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Orlando Parkhopper

Magic Kingdom Christmas Castle, Living Sea Sick, Eight Park Update!

Rating: 2 votes, 5.00 average.
by , 11-07-2011 at 11:13 PM


Orlando Parkhopper brings you the week in news from Disney World and the Central Florida parks. Christmas hits the Magic Kingdom with a flurry of decorations, holiday fireworks and parades. We next jump over to Disney Hollywood Studios for the amazing Osbourne Lights Spectacular complete with video! But that's not all, we also travel over to Universal to check up on the preparations for the Harry Potter event coming up at Islands of Adventure and we stroll through SeaWorld Orlando for some seaside Christmas preparations and construction. Plus, we have all sorts of juicy news and rumors for you today including Pooh queue, sea sick seas, entertainment cuts and much more. . . Let's hop to it . . .





New Holiday Guidemaps now exist for the Magic Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios. The other parks should get their Holiday Guidemaps later this month.


OUTSIDE


INSIDE

Chatty Mickey
Interactive Mickey is meeting with guests completely at random in the Town Square Theater. It is a test so there is no guarantee that if you wait in line that you'll be able to talk with the big cheese, and the test is scheduled to end completely later this week.


FANTASYLAND CONSTRUCTION:
One of the things we are most excited to see completed is the Fantasyland Expansion. Today's update brings us just a little bit closer to that goal. You'll see that a whole lot of work is looking pretty good.



Beast's castle peeps over the rocks.










Belle's house.


The resurfacing project continues near the carousel.


Here is a shot of the dual tents that will serve as
the "waiting area" for the dueling Dumbos.






A close look at Prince Eric's Castle.




OH POOH!:
Winnie the Pooh is currently not offering Fast Pass, so they can close the new interactive queue for maintenance. The standby queue has been relocated to the Fast Pass line but will resume normal operation Nov. 9th.


THE MAD TEA PARTY:
The Mad Tea Party is one of our favorites, and just like the rest of Fantasyland, it has gotten a tiny refresh. A new roof was put on earlier this year, but until now, something was lacking on the new roof that was on the old roof - ornamental popcorn lights. Well, about two weeks ago, new lights were added, including brand new fixtures.







Now, normally we wouldn't make a big deal about light bulbs, but when we take a closer look at these bulbs, well, we realize they're not bulbs at all. They are actually tiny clumps of LEDs held up by tiny plastic straws so they can be "suspended" in the middle of a clear bulb. The color of the bulbs isn't quite the same as the old bulbs, (these have a bit of an orange tint to them) but it seems they are getting closer and closer to the color used on Main Street with each new project that involves these cute little ornamental popcorn bulbs. (We saw a similar attempt at Toy Story Midway Mania! in California Adventure). We've been told that Disney is preparing to replace the real bulbs on Main Street with LEDs in the coming years, and these smaller projects are tests to see if the concept works. We wish them luck. If they can get the color just right, the LEDs should hold up much better than the old incandescent bulbs and require fewer replacements.



Looks good. Even better from a distance.


Enchanted Grove

Also to note, the nearby Enchanted Grove Refreshments is under an exterior refurbishment. When completed, the new building will fit in better with The Mad Tea Party and create a mini Wonderland-land. The new name, "Cheshire Café", is already reflected on the new park guide maps.

THE WALT DISNEY WORLD RAILROAD:
Last week, we showed you how bad the Walt Disney World Railroad looks when you go under an un-themed overpass that takes you completely out of the magic. Today, just a minor note on the railroad. This photo was taken at Main Street Station. It seems these iron gates need some major attention, as the ball is completely missing on one side and has been painted over, and the ball is wearing away on the other side. Not to mention most of the old Penny Arcade games inside the station no longer work. Let's hope the railroad gets some TLC before the new Fantastyland Station opens and makes the other stations look dismal in comparison.






CHRISTMAS HAS LANDED!:
The Bells are jingling at the Magic Kingdom. Garland is up, parades are parading and the shops are full of Christmas merchandise. Let's not forget the stunning Castle lighting and nightly fireworks.






The Magic Kingdom is way ahead of Disneyland on the Decoration of Main Street.




It's even Christmas at the Tomorrowland stage.



The CM's are in the spirit.



Colorful Garland over Main Street.



50 days until Christmas!





Castle lighting ceremony:
It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Xmas! We were lucky enough to be on the scene for the first night of the Castle holiday lighting. It is by far one of the most amazing sights I have ever seen. Though we have pics and video this is something that must be seen in person.










Stunning. Even better in person!



During Wishes (the normal version) the guests were treated to a special ending to the show that included an early version of the castle lights. Click the pic to see a much better view of this picture.




