Welcome to the Orlando Parkhopper! If you're looking for news and photos from Disney World and Orlando's top parks and attractions, you've come to the right place. Here's what's new this week:
Disney's Mom's Panel is accepting applications, Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom is coming to Walt Disney World, Fantasyland construction details start to take shape, EPCOT construction updates, Florida Project comes to EPCOT, IcePloration, Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream, Halloween Horror Nights Almost Ready for Opening Night and much more! A SPOOKY FLORIDIAN MICEDEAL!
MiceDeals is offering Two Tickets to a Paranormal Tour at The Lighthouse & Museum in St. Augustine for just $25 (a $50 Value)
If you dare to join the Dark of the Moon Paranormal Tour of the St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum Be Prepared! This is the only ghost tour in the nation's oldest city that gets you inside the tower and the Keepers House at night. Your paranormal tour guide will share tales and experiences people have encountered while visiting, living or working at the Lighthouse. With this deal you will receive Two Tickets to a Paranormal Tour at the Lighthouse, Museum and Keepers House, regulary $50, for only $25. The St. Augustine Lighthouse has been featured on Ghost Hunters television show, because the Lighthouse is the number 1 place for paranormal activity in St. Augustine.
Ready to get spooked? You can find this offer on MiceDeals.com
(deal page expires at 11:50pm on Tuesday the 13th of September).
Disney Mom's Panel Accepting Applications!
Interest in helping people out with their Walt Disney World vacations? Every year, the Disney Moms Panel does just that - help with travel planning tips and tricks for families on the Walt Disney World website. While the competition is fierce, the window to become a member of the Disney Moms Panel is from Sept. 12th - Sept 16th. All you need to do is head to the application website and answer the questions.
by YoyoFlamingo & Kevin Yee Want to meet up with other Disney fans while at Disney World? Several of the Orlando Parkhopper team members are part of a group that meets every weekend. Join the public Facebook group
and get notified of events (the locations are different every time). Drop by to visit the "attraction of the day" with us. Newcomers are welcome! Saturday, September 17th, we will meet at the Main Street Train Station (upstairs, indoors) at 2PM and head to the Enchanted Tiki Room for our "ride of the week."
Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom Coming to Walt Disney World While it's been hinted at online for a few months now, the DisneyParks Blog has announced an interactive experience they call Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom. While the details are sparse, it seems reminiscent of the Kim Possible World Showcase Adventure in EPCOT. According to the blog, the role playing adventure utilizes Merlin to recruit guests to help them with maps and clues that show where and how to defeat an army of Disney villains.
While the experience doesn't debut until early 2012, several objects are reportedly being placed already in Adventureland, perhaps interactive elements like Kim Possible. We'll keep you posted in the Parkhopper as more details (and props) emerge.
The early opinion on MiceChat is mixed. You can view the lively discussion here: The End of the Magic Kingdom Experience
A not so hidden Mickey awaits our arrival at the Jungle Cruise dock.
MAGIC KINGDOM FANTASYLAND CONSTRUCTION UPDATE:
First stop is Pinocchio's Village Haus where the roof is being refurbished in sections. The right-most roof is finally underway with a surprising brown tile. Considering this will be the eastern-most rooftop visible from this angle and immediately adjacent to Belle and Maurice's cottage, the color story here is probably done with the intent to ease the eye from the roof line of "traditional" Fantasyland into the new and more rustic environs of the French countryside.
Even though this gorgeous copper roof has been here a while this is the first time we've seen it glint so fantastically in the morning light. It will likely be covered with a green patina in no time.
The west side of the expansion. From left to right is Belle & Maurice's cottage, Beast's castle, Gaston's Tavern and finally, what was noted on leaked blueprints as only "merch." Note the beefy foundational element in the middle of the black-plastic-covered excavation at lower right. Last week we speculated this might be part of the new castle wall but on closer examination it looks to be near where two bridges will one day meet, one leading to the plaza outside Gaton's Tavern and another northwest to the Little Mermaid attraction.
More new layers of plywood and such are added to the cottage. If our crash course roofing education from the Pinocchio Village Haus process is any indicator, the dark tar paper with the dots of weatherproofing over nails is the final layer before the outer shingles are added.
