Star Tour Destinations Announced, Mickey's Meet N Greet and Timbuktu at Busch Gardens
by, 04-03-2011 at 06:12 PM
The Haunted Mansion in Florida just keeps changing. This week, we have video of the new interactive ghost effects as well as a bit of bride news. Mickey's new meet and greet location is now open on Main Street and it appears to hold a lot of interesting hidden tributes to other Disney films. Going the classic route is a sure way to please the most devoted Disney fan. Speaking of fans, another iconic franchise just shared a bit of news on the Disney Blog. Star Tours: The Adventure Continues, has just released a list of destinations that park goers will visit when the newly renovated attraction opens at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
On the Gulf coast we take a look at the Timbuktu section of Busch Gardens Tampa for an in depth look at what this area of the park has to offer. This park is consistently making changes and upgrading its offerings that it's a "must do" location for any family visiting the Orlando area.
The new Meet Mickey experience opened in the Town Square Theater.
Inside, the shop has shrunk (it's just PhotoPass now) and a new dome foyer separates the Mickey and Princess lines.
The next room is a jumble of velvet ropes. It wasn't busy on our visit, but summer might be a different matter. Remember that there is a FastPass option, too!
Some of the Mickey paintings here move, perhaps a little bit too much like the living paintings in Hogwarts up Interstate-4.
You enter a non-descript hallway. Clearly, there could be up to four Mickeys on duty.
Each room inside is identical. A brief line awaits, with this board nearby showing some inside jokes.
In fact, inside jokes are nonstop. You'll see stickers on trunks referencing other Disney parks and the Jungle Book movie.
Plenty of props await you. There is way too much to look at on your first visit.
The birdcage duplicates a trick from the Imagination pavilion. This one is named Joyce - after Imagineer Joyce Carlson.
Madame Mims is from Sword and the Stone, but there are also references around the room to Mary Poppins and other movies. Plus a special nod to all four WDW parks.
The exit shop is brand new.
Lots of plush here, and some inside jokes that reference those posters in the waiting room.
The Princess room - seen here after a separate wait - has visitors see all three princesses: Belle, Aurora, and Cinderella.
We also have a quick update for you from the Haunted Mansion refresh. Last week, we showed you the new interactive queue. Now we have video from Jeff Lange of the new interactive ghosts inside! Plus, near the end of the video below, please note the bride's ring embedded into the pavement. This is a nod to the fans who had created their own legend about the bride's ring (but what was really just an old stanchion ring). Now the fan-made legend is for real!
In contrast to the mixed reviews that the interactive tombstones received from fans, we think the new interactive ghosts on the inside of the attraction will receive a more hearty thumbs up.
This week we take a pictorial look back at Epcot's icon, Spaceship Earth. One of the most recognized symbols of Walt Disney World, this geodesic sphere takes guests on a trip through the advancements of communication. To start, Tom Bricker shows us exactly why we find it so photographically appealing and then we take a look at how this attraction has changed over the years.
How Many Photos Does It Take To Complete A Spaceship Earth Photo Collection? by Tom Bricker (WDWFigment), on Flickr
I think I could take 6,278,984,033 without ever tiring of photographing the awe-inspiring icon. Seriously. I know I've taken thousands of photos of it, yet I don't foresee stopping anytime soon. I can be stuck in the deepest of photo-ruts, but if I go near Spaceship Earth, I instantly have photo ideas.
Spaceship Earth may be an obvious target, but so what? Spaceship Earth is like that photogenic puppy that hams it up for the camera, essentially begging to have its photo taken. I know I cannot resist puppies!
This shot was taken with a favorite lens of mine, the Rokinon 8mm fisheye. I don't know if I've extolled the virtues of this lens here before, but if you're a photographer, it's really worth checking out. Great optical and build quality, and incredible value!
And now for a look back at what Spaceship Earth was and is now...
Outside Spaceship Earth
Inside Spaceship Earth
Ride Cars Before
Ride Cars After
Flower Power Concert Series Lineup (remaining dates)
- 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)
- 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:
Photo Credit: Disney Blog
It was revealed pretty early that two of the destinations in the new Star Tours, opening May 20 at Disney's Hollywood Studios, included Tatooine for the pod race, and Coruscant.
Now, the rest of the destinations have been announced on the DisneyParks Blog, which also include Naboo, the Wookiee planet of Kashyyyk, and Hoth. The Death Star will also be included again, above the planet Geonosis.
According to Tom Fitzgerald, there will now be over 50 combinations to the adventure, really adding the rerideability and unknowns in this classic attraction. Rest assured our Orlando Parkhopper team will be there to cover any new changes along the way, all the way to the end of May.
