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Orlando Parkhopper

Parade Time Addition; Characters Out for EMH, Disney Mugs Dispensers Change!

Rating: 3 votes, 5.00 average.
by , 07-10-2011 at 09:27 PM

New this week:

  • Feature of the Week: Festival of the Lion King
  • Dining Around the World: Pinocchio's Village Haus (A retro look!)
  • Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade Time Added
  • Character Meet and Greets Out for Extra Magic Hour
  • Tink & Friends Moving Again
  • Monorails Shifting Availability
  • DHS Observations
  • Disney Mugs Dispense System Testing a Change
  • City Walk Miniature Gold Photos
  • Busch Gardens Round Up

Festival of the Lion King

While the attraction roster is noticeably light at Disney's Animal Kingdom, it does have some of the most popular attractions in Disney's repertoire. Expedition:Everest, though moving Yetiless, still has a very popular following, Finding Nemo - The Musical, is still one of the most popular shows in Walt Disney World. Kilimanjaro Safaris is a headliner that lives up to its name, and then there's Festival of the Lion King - a performance that rethinks the idea of a stage show at Walt Disney World. While Disney has a habit of rehashing a movie's plot for their shows, or relying on the concept of good vs evil (Fantasmic!) or dreams and believing (Dream Along with Mickey), Festival of the Lion King takes the Disney Stage Show to a new level. It really is a celebration of the events of the Lion King, using characters and animatronics (left over from the Lion King Celebration Parade at Disneyland) as a framework more for acrobatics and skillful performers rather than the characters from the movie. It's truly an impressive sight. As someone who doesn't care for the show, I can see the talent the performers bring to each performance, and truly appreciate why it's as popular as it is. So, join the Orlando Parkhopper team as we attempt to share the majesty to Festival of the Lion King. - YoyoFlamingo



Acrobatic Monkeys

Pinocchio's Village Haus
A look back at this classic dining counter service.
by SummerinFL

A few years ago Pinocchio's Village Haus was a must stop location for my family. Unfortunately, when the Figaro fries and the pressed turkey sandwich (my personal favorite) were removed from the menu, we tend to find ourselves drifting toward other locations inside the Magic Kingdom, but there is still a nice variety of foods available here.

Figaro Fries & Pressed Turkey Sandwich

Themed after its namesakethe movie, there is plenty to look at around every corner and the theming is mildly extensive.

On previous occasions I've personally witnessed cast members engaging the guests with songs and even with a miniature puppet we all know and love.

One of the main complaints across the board is that its getting harder and harder to find unique items in different locations. However, as you can see below, they do have some items that you won't find on every menu, like the chicken parmesan, the Mediterranean salad and tomato basil soup.

Bread Sticks - $3.99
Chicken Caesar Salad - $7.79
Chicken Breast Nuggets - $7.89
Chicken Parmesean - $8.99
Meatball Sub - $8.39
Mediterranean Salad - $8.49
Penne Pasta - $8.19
Pizza Combo - $8.69
Tomato Basil Soup - $2.59

So, if you find yourself eating at this haus I would recommend climbing the staircase to the 2nd floor seating, the kids will love how high up you are and its a great perch to people watch from.


From July 18-31, Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade will run two performances at noon and 3:30 p.m. daily during the busiest days of summer.

During this time, Move it, Shake it, Celebrate it! Street Party will be held during 10:00 a.m., 5:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. The parade will resume its normal parade time of 3:00 p.m. on August 1st.

Magic Kingdom will no longer be offering character meet and greets during Extra Magic Hours. The park claims that guests have indicated that they prefer to focus on attractions during these times and visit characters during regular park hours (what do you think?).


Tinkerbell and her friends will be relocating from their temporary home in Epcot to a new location inside the Adventureland Veranda on July 28th. Until that time, guests can continue to meet and greet Tinkerbell and her fairy friends in Epcot through July 27th, near MouseGear in Future World.


Operating hours for the Epcot Monorail system will change to one hour after normal park close beginning July 11, 2011, the Magic Kingdom Monorail system will also operate one hour after regular park close beginning August 1st, 2011. Officially, these changes are to accommodate for transportation maintenance.


Various observations within the parks.

