Happy 40th Walt Disney World, Fireworks, Parade, Universal Minigolf
by, 10-03-2011 at 09:50 PM
What a busy weekend we have had here in Florida! With the opening of the International Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT, as well as the celebration of Walt Disney World's 40th anniversary. Both of those big events created a huge reason to visit the vacation kingdom, drawing large crowds in the process. Of course, those weren't the only goings on in central Florida; we'll take you for a look at the miniature golf course construction at Universal, some small Harry Potter work to help ease traffic flow. Plus, Busch Gardens offers some new merchandise, as well as some sneak peeks at the new animal care facility opening later this year. So, keep all forward facing tentacles free of oncoming Metroliner traffic and let's take a trip through the Orlando parks!
It was a busy weekend at Walt Disney World for a variety of reasons. The 40th anniversary of the Walt Disney World Resort occurred on Saturday with healthy crowds and a minor celebration. Crowds seemed to be in a festive spirit for the birthday. For those with a more adult sensibility, EPCOT began its Food and Wine Festival, and our intrepid ABOMIBOT took one for the team and attended the "First Bites" opening reception in the old Wonders of Life Pavilion. We also look at Christmas, though we're barely into the Halloween Season the first signs of the holidays is upon us already. And of course, things wouldn't be complete without some Fantasyland construction shots as well.
Walt Disney World's (particularly the Magic Kingdom) 40th anniversary was a modest affair, but the crowds (and healthy lines for the cupcakes and limited merchandise) seemed to accept what the World provided. The celebration consisted of a character procession down Main Street, a Castle ceremony with Meg Crofton and Phil Holmes, and additional pyro for Wishes. In addition to the merchandise and cupcakes available (Some reports indicate the cupcakes were sold out by 11:30 AM), guests entering the park were given a commemorative button and park map, which contained the original park map from 1971 as well as the current one! While there wasn't much in the way of pomp and circumstance, there were some nice little touches. Hopefully the future anniversaries will be much more memorable and more than just a chance to sell merchandise. All eyes will be on EPCOT's 30th to be sure, as well as the long term look at the 45th and 50th of the Resort as a whole. It isn't lost on any of us that Disneyland opened its most expensive attraction ever (Indiana Jones) for its 40th - no such luck for the Magic Kingdom.
MK 40th OPENING:
The Welcome Show in the morning celebrated Walt Disney World's 40th.
Characters are always part of the opening...
The Mayor of Main Street. Underneath is the banner in front of the Train Station celebrating 40 Magical Years.
Special pyro welcomes guests for a special day.
Before the Castle ceremony, a large selection of Disney characters parade down Main Street.
So many characters. Each one holds a bunch of classic Mouse Ears and traditional balloons in blue, white, silver, and gold.
Some fairly rare characters join in the Main Street celebration.
The Walt Disney World ambassadors Norman Vossschulte and Jennifer Mason open the castle ceremony.
Another 40th banner, with characters joining on stage. Notice the circular signs representing older celebrations and parades.
Love the colors of the balloons.
Retro signs - like a parade of past parades. The characters even arrived on the stage to the tune from the 25th anniversary, "Remember the Magic."
Meg Crofton speaks about the importance of the guests, and the CMs, in making Walt Disney World so special.
The Dapper Dans and the Main Street Marching Band invite guests to sing along to "When you Wish Upon a Star."
Because it's Disney, there was an obligatory confetti ending! Although expected, it's definitely a fun way to end a ceremony.
The Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade begins with a Motorcade.
40th Anniversary Fireworks:
While there were rumors circulating about a special 40th tag to Wishes, no additional soundtrack was added to the show, but additional fireworks shells were added, including perimeter fireworks. While a nice touch, especially if you haven't seen the perimeter fireworks before, it really felt like a missed opportunity to do something a little bit more in keeping with the special day. Even without the extra tag though, we'll let the next few pictures speak for themselves:
It's was still a wonderful show.
Happy 40th WDW!!
A memorable way to end a memorable anniversary.