Gaston's Tavern is also getting new layers of plywood.
Across from Belle, Beast & Company arises. The spires of prince Eric's castle in front of the Little Mermaid attraction.
New layers of textural detail appeared this week. Two more courses of faux stone work and what will come next? Painting? Roof?
Where Prince Eric's castle is part of the front of the facade, here you can see the stone around the corner from that near the entrance to Storybook Circus land. They are just now adding the last bits of rebar framework over which the fake stone mixture will be applied, carved and painted.
Here is a wider view of the same from between Mad Tea Party and Tomorrowland Speedway.
The back wall of the Little Mermaid show building is clearly visible in green. And a much darker shade than Disney's traditional "go-away green" color, too. A look at the latest concept art rendering indicates this will be facing an inaccessible-to-guests wooded area between Mermaid and a large tent in Storybook Circus land.
Speaking of Storybook Circus, behind part of the new "dueling" Dumbo queue cover there is the main queue building for The Great Goofini (formerly the Barnstormer junior coaster) is clearly starting to get some TLC.
Sad they let this sit in the middle of construction chaos and visible to guests on the train without removing the signage. It says, "Meet your Favorite Disney Characters in the Hall of Fame!" And we all know that won't be happening here again, don't we?
Also sad is the state of the current Dumbo attraction. Yes, its days are extremely numbered and we're sure the only goal is to keep it running until the new dueling Dumbos opens next year.
But when a ride is so dirty you feel the need for a Purell shower when you get off, is a quick spritz with a power washer too much to ask? Ick.
video by Kevin Yee
Kevin has posted another video update from the parks. It's a great way to catch up on Walt Disney World in a short amount of time.
PHOTOGRAPHING THE WORLD
by Tom Bricker
This photo of Spaceship Earth is about as close as I'll ever come to abstract photography, which is my least favorite type of photography. While it's not an abstract photo, per se, it implies the subject rather than hitting the viewer over the head with the subject like my photos normally do. While this photo is far from my favorite photo of Spaceship Earth, I think it works well as a semi-abstract photo because it establishes the scale of Spaceship Earth well, and has dynamic color and composition. Sometimes, as is the case here, less is more. The next time you're out with your camera, try to showcase other elements of what you observe, such as I did here by showcasing the lighting and the scale of an subject by contrasting it with nearby, by composing your photos in a bit more unconventional manners. While it's important to take big picture photos, sometimes the more evocative photos can be the ones that are more subtle in what they convey.
Tom takes great photos, doesn't he?! We don't want to make him blush, but he has recently published a new book on Disney fireworks photography and we thought you'd like to know about it. Here's a wonderful review from MiceChat's own Andy Castro of Dateline Disneyland
: FIREWORKS PHOTOGRAPHY:
HELPING YOU CAPTURE BETTER FIREWORKS PHOTOS
Every now and then we like to feature products on Dateline Disneyland that I think are great additions to any Disney fan's collection. In the past, we have featured new theme park-related books and DVD sets Disney has released that we think our readers would enjoy. Today, we're taking a look at a new book that is brought to you buy some great Disney theme park photographers and that we think is a fantastic read for just about anybody
who visits Disney parks. Do note that for the purposes of this review, Dateline Disneyland received a complimentary copy.
I'm terrible at fireworks photography, which is why you really don't see too many fireworks photos here in Dateline Disneyland. Despite owning a DSLR and feeling pretty confident about my photography in other areas, I've never been able to get fireworks right. It's a shame considering how often I'm at Disneyland with my camera. So, I actually got pretty excited when friend, fellow Disney photographer and owner of DisneyTouristBlog.com Tom Bricker contacted me about a new eBook he co-authored with Cory Disbrow and Adam Hansen, the team behind the fantastic DisneyPhotographyBlog.com. I've been following Tom, Cory and Adam's incredible Walt Disney World and Disneyland photography on Flickr for years now and have always marveled at their fireworks shots. My admiration for their work resulted in me silently letting my disappointing attempts at fireworks photos sink into the abyss of my photo archive. Luckily, I now have their secrets thanks to their new eBook, which despite its pretty utilitarian title — Fireworks Photography: Helping You Capture Better Fireworks Photos — is full of excellent information that won't confuse or bore you to tears. And despite the lack of Disney in the title, this book is written with you—the Disney vacationer—in mind.