How is it that a quick trip to Disney's Hollywood Studios for dinner never ends up being just a quick trip for dinner? Run in, get a great meal at Hollywood Brown Derby, run out. Quick and easy, right? "But it's after five and there's still FastPasses left for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster. Well, okay, just one ride after dinner why not? A little time to kill, how bout we run in and check out the Walt Disney: One Man's Dream exhibit. Oh, and there's a film? Okay, so a film and a ride and dinner... and... and..." and so it went. What follows is our dinner-only trip in photos that included a lot more than just dinner.

I want to go to there.

The Crystal Palace in a scale model of Disneyland's Main Street U.S.A. in Walt Disney: One Man's Dream. There's a ton of really amazing stuff in there, especially if you like scale models!

Lincoln is the first in a series of three robots in this report, a serendipitous and recurring thematic element. Yes I said serendipitous. Look it up.

I want to go to here, too, but only after they fix it up again and France outlaws smoking in theme park common areas.

The reason for our little visit was the Brown Derby restaurant. If you haven't tried this place, I highly recommend it. Y U so stingy? Go . . . try it! You'll eat some food, you'll drink some booze, you'll have a laugh. We each tried the Flight of Martinis. It's a little carousel with three, two-ounce mini-martinis. One with Skyy Vodka, dry vermouth and a twist, one with Bombay Sapphire Gin, extra dry vermouth and an olive and a third with mlah mlah mlah it didn't really matter by that point mlah!

And you CANNOT leave without having the famous grapefruit cake. Mmm. Mmm. How good is that? Mmm. I put it in mah belly!

Robot Number Two: Giant Killer Robot Goes Wild on Movie Set in Bas-Relief. Look it up. Clearly the flight of martinis and grapefruit cake has gone to my head and one unintended consequence is my string of five dollar words in this trip report.

Ladies and Gentlemen I give you Robot Number Three The Terminator a.k.a. How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Maid. Too soon?

A Villains in Vogue Window. What can we glean from this? That Vinylmation is the rotten black core in the apple of Disney Parks merchandising? I didn't just say that. I asked it. There's a difference.

I'm not the only one tippled by the third martini!

I guess you think this sign is about you don't you don't you?

3D never looked so scruffy. Yours truly pretending 3D glasses aren't a gateway to dorkdom.

Just get me as far away from Illeana Douglas as quickly as possible. Worst. Pre-show performance. Evar. Look her up.


See what I mean about how a dinner is never just a dinner? In for a penny in for a pound, I guess.

It is so hard to find a good housekeeper. And when you do, she doesn't do windows. Or birds, apparently.

And now I give you the Sunset at... (wait for it)...

Sunset! (Cue angelic chorus.)

And we run to the car before the Fantasmic! Horde runs us down, nipping at our ankles with their strollers. Goodnight, DHS thanks for dinner plus, plus, plus, plus, plus!


Dining With an Animal Specialist
Based on the popular Dining with an Imagineer program at Disney's Hollywood Studios, Sanaa at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge begins offering Dining with an Animal Specialist beginning August 1st. The program offers the same small groups (no more than 12 diners) with a 4 course meal at Sanaa overlooking the savanna. The experience is going to be offered Wednesdays from 11:30 a.m.-1:15 p.m. Cost is $49, $29 ages 3 to 9 (special kidís menu). The price includes the gratuity plus a $5 contribution to Disney's Worldwide Conservation Fund


Unlimited Fill Mugs
You know the resort mugs that Disney has had for years? You could purchase them and then refill them as often as you like for the length of your stay. Well, unfortunately, too many guests have cheated the system for too long, bring the mugs back from previous visits, bringing non-Disney mugs or using "water" cups to get drinks from the fountains. Disney has begun installation on a new drink machine with software to restrict and limit use of the fountains for only currently valid mugs. Once you purchase a mug, it will allow you to refill your drink for a certain duration (which is probably longer than you are staying there) on their machines. In fact, these machines will dispense a certain amount of soft drink, from any combination every five minutes. Older mugs will not work on the new machines and will not dispense anything but ice and water for the expired mugs, just like a glorified water cup. If you buy an individual drink cup from the location instead of a mug, it will work for a certain period of time while you dine, but not for a long period after your meal. Other resorts have used the same set up (Dollywood for example) but no one has tried this system on the scale which would be required at Disney. Disney's All-Star Sports End Zone Food Court is the first and only Disney Resort to currently use this system.

