Showing posts from August, 2015

Allergy-Friendly Menus Now Available Throughout WDW

The introduction of allergy-friendly menus at Disney-operated table-service and quick-service restaurants began in a phased approach earlier this spring.
Today, more than 75 restaurants across the Walt Disney World Resort offer allergy-friendly menus focusing on the most common food allergens, including gluten/wheat, milk, peanut, tree nut, and fish. All food and beverage locations will continue to use reasonable effort to accommodate any dietary requirements.

Major Kennedy Space Center Expansion Project Unveiled

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is a unique and inspiring attraction that celebrates human achievements in the space exploration program.
Despite all the great exhibits and shows that are offered in the visitor complex, many will agree that it cannot be considered a true theme park (there is only one ride in the complex), and there is nothing wrong with that. That said, it looks like things will change in the future, as more shows and rides may be in the works.

Additional Winged Encounters Showtime on EMH Mornings

To be consistent with all the other showtimes, the first performance of Winged Encounters (a daily show performed around Discovery Island at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park) will take place 8:44 a.m. on Extra Magic Hours mornings.
Previously, the first showtime on non-EMH mornings was at 8:44 a.m. while the first showing on EMH mornings was at 9 a.m. The alignment of the showtimes of the Winged Encounters show will allow for consistency moving forward.

Disney's Hollywood Studios Bus Stop Change (Aug. 2015)

In an effort to increase Guest satisfaction, the buses from Disney's Hollywood Studios returning to Disney's Port Orleans Resort–Riverside and Disney's Port Orleans Resort–French Quarter will now have separate load zones.
Riverside Guests will now use load zone 10, while French Quarter Guests will use load zone 11. In addition to that, if the Friendship boats are experiencing a downtime, Guests will be able to use load zone 12 to get back to Epcot resorts. 

Merlin Entertainments Hiring 40 New LEGO Model Builders

Merlin Entertainments continues its expansion in Central Florida by hiring more than 40 talented men and women who will get “paid to play” as full-time LEGO Model Builders for "Merlin Magic Making." This very creative branch of Merlin Entertainments designs and delivers attractions, hotels and other major projects around the globe. The hiring announcement was made on August 25, following the assessment of 30 LEGO Model Designer candidates at LEGOLAND Florida.

Magic Kingdom Hub Update: Rebuilding the Castle Ramps

A few days ago, the popular "Dream Along with Mickey" show started again to be preformed daily in the central hub of the Magic Kingdom Park.
Despite the fact that the show takes place on the Cinderella Castle stage, work continues to take place around it (short walls are still up in front of said stage), and the two castle ramps located on each side of this stage are still taking shape. Come along with us and take a quick look around the park's central hub.

New Background Music Debuts at Downtown Disney

As Downtown Disney continues to slowly transform into Disney Springs, Guests walking around the area may notice that the background music was recently changed to fit the Disney Springs storyline (which will focus on old Florida).
Throughout the property, Guests will hear a wonderful blend of contemporary, lounge-style music, setting the mood for fun, adventure, or relaxation. Guests will hear similar music arrangements in the Town Center area of Disney Springs.

CityWalk Orlando Update: Colorful New Banners Debut

In the past few months, the majority of our CityWalk construction updates focused almost exclusively on the new NBC Sports Bar & Grill. While we will definitely stop by that area, this time we will check out the majority of the new banners that were recently installed around CityWalk. As you'll see, these new additions advertise some of the most popular restaurants and shops found in this entertainment district, as well as some attractions found inside the parks:

New Quick Service Menu Items Available at Port Orleans

Assortments of new delicious menu items have been added to the Riverside Mill (the main quick-service restaurant located inside Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside) and the Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory (found at Disney's Port Orleans Resort - French Quarter). As part of a recent property-wide menu updating project, over 37 items were changed or added to create a memorable and varied experience for Guests staying at (or just visiting) these hotels.

Cobra's Curse Construction Continues at Busch Gardens

More than a week ago, the official Busch Gardens Tampa Blog posted a quick update covering the construction of Cobra's Curse, the new family coaster that is currently scheduled to open in 2016 in the Egypt themed area of the park.
In addition to some great behind-the-wall photos, the blog post included a few words from the Regional Director of Design and Engineering, who is working on this exciting project for the park. Take a look at what's currently happening:

Disney Water Parks Closed Due to Inclement Weather

Guests visiting the Walt Disney World Resort should be aware of the fact that inclement weather conditions are impacting some locations across property.
For this reason, Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park, Disney's Blizzard Beach Water Park, and Disney's Miniature Golf Courses are temporarily closed to all Guests, and will reopen when it will be safe to do so. UPDATE (6:45 p.m.): All locations have reopened with the exception of Disney's Blizzard Beach.

