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Orlando Parkhopper

Test Track Back, Fantasyland Update, Universal Lagoon Show Video, SeaWorld Trek

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by , 04-09-2012 at 08:15 PM

Is the Test Track retheme back on again? Whats the story in Fantasyland? Is Turtle Trek set for arrival? We have the scoop for you here in this week's Orlando Parkhopper. But that's certainly not all. We still have plenty to discuss from the Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando too! Plus, info on an epic MiceChat event and a new Kevin Yee Video! Here we go folks!

GUMBALL RALLY CLOSE TO SOLD OUT - GET YOUR TICKETS TODAY!The MiceChat Gumball Rally is a race to find out who can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day. It's a fantastic event for Disney fans of any age and a great way to spend a day in the park with friends and family. Whether you win or lose, you are always a winner when the race takes place on your favorite rides at your favorite place on earth.

When: May 19th, 2012
Where: Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California
COST: $29.99 per person
How Do I sign up?: MiceChat Events Store Gumball Rally Sign Up
How Does the Rally Work?: Rally Information Page

But that's just a little piece of the puzzle. We'll also offer a pre-Rally pasta party on May 18th and a MiceChat Mega Meet on Sunday the 20th (save the date). T-Shirts are available for this year's event as well. If you've never heard of the Gumball Rally before, please visit the Rally Information Page HERE for more information and FAQ. A discussion thread has been created in the forums as well: MiceChat Gumball Rally Discussion.

Tickets for this year's event are nearly sold out, so don't delay, get your teams together and sign up today!

And if you'd like to see a version of this event come back to the Disney World parks, be sure to comment about it below. If enough of you ask for it, we'll deliver!

More construction started going vertical in Fantasyland this week, with the framework for the new Seven Dwarves Mine Coaster. There are also a batch of new details emerging on the developing facades for both the Little Mermaid ride and the Be Our Guest restaurant.

Seven Dwarves Mine Coaster:
Below, you can see the brown framework beginning to appear from behind the construction walls for the new coaster.

The Little Mermaid:
The intricacies in the facade for this attraction may set it above the California counterpart on the exterior and queue; however, the rest will be identical to the ride out west.

Here is the entrance to backstage that they are building between Storybook Circus and Mermaid.

Be Our Guest Restaurant, Belle Meet and Greet:
We come to the Belle meet and greet and Be Our Guest Restaurant facades and see more detail. If only they put effort into creating bigger experiences.

We also have a recap of all things WDW from Kevin Yee in his WDW photo Update videos on MiceChat's You tube Channel.

So the word floating around Epcot is that the Test Track overhaul may be going ahead after all. A few weeks ago we reported that there was an increasing amount of evidence that pointed to the upgrade of the attraction stalling out. Now we are hearing new word that Cast Members are not being scheduled at the attraction after April 14th. And MiceChat was informed by Disney that Test Track would not be available during an event we are planning for this fall (more on that amazing event very soon). If you have a hankering for Test Track, you had better get your rides in before Saturday.

YAY, Star Wars Weekends are back and Disney has released the full schedule of celebrities and events.

The annual event takes place each Friday, Saturday and Sunday from May 18-June 10, 2012.

Here’s the scheduled celebrity lineup for Star Wars Weekends 2012 (subject to change):

Weekend 1 (May 18 – 20)
• Ray Park – (Darth Maul – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Jerome Blake (Rune Haako/Mas Amedda – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Dee Bradley Baker (voice of Clone Captain Rex and Clone Commander Cody – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Weekend 2 (May 25- 27)
• Andy Secombe (Watto – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Ray Park (Darth Maul – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Tom Kane (voice of Yoda – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Weekend 3 (June 1 -3)
• Jake Lloyd (Anakin Skywalker – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Silas Carson (Nute Gunray/Ki-Adi-Mundi – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• (Star Wars: The Clone Wars voice talent – currently TBD)

Weekend 4 (June 8- 10)
• Michonne Bourriague (Aurra Sing – Star Wars: Episode I The Phantom Menace)
• Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett – Star Wars: Episode V The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Episode VI Return of the Jedi)
• Daniel Logan (Boba Fett – Star Wars: Episode II Attack of the Clones)
• Nika Futterman (voice of Asajj Ventress – Star Wars: The Clone Wars)
Activities & entertainment (subject to change)
• “Hyperspace Hoopla”: This high-energy, one-of-a-kind show is a chance to see some of the famed Star Wars characters performing like never before. It will take place on a stage in front of the Sorcerer Mickey hat on Hollywood Blvd., and is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m. each event evening.
• Autograph Opportunities: As always, there is no additional charge for the celebrity autograph sessions at Star Wars Weekends. The autograph lines will once again be handled via a FASTPASS-type system. The meet-and-greet session/autograph opportunities are extremely limited, so guests need to arrive early to receive a FASTPASS. Please refer to this link, which will take you to the official Star Wars Weekends event page on There, you’ll find more detailed information under “Celebrity Autographs.”
• Star-Studded Event: Keep in mind, autograph opportunities are not the only place to see the celebrities. Star Wars stars take part in fun throughout the day in Star Wars-themed talk shows, behind-the-scenes presentations, the gala “Legends of the Force” parade and more.
That is all that we have so far. The weekend events and appearances can change at any time so please check back for more updated info as the events get closer.

We are huge fans of SeaWorld Orlando. But it appears that we aren't the only ones. The Park has been packed with record crowds during spring break.

Yep, it's that time of year. Crowds and crowds and crowds. Shows are filling up early and the parking lot is spilling onto a grass overflow lot.

Here is the lovely tram.

