Adventureland Bridge, Pixar in the Park, HM Queue Soft Openings and Outdoor Florida!
by, 03-20-2011 at 01:34 PM
The entrance to Adventureland is open again but the sign has gone missing, there are soft openings occurring with the new Haunted Mansion queue and there are some interesting questions being raised regarding a permit that's been filed for the Grand Floridian. Cheetah Hunt (Busch Gardens Tampa) has finally finished installing the remainder of the track and Mardi Gras (Universal) is really kicking it into high gear!
After taking a dip in the pool for the first time in months, I think it's safe to say that Spring has come to Florida. With that in mind there are a lot of outdoor activities to enjoy before the summer humidity really kicks in. This week we bring you parts of the state that are generally overlooked by guests visiting the sunshine state. King Eric takes us on a canoe ride in Wekiva Springs State Park and I (SummerinFL) go on a horseback ride in Lithia, FL.
Even if you live somewhere that might still be feeling the winter cold, if you whip up your favorite summer drink, take a seat and continue reading, it might feel a little warmer in your area of the world.
The new Adventureland bridge was open on Saturday, though it lacked any signage whatsoever. The temporary bypass bridge was ALSO open, though the support structures below it look so temporary that I have to believe it will go away someday soon.
The view from Adventureland
While not officially scheduled to open until April 1st, the new Haunted Mansion queue held some soft openings within the past week. While Nbodyhome and Jeff Lange bring us a detailed report on the Weekend Update this week, here is the video and photo recap of the new offerings.
Video of the HM interactive queue, courtesy of JeffLangeDVD
An obscured view of Mickey’s Toontown Fair shows the entrance sign (minus most of the characters) and the merchandise tent (it’s staying). Elsewhere you can see the tent from Mickey’s house and the Barnstormer. All other buildings are gone. It’s a hilarious irony that practically the only buildings left standing are the “temporary” ones!
Flower Power Concert Series Lineup (remaining dates)
- March 25-27 - Melissa Manchester
- April 1-3 - Starship starring Mickey Thomas
- April 8-10 - Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr.
- April 15-17 - Juice Newton
- April 22-24 - Ricky Nelson Remembered featuring The Nelsons
- April 29 - May 1 - Paul Revere & The Raiders
- May 6-8 - Davy Jones
- May 13-15 - Herman’s Hermits starring Peter Noone
In addition to the Concert lineup for Flower and Garden, HGTV, the official sponsor, is bringing you events with a different celebrity host, every weekend during the festival.
HGTV Line Up (remaining dates)
- March 25-27 - Brian Patrick Flynn, Design Happens, HGTV.com
- April 1-3 - Taniya Nayak, Designed to Sell and Destination Design
- April 8-10 - Ahmed Hassan, Yard Crashers
- April 15-17 - Patti Moreno, Garden Girl, HGTV.com
- April 22-24 - Michele Beschen, B. Original
- April 29-30, May 1 - John Gidding, Curb Appeal: The Block
- May 6-8 - Frank Fontana, Design on a Dime
- May 13-15 - Vern Yip, HGTV Design Star
A Festival Guide is available for those that would like more information.
DISNEY'S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS:
Do the parks have too much Pixar? Tom weighs in regarding this common complaint among fans and shows us how we can take something that can be considered bland and make it more visually dynamic.
The Pixar Studios by Tom Bricker (WDWFigment), on Flickr 640 x 407 1024 x 690
One of the frequent Disney-fanboy complaints that I see as the most illogical is that there is “too much Pixar” coming into Walt Disney World and Disneyland. This is ridiculous. Pixar IS Disney. Buzz Lightyear is inextricably Disney just like Mickey Mouse. Although Buzz wasn’t created by Walt himself, neither were Ariel or Simba, and no one seems to complain about their presence in the parks. From about 1998 until 2009, anything high quality associated with Disney was also Pixar. Disney’s traditional hand-drawn animation division wasn’t exactly the paramount of quality at that time. Personally, I’d rather see an attraction made out of an excellent Disney movie, like Monsters, Inc., than out of garbage, like Chicken Little.
Beyond the facts that Pixar is Disney and Pixar is high-quality Disney, Pixar is actually fairly under-represented in Walt Disney World and Disneyland. There are only a handful of Pixar attractions spread across the resorts, whereas there are a plethora of ones based on traditional hand drawn animation. Heck, Disneyland’s Fantasyland ALONE includes more attractions based on hand-drawn animation than all of the Pixar attractions in all of the U.S. parks combined. To be sure, not all of the Pixar attractions have been placed in the ideal lands (Monsters, Inc Laugh Floor in Tomorrowland?), but that's another matter, entirely.
As for this photo, I went with an ultra-wide angle lens with the camera positioned low to the ground and angled up to create an imposing sense of the Pixar Studios gateway overhead. I've found Pixar Place's architecture to be a somewhat bland subject without the drama created by the ultra-wide angle lens, so I almost always use that when photographing this area.
In the lobby of the Animation building, the Tangled display cases have been replaced with new artifacts.