Discovery Island Kiosk Refurbishments at Animal Kingdom

As previously reported, the Allergy Kiosk located on Discovery Island (at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park) is currently closed for refurbishment, and is scheduled to return to operation on September 2, 2015. Starting from September 2 through September 22, the Beastly Kiosk in Asia will be closed for refurbishment. That location is scheduled to reopen on September 23. During this time, menu items from the kiosks will not be relocated to other kiosks.

Large Fishing Hook Removed From Rescued Sea Turtle

Yesterday morning, a veterinarian at SeaWorld Orlando successfully removed a fishing hook embedded in the mouth of a rescued loggerhead sea turtle.
This juvenile loggerhead sea turtle currently weighs approximately 60 pounds and was rescued near Jetty Beach (located near Cape Canaveral, Florida) by the Sea Turtle Preservation Society. The injured animal was promptly brought to SeaWorld Orlando for immediate medical attention and rehabilitation.

Courtesy Wheelchairs No Longer Available at Disney Hotels

To further align resort and park processes, as well as match industry standards, courtesy Guest wheelchairs will no longer be available at Walt Disney World Resort hotels starting from next month (at the moment, the rumored date for the implementation of this change is Tuesday, September 8, 2015).
That said, Guests staying at any of the Disney hotels can still rent wheelchair equipment from featured vendors, which will be available for a nominal fee.

Reign Of Kong Update: Mountain Range Starts to Appear

Just a few weeks ago, theme park fans started noticing that the ground around the Reign of Kong area was being prepared for the installation of the outdoor portion of the ride's track. Earlier today, we spotted some new steel pieces that could be used as part of the path on which the ride vehicles will soon travel.
In addition to that, the faux mountain range behind the rockwork is finally getting painted. Take a look around this new themed area inside Islands of Adventure:

Discovery Cove Offering Fall Offer to Florida Residents

Just in time for Labor Day travel planning, Discovery Cove is offering Florida residents a special offer that continues giving through 2016. Available now through December 2015, the all-inclusive offer provides Florida locals a reduced Dolphin Swim Experience package starting at $219 plus tax, and a Day Resort package (sans dolphin swim) for $149 plus tax. Residents will also receive unlimited admission to SeaWorld and Aquatica through Jan. 31, 2016.

FastPass+ to Be Available for all Eat to the Beat Concerts

For the first time ever, the popular service that lets Disney Parks Guests reserve their favorite attractions and shows before they arrive is coming to the Eat to the Beat concert series, taking place at Epcot during the Food & Wine Festival.
Starting from today (Wednesday, August 26, 2015), Guests can secure a spot for concert performances with a FastPass+ selection. While there will not be a separate seating area, FastPass+ Guests will be the first to enter the theater.

Atlas V Rocket Launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station

Space enthusiasts looking for the perfect way to spend the day before the Aug. 31 Atlas V launch (scheduled for 6:07 a.m.) will find Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex the ideal destination. On Aug. 29 and 30, speakers from United Launch Alliance will give special presentations about the upcoming mission and the Atlas V rocket to visitor complex guests. The rocket will lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying a Mobile User Objective System satellite. 

Star Wars Half Marathon Coming to Walt Disney World

Building on the success and popularity of its race event portfolio, runDisney will add a Star Wars-themed race weekend at Walt Disney World Resort in 2016.
The Star Wars Half Marathon – the Dark Side will enter the galaxy April 14-17, 2016 at Walt Disney World Resort and pays homage to the dark side forces of the Star Wars universe. This race follows the debut of the popular Star Wars Half Marathon – the Light Side at Disneyland Resort, returning in January 2016.

Merlin Attractions to Offer Discounts to First Responders

Merlin Entertainments has announced special discounts and offers for police officers, firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel for all four of its Central Florida attractions, which include LEGOLAND Florida Resort, the Orlando Eye, Madame Tussauds Orlando, as well as the SEA LIFE Orlando Aquarium. For the entire month of September, first responders can receive a complimentary single day admission ticket to LEGOLAND Florida theme park. 

