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Showing posts from July, 2015

CityWalk Update: NBC Sports Grill & Brew Construction

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Universal's CityWalk continues to receive a lot of attention, even though this second expansion phase may still not seem to be as important as the first one.
It is true, Guests walking around the area today do not see as many working walls, but it's also true that one of the biggest restaurants in the area is currently being completely overhauled (NBC Sports Grill & Brew), while another one (the NBA City restaurant) will close soon for the same reason. Take a look around:

Changes to Resort Credit Limits at Disney Hotels

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Effective Friday, July 31, resort credit limits will be increased at all Walt Disney World Resort hotels to ensure Guest experiences remain seamless and efficient at every location. Guests will now be able to spend a larger amount of money that will be credited to their resort account (linked to a MagicBand or a Key to the World card). For Value and Moderate resorts, the credit limit was increased to $1500; for Deluxe resorts, the credit limit has been increased to $2000.

Port Orleans: Downtown Disney River Cruise Service Test

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From August 2 to August 8, from 5–11 p.m., Sassagoula River Cruise will test direct service to the Marketplace Dock at the Downtown Disney Area from each resort at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort. The temporary routes will be French Quarter to Downtown Disney Area and Riverside to Downtown Disney Area. Guests wishing to travel between the French Quarter and the Riverside areas of the Port Orleans Resort should utilize the complimentary bus transportation.

Animal Kingdom: AVATAR Land, Discovery Island Updates

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Due to the ever-increasing number of projects taking place inside the park, the OTPN Team has decided to start posting multiple photo-updates focusing on just one or two themed areas of Animal Kingdom to avoid posting too many photos at once, slowing down some devices. This evening, we will focus on Discovery Island, which is currently one of Animal Kingdom's busiest themed lands, thanks to the large amount of work taking place in this particular area.

Beatles Wax Figures Added to Madame Tussauds Orlando

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John, Paul, Ringo, and George continue the major British Invasion at Madame Tussauds Orlando this summer as their wax figures descend upon Florida and take their place, for a limited time only, inside the famed wax attraction on International Drive. The figures of the Fab Four are set in a pose that pays tribute to the 1969 Abbey Road album cover, which captured all four members walking across a zebra crossing (or crosswalk) outside of Abbey Road Studios. 

New FastPass+ Test Taking Place at Fantasmic! Aug. 5-6

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Another important test will take place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 5-6, 2015 for all park Guests holding a FastPass+ entitlement for Fantasmic!
During this test, only one Guest per party will be asked to touch their ticket or a MagicBand to the touch point in order to redeem the FastPass+ entitlements for their entire group. This temporary procedure will apply to all parties, no matter their size. Continue reading for additional details and information about this test.

Magic Kingdom Park Hours Extended Tonight (July 29)

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In order to ensure that Guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort have the best possible experience, the Magic Kingdom Park will be extending operating hours this evening. Park close has been changed from 12:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. for Wednesday, July 29, 2015. While the majority of attractions, restaurants, and shops will continue to operate until park close, the entertainment schedule is not going to be affected by this change. Stay tuned on OTPN for more updates.

iSquare Hotel Project Improvements and New Renderings

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The very ambitious project that includes a vertical mall and Orlando's first 7-star hotel has slightly changed. As some of our Readers will remember, the brand-new iSquare Mall and Hotel was announced back in 2014, and it is expected to include a massive 7-star hotel with a panoramic tower, a rotating restaurant, an indoor mall, and much more. Just recently, though, many news outlets reported that some changes had to be made for the project to be approved by the county.

Epcot: Garden Grill to Start Serving Breakfast and Lunch

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Starting November 8, Guests can enjoy Character dining at the Garden Grill restaurant all day long. Served family style and all-you-care-to-enjoy, the menus for breakfast, lunch, and dinner are inspired by the garden-grown theme of The Land, the pavilion in which the revolving restaurant is locating. For breakfast, look for favorites such as biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, and more. At lunch, all of the selections present on the diner menu will be available.

Walt Disney World: MyDisneyPhotoPass.com Updates

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In preparation for future improvements, three very important changes have been implemented to the popular Disney PhotoPass Service website, which include the following: watermarking pictures that have not been purchased (featured on the PhotoPass site), changes to the availability of digital download copies, and the addition of online print plus download. All these changes went live online, including the mobile version, at MyDisneyPhotoPass.com on July 23. 