I was worried when I first picked up my iPad to read this text that it would be another typical photography book: dry, more confusing than it should be, and dense like a text book or manual. Luckily, this book isn't written by the folks who write the Canon manuals, nor is it a college photography text book. It's written for just about anybody who can pick up a camera, and that's a very good thing. Photography can be pretty intimidating, and it can be tough to find tutorials or tips that really put the technical aspects of photography in terms that are easy to understand. Fireworks Photography does this, and it does this exceptionally well. The book is littered with witty, playful banter from our authors and it summarizes the tedious technical information into simple terms that everybody can understand. Most pages include quick tips that will help you along, and the book is filled with gorgeous photos that serve as inspiration for your future fireworks photography endeavors.
I think one of the book's major strengths is that it understands that all photographers have to start somewhere and creative, masterful photography won't happen overnight. I could see that this was kept under heavy consideration throughout the writing and the authors do a great job of encouraging repeat attempts and even offer some sample camera settings for beginners. And for those of us who lack DSLR cameras and other professional equipment, Tom, Cory and Adam include full sections and chapters on shooting with point-and-shoot cameras (as opposed to DSLR models) and without a professional tripod.
The book is just over 50 pages, which is very manageable, but could seem like a lot considering the book only focuses on one type of photography. However, the wonderfully approachable writing style and the number of photos in the book make it a breeze to read. The book zips by and after finishing it I felt empowered to try my hand again at fireworks photos.
Snag a copy of Fireworks Photography for yourself, visit www.howtophotographfireworks.com!
The best part of this book, however, may just be the price. It's currently available at 50% off for only $7. It's an eBook, so you can instantly download it as a .PDF and start reading, which is great for those of us who enjoy instant gratification or who are preparing for a visit to Disneyland or Walt Disney World this weekend. It may be the team's first book, but it's a pretty remarkable first effort. And, after looking over their Flickr portfolios and browsing their blogs, picking up this book is a no-brainer. Why wouldn't you want to return from your Disney vacation with photos like theirs?
EPCOT CONSTRUCTION UPDATES
By Miles Bresin & Disnyfan89
Work is being done to the information board behind Spaceship Earth. Maybe a new and improved LED Panel??? We can only hope so!
Journey into Imagination:
It seems there has been trouble lately with the maintenance on Journey Into Imagination: With Figment. For a while the 1st car wasn't being filled due to the fly-away wall not flying away. While that issue has been corrected, now it seems one of the screens in the beginning sequence is not functioning at all. But, that's an easy fix that we hope will be resolved before any of you experience the attraction (and while they're fixing things, will you join us in calling for Disney to return Dream Finder to the attraction?!).
Epcot is busy gearing up for the upcoming food and wine festival starting September 30th along with other changes and work throughout the park. We decided to a quick stroll through the park to see all the fun going on:
At the main entrance, confetti cannons have been installed for a new park opening show. "Show" might be a bit of an over statement, however, as we have heard that it will consist of a simple countdown and confetti launch. The premier of the new park opening ceremonies is yet to be revealed.
The ugly control box for the confetti cannons.
Over at the pub in UK, half the pub is closed off as they redo the floor. As you can see, this half already sports the new look; its tile made to look like wood.
The other half of the pub should be reopening any day.
Work is currently ongoing to the right of American Adventure. We are told this will be the new location for America's Christmas tree as placing the tree on the fountain was too damaging.
FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL
Planters up for food and wine prep.
Over in Japan, work continues on the refurb for the quick service location.
To make up for the closed location Japan's Food and Wine cart has been set up early:
The DVC kiosk out front America is also having some work done. Wouldn't it be nice if it was being transformed into something that isn't a timeshare sales location?
More food and wine prep by Germany
Canada is also receiving an extensive facade refurbishment. During the work, guests must take the small pathway to the right of Le Cellier between the waterfalled outcropping, to access the O'Canada film.
PROJECT FLORIDA EVENT:
This past weekend, Epcot hosted a pin and vinylmation trading event. Themed to Disney World's 40th anniversary, the event featured vintage attraction vehicles and lots of opportunities for traders to meet and swap goods.