It should be interesting to see how this test period works out and if it is picked up and begins to appear in more resorts. The Disney Dining Plan (regardless of type) may include mugs next year.

Machine setup is a bit different. No more "PUSH" buttons, instead just put your mug or cup against the new, longer, levers and your drink will dispense

Obviously WDI needs new signage to give directions as many guests appear confused in how to get the drink machine to work. I saw many trying to "push" where the button would be and young kids banging their mugs against the machine.

Dispensers before. Note the lack of levers. Guests would push a button instead.

The rumored DVC wing at the Grand Floridian has picked up a little bit of steam. Apparently, the past week has seen a change in the plans filed with the state for the new wing, requiring a little more of Seven Seas Lagoon being filled in for an access road around the addition. In the new plans, there are also more pathways clearly defined and what appears to be new rockwork by the feature pool, amongst other things.

Disney appears to be serious about this addition since they have filed multiple documents with the state, though nothing official has been announced to the public. Perhaps they are waiting for the D23 Expo, but even still, it's important to note Disney has a habit of building these units while not even acknowledging their existence (Bay Lake Tower at the Contemporary for example). This is something we'll keep an eye on, but things seem to be moving forward with this Vacation Club expansion.

Here's the link to the altered permit for anyone interested.

There have been a few times I've seen traces of the Marvel universe in the Disney parks. One notable instance was the placing of a Marvel encyclopedia book next to a Walt Disney World book (in Mouse Gear).

Here's another instance: hats in a store on Main Street. My wife picked these out before I could; amid the WDW-branded logos and happy colors could be seen these Marvel logos:

Admittedly, they were on the lowest two shelves, but I still find it jarring to have the two universes mixing - more jarring than the Pixar/Disney merger ever was.

One row away was a hat celebrating Walt Disney. I wonder what he would have made of all this?

A few, quick glimpses at what's going on in the Universal Orlando Resort.
Kevin Yee

Miniature golf course under construction at Universal Orlando:

What is this Extreme Sports show at IOA? Haven't heard of it before.

Iron Man in IOA means WDW can't have it (East of the Mississippi and contracts and all).

The meal deal is cheaper than past years, isn't it?

Summer Night's
Now through August 14th
Returning this year is Kinetix, a 30 minute show that features acrobatics, dancers, singers and pyrotechnics. The show is included with admission and is performed nightly at 9:00pm at Gwazi Park (located behind the Gwazi roller coaster).

Also performing during Summer Nights is magician Christopher Cool, who will be performing nightly in front of the Sultan's tent in Morocco. Showtimes are 5:00pm, 6:00pm, 7:00pm & 8:00pm (except Mondays).

Island Nights - Adventure Island
Now through August 13th - 5PM to 9PM
This summer at Adventure Island, (BGT's water park) when the sun goes down, the fun heats up during Island Nights. It's a vacation from the everyday as Busch Garden's water park transforms into a celebration of island life with live music, authentic entertainment and inspiring cuisine.

Summer Nights entertainment, Cheetah gifts, Kinetix and July 4th photos.
By Aimster

Over in the Crossroads of Culture area, a new entertainment offering has sprung up with a troupe of acrobats who do some amazing tumbling, balancing and end a little limbo!

A few new items have shown up at Cheetah Gifts:

Part of this year's Summer Nights entertainment offering is Christopher Cool and his street magic. He's quite good and very engaging.

Another Summer Nights offering is the return of the wildly popular show, Kinetix.

The show is performed nightly at 9:00pm (weather permitting) and really a sight to behold.

Video of the awesome hula hoop act:

If you get the chance, definitely see this show as it is really amazing. Kinetix runs through August 14.

As part of the 4th of July festivities, Busch Gardens had fireworks July 2-4. While the show was pretty generic, considering the is one of the only times the park has fireworks (due to the animals), it was a nice treat.

Mangomania! Fruit Fair
July 30th & 31st - Pine Island, FL
Adults: $6.00
Children: 10 and Under FREE!!
Mango Mania is a summer festival and celebration of Pine Island's Mangos and other tropical fruits.
It is a festive, informal and incredibly fun family event.