The Fantasyland Expansion continues as the project creeps closer to its first phase opening deadline of summer 2012 for Storybook Circus. While a lot of the construction and rockwork is continuing, inside, away from prying cameras, things are being installed and readied for opening day. We'll keep an eye on the work and keep you updated as things continue to eke closer to completion.
Be Our Guest Restaurant on the left.
Lots of rockwork, with Maurice's cottage in the foreground.
The Little Mermaid attraction has added stone brickwork to Eric's castle. Looking good!
Aging the rockwork to look like seaside cliffs.
CHRISTMAS LIGHTS ON THE CASTLE:
While the Halloween season has just begun in the parks, that doesn't mean Christmas isn't already on Walt Disney World's mind. In fact, the installation of the Castle Dreamlights is already underway, with a crane being spotted by the castle during the park hours, and guests at the after hours party catching a glimpse of the lights being tested! While the crane's visual intrusion is distracting, the end result is well worth it, as the lights are truly a sight to behold.
From far away there doesn't seem to be much of a difference to the castle....
...but on closer inspection, you can spot the netting lights on the turrets and walls.
EPCOT FOOD & WINE FESTIVAL FIRST BITES OPENING NIGHT RECEPTION
The second annual First Bites Opening Night Reception for Epcot's Food & Wine Festival was Thursday night September 29th this year. It features a selection of epicurean highlights from this year's festival served à la minute (made to order) as well as a sneak peek at some of the events by wine tasting presenters, celebrity chefs and entertainers.
While Disney still needs to add a lot more value to the event before we can recommend it as a must-do, it was a blast to be back in the Wonders of Life Pavilion (which is very well appointed for this year's festival) and we very much enjoyed getting a tasty preview of the food before everyone else and without having to schlep around World Showcase. Not that there's anything wrong with that. We have many a day's schlepping around the World for food in our near future.
There was a ton of F&W merchandise available to purchase as well as a wine store and a mini art gallery featuring the work of Festival poster artist Maryann Schmidt, who was demonstrating her painting skills live. But the real star of the evening was the food, of course, so let's dig in with a mouth watering look at some of the highlights.
From Hawaii comes Kālua Pork Sliders with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise. The name Kālua doesn't refer to the liqueur Kahlua but rather a traditional cooking method involving a type of underground oven known as an imu.
Kālua Pork Sliders with Sweet and Sour Dole Pineapple Chutney and Spicy Mayonnaise - Hawaii
Next up on our short list of highlights was our hands-down favorite of the entire evening, the Hops & Barley Maine Lobster Roll. The rolls were grilled crispy and buttered within an inch of their lives. There was a sweet aioli of some type and a spice mix that had hints of old bay, rosemary and tarragon. At least we think it had. One of the challenges was keeping track of all the details because we had more wine than food. Also clearly seen on the same plate is a lobster claw with drawn butter. I need more of this in my belly as soon as possible... highly recommended.
Hops & Barley Maine Lobster Roll - Delicious!!
Another combo plate with Australian Shrimp on the Barbie with Pepper Berry Citrus Glaze (we would've liked them hotter and with more glaze but they were still yummy) and New Zealand's Seared Sea Scallop with Kumara - Red Curry Purée and Apple Radish Salad. The scallops were perfectly - and I mean perfectly - cooked. And that is so hard to do even in a real kitchen. The fact they did it on what basically amounts to a hot plate is most impressive.
Australian Shrimp on the Barbie with Pepper Berry Citrus Glaze & New Zealand's Seared Sea Scallop with Kumara - Red Curry Purée and Apple Radish Salad. Is your mouth watering yet?
The last sneak peek in this report is a dessert trio, a White Chocolate Macadamia Mousse with Dark Chocolate Pearls (delicious but the pearls seemed like they'd been made days ahead), Tres Leches Verrine which, were I a coconut fan, I'd rave about, and finally the deliciously tart but way-too-sweet Lemon Chiffon. Had we a better photo we would've selected the trio of vegan desserts to present here instead. They were the most amazingly tasty sweet treats of the evening and we had no idea we were eating vegan until after we'd gone back for seconds. If you can, definitely check out the Mini Cookie Sandwiches, Mini Doughnuts and Brownie Bites from BabyCakes NYC. You will be astonished with how delicious vegan can be. Take it from a surprised and dedicated omnivore from way back.
