Epcot Food and Wine, WDW Construction, Howl-O-Scream, Legoland First Looks
by, 10-10-2011 at 09:21 PM
Halloween events are creating frightful fun in the Orlando area and beyond. We have photos and reviews from some of your favorite theme parks today. There's something for everyone too, from the family friendly Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party to the spine tingling chills of Busch Gardens Howl-O-Scream in Tampa. But if you want something REALLY scary we hop over to Disney's Hollywood Studios and take a look at the artery clogging menu changes that have occurred at Sci-Fi Dine-In. It's not all ghosts and goblins though, we have an exciting first look at the new Legoland Florida park that opens October 15th, along with a full breakdown of what to expect from Florida's newest theme park!
In Walt Disney World, the autumn air brings spooky fun, food and wine, and a few changes here and there. The Magic Kingdom hosts Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party through the end of the month while construction continues at a feverish pace at Fantasyland's expansion. There's news of a fire on the Astro-Orbiter, we stroll the food and wine festival at Epcot, and stop at Nemo and Friends for a little seagull love.
A small fire broke out on Astro Orbiter in one of the upper rings on top of the attraction, prompting the Magic Kingdom to close the popular ride down for the day. No one was riding the attraction at the time and no injuries were reported, referred to as a "minor incident", the smoldering fire was put out fairly quickly and the attraction was reopened the next day.
MICKEY'S NOT SO SCARY HALLOWEEN PARTY
Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is in full swing! Last Thursday's party wasn't sold out when we arrived, and even though it was crowded, wait times were pretty minimal. The longest wait encountered was 15 minutes for Space Mountain. Party guests can enter the park up to 3 hours before the event officially starts.
The event lighting is spectacular
The street lamps are festive
And you never know when you'll spot a pirate!
The Villain's Dance Mix & Mingle show has been reworked. Doctor Facilier from The Princess and the Frog is pretty much the MC of the short show (10-15 minutes). After the show, the characters come down to meet and greet with guests.
We're getting more and more excited for the new Fantasyland. There wasn't really anything new to show you this week, but we've got a couple of shots for you anyway.
Maurice & Belle's cottage
The Beast's castle/Be Our Guest restaurant
NEMO AND FRIENDS:
Sadly, all is not well at Epcot. Over at The Seas with Nemo and Friends, the middle seagull animatronic on the marquee needs some SERIOUS work. His beak has faded from orange to yellow, the paint looks chipped, and his lower jaw swings to and fro badly when he moves his head.
The seagulls were not squawking "MINE! MINE! MINE!" whenever a wave crashes. Their mouths would move but the audio appeared to be broken or turned off. Let's hope Disney gets this fixed soon!
Chippy the seagull
Over at the Canada Pavilion, Off Kilter's stage got a MAJOR reworking and is now very heavily themed and looks great! Good job!
FOOD AND WINE FESTIVAL 2011:
The 2011 International Food and Wine Festival is well underway! New this year at the festival is a cranberry bog, sponsored by Ocean Spray. There are presentations here several times a day. Don't forget to stop by the information booth where visitors can learn more about cranberries and get free samples of Ocean Spray Craisins.
DUFFY MEET AND GREET:
Duffy's greeting spot at the entrance to World Showcase has been decorated for the fall. Compared to how his greeting spot at California Adventure has been decorated for the season (Duffy's Pumpkin Patch), this was a disappointment.
"I got a rock."
SIPPING AND NIBBLING:
Some of the offerings at the Food and Wine Festival this year are highlighted below. Let us know what you recommend. . .
The country of Cheese.
We'll have more from the Food and Wine Festival for you soon.
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.
At the Lego store, in Downtown Disney, some changes have been taking place. The giant Woody and Buzz Lightyear statue made of Legos has disappeared and the Seven Dwarfs mine scene has moved into its place.
Over where the mine scene used to be located, there are now construction walls.
Inside Disney's Twelve Days of Christmas shop, there is a new offering for fans of Duffy... small plush ornaments! They're slightly bigger than the Duffy keychain and magnet and cost $8.95.
RideMakerz has moved into the back of the Team Disney shop after they were evicted from the former Virgin Megastore location due to the construction of the new Splitsville bowling alley.
A new menu was recently introduced at the Sci-Fi Dine-in Theater restaurant at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Gone are the Seven-Bean Beef Chili, the Smoked St. Louis-style Ribs, and the Beef and Blue Salad.
