View RSS Feed

Orlando Parkhopper

Fantasyland Construction, Halloween, IcePloration, First Signs of Food & Wine

Rate this Entry
by , 09-12-2011 at 11:17 AM

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!


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 (deal page expires at 11:50pm on Tuesday the 13th of September).

by YoyoFlamingo

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.



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.

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:


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 Tom Bricker contacted me about a new eBook he co-authored with Cory Disbrow and Adam Hansen, the team behind the fantastic 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.

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?

Snag a copy of Fireworks Photography for yourself, visit!

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.

by Disnyfan89

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.

by Disnyfan89

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.

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.

The roses seen in advertising for this year's event are abundant in the shop.

There's a TON of merchandise to choose from.

Out in the park, the scare zone near Gwazi is in place.

The entrance sign for the Nightshade Toys factory maze house.

Construction for the Death Row Vengeance maze is pretty much complete and it looks great!

We'll have more for you soon from Busch Gardens and Howl-O-Scream.

Adventure Island Lifeguard Dies After Lightning Strike
An Adventure Island employee died after lightning struck the Key West Rapids attraction tower he was working on. As a storm threatened just before noon, Justin Inversso was working on getting people to safety when lightning struck the tower. At the time, he was standing in 2-3 feet of water when it hit. Park employees immediately pulled him from the water and performed CPR but he later died at University Community Hospital.

Our hearts go out to family, friends and coworkers of this brave Adventure Island employee.

By DisneyFan89

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.

While Universal Studios Orlando is mostly a theme park, it still has the pleasure of hosting many production companies who wish to film their television, movie or commercial there. While not quite as frequent an occurrence here in Florida, you can still catch a production filming in person. Here is one we where lucky enough to be around for:

The VIP entrance at the main archway has been trasnformed into a working tv set.

Signs notify guest of the tapping and, in this case, actually provide concept art of the set that has been constructed.

There are notes that it is a high school courtyard.

Rock the Universe:
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:

A smaller stage set up in the alley way where the Blues Brothers show is held.

A party zone is set up out in front of MIB.


Universal Orlando is in the middle of building a Sci-Fi movie themed miniature golf course called Hollywood Drive in Golf. The two, 18-hole courses are scheduled to be open early next year.

The City Walk sign which used to be located smack dab in the middle of this construction site has been relocated.

The construction site may not look like much now, but we are told it is going to be a lot of fun when complete.

CityWalk Cinemas:
Also, while we were in City Walk, we noticed work going on around the movie theater.

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.


Join the MiceChat crew at Universal Orlando's Halloween Horror Nights for a night of scary fun.
Visit this thread to learn more. We've been dying to see you!

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.

This machine will pump out lots of low level fog.

One of the many speakers installed for this scarezone.

A box that will illuminate the tree canopy in a hazy blue glow.

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!

The In-Between:
A look at the In-Between facade:

"7" finally has some visible work as well:

Acid Assualt Scare Zone:
And finally, a look at some of the details in Acid Assault:

Another fog machine.

Where the Past Meets the Future: The Art of Fay Grajower
Now through September 28th - Florida Holocaust Museum - St. Petersburg, FL
Boston artist, Fay Grajower, provides insight to viewers about the second generation of Holocaust survivors through her art. The artist uses her acquired memories of her mother’s and siblings’ experiences to work through issues of the past. Grajower commonly uses symbols and metaphors in her colorful, mixed-media artworks.

Women of Ybor: 125 Years of Influence
Now through October - Ybor City Museum - Ybor City, FL

A new exhibit honoring the amzing contributions women have made to Ybor City throughout its 125-year history is on display at the Ybor City Museum State Park. History is often told from a male perspective, while the equally-important female story often goes untold. This exhibit seeks to tell that story by exploring the role some of Ybor's earliest women had in shaping the town, as well as the positions women would hold as Ybor's history unfolded. You will learn of womens' contributions to almost every aspect of the community, including business, education, medicine, the arts, and civic life. 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!