Clockwise from bottom is a White Chocolate Macadamia Mousse with Dark Chocolate Pearls Tres Leches Verrine, and Lemon Chiffon.
Food Network Celebrity Chef Keegan Gerhard hosts a cooking demonstration.
Red Newt Cellers' Brandon Seager tries to convince us we should like Rieslings. Hint: wait for it to warm a bit and go for the driest one you can find.
Our girl Taylor Dayne belting out her Grammy-nominated hit "Tell It To My Heart" much to our embarrassingly-squealing delight. She's still got it! Definitely go see her concert if you can.
A big surprise of the evening was the parting gifts!
The bag included many sweet treats, teas, a German Pilsner and much more including this Festival wine glass.
We left the event shorty after IllumiNations ended and were treated to a smoky view of the Festival Signage in front of Spaceship Earth.
Please join us for
Sip & Nibble Around the World
Saturday October 22, 2011
The ONLY way to experience
Epcot's Food and Wine Festival
Please join us as we sip and nibble our way around
Epcot's Food and Wine Festival!
We'll gather at the FESTIVAL WELCOME CENTER (located in Future World East) at 10:30 a.m. and take a leisurely stroll around World Showcase, sampling the food and wine offerings along the way. Each of us will have a lanyard with a marker attached so we can record our progress. Those who desire to partake of the adult beverages will also sport a small glass on a lanyard to conveniently share "sips" along the way. (It has been previously determined that a full portion of adult beverage in each country would doom the effort to certain failure.) After all, this year there are 30 stops!
The event will again be an informal gathering, allowing participants to come and go as they please. We'll all meet up at FESTIVAL WELCOME CENTER where we will distribute the lanyards and cups. Rixter and MickeyMaxx will provide these items at no charge to our MiceChat friends. The purchase of food and wine samples will be the responsibility of each individual with sharing of "sips" and "nibbles" among all the participants encouraged. The prize will be the same as last year: everyone who participates will be rewarded with the the opportunity to spend some quality time with other members of the best online Disney community on Earth!
To reserve your place at this year's Sip & Nibble event, please reply
to the poll above, send a PM to Rixter or visit our Facebook Event Page.
Kevin's got another fantastic update from the world for us:
Trick or Tweet Up: six DCL busses, park behind Splash Mountain for a view of the parade float building. Hall of Presidents presentation with Imagineer Jason Surrell (always funny) and a guy in a turkey leg costume (it looked... inappropriate). Free trick or treating, with more candy than you usually get at MNSSHP. Uncrowded with only 300 people in all of Liberty Square. Mansion was open, plus Imagineer guided tours of the new queue. Character photos and free desserts. We even got a visit by the Headless Horseman!
MNSSHP on Friday night was sold out, and super crowded. The old 'big' trail of candy at Toontown isn't possible, so they made one out of the long winding queue at Splash (I particularly enjoyed the pumpkin carvings of characters on the ride, like the porcupine drummer). Duffy was in a pumpkin costume for photos. The Boo to You parade has a new welcome float at the front, and Angelique is on Jack's float. The Villains stage show, now called Mix and Mingle, has bang-up energetic dancing performances, a level higher than usual, and some great blacklight effects.
Saturday Oct 1 was WDW's and MK's 40th anniversary. Balloons greeted us outside the TTC monorails, and the very crowded rope drop ceremony had a special banner. Another banner hung from the castle, where a procession of characters went after walking up Main Street. All the while, music played from previous parades at the Magic Kingdom over the years. Meg Crofton and Phil Holmes spoke at the podium, confetti was sprayed on everyone, then the shopping was declared open! (just kidding... it only felt like that). Limited edition merchandise created hour-plus lines, while the regular stores had nothing with the October 1 date on it. This was a REAL mistake; they lost thousands of dollars by not offering more 'standard-issue' stuff with the date and anniversary on it. The Grand Marshall of the parade was a family from Oct 1, 1971. Wishes had no special tag, but the regular song was augmented by additional perimeter fireworks.
