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Showing posts from December, 2014

Magic Kingdom Park Currently at Phase B Status

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As of 2:40 p.m., Magic Kingdom Park is currently in a Phase B status. As a reminder, the difference between Phase A and Phase B status is Guests with Park Hopper tickets re-entering or crossing over from Walt Disney World theme park will not be admitted and will be temporarily be to the other three Walt Disney World theme Parks. Guests are welcome to return to Magic Kingdom Park after the phased status has ended using the same admission media.

SeaWorld Orlando Rescues Manatee in Blue Springs Park

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This past Sunday, the SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team traveled to Blue Spring State Park near Orange City, Fla. to rescue a cold-stressed, adult male manatee. The SeaWorld team worked alongside members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission to rescue the manatee and transport it to SeaWorld. Upon arrival, the 8-foot-long, 660-pound manatee underwent a full health examination and was given antibiotics to treat possible infection.

Animal Kingdom Hours Extended December 30-31. 2014

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In order to ensure that Guests have the best possible experience, Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park will be extending operating hours tonight and tomorrow evening. Park close has been changed from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. for Tuesday, December 30. Additionally, park close has been changed from 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. for Wednesday, December 31. Tomorrow will be one of the longest days ever for the park, which will be open for fourteen hours straight.

"Test the Limits Lab" in Innoventions Closing in January

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After reaching the end of the sponsorship agreement between the Walt Disney World Resort and Underwriters Laboratories, Inc., the Test the Limits Lab exhibit will close in Innoventions East (located at Epcot) on January 6, 2014. No replacement has been announced yet. Guests visiting the park will be able to continue enjoying a variety of exhibits throughout Innoventions East, including Take a Nanooze Break, The Sum of all Thrills, Stormstruck, and Habit Heroes.

SeaWorld Update: Slowly Moving Forward (PART 1)

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It has been a very rough year for the multiple SeaWorld Parks located across the country; it would be very difficult to deny that. The problematic situation of the company is clearly reflected in the parks themselves, which are seeing an incredible amount of Team Members getting laid off, even some who have been with the company for more than 20 years. We truly hope that things will get better in the near future. Let's see what's happening at SeaWorld Orlando:

SeaWorld Update: Slowly Moving Forward (PART 2)

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Welcome to PART 2 of our newest SeaWorld Orlando photo-report. Be sure to check out PART 1 before proceeding, if you haven't already done so. In the previous part of this update, we took a quick look around the entrance of the park, the walkways surrounding Manta, the Key West themed section, Journey to Atlantis, Kraken, and the very "cool" Antarctica area. Let's now continue to walk around the park and enjoy the atmosphere:

Magic Kingdom Park at Phase A Status (Partial Closure)

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As of 12:30 p.m., Magic Kingdom Park is currently at a Phase A status. The park is currently not admitting Guests with Magic Kingdom One-Day tickets; however, their admission will be honored at any of the other three theme parks, and they are welcome to return to Magic Kingdom Park after the phased status has ended using the same ticket. Guests can call 407-560-5000 to get the most updated operating information for all four Disney parks.

Walt Disney World Times Guides (End of Dec.-Jan. 2015)

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The busiest day of the busiest season of the year will be here soon (Dec. 31). While the theme parks in the area have already seen their operating hours extended quite a lot in the past few weeks, these will be stretched even further on the next six days, which will also include plenty of additional offerings to try to please the thousands of Guests that will be visiting the parks (not the wisest choice). Take a look at the newest Times Guides to see what's in store:

More Construction Walls Coming to Animal Kingdom

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As expected, even more temporary barricades are expected to be installed in the next few weeks around Discovery Island as part of the largest expansion in the history of Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park. While the additional walls may create some minor inconveniences, keep in mind that the work being done will result in a much better Guest flow in the future. Here you are some additional information about what you should expect starting next year:

Universal Studios Update: Mornings Are Always Better

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Even during the busiest time of the year, Guests visiting the Central Florida theme parks have the opportunity to enjoy the parks without long waits and crowded walkways by visiting them during the first few hours of operation. That's exactly what we did on our last Universal Studios Florida visit. As the sun moved, so did the crowds. By the afternoon, the park definitely felt very crowded. Feel free to come and join us in this latest virtual tour:

Temporary Cirque du Soleil Cart at Downtown Disney

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Select Cirque du Soleil merchandise started being sold last week (December 24, 2014) as part of a test in the Marketplace area of Downtown Disney. The temporary location can be found near the podium where Cirque du Soleil Ambassadors currently stand (in front of Earl of Sandwich). The operating hours of the pop-up merchandise cart will be 3-9 p.m. Cirque Ambassadors will continue to sell show tickets at this location as well.