MAIN STREET EMPORIUM:
The Main Street Emporium is up and running for all of your holiday shopping needs

















Catch a performance by the musical group, The Tropicals, at the Animal Kingdom while you can. The troupe which has been with the Animal Kingdom park since 2005 will give their last performance on November 19th 2011. Citing nothing more descriptive than "Creative and Operational needs" the management has chosen to remove them form the entertainment offerings without officially lining up a replacement.




On November 1st Downtown Disney Westside opened it's newest addition, Something Silver, in the former Magic Masters shop. Gone is the giant top hat and over priced magic tricks. In it's place is now a "variety of jewelry and accessories for women and men, including bracelets, pendants, rings and cufflinks, plus fun items like bracelets made of guitar strings and license plates. Some items are handmade, while others are made from recyclable and renewable materials, and natural dyes." The layout of the store remains small and crowded and seems to lack a general "new" feel.



















Also while in DTD Westside we decided to check on the progress of several other projects and some new products at D-Street.





Looks like the Sunglass Icon remodel is almost complete and should be opening sometime this month.

D-STREET:
Over at D-Street, Disney recently released several new Vinylmation series worth noting.

The first is an Alice in Wonderland series featuring 12 all new 3 inch figures in the traditional vinylmation blind boxes or you can buy a whole case with two complete sets plus one chaser mystery figure.





Each figure is priced at $12.95


Also new is the Park Series 7 figures. For this installment of the park series, the vinylmation artists decided to dedicate this series to WDW's 40th anniversary. Here's a detailed look:




World of Motion Dragon (which last time I checked could be found sitting around the Hollywood Pictures backlot at DCA)


From L to R: Kali River Rapids, Spirit of Aloha fire dancer, and A figured pased on the Spirit of America parade.


SSE circa 2000 (our least favorite in the series), DHS water tower, and the original Tomorrowland Rocket Jets.



Spacesuit Figment, Philharmagic Donald (our personal favorite), and The Muppet's Baloon.



Tinkerbell, and not pictured is the series chaser based on a 1971 main park icon ;-)

Finally, and perhaps most exciting/interesting to vinylmation fans is the recently released Vinlymation Park Starz series one.



Unlike every vinylmation series before it, the Park Starz "breaks the mold" and features 12 vinylmation figures with their own unique shape. Gone is the traditional mickey mouse shape used in all other series.



Featured in the series are all nostalgic figures, Skeleton Pirate from PotC, Jose form the tiki room, Big Al, The yeti from EE (but if you ask us, he looks more like his cousin Harold from the other coast), Mr. Lincoln, the HM Bride (with Ax), Figment, Child and Goat from Small world, Squid from 20,000 leagues, Robot Butler from Horizons, ice gator from Blizzard Beach and the series chaser that any fan of Pleasure Island would love to have.




Also unique to the series is it's packaging. The series maintains the traditional blind box style of the original park series but instead of cardboard boxes each figure comes in a metallic tin. Also unique is the fact that each case is limited to just one complete set of figures making it easy for individuals who want to collect each figure. The only downside is that this series is priced a little higher at $18.95. Still, this series excites us (or at least myself, an avid Vinylmation fan) as it captures the unique feel of the original Vinylmation Park Series 1.


EARL OF SANDWICH:
The popular Holiday Sandwich has returned at Earl of Sandwich in Downtown Disney! Now being served 'til the end of the year, this wonderful treat of a sandwich is a must-try for anyone visiting Walt Disney World during November and December.















What average guest would know what these kids are doing? We know it's the Kim Possible Experience, but really? How would anyone even know that without at least a mention of it? We really don't understand what Disney is doing with these maps. Who is making the decisions on the guide map photography these days?

TROUBLED WATERS:

Over at The Seas with Nemo and Friends there are some ongoing maintenance issues which have resulted in the cancelation of the Dive Quest and other sea pavilion tours for an indefinite period of time. It appears that a filtration issue has caused low visibility in the tank. These issues have been ongoing for almost a month and there is no word on when the tours will resume. The water continues to be tested to ensure the safety of the marine life.






These Hollywood traffic lights are working again after about five years of not doing anything.





However, this particular one is stuck like this.




Just an example of some of the decorations that are out in the park.


It's a Wonderful Shop is open for the season. This is usually a seasonal store in the park, as it pretty much only sells Christmas Decorations.



The wonderful Christmas Shop



THE MUPPETS COURTYARD:
The Muppets Courtyard is not only decked out for the holidays, but also is ready for "The Muppets" coming to theaters this Thanksgiving!










PIZZA PLANET:
Toy Story Pizza Planet is missing Buzz and Woody from on top. Not sure where they went. Inside, we find that for some reason, the ATM machine has been moved from its location on the wall to blocking a door. These are strange goings on with no real explanation.