One display case now has objects from Cars 2.
The other display case has material from the new Winnie the Pooh movie.
Both videos are courtesy of JeffLange and nbodyhome (MouseSteps)
Rumor Alert!! Apparently the yeti is currently tarped over with a possible fix in the near future. Let's hope this larger than life AA is getting the TLC it deserves!
The dreaded black tarp is still there on Big Thunder (we checked this weekend), but that was about the only negative thing we saw on what was otherwise a fabulous day at the park. March is truly the month to visit here. Nice, warm temperatures, but not quite overbearing yet. Just slightly cool in the evenings.
Of particular note this weekend was a little entertainment oddity I’ve seen before, but not in some years: the Frontierland Hoedown.
It’s a small dance show staged right in the middle of the walkway in Frontierland. It’s not advertised or listed on the schedule of programming; you just have to get lucky to see it (or ask a Cast Member, I suppose, since they have access to more complete entertainment guides).
In a nutshell, it’s six characters (Clarabell Cow, Horace Horsecollar, Brer Bear, Brer Rabbit, Big Al, and Wendell) and a hatful of regular Cast Members just dancing to some synchronized steps. It’s meant to look like a flash mob … Disney’s version of people assembling suddenly and spontaneously for the express purpose of dancing. I can’t even tell if the CMs are “regular” CMs working nearby jobs—I assume that’s the case, since they just melted away back into the crowd afterward. And there were probably about a dozen of them, wearing different Frontierland costumes.
They involved the crowd, too, via the hokey pokey and a conga-style line. Expect your young child to get pressed into service in the dancing!
It’s good fun. In fact, it’s great fun. Yes, the sucker can get in your way (this is how I’ve often viewed it in the past—as something in the way). But it’s well worth your time to stop and smell the roses in this case. It feels like classic Disney, the Disney of yesteryear, to put on such a show without obvious commercialism. It feels as if Disney cares, and that’s a wonderful thing to experience as a visitor.
Possible Grand Floridian DVC unit coming?
Recently filed with the South Florida Water Management District is a set of plans for an unspecified building between the Grand Floridian and Wedding pavilion. There is apparently a reworking of drainage, as well as a reworking of the shoreline along Seven Seas Lagoon. While the plans don't specify what the building is for, it seems apparent a DVC unit for the resort is an option. While of course there's no guarantee that it will come to fruition, it is interesting that a permit was filed with the water district.
More information can be found here. Here's the proposed building:
UNIVERSAL ORLANDO’S GRAD BASH 2011 FEATURES LIVE PERFORMANCES BYNeon Trees rock Universal Orlando's Mardis Gras!
TODAY’S HOTTEST MUSIC STARS – JASON DERULO, PITBULL, B.O.B., AND DJ KHALED
High School Seniors Can Also Enjoy Exclusive Access to
Two World-Class Theme Parks, Nonstop Entertainment and More
Tickets on Sale Now with High School Student Advisors for Orlando’s Hottest Grad Party
WHAT: Universal Orlando’s Grad Bash 2011 is Orlando’s hottest high school graduation event where graduates can celebrate with exclusive access to two world-class theme parks, street entertainment and live performances by some of today’s most popular musical artists.
WHEN: April 15, April 30, May 6, May 7
7 p.m. to 2 a.m.
This year’s talent lineup includes Jason DeRulo – the artist behind smash hits like “Whatcha Say” and “In My Head;” Reggaeton rapper Pitbull, also known as “Mr. 305;” five-time 2011 Grammy award nominee B.o.B.; and BET’s 2008 “DJ of the Year,” DJ Khaled. Together, this dynamic group of acts lays claim to 11 platinum and multi-platinum singles and will be performing live for high school graduates on the Music Plaza Stage at Universal Studios Florida. Performance dates are listed below.
GRAD BASH 2011 TALENT LINE-UP
Performing at Universal Studios’ Music Plaza Stage
Grad Bash Event Dates
Live Talent Performances By:
- April 15
- April 30
- May 6
- May 7
Students also get late-night access to pulse-pounding rides and attractions at both Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure. They can soar above Hogwarts on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, speed through darkness on Revenge of the Mummy and rock out at 65 mph on Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit.
High school seniors are encouraged to book their spot at Universal Orlando’s Grad Bash with their student advisor. For more information on the event, visit Gradbash at Universal Orlando Florida.
Media Site: Universal Orlando Resort Media Site
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.
Universal Studios Mardi Gras: (remaining dates)
- 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
King Eric brings us a few rocking photos from the Neon Trees concert and in correlation, a few pictures of the area during the day when the crowds have quieted down a bit from all that partying!
KingEric found himself rocking out too much to take photos and video, but here is a picture of him rocking it out!
So instead of concert pics, we are going to take a look at that area of the park during the quieter portion of the day when most Mardi Gras attendees are still recuperating from the night's festivities.