Kids Go Free to SeaWorld Orlando Through August 14

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SeaWorld Orlando is inviting Guests to come and celebrate summer in the park, where it's the best time to be a kid. Now until August 14, Guests can enjoy one free child admission with each paid adult admission to SeaWorld Orlando. That definitely makes it a great time to be a parent (or a grandparent, of course), too!
This special offer can only be redeemed online by visiting the official website of the park. Continue reading for additional information about this limited-time deal.

Rafiki's Planet Watch Celebrating "Big Cat Day" on July 30

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On Thursday, July 30, Guests visiting Disney's Animal Kingdom are encouraged to head to Rafiki's Planet Watch from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. for fun games and activities surrounding big cats. Guests will be able to identify tiger calls, color masks to learn how locals wear masks backward to protect themselves from tigers in the wild, learn about the human-cheetah conflict in Africa, watch clips from Disneynature's "African Cats," and learn how the park cares for big cats.

Grand Floridian Resort: Exterior Building Cleaning Begins

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Starting from today, exterior cleaning will take place Monday through Friday on Buildings 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 4 (in that order) of Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Each building will take about one week to complete with Building 4 completed on September 11. Cast Members may need to enter some Guest rooms during this project to dry off patios and balconies. Guests will receive an in-room letter notifying them of this work and any special instructions.

Reign of Kong Update: Loading Area Takes Shape

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In the past months, we have all marveled at the beauty and massive size of the facade hiding the showbuilding of Islands of Adventure's future Reign of Kong attraction. More recently, we started to focus on the rest of the area, as the right side of the building is still mostly unthemed and without outer walls. Things are finally changing, as large frames are now being installed outside what could be the queue/loading area of the new dark ride. Take a quick look around with us.

ECV Rental Now Available at the DisneyQuest Emporium

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To better serve Guests visiting the Downtown Disney area, Electric Conveyance Vehicles (ECVs) can now be rented at the DisneyQuest Emporium on the West Side. As a reminder, Guests can also rent ECVs, wheelchairs, and strollers at Marketplace Stroller and Wheelchair Rentals between Tren-D and Once Upon a Toy in the Marketplace. The price to rent an ECV at Downtown Disney (at either location) is $50.00/day. A regular wheelchair can be rented for $12.00/day.

Magic Kingdom Hub Update: Both Castle Ramps Closed

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Work is well underway to complete the expansion of Magic Kingdom's central hub. As part of this major construction project, the two short ramps leading to the main entrance of Cinderella Castle were closed and partially removed (don't worry, they are just being refurbished). As we reportedearlier today, the Dream Along With Mickey show will be dark until August 19 for this very reason.
Let's take a look around to check on the progress that has been done this week.

Universal Orlando Opens Social Media Engagement Center

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Social Media websites are now widely used around the world, with more and more people using them to reach companies (including theme parks) to share their feedback, ask questions, place reservations, or just to interact with them.
Most of the area's theme parks and attractions have social media accounts, but only a handful of them has an entire team assigned to interact with Guests on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more. Universal Orlando is now one of them.

Reservations Open Soon for Food & Wine Festival Events

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It's hard to believe, but Epcot's International Food & Wine Festival will be back in just a few months. Disney confirmed that reservations will open July 30 for the special festival experiences during the 20th Annual Food & Wine Festival.
As always, all special culinary and beverage events hosted at Epcot require park admission. Guests should call 407-WDW-FEST (407-939-3378) or visit the Festival Center, once the Festival begins, for more information and reservations.

Dream Along With Mickey Going Dark Through Aug. 19

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Due to construction taking place in the area (both castle ramps are being rebuilt), the Dream Along with Mickey show will have no performances through August 19, 2015 at the Magic Kingdom Park. During this time, Guests may still enjoy other live entertainment offerings around the park, including the Main Street Philharmonic, the Main Street Trolley Show, the Move It! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party, Captain Jack Sparrow's Pirate Tutorial, and more.

Cobra's Curse Construction Progressing at Busch Gardens

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A few days ago, the official blog of Busch Gardens Tampa released some great behind-the-wall pictures of the future location of Cobra's Curse, the park's new family coaster that will open in 2016 (click here for additional information).
According to the post, demolition of the interior parts of the former Tut’s Tomb building (a walk-through exhibit) has made significant progress, even though the installation of the actual ride has not started yet. Continue reading to learn more.

