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Orlando Parkhopper

Colorful Legoland Florida, Epcot Food and Wine, Hollywood Studios Lights, Staybridge

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
by , 10-17-2011 at 08:38 PM

While we have covered numerous events, parties, holidays, new attractions and shows for you in this column, this is an extra special week, as this is the first time (and probably the only for a while) that we get to cover a new theme park! Legoland Florida has snapped itself into the central Florida theme park world, but we have plenty more to share with you this week. We'll take a look at EPCOT's fabulous Food and Wine Festival and the holiday preparations at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Finally, we jump over to Busch Gardens to check on the animal care facility construction, and a few more Howl-O-Screams.

The big news this week isn't in Walt Disney World, but that doesn't mean there isn't anything going on. With the Food and Wine Festival continuing at EPCOT and the installation of the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights ongoing at Disney's Hollywood Studios, there's always something new for us to notice.

The Food and Wine Festival is the big news here, and it's always worth a look (Even if it does make anyone not able to go extremely jealous). Some new features have popped up, Canada is being spruced up, and France looks like it might need some next.

The tip board in Innoventions Plaza has recently been refurbished. The new screens are LCD, and while you don't have to wait for it to scroll from area to area to find the attraction you want, you do have to get much closer to read it. That print is tiny!

The blue and purple "cubes" on the left are the Future World and World Showcase wait times.

What's also interesting is the right side of the screen features Food and Wine Tips, as well as a Twitter feed, if you use the hashtag #EpcotFW11.

One of the new features this year is the cool Cranberry Bog, sponsored by Ocean Spray. While you can't go into the bog, they do offer demonstrations throughout the day!

The Yakitori House in Japan is continuing a major refurbishment. The entire location is essentially gutted, and scheduled to reopen November 16.

The top level of Canada is receiving a paint job. While the paint is necessary, it's a nice touch to use the painted scrims to minimize disruptions.

The fountains in France seem to be quite temperamental. Having them running seems to be hit or miss lately. Hopefully they're up for refurbishment soon, as they are absolutely gorgeous, especially at night.

It's holiday time at Disney's Hollywood Studios! While Halloween is still weeks away, Disney's Hollywood Studios is well underway on their installation of the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights. This year's light display runs from November 10th-January 3rd and is extra poignant, as their creator, Jennings Osborne, passed away this summer at 67.

We'll be sure to share more with you once the holiday celebrations begin!


While the structure are ugly during the day, you simply have to see them at night!

The buildings get completely covered in string lights for the magical, musical display.

Here you can just make out the spinning trees on the tops of the buildings in the foreground. This is the least crowded the Osborne lights get. Of course, they aren't as exciting when they're not on!

Kevin's Corner
Kevin Yee shares another great video update from Epcot and Legoland

Legoland pictures (with special focus on Miniland zoom photos)
New acrobats at the China pavilion in Epcot
The Velcro exhibit is long gone; the rehab walls came down to reveal a sign saying "Story Time"... and that it will be exclusive for AAA members. I wonder what this is?
The die press at the exit to Test Track was broken, unmoving, and silent. The whole room feels eerie without that loud clang.
New columns at the exit to Epcot point the way to the turnstiles that are exclusively for going out (rather than coming in).

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This weekend marked the official opening of Legoland Florida, which took over the Cypress Gardens in Winter Haven. Kevin Yee posted a breakdown of the park in his column last week along with his views on the park. Let's take a look at this colorful new park!

A whimsical structure/entrance welcomes visitors


The park's target age is 2-12.

While the Forestmen's Hideout seems like a simple playground... is fairly large with plenty of places to run, slide, and explore.

The Dragon is unique, as it starts out as a dark ride, then ends with a mild coaster.

Guarding the entrance to the castle.

You board dragon cars to ride The Dragon. Makes sense, right?

A dark ride portion starts the ride, with figures built of Legos.

Medeival characters add to the theme.

The ending of the ride turns into a coaster, longer but only slightly more thrilling than the former Barnstormer in Walt Disney World.

The Royal Joust is a kid friendly "coaster" in which kids ride through medieval scenes, coming across other riders in a simulated joust.

Lanscaping will hopefully fill this in a little bit as the park matures.