Kennedy Space Center - Star Trek Exhibit
Now through September 5th
Appearing for the first time in Florida, STAR TREK: THE EXHIBITION, presented by EMS Exhibits, Inc., is an interactive exhibit of authentic Star Trek artifacts from the past 45 years, featuring one-of-a-kind costumes, props and filming models from Star Trek television series and feature films. Together these elements offer, Star Trek fans and novices alike, an opportunity to experience first-hand the imagination, artistry, technology and meticulous craftsmanship that have made Star Trek the most enduring science fiction franchise in history.

Orlando Science Center - Guitar: The Instrument that Rocked the World
Now through September 11th
The National GUITAR Museum announced that its touring exhibition, GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World will launch worldwide at the Orlando Science Center. The 5,000 square foot will explore the history and evolution of the guitar-from lutes and lyres to modern high-tech instruments-and show how the instrument became the cultural symbol it is today.

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!

  • MiceTube - Introducing MiceChat's new channel on YouTube. Kevin Yee and MiceChat Sarah have been uploading entertaining videos weekly, along with many other of your MiceAge and MiceChat favorites.
  • 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!
  • MiceDeals - We are just about to launch a brand new daily deals site for Disney and theme park fans. Every day a different deal. You won't want to miss out on these great deals for Orlando and Anaheim, sign up for the daily deal emails today!

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Updated 07-13-2011 at 10:07 AM by SummerInFL



  1. PeaJay18's Avatar
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    Great update, as always!

    Magic Kingdom will no longer be offering character meet and greets during Extra Magic Hours as guests have indicated that they prefer to focus on attractions during these times and visit characters during regular park hours.
    It's just the opposite when we visit...
  2. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Fantastic update folks!

    FYI - We've heard from a few castmembers who work along the Monorail Beam resorts that they are very worried about the cutback in Monorail hours. They are most concerned about nights with Extra Magic hours at Magic Kingdom and Epcot when it is not expected that Monorails will continue to be running by the time their guests are ready to return to their hotel.

    While guests at other resorts simply hop on a bus, the folks at these hotels pay a pretty penny to stay at a hotel with Monorail access and they expect to be able to take a comfortable and smooth gliding Monorail back to their hotel.

    We'll have to watch this one closely and see how this impacts guests and their opinion of the value of a stay at the Grand Floridian, Contemporary, and Polynesian.

    Certainly, guests should keep this in mind when booking resorts. If you won't reap the full benefit of the Monorail at your Monorail hotel, then perhaps you are better off saving the money and staying elsewhere in the resort.
  3. BSusanJ's Avatar
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    Great update- enjoying seeing how the update continues to grow! Also loving Abomibot's additions!
  4. WDW1971's Avatar
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    Good update. I like the weekly spotlight you guys do on certain rides or attractions. Though you guys do a good update, I am still alittle disappointed by this blog. I guess I had higher expectations for Orlando Parkhopper to provide weekly updates of WDW and Orlando Parks. I expected it to be the east coast version of Dateline Disneyland, though I have not seen much coverage. There are so many projects going on in Orlando yet I have not seen a fraction of them covered in this blog.

    For example, some projects I can think of off the top of my head that I would LOVE to see here are Fantasyland Expansion updates (similair to Carsland on Dateline Disneyland), Golden Oak construction, the new ramps being built by DHS for parking, new Harley Davidson construction at Downtown Disney, general refurbishments/changes, Hypherion Wharf (I would LOVE to see weekly updates of this project), Art of Animation Resort, Four Seasons Resort, the New Echanted Tiki Room, new health and fitness rooms at Contemporary, Royal guest rooms at Port Orleans, bowling stadium at ESPN, DVC at Grand Floridian, Flamingo Crossings project (whatever happened to that?), Universal's new Hollywood Drive-In Mini Golf (I Was SOOO Excited to see that on here today :]), Jimmy Neutron closing, Despicable Me ride, etc.

    Sorry for my rant on but I would like to see this blog become something more on the lines of Dateline Disneyland. There is so much going on in Orlando and I know Orlando Parkhopper has the potential to work its way to a great blog.

    Other than that, thanks for all the work the Orlando Parkhopper team does :)
  5. SummerInFL's Avatar
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    ^Thank you WDW1971, we appreciate your feedback and know that we echo many of the things you've listed for improvement.

