View RSS Feed

Orlando Parkhopper

Mickey Fastpass, Cryptic Changes and "Over the Top" Fantasyland Construction Photos

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
by , 02-27-2011 at 08:19 PM

Lots of changes are in progress at many of our favorite parks and resorts. Mickey is getting his own Fastpass machine, the Magic Kingdom's Haunted Mansion is going through some cryptic changes and Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival is almost in full bloom. Kevin Yee brings some attention to detail in the Disney parks, Aimster shows us how much fun she has at Busch Gardens Tampa and CaptPhoebus graces us with his presence on the East Coast by providing some fabulous photos of both the Magic Kingdom and Universal Studios Orlando.



Visiting Mickey will now be easier for those visiting the parks. Once his future home in Town Square Theater opens, you'll be able to obtain a Fastpass and come back within a specific window of time. While this method works the same as those applied to the attractions, this will be the first time the Fastpass system has been used for a character meet n greet.

Mickey FASTPASS: Disney Parks Blog

Balloon, anyone?


Let’s go, Bill and Ted… strange things are afoot at the Haunted Mansion.

The Haunted Mansion now has added crypts to the upgraded queue (not yet open):

The interactive queue remains behind tarps and wooden walls.

If you peek through one specific spot, you can see this. Apparently they plan to develop/introduce new characters in the queue.

Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain...

The hitchhiking ghosts have taken on a "temporary" change during the renovations, they are now animated ghost projections.

For more details, head on over to our forums to discuss this change. Do you like it? Is it really temporary? We can only speculate..
Haunted Mansion adds animated ghost projections

Video of the Haunted Mansion queue:
YouTube - Haunted Mansion Interactive Queue Construction New Crypts 2/25/11

Fun Fact!! The actress for the attic bride is Kat Cressida, however photographs of her are actually that of Julia Lee. The actress used to replace the normal Madame Leota for Haunted Mansion Holiday in California is Kim Irvine, Kim is actually not featured in the Florida attraction at all. Both Madame Leota and Little Leota in Florida are the images of Leota Toombs.


More crack timing on the Rivers of America. I confess I’ve never even noticed this fish flopping around before. There is, needless to say, a lot to see at Disney World.


Some *over the top* photos of the construction going on in Fantasyland.

The back of the castle has one of those highly-detailed scrims the Magic Kingdom is famous for (and justifiably so).

Another view of castle spires. One spire doesn’t belong with the others in this photo. Can you identify where it’s from?

At the Pooh queue, the Tigger bounce pads are still not open (are they to close forever now?), but the final interactive game, a water-pumping thing to make fake pumpkins “grow,” has finally opened.

These bees in the hot-wire game of the Pooh queue were originally yellow-and-black striped; now they’ve been replaced by this new variety (which has a slightly different shape, too).

Someday we will look at this view and think it’s weird that Dumbo was way over HERE!

They’ve done “sidewalk games” lately in Fantasyland; things like hula hoops and playing “concentration” with oversized cards. This Pinocchio ring toss struck me as unforgettable.

The new Storybook Treats.


No visible progress on the Great Goofini yet, but Mickey’s and Minnie’s houses were demolished late last week. (Please see pics above)


Construction from an interesting angle...

At Space Mountain, they used to hold up the Standby line near the interactive games and ignore (zip through) the switchback in the loading room. That made for a long backup down the corridor, and people who zip right past the games. Recently, they’ve been using the whole switchback for standby, meaning the games sometimes (usually?) aren’t being used since the line is “up ahead”. One nice side-effect: the long corridor has few folks in it, enabling photos like the one you see here.

Do you make it a point to see the fireworks from all over the park, or are you a creature of habit who usually heads to the same spot each time?


Bill Nye the Science Guy hosted 4 demonstrations on Wednesday, showing how wood turns to gas before burning. (it was the same demonstration each time). He also spent about 10 minutes after each show to sign autographs for guests.