Version 3.0 of My Disney Experience App Now Available

The Walt Disney World Resort officially released version 3.0 of the "My Disney Experience" mobile application for both Android and iOS devices.
New features include the addition of the Disney PhotoPass service (Guests can now check their photos and other account details in the app), a redesigned sign-in screen that is more user-friendly, the addition of the selfie stick rules, updated park maps, and more. Continue to read the rest of this post for additional details.

Audible Alarm Test at Disney's Contemporary Resort

The annual audible alarm test is scheduled to take place on Thursday, Aug. 27 at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. The expected duration is approximately 15-20 minutes per building and all horns and strobes will be activated. Affected areas include Bay Lake Tower (2:30 p.m.), the South Garden Wing (3 p.m.) and the Main Tower (3:45 p.m.). In-room collateral will be placed in all Guest rooms and multiple temporary signs will be placed throughout the entire resort.

New Fast & Furious Attraction Coming to Universal Orlando

Just a few minutes ago, a very intriguing news leaked on Twitter. Thanks to user @TheNJBrandon, we are finally able to confirm that a new Fast & Furious ride will soon replace the existing Disaster! attraction in the San Francisco themed area of Universal Studios Florida. According to the leaked information, the new ride will be different from Universal Studios Hollywood's version of the ride, even though the two will undoubtedly share some similarities.

Nighttime Show Rehearsals to Impact Select Disney Hotels

In preparation for some special events that will take place this fall at Magic Kingdom, audio and pyrotechnic checks will be conducted during the overnight hours on select dates. Audio sound checks will take place Aug. 22–29, Aug. 31–Sept. 5, and Sept. 8–14. Pyrotechnic effects will be tested Aug. 27–28, Sept. 1–3, and Sept. 12–14, 2015. Guests staying at any of the Disney Hotels located around the Seven Seas Lagoon and Bay Lake will receive in-room notices.

Passholder Appreciation Month Offers at Universal Orlando

The Universal Orlando Resort will show appreciation to Anuual Passholders by offering exclusive discounts and benefits throughout the month of September.
In addition to the usual shopping and dining discounts, Universal Orlando will offer early park admission, hotel discounts, a free digital photo at some Photo Connect locations inside both theme parks, and much more. The best part? All these special offer apply to all Passholders - Power, Preferred, and Premier.

Animal Kingdom Update: Building Floating Islands (PART 1)

The new floating islands that will soon dominate the skyline within Pandora: The World of AVATAR continue to take shape at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
While that is surely one of the most important projects currently taking place in the park, there is much more to check out while walking around Discovery Island, Asia, and DinoLand. As you'll see, some of the shops continue to be expanded, while the Rivers of Light amphitheater takes shape nearby. Enjoy:

Animal Kingdom Update: Building Floating Islands (PART 2)

Welcome to the second part of our newest Animal Kingdom photo-report, Orlando Theme Park News Readers. PART 1 of this update can be found here. In the previous part, we took a good look around Discovery Island, the future AVATAR-themed land, and a small section of Harambe. Let's now continue to explore this great theme park, focusing on Asia and DinoLand. Remember to share your thoughts with us in the comment section at the end of the update!

New Site Connects Theme Park Guests in One Community

ThemeGo, the first global, community-based theme park vacation planner, has officially debuted, enabling travelers to share their first-hand experiences of the $15-billion theme park industry on a single go-to site. ThemeGo was founded by Yariv Padva, a Tel Aviv-based product expert who became enthralled with the fascinating world of theme parks after visiting Walt Disney World at the age of 13. Since then, he has visited at least 25 theme parks around the globe.

Disney's Port Orleans Resort Bus Operation Adjustments

Beginning August 24, concrete work around the main bus stop at Disney's Port Orleans Resort-Riverside will temporarily impact the resort's bus operation.
The first shelter will pick-up Guests heading to Downtown Disney and Disney's Hollywood Studios. The second shelter will pick-up Guests who would like to go to Magic Kingdom Park, Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Epcot. Buses will return to their normal operation starting Friday, August 28, 2015 (weather permitting). 

New Fine Art Merchandise Locations at Hollywood Studios

Starting from today, fine art merchandise including Disney Images by Thomas Kinkade, Olszewski Studio Gallery of Light, Disney Character framed fine art, deluxe prints, figurines, sketch art, Vinylmation, as well as ink and paint cels will be available to purchase at Stage 1, which is located near Muppet Vision 3D.
Artwork from Disney by Britto and Jim Shore Disney Traditions will be available at Celebrity 5 & 10. “Frozen” collectibles are available at Legends of Hollywood.