Complimentary Beer Tasting Ends at Contemporary Resort

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Many of the themed hotels found around the Walt Disney World Resort offer complimentary tours and events to Guests that may not be advertised outside the property. Unfortunately, some of them are only discovered when they are removed. As an example, starting from today, The Wave Lounge at Disney’s Contemporary Resort will no longer offer the complimentary sampling of organic beers. The beer tasting event previously occurred at 3 p.m. on Saturdays.

Animal Kingdom: More Walls Coming to Discovery Island

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As the expansion of Disney's Animal Kingdom continues, construction walls will expand outside Island Merchantile Wednesday evening (July 29), causing the walkway between the shop and the otter exhibit to shrink to a 10-foot clearance.
During that time, Cast Members will be in the area to help direct Guests. The work is expected to last four weeks. The Animals, Science, and Environment team will monitor any change in the animal’s behavior due to the work.

The Oak Ridge Boys to Perform at SeaWorld Orlando

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This week, SeaWorld Orlando's Concert Series announces The Oak Ridge Boys for the August 1-2 weekend. The Oak Ridge Boys are one of the most distinctive and recognizable sounds in the music industry with their hits “Elvira,” “Thank God for Kids,” and “American Made.” Their four-part harmonies and upbeat songs have spawned dozens of country hits, earned them Grammy, Dove, CMA and ACM awards, and garnered a host of other industry and fan accolades.

United World Soccer Store Reopens at Downtown Disney

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Yesterday morning, United World Soccer kicked off an expanded presence at Downtown Disney with the grand opening of its new store on the West Side.
Growing from a temporary location, then a small kiosk, and finally turning into a new full-service store, United World Soccer features soccer gear for the entire family and carries a collection of soccer balls, footwear, accessories, and more. The shop is expected to call Downtown Disney home for quite a while.

Big River Grille & Brewing Works Closed for Lunch July 29

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The Big River Grills & Brewing Works (a table-service restaurant located inside Disney's BoardWalk Resort) will be closed for scheduled maintenance during lunch on July 29, 2015. The restaurant will operate as normal from 4 p.m.
During the brief closure, Guests may enjoy lunch at any of the nearby dining locations, such as ESPN Club (Disney's BoardWalk Resort), Captain’s Grille or Beaches & Cream Soda Shop (both located at Disney's Yacht & Beach Club).

CityWalk Update: NBC Sports Grill & Brew Construction

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Universal's own entertainment district is slowly entering into the rumored "phase 2" of CityWalk Orlando's major expansion. The addition of the NBC Sports Brew & Grill and the imminent closure of the NBA City Restaurant are rumored to be just some of the pieces of a quite large puzzle that will bring even more new offerings to the area. As you will see in this update, minor work continues to be done around some parts of CityWalk. Let's check out what has changed.

MagicBand Opt-Out Functionality Now Available to Guests

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Are you tired of accumulating MagicBands? In the past, Guests staying at any of on-site hotels of the Walt Disney World Resort received a completely new set of MagicBands before every visit. Unfortunately, Guests that visited on a regular basis (and therefore had many old MagicBands) could not reuse them. After receiving feedback, a new functionality was introduced to disneyworld.com, allowing Guests to opt-out of receiving more MagicBands for resort reservations.

Characters Meeting Guests Around Magic Kingdom's Hub

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Now through August 19, Snow White and Mary Poppins will periodically appear in the West Plaza Gardens (a section of the expanded central hub of the Magic Kingdom Park) to meet Guests. While both of these characters may still utilize their previous greeting location from time to time, they are expected to be seen around the hub more frequently. Snow White and Mary Poppins will go back to their original meet-and-greet locations starting Thursday, August 20, 2015.

New Peer-Reviewed Study About Killer Whales Released

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A peer-reviewed study published in the Journal of Mammalogy by the Oxford University Press adds important insights to the debate over how long killer whales in human care live. The study "Comparisons of life-history parameters between free-ranging and captive killer whale (Orcinus orca) populations for application toward species management" found no difference in life expectancy between killer whales born at SeaWorld and a well-studied wild population.

Incorrect Pizzafari Hours on Animal Kingdom's Times Guide

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Guests visiting Animal Kingdom this week should note that the Times Guide in circulation between July 19-25, 2015 contain incorrect hours for Pizzafari.
The Discovery Island quick service restaurant opens at 10:30 a.m. and closes one hour prior to park close. Hours for the remainder of the week are as follows: 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Thursday, July 23 and Friday, July 24; 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday, July 25. The operating hours for other locations are listed correctly.