    With the plethora of parks and activities available in the Orlando area at this time our team is just not large enough to cover every aspect of the news. Outside of WDW we only have one or two people who can cover the other parks so contributions of our volunteers do get posted when they are available. However, do know that we're growing and working toward that goal.

    In the interim, I do hope you'll stick with us as we bring you what we can and know that we're working on it and we appreciate your patience and readership.


    Updated 07-11-2011 at 11:04 AM by SummerInFL
  6. WDW1971's Avatar
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    ^SummerInFL, I really appreciate what you do here and I do think you do a great job with what you can. I was just trying to give you some positive feed back so you can gain your readers opinions and create an even better blog. :)

    Perhaps focusing on one of the projects each week can gradually give readers updates on major projects and then we can see whats going on in our favorite places once a month if not weekly.

    Just my thoughts.
  7. SummerInFL's Avatar
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    ^I think that's a wonderful idea!

    You can't progress forward without bettering yourself, so constructive criticism will always be welcome and I hope you'll continue to do so in the future.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
  8. DubiousEndeavors's Avatar
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    the new cup system sounds interesting. is the upgrades to the fountains and cups reflected in an increased price? This was always a favorite feature of mine at WDW! but we never reused cups... well, considering it was always 6 months to a year between each of my 3 visits

    My favorite place to sit at the Villiage Haus is next to the windows to IASW! we used to love watching the guests get on and get off... weird, I know, but it was always a good time!

    ABOMIBOT, great photos/commentary!

    I also would like to see some progress photos of the expansion, but are there any vantage points to take them from to see over the construction walls?

    Can't wait til next week!
  9. Maverick's Avatar
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    Fabulous update as always, I laughed, I cried, two thumbs up!
  10. kirbilicious's Avatar
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    Always love these updates!
  11. SummerInFL's Avatar
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    I also would like to see some progress photos of the expansion, but are there any vantage points to take them from to see over the construction walls?
    Yes, from Dumbo.
  12. Dustysage's Avatar
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    I'm so sick and tired of seeing Disney passing cutbacks off as being driven by their guests.

    The characters are being cut from Extra Magic hours because "Guests" asked for it. Really? That is about as bad as the Disney lies get. Really disgusting. They should just be truthful that their attendance is lagging and to save money they are cutting back. But don't blame a loss of quality, value and magic on the guests themselves. Guests NEVER ask Disney to deliver LESS value for the ever-increasing ticket price!

    Just another nip in the budget and one more reason why Disney World is slowly losing its edge.

    So very sad. The Disney World management team must be totally blind and so tightly wrapped in group-think that they believe they can get away with stupid decisions like character and Monorail cutbacks without guests noticing and being turned off by it.

    Booooooooo to the Disney World management team!!!!!
  13. WDW1971's Avatar
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    [QUOTE]I also would like to see some progress photos of the expansion, but are there any vantage points to take them from to see over the construction walls?[/QUOTE]

    Or from the top of the Contemporary would be great. Maybe even the PeopleMover or even Splash Mountain???
  14. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    I was wondering how Festival of The Lion King was doing in Honk Kong Disneyland? I haven't had the chance to see the show yet. Now I'm worried my booked stay in the Contemporary Hotel will be a problem without the latenight Monorail service. It would be like being in Tokyo after the subways close, and trying to get back to your hotel in a nearby town. PD
  15. Quentin's Avatar
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    That is just sad that people can't figure out the soda dispensers. Just shows the level of intelligence that Americans have these days.
  16. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    Is is good that if a guest has an expired cup or some kind of cup, they are able to get real ice and water in it from the new dispensors. That's probably the best thing for your body in Florida's humidity and temps. I don't know if welcomed refridgerated water fountains are a common feature as they use to be. Seems like all the attractions had them. PD
  17. ttintagel's Avatar
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    I fail to see how Tinkerbell fits in any better in Adventureland than she did at EPCOT.
  18. ABOMIBOT's Avatar
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    Thank you BSusanJ and DubiousEndeavors for the kind words! Your checks are in the mail. Do I need to put quotes around the words checks and mail? Because I lied there aren't any. But I thank you both nonetheless!