Food & Wine had its first weekend. The theme is planes, trains, and DCL boats (sort of). The new info board in Future World has tiny font, so you can't read it from a distance. But it also has a scrolling update of twitter posts using the hashtag #epcotfw11. OceanSpray Craisins, the new sponsor of the event, has a cranberry bog in the connector to World Showcase -- think of this as a walkaround area to soak cranberries (guests don't walk there, only the workers). The big field next to the France pavilion this year is home only to a small booth (Belgium) rather than the larger, more extravagant (and expensive?) booths that used to go here. The Hawaiian booth is near the bridge to World Showcase, and is accompanied by a booth with Aulani advertisements (of course). Merch includes a F&W Vinylmation, and a special Duffy ($30). Receipts have a QR code on the back; scanning it with your phone will pop open an app-like interface showing the booth locations and menus.
Both the Yakitori House and the small merch stand in the Japan pavilion have lost their walls under the roof (the construction walls are still there), so the refurbishment here is extensive indeed!
SAVE THE DATE - THURSDAY, Oct 20th
Universal Studios Orlando Halloween Horror Nights
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!
MINI GOLF CONSTRUCTION:
While the Disney theme park giant had 2 huge events this weekend, that doesn't mean the other parks in the area were stagnant. Universal Orlando is plugging along with construction of its 2 new mini golf courses. Although it's difficult to make exact shapes just yet.
Lots of earth being moved to get this job done.
Structures and wire framework beginning to show.
Stairs and if you look closely, the outline of a hole at the top of the picture.
In the foreground one of the holes takes shape.
Lots of markers mean a lot of construction still to do!
THE WIZARDING WORLD OF HARRY POTTER:
Over at Hogwarts, work has quietly been happening as they build an additional extended queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This extended queue will help come the busy summer and winter months and will eliminate the extended queue stantion and ropes that Universal in the past had to set up backstage and in Jurassic Park to accommodate the large crowds wishing to fly with Harry Potter. This is somewhat ironic when you consider the fact that IoA built all of their original attraction queues with lines that could accommodate upwards of three hour waits in expectation of the giant crowds that never materialized.
Extra queue means extra space in walkways.
A special deal is now available for Florida Residents at Busch Gardens.
Florida Residents can now experience the off-road adventure of a Serengeti Safari free with the purchase of a single-day admission at $79.99 for adults or $71.99 for kids ages 5 to 9.
During the 30 minute safari, guests will encounter antelope, rhinos and ostrich up close and hand-feed reticulated giraffes with the help of an expert guide.
This offer will be sold exclusively online, must be reserved in advance, with tickets available for purchase through (and must be redeemed by) Dec. 15, 2011.
For those who already have an annual passport or park tickets, the Safari is available "a la carte" at $30.55 per person, plus tax – a 10% discount from the regular general admission price of $33.95.
eTickets are available at http://www.buschgardens.com/
Busch Gardens has some new headgear options available for guests:
NEW ANIMAL CARE FACILITY:
Over in the Nairobi section of the park, things are progressing nicely on the new state-of-the-art animal care facility that will be opening later this year.
New animal care facility being constructed. It's scheduled to open later this year.
Looks like there's still a fair amount of work to do. Hopefully the animals will enjoy their new, state of the art home.
CHEETAH RUN CUTENESS:
At Cheetah Run, Kasi the cheetah and his canine companion, Mtani, are growing more and more by the week! Kasi is truly a beautiful animal who is constantly adored by guests.
Kasi - wouldn't you just LOVE to have one as a pet?
Not to be outdone, Mtani, his canine companion, shows equal cuteness.
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!
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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:
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