Hollywood Studios Update: A "Frozen" Summer (PART 1)

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The "Frozen" Summer Fun event is in full swing at Disney's Hollywood Studios, offering live shows, cavalcades, and even a second nighttime spectacular.
While not a lot of work is being done around the park at this time (it feels like we have been waiting way too long for the rumored major expansion of this park), a few areas are receiving some attention during the busy summer season. Let's take a look around the park, focusing on the Frozen additions and all the rest:

Hollywood Studios Update: A "Frozen" Summer (PART 2)

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Welcome to the second part of our newest Disney's Hollywood Studios photo-report. Be sure to also check our PART 1 of this update by clicking here.
As seen in the previous photos, Walt Disney World Guests do not appear to be bothered by the massive amount of Frozen-themed offerings available in every corner of the park. While we have to admit that hearing the "Let it Go" song for the thousandth time can get tiring, the event certainly attracts a lot of people.

Universal Releases New Sapphire Falls Resort Renderings

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Earlier today, the Universal Orlando Resort officially released some interesting information about one of their newest hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls Resort.
This new resort will open its doors in 2016, becoming the fifth on-site hotel at Universal Orlando. To build on the excitement (themed hotels can definitely be a very important part of the overall Guest experience), the official blog of the resort released new renderings showing areas that will be found within the hotel.

Hoop-Dee-Doo's 4:00 p.m. Show Cancelled for July 24

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Guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort should note that the 4:00 p.m. show of the Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue (a popular dinner-show offered at Disney's Fort Wilderness Resort & Campground) has been cancelled for Friday, July 24. The 6:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. shows are scheduled to go on as usual.
As a reminder, the special Mickey's Backyard BBQ event (offered only on select dates) will also take place at the resort at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, July 24, 2015.

Glidden Paints to Open 'Colortopia' Exhibit at Epcot

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The Glidden paint brand is rolling out a new colorful world in INNOVENTIONS at Epcot, part of the Walt Disney World Resort. The paint brand known for a rich tradition of innovation and color inspiration has collaborated with Walt Disney Imagineers to create a highly interactive color experience called "Colortopia". Opening to park visitors in fall 2015, construction is currently underway to bring the Colortopia experience to life for children and adults of all ages.

Busch Gardens Named One of the World's Top Parks

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Busch Gardens Tampa was recently recognized as one of the winners in the 2015 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice awards as well as in USA TODAY’s 10Best Readers’ Choice awards. TripAdvisor recognized Busch Gardens as one of the Top Amusement Parks in the World. The well-known travel site highlights the World’s top attractions, based on the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings for amusement parks worldwide gathered over a 12-month period.

Disney's "Snow Globe Tour" Traveling Around Orlando

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From a 24-hour kick off event at Magic Kingdom Park to Frozen Summer Fun at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the entertainment teams have been busy creating special events and offerings around Walt Disney World. As part of a partnership between Marketing, Creative Entertainment, and Disney Event Group, the new "Coolest Summer Ever Snow Globe Tour" is bringing a little Disney magic to tourists from around the world who are visiting the Central Florida area.

Version 2.10 of My Disney Experience App Now Available

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Version 2.10 of the "My Disney Experience" mobile app has just been officially released by the Walt Disney World Resort. The updated app is now available to download from the Google Play store (for Android devices) and the iTunes App store (for iOS devices), and it includes some important enhancements.
Since the My Disney Experience app is now an integral part of the overall Guest experience, it's important to learn more about any changes that are introduced.

Reign of Kong Construction Update: Painting the Facade

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Welcome to our newest photo-report, Orlando Theme Park News Readers!
This afternoon we will venture back to Islands of Adventure to check on the progress that has been done in the new Reign of Kong area. While we didn't notice any major difference since our last visit, it is clear that more parts of the imposing facade have been painted. We are sure this will soon become one of the most appreciated themed facades in the entire resort. Take a look:

Disney's Water Parks, Mini-Golf Course Temporarily Closed

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Be advised that Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, and Disney’s Miniature Golf Courses are temporarily closed due to inclement weather. They will reopen to all Guests when it is safe to do so. Since lightning may be present in the area, all Guests currently visiting the area are encouraged to remain indoors until the storm moves away. UPDATE (as of 4:10 p.m.): all the aforementioned locations have now reopened to Guests.