New appetizers include Buffalo Chicken Potato Skins and Chicken Wings with Honey-Chipotle Barbecue Sauce (both served with Blue Cheese Dressing and Celery Sticks.)
New Entrees include Rib-Eye Steak (now the most expensive item on the menu at $24.99), a Vegetable Burger, and Whole Grain Pasta, a reconfigured Grilled Chicken Sandwich (replacing the Italian Grilled Chicken Sandwich), and the addition of 2 more hamburgers: An Angus Chuck Double Bacon Cheese Burger and the true standout of the new offerings, The All American Picnic Burger. This artery-hardening delight consists of a Flame-broiled Angus Burger Patty topped with 2 sliced and grilled Hot Dogs, Sauerkraut, and Sauteed Onions drizzled with Ketchup, Mustard, and crowned with a Pickle Spear. Priced at just a dollar more than the regular Angus Chuck Burger, it is a bargain. The Angus Chuck Double Bacon Cheese Burger is priced at a $3.50 premium over the regular!
The desserts haven't changed much. The only difference is that the Cheesecake is now a "Red Velvet Cheesecake".
The prices remain basically the same as before, which is unusual for a major menu overhaul such as this. The only noticeable change is that the regular Angus Chuck Burger went from $13.99 to $14.99.
On a side note, there is one other restaurant menu change to note. The popular "Tonga Toast" at the Polynesian Resort's Kona Cafe jumped in price from $10.99 to $12.99. All other breakfast items there stayed the same. I was told the reason for this was the rising price of the Strawberry Compote that accompanies the dish.
We have an exciting preview of the new Legoland Florida park which opens on October 15th. The following is a full listing of rides and restaurants in each section of the park.
This week, on Saturday October 15th, the Central Florida area will be welcoming a new member to the family of theme parks: LEGOLAND! That’s right, the time has finally come for the opening of this "New" park which is located just 45 minutes west of Disney in the small town of Winter Haven, on the site of the former (and famous) Cypress Gardens.
Merlin Entertainment (the owners of the Legoland brand) says that Legoland Florida “is a 50-acre, full-day family theme park designed specifically for families with children ages 2 to 12. The largest LEGOLAND Park in the world, it features more than 50 family rides, shows and interactive attractions, restaurants, shopping and beautiful botanical gardens. “
The park will be broken down into eleven different themed zones, each featuring many different attractions.
The Beginning hosts the park entry, ticket and pass sales, the Garden Restaurant and The Big Shop.
- The Big Shop – One of the largest retail stores in the world where guests can take advantage of a huge selection of LEGO and LEGOLAND merchandise
- Island in the Sky – 150-foot rotating platform ride that provides a 360° view of LEGOLAND Florida
- The Market – Authentic imported Danishes and freshly baked pastries, espresso, milk, juice, fruit, a selection of yogurts and soft serve ice cream
When guests enter Fun Town, they truly get a sense they’ve entered a LEGO village.
- Factory Tour – A firsthand look at how LEGO bricks are made from factory to finish
- Studio Store – Visit this store to pick up all your favorite LEGO licensed products, such as Clutch Powers, SpongeBob™, Indiana Jones™, Star Wars™ and Batman™
- Granny’s Apple Fries – The park’s signature dessert item made with crisp Granny Smith apples, powdered with cinnamon and sugar and served with a deliciously sweet vanilla cream sauce
- Fun Town Theater – Three different 4-D movies will show throughout the day at LEGOLAND’s largest 4-D theater with seats for 700.
The heart of every LEGOLAND Park, Miniland USA will be home to seven specially themed areas:
- Florida encompasses the entire state from Mallory Square in Key West to Bok Tower in Central Florida and antebellum mansions in the Panhandle. Miniland Florida also includes an expanded area for Kennedy Space Center and an interactive Daytona International Speedway® racing experience where guests can race LEGO brick cars
- Las Vegas features the world-famous Strip including the Luxor Las Vegas, New York, New York Hotel and Casino, Excalibur, Mirage, Treasure Island, Tropicana, MGM Grand, Venetian, Stratosphere tower and two iconic structures of Paris Las Vegas: the balloon sign and Eiffel Tower. “The Strip” at LEGOLAND also features a miniature wedding chapel, monorails and real-life sounds recorded in Las Vegas
- Washington, D.C. sports faithful re-creations of the White House (including the first family and “first dog”), the U.S. Capitol building, Smithsonian, Washington and Jefferson monuments and parts of Georgetown. An animated marching band parades in front of the Capitol and tiny cherry trees blossom every spring
- New York City features tiny jets of water shooting up from the fountain in Rockefeller Plaza, while an army of animated yellow taxicabs prowls the streets of Times Square. The Statue of Liberty, a cutaway view of Grand Central Station, The Empire State Building, the Guggenheim Museum and the Bronx Zoo are just a few of the iconic landmarks
- A Pirate-themed section hosts a full-on swashbuckling pirate adventure as two opposing pirate ships and their “mates” battle it out upon the high seas
LEGO Kingdoms takes kids back to medieval times with the LEGOLAND Castle where spells are cast and many knights, damsels and dragons are found.