The Epcot Flower and Garden Festival begins this week! Most of the topiaries are now out, though the main topiary and a few others are not up until opening day (the Festival Center also will open then, as well as the playgrounds, butterfly tent, etc.)

Topiaries from Winnie the Pooh are now out:

As well as fairies:

I liked this photo of Epcot through the Tronorail sign:


AMC is currently in the process of converting itself into a Dine-In Theater. Self serve concessions, a full service bar with attending bartender and a new updated look is just some of the examples of the changes that have already taken place.

Only the true West Side entrance (near DisneyQuest) is open as the Pleasure Island entrance (near Planet Hollywood) is boarded off for remodeling.

Signs inform Guests of the work currently being done and how to enter the theater from the other side.

The inside has been remodeled with a new "fresh" or "modern" look.

The concessions area is now self-service with the top of the line Coke machines and they have a full bar with a bartender (pictured above to the right.) I wonder how many issues they will have with individuals taking candies or underage drinking?

Currently only 18 of the 24 theaters are open due to work being done.

There are wonderful things to see and discover in the Disney parks, but there are also problems. Both the problems and the wonderful details lurk below conscious perception or even thought, but they exert a subtle influence on how “fun” the day is or how “magical” Disney’s parks are. I’ve been pointing this out for some years now, usually with the “big” stuff like yetis and earthquakes. But it works on the small stuff, too. This weekend I was near Dumbo and realized I’ve never actually looked closely at the stork decorations that ring the entire center column. Have you?

There are several of these

Look closer. There are cracks in the wings.

And the paint is being seriously eroded/chipped on the nearby pole:

Those are clearly not the sorts of things Walt would have wanted to see, had he been alive to witness it this past weekend. I think we are right to be concerned when Disney upkeep is not what it used to be. We *should* be pointing that out. Simply “accepting” it and moving on is tantamount to telling Disney they really *shouldn’t* care about upkeep, if the customers stay silent and come anyway.

This is not, of course, the whole story. Look again at the stork. There are serious details packed into this small space.

There’s a golden bar on the stork’s hat. His vest has buttons painted onto it. And that gray bundle in the blanket is obviously an elephant—but did you notice on first glance that the gray foot has elephantine toenails?

And then, if you’re ready to be really impressed, look at the bottom of the decoration.

That’s a city the stork is flying over, and the individual buildings aren’t implied so much as actually carved, some with details you really could not normally expect. People won’t be looking long and hard at these things; they will take them in at a glance. Indeed, I’ve been here dozens of times, and never really looked at the stork decorations at all until now.

Put it all together, and you’ve got a conflicted artifact of Disney theming. The Imagineers built something detailed. There was way more detail than even I, a seasoned park visitor with easily 2,000 visits to a Disney park under my belt, had ever noticed just casually. It’s my contention that this kind of layered, small detailing is what creates that vaunted Disney “magic.” A “just good enough” approach would have been far less successful.

At the same time, the subconscious picking up of details works the other way, too. When things aren’t right—like the cracked wing or the chipped paint on the pole—subtle things are happening in the audience’s mind, too.

Disney can do great things. They’ve done it before and they’ll do it again. But they must be cautious to KEEP things great. Because the details really do matter.

CaptPhoebus was on the east coast this weekend visiting the World, but took out one day to enjoy Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure! He was kind enough to share photos of his observations with all of us!

Dudley Do-Right's construction photos...


Every Saturday and select nights through April 23rd, catch a live concert by some of the biggest names in music, our most spectacular parade ever, colorful street performers, authentic Cajun food, beads by the handful and more.

Party in the streets as the sounds of The Big Easy fill the air of Universal Orlando® Resort. It's Beads, Bands and Good Times for everyone - Only at Universal Studios® Mardi Gras.