Magic Kingdom Hub Update: New Gates and Fountains

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Visiting the Magic Kingdom Park on one of the busiest days of the year is definitely not recommended. That being said, our photographer Alex was brave enough to venture into the park yesterday (December 25, 2014) to check on the current progress of the central hub and the new Main Street U.S.A. bypass. In addition to that, we hope you will enjoy the photos of the massive crowds that covered the streets (while relaxing on your favorite chair at home). Take a look:

SeaWorld Orlando Welcomes Eight Penguin Chicks

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ORLANDO, Fla. (Dec. 26, 2014) – In the last 10 days, eight penguin chicks hatched at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, SeaWorld Orlando’s newest attraction that features a colony of more than 250 penguins from four species – king, Adelie, gentoo and rockhopper. At the state-of-the-art habitat, rocks were put out a few months ago to get the birds ready for breeding season, which starts at the end of October and lasts through January. 

New Sunglass Hut Locations Opening Soon Around WDW

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Two additional locations selling Sunglass Hut products are scheduled to open at the Walt Disney World Resort in January 2015.
- Sals Shades by Sunglass Hut will open January 4 within Singapore Sals at Typhoon Lagoon, featuring an assortment of Sunglass Hut products;
- Island Supply by Sunglass Hut will re-open in Adventureland January 8 at Magic Kingdom Park as an operating participant (non-Disney) location.

Buy a One-Day LEGOLAND Ticket, Get One Free!

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A great offer awaits Guests vising Central Florida's newest theme park. In fact, those who visits the LEGOLAND Florida Resort on December 27, 2014 (with paid admission) will receive a complimentary ticket to return Jan. 1- Feb. 28, 2015. Paid ticket must be taken to the window inside turnstiles for processing from noon to park close. While this great deal is also valid on 2-day tickets, it is not valid with annual passes, complimentary tickets, or other special offers.

Disney's Winter Summerland Refurbishment Starts Jan. 4

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Do you like playing mini golf while visit the Walt Disney World Resort? If so, make sure to note that Disney's Winter Summerland Miniature Golf Course (located next to Blizzard Beach) will be closed for refurbishment beginning Sunday, January 4, 2015. No reopening date was announced at the time this advisory was posted. In the meantime, Disney's Fantasia Gardens Miniature Golf Course will remain open for your enjoyment.

Trattoria al Forno Opens at Disney’s Boardwalk Resort

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Trattoria al Forno officially opened to Guests Thursday, December 18, 2014, at the Walt Disney World Resort. Featuring authentic flavors of Italy’s diverse regions such as wood-fired pizzas, house-made pastas, hand-crafted mozzarella, imported charcuterie and cheese, and a 100 percent Italian wine list, the restaurant (located at Disney’s BoardWalk Resort) is inspired by farms in the Italian countryside with an open kitchen and family-friendly dining rooms.

Auntie Anne’s Pretzels Rolls Into Universal's CityWalk

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CityWalk Orlando continues to expand at a very fast pace. Indeed, the entertainment district recently welcomed yet another new, delicious addition in the past few days. We are referring to Auntie Anne’s Pretzels, the world’s largest soft pretzel company, which recently opened its very first location at Universal Orlando. The store is the thirteenth location opened at a theme park destination since Auntie Anne’s first rolled into theme parks in 2013. 

WDW: Detours and Road Closures on December 31, 2014

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With the busiest season of the year upon us, the parks and roadways around the Walt Disney World Resort are anticipated to be even busier than usual, particularly on New Year’s Eve. As a result, Guests may encounter detours around roadway closures. Drivers should closely follow roadway signs and allow for extra travel time. Resort Guests are also encouraged to use Disney transportation. Here you are some maps showing specific detours in the area:

Port Orleans: River Roost Lounge Serving Breakfast

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The River Roost lounge (located at Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside) will be serving select breakfast items through January 3, 2015. Internally called "River Roast," this test gives Guests the opportunity to experience a secondary location for breakfast at the resort. Available from 8 a.m. to noon daily, the new menu features a few common breakfast items including assorted pastries, breakfast sandwiches, cereals, oatmeal and an assortment of specialty coffees.

