Waffling in the Magic Kingdom, New Test Track Cars, Christmas in Space, JAWS Video
by, 12-19-2011 at 07:57 PM
Here at the Orlando Parkhopper, we know that the best path to your heart is with food and construction photos. And we've got both for you today! Waffle Sandwiches in the Magic Kingdom, Fantasyland construction updates, new cars spotted on Test Track and more at Disney World. We also answer the long debated topic of whether or not they celebrate Christmas in space by visiting the Kennedy Space Center to see what things look like at this festive time of year. Busch Gardens is near opening of a new Animal Care facility and we update you on a unique friendship between a cheetah and his dog - so cute. Plus two videos from Kevin Yee, one to tour the Monorail hotels at Christmas and the other to pay homage to the soon to close JAWS attraction at Universal Studios. Now then, let's park hop!
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NEW WAFFLE SANDWICHES:
We had the chance to finally try the new waffle sandwiches being offered at the Magic Kingdom's Sleepy Hollow Snacks. The location, to the left of the Cinderella Castle and on your right as you enter Liberty Square, has been offering a variety of combinations using the same elements for years. However, this is a unique food item in the parks and one that demands a taste. First, is it any good? Let's find out. . .
We opted to try the Sweet and Spicy chicken sandwich with arugula and coleslaw dressing. To start off, the portion size was actually good for the price. The chicken breast was substantial and felt like a full meal, not a snack. The sauce on the chicken hit just the right balance of tangy and sweet while the arugula complemented the flavors in a more inventive way than plain lettuce would have. We did have a problem eating the sandwich, however, as the waffle was a little too thick to be able to fit the whole thing in the mouth! The waffle batter is the same used on the other, sweeter items and is very sweet compared to other waffle sandwiches we have tried outside the parks. The coleslaw used on the sandwich is particularly runny. In other words, grab a knife and fork - you probably won't be eating this as a sandwich.
One strange thing to note is that the sandwich items are only served from 11am to 5pm. Why is this? This could easily work as a quick dinner item too.
Despite the strange serving hours and the runny slaw, this is something we recommend you give a try when you want to try something new and don't have much time before your Big Thunder Fast Pass is up. It's fun to see inventive new food options in the park.
Here is a closer look at the Fantasyland construction. This time we try to really focus on the details inside the construction berm.
The Little Mermaid building's facade is in different phases of completion, but the show building is completely encased in rocks.
The caves conceal the queue.
Here is the current state of the Dumbo attraction. The first phase of the new Fantasyland is set to open sometime in February. Looks like an awful lot of work to make that deadline.
One of the sparkly new toppers on the dueling Dumbo spinners.
Here we see the pit and tunnel being constructed for the Mine Train coaster.
The big trees are being planted.
A bridge and tree in the foreground obscure the view to Belle's home.
It's really starting to come together folks! What do you think so far?
A while back, we mentioned that a new (or newly painted) vehicle was seen on Test Track. Now it looks like that program is being expanded. Reader Colin sent us a photo of Test Track vehicle which looks a bit like a new Chevy Volt. It isn't a new car so much as a re-themed one, but it looks good!
This is just one of the many interesting little bits of news we have been hearing from the Test Track ride at EPCOT. Apparently, there is far more in the works here. It seems that Chevy is itching to really give this ride a proper make over and bring it up to the demanding standards of today's savvy theme park audience. As rumor would have it, some additional theme, story and soundtrack would be added to this bare bones attraction. But with so many resources already tied up with the major Fantasyland redo and potential Avatar projects we aren't 100% sure this proposed redo will see the light of day . . . though it would be fantastic if it did! If ever there was a ride with great unrealized potential, Test Track would be it.
Candlelight Processional continues to inspire holiday crowds for two more weeks. That takes Christmas at Epcot right up to the Friday before New Year's Eve.
Schedule & Narrators
American Gardens Theatre (5:00 p.m., 6:45 p.m., 8:15 p.m.)--across from the American Adventure.
The celebrity narrators still performing are scheduled as follows:
12/1912/21 Trace Adkins
12/2212/24 Susan Lucci
12/2512/27 Blair Underwood
12/2812/30 Marlee Matlin
All performances are interpreted for the Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing.
These performances are free and included in your paid park admission. However, lunch and dinner packages are still available at select restaurants. Since the seating is first come/first serve, packages assure you a good seat.
Lunch Packages range from $32.99$53.99 for Guests 10+, and $12.99$17.99 for Guests 39
And are with these restaurants: Biergarten Restaurant, Coral Reef Restaurant, Le Cellier Steakhouse, Les Chefs de France, Nine Dragons Restaurant, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room, San Angel Inn, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia Ristorante and Via Napoli.
Dinner Packages range from $49.99$64.99 for Guests 10+, and $15.99$26.99 for Guests 39
And are with these restaurants: Biergarten Restaurant, Coral Reef Restaurant, The Garden Grill Restaurant, La Hacienda de San Angel, Les Chefs de France, Nine Dragons Restaurant, Restaurant Marrakesh, Rose & Crown Pub & Dining Room, San Angel Inn, Teppan Edo, Tokyo Dining, Tutto Italia Ristorante and Via Napoli.
