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Showing posts from March, 2015

Magic Kingdom Update: Spring Break Crowds (PART 1)

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One of the busiest times of the year is back, bringing thousands and thousands of visitors from all over the country (and the world) to the Central Florida area. Thanks to the newly-expanded hub, the entrance area of the Magic Kingdom Park didn't feel as cramped this time. That said, areas such as Frontierland and Tomorrowland still feel very crowded. We hope something will be done in those areas in the near future. Let's start to take a look around:

Magic Kingdom Update: Spring Break Crowds (PART 2)

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Welcome to the second part of this new Magic Kingdom Park photo-report. As always, you are encouraged to check PART 1 before proceeding. Previously, we visited Town Square, Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, and more. While the majority of the work is currently being done in those themed areas, there is still a lot to see. We will now continue out tour by checking out Frontierland, Liberty Square, Fantasyland, and more.

Magic Kingdom Update: Spring Break Crowds (PART 3)

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You finally reached the third (and final) part of this Magic Kingdom update. As a reminder, you can find PART 2 of this photo-report by clicking on this link. As you have seen, there are a lot of minor news to report from this park (we wish Epcot and Disney's Hollywood Studios would receive the same amount of attention; alas, it looks like things are moving at a much slower pace in those parks), but we are not done yet. Let's complete our tour of the park:

Earth Day Celebration Returning to Busch Gardens Tampa

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Guests visiting Busch Gardens Tampa are invited to celebrate the beautiful Earth we all share during Earth Day on Saturday, April 18 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The celebration will be filled with Earth Day-themed animal interactions, keeper talks, games and giveaways throughout the park. Multiple animal enrichment activities will take place at the habitats including elephants, gorillas, tigers, lions, orangutans, and cheetahs. See below on times for each activity.

Behind the Cosmetology of Disney's Festival of Fantasy

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As the Disney “Festival of Fantasy Parade” at Magic Kingdom Park crosses the one-year anniversary mark, the show’s magic, beauty, and thrills have not faded or subsided. This is thanks to the dedication of Entertainment and Engineering teams both backstage and on, as they plan and put on this tremendous parade every day. The Cosmetology efforts have helped craft some of the many special and dazzling details for this wonderful daytime parade.

Disney Springs Project Update - MARCH 2015

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Visiting the Downtown Disney area in the next few months? If you are planning on doing so, you will be happy to know that some of the (many) walls that have been up for months around multiple areas of this entertainment district were recently removed, providing a much better experience to Guests. Of course, we are still in the middle of the biggest expansion in Downtown Disney's history, so there's still a lot to do. Let's see what was done in the past few weeks.

CityWalk Update: NASCAR Grille Work Still Taking Place

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Our latest CityWalk Orlando visits have been somewhat underwhelming. The Universal Orlando Resort has been spoiling us in the last few years thanks to all the construction that took place at once. Things have slowed down considerably in this area (the new King Kong themed area is the exception, as well as all that is going on in the backstage areas...), but we are sure there will be many surprises in the next few months. Let's see what has changed:

Updated Magic Kingdom Park Map Available (March 2015)

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As we reported a few days ago, updated Magic Kingdom Park guidemaps are now in circulation around the Walt Disney World Resort. Additions include the new Sunshine Tree Terrace and Aloha Isle locations, the breakfast offering at Be Our Guest Restaurant, as well as the inclusion of turkey legs to the menu of Cool Ship in Tomorrowland (that is also reflected in the Times Guide).
Continue reading to take a look at the front cover and the updated park map:

Bonus FastPass+ Entitlement to Be Available Today

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In order to help Guests make the most of their Walt Disney World Resort visit during the upcoming peak period, a bonus FastPass+ entitlement will be granted to Guests making selections for Monday, March 30. This "surprise and delight" entitlement for a pre-selected attraction will only be granted to Guests visiting Magic Kingdom Park, Disney's Hollywood Studios, or Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park. The bonus FastPass+ entitlement is modifiable.

Buff-Crested Bustard Hatches at SeaWorld Orlando

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Last February, the SeaWorld Orlando Aviculture Team welcomed a buff-crested bustard hatchling. The bird weighed 20 grams upon hatching and was placed in a warm brooder located in a backstage area of the theme park. This species is native to Eastern Africa, where it mainly feeds on a variety of insects and plant materials. To avoid the chick imprinting on its keepers, a mirror was placed inside the brooder so the chick is able to see a reflection of its own image.