Star Wars Themed Event Coming to LEGOLAND in 2015

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The Force grows even stronger at the LEGOLAND Florida Resort with the announcement of LEGO Club Weekend featuring the Star Wars Miniland model display as a new addition to the 2015 events. The park will kick off the year with a full line-up of action-packed fun for 2015 with special events specifically geared towards families with children ages 2 to 12. Guests will want to return again and again to enjoy plenty of special happenings.

Downtown Disney Update: The End of the Year (PART 1)

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The Orlando Theme Park News Team is back again with another construction update covering the Downtown Disney area. While we are still months away from the official rededication of the area, many of the new themed buildings are already taking shape, providing us a glimpse of what the future has in store for the Disney Springs entertainment district. As always, we invite you to join us in this virtual tour of the area. We hope you will enjoy the photos:

Downtown Disney Update: The End of the Year (PART 2)

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Welcome to PART 2 of our newest Downtown Disney/Disney Springs photo-report, OTPN Readers. PART 1 can be found by clicking on this link. In the previous part of this update, we took a look around the area surrounding the new, multi-story parking garage, the West Side, and a section of the former Pleasure Island (now known as The Landing). Let's now visit the rest of this area. After that, we will move on to the Marketplace:

First LEGO Model Built for New LEGOLAND Hotel

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Standing three-feet tall and created out of 5,000 bricks, the first LEGO model has arrived at LEGOLAND Hotel. To become the hotel’s first Model Citizen, this Bellhop traveled thousands of miles from California. It took more than 40 hours to build him by Master Model Builder Alex Andres at LEGOLAND Studios in Carlsbad. “I have always been involved with LEGO since I was a child so to create models such as this bellhop is really a dream come true,” said Andres.

Animal Kingdom: Extra Magic Hours Adjustment

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Due to operational needs, Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park will be moving its Morning Extra Magic Hour from Sunday, January 25 to Monday, January 26, 2015. Since this adjustment is scheduled to take place in more than a month, we will try to post another reminder as we get closer to the actual date. As always, we recommend you continue to check back here on Orlando Theme Park News for any additional updates.

Disney's Magical Express Changes Starting Feb. 2015

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Disney’s Magical Express - the free transportation service connecting the Orlando International Airport to all Walt Disney World hotels - will receive a few minor changes. First of all, the airport transportation booklet will be replaced with a Disney’s Magical Express confirmation letter for Guests arriving February 15, 2015 and beyond (these letters will begin to be delivered to Guests beginning in early January 2015). Continue reading for an example of this letter:

Magic Kingdom Watercraft Service Adjustment (Dec. 30-31)

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Due to increased fireworks activity on Tuesday, December 30, and Wednesday, December 31, the Magic Kingdom watercraft service will pause from 11 p.m. until 12:30 a.m. on both days. This service is used daily to transport Guests from the park to one of the Disney hotels located along the shores of the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake. There will be alternate bus transportation during these time periods from the resorts to Magic Kingdom Park.

King Kong Construction Update: A Quiet Evening

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A few days ago, our photographer Alex went back to Islands of Adventure to check out the current status of the work being done in the future King Kong themed area of the park. While it may seem that not too much progress has been done since our last visit, it was brought to our attention the fact that even more material was delivered on the site. We expect to see Universal pick up the pace once again after the beginning of next year. Take a look:

Sections of the Pangani Forest Exploration Trail Reopen

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The aviary, research center and underwater hippo viewing area of Pangani Forest Exploration Trail (located in the Africa themed area of Disney's Animal Kingdom) reopened to Guest Sunday, December 21. This area was closed for bridge repairs. Since the project has been completed, the Wilderness Explorers birding and hiking badge returned to its original distribution location. In addition to that, the bird and fish collection returned to the exhibit.

My Disney Experience Issues for International Guests

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My Disney Experience for iOS is currently unavailable for downloads or updates via the iTunes Store for Guests with oaccounts based in the United Kingdom and Ireland. Disney's technical teams are aware of this issue and are working towards a resolution. In the meantime, all impacted Guests can still visit MyDisneyExperience.com using their device’s web browser to plan and view their itinerary. This issue does not impact the Android version of the app.