If you book the dinner, you also get special seating for the fireworks display that evening!
Please go directly to the Disney World website to make reservations or call 407-WDW-DINE
During the holiday season, EPCOT's ever popular fireworks show receives a special holiday tag, "Let There Be Peace on Earth." It's a fitting end to the message EPCOT conveys, and the holiday tag truly is a sight to behold.
Holiday Tour of the Monorail Hotels with Kevin Yee
Tour the holiday decorations at the Monorail Resorts, including the famous gingerbread house at the Grand Floridian, the big wreath at the Contemporary, and the smaller swags at the Polynesian. Do you already know where to find chestnuts roasting on an open fire?
Are you subscribed to MiceChat on YouTube? It's a whole different way to keep up to date on your favorite parks.
We went to Kennedy Space Center to check out the Holidays In Space happenings. Surprising that the center would do anything holiday related, but as it turns out, Santa loves space! Now through Jan. 1, guests can celebrate the holiday sights, sounds and tastes of ISS partner countries as Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex presents its first-ever Holidays in Space. Each of the ISS partner countries will be represented: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States. Visitors will also have the chance to interact with the current residents of the international Space via email and wish them a Merry Christmas.
Christmas tree getting ready to blast off
The Christmas Carolers stroll the grounds at set times throughout the day. However, no one really knows where they are at any particular time. I walked around for 20 minutes before finally finding them walking across the grass away from the Imax theater.
There is also plenty of space for the kids to play inside the picnic pavilion dome.
The old space shuttle mockup is gone and construction has started on the new facility for the display of Atlantis.
Now through December 24, purchase admission or an annual pass and save $5 with promotional code "HOLIDAYS." Tickets can be purchased by calling 866-737-5235 or clicking Buy Tickets. Enter the promotional code in the Discounts section of the Billing Page. Please note: Discount will be applied to admission-based bundled packages also.
Over at Cheetah Run, Kasi the cheetah cub and his canine pal, Mtani, grow more and more by the week. Guests love watching this unusual pair of friends play and interact with their trainers.
ANIMAL CARE FACILITY:
Construction and exterior panting continue to push full steam ahead at the animal care facility.
It's going to fit in nicely
The Scorpion roller coaster is closed through December 23rd for annual maintenance. Have we mentioned how much we love this coaster?
Last Wednesday, crews were giving this classic Anton Schwartzkopf coaster some TLC by pressure-washing the track.
NEW LAGOON SHOW IN 2012:
Universal Studios is developing a new lagoon show that will take place in the center lagoon of the park in the place of the old Universal 360 show. The new nighttime spectacular will be similar in theme and will feature only low level pyrotechnics. This is due to the close proximity of apartments built on land that Universal recently sold. No high level pyrotechnics are currently allowed in USO. Islands of Adventure is another story as they are further away.
THINGS ARE GETTING HARRY:
It is rumored that the great expansion that the Wizzarding World will experience will probably be happening in Universal Studios Orlando park, not in Islands of adventure. While there still may be additions created to the IOA counterpart, this new addition may take up residence in the spot that will be vacated when Jaws is finally closed for good.
Soon to be less water and far more magic?
Sources tell us that while it is pretty certain that this will all be centered around the muggle world and Diagon alley, it is highly unlikely that a train connecting the two parks will be built. We will keep you posted as the land, construction and news develops.
We recently shared the sad news that an original Universal Orlando attraction, Jaws, will be closing on January 2nd. Just a couple weeks left for you to visit an old friend with a big toothy grin.
Kevin Yee takes us for a video tour of Universal's JAWS!
If you are looking for a fun way to get a bit more Orlando news and photos, you can't do better than Kevin Yee's wonderful video updates:
We will miss you old friend!
This year's Grinchmas show is very charming. We want to remind you that the show is running through the holiday season and is worth your time.
He's a mean one that Grinch.
While strolling through the shops at Islands of adventure, we noticed a few new bits of merchandise. Some great and others, well, you take a look.
This shirt is nice and seems to fit into the overall look of the area.
This on the other hand, looks more at home in Tomorrowland. Cheap and retro modern. Who okay'd this?
There are some fun Grinchmas pajamas.
FINALLY somebody got the Hidden park hopper from last week...
NicNac0404 guessed it, as "the tall Toy Soldier's hat in Town Square in the Magic Kingdom"
Where are the Parkhoppers this week? It's up to you to decipher the picture below and see if you can find us. We'll provide a partial image of a photo and it will be your job to guess where you think we're hiding!
The 1st person to guess correctly will have their name featured in next week's game listed along side the correct answer. Good luck!!
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Please join us in thanking the fantastic and talented crew of writers, photographers and news contributors who worked so hard this week to bring you the latest information from the parks. This week's team included:
- Professor Brainard
- Aimster - Pictures by Aimster
- Editors: SummerinFL, Fishbulb, Dustysage, YoYoFlamingoThank you for reading, we hope you've been inspired to explore Orlando's many wonderful attractions. We'd love to hear your comments below.