guests back in time, Dickens's attraction presents visitors with a place very similar to their own home. According to the scientist's pitch, the idyllic, Victorian scene contains roads, bridges, and small villages in a walled-off space at least 10 miles wide. Each feature is designed for destruction, including cheap gas lamps made of real glass. It's populated with robot cops, cab drivers, and elderly women who, when beaten, produce “groans, mingled with entreaties for mercy, thus rendering the illusion complete, and the enjoyment perfect.”

There are no consequences for harming the hosts in Westworld, but the guests at Dickens's park are at least sent to a mock trial for their crimes. However, rather than paying for their misbehavior, the hooligans always earn the mercy of an automated judge—Dickens's allegory for how the law favors the rich and privileged in the real world.

As for the Victorian-era automatons gaining sentience and overthrowing their tormenters? Dickens never got that far. But who knows where he would have taken it given a two-season HBO deal.

[h/t The Conversation]

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Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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10 Fascinating Facts About Ella Fitzgerald
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
Library of Congress (LOC), Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Today marks what would have been the 101st birthday of Ella Fitzgerald, the pioneering jazz singer who helped revolutionize the genre. But the iconic songstress’s foray into the music industry was almost accidental, as she had planned to show off her dancing skills when she made her stage debut. Celebrate the birthday of the artist known as the First Lady of Song, Queen of Jazz, or just plain ol’ Lady Ella with these fascinating facts.

1. SHE WAS A JAZZ FAN FROM A YOUNG AGE.

Though she attempted to launch her career as a dancer (more on that in a moment), Ella Fitzgerald was a jazz enthusiast from a very young age. She was a fan of Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, and truly idolized Connee Boswell of the Boswell Sisters. “She was tops at the time,” Fitzgerald said in 1988. “I was attracted to her immediately. My mother brought home one of her records, and I fell in love with it. I tried so hard to sound just like her.”

2. SHE DABBLED IN CRIMINAL ACTIVITIES AS A TEENAGER.

A photo of Ella Fitzgerald
Carl Van Vechten - Library of Congress, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Fitzgerald’s childhood wasn’t an easy one. Her stepfather was reportedly abusive to her, and that abuse continued following the death of Fitzgerald’s mother in 1932. Eventually, to escape the violence, she moved to Harlem to live with her aunt. While she had been a great student when she was younger, it was following that move that her dedication to education faltered. Her grades dropped and she often skipped school. But she found other ways to fill her days, not all of them legal: According to The New York Times, she worked for a mafia numbers runner and served as a police lookout at a local brothel. Her illicit activities eventually landed her in an orphanage, followed by a state reformatory.

3. SHE MADE HER STAGE DEBUT AT THE APOLLO THEATER.

In the early 1930s, Fitzgerald was able to make a little pocket change from the tips she made from passersby while singing on the streets of Harlem. In 1934, she finally got the chance to step onto a real (and very famous) stage when she took part in an Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater on November 21, 1934. It was her stage debut.

The then-17-year-old managed to wow the crowd by channeling her inner Connee Boswell and belting out her renditions of “Judy” and “The Object of My Affection.” She won, and took home a $25 prize. Here’s the interesting part: She entered the competition as a dancer. But when she saw that she had some stiff competition in that department, she opted to sing instead. It was the first big step toward a career in music.

4. A NURSERY RHYME HELPED HER GET THE PUBLIC’S ATTENTION.

Not long after her successful debut at the Apollo, Fitzgerald met bandleader Chick Webb. Though he was initially reluctant to hire her because of what The New York Times described as her “gawky and unkempt” appearance, her powerful voice won him over. "I thought my singing was pretty much hollering," she later said, "but Webb didn't."

Her first hit was a unique adaptation of “A-Tisket, A-Tasket,” which she helped to write based on what she described as "that old drop-the-handkerchief game I played from 6 to 7 years old on up."

5. SHE WAS PAINFULLY SHY.

Though it certainly takes a lot of courage to get up and perform in front of the world, those who knew and worked with Fitzgerald said that she was extremely shy. In Ella Fitzgerald: A Biography of the First Lady of Jazz, trumpeter Mario Bauzá—who played with Fitzgerald in Chick Webb’s orchestra—explained that “she didn't hang out much. When she got into the band, she was dedicated to her music … She was a lonely girl around New York, just kept herself to herself, for the gig."

6. SHE MADE HER FILM DEBUT IN AN ABBOTT AND COSTELLO MOVIE.

As her IMDb profile attests, Fitzgerald contributed to a number of films and television series over the years, and not just to the soundtracks. She also worked as an actress on a handful of occasions (often an actress who sings), beginning with 1942’s Ride ‘Em Cowboy, a comedy-western starring Bud Abbott and Lou Costello.

7. SHE GOT SOME HELP FROM MARILYN MONROE.

“I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt,” Fitzgerald said in a 1972 interview in Ms. Magazine. “It was because of her that I played the Mocambo, a very popular nightclub in the ’50s. She personally called the owner of the Mocambo and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him—and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status—that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard … After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman—a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

Though it has often been reported that the club’s owner did not want to book Fitzgerald because she was black, it was later explained that his reluctance wasn’t due to Fitzgerald’s race; he apparently didn’t believe that she was “glamorous” enough for the patrons to whom he catered.

8. SHE WAS THE FIRST AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMAN TO WIN A GRAMMY.

Ella Fitzgerald
William P. Gottlieb - LOC, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Among her many other accomplishments, in 1958 Fitzgerald became the first African American woman to win a Grammy Award. Actually, she won two awards that night: one for Best Jazz Performance, Soloist for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Duke Ellington Songbook, and another for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance for Ella Fitzgerald Sings the Irving Berlin Songbook.

9. HER FINAL PERFORMANCE WAS AT CARNEGIE HALL.

On June 27, 1991, Fitzgerald—who had, at that point, recorded more than 200 albums—performed at Carnegie Hall. It was the 26th time she had performed at the venue, and it ended up being her final performance.

10. SHE LOST BOTH OF HER LEGS TO DIABETES.

In her later years, Fitzgerald suffered from a number of health problems. She was hospitalized a handful of times during the 1980s for everything from respiratory problems to exhaustion. She also suffered from diabetes, which took much of her eyesight and led to her having to have both of her legs amputated below the knee in 1993. She never fully recovered from the surgery and never performed again. She passed away at her home in Beverly Hills on June 15, 1996.

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