Lucky Fortune Gifts - the big store in the China pavilion - has finished a multi-month renovation. There are new floor tiles, new wall coverings, and a new traffic pattern (you can now enter via the central door, in addition to both ends).
The merchandise has been shuffled around. The clothing is now at the "front" of the store (nearest the fast food eatery), while much of the stuff which used to be here is no longer on display at all, such as rugs and furniture. I'm guessing few people bought that stuff. Still, it seemed very traditional Chinese to me, and the new store seems very modern by contrast (this is undoubtedly the intention).
The back of the store is now given over to a children's section, dominated by plush toys (some of which have that taint of super-cuteness, similar to Japanese toys).
And then there are the teapots. There's an entire selection of pots which feature a remarkable clay that takes on the flavor and character of tea that has been seeping in it, and you'll pay $70-80 for those pots. Including this one. Somehow I think this one may not be on sale at Disney World for long.
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)
- April 9 - Lifehouse
- April 16 - The Beach Boys
- April 23 - Thirty Seconds to Mars
This week, we take a look at the Timbuktu section of the Park. Timbuktu opened in May of 1980 and is themed after the malls and bazaars in Africa.
Entering Timbuktu from the Stanleyville/Jungala junction, the first thing you encounter is the Timbuktu Theater. The theater was originally called Dolphin Theater and hosted a popular dolphin show until 2002, when the dolpins were evicted and the theater was enclosed and converted into a 4D theater.
Currently showing at the Timbuktu Theater are 2 films. Sesame Street Film Festival has 2 or 3 showings in the morning/early afternoon, then Pirates 4D starring the late Leslie Nielsen is shown the remainder of the day.
Timbuktu is also home to the main drag of midway games.
The carousel is currently completely dismantled for an extensive refurb.
Cheetah Chase is a "wild mouse" coaster. Once Cheetah Hunt opens, the name of this ride will be changed to Sand Serpent to avoid any confusion.
The Phoenix was installed in 1984 and is still a popular ride to this day. It's a pirate ship type ride that does a full 360-degree loop!
The Sandstorm is an "Orbiter" ride you see at most carnivals and fairs.
The big ride in Timbuktu is the Scorpion, an old Schwartzkop looper coaster.
It still packs a punch after all these years!
Timbuktu is also home to a few kiddie rides...
The sign for the Busch Flyers ride features the original smiling eagle who was the park's mascot in the early days.
There's also a choo-choo train
And a motorcyle ride
The main eatery in Timbuktu is the Desert Grill. It was originally called Das Festhaus and had a German theme (think of Biergarten at Epcot), which was a little odd considering the rest of the park is themed to Africa. In 2004, the name was changed to Desert Grill, which fits the desert theme of Timbuktu better.
Desert Grill is another buffeteria-style restaurant. Dishes featured there are spaghetti & meatballs, chicken alfredo, BBQ ribs, Italian sausages, meatball sandwiches, chicken caesar salad and fried chicken. This is probably my favorite restaurant in the park. Good food and reasonably priced.
Desert Grill houses live entertainment that changes on a regular basis. Currently playing is a show called "Let's Dance, Featuring Burn the Floor".
Burn the Floor is an Australian ballroom dance troupe. The show features live percussion & drums with a backing track of other instruments and live singing as well as some awesome dancing. The show runs until May 1st.
Here's a video I shot of the finale of the show:
The other eatery in Timbuktu is a quickservice place called Sahara Snacks.
Leaving Timbuktu to go to the Nairobi area and Jambo Junction.
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
Glory at the Gardens Festival
May 7 & 14
Glory at the Gardens is a jam-packed festival of live music and fellowship, plus you get access to all of Busch Gardens’ thrills, animal encounters and world-class entertainment.
- May 7:
- Mary Mary
- May 14:
- Michael W. Smith
- Sidewalk Prophets
- 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!!
Taste of Pinellas
May 20 - 22 - Vinoy Park - St. Petersburg, FL
A Taste of Pinellas, Tampa Bay's beloved waterfront festival is getting ready for another spectacular year of food, music, and fun!
Disney On Ice: Let's Celebrate
May 20 - 23 - Tampa, FL
Make an ordinary day extraordinary when Disney On Ice presents Let’s Celebrate! brings more than 50 Disney characters to your hometown for one colossal party on ice! This action-packed, all-new show features a magical montage of celebrations, and is set to a blend of contemporary music and favorite Disney songs.
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
Kevin Yee - MiceAge.com - A different look at Disney...
SummerinFL - SummerInFL Photo Galleries
Tom Bricker - Tom Bricker Disney Photography