THE OSBORNE SPECTACLE OF DANCING LIGHTS:
Starting November 10th at Disney's Hollywood Studios, the Streets of America come alive once again this Holiday season with The Osborn Family of Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Luckily, here at the OPH we where able to attend a Special Preview of this year's lights. While the show remains mostly the same since it's "move to the big city" there are a few new d-light-ful surprises. The most noticeable changes and upgrades are in technology. The big canopy of lights along the San Francisco facade now features multi-color LCDs that creates an almost Fremont Street experience instead of the solid red canopy of the past. Also new are video screens in the window of the Chevy building showing animated scenes of toy trains, Christmas trees and if your lucky enough, an elf or two (like the ones from the upcoming all new Prep and Landing special on ABC. But more about that in a second.) Also new are several light layouts. For example, the blue and white square of angles now features two buildings that switch between the usual blue and white color scheme and a red and green color scheme while "dancing". Speaking of "Dancing", the usual songs you love are back with a few new ones. Gone is the Phineas and Ferb promotional segments and in their place are new tributes dedicated to the late Jennings Osborne explaining his passion for helping the community and how he got started collecting all these lights. Also new is a promotional piece promoting the all new Prep and Landing: Naughty vs Nice which features a "radio interview" with the two Elves, Wayne and Lanny. But enough chit chat, on to the photos of the shiny lights....
















In the past one of my favorite gags was the snow man in the phone booth. Sadly this year it appears he has finally completed his phone call.



















































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If you find yourself at Disney World this Thanksgiving, never fear, turkey is not far away. The following restaurants will be serving special holiday dinners on Thanksgiving Day this year.

MAGIC KINGDOM

  • Diamond Horseshoe - Lunch and Dinner Buffet
  • Liberty Tree Tavern - Lunch and Dinner Family Style
  • Tony's Town Square Restaurant - Lunch and Dinner
EPCOT
  • Akershus Royal Banquet Hall - Lunch and Dinner
  • Biergarten - Lunch and Dinner Buffet
  • Coral Reef Restaurant - Lunch and Dinner
  • Garden Grill - Dinner Family Style
  • Le Cellier Steakhouse - Lunch and Dinner
  • Rose and Crown Pub - Lunch and Dinner
DISNEY'S HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS
  • Hollywood Brown Derby - Lunch and Dinner
  • Hollywood and Vine - Lunch and Dinner Buffet
  • 50's Prime Time Cafe - Lunch and Dinner
ANIMAL KINGDOM
  • Tusker House - Lunch and Dinner Buffet
WALT DISNEY WORLD RESORTS
  • All Star Sports Resort
    • End Zone Food Court
  • Animal Kingdom Lodge
    • Jiko - The Cooking Place
    • Sanaa - Lunch and Dinner
  • Beach Club Resort
    • Cape May Cafe
  • Boardwalk Resort
    • Flying Fish Cafe
  • Caribbean Beach Resort
    • Shutters
  • Contemporary Resort
    • California Grill - Dinner
    • Chef Mickey's - Dinner Buffet
    • The Wave - Lunch and Dinner
  • Fort Wilderness
    • Mickey's Backyard Thanksgiving Feast - Dinner Show Buffet
    • Trail's End Restaurant - Lunch and Dinner
  • Grand Floridian Resort and Spa
    • Citricos - Dinner
    • Grand Floridian Cafe - Lunch and Dinner
    • Narcoossee's - Dinner
    • Victoria & Albert's - Dinner
    • Victoria & Albert's Chef's Table
    • Victoria & Albert's Queen's Room - Dinner
  • Old Key West Resort
    • Olivia's - Lunch and Dinner
  • Polynesian Resort
    • Kona Cafe - Lunch and Dinner
  • Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
    • The Turf Club Bar & Grill - Lunch and Dinner
  • Walt Disney World Swan/Dolphin
    • Fresh Mediterranean Market
    • Garden Grove
    • Il Mulino
  • Wilderness Lodge
    • Artist Point
    • Whispering Canyon Cafe - Family Style
  • Yacht Club
    • Captain's Grille - Lunch and Dinner
    • Yachtsman Steakhouse - Dinner Family Style
Hoop-Dee-Doo Changes
The Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue is changing its show times. Starting November 13, 2011, the shows will be at 4pm, 6:15pm and 8:30pm. (The show times have all been moved exactly one hour earlier than previously) This change is evidently a test that will last through February 11, 2012.


DINING RESERVATION CHANGES:
Walt Disney World is making a significant change to the reservation cancellation policy for the Signature Dining restaurants. It has been a frequent complaint with guests that they are unable to dine at some restaurants, that is in many cases caused by other guests making multiple reservations at different restaurants and then not showing up or even bothering to cancel those unused reservations.


Starting October 26 2011, guests will be required to provide a credit card in order to make a reservation for all WDW Signature Dining restaurants. In the event that a cancellation is not made at least one day in advance, the credit card on the reservation will be charged $10 per person for each reservation.
Signature restaurants requiring the credit card guarantee:
. 1900 Park Fare
. Akershus Royal Banquet Hall
. Artist Point
. Cape May Café
. Chef Mickey's
. Cítricos
. The Crystal Palace
. Flying Fish Café
. The Garden Grill
. Hollywood & Vine
. Jiko - The Cooking Place
. Le Cellier Steakhouse
. Narcoossee's
. 'Ohana
. Tusker House Restaurant
. The Hollywood Brown Derby
. Yachtsman Steakhouse
Some event restaurants already required a pre-paid deposit (usually $25 per person), and these will continue to hold the full pre-paid amount in the event of failing to cancel at least one day in advance. These restaurants are:


. California Grill
. Cinderella's Royal Table
. Disney's Spirit of Aloha Dinner Show
. Hoop-Dee-Doo Musical Revue
. Mickey's Backyard BBQ
. Victoria & Albert's


Reservations can be cancelled at any table service restaurant podium, at a special number of 407-WDW-CNCL, at www.disneyworld.com/dining, or at any guest relations or resort front desk.


WIFI AVAILABLE AT MOST OF THE RESORT HOTELS:
In resort news, Wifi is now available in room at select hotels around Disney property and it looks like Port Orleans is receiving a little TLC as the exteriors of select buildings receive a refurbishment.


Complimentary wireless Internet (Wi-Fi) will be available in Guests rooms at select resort hotels starting Oct. 14, which include:
· Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge
· Disney’s Beach Club Resort
· Disney’s BoardWalk Resort
· Disney’s Contemporary Resort
· Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort
· Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa
· Disney’s Old Key West Resort
· Disney’s Polynesian Resort
· Disney’s Saratoga Springs Resort & Spa
· Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort
· Disney’s Yacht Club Resort





December 3 - January 1

Offering guests incredible entertainment themed for the season at both Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure, Universal Orlando is starting a new family tradition this season with Grinchmas, Macy's Holiday Parade, The Holiday Village and Nightly Holiday Music.

Enjoy the timeless classics by holiday music masters Mannheim Steamroller as they return for six concerts on December 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18.

Grinchmas, at Islands of Adventure, guests can see the heartwarming live stage show, "Grinchmas Wholiday Spectacular," starring The Grinch and the Whos from Whoville; with an original recorded musical score by Mannheim Steamroller. Guests will also have the opportunity to meet The Grinch and the Whos.

Macy's Holiday Parade will celebrate its 10th anniversary of partnership with Universal Orlando by filling the streets every evening with some of the same iconic elements seen winding through New York City each year at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.

Also at Universal Studios, guests can enjoy special holiday-themed versions of their favorite shows, and nightly a capella holiday music in the nearby Holiday Village, which is filled with hand-blown glass ornaments, caramel apples, hot chocolate, roasted chestnuts and a cupcake decorating location.

CITYWALK:
There are several different projects going on at Universal CityWalk. One of which is taking place in front of the AMC theaters. We also look at the ongoing Mini-Golf Project.









This is normally a circular movie screen that rotates inside a stylized Coca-Cola Bottle. Hopefully it will be working again soon!

CITYWALK MINI-GOLF:
At Universal, Hollywood Drive-In Golf's construction is in full swing, and they look to be on-track for an opening early next year.

The entrance for these two 18-hole mini golf courses courses will be located next to the AMC Cineplex. The courses are taking over previously unused garden space, including unused space that is under the walkway that connects CityWalk to the Universal Orlando parking garages.

The two courses are called “The Haunting of Ghostly Green” and “Invaders from Planet Putt" and will be themed accordingly



























Universal is preparing for Warner Brothers' big Harry Potter Celebration this upcoming weekend. Stages are set throughout Hogsmeade, and people seem to be excited about it everywhere. Does anyone have any Pumpkin Juice? The event information can be found here but, sadly, is totally sold out. Can you imagine an Avatar event doing this?















THIS AND THAT:
These random walls have appeared in Jurassic Park. They seem to have no purpose other than to create a buffer area between the queue for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey and the surrounding areas of Jurassic Park. If that is indeed the case, we hope they actually create a sort of berm instead. Although the walls don't look bad by any means, they really don't fit the theme of the area. They truly are just un-themed wooden fences.












We also noticed a new information sign. We're curious to see what it will say when it starts working.




Busch Gardens Renews Pay For a Day, Come Back All Year for 2012
With many new events being featured next year, Iceploration (all-new ice show), your chance to go behind the scenes with animal care experts and their biggest lineup yet for for Bands, Brew & BBQ, the only question is where do you want to start first?! So Busch Gardens makes it easy by bringing back the "pay for a day, play all year" deal in order to enjoy it all for one low cost!