- The Dragon – an indoor/outdoor steel roller coaster that features a hilarious, behind-the-scenes view of life within the enchanted LEGOLAND Castle
- Royal Joust – kids ride LEGO-themed horses through a number of medieval scenes where they encounter other riders in a simulated joust
- Merlin’s Challenge – climb aboard a mysterious wooden train ride powered by the wizard’s magic
- The Forestmen’s Hideout – a multi-level tree and rope climb adventure
- Princess Makeover – a little girl’s dream-come-true transformation including a special photo to mark the day
LAND OF ADVENTURE
In Land of Adventure, visitors of all ages explore hidden tombs and hunt for treasure.
- Coastersaurus – This junior coaster reaches curves and dips in and around a prehistoric jungle of animated and life-sized LEGO brick dinosaurs
- Lost Kingdom Adventure – LEGOLAND Florida’s spectacular dark ride invites guests to fire laser blasters at targets and brave the rugged Egyptian landscape in all-terrain roadsters, while attempting to unearth the vast treasures of a forgotten empire
- Pharaoh’s Revenge – This outdoor attraction lets children and parents fire soft foam balls at enemies and explore the complex maze of the Pharaoh’s kingdom
- Beetle Bounce – Launch 15-feet up toward intricate, brightly jeweled LEGO scarab beetles perched atop two monumental obelisks
- Safari Trek – explores the wilds of Africa and features gorgeous, life-like LEGO animals
- LEGO® TECHNIC™ Test Track –Brave guests feel the power of acceleration, braking and maneuverability as they race a life-size LEGO TECHNIC vehicle along a wild roller coaster track.
- AQUAZONE® Wave Racers –Riders zip in and out of waves as they dodge water blasters on this dual water carousel ride
- Technicycle – a zany pedal-powered spinning machine that shoot riders into the air
LEGO City is the perfect place for youngsters to live out their dreams in a scaled-down town created just for them.
- LEGO City Rescue Academy – where families compete with one another in fire and police vehicles to be the first to put out a simulated “blaze” and save the day
- Driving School – a “real-life” driving experience for children ages 6 through 13, where kids receive their official LEGOLAND driver’s license
- Junior Driving School – a pint-size version driving school course for children ages 3 through 5
- Boating School – all aboard this fun-filled ride that allows kids to captain their own mini-vessels
- Flying School – a suspended steel coaster that lets kids experience the thrill of flight
- The Big Test – this interactive show uses acrobatics, music and playful fun to teach fire safety as the zany crew of Fun Town Fire Department attempts to conquer the “Big Test” to become official firefighters
Imagination Zone emphasizes exploring and creation, while showcasing seven of the most visually exciting LEGO models in the world, including a replica of Albert Einstein’s head.
- Hero Factory – immersive interactive play area based on LEGO’s popular Hero Factory line
- Build & Test – Build a LEGO car and test it against the competition on the digitally timed track
- LEGO MINDSTORMS™ – Build and program cutting-edge, computerized LEGO MINDSTORMS™ robots
- Kid Power Towers – Kids and parents alike hoist themselves up to the top of a tower to get a great view of the entire park and lovely Lake Eloise, and then enjoy a fun “free-fall” to the bottom
Pirates’ Cove has been taken over by swashbuckling pirates along the shores of Lake Eloise at LEGOLAND Florida’s very own live-action, water-stunt show.