SEA LIFE Orlando Looking for Young Environmentalists

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Orlando, Florida - SEA LIFE Orlando, the brand new immersive aquarium experience opening at I-Drive 360 in spring 2015, has announced a contest to select five children to serve on its Young Environmentalists Panel (click on this link to learn more about this exclusive panel). Each of the panelists, between the ages of 7-12, will serve as ambassadors to help educate the community about SEA LIFE, and its local and global conservation efforts.

Polynesian Resort Update: The Lobby Reopens (PART 1)

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The major refurbishment of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort continues to progress at a very fast pace. This past week, a new milestone was reached, as the redesigned lobby of the hotel debuted. As you will see, gone is the large water feature that used to occupy almost half of the lobby area, which has been replaced by a much smaller water feature, an extensive seating area, light fixtures, plants, and more. Enjoy this latest photo-tour of the resort:

Polynesian Resort Update: The Lobby Reopens (PART 2)

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In the previous part of this new photo-update (which can be found by clicking here), we took a close look at the new lobby of Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. While that particular area of the resort might have lost some of its charm with this refurbishment, there's no doubt that this project was needed for many reasons, especially due to the fact that the hotel as a whole has been standing for more than 40 years. Let's continue to walk around:

Animal Kingdom Lodge News: Sanaa Lounge Relocation

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Over the next few weeks, the lounge in Sanaa will be temporarily relocated during dinner hours to accommodate more Guests for the peak holiday season. The hotel's food & beverage team will be operating the Sunset Savanna Lounge in the Palace Library (located near the lobby of the Kidani Village) beginning Sunday, Dec. 21, through Saturday, Jan. 3, from 4 p.m. to midnight. Assorted wines, beers and Sanaa signature drinks will be available for purchase.

Gwazi Closing Forever Next Year at Busch Gardens

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One of the biggest (and most painful) wooden roller coasters in the Southeast area of the United States will close for good at Busch Gardens Tampa in 2015. While there has been no official announcement yet, Screamscape was able to get an exclusive confirmation directly from a representative of the park. While that will sound like a positive news to many, the confirmation of the coaster's closure was followed by a not-so-exciting rumor.

Animal Kingdom Park Hours Extended Next Week

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In order to ensure that Walt Disney World Guests have the best possible experience, Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park will be extending operating hours next week. Park close has been changed from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. on the following dates: Saturday (December 27), Monday, (December 29), and Tuesday, (December 30). Continue to read to learn more about specific operational changes scheduled to take place next Saturday:

Contactless Payment Available at WDW Starting Dec. 24

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As part of Disney's ongoing efforts to improve the Guest experience, contactless payments will be accepted starting from December 24, 2014 at most Disney-operated merchandise locations, quick-service restaurants, bars/lounges, spas, recreation and ticket sales locations throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. This new form of electronic payment is commonly associated with mobile apps including Apple Pay, Google Wallet or Softcard, and contactless credit cards.

Orlando Eye Construction Update: Last Spoke Installed

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A great milestone was reached in the past few days in the I-Drive 360 area. In fact, the final spoke of the Orlando Eye was installed, officially completing the outer section of the observation wheel. While the glass cabins are still waiting to be installed, those walking by the area can finally see the complete structure that will soon provide a fantastic panoramic view of the Central Florida area to thousands of Guests. Take a look around with us:

Creature Comforts Closing Jan. 4, 2015 at Animal Kingdom

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As we reported at the beginning of this year, Creature Comforts (a themed store located at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park) will close on January 4, 2015 after park closing. The location will reopen in summer of 2015 as a quick-service restaurant, with current rumors pointing to a possible new Starbucks. The MyMagic+ service center that was located in Creature Comforts will also close, but it is scheduled to reopen in a new location in spring of 2015.

Hollywood Studios Park Hours Extended Tonight (Dec. 19)

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Disney's Hollywood Studios is definitely very crowded this evening, and this results in higher-than-usual wait times for the park's (few) attractions. In order to ensure Guests visiting the park have the best possible experience, Disney's Hollywood Studios will be extending operating hours. Park close has been changed from 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. today, December 19, 2014. As always, we recommend checking back here on OTPN for any additional updates.