REAL MUSIC CONCERT SERIES LINEUP

January 18th - March 24th
The Real Music Concert Series presents notable names from music's most memorable eras every Wednesday through Saturday at the Stanleyville Theater.


  • January 18-21 - The Terry Myers Orchestra with The Swing Sisters
  • January 25-28 - The Glenn Miller Orchestra with The Diamonds
  • February 1-4 - tony Orlando
  • February 8-11 - Frankie Avalon
  • February 15-18 - The Osmond Brothers
  • February 22-25 - Herman's Hermits starring Peter Noone
  • February 29- March 3 - The Ventures
  • March 7-10 Rita Coolidge
  • March 14-17 - The Grass Roots
  • March 21-24 - Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr.

BANDS BREW & BBQ
February 11 - March 4 - Saturdays and Sundays
Bands, Brew & BBQ offers four weekends of smokin' hot fun - now on Saturdays AND Sundays! New this year, you have tow days to sample dozens of craft and international beers and fire up your taste buds with food from your favorite local restaurants as well as our own famous, blazing barbecue. And every Sunday, enjoy sizzling live performances from award-winning country and classic rock artists.


  • February 12 - Lynyrd Skynrd
  • February 19 - Brett Michaels
  • February 26 - 38 Special
  • March 4 - REO Speedwagon

VIVIA LA MUSICA
April 15 - May 6 - Sundays
Join the fiesta every weekend as award-winning acts perform salsa, meringue and more on the Gwazi Park stage. And don't forget the popular, regional Latin cuisine and authentic arts and crafts throughout the festival area. Stay tuned as Busch Gardens reveals the artist and more details this spring!

SUMMER NIGHTS
June 9 - August 12
The award-winning Kinetix will return to Summer Nights with energizing shows full of live musicians, singers, dancers and artists from around the world. Their thrilling performance - along with modern music and fire effects - will pump up the crowd every night in Gwazi Park. Adding to the amazing coasters-after-dark lineup, guests will launch into the night on Busch Gardens newest roller coaster, Cheetah Hunt, and enjoy more fireworks than ever before, including a special July 4th celebration in Gwazi Park!

Holidays at Busch Gardens

Busch Gardens Tampa celebrates the spirit of the season with the return of several holiday events. Holidays at Busch Gardens kicks off November 19, 2011 and ends January 1, 2012.

Shows include Christmas on Ice, Christmas from the Heart andChristmas Celebration. In addition to the shows, Busch Gardens is transformed into a holiday wonderland featuring a cappella carols by the Men of Note, spectacular poinsettias, festive decorations and classic holiday music.

During Holidays at Busch Gardens, enjoy a Breakfast with Santa and his merry elves. Following this event, join us for Busch Gardens' traditional family favorite Christmas Celebration.

Shows
Christmas on Ice is a limited-engagement ice show with a cast of professional skaters bringing a graceful winter wonderland to life. This event is held in the Moroccan Palace.

Christmas from the Heart features inspiring holiday gospel and spiritual songs performed by a live choir. This event is held in the Marrakesh Theater.

Christmas Celebration the musical extravaganza featuring seasonal songs, tap-dancing toy soldiers and fun for the whole family! This event is held in the Desert Grill.
Events

Breakfast with Santa
Join Santa and his merry elves for breakfast at Desert Grill from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday December 3 and 10, 2011.
Enjoy exciting and unforgettable photo opportunities with Santa as well as his holiday elves, followed by a fabulous performance of our traditional family favorite, "Christmas Celebration." Each adult ticket purchase to Breakfast With Santa includes a FREE commemorative family photo.

Busch Gardens Tampa Welcomes Two New Babies to the Serengeti Plain
Busch Gardens’ newest addition, a female Cape buffalo, was born to mother Semara on Sept. 21. Cape buffalos are extremely social; members of the same group will stay in direct contact with each other and will often sleep with their heads resting on one another.


At the time of his birth, the calf weighed approximately 45 lbs. The playful and explorative youngster now weights 75 lbs. Once full grown, Cape buffalos can weigh up to 2,000 lbs.

Two days earlier, the park’s Sable Antelope herd welcomed the third new baby of the month, a female who took her first steps within a few minutes of birth. Though Sable Antelopes are shaky at first, newborns can run fast enough to keep up with the herd within 3-5 days.

Busch Gardens’ guests can view all of the new babies from Rhino Rally, the Skyride or Serengeti Express train ride. For an even closer look, the Serengeti Safari offers guests and open-bed truck tour of the 65-acre Serengeti Plain, with opportunities to get up-close to antelope and rhinos and hand-feed giraffes.







BREAKING NEWS:

Today, SeaWorld Orlando announced three new attractions: TurtleTrek, Freshwater Oasis, and SeaWorld's Antarctica - Empire of the Penguin. Let's take a look.