Today's update was made possible by the WONDERFUL folks at
Happy Limousine, MiceChat's official partner for transportation to and from the Orlando Airport or anywhere you need to go in the Orlando area. Happy Limousine offers one of the newest and most diverse fleets in Orlando which include sedans, Suv's, vans, stretch limousines, minibuses and motor coaches. Happy Limousine can transport clients to any destination in the state of Florida.

Happy Limousine offers luxury transportation at a budget price. MiceChat readers get a very special rate:

$5.00 off sedans, vans, suv's from Orlando International Airport to any Disney World or local Orlando hotel.

  • $10.00 off stretch limousine and buses from Orlando International Airport to any local area hotel.
  • $10.00 off published sedan & minivan rates from Orlando International Airport to Port Canaveral.
  • $15.00 off published SUV and 10-14 passenger van rates from Orlando International Airport to Port Canaveral
  • $20.00 published stretch limousine and bus rates from Orlando International Airport to Port Canaveral

Use Discount Code MC5899 when booking your limo to receive discounts.

Please contact Happy Limousine toll free 1-877-642-7791 for further details. Nobody does better what they best!

Please mention the discount code at the time of booking. Coupon code only valid for round-trip transfers to and from MCO, SFB and Port Canaveral. Discount code cannot be combined with any other offers or discounts and has no cash value.

Due to the large amount of newsworthy information being reported this week, Hidden Parkhopper will resume next week with an all new photo!

Last Week's pic: Seagull perched above the hat on Pirates of the Caribbean.
Congratulations to snowsbeau who was first to correctly identify the location of the Hidden Parkhopper from last weeks image!

  • 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.
  • INTRODUCING: From the Mouth of the Mouse, a fantastic new column which brings you the world of Disney from the cast members who make the magic.
  • 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.
  • 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!
  • VACATIONEERING presented by Fairy Godmother Travel
  • 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!

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. This week's team included:

Submit "Fantasyland Construction, Halloween, IcePloration, First Signs of Food & Wine" to Digg Submit "Fantasyland Construction, Halloween, IcePloration, First Signs of Food & Wine" to Submit "Fantasyland Construction, Halloween, IcePloration, First Signs of Food & Wine" to StumbleUpon Submit "Fantasyland Construction, Halloween, IcePloration, First Signs of Food & Wine" to Google

Updated 09-13-2011 at 03:31 PM by Dustysage



  1. k_peek_2000's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Fantastic update. The work on the new Fantasyland has really picked up!
  2. Ian P's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    A suggestion to Kevin...

    Turn off your mobile phone when making your videos, it will prevent the audio interference.

  3. Worshipeternal's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Great update Kevin! The videos are awesome!

    I'm really interested in all the Fantasyland construction photos. Compared to the DCA version of Mermaid it looks top notch in theme.

    One request would be some more great pics of the Fantasyland construction.

    Thanks and great job!
  4. WheresMickey's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Nice update
  5. Dustysage's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Fantastic update. I'm with you that Dream Finder needs to return to Imagination.

    Love the videos Kevin.

    Thank you everyone!

  6. Ukulele Guy's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Interestingly enough, if the website is to be believed, that Nautilus is the real deal, and is used for various pin events.

    20,000 Leagues Under the Sea - The Ride
  7. Fishbulb's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    You guys this was an amazing update. Choc full of information.
  8. CaptPhoebus's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Howl-O-Screams looks like so much fun, too bad I'm going to miss it this year. Love the progress and detailing of Universal Horror Nights, can't wait to go again this year.
  9. Maverick's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    Fabulous update as always! I laughed, I cried two thumbs up

    Events like this one that brings back 20k Skyway etc. is exactly what WDW needs more of!
  10. KevinYee's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    If the sub at the event was real, it's just a skin. It was fitted over the top of something else - it looked like paper to me, and not real. But then, I didn't try to touch it. I will next time.
  11. Disnyfan89's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    There is a real sub from 20k that used to sit behind Soarin' to be used for events. Pretty sure its the one you see in this update.
  12. TikiRoomLiz's Avatar
    • |
    • permalink
    I can't wait to go in October!