Last Section Of Cheetah Hunt Track Installed at Busch Gardens
With the Tightening of A Few Final Bolts,the Cheetah Hunt Track is Complete
Tuesday, March 15, 2011 (Tampa, FL) – Construction crews worked into the evening on Monday to install the final piece of track that completes Cheetah Hunt’s epic 4,429-foot run – a record length among Busch Gardens Tampa’s coasters. The final section, which completes the “jump” over the Skyride’s cables, was bolted into place just before 9:30 p.m.
Image(s) Credit: Busch Gardens Tampa Bay Blog
Even with the completion of the track, the work is far from over in preparing the new mega-attraction for its May 27th grand opening. Crews will spend the next two months finishing the intricate sculpting – or “theming” – of the coasters’ surrounding architecture.There are so many beautiful animals at BGT that it's easy to miss them when you're caught up in all the high energy roller coaster action, but aimster continues to capture what some of us who don't go for thrills might love about this overlooked park.
Construction also continues on innovative Cheetah Run habitat, which will house more than a dozen of the highly endangered cats and offer guests unique opportunities to get up-close and witness a cheetah’s speed first-hand during daily sprints.
Viva la Musica (remaining dates)
- March 20 - Jose Alberto "El Canario"
- March 27 - Angel & Khriz
- April 3 - Ismael Miranda
Ramp Jam at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay
April 9 - 10 & April 16 - 17
The ASA Action Sports World Tour amps up the excitement at Busch Gardens with the world's best pro skateboarders, BMX riders and inline skaters shreddin' a 14' tall half-pipe.
Scheduled to appear:
- Simon Tabron
- Kevin Robinson
- Pierre Luc Gagnon
- Anthony Furlong
- Jimmy Walker
- Eito Yasutoko
Viewing of the Ramp Jam events is included with park admission.
Jack Hanna Weekend
Busch Gardens welcomes celebrity animal expert Jack Hanna for an Earth Day celebration. “Jungle Jack” -- recognized world over for his deep knowledge of and boundless enthusiasm for wild animals and wildlife conservation – introduces guests to exotic and endangered animals in his own inimitable way during special shows and exclusive up-close encounters.
Animal shows daily at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. in the Stanleyville Theatre.
Other events during Jack Hanna Weekend include "Breakfast With Jack Hannah", "Jack Hannah Family Sleepover" and "Jack Hannah Serengeti Night Safari". More details on these events can be found at the link below.
- Daily: Animal Show - 2pm and 4pm
- April 23 - Breakfast with Jack Hannah
- April 22 & 23 - Jack Hannah Family Sleepover
- April 22 & 23 - Jack Hannah Serengti Night Safari
Silver Springs 2011 Concert Series
Select Dates Through April 30 - Silver Springs, FL
Silver Springs is holding it's annual Concert Festival, with a variety of musical guests and offering up some wonderful BOGO's to make your visit more affordable.
2011 Concert LineUp
- March 26 - Three Dog Night
- April 30 - Jars of Clay
Great American Pie Festival
April 9 - 10 - Celebration, FL
$10 adults, $5 kids. All you can eat and drink.
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!!
In addition to our normal listings for Outside the Mouse, we thought it would be a great idea to showcase the beautiful amounts of nature that Florida has to offer, with a total of 160 state parks and one national park there is something for the outdoor adventurer in all of us.
After an amazing Mardi Gras Concert KingEric decided it was time to get back to nature, and go canoeing. So KingEric grabbed his gear and headed to Wekiwa Springs State Park.
Located at the headwaters of the Wekiva River, the beautiful vistas within this park offer a glimpse of what Central Florida looked like when Timucuan Indians fished and hunted these lands. Just one hour from most central Florida attractions, Wekiwa Springs offers visitors the opportunity to relax in a natural setting, enjoy a picnic, or take a swim in the cool spring.
Wekiva Springs is a state park about an hour from the Walt Disney World Resort. The entrance fee is $6.00 per car, and canoes are $15.00 for 2 hours of rental. While exploring Wekiva Springs we came across beautiful fish, turtles, racoons, otters, butterflies, birds, and other wildlife. Truly an excursion that is worth your time that shows you a part of Florida that most tourists don't necessarily get to see.
In another area of the state, about 62 miles from WDW, I had the opportunity to take my daughter horseback riding. It was a fun experience, that sometimes made me feel like I was in Africa, on safari. Ok, I was reaching a bit but it was a definitely a unique experience that we will never forget.
Red Fox Stables is located in Lithia, FL and offers guided trail rides, birthday parties, horse camps and riding lessons. For $35.00 a person, you can take a guided trail ride, complete with a complimentary bottle of water for your journey.
We had a great time, the weather was perfect, the trail was very peaceful and quiet, it was very relaxing. So much so that we all wanted to take a nap after we were finished!!
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 of interest on the forums or MiceAge!
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 - Pictures by Aimster
Nbodyhome - MouseSteps
Jeff Lange - Jeff Lange DVD
Kevin Yee - MiceAge.com - A different look at Disney...
KingEric - Orlando Theme Park News
SummerinFL - SummerInFL Photo Galleries
Tom Bricker - Tom Bricker Disney Photography