TURTLE TREK:



First, TurtleTrek is a re-imagining of the current "Manatees: The Last Generation" exhibit. The new attraction refreshes the Manatees exhibit, and adds a new exhibit that will become home to more than 1,500 saltwater fish and more than a dozen sea turtles.


After the exhibits, you'll move into a state of the art domed theater, where a 3-D 360˚ movie will show you a turtle eye's view of the ocean. This technology is rather unique because we think it is the natural evolution of Disney's Circle-Vision 360˚film format… this new version is also standing room only, but improves due to the fact that the projection is seamless and in 3-D, not to mention the domed environment. And who doesn't love sea turtles? Yes, we're excited for this one. TurtleTrek opens in spring 2012 at SeaWorld Orlando.









DISCOVERY COVE, FRESHWATER OASIS:



Second, Freshwater Oasis is a replacement for Discovery Cove's old saltwater lagoon. You may know that the old lagoon was leaking saltwater into the Florida aquifer, so as a solution SeaWorld built a new & much larger saltwater lagoon called the Grand Reef. This left the old lagoon without a purpose, but that changes today.




The old lagoon is being converted to a freshwater lagoon to showcase freshwater fish and other animals like otters and marmosets. Because the new lagoon will be shallow, you will be able to wade up-close to the new wildlife. The new landscaping around the lagoon looks to be one of the neatest improvements though, because SeaWorld is basically planting a rainforest around the lagoon. So you'll be wading around under a rainforest canopy of wonder, which sounds like a ton of fun. Freshwater Oasis opens in spring 2012 at Discovery Cove.

SEAWORLD'S ANTARCTICA, EMPIRE OF THE PENGUINS:



Finally, and perhaps today's biggest announcement is that of SeaWorld's Antarctica - Empire of the Penguin. It's a replacement for the entire area around the current Penguin Encounter, including the current and very tired penguin habitat. Unfortunately, SeaWorld is playing this one close to the chest, as this is really SeaWorld's answer to Universal's Wizarding World of Harry Potter, so we don't have all that many details. We do know that the new area will include a brand new ride with a new type of ride technology never before used, as well as a ton of new snowy goodness in the form of new shopping, dining, and exhibits. The new park within a park at SeaWorld Orlando is being billed as a look at Antarctica through the eyes of a penguin for the entire family, and is planned to open in the spring of 2013.



The construction site in its current state.

We're excited, are you? Tell us below in the comments!

Images & information courtesy of Sea Inside, SeaWorld's official blog. Vist http://www.seaworldparksblog.com/seaworld-announces-major-expansion-2012-and-2013-1 for more information


Over at the "Dine with Shamu" the walls are still up as they are experimenting with the "quick rise" floor.






You can also see the new rising floor through the water



A MARITIME CHRISTMAS:
Christmas at SeaWorld Orlando starts on November 26th, however they have already begun to set up, and deck the halls.













They have begun setting up for the "Sea of Trees" which will light up.


Enjoy SeaWorld's Christmas Celebration:
• Fridays through Sundays, November 25 to December 11
• Every night, December 16 to 30

Santa's Fireside Feast at Sea World:
This holiday season, let SeaWorld take care of the cooking so you can spend quality time with the people you love. Let Santa and Mrs. Claus read their favorite story while you enjoy an all-you-care-to-eat feast featuring Honey Baked Ham, turkey with gravy, sweet potato casserole, and all the other Christmas favorites, plus a menu of kid’s favorites and delicious desserts. Experience a wave of holiday spirit at SeaWorld’s Christmas Celebration.

Reservations are required; Park admission is required and not included.
Pass members click here to get your discount.

Menu:
Pre set Dinner Rolls and Corn Bread, Caesar Salad, Fresh Field Greens with Dried Cranberries and Pecans tossed in Balsamic Vinaigrette, Fresh Cut Fruit, Roasted Turkey with Gravy, Honey Baked Ham, Homemade Stuffing, Sweet Potato Casserole, Mashed Potatoes, Glazed Honey Carrots, Green Bean Almandine, Macaroni and Cheese, Pudding w/Whipped Topping, Carrot Cake, Red Velvet Cake, Chocolate Mint Cheesecake, Hot Apple Cobbler

Children’s alternatives available: Chicken Tenders, Hot Dog, French Fries

Beverage Selections included Iced Tea, Pepsi products, coffee and Hot Tea


THE POLAR EXPRESS:
This holiday overlay has become a wonderful tradition for Orlando locals. We love this overlay, and with the ride ending in the "Arctic" with Santa, it just an amazing experience.




The Polar Express overlay of "Wild Arctic" is full steam ahead!






THIS AND THAT:
Aside from all the construction and getting ready for the holidays, SeaWorld was very clean this weekend, and the animals were loving the cooler weather, and even with the cooler weather, that didn't stop visitors from riding Journey to Atlantis.