Duplo Village is ideal for toddlers and their imaginations. Youngsters can fly a plane, drive a car or explore a whole town – designed with their height in mind
- Big Rig Rally – buckle up in a semi truck and drive through the desert to deliver your cargo
- Junior Fire Academy – tots become voluntary firemen and work together to extinguish “flames”
- Granny’s Jalopies – a beeping horn and a bumpy ride are sure to induce giggles from riders of all ages
- DUPLO Farm – slide, climb and crawl through and around a whole host of friendly farm animals
- DUPLO Playtown – pretend play at its best as little ones take over a mini town built especially for them”
Legoland Florida occupies the former location of Cypress Gardens which was famous for it’s Botanical Gardens, water ski shows and Southern Belles, and was one of Florida’s first tourist destinations. If Cypress Gardens was still around, it would be over 75 years old. We are very excited that Legoland has chosen to keep the botanical gardens alive and has gone to great lengths to restore them to their former glory. “The setting has been restored to its pristine condition, and the collection of native plants, including azaleas and camellias, have been reclaimed and combined with a range of exotic species to create a horticultural masterpiece. And still standing sentinel in the garden is the vast Banyan tree that was planted as a seedling in 1939.”
While we here at the OPH Column are pleased to welcome Legoland Florida to our unique community of Theme Parks we know that it has a potentially long uphill battle to face. It’s former incarnation as Cypress Gardens Adventure Park, operated by Adventure Parks Group, failed to bring in enough visitors to save it from bankruptcy. Legoland is going to have to do a lot of marketing to bring the crowds over from Disney and Universal.
Legoland is helped by being a trusted brand known by families all over the world. Another huge benefit to Legoland is that on opening day, it will be a fully completed park that brings lots of new experiences to the table while honoring the time honored traditions of Cypress Gardens with the restoration of the Botanical Gardens and even a Water Ski Show!
Legoland is also aiming to make itself different from the other Orlando based attractions by specifically targeting families with children ages 2-12 and also having very different operating hours, with the park only open on certain days (closed most Tuesdays and Wednesdays, except peak holiday periods) and with the operating hours of 10am-5pm on most days.
One of the biggest hurdles Legoland will have to face is customers trying to locate the theme park. Winter Haven has no major roads leading to it, which results in tourists using residential roads to access the park. This can be confusing and frustrating for your typical family of tourists trying to navigate a rental car with antsy children in the back seat. Even worse, many tourists do not rent a car while on vacation because Disney makes it so easy to get to Disney World without one.
Legoland's soultion to this problem: “Leave the hassle of transportation to the experts and begin your LEGOLAND® Florida experience before you leave Orlando with the LEGOLAND Shuttle. In partnership with Annett Bus Lines and Orlando Premium Outlets® - Vineland Ave, guests can arrive in style to Central Florida’s newest theme park for a special preview price of $5 roundtrip, per person.” The service does appear to be limited, as currently the only departure time is at 9 am to leave for theme park and then you have to wait till after park close to return.
Still, we wish Legoland the very best of luck and hope it becomes another must-visit theme park for young families. As always, the OPH will bring you more coverage as the park opens and the reviews begin to flood in.
- Adults 13-59: $75, plus tax
- Child 3-12 or Senior, 60+: $65, plus tax
- Children under 3 free
Standard Annual Pass:
- Adult: $129, plus tax
- Child/Senior: $99, plus tax
- Includes unlimited LEGOLAND Florida admission
Plus Annual Pass:
- Adult: $159, plus tax
- Child/Senior: $129, plus tax
-Includes parking, food and merchandise discounts
Senior Garden Pass
- Senior (60+): $60, plus tax
-Includes access to LEGOLAND Florida Monday-Friday, parking, food and merchandise discounts
Ambassador Pass:$2,500, plus tax - Includes lifetime admission to LEGOLAND Florida, preferred parking, special events, discounts on food and merchandise
Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens Tampa is a local tradition. This year, with the addition of three new mazes, and a satire heavy show entitled The Midnight Hour, we couldn't wait to run over and check out this increasingly popular event. Admission allows early entry at 5:00 p.m., so visitors can take advantage of the short lines to ride the coasters before the event officially begins at 7:30 p.m.
This standee offers the opportunity to act like the zombie from the commercial.
There was plenty of merchandise on hand to choose from, although I'm a collector of magnets and I have yet to find event specific one for this year.
Since the event goes on, rain or shine, it is a great idea to buy front of the line passes. One thing to note: If you're using a card to purchase FOL passes you must go inside to either the Emporium or the Shop of Horrors as the walking vendors only accept cash. There are two pass types: Front Line Fear passes (haunted houses only) for a reasonable $35.00 or the Front Line Fear Extreme passes (coasters/houses) for $50.00.