Hollywood Studios Update: Pixar Place Expansion (Part 1)

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While the major Disney's Hollywood Studios expansion has not started yet (Disney is really taking its time...), a few minor projects are currently taking place in some of the park's themed areas. For example, Pixar Place is being enlarged as part of the Toy Story Midway Mania expansion, while the Superstar Theater is getting ready to welcome the "For the First Time in Forever - A 'Frozen' Sing-Along Celebrations" show. Let's take a quick look around...

Hollywood Studios Update: Pixar Place Expansion (Part 2)

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Welcome to the second part of our newest Disney's Hollywood Studios photo-report! PART 1 of this update can be found by clicking on this link. In the previous installment of this photo-tour, we checked out the entrance of the park, Hollywood Blvd., the almost completely restored central hub, and more. We will now continue to look around the park, focusing on the rest of Pixar Place, the Streets of America, Sunset Blvd., and more. Enjoy the photos!

Jimmy Fallon Figure Debuts at Madame Tussauds Orlando

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Jimmy Fallon, host of NBC’s “The Tonight Show,” joined Madame Tussauds at their New York attraction for a special launch of five brand new, never-before-seen wax figures of the popular funnyman. The event took place at Madame Tussauds in Times Square and will mark Fallon’s one-year anniversary behind “The Tonight Show” desk. For the first time in history, Madame Tussauds unveiled not one, but five, unique wax figures of a single celebrity.  

SMS Audio Partners with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts

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SMS Audio, LLC, a premier audio headphone brand, and Walt Disney Parks and Resorts have entered into a multi-year strategic alliance naming SMS Audio the official headphones of Walt Disney World Resort in Florida and Disneyland Resort in California. SMS Audio products, including Star Wars First Edition SMS Audio headphones are available for purchase now at select locations throughout Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts. 

New "Frozen Fever" Treats Coming to Disney Parks

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Beginning March 27 at Disneyland Resort in California and April 8 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, select table-service, quick-service, and snack locations will "make today a perfect day" with sundaes, cupcakes and ice-cream cakes inspired by Princess Anna’s cake featured in Disney’s newest animated short film, “Frozen Fever.” These sweet treats are a limited time offering and may not be available at all restaurants. Continue reading to learn more:

WDW Express Monorail: Full Service Temporarily Restored

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As it was reported a few weeks ago, the Express monorail will not be operating from 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays through this summer.
That being said, to accommodate Guests during this busy season, full monorail service will be available March 29 – April 13, 2015. Work will resume on the Express beam on April 14. The Resort monorail service will remain continuously available. Cast Members will also be available to assist Guests.

"Fly With An Astronaut" at Kennedy Space Center

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Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex will soon be offering a special, limited-time, limited-capacity program called “Fly With An Astronaut” in which guests can spend a thrilling half day experiencing the highlights of Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, including a ‘flight’ on Shuttle Launch Experience, with a veteran NASA space shuttle astronaut and pilot. Limited to just 43 guests per day, this opportunity will only be available between April 2 and April 6, 2015.

Walls Installed Around Future "Frozen" M&G Area at Epcot

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As some areas of Epcot's Norway pavilion continue to undergo construction for new themed experiences, construction walls were recently installed around the future site of the "Frozen" meet-and-greet located next to the Mexico pavilion.
Due to these new temporary barriers, the Service Animal Relief area has been relocated between the Outpost and Germany. Additionally, the Agent P's World Showcase Adventure cart in Norway is no longer be available.

Downtown Disney Guest Shuttle Test Beginning March 27

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To enhance the Guest experience during the spring peak season, overflow parking shuttles will be available daily to transport Guests between Hess and Team Disney parking lots and the drop-off area of the West Side garage.
Guest shuttle hours of operation will be 10 a.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday and 10 a.m.-2 a.m. Friday-Saturday. As Guests board these shuttles, they will be given a flier that reminds them where they parked.

King Kong Land Construction Update: More New Details

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The massive facade that will soon tower over the new King Kong themed land at Islands of Adventure continues to receive more and more new details that Guests will definitely love. In addition to the beautiful rock work, a new, unfamiliar face (an imposing face of a statue) can now be seen above one of the many entrances of the attraction's showbuilding. Additionally, new temporary walls were recently installed around the area. Let's explore this place together.

