View RSS Feed

Orlando Parkhopper

Star Wars Weekends, Star Tours 3D Preview, Flower Power Concert and more!

Rating: 4 votes, 3.75 average.
by , 05-08-2011 at 05:59 PM

This has been a busy week for the OPH team at MiceChat! We've acquired some new additions to the team and this week you'll get to see exactly how talented they truly are. It's one thing to see the beauty in this world, it's another to have such talented people who capture it and share it with all of you. Enjoy reading it this week because it certainly was a pleasure putting it all together.

  • Feature of the Week: Muppet Vision 3D
  • Phineas and Ferb Meet and Greet Coming Soon to DHS!
  • Construction Photos of Fantasyland. Is it a rock wall or a wave?
  • EPCOT Flower Power Series - Davy Jones Concert pics with a special guest!
  • Star Wars Weekends Celebrity Guests List Released
  • Star Tours 3D Preview Event at Tampa Mall
  • Kevin Yee talks about our fears regarding water, cameras and Splash Mountain.
  • Aimster brings us some more Busch Gardens Tampa photos while they put the finishing touches on Cheetah Hunt for it's May 27th release.



Work continues on New Fantasyland.

The rockwork is slowly taking shape.

Is that going to be a giant wall (wave?) or rockwork near the Mermaid attraction?

The Dumbo next-gen queue building gets further along each week.


Blackbeard Comes Aboard Magic Kingdom Park
Starting May 20th to coincide with the premiere of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the iconic attraction at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom will displace Davy Jones temporarily. Blackbeard, played by Ian McShane in the movie, will be added to the attraction's projection waterfall until some time later this year. It'll be interesting to see how he is tied into the waterfall as Davy Jones was a perfect fit for the location, but perhaps we'll understand once the movie comes out.


This Headless Horseman souvenir cup, a new addition?


While most of us are preparing for summer across the country, Walt Disney World is already preparing for fall and winter! This past week, tickets went on sale for Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party. These two special events have steep ticket prices; however, they excel in specialized atmosphere, mood, and entertainment that really make the Magic Kingdom even more festive than usual. If you've never done either before, it would be worth doing at least one, as it really is a unique and fun experience.

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party Dates for 2011:
  • September 13, 16, 20, 23, 27, and 30
  • October 2, 6, 7, 10, 11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27, 28, 30, and 31
  • November 1

Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party Dates for 2011:
  • November 8, 9, 11, 13, 15, 18, 27, 29, and 30
  • December 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, 13, 14, 16, and 18


This week we bring you some "in the park" photos of the Flower and Garden Festival as well as the Davy Jones concert as part of the Flower Power concert series. Monkee's fan's got an extra special treat when Micky Dolenz stopped by for an impromptu concert!

Buzz Lightyear and Lots-O-Huggin Bear as topiary welcome you to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival.

Flowers in the ponds at Epcot.

Can you spot the not-so-hidden Mickey in the flowers?

The Tron-o-rail monorail glides by flowers.

Flowers near The Universe of Energy.

Festival Center. Remember this place?

Bright flowers with Mission Space in the background.

Topiary elephant points the way to the Festival Center.

Large Flower & Garden sign near the Epcot times board.

Close up of Pluto with string in his mouth.

Close up of Minne Mouse as topiary.

Pluto and Mickey as topiaries near innoventions.

Close up of Daisy Duck.

Monorail pulls into the Epcot station beyond the Flower& Garden Festival blocks.

Flowers, flowers everywhere.

Buzz Lightyear as a topiary looks to infinity and beyond.

Lots-O-Huggin Bear as topiary in pink stands out against thebackdrop of Spaceship Earth.

Geranium's at the entrance to Epcot.

Begonia's near the Pixar blocks in the front entrance planter.

Giant flowers leading the way to the festival center.

The old Wonders of Life Pavilion converted into the Festival Headquarters.

Giant Flowers outside the Wonders of Life Pavilion.

The various books available inside the gift shop for the Flower and Garden Festival.

Different Disney garden decorations available for purchase.

Wider expanse of the store with various merchandise for sale.

Flowers in the planted areas inside the entrance to the festival pavilion.

Flower Wonderland.

The "temporary" Pixie Hollow flowers.

Purple flowers.

Gorgeous sand sculptures. Caught one guest reaching down as he exclaimed, "That isn't real sand!" followed by him flicking a finger sized chunk in my direction. His reply, "Oh, I guess it IS real!" To the nearby CM's credit, she did say something after it happened to the guest and handled it with the grace they are known for by saying, "Please refrain from touching the sand sculpture as it is real and they work very hard to maintain it." She then proceeded to explain how they create the sculpture and exactly how its maintained.

Let's hope the chimpanzee fairs better than the hippo.

Davy Jones in concert is amazing, for a guy who is 65 years old, he might not be able to dance like a 25 year old but he could certainly keep up with one! As a frequent visitor to his concerts, this year was no exception and there was even a added surprise with Micky Dolenz showing up for an impromptu concert!