Busch Gardens' Summer Event Extended Through Sept. 7

After many weeks of fun activities and extended hours, Busch Gardens Tampa’s signature summertime event Summer Nights has officially concluded for 2015, but the park is keeping the excitement going for one more weekend.
Guests can enjoy extended hours and three nights of fireworks during Labor Day weekend, Sept. 5-7. For one weekend only, Busch Gardens will be open ‘til midnight on Saturday and Sunday (Sept. 5 and 6), and until 9 p.m. on Sept. 7. 

kidsHeritage Books Now Available at the Grand Floridian

Beginning today (Friday, August 21), Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa is proud to host Deanna Bufo Novak, author of the kidsHeritage line of kids' books.
From 6:30–9:30 p.m. every Friday and Saturday night, Deanna will meet Guests and sign books in the M. Mouse Mercantile store (which also sells apparel, pins, toys, jewelry, Vinylmation figures, and more). A variety of her children's books will be available during this time for Guests to purchase and personalize.

New "Walt Disney World Live" Twitter Account Debuts

Just a few days ago, the Walt Disney World Resort announced the introduction of a brand-new Twitter account, known as @WDWToday. This official account offers Guests suggestions, tips, and answers to their questions during their visit to the Walt Disney World Resort. This new social media account (which will also feature special opportunities to interact with Walt Disney World Cast Members) is currently in a soft launch and will officially go live starting from August 24.

CityWalk Update: NBA City Restaurant Closes for Good

Last Sunday was the last day of operation of the NBA City Restaurant, which has been one of CityWalk's biggest dining location for many years. While the store attached to the restaurant was supposed to remain open for a few more days, it too closed on Monday, leaving a lot of merchandise on the shelves.
This morning, we will take a look around the entire area, checking out the former NBA City Restaurant and the new NBC Sports Grill & Brew. Enjoy the tour:

Kali River Rapids to Operate During Extra Magic Hours

Beginning Sunday, August 23, Kali River Rapids will operate during Extra Magic Hours (EMH) at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Due to the nature of the ride, this additional offering may operate at this schedule seasonally, therefore additional communication will be provided if the attraction is no longer available during EMH. For awareness, Extra Magic Hours are hosted at Disney's Animal Kingdom Sundays and Wednesdays at 8 a.m. through September 16, 2015. 

Upcoming Roadway Changes Around Downtown Disney

As Downtown Disney continues to transform into Disney Springs, Guests may notice more roadwork on Buena Vista Drive in the coming months to support the area’s future growth. Buena Vista Drive is being widened from 7 to 10 lanes with dedicated bus lanes. Additionally, two pedestrian bridges and an additional slip ramp will open in the next few weeks. The next phase of roadwork will begin August 25, 2015 and impact road lanes, turn lanes, sidewalks, and crosswalks.

New Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen Opens at SeaWorld Orlando

Theme park snacks take a fun twist at the new “Mama’s Pretzel Kitchen” inside SeaWorld Orlando. Pretzel connoisseurs can now savor sweet and salty pretzel combinations while sipping on a variety of local and seasonal craft beers, frozen cocktails, wines and beverages. The menu of this new dining location location features a good selection of both original and unusual soft pretzel creations, with plenty of mouth-watering options and a variety of specialty dipping sauces

Disney's Miniature Golf Courses Temporarily Closed

Be advised that Walt Disney World's Miniature Golf Courses (Disney's Fantasia Gardens and the nearby Disney's Winter Summerland) are currently closed due to inclement weather. These locations will reopen when it will be safe to do so.
Disney's Typhoon lagoon and Disney's Blizzard Beach have already closed for the day (both water parks close at 8 p.m. during this time of the year). Be sure to check back here on Orlando Theme Park News for any additional updates.

Walt Disney World Monorail Hours Changes (Aug.–Sept.)

As part of ongoing infrastructure work being done around the Walt Disney World monorail system, the hours of operation of this transportation system will be adjusted over the next few weeks. As a result of this, the Express monorail mid-day suspensions will only occur on Thursdays from August 23 to September 5.
Buses and watercraft will continue to be available to Guests needing to reach the Transportation and Ticket Center from the Magic Kingdom and vice-versa.