Magic Kingdom's MyMagic+ Service Center Closing Soon

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Guests planning on visiting the Magic Kingdom Park in the next few days should note that, starting from July 21, 2015, the MyMagic+ service center located in the lobby area of the Town Square Theater will be permanently closed.
Park Guests needing assistance with their My Disney Experience accounts or FastPass+ selections will be directed to City Hall (located across the street from the Town Square Theater) or to one of the nearby Disney FastPass+ kiosk.

More Artists to Rock Audiences at SeaWorld Orlando

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The “Celebrating America” Concert Series at SeaWorld Orlando just announced Night Ranger for the July 25 - 26 weekend. Celebrating more than 30 years, 17 million albums sold worldwide, 2,500 live shows and more than one billion listeners on US radio alone, Night Ranger has both epitomized and transcended the sound and style of their era. Over the years, Night Ranger has earned widespread acclaim and multi-platinum album status with legendary hits.

Animal Kingdom Update: A New Amphitheater (PART 1)

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Animal Kingdom's major expansion continues to bring changes to one of the most beautiful Disney theme parks ever created. While very few attractions will be added by the opening of Pandora (the two AVATAR-themed rides may be all the park will receive in the next few years), plenty of new shows, stores, and restaurants are added, enhancing the overall Guest experience. As usual, let's take a look around the park to check on the progress that has been done so far.

Animal Kingdom Update: A New Amphitheater (PART 2)

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Welcome to the second part of our newest Animal Kingdom photo-report, OTPN Readers. Be sure to check out PART 1 first, if you haven't already done so. As you have seen, Discovery Island continues to receive a lot of attention, as the two largest stores of the park get expanded, the Tree of Life continues to be enhanced, and the Flame Tree Barbecue restaurant is refurbished. We will now continue to explore the park, as there is more to see around this amazing place.

Delta IV Rocket Launch Public Viewing Opportunities

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Kennedy Space Center Guests can experience the thrilling sights and sounds of the July 22 launch of an Delta IV rocket, scheduled for 8:07 p.m. EDT, with three exclusive launch viewing locations from which to choose. The Delta IV will carry a Wideband Global SATCOM 7 Satellite, the seventh of 10 high-capacity military communications satellites providing vital service for tactical forces that rely on WGS for connectivity to the Defense Information Systems Network.

Captain EO Officially Returning to Epcot on July 18, 2015

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The ragtag band led by the infamous Captain EO is coming back to save the world once again. Indeed, the 1986 motion picture space adventure starring Michael Jackson will temporarily return to the Magic Eye Theater (located in the Imagination! pavilion) starting Saturday, July 17, even though the FastPass+ service for the attraction will be available starting Sunday, July 18, 2015.
Most of the Captain EO signs and posters have returned in their original form.

Hollywood Studios: New FastPass+ Test at Fantasmic!

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During a test at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guests attending Fantasmic! will be encouraged to visit a FastPass+ kiosk prior to show time for a same-day FastPass+ ticket with a specific section, row, or seat. During this test, pre-arrival and onsite FastPass+ selections (via the My Disney Experience site/app) will not be available for the show. Guests will have to visit a FastPass+ kiosk once inside the park in order to receive a FastPass+ ticket for that day’s show.

SeaWorld Caring for Two Young Orphaned Manatees

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During the past week, the SeaWorld Orlando Animal Rescue Team has been caring for two rescued orphaned baby manatees. The newborn and the month-old calves were both brought to SeaWorld Orlando’s rehabilitation facility after being rescued by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.
The calves were both seen by locals who said the manatees appeared lethargic and swimming alone. The two young manatees are currently being rehabilitated.

Disney's BoardWalk Villas Enhancement Project Update

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Construction crews are currently hard at work as they continue to enhance and refurbish accommodations at Disney’s BoardWalk Villas in multiple phases.
As part of this major project (related work is scheduled to take place through the fall), workers will be replacing bedding and draperies, reupholstering seating, updating tile backsplashes in kitchens, hanging new artwork, adding new bunk-size, pull-down beds, installing new laminate flooring, and much more.

East Pool Refurbishment at Disney's Polynesian Resort

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With the opening of the new Lava Pool at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort, Disney now has the opportunity to refurbish the leisure pool and surrounding area. The East Pool has recently closed in light of the construction project, and it is expected to reopen in early 2016 (no specific dates are available at this time). Some walkways near the construction area may also be unavailable during this time, but alternate paths will always be available and will be clearly marked.