The 2011 NEX Rib Fest will be November 11-13 at Vinoy Park in St. Petersburg, FL.:
This fun filled three day charity fundraiser features the best BBQ ribbers in the world, national touring bands playing classic and southern rock and country hits and more!

Headline acts this year include:
John Fogerty
Outlaws
STYX
Trace Adkins

In addition to BBQ and music, there will be a Family Fun Zone, filled with all sorts of games and activities for kids and families, such as face painting, how to make ice cream, fun with bubbles, make & take crafts, carnival games and more!

Daily admission to Rib Fest is $13.00 in advance, $20.00 "at the door". For more information and to purchase tickets, visit NEX RibFest.




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 so very hard every week to bring you the latest information from the parks. This week's team included:

  • Editors: SummerinFL, Fishbulb, Dustysage
Thank you for reading, we'd love to hear your comments below. Have a great week and enjoy your theme park hopping!

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Updated 11-08-2011 at 10:16 AM by Fishbulb

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  1. BestBeatingHeart's Avatar
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    Complete overkill. Honestly, this looks terrible compared to DL... The Magic Kingdom overdoes the holidays, while DL/DLR does it perfectly. WDW is a complete mess of things.
  2. Melonballer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BestBeatingHeart


    Complete overkill. Honestly, this looks terrible compared to DL... The Magic Kingdom overdoes the holidays, while DL/DLR does it perfectly. WDW is a complete mess of things.
    I do not understand. Disneyland has garlands that hang over main street and decorations on the lampposts. What is so different?
  3. steve2wdw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BestBeatingHeart


    Complete overkill. Honestly, this looks terrible compared to DL... The Magic Kingdom overdoes the holidays, while DL/DLR does it perfectly. WDW is a complete mess of things.
    huh? Other than a larger castle, the decor is roughly the same. I also seem to hear the complaint that overall, the MK isn't as fully decorated as DL is, so I'm not quite sure where you're coming from. Maybe it's the clear blue sky in the picture, as opposed to the smog filled OC sky that is throwing you off....making the MK appear that much more festive!?!
    Updated 11-08-2011 at 05:47 AM by steve2wdw
  4. Orlando Parkhopper's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BestBeatingHeart

    Complete overkill. Honestly, this looks terrible compared to DL... The Magic Kingdom overdoes the holidays, while DL/DLR does it perfectly. WDW is a complete mess of things.
    Actually, Magic Kingdom does MUCH less for Christmas than Disneyland. They decorate Main Street in a similar way at both parks. However, Disneyland also heaps decorations on New Orleans Square, ToonTown, and Frontierland. While Magic Kingdom is much more sparing in their park decorations.
  5. Dustysage's Avatar
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    WOW! AMAZING update today!!!

    I can't believe how much news and beautiful photos you all packed into today's column. Just fantastic. I feel like I just took a trip to Orlando.

    Sad about the Living Seas. I hope they can fix the filtration soon.
  6. bamato's Avatar
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    Looks to me like Florida knows how to bring the holidays very well! I was particularly impressed by the Osborn Spectacle of lights. Very cool! The castle lighting ceremony was also very impressive.

    Kudos to Floridians for doing something right
  7. dougeebear's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Melonballer
    I do not understand. Disneyland has garlands that hang over main street and decorations on the lampposts. What is so different?
    The above photo is captioned as: The Magic Kingdom is way ahead of Disneyland on the Decoration of Main Street.

    And that is true. It does not say the Magic Kingdom is better, just ahead. Disneyland does not hang garland to allow for the taping of the Christmas Parade. And since this year's parade featured tall balloons, if those balloons are included in this year's Merry Christmas Parade at Disneyland there may be no garland at all. Some folks who watched the taping of the parade commented that Disneyland didn't seem very Christmassy, no garland and wreaths on the storefronts, no decorations on the lampposts. This again could be due to something with the parade taping, but doesn't change the fact that The Magic Kingdam has already decked out Main Street for the holidays and in that senseis ahead of Disneyland's decorating efforts.
  8. SpectroMan's Avatar
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    I actually like their Main St. decor, and especially the fact that their candlelit wreaths are different from Disneyland's. It's nice not to have a carbon copy. Now, as to the pictures around the floral head Mickey = no.
  9. WDW1971's Avatar
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    Great update! Orlando Parkhooper is really improving each week I visit. I feel like now this blog can actually be compared to Dateline Disneyland. Thanks for all the hard work, it really makes me feel like I'm at my favorite place in the world. Keep up the good work.