Mardi Gras at Universal Orlando

  • March 6 - Lynyrd Skynrd
  • March 12 - Foreigner
  • March 18 - Neon Trees
  • March 19 - The Roots
  • March 25 - OneRepublic
  • March 26 - Blake Shelton
  • April 1 - Sean Kinston
  • April 2 - Ne-Yo
  • April 9 - Lifehouse
  • April 16 - The Beach Boys
  • April 23 - Thirty Seconds to Mars

Aimster, our resident Busch Gardens visitor, brings us more fun animal images, a look at Cirque Dreams: Jungle Fantasy and progress on the new coaster, "Cheetah Hunt/Cheetah Run".

Rare albino wallaby:

Gwazi Lion going up the lift hill:

Cirque Dreams: Jungle Fantasy stage. Truly an amazing show. Be sure to check it out as it's only here for a limited engagement!

The show starts with these "Tarzan" guys picking out "volunteers" from the audience and making them do stuff. It was really funny.

The contortionists were insane! I'm convinced they have rubber spines or something.

This guy did a crazy balancing act.

Cheetah Hunt/Cheetah Run construction progress. More themeing & details are emerging. It was announced last week that the corner where the new coaster & habitat occupy will be called The Crossroads and combine the themeing of the Egypt, Morocco and Nairobi sections as these areas all meet at.... The Crossroads.

One of two "driftwood" Cheetah statues.

An open gate gives a nice view you normally don't get:

The tiger topiary in Jungala finished receiving it's new covering:

Real Music Series (remaining dates):
Real Music Series at Busch Gardens Tampa

  • Feb 23-26 - Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone
  • March 2-5 - The 5th Dimension
  • March 9-12 - The Osmond Brothers
  • March 16-19 - Tony Orlando
  • March 23-26 - Charo

For the Real Music Series, shows are included with park admission, but you have to have a complimentary ticket to get in (tickets can be obtained at the Stanleyville Theater
. There are 3 shows each day).

Bands, Brews & BBQ (remaining dates):
Bands Brew and BBQ at Busch Gardens Tampa

  • March 6 - Travis Tritt & The Charlie Daniels Band

The concerts start at 5:00pm and are included with park admission, but if you want to sit close, you need to purchase a VIP ticket for $27.95.

Viva la Musica Festival:
Viva la Musica Festival and Live Concert Busch Gardens

  • March 13 - Elvis Crespo
  • March 20 - Jose Alberto "El Canario"
  • March 27 - Angel & Khriz
  • April 3 - Ismael Miranda

Bay Area Renaissance Festival
Now thru Apr 17
- Tampa, FL
Grab a turkey leg, put on your best corset and take in a joust. There is a lot of fun to be had at the Annual Bay Area Renaissance Festival. Get dirty with the Filthy Rotten Scoundrels and then clean yourself up with the Washer Well Wenches. Located on the MOSI grounds in Tampa, off Fowler Ave, there is something for everyone in what promises to be a day of fun and merriment. Huzzah!!
Bay Area Renaissance Festival

Strawberry Festival
March 3 - 13 - Plant City, FL
Held in Plant City, the Strawberry Festival is quite a bit closer than Tampa to Walt Disney World - just a few exits up I-4. This year, it's open from March 3-13. It's like the fair (and has rides, too), but it's smaller in scale. Oh, and it has a bazillion strawberry-affiliated food items, of course.
The Florida Strawberry Festival

The Festival of Chocolate
March 5 - 6 - Orlando, FL
$17 adults, $12 kids.
The Festival of Chocolate

5th Annual Florida Wildflower and Garden Festival
March 26 - Deland, FL
5th Annual Florida Wildflower and Garden Festival

Great American Pie Festival
April 9 - 10 - Celebration, FL
$10 adults, $5 kids. All you can eat and drink.
Great American Pie Festival

Don't forget to check out the other areas of MiceChat that offer news, updates and photos about the other Disney Parks around the World!

  • Dateline Disneyland which is packed with great news and photos from the Disneyland Resort.
  • Weekend Update Offers a world of Disney theme parks as well as other sights and landmarks!
  • In The Parks offers news, updates and tips from Disneyland and other Southern California offerings.
  • SAMLAND - Your weekly look at some interesting tales from Disney history.
  • And you'll always find something interesting on the forums and on MiceAge.