Baby Lowland Gorilla Born at Busch Gardens Tampa

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Tampa, Fla. (Dec. 19, 2014) – A male endangered western lowland gorilla was born at Busch Gardens Tampa on Tuesday, Dec. 16 at 11:35 a.m. The baby is healthy and is currently being cared for by first-time mother Pele, with the Busch Gardens animal care team watching closely. This is the second gorilla birth at Busch Gardens and brings to six the number of gorillas in the park’s Myombe Reserve habitat, a 3-acre rainforest environment that opened in 1992. 

Soarin' News: New Queue, Surprise Mornings, & More

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Fans of Soarin' are going to be quite happy this evening, as we are ready to share new information that will shed some light on the future of this very popular Epcot attraction. Before starting, we would like to underline the fact that all the information included in this post comes from an extremely reliable source that is very knowledgeable about the project. Anything not yet confirmed will be clearly marked as a rumor. So sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

Traffic Alert: Magic Kingdom Parking Entrance Congested

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Be advised that due to maintenance on a portion of the northbound lanes of World Drive (near the Magic Kingdom Park toll plaza), traffic is moving very slowly through the area. Those who have a need to drive through the area should expect delays. Due to the congestion, Disney table-service restaurants expect a higher rate of no-shows or cancellations; therefore, the no-show/cancellation fees will not be processed for the rest of the evening.

CityWalk Update: NASCAR Demolition Gets Really Serious

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By now, everyone should know that phase 2 of CityWalk Orlando's expansion has officially started. In fact, the demolition of the NASCAR Sports Grille begun a few weeks ago, and it is already at a very advanced stage, and that is just the first of a series of locations that will be replaced very soon. If rumors are to be believed, one of the next buildings that will shut its doors is the NBA City Restaurant. That said, let's focus on the work currently being done:

Fireworks Test at Disney's Hollywood Studios December 19

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If you will be staying at one of the hotels in the Epcot Resort area in the next few days, you should note that there will be a fireworks test Friday, December 19 after park closing (from 10:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m.) at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The test will consist of rooftop firing locations on The Great Movie Ride, Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, Voyage of The Little Mermaid, and Soundstage 4. This is definintely something we should watch very closely...

Towels Available at All Port Orleans Resort-Riverside Pools

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This might sound like a very minor news to some, but we would like to let our Readers know that, beginning tomorrow (Friday, December 19), pool towels will be available for Guests to use at all of the pools at Disney's Port Orleans Resort-Riverside. Previously, Guests needed to bring their own towels at the pools, resulting in possible inconveniences. The towels will be available at multiple locations throughout the pool areas (usually the entrances).

SeaWorld Rescue Team Caring for Cold-Stressed Manatee

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This past weekend, the SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team traveled approximately 300 miles to Savannah, Georgia, to rescue a cold-stressed manatee from the Savannah River. The adult male manatee was successfully rescued Dec. 15 by the SeaWorld team, alongside the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The nearly 9-foot-long, 800-pound manatee was transported to SeaWorld Orlando for rehabilitation. 

STK Orlando to Open at Disney Springs in 2015

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New York, NY (Dec. 17, 2014) — The ONE Group Hospitality, Inc., known for developing upscale, high-energy restaurants, today announced plans to open a STK in Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. STK Orlando is expected to open in The Landing at Disney Springs in 2015, with the full completion of Disney Springs expected in 2016. The new STK will be located within the waterfront setting of The Landing

Pirates of The Caribbean Down for One-Day Refurbishment

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If you are planning on visiting the Magic Kingdom Park today, you should keep in mind that one of the park's most popular attractions will be unavailable for refurbishment that is scheduled to last only one day. In fact, Pirates of the Caribbean closed down last night at 11:00 p.m. and will be reopening with the park on Thursday, December 18. The nature of this quick project is unknown at this time, but we are sure some effect might finally receive some attention.

Note'able Games Reopens at All-Star Music Resort

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The Note'able Games arcade reopened today (Tuesday, December 16, 2014) at Disney's All-Star Music Resort as a non-redemption arcade. This means that Guests will no longer be able to win tickets to redeem for prizes at the location. A Cast Member also will be stationed in the arcade to assist Guests with any questions as they work through this transition. The arcade's hours of operation continue to be 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. But that's not all.