He jumped from the stage and over the bench seats just so he could sing to someone in the audience.

Then Micky arrived with his sense of humor intact.

To which they closed the show with two fan favorites, Last Train to Clarksville and I'm A Believer.


New Phineas & Ferb meet and greet coming soon!

DHS will be starting this year's Star Wars Weekend's with a much anticipated opening of the newly re-imagined Star Tours 3D, which has been heavily promoted across the state of Florida at various mall locations. There was one event in particular that your resident editor (SummerInFL) got to enjoy at Citrus Park Mall in Tampa, FL. The set up flowed really well, with a meet n greet location for C-3PO/R2-D2, Princess (Leia) Minnie and Jedi Mickey available for photos, free mickey ears with a Star Tours 3D arriving May 20th logo, a free photo and loads of online content to view utilizing a bar code scanner app available in most smartphones.

One of the wallpapers available for download directly to your smartphones.

Star Wars Weekends is just around the corner! Do you have your light saber ready?
Celebrity Guests Announced for Star Wars Weekends 2011

MAY 20-22
  • Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
  • The Clone Wars Special Guest: Dave Filoni (Supervising Director)

MAY 27-29
  • Anthony Daniels (C-3PO)
  • Bruce Spence (Tion Medon)
  • The Clone Wars Voice Talent Guest: Dee Bradley Baker (Captain Rex)

JUNE 3-5
  • Ray Park (Darth Maul)
  • Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett)
  • The Clone Wars Voice Talent Guest: Matt Lanter (Anakin)

JUNE 10-12
  • Ray Park (Darth Maul)
  • Peter Mayhew (Chewbacca)
  • The Clone Wars Voice Talent Guest: Tom Kane (Yoda)

Discuss this topic on our forums!! Star Wars Weekends Celebrity LineUp


Muppetvision 3D is arguably one of the best attractions at Disney's Hollywood Studios and just a foretaste of the what could have been. If the sale of the Muppets had gone through before Jim Henson died, this entire area of the park would have been transformed into the Muppet Studios, complete with Muppetvision, Gonzo's Pandemonium Pizza Parlor, and (my personal favorite) the Great Muppet Movie Ride. Sometimes things happen for a reason when attractions aren't built, but it's still sometimes heart breaking to read about what could have been. With a new movie coming out this Thanksgiving, perhaps we'll see a resurgence of interest in the Muppets, causing this project to be looked at once more.


Inside Queue/Staging Area

Inside Theater


In addition to this week's feature, Tom Bricker shows us exactly what happens when you marry Disney with Muppets and how it all fits together perfectly to make a long lasting show with even more appealing things to photograph.

MuppetVision flashD by Tom Bricker (WDWFigment), on Flickr

From its overflow queue (ever seen it?) to the preshow area, to the main show itself, MuppetVision has it all! While I generally like the Muppets because I am intriguied both by puppets and by talking cartoon animals, I also love the Muppets' biting comedic wit, which is unparalleled. MuppetVision 3D has some excellent depth and gags--and the show building takes "Disney Details" to the next level. If that isn't enough, the attraction has an orchestra of penguins, and even the Big Cheese himself, Mickey the...Rat...makes an appearance! It's an attraction so undeniably entertaining that even Statler and Waldorf crack a smile!

Now if only Disney would build that Great Muppet Movie Ride...

As for the technical side of the shot, this is somewhat unique because of the way I used the flash. Initially, I fired several times per exposure, but then I realized that equaled several partially frozen Miss Piggies. Finally I tried a blue gel on top of the flash and only fired once. Doing this mostly froze Piggy, but allowed the rest of the water to have a silky look characteristic of long exposure shots of water.


Has this Lefty store always been here? Paging Ned Flanders!

Little Miss Matched is in a new, larger location: at the Marketplace, not far from Rainforest Cafe.

Sharing a roofline with Little Miss Matched is Fun Finds, a discount store.

There's not much doubt about the discount!

But this part *is* doubtful. Wouldn't Disneyland be the original (in 1955?) Or if they mean Mickey Mouse, he was a) not the original (Mortimer was, or maybe Oswald), and b) born in 1928.

It's always a little terrifying to take your camera on to Splash Mountain. The level of paranoia, however, achieves an entirely new plateau if you plan to have your expensive DSLR equipment out as the log starts going down the big hill, for you know the camera-killing splash is less than a second away (if you're shooting on the way down).

I'm too chicken to shoot MUCH in the splash zone, but I'll have the camera out at the top of the scary drop, shooting what I can. There's no time for framing, which is why the castle isn't well-placed here. But it's a rare view nonetheless from this angle - it almost looks like someone else's castle.