The event took place in the World ShowPlace located between (and behind) the UK and Canada pavilions.
Once inside we are greeted by this familial face who appears all over the displays - Orange Bird!
There were several trading activities and some specialty merchandise for attendees. Even if you weren't a big pin trader you could just as easily enjoy looking at all the displays created for this event.
One of the many trading activities in front of these amazing displays.
This one is a tease. A lot of folks miss this attraction.
Or, perhaps you miss this one more . . .
Or this one
A large space dedicated to personal traders who wanted to bring in their own items to trade.
There was also a showcase of products from other parks as well:
How to make a vinylmation.
Upcoming Vinylmation releases:
Don't worry folks, as long as you have money in your pockets, they'll never run out of ideas.
Mickey as we head out to explore the rest of Epcot. THIS AND THAT:
The segway free ride experience in Innoventions West was recently discontinued. However, Disney does still continue to offer their paid Segway Tours.
Splitsville's construction in Downtown Disney is in full swing with the signage already installed on the outside of the building. The new establishment is expected to be an
upscale entertainment center that combines bowling with billiards, dining, music and nightlife. This is the former spot of the Virgin Megastore.
By Aimster IcePloration - An All-New Epic Ice Show Iceploation inspires audiences to "explore the world" on a 30-minute journey to the four corners of the earth. This multi-sensory story, told through theatrical skating and an all-new original score, is the collaboration of an award-winning creative team with Broadway credentials, including Tony Award-winning costume designer Gregg Barnes (The Drowsy Chaperone, Best Costume Design tony winner 2007; Legally Blonde the Musical, Best Costume Design tony nominee 2007).
September 24th - Zoe's Dance, Dance, Dance Birthday Party at Seasame Street Safari of Fun Zoe's birthday bash includes a delicious buffet-style lunch with your favorite Seasame Street characters from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., plus a photo of your family with Zoe. The menu includes items sure to please both parents and kids alike. Lunch is $22 for adults and $15 for children. Busch Gardens pass members receive a 10% discount. Admission to the park is required, but not included. To check out the menu and make your reservations, click here. Seasame Street Safari of Fun is a Seasame Street themed sunny, funny play land at Busch Gardens filled with kid-size rides, cool water fun, memorable adventures and shows that celebrate the spirit of Africa. Howl-O-Scream and other Construction Updates: Now is a great time to visit Busch Gardens. Crowds are light and wait times for attractions are minimal. Things should be like this until around Thanksgiving (outside of the usually busy weekend nights during Howl-O-Scream).
In the Morocco area (the park's "Main Street" area), the Sahara Trading Co. shop has been transformed into the Howl-O-Scream Shop of Horrors. This is your "one stop shop" for anything and everything Howl-O-Scream.
Over at Universal Studios, Minion Madness has taken over as those memorable little guys from Despicable Me now adorn the upcoming attraction's construction walls.
This past weekend Universal hosted "Rock the Universe" which is their version of Night of Joy (Disney's Christian music event). it is a celebration of Faith and Music and this year Universal hosted many popular Christian bands like Switchfoot and Relient K. While we did not attend the event we did get some photos of the prep work:
It appears they are doing work on the giant ring structure on the second floor, as there is a lot of rust and burnt out light bulbs.
HALLOWEEN HORROR NIGHTS:
Work continues on HHN, and with us being just one week away from opening weekend we are already getting shivers down our spines in anticipation. This week it looks like some critters have moved into Grown Evil and Acid Assault.
Completed Saws n' Steam facade.
Lots more props have been added to Grown Evil. It appears Busch Gardens isn't the only one with a dark side to their garden.
Very thin wires have been added to the archways. During the event, these will hang down and be practically invisible for guests to see. Walking through will create the illusion something is crawling on you or that you've gotten tangled in a giant web. Canyon of Dark Souls:
Canyon of Dark Souls has also added some props:
On event night, the black cloth is removed and the interior reveals a skeletal face.
Here's a look at the back of the Poe Facade:
Fun Fact: This house has been in development for over three years!
A look at the In-Between facade: 7
"7" finally has some visible work as well: Acid Assualt Scare Zone:
And finally, a look at some of the details in Acid Assault: