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Disney's Avatar Kingdom, Orlando's Top Halloween Treats, Geeky Parking News

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
by , 09-26-2011 at 10:35 PM


It may not be October yet, but it is Halloween Time for the Orlando theme parks, and the Orlando Parkhopper is here to bring you the latest on the haunted happenings. We'll take a look at the Walt Disney World resort with its Avatar announcement for Disney's Animal Kingdom, some parking lot changes and minor updates at the Magic Kingdom. Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party and EPCOT's International Food and Wine Festival are both in full swing. We then head over to Universal Orlando and their Halloween Horror Nights, previewing the 8 all new Haunted Houses, 6 new Scarezones, and everything that everyone has come to love and expect from Universal. Not to be outdone, Busch Garden's Howl-O-Scream scares up another amazing event this year. All this, plus information on Sea World's more kid friendly Halloween, Legoland's great deal for teachers, and some cool local events to check out! Welcome back to the Orlando Parkhopper.



While the Walt Disney World Resort turns 40 this week with relatively little fanfare, Kevin Yee and fellow MiceChatters will be there for the celebration and we're all invited! Of course, that news is easily eclipsed by the huge news announced regarding Disney's Animal Kingdom, which is set to receive its first new land in about a decade - the world of Pandora from James Cameron's blockbuster Avatar. We also check out the line up for EPCOT's Food and Wine Festival, some refurbishment updates around the resort, including the new parking lot for the Magic Kingdom, and information about a new Halloween offering at Fort Wilderness. But, enough of this "chit chat, yack yack, and flim flam," let's get to it!



AVATAR:
The big news (and surprise!) of the week came from the unexpected announcement that James Cameron's Avatar is coming to the Disney Parks, beginning in Disney's Animal Kingdom. While the details are still quite sparse, the Disney Parks blog, as well as subsequent post by Tom Staggs and an interview with James Cameron have revealed that construction is scheduled to begin in 2013, allowing guests to experience Pandora in approximately 5 years. The reported $400 million project is also planned to be more than just an attraction; the plan is to incorporate approximately 12 acres into "multiple attractions, entertainment, merchandise locations, restaurants and other immersive elements." What that means is anyone's guess, but you can count on the Orlando Parkhopper to keep close track of the news and progress on this exciting development.


Perhaps this is a future attraction poster at Disney's Animal Kingdom?


Are you excited about Avatar Land? Would you have rather that Disney finally built the Beastly Kingdom? We'd love to hear what you think in the comments below.



This coming Saturday, the Magic Kingdom (and the rest of Walt Disney World) turns 40 years old. There will be a 10am stage show, a celebration of some sort, and then a 9pm special finale to Wishes.

We'll be meeting on Oct 1 at 9am and invite you to come join us for the day. We’ll be upstairs at the Main Street Train Station (indoors), and after a few minutes, we’ll head over to stake out a spot for the stage show.

We’ll do a second meet at 8pm (also upstairs in the train station) to watch the fireworks. It's certain that a big clump of us will just hang out together all day, and you are welcome to join us for as long as you want! We love welcoming new faces. A great many new folks are already signed up to join us! RSVPs aren’t necessary, but here’s the Facebook event where people are signaling their intent to go (to either the morning or the evening meeting): Welcome to Facebook - Log In, Sign Up or Learn More

We hope to see you there!

Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party
September 13, 16, 20, 23, 27, 30 & October 2, 6, 7, 10-11, 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 25, 27-28, 30-31 & November 1

A special event held on select nights Sept - Nov, MNSSHP gives guests the opportunity to dress up in their favorite Halloween costumes. In addition to the attractions, special entertainment is included: Mickey's "Boo-to-You" Halloween Parade, Happy HalloWishes - a fireworks show where Disney Villains go trick-or-treating in the sky and trick-or-treating areas of the park available to gather your favorite candy.

Are you attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party? What will you be wearing? If you'd like to attend the event with lots of friends, the MiceChatters will be attending on Friday October, 21st. We'll have more details about the exact time and location of our meet-up in the weeks to come. But please feel free to purchase your tickets and join us for a not so spooky night of fun (and lot's of candy).

AROUND THE MAGIC KINGDOM:

The Main Street Station underpass facades are getting some TLC. While the left side is behind walls and a printed tarp...


...the right side provides a glimpse of what's in store.


Shiny, new copper flashing on the roof! Should make for a nice view from the train above.


A panoramic photo showing the extent of the construction walls around Swiss Family Robinson Tree House.


Roy and Minnie have been moved nearer to City Hall to accommodate some central HalloweenTime decor. A nicer, more quiet, and shady spot for the tribute statue.



PARKING LOT CHANGES:
While everyone else might be talking Avatar, we at the Orlando Parkhopper are showing our true colors by geeking out over another sort of change: the Magic Kingdom parking lot is getting a facelift! The lot will be split into 2 sections, heroes and villains. From there, it will be further split into specific characters such as Rapunzel, Captain Hook, Ursula, and Woody. The lot will also be color coded, so you'll have three chances to forget where you parked (hero/villain, character, color).










CHRISTMAS LIGHTS:
Is it that time already? Yes it's time to start stringing up the lights on Cinderella's Castle. It's a pretty big job so they start well before Halloween.






Halloween Character Meal at Fort Wilderness
Forget tricks, we’ve got a real treat this Halloween – an all-you-care-to-eat supper and an evening with favorite Disney characters in the fun outdoor setting at Mickey’s Backyard BBQ at Fort Wilderness. Dress up and head for the Halloween-themed dance party from 5-7 p.m. on October 31. The Disney characters will be in Halloween costumes with plenty of time for fun photos.



International Food and Wine Festival
From September 30th thru November 13th
A food and wine lover's paradise awaits you; from tasty tapas and refreshing beverages to celebrity chef demonstrations and rock star performances, there's something to satisfy most every taste and interest.

Eat To the Beat Concert Series
Musical entertainment that perfectly pairs with culinary fun during the International Food and Wine Festival. A varied lineup of classic rock, soul, R&B, jazz and funk hit-makers.

  • Sept 30 - Oct 2 : Taylor Dayne
  • Oct 3 - 5: .38 Special
  • Oct 6 - 7: Jon Secada
  • Oct 8 - 9: Roger Hodgson
  • Oct 10 -12: Billy Ocean
  • Oct 13 - 16: Starship starring Mickey Thomas
  • Oct 17 - 19: Sugar Ray
  • Oct 20 - 21: The Orchestra starring former members of ELO
  • Oct 22 - 23: Howard Jones
  • Oct 24 - 26: Boyz II Men
  • Oct 27 - 28: Gin Blossoms
  • Oct 29 - 30: Sister Hazel
  • Oct 31 - Nov 1: Hanson
  • Nov 2 - 3: The Pointer Sisters
  • Nov 4 - 6: Night Ranger
  • Nov 7 - 8: Air Supply
  • Nov 9 - 10: Richard Marx
  • Nov 11 - 13: Big Bad Voodoo Daddy


This week’s slideshow brings you Magic Kingdom parking lot changes, a report from Busch Gardens Tampa’s Howl O Scream, and Ripsaw Falls at Universal (which I’m riding for the first time since the fire).



· New names (and signage) for parking lot sections at the Transportation and Ticket Center. The sub-lots now combine for a big “heroes” lot and a big “villains” lot – and each one has a dedicated tram
· Big tower outside PotC has speakers for Sorcerers game
· New railings outside Splash Mountain
· Crane is out installing castle Dreamlights
· Spotted: half-size ODV cart selling ice cream
· Splash Mtn final boat scene is fully fixed, even rocking back and forth
· Spotted: benches outside Mansion have always had “dogs” as handles on the end of the armrests… but the eyes are now painted red
· Spotted: new doll in the window outside Hall of Presidents. For Sorcerers?
· New dish: $11 salmon with couscous and broccoli, at Columbia Harbour House. Well worth the price.
· Osceola signs: all but one are fixed! (and the last one was being worked on late in the weekend; probably fixed now).
· Busch Gardens Tampa Howl-O-Scream: a rollickin good time, decent scare houses (6 of them), and one standout named “Alone” for a $40 upcharge (you can bring 3 others with you, so it’s not truly alone). But the Alone house is not overrun with visitors; they only let groups go in every 5-10 minutes. Spectacular.
· At Howl-O-Scream, there are no scare zones – everywhere is game! Instead, the scareactors roam in groups.
· The Midnight Hour show is campy fun with live singing (Obama, Palin, Sheen, Snookie as comic relief).
· The Fiends (naughty nurses) show is equally campy, more Monster Mash oriented.
· Construction photos of Universal mini golf. Still quite barren ground, some structures going up.
· Despicable Me signs are up at former Jimmy Neutron simulator
· Ripsaw Falls photo report: looking great!





This past Friday, screams filled the air as the anticipation and wait for "The Country's best Halloween Event" (as awarded by Amusement Today) was finally over. Universal's Halloween Horror Nights officially opened their gates to the public for their 21st year that includes 8 all new Haunted Houses, 6 new Scarezones, the return of the popular Bill and Ted show and an all new "Seductive Drumming Experience" known as Death Drums.






Winter’s Night: The Haunting of Hawthorn Cemetery
As snow falls on this normally serene gothic cemetery, the deceased souls that occupy its confines have their sights set upon you, insuring that the chill you feel up your spine is more than just the cold of night.





Canyon of Dark Souls
Upon entering into the Canyon of Dark Souls, you will feel like a small spec of humanity as the overwhelming sense of death surrounds you. Creatures that dwell within the Canyon are not welcoming, so walk slowly as not to disturb them.




H.R. Bloodengutz Presents: Holidays of Horror

Join creature feature host H.R. Bloodengutz in his final televised broadcast as he presents a SCARE-athon of holiday-based horror that is guaranteed to cleave you screaming for more.




Grown Evil
Enter, if you dare, into our garden where Evil grows. Nature has taken this once well manicured sanctuary back from the humans who once kept it. Now the creatures that inhabit the garden are making any human that enters their prey.



The In-Between
An ominous portal reveals a 3rd dimension where all is not what it seems: a realm where our world and another collide. Surrounded by fiendish creatures, your eyes will deceive you with every step through this phantasm of terror.





Your Luck Has Run Out
Enter if you dare into the lair of the LUCKY! Your choices will determine if you make it out alive. Witness luck’s deadly wrath; will she choose you to be her next victim?




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!






Sea World Spooktacular
October 1-2, 8-9, 15-16, 22-23, 28-30
October is a special month at SeaWorld as they showcase their Halloween Spooktacular. Trick-or-treat for ghoulish goodies, meet amazing sea creatures, catch silly and spooky shows and more! Kids can come in costume or come as they are. SeaWorld's Halloween Spooktakular takes place from 12:00pm to 8:00pm and is included with park admission. For a limited time, get Kids' Tickets at Half-Price!

Kids' Tickets Half Price at Sea World Orlando

Now through October 31, kids ages 3-9 are half-price with each fully paid adult ticket. Additional children can receive $10 off their admission. This offer also includes the second visit free for both the adult and child tickets.

To take advantage of this limited-time offer, you must purchase the tickets in advance and online. This offer is not available at the front gate.


Legoland Florida Offering Free Annual Passes to Florida Teachers

Legoland Florida is offering free standard admission annual passes to Florida teachers! To take advantage of this offer, visit Florida Teacher Pass - LEGOLAND, print out the page and bring it along with proof you're a Florida teacher (most recent paystub, Florida ID & a valid professional or temporary FLDOE teaching certificate) to the ticket windows at the entrance of the park.




Howl-O-Scream
September 23, 24, 29, 30 & October 1, 6-8, 13-15, 20-22, 27-29
The scare is everywhere you turn in the Dark Side of the Garden. Watch your step because you never know where the undead may be lurking.


The Bleedup was held in Gwazi Park, near the new Ultimate Gamble: Vampire Casino house.












There were a LOT of fog machines.

There are no real designated scare zones this year for the most part. The scare-actors are EVERYWHERE in the park (they roam all over the place in herds) and you never know where they might be lurking. You'll find everything from werewolves and zombies to chainsaw-wielding maniacs, clowns and monsters.





The Midnight Hour:
At the Desert Grill, a new show for this year's Howl-O-Scream, "The Midnight Hour", performs several times during the night. The show is kind of a pop culture spoof, but done in a different vain than The Hanging at Knott's or Bill & Ted at Universal. The official description of the show from Busch Gardens:


The music industry can be a devilish business to break into, especially at the Hellfire Club.

The main plot is a young singer wants to make it big, so the Devil tries to get her to make a deal with him, along with the help of a "celebrity" panel that consisted of Sarah Palin & Barrack Obama, Charlie Sheen and Snooki from Jersey Shore






FIENDS:
A returning show this year is the popular "Fiends". In this show: Dr. Frankenstein and his naughty nurses invite you to join their deranged dance party."Fiends" is more like the monster rock & roll show at Universal. Classic monsters singing and dancing to songs such as "The Monster Mash", "Time Warp" from "Rocky Horror" and more.







My favorite monsters of the night were the ones hanging out by the SheiKra coaster. They were just so cool!








Scott and Long Farm Festival Corn Maze
Now Through December 11th
30 Minutes outside of Disney World is an amazing 6 acre corn maze and Fall Festival hosted by Scott and Long Farm. Held annually, other activities include a hay ride, a zip line for kids, a large potato sack slide, fishing for kids and smaller mazes for families with small children. While you're there, pick up some fresh sweet corn picked right on site and oh so delicious.

Clearwater Jazz Holiday
October 13th - October 16th
Now in its 32nd year, the Clearwater Jazz Holiday is a world-class gathering of the some of the greatest talents and greatest fans of jazz. The event takes full advantage of its home in Clearwater, Florida, offering music and art against the backdrop of warm breezes, brilliant sunsets and one of the world's greatest beaches on the Gulf of Mexico.

Lowry Park Zoo Boo
September 23, 24, 30 & October 1, 7-9, 14-16, 21-23 and 27-30
Celebrate their 13th year of fun and fear with five hair-raising haunts and eerie adventures for monsters of all ages.
Don’t miss this haunting holiday tradition with thrills, chills and family frights!




  • 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.






  • SAMLAND - Your weekly look at some interesting tales from Disney history.


  • 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.


  • And you'll always find something of interest on the forums or MiceAge!





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 24th, we will meet at the Main Street Train Station (upstairs, indoors) at 7pm for the 8:00 Main Street Electrical Parade. For those interested, we'll also meet earlier in the day (2pm at the same location, in case you want to hang out all day with us!)





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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:







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.


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Updated 09-27-2011 at 05:51 AM by Orlando Parkhopper

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Comments

  1. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Thank you for a great update team!

    I'm in the camp that is excited to see what they'll do with Avatar. If they build a lush new land filled with deeply immersive attractions, I'll be happy. If it is like Dino-Rama with just names that ape Avatar, I'll be horrified.

    All those haunt activities have me wishing I was in Orlando right now!

    See you all in October!!!

    Dusty
  2. Rixter's Avatar
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    It's so nice to have these updates just weeks before we travel to Orlando!
  3. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    I wondered if Bruce Willis and the other Disney film Surrogates will be out at Disneyland this Halloween? PD
  4. BizDoc's Avatar
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    While I'm sure that someone got a large bonus for the Hero and Villain parking lot signs, who the heck can remember some of the villains? DUMB idea...
  5. jcruise86's Avatar
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    THANK YOU, KEVIN!

    It's great to see that some of the flaws (Splash Mountain & road signs) have been repaired.
  6. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    A nice update.


    Timekeeper
  7. nursemelis374's Avatar
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    Really loving these since I go to Orlando in a few weeks and to Busch Gardens for the first time ever! Thanks!
  8. CodeNameMLS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BizDoc
    While I'm sure that someone got a large bonus for the Hero and Villain parking lot signs, who the heck can remember some of the villains? DUMB idea...
    It's more seems that the split is for the better. It helps the traffic after the park closes. If you've been there at prime season it was such an annoyance with just the one tram going, but splitting out and having 2 trams transporting people makes traffic move so much faster.

    As for the Villains Chosen, they are probably some of the most recognizable in the Disney World (at this point). THe only one I can agree on with you is Cruella, though very famous she is probably, to me, the hardest to remember. Otherwise I feel they're pretty easy to remember.

    Cruella, Ursula, Jafar, Hook, Zurg, Scar.

    I think it would have been nice though if they put the film they're all from as well, They took away the choice of remembering the color of the lot, so they should have added the movie itself. They always could have used Chernabog, I can't imagine how much that would confuse the normal guest.
  9. FyreHeart's Avatar
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    Why Avatar though? It has nothing to really do with Disney's Animal Kingdom. Personally, I would have rather them build the Beastly Kingdom. Yes, Avatar is cool but seriously, do we need blue people and spaceships in an animal and nature based theme park?

    Plus maybe it's because I also want a dragon and a unicorn in the park and not just in the parking lot and/or logo. Has anyone wondered why exactly those two mythical creatures grace the parking lots and sign for the park?
  10. SummerInFL's Avatar
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    Count me as excited to see what they are going to do with Avatar. I wasn't really a fan of the film (thought the story had been done before and it was overblown) but I think it has a great concept and would fit well with the idea of conservation within Animal Kingdom. Again though it goes back to how they execute it, could go either way.
  11. DisneyResort's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=FyreHeart;bt19667]Why Avatar though? It has nothing to really do with Disney's Animal Kingdom. Personally, I would have rather them build the Beastly Kingdom. Yes, Avatar is cool but seriously, do we need blue people and spaceships in an animal and nature based theme park?

    Plus maybe it's because I also want a dragon and a unicorn in the park and not just in the parking lot and/or logo. Has anyone wondered why exactly those two mythical creatures grace the parking lots and sign for the park?[/QUOTE]

    Since the debut of Wizarding World of Harry Potter over at Universal's Islands of Adventure, their attendance has jumped 30.2% while Magic Kingdom has gone down 1.5%. Perhaps that's why Disney is abandoning it's own brand identity, to compete with Universal's wide open, anything goes strategy. Up next for them is a Transformers ride.
    But Avatarland doesn't start construction until 2013 and isn't going to be completed until 2018. For a movie that is widely considered [B]not very good[/B], will the public care by the time 2018 rolls around?
    Oh well, over in California they've got Carsland next year and that will be a [B]genuine[/B] crowd pleaser for sure. Look to Carsland as an example of how to bring in the crowds...the Disney way. (Obviously John Lassiter had nothing to do with Avatarland. He would have objected.)
    Updated 09-28-2011 at 06:38 AM by DisneyResort
  12. KENfromOC's Avatar
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    Totally agree with Sarah regarding this stupid Avatar land thing. It will old news by the time it's opened, and it has very limited appeal. I have to admit I never saw the movie (just not my thing!), but my overall impression from many people was more nagative than positive.
    Dumb, dumb idea! Can't Disney come up with there own stuff?
  13. SummerInFL's Avatar
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    I don't know, I think if they focus on the Conservation aspects of the film and not the film itself then it could be successful. You know, use the film more for theming and idea concepts but keep the focus on the conservation. I imagine conservation won't be out of style by then, one would hope. lol
  14. Maverick's Avatar
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    Fabulous update as always, I laughed, I cried two thumbs up!

    You can put me in the 'interested' camp for avatarland. If done right could turn out to be awesome!