The trees also seemingly place the castle somewhere other than the familiar surroundings in Fantasyland. And lastly, the one turret that doesn't belong here may be a bit of a head-scratcher until you remember my vantage point in Frontierland. Turns out that's the topmost point in the Hall of Presidents. From here, it looks like it belongs in the castle complex!

Oh, and the camera is fine. I keep a plastic Disney merch bag with me, and I quickly jam the camera into that bag while on the drop itself. So while I get as wet as usual (the Orlando water, I have to say, is much stinkier than the Anaheim water on this same attraction), the camera stays dry.

D23's Destination D: Walt Disney World 40th
Next weekend sparks D23's 40th Anniversary event for Walt Disney World and the Orlando Parkhopper will be there to capture the details for you if you won't be there in person.

On hand will be archived Walt Disney World memorabilia and historical TV news footage of the parks and their role in the media.

More information about the event can be found in the D23 section of the MiceChat forums. We'll post a discussion thread about the event so you can weigh in on the festivities!! MiceChat D23

We're also pleased to announce that Orlando Parkhopper will be using its own Facebook and Twitter feeds where you can sign up to receive updates and important news quickly and easily!

Orlando Parkhopper Facebook Page
Orlando Parkhopper Twitter Feed

Busch Gardens Tampa will be offering passholders ERT (exclusive ride time) on Cheetah Hunt weekends in June.

Cheetah Hunt Construction Update
Dates: June 4-5, 11-12, 18-19 & 25-26
Time: 8:00am-9:00am (one hour before the park opens)

Everyone who attends will receive a special gift. (no mention to what the gift is)

BGTampa is putting the finishing touches on Cheetah Hunt for its big opening on May 27th. Aimster brings us some photos from her recent visit on this upcoming attraction and their newest addition, baby cheetah, Kasi.

The walls on one side are down!

Skyride signage is up

Work is still being done on the Cheetah Run habitat

Testing! There have been reports that people have been seen riding in some trains. Looks like it won't be long before employee previews and soft openings!

Skyride building (over the wall)

Over in Jambo Junction, Kasi the cheetah cub grows by the week. He's about 11 or 12 weeks old now.

His puppy pal, Mtani, was passed out after playtime.

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!

Mount Dora Blues and Wine Festival
May 20 - 22 - Mt. Dora, FL
Three days of great entertainment from the areas best blues talents, with just a touch of jazz.

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.

Florida Anime Experience
May 27 - 29 - Orlando, FL
The Florida Anime Experience is a new fan convention designed to focus specifically on Japanese animation, manga and popular culture.

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!

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

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:

Submit "Star Wars Weekends, Star Tours 3D Preview, Flower Power Concert and more!" to Digg Submit "Star Wars Weekends, Star Tours 3D Preview, Flower Power Concert and more!" to Submit "Star Wars Weekends, Star Tours 3D Preview, Flower Power Concert and more!" to StumbleUpon Submit "Star Wars Weekends, Star Tours 3D Preview, Flower Power Concert and more!" to Google

Updated 05-11-2011 at 08:51 AM by SummerInFL



  1. C. Andrew Nelson's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Thanks so much for the update! I'm really enjoying the Orlando Parkhopper column. Thank you to everyone who makes it possible.
  2. Ukulele Guy's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Great column, especially enjoying the Muppetvision pictures- one of my favorite rides.
  3. Disneykin Kid's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I appreciate the effort put into your column. Muppetvision arguably one of the best attractions at DHS? If that's true, it's not saying much. I do like the Muppets, but I wonder about they're lasting popularity as old school technology in this CGI age. Also I do like Muppetvision, but it definitely reeks 1980s, I think it would be vastly improved if it was reshot with fresh updated footage - it can be the same storyline, just new fresh looking footage. The sets in the film look old, I know they're supposed to be classic, I can't put my finger on it exactly, but they look so 1980s. Unfortunately, they probably wouldn't spend the money to re-film it, but hey, they continually plus other attractions, why not re-film this one, even if it's the same story? Great Muppet Movie Ride sounds great - again though, I wonder about the lasting popularity of the Muppets, say 20 or even 10 years from now.
    Updated 05-09-2011 at 08:01 AM by Disneykin Kid
  4. mistryl's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Oh no! I just figured I was going to miss Davy Jones this year, no big deal, but I missed Micky too?! Bummer. Thanks for the pictures though, I especially love the one of Micky arriving on an ECV. Hahah!
  5. Timekeeper's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Nice update!

  6. Not My Real Name's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I wanna go to BGT so bad! Cheeta Hunt looks cool and they still have a Skyride, which is the best way to see the African animals.
  7. Johnny's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Yes, Lefty's has been at Disney Marketplace for some time now. It does seem like a strange kiosk for a Disney property, though.
  8. DisWedWay's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I wonder if Davy Jones rode on Big Thunder while he was at Disney World, and went through the Davy Jones Mine named after anouther Disney Davy Jones?? Good to see he and Mickey going strong. PD