A Strange Change in operation:
Eager to enjoy a park with no crowds while we waited for the event to begin, we arrived at Gwazi. Strangely, the employee was putting up the chain and not allowing people to get in line, when we asked why, he stated that the park had closed and there were no more riders allowed on the attractions. Contrary to how things were done in the past, guests are now asked to roam the park with no rides. A strange change and one that defeats the purpose of early entry in the first place.With an hour and a half to kill, no pun intended, visitors can now only eat and shop at a few key locations. This is actually a perfect time to grab a bite and map out a plan.
THE HAUNTED HOUSES:
This year, we speculate that they either hired Imagineer, upped the budget, or both. All of the Haunted houses were designed beautifully with subtle odes to various horror films.
A gothic nightmare straight out of the pages of Edgar Allen Poe's, the theme of this house was very Victorian with a deathly air. The mannequins in one room with their creepy masks and ruffled clothing really set our skin crawling.
These are fancy sets for a short-term event!
The featured house this year, was a treat to all senses. The deathly scenes start in the cemetery where fresh zombies try to grab you from behind tombstones. As you move through the mortuary, the weeping ladies in the mourning room plead for release and the smell of rotting flesh in the crematorium permeates. This was our favorite house and we enjoyed it so much we had to go through it a second time.
Can anyone name the famous reference in this photo?
Death Row Vengeance:
In keeping with the zombie theme, this penitentiary is overrun by a plague that turns the inmates into the undead and for those that have survived (or arrived for the tour) they can either take on the electric chair or the firing squad. A returning house from last year, the cell block portion is my favorite part, as the zombies float across the second level above you, eyeing you for dinner, those hidden in the corners of the cells below reach out to make you a permanent guest.
For those that find creepy dolls and stuffed animals to be the thing of nightmares, this house might not be for you. It seems the toys have become possessed and they are hell bent on experimenting other unfortunate souls. The acid testing room is unavoidable but the body bags filled with stuffed animals are an interesting touch to an already creepy situation.
Deconstruction: The Dr. is Out of Control:
Also returning from last year, the doctor has been experimenting on his patients, combining metal with bone and creating some ghastly results. The most memorable portion of this house was the hanging bodies in the hallway, complete with real hair tickling your arms as you pushed past them.
Vampire Casino: Ultimate Gamble:
Which leads us to the final new house of this year. Vampire Casino is an amazing eyeful of horror that was easily the most frightening of the evening. From full size slot machines and a massive, functioning rollette wheel, this house had it all! The owner of the casino was even standing out front, greeting guests as they entered, adding the perfect set up of commentary to lead you inside.
FIENDS and The Midnight Hour are the two shows being staged this year. We opted for The Midnight Hour, which is hosted at the Hellfire Club in Timbuktu. The premise of this show is a woman who wants to become a music star and is having trouble becoming famous. Of course, the devil comes to her 'rescue' with promises of rock star dreams. This show is filled with pop-culture refrences (which we won't give away). What this leads to is a hilariously satirical send up on American culture.
Welcome to the Hellfire Club!
"Raising the debt ceiling roof!!"
"But I'm an expert on racks!" "I meant gun racks silly!"
The Wizarding World of Charlie Sheen as seen here harnessed with
the power of a drinking straw.
Girls Just Wanna Shoot Guns.
Palin getting a little frisky.
Even, apparently, with the president himself.
Sheen and his "winning" gyration.
Charlie's version of Tonight and Crazy Train.
Snooki gets into the act
All of the cast came out and performed a closing number together and posed for photos afterwards. It's a nice touch that most parks usually won't do.
After the show, guests are allowed to mingle with the stars of the show and take pictures.
Tickets range in price from $42.99-$77.99 at the gate the day of the event. It is least expensive to grab your tickets online here You also have the option to upgrade online to get your front of the line passes or even plan a Fright Feast Dinner for $25.00.
The event is one that locals should never miss. We highly recommend it. We find it tends to be less crowded and more intense than Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios. The entire park was a scare zone! So, if you find yourself in the Tampa area and have a Thur - Sat night free, we recommend getting tickets and have yourself a frighteningly good time.
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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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:
- Editors: SummerinFL, YoYoFlamingo, Fishbulb & Dustysage
- ABOMIBOT - Personal Photo Blog
- Aimster - Pictures by Aimster
- Kevin Yee - MiceAge.com - A different look at Disney...
- Miles Bresin - Miles Bresin's Photos
- Tom Bricker - Tom Bricker Disney Photography
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