New Aerial Images of Orlando's Theme Parks & Attractions

On August 5, 2015, the NearMap website was updated to show a more current aerial view of some of the major cities in the United States, including Orlando.
Thanks to this update, we are able to get an up-close look at some of the areas that are currently under construction around Central Florida's theme parks. As you will see, the progress that has been done in some locations (like Islands of Adventure and Animal Kingdom) is nothing short of amazing. Take a look!:

Disney Attractions+ Discontinued at Walt Disney World

As part of ongoing enhancements to the Disney PhotoPass offerings, the Disney Attractions+ product was permanently discontinued from all locations around the Walt Disney World Resort (full list found below) on Sunday, August 16, 2015.
Disney Attractions+ was an all-access pass that allowed Guests visiting any of the four Disney Parks to get their on-ride photos for one flat price. Walt Disney World Resort Guests still have multiple PhotoPass packages to choose from.

Disney Characters Still Meeting in the West Plaza Gardens

As announced just a few weeks ago, Snow White and Mary Poppins recently started to periodically appear in the West Plaza Gardens of the Magic Kingdom Park to meet Guests. While they may still utilize their previous greeting location from time to time, the Magic Kingdom Park's central hub is still considered their official meet-and-greet spot at the moment. The test was originally supposed to end on August 19, but has been extended until further notice.

Reign of Kong Construction Update: Working on Ride Path

Every day that goes by we are getting closer to the grand opening of "Reign of Kong," a new themed area currently being built inside Islands of Adventure.
While we still do not have an opening date (Universal Orlando only confirmed that the attraction will open next summer), it is absolutely clear that construction is proceeding at a very fast pace, meaning that there's a good chance the ride could open around June or July. Let's take a quick tour around this new area.

Upcoming ESPN Wide World of Sports Events (Aug. 20-30)

Even though it might be considered as one of the minor attractions of the Walt Disney World Resort, Disney's ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex features over 170 different events each year. From professionally manicured fields to the ESPN entertainment, there is something for all sports lovers in that location.
Check out what's happening at the E­SPN Wide World of Sports Complex in the next few weeks (Guests will need to pay a fee to be able to enter the complex):

Grand Floridian Resort & Spa: Gasparilla Island Grill Rehab

Guests planning to stay at Disney's Grand Floridian Resort & Spa in the next few weeks should note that, beginning from August 23, 2015, the Gasparilla Island Grill quick service location will be closed for a short refurbishment.
During that time, the Beaches Pool Bar and Grill will be open for breakfast, and there will be a limited selection of grab ‘n go food options in Mizner’s Lounge. The Gasparilla Island Grill is currently expected to reopen on September 7.

First Piece of Mako Coaster Being Delivered to SeaWorld

The first piece of SeaWorld Orlando’s new 200-foot-tall hypercoaster surfaced yesterday as it traveled from the production facility in Ohio to its new home here in Orlando. Mako will be Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster, and will reach speeds of 73 mph along 4,760 feet of steel track when it opens in summer 2016. Over the next week, the giant piece of deep indigo and ocean blue coaster track will journey on an open flatbed semi-truck nearly 1,000 miles. 

New DVC Membership Magic Opportunities Now Available

The opportunities to travel to vacation destinations around the world are nearly endless for Disney Vacation Club Members. Members looking to travel to one of the Concierge Collection Resorts and Hotels in the next year can look forward to experiencing a little extra Membership Magic during their next vacation.
Indeed, beginning from this year, new Membership Magic opportunities will be available at select resorts and hotels included in the Concierge Collection.

Recap of All Walt Disney World Announcements from D23

The past few days have been incredibly exciting for Disney Park fans all around the world. From new details about Shanghai Disneyland to the announcement of new attractions coming to the theme parks in the United States, everyone will have something to look forward to in the upcoming years. Out of all the Disney Resorts around the world, however, the one that got the most attention was the Walt Disney World Resort. Here's a recap of what has been announced:

LEGOLAND Florida Update: New Heartlake City (PART 1)

LEGOLAND Florida is, without a doubt, one of the area's theme parks with the most dynamic attraction offering. Indeed, every time we visit the park, we notice something new, including attractions, dining locations, and themed stores.
In this update, we'll take a quick tour of the park's newest land (Heartlake City), while also checking out the rest of the LEGO-themed areas that have been in the park since opening day (and those that were recently added). Let's begin.

LEGOLAND Florida Update: New Heartlake City (PART 2)

Welcome to the second part of our newest LEGOLAND Florida photo-report. If you haven't already done so, be sure to check out PART 1 before proceeding.
In the previous part, we took a look around the entrance of the park, Fun Town, the brand-new Heartlake City, Miniland, and Pirates' Cove. Now we will continue to check out the rest of the park, including the Imagination pavilion, LEGO City, the Land of Adventure, LEGO Kingdoms, World of Chima, and much more.