"Tomorrowland" Sneak Peek Coming to Epcot in April

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Guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort will be able to catch an exclusive preview of scenes from the upcoming Disney movie "Tomorrowland" in April.
For a limited time, a sneak peek of the movie will be presented with special in-theater effects (not in 3-D) at Magic Eye Theater, located inside the Imagination Pavilion at Epcot. The same special opportunity will be available to Guests at the Tomorrowland Theater at Disneyland Park in California.

Updated Magic Kingdom Maps Available Starting March 27

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New guidemaps for Magic Kingdom Park will soon be in circulation at the Walt Disney World Resort. Additions include the new locations of the Sunshine Tree Terrace and Aloha Isle, breakfast offering at Be Our Guest Restaurant, and the addition of turkey legs to the menu of Cool Ship in Tomorrowland.
The new guidemaps will debut Friday, March 27 and include updated English maps, as well as all five translations and the Guide for Guests with Disabilities.

SeaWorld Returns Rescued Manatee Back to its Home

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On March 25, the SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team returned a male manatee by the name of Streak back to the same waters it was rescued from.
The manatee was rescued Dec. 28, 2014, from Blue Springs State Park near Orange City, Fla., by the SeaWorld team and members of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Following his rescue due to cold stress, Streak was transported to SeaWorld Orlando for acute care and rehabilitation.

Magic Kingdom Update: Adventureland News (PART 1)

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The Magic Kingdom park continues to be under the spotlight. Even though a big section of the expanded central hub has already opened to Guests, there are still more new walkways and themed structures that fans are waiting to see installed in this area. Quite a few changes will also continue to take place in Adventureland, including the opening of a new (rumored) restaurant, the major refurbishment of Pirates of the Caribbean, and more. Let's take a look around.

Magic Kingdom Update: Adventureland News (PART 2)

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Welcome to the second part of our newest Magic Kingdom Park photo-report. As always, be sure to check out PART 1 of this update before proceeding. Previously, we took a look around the entrance of the park, Main Street U.S.A., the park's central hub, and parts of Adventureland. Let's continue to walk around the park to see if there is anything new to report from the rest of the themed lands that make us this wonderful place. We hope you will enjoy the photos.

LEGO Friends Rooms Coming to LEGOLAND Hotel

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The only LEGO Friends rooms in the United States, and the only LEGO Friends suite in the world are coming to LEGOLAND Hotel at the LEGOLAND Florida Resort. The announcement came at a New York City event where a curtain dropped and the last of four highly-themed room designs was revealed.
Guests at the event experienced the fourth theme first-hand by stepping into a life-size replica of the children’s sleeping area of the future hotel rooms.

Hollywood Studios: New Studio Catering Co. Menu

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The official Disney Parks Blog announced earlier today that the not-so-popular Studio Catering Co. restaurant - located between the Streets of America and Pixar Place at Disney's Hollywood Studios - just received a tasty new menu that includes sandwiches, wraps, and a few more healthy options such as soups and more. The location's menu appears to have been been greatly improved. Take a look at just some of these new food & beverage offerings:

Walt Disney World Resort Theme Parks Wi-Fi Upgrade

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Just recently, the Wi-Fi network was upgraded at all four of Walt Disney World's theme parks, providing faster connections and less interference.
Due to this upgrade, a small number of Guests with older devices (e.g., the first generation iPhone) may not be able to connect to the network. If a Guest is experiencing Wi-Fi issues and would like to make FastPass+ selections, they will be directed to a MyMagic+ Service Center or a FastPass+ Kiosk location.

I-Drive 360 Update: Themed SEA LIFE Building Exterior

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Just a few days ago, the Orlando Theme Park News Team visited the new I-Drive 360 area during the early evening hours to check what has been done since our last visit. We were very happy to see that the entire area is continuing to receive additional themed elements (such as the colorful wrap around the building housing the SEA LIFE Aquarium) as well as new dining locations and more. Let's take a quick look around together, shall we?

Saratoga Springs Resort: Turf Club Food Service Test

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During a test that is currently expected to last about six weeks, appetizers will be served Thursdays through Sundays in the lounge area next to The Turf Club Bar & Grill, located at Disney's Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa.
Nestled alongside the Lake Buena Vista Golf Course clubhouse, The Turf Club Bar and Grill one of the best-kept secrets of the resort and the perfect spot to unwind after a round of golf. See the lounge menu for more details on the test.

