Hello, and welcome to [B]Dateline Disney World![/B] we have so much to share this week that we’ve had to break the column into two parts. In this part of our coverage this week, we will include everything not named “Magic Kingdom”. We have some [B]Epcot[/B] news and a look at the new Highland Games meet and greet, a quick word from [B]Disney’s Animal Kingdom[/B], and some construction over at the [B]Grand Floridian[/B]. So, let’s get started!

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Welcome to Epcot!

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[center][size=5][b]This and That[/b][/size]
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Not a whole ton has changed over at Test Track. While riding the monorail, you can see that some of the concrete has been torn up near the entrance to the attraction’s building.

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Very curious as to what is going on inside the building as Disney is preparing it for a late fall reopening.

Walls are still up where Kim Possible in transforming into Phineas and Ferb. Anyone know whether those colorful things in the middle of this frame were added for the new game, or were they leftover from Kim Possible?

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Over on the other side of Future World, the Brave themed Highland Games are going on strong, and guests seem to enjoy them!

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Kids can participate in archery, and some other fun games here.

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There are advertisements for Scotland, and of course, Adventures by Disney here.

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They also advertise that you can meet Merida at the Magic Kingdom.

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The ODV carts even have a Brave theme!

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The playground that was constructed for Flower and Garden Festival was left up and retimed to the Highland Games for the youngsters.

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Something tells me these little fellas are going to be very popular!

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It’s been a few weeks since Flower and Garden has ended, and there are still some rough patches from the removal.

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They’re quite ugly, and hopefully will be taken care of soon.

Over at MouseGear, I saw some retro EPCOT Center shirts that were new to me.

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They might not be completely new and newsworthy, but they are an interesting subject. I feel like the shirts are really cool, but that there is a chance that Disney only sees them as a way to make money off of the hardcore fans. It is pretty clear that things like the original Journey into Imagination and Horizons are not coming back anytime soon, yet they still use retro graphics and the symbols for those attractions to sell merchandise. It’s kind of the same thing they are doing with the D23 event in September for Epcot’s 30th. It should be tons of fun, with a who’s who of Imagineers and Epcot luminaries, but it comes at a pretty steep price. How do you all feel about it?

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No photos from Animal Kingdom this week, but there is some news. The Beastly Bazaar gift shop that is located near Flame Tree Barbecue and right across from the exit of It’s Tough to be a Bug is getting some changes. It will be renovated into an indoor, air conditioned meet and greet location. This is quite interesting because Disney is taking something that makes them money, and putting in something that comes along with admission price. I think this is the beginning of the end for Camp Minnie Mickey. As we start to make way for the new James Cameron’s Avatar inspired land and attractions, they need to start dispatching the characters into other areas of the park. I never step foot in this gift shop, as it sells nothing but the very generic Disney Parks merchandise, so I think this is a great candidate for a pop up meet and greet.

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Over at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort and Spa, work continues on the DVC expansion that should be opening near the fall of 2013.

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To think they are already working well into the second floor is crazy, as it feels like vertical construction just started.

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Well, that’s going to wrap things up for this week’s WDW coverage, did you read our Magic Kingdom update yet? If not you’ll find all the Magic Kingdom news and Fantasyland updates HERE. Lots going on for sure.

Do you like the Brave inspired Highland Games? How do you feel about the EPCOT Center retro merchandise? Will you be buying points at the Grand Floridian? Let us know in the comments!

If you enjoyed the column, especially the photos, and you want to check out more photos and tutorials on Disney photography, please check out my other website, [URL=”http://www.DisneyPhotographyBlog.com”]Disney Photography Blog[/URL]. And if you like listening more than reading, you can hear us talk about Disney and photography on my podcast, [URL=”http://www.ISO5571.com”]ISO5571[/URL].

  • Monorail Man

    Thanks Cory for the Epcot Update! Overall, I’m a real sucker for those retro EPCOT Center t-shirts. I pick up a new one every trip. Glad to still see that they are in supply. Yea, it’s making money off the hardcore fans, but I think that’s okay. While none of those classics may be coming back, at least they can gauge interest through merchandise sales. We all know how much Walt Disney World management loves their stats, figures, and metrics!

  • WDW1971

    Great update! Many say that Disneyland is having a lot going on but Disney World is equally as busy. Interesting assumption about the new meet and greet going in on Discovery Island and how Camp Minnie Mickey will be closing for Avatar. Since they are already moving the meet and greets I wonder where they are going to move Festival of the Lion King or if they were going to get rid of it. It was a really good show and much better than Finding Nemo – The Musical. Too bad it would not fit in The Theater in the Wild. Hopefully they don’t get rid of it.

    Cory, before Disney closes the Camp Minnie Mickey meet and greets be sure to take lots of pictures.

    GREAT UPDATE and thanks for everything you do!

  • diskid

    Thanks for the update. Any chance you happen to have the UPC number for the very last shirt pictured? The last time I called mail order, without a UPC number, they told me that one was sold out–don’t know if I didn’t describe good enough and they didn’t find the right one or not!!

  • NettyVal09

    Nice update thanks!

  • LuckyJack65

    although the photo is small, I must be one of the attendants in the Highland Games archery tent…I spent a week and a half in there!! LOL

  • Johnny

    Nice. I like anything that is vintage EPCOT Center. DOES ANYONE KNOW IF THE ORANGE BIRD SHIRTS ARE STILL AVAILABLE IN MK?

  • What a great update. Is it strange that I’m in love with Merida and the movie hasn’t even been released yet?

  • Awe_inspired

    Thank you Cory for a great update.

  • danyoung

    > I wonder where they are going to move Festival of the Lion King or if they were going to get rid of it. It was a really good show and much better than Finding Nemo – The Musical. <

    To each their own. I rarely bother with the Lion King show, but I see the Nemo show at least twice a year!