    And concerning the comment where MK over does the holidays, I think they do a much better job when compared to DL to bring about the festive spirit. MK is a grander scaled park and thus calls for grander decorations. In addition WDW really shines when it comes to Christmas. All the parks receive significant decorations and special events to celebrate. Not to mention all resort hotels are decorated too. Its a big feat for WDW Christmas Services and I commend them for their hard work to re-make WDW in the Christmas spirit. Watch the HGTV WDW Christmas special and see how much work it really takes.
  10. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    Glad they are fixing the vintage traffic signals and love the Power Company's upper wall facade in your update. I'm a fan of vintage incandescent buibs in Architectural theme lighting, sign graphics, and environmental uses, rather than LED's. Low voltage Twinkle lights are fine in the trees. Some things should not be cut. Esmeralda has spoken.
    Updated 11-08-2011 at 11:17 AM by DisWedWay
  11. KingEric's Avatar
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    Personally when you compare the number of holiday offerings I think Orlando is the no-brainer choice!

    MK: Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
    Epcot: Holiday's Around the World
    DHS: Osborn Festival of Lights
    DAK: Jingle Jungle Parade

    UO: Macy's Holiday Parade
    IOA: Grinchmas

    SeaWorld: Christmas festivities

    All the WDW Deluxe Resorts Gingerbread houses, and the Sleigh Ride at Fort Wilderness

    Not to mention ICE at Gaylord Palms Resort.

    Literally Christmas in Orlando is a festival of awesome!
  12. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KingEric
    Personally when you compare the number of holiday offerings I think Orlando is the no-brainer choice!

    MK: Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party
    Epcot: Holiday's Around the World
    DHS: Osborn Festival of Lights
    DAK: Jingle Jungle Parade

    UO: Macy's Holiday Parade
    IOA: Grinchmas

    SeaWorld: Christmas festivities

    All the WDW Deluxe Resorts Gingerbread houses, and the Sleigh Ride at Fort Wilderness

    Not to mention ICE at Gaylord Palms Resort.

    Literally Christmas in Orlando is a festival of awesome!
    I absolutely agree that there is more going on for Christmas in Orlando than in the SoCal parks. BUT, as far as decorations go, Disneyland goes WAY over the top.

    Some may actually think Disneyland over-decorates the park. Personally, I like it.

    We attended D23's Magic and Merriment event two years ago and were really underwhelmed by the decorations at Disney World. We liked the activities and events, but felt they just didn't have the level of decoration (especially at Epcot) that we expected.

    Overall, we decided not to do Christmas again at Disney World for a long time. Much better at Halloween.

    I've been crossing my fingers that they'd do a big Christmas overlay to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, anyone heard any talk of that? Now, THAT, would get us on a plane and back to Orlando for Christmas!
  13. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Nice update! I like the Osborne Spectacle of Lights.


    Timekeeper
  14. Fairy Godmother Travel's Avatar
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    Is it too early to want to go back? I LOVE this time of year at WDW--thank you all so much for sharing it with us!

    I miss the Country Bears Christmas and the Festival of Lights at Epcot--here's to hoping they bring them back in one form or another!
  15. Grizzly's Avatar
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    I also think the Magic Kingdom comes up short compared to Disneyland in the decorations department. No area in MK is a beautiful as New Orleans Square during the holidays. And I do enjoy DL's Main Street decorations more than MK's. I think the big fake popcorn strand on the Christmas tree is just not very classy looking.

    The Castle Holiday Lights are spectacular in Florida. I wish they were not so visible in the daytime.
  16. wdwprince's Avatar
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    Regarding the Kim Possible kids on the cover of Epcot map- I think it is exactly what WDW wants to advertise right now.
    They are aiming for a younger demographic with much if not most of the new interactive elements (playgrounds and games) in the parks. And how could anyone forget that a new version of this type of game is headed to MK. Cross promotion.
    A cover of a map is no place to explain an attraction. If someone doesn't know what it is they will seek to find out thanks to the pic.
  17. Awe_inspired's Avatar
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    Great update. I really, really like being able to click on a photo to enlarge it.
  18. dland_lover's Avatar
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    As much as I love elecTRONica (and I DO mean that!), it has unfortunately displaced the World of Motion sea serpent. They have lounging couches in it's place.

    Hopefully, once the grid, well... re-enters the grid, the sea serpent will return.
  19. ttintagel's Avatar
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    I'm so glad they're finally making the long-needed repairs to the Pooh queue. It was so cute and well-designed that it's been shameful they let it sit broken for so long.
  20. crlachepinochet's Avatar
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    Here is a shot of the dual tents that will serve as
    the "waiting area" for the dueling Dumbos.
    These tents are the stripped down tents from Mickey's Toontown Fair. You can see the Mermaid rockwork to the left. The Dumbo queue tent is closer to the Teacups and the Speedway.

    I'm glad they are fixing the traffic signals at DHS. My family was just there a couple of weeks ago, and we were trying to get somewhere and my son says "It says STOP Daddy!" So I stopped and waited, expecting it to change in 30 seconds or so. Eventually, I gave up and ran the red light. Guess I would've been waiting a long time!