United World Soccer Store Closing at Downtown Disney

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The popular United World Soccer store (a temporary retail shop for FIFA World Cup soccer fans located at Downtown Disney) will officially close on March 25, 2015 and transition into a new retail concept called Super Hero Headquarters.
The new Super Hero Headquarters themed shop is expected to open in early May 2015 and feature popular superhero-themed merchandise. More details will be shared at a later date, so stay tuned here on Orlando Theme Park News.

SeaWorld Parks Launching New Advertising Campaign

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SeaWorld Entertainment just launched a new advertising campaign highlighting the company's leadership in the care of killer whales and contributions to protect whales both in human care and in the wild. This new campaign will emphasize SeaWorld's 50-year commitment to continuous evolution (including its recent announcement of new killer whale habitats) while setting the record straight on false accusations by activists who oppose animals in zoological settings.

Disney's Animal Kingdom Receives AZA Accreditation

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Some great news were released yesterday at the mid-year conference of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) in Columbia, South Carolina.
The AZA has officially accredited Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park as well as Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge for the next five years. Accredited zoos and aquariums must meet the organization’s high standards for animal management and care, including living environments, social groupings, health, and more.

Magic Kingdom Park Hours Extended on March 24, 2015

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Due to an expected high volume of Guests visiting the area in the next few days, the Magic Kingdom Park will be extending operating hours for tomorrow.
The park will be closing at Midnight on March 24, 2015 (Magic Kingdom was originally scheduled to close at 11 p.m. tomorrow evening). No changes to the entertainment schedule are expected to take place at this time. Be sure to continue to check back here on OTPN for any additional updates.

Special Keeper Talks to Take Place at Busch Gardens

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Busch Gardens Tampa is giving Guests an exciting opportunity to experience the recent baby boom at the park. On select Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays in March and April, park Guests will be among the first to see these endangered species during special interactions and keeper talks.
Very informative "Keeper Talks" and views of cheetah cubs and baby gorillas will take place at the park on March 24-26 and 31, and April 1-2, 2015. 

Polynesian Resort: Bora Bora Bungalows Preview (Part 1)

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The brand-new Bora Bora Bungalows at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort will officially open to the very first overnight Guests in the next few weeks; that said, select visitors were able to preview these new secluded villas earlier today. As you will see, these new accommodations are undeniably great, providing a relaxed atmosphere and all the amenities that Guests may need during their stay. Will prices match the quality of these bungalows? You be the judge:

Polynesian Resort: Bora Bora Bungalows Preview (Part 2)

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Welcome to part 2 of this great preview of the new Bora Bora Bungalows!
In PART 1 of this photo-tour we focused on the boardwalk leading to the single bungalows, the entrance patio, as well as the master bedroom, the secondary bedroom, and one of the bathrooms. Let's continue to take a look around, because there's still more to see. We will check out the mater bath, the kitchen, the living room, the back patio (with the plunge pool), and more.

Richard Petty Driving Experience Offer for DVC Members

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It's time for Disney Vacation Club Members to start their engines!
They can put the pedal to the metal during the Richard Petty and Exotic Driving Experiences at Walt Disney World Resort before it officially closes later this year. For a limited time, Disney Vacation Club Members can enjoy 25% off the Richard Petty Driving Experience, where they can live their dream of becoming a NASCAR driver on Walt Disney World’s mile-long tri-oval racetrack. 

Islands of Adventure Update: JP River Adventure Reopens

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While our eyes were focused on the new King Kong themed area currently under construction at Universal's Islands of Adventure, numerous other projects were completed around the park. A few examples would be the top-to-bottom refurbishment of Sweet Haven (which includes Popeye and Bluto's Bilge-Rat Barges and Me Ship, The Olive), Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls, and Jurassic Park River Adventure. Let's check out these attractions and more:

Overnight Noise to Impact Magic Kingdom Area Hotels

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Guests staying at one of the Disney Resorts located around the Seven Seas Lagoon (such as the Grand Floridian, Polynesian Village, and Contemporary Resorts) or Bay Lake (the Wilderness Lodge and the Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground) may experience noise impacts after Magic Kingdom closes on Friday, March 27, due to an overnight parade rehearsals at the park. Guests may ask the front desk during their stay for additional information.