    Show us you appreciate this column by sharing this page with your friends!

We want your photos! Contribute to the Orlando Parkhopper by emailing [email protected] with your submissions. We welcome volunteers for single contributions as well as permanent "Parkhopper" staff.

Thanks to our fantastic and talented crew of writers, photographers and news contributors who work hard every week to bring you the latest information available: Aimster, Kevin Yee, CaptPhoebus, SparkofLight, Nbodyhome and SummerinFL.

Submit "Mickey Fastpass, Cryptic Changes and "Over the Top" Fantasyland Construction Photos" to Digg Submit "Mickey Fastpass, Cryptic Changes and "Over the Top" Fantasyland Construction Photos" to Submit "Mickey Fastpass, Cryptic Changes and "Over the Top" Fantasyland Construction Photos" to StumbleUpon Submit "Mickey Fastpass, Cryptic Changes and "Over the Top" Fantasyland Construction Photos" to Google

Updated 03-04-2011 at 07:55 AM by SummerInFL



  1. Ukulele Guy's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Great update! I don't know how to feel about the HM modification... As long as it's as good as the original graveyard I don't mind (it probably will not be though, so...)

    Also, If Dudley Do-Right's Ripsaw Falls is closed when I go there AGAIN (and I haven't been there since '06) I'm going to be ticked! Seeing an E-ticket ride at the very front of a land shut down when you go there for the first time is not good show, Universal.
  2. Sgt. Tibs's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    nice update guys! if only DLP's issues were that small :-)
  3. sir clinksalot's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    ^^ Dudley Do Rights is closed due to a fire that took place a couple of months ago.

    Great update everybody!
  4. Sparky's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I'll be arriving in Orlando Thursday for a two week visit. WooHoo! Thanks for the "preview" to get me primed, ready and excited!
  5. aimster's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I just want to make a correction to what was posted about the Real Music Series at Busch Gardens. The shows are at the Stanleyville Theater, not behind Gwazi. Also, the complimentary tickets for the shows can be obtained outside Stanleyville Theater.

    Sorry for any confusion as I got things mixed up with the Bands, Brew & BBQ concerts. Those shows are held in the area behind Gwazi.
  6. TravisMT81's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    At the AMC, when you go to the bar they put on a wrist band as if you are going into a club.
  7. Dustysage's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Great update everyone! I'm totally in love with the Orlando Parkhopper.

    Quote Originally Posted by aimster
    I just want to make a correction to what was posted about the Real Music Series at Busch Gardens. The shows are at the Stanleyville Theater, not behind Gwazi.
    No worries Aimster, I've made the correction above. Busch Gardens looks great. Can't wait to make a trip back soon.

  8. TikiRoomLiz's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I am really enjoying the Orlando Parkhopper report. Even though I reside in the West Coast it is great seeing updates on what is going on in the East Coast ... especially with planning a trip in October.
  9. ChessurInWonderland's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Great update! I've never noticed those storks, either. They have a good amount of detail, though I agree that Disney should stay on top of maintenance of everything, even the smallest flaws.

    My school's mascot is a tiger, so we're getting a tiger topiary in front of the school that looks just like this one (same jumping, open-mouth position and everything):
  10. wedway71's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I wonder as far as Dumbo.... I am too the first to find fault when Disney is less than pefect....but I wonder if they are just letting it ride since Dumbo is being moved and rebuilt somehwere else soon?
  11. Timekeeper's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Nice update!

  12. DisneyDaddio's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Could you please post the pics of the Mickey and Minnie House demolitions? the post says (pics below) but I'm not seeing them.

  13. Mr Doodle's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    The Haunted Mansion queue sounds interesting. I'm anxious to see what the finished thing will look like. Great update!
  14. SummerInFL's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Quote Originally Posted by DisneyDaddio
    Could you please post the pics of the Mickey and Minnie House demolitions? the post says (pics below) but I'm not seeing them.

    Our apologizes, it should have said, "pics above". Thank you for pointing it out, I have made the correction.