Medieval characters dot the track.

The Land of Adventure follows the theme of exploration and hunting for treasure, of course with Lego character and theming.

Adventure awaits!

Lego figures are installed throughout the walkways, making great photo ops.

Such a great way to use Legos to help add theming.

The Lost Kingdom Adventure is a Buzz Lightyear type ride, in which riders are given lasers to shoot at targets, while searching for treasure in an Egyptian landscape.

Definitely Egyptian.

Lego Animatronics throughout the ride.

A typical off the shelf ride is the Beetle Bounce. Everyone has this ride, but kids love it.

Nothing really new here.

Coastersaurus is a holdover from the Cypress Gardens days. However, while the track is the same, some Lego theming has been added, and the ride has been somewhat toned down to meet the younger demographic.

Coastersaurus looms in the background.

Lego dinosaurs around the track add theming to the coaster.

These 2 zones offer everyone a chance to drive on their own and create their own vehicles. This is what Lego is all about and offers the younger family members a chance to be in control.

Lego townspeople throughout Lego City.

Rescue Academy offers families a chance to compete with each other to put out a "fire" and save the day!

Ford Driving School offers kids a chance to take the wheel and obey the rules of the road. This is the Junior version for smaller riders.

The Driving School lets drivers follow the rules of the road.

Flying School is another holdover from Cypress Gardens, though rethemed to Lego City. It looks more exciting than it is.

Air traffic tower themed load building.

A free floating boat awaits you as you get to steer around the track. Think Autopia (or Tomorrowland Speedway, since we're in Orlando) on water.

A Lego boat!

We love these cute photo ops!

What makes the 4D Theater unique is that it offers different movies at different times throughout the day. There are 3 movies right now to see, which really offers 3 unique attractions.

The theater is large - it holds 700 guests.

The current movies: Clutch Powers 4D, Lego Racers 4D, and Spellbreakers 4D.

The Island in the Sky is a sky ride that offers a 150 foot high view of the park. It's another holdover from the Cypress Gardens days.

It's always a great view!

If the Jungle Cruise was too intense for you, try Legoland's Safari Ride. It offers the same premise as the Disney classic, only on slow moving jeeps with Lego animals to look at.

Barbie Safari jeeps await you.

This isn't Kilimanjaro Safaris.

The Lego animals are surprisingly realistic, however.

These lions will always be there to view.

Miniland USA is perhaps what Legoland is most famous for. For its Florida park, there are some new scenes, mostly to tie in to the Florida locale. We'll let most of these pictures speak for themselves, as you really don't need a caption for these magnificent creations.

New York, Las Vegas, Florida, Washington DC, and a Pirates land await.

The Vegas Strip

The Daytona Speedway is unique to Legoland Florida.

Kennedy Space Center

New York


Mini Golf!

Themed to the older Lego sets, the Technic Zone offers more thrilling rides than the rest of the park.

Some rides are still getting their finishing touches, like Technicycle in the Technic Zone, which offers a pedal powered car.

A Dumbo style ride over water with a unique twist avoiding water jets. A surely welcome addition come summer.

We can feel how refreshing this will be in July and August!

While Legoland is perhaps best known for its Miniland USA displays, the former park Cypress Gardens is perhaps best known for 2 things: its gardens (obviously), and its water ski show. Both are still present in Legoland, though the water ski show is now themed as a Lego Pirate show.

While there is no sign, the Cypress Gardens are still tucked in a corner of the park. For a nice break from the theme park atmosphere, this a a great place to head.

The famed water skiing show is still a part of the park, but with (of course) a Lego theme. This time, it's Lego Pirates!

Lego men on waterskiis. Just wanted to actually write that phrase.

What's a pirate show without a shark?

Howl-O-Scream is still going strong and we have some new shots of the animal care facility opening this year.

A handy map of the mazes and scare zones during the Halloween festivities.

Some shots of the Animal Care Center. It seems it's going up quickly now!

More and more seems to be going in each week. A lot of visible progress.

Almost completely walled in.

But some areas still wide open.

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

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Updated 10-18-2011 at 09:41 AM by Dustysage



  1. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Folks, don't miss Kevin's great video update as well:

  2. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Nice update! Also, first one!