And now over to the regular lot.

We are very near the opening of Turtle Trek 4D on April 26th. The vivid blue and orange colors of the entrance are visible through the construction walls. We will being you first word when it opens.

Meanwhile, Blue Horizons is currently down for a little bit of electrical work.

Gru's home is coming along nicely as the entry for the Despicable Me simulator attraction, which is taking up the former Jimmy Neutron space.

Since Being evicted from Amity, they have moved the old hanging Jaws into the San Francisco area of the park.

We have a little bit of video from testing of the pyrotechnics on the upcoming lagoon show for Universal, "Cinematic Spectacular". This is not how the show is intended to be seen, so we encourage discretion when looking at the video. You can't really judge anything until it is officially open. But here is a peek at it.

Viva la Música returns to Busch Gardens Tampa each Sunday from April 15 through May 6 with a fun roster of talent for all to enjoy. Here is the schedule. Viva la Música is included with park admission.

Concert lineup:
April 15: Victor Manuelle
April 22: Grupo Mania
April 29: Dyland y Lenny
May 5: Jerry Rivera

Link to more info on Viva la Música:
Viva la Musica | Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Load up the car with everyone you know and head on down to the park for a very special park admission deal. Now through June 30, passholders can get a $20 discount on admission for family and friends.

Go to the BGT site for specific rules and details


Did you spot something interesting in the Orlando parks? Want to share? If you submit a photo, tip, news or even a whole section of info that we are able to use for the column, we'll enter you in a contest to win a $50 Amazon gift card. If we run your item in the Orlando Parkhopper this month, we'll automatically enter you into the contest. A winner will be selected at random at the end of the month.

Just send your entry to [email protected] and be sure to mention that you are entering the Orlando Parkhopper contest. Let us know as much as you can about the item you are submitting as well as the name we can use to credit you with on the site.

Good luck!

Even if you aren't in the Orlando area and can't compete in the contest above, we still want to give you a chance to win! Read our updates carefully and then comment below on your thoughts about what you like and don't like in any of the parks we cover in Florida. We'll give you one contest entry for each of our Orlando Parkhopper updates that you comment in (one entry per update regardless of the number of posts you make). At the end of the month, one reader will be chosen at random to win a $50 Amazon gift card!

Congratulations go to RossMidlane for guessing last week's Hidden Parkhopper by posting..."Hidden Parkhopper is Easter Duffy "

Good job! Let's try this again. Look into the magnifying glass below and see if you can figure out where the park hoppers are this week. Post your guess in the comments area below. If you are the first to answer correctly, you will be featured in next week's update. GOOD LUCK!

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.)

If you appreciate this column, share this page with your friends and don't forget to click that Facebook thumbs up button at the top of the page (it give us the encouragement to bring you even bigger and better updates)!

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:

- Eric M. Davis (King Eric)
- Kevin Yee
- Editors this week: Fishbulb, Dustysage

Thank you all for reading, we hope you have a wonderful week and are inspired to explore the amazing variety of attractions on your next visit to central Florida. We'd love to hear your comments below.

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Updated 04-10-2012 at 07:54 AM by Orlando Parkhopper



  1. michael darling's Avatar
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    Hidden parkhopper is the rockwork behind scaffolding on the new Little Mermaid attraction?
  2. sir clinksalot's Avatar
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    Wow, quite the lineup for Star Wars weekends with a lot of the big stars coming out this year. Good to see.
  3. Starfish's Avatar
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    Winnie the pooh ride. In the magnifying glass. . I am addicted to this site! Des tresses me Thanks for everyone's effort
  4. DragoHarley's Avatar
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    I love Duffy the bear. He is very silly. I hope one day that I can be friends with Duffy and we can have adventures together. So many adventures. I wish he was my best friend.
  5. DisneyDrums's Avatar
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    Winnie the pooh ride. In the magnifying glass. . I am addicted to this site! Des tresses me Thanks for everyone's effort
    ........... No. It wasn't included in this week's update. I think it's actually a part of Eric's Castle for Little Mermaid.
  6. DannyB's Avatar
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    Hmm, comment on something I like to win a $50 Amazon gift card? Well, one thing I like is the opportunity to win a $50 Amazon gift card! But I also like the pics of the new Fantasyland construction, this is something that makes me think that someday I may have to travel from So Cal to Florida to visit the Magic Kingdom. The photos of the Beast's castle with the rockwork in front shows how well the forced perspective works in making the castle seem bigger than it is, I think.
  7. celticdar's Avatar
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    I think the Hidden Parkhopper is part of the giant picture on the "Pardon Our Dust" wall around the construction site for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster - The picture featuring the Seven Dwarfs.
  8. yoyoflamingo's Avatar
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    This Test Track on/off rehab is confusing and bad guest service. Clearly if they're closing this week, they should let guests know ASAP, as many people will be making a beeline directly for there, only to be stopped by a row of CMs and construction walls. I'm curious to see what becomes of all this, but I'm also glad I'm not either a Test Track/Guest Relations CM or a guest at EPCOT on April 16th.

    And a fall WDW MiceChat event? I'm intrigued!
  9. purpledragon007's Avatar
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    I'm really curious as to what Turtle Trek 4D is going to be like. I'm intrigued.

    I wonder what the Fall WDW even will be?
  10. KingEric's Avatar
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    Turtle Trek kind of came out of left field for me. When I heard about it I was kind of like... meh... ok...

    But as time has gone on, and I have learned more and more about it, I have gotten super excited and can't wait for it to open!

    I will be there on April 28th, getting photos and commentary for the ParkHopper.

    Super jazzed here!