Contemporary Resort: Extended Hours at Chef Mickey's

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Guests visiting Disney's Contemporary Resort in the next few weeks should note that Chef Mickey's will extend operating hours from Sunday, March 29 to Saturday, April 11. On these dates, breakfast will be extended until 12:30 p.m. and dinner will open at 4 p.m. Hours will go back to normal starting April 12.
The area's theme parks and hotels are expected to be very busy in next two weeks are expected to be very busy. Check back here for more advisories.

The Orlando Eye Releases Preview Weekend Tickets

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Want to be the first to "fly"? The Orlando Eye released tickets for International Drive’s newest attraction. Guests seeking to be on the first flights can sign up at OfficialOrlandoEye.com. Only e-newsletter subscribers can purchase tickets for the May 1-3 preview weekend. Starting at $18, tickets will be available for the special weekend preview, and can only be purchased with an invitational link included in the March 20 e-newsletter distribution.

Major Innoventions East & West Closures Confirmed

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In the past weeks, rumors pointing to the possible closure of Innoventions West started circulating around the internet. While many received information from very reliable sources, we were all still waiting for an official written statement by the Walt Disney World Resort. Earlier this morning, an official announcement confirmed the rumors: Innoventions West will close to be refurbished. At the same time, something will also change inside Innoventions East.

Introducing New Fireworks Dessert Party at Magic Kingdom

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Beginning July 5, the Tomorrowland Terrace Dessert Party at Magic Kingdom Park will transform into Wishes Fireworks Dessert Party. This popular offering will continue to provide Guests the opportunity to indulge in a decadent dessert experience while enjoying great views of the fireworks over Cinderella Castle.
The new fireworks party has been enhanced to include new menu options including seasonal fruit and cheese, character-themed cupcakes, and more.

Delta IV Rocket Launch Viewing at Kennedy Space Center

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Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests can experience the stunning sights and powerful sounds of the March 25 Delta IV rocket launch, scheduled for 2:36 p.m., with four exclusive launch viewing locations from which to choose. The Complex will offer launch viewing from the LC-39 Observation Gantry, the NASA Causeway, as well as bleacher seating or an open lawn viewing area near Space Shuttle Atlantis located at the main Visitor Complex.

"Taste Track" Kiosk Opens at Epcot's Future World East

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A new food and beverage location opened at Epcot in the past few days.
Replacing the former Cool Wash Pizza, the new Taste Track serves beverages, soup, salad, and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches for less that $10. Taste Track is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., and is located near Test Track, right across from Cool Wash (a car wash-themed snack kiosk). This permanent location also includes a very small outdoor dining area.

First Downtown Disney Pedestrian Bridge Installed

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As Downtown Disney continues to transform into Disney Springs, significant progress continues to be made on roads and infrastructure work in the area.
Two pedestrian bridges will open to Guests and Cast Members later this years as part of this major project. The first pedestrian bridge, expected to open later this spring, was installed on March 19, 2015 during the early morning hours, and extends from the Team Disney area across to Downtown Disney.

"Clyde and Seamore’s Sea Lion High" Debuting April 16

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Today, SeaWorld Orlando announced the opening date of April 16 for the all-new show “Clyde and Seamore’s Sea Lion High.” Full of adventure, fun and big personalities, the show takes place in an aquatic-themed high school where laughter and education go hand in hand (er, flipper). When Clyde and Seamore are nominated to win scholarships to Ocean University, they must enter crash courses in science, dance and gym in a storyline that is full of fast-paced fun.

Animal Kingdom Update: New Pathway in Asia (PART 1)

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Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park is looking a lot like Downtown Disney at the moment. Guests will find temporary construction walls in almost every single themed land, as the park is in the middle of its biggest expansion ever.
While this could be seen as a negative thing by certain Guests, we should all try to look toward the future. Just imagine how beautiful the park will be once all the new areas and offerings will officially open to the public! Let's walk around...

Animal Kingdom Update: New Pathway in Asia (PART 2)

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Thank you for joining us in part 2 of this Disney's Animal Kingdom construction update. As always, be sure to check out PART 1 before proceeding. In the previous part of this photo-report, we took a good look at all the areas of Discovery Island that are currently behind walls, including the two shops near the Oasis, the Flame Tree Barbecue, Pizzafari, and more. We will continue our tour of the park by checking out the rest of the area as well as Africa: