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Magic Kingdom's Fantasyland Progress, Despicable Me Construction, SeaWorld, more...

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by , 04-23-2012 at 06:59 PM

Despicable things are afoot in Florida's theme parks. While Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom continues with their Fantasyland expansion, we also have news on Star Wars Weekends and on recent developments at Epcot. But that's not all, we also have a full report from Universal Studios Orlando where the new Despicable Me attraction has sinage, Cinematic Spectacular lagoon show is on track and the parade route is being prepared for something new. We round out or huge update with a trip to Busch Gardens and a swim through Sea World Orlando. Let's hop to it . . .


Attention future Gumball Rally stars, this year's event is nearly sold out. Time to get your team registered!

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 will likely sell out in the next few days, so don't delay, get your teams together and sign up today! RALLY SIGN UP HERE

Yesterday, Disney finally announced officially that Starbucks is coming to every Domestic Disney Park. Although we don't know the locations yet, our best guesses for the Florida Parks are: in the New Fantasyland or at the Bakery on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, In the Fountain View Ice Cream Shop at Epcot, Possibly The Writer's Stop or Rolling Stars Cafe at Hollywood Studios, and a yet unknown location at Disney's Animal Kingdom replacing part of one of the many shops on Discovery Island. Starbucks is coming to Disneyland Resort first, at Disney California Adventure this June.

There is still plenty of work happening along Main Street. Mostly the same stuff as before.

Now that the Orange Bird has been officially reintroduced to the Magic Kingdom, the only interesting news to report at the moment is the massive amount on construction going on in Fantasyland. We have some beautifully comprehensive shots of the entire expansion project thanks again to the diligent Kevin Yee.

Barrier walls that will lead from the existing courtyard setting to the more fantasy-like forest beyond are being constructed.

We continue to be very happy with the beautiful facade being constructed on the Little Mermaid show building. Whimsical bluffs and sea cliffs nicely mask the large show building.

Can you spot the hidden cinnamon roll?

Access to backstage between Storybook circus and Little Mermaid.

The second Dumbo spinner is still under construction in Storybook Land Circus.

We also see that a tent has finally been installed on one of the structures.

Here is a look at the restaurant and meet and greet that is being constructed just on the other side of the walls.

The show building for the new restaurant can be seen next to Village Haus.

Supports for the new Seven Dwarfs Mine coaster with the Beast's castle not too far in the distance.

In this shot, Kevin really captures the massive blank spot left in the spot once occupied by the Fantasyland Skyway station. A new bathroom construction project is going into this space, just between "it's a small world" and Haunted Mansion.

Here's a new angle on the Mine coaster construction site, whose track began appearing a few weeks ago.

You can see the Seven Dwarfs coaster supports to the left.

In the same angel, notice the large retaining wall to the right of the track work.

Is there a part of the new Fantasyland expansion which you are most excited about? Anything you wish they would add to the project?

The Tree of Life had an issue this week when a storm knocked a single branch off the Tree of Life. For those of you who don't know, the Tree of Life is a Disney-created tree, and it should never lose a real branch, even if it was only a single five pound branch that fell. Due to this single occurrence, the entire Tree of Life and its surrounding trails, including those serving "it's tough to be a bug," have been closed indefinitely until a full investigation of the tree can be completed. This means that some animal habitats have been essentially closed near the tree, and "it's tough to be a bug" is closed until further notice.

We LOVE Star Wars Weekends. Such a fun change of pace for the Studios park. 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.

Communicore Weekly on the MiceTube

Do you miss Horizons at Epcot? We do! This week's Communicore Weekly takes a look at this much missed attraction as well as a new This Week In Disney History segment, Five Legged Goat, and even a Bathroom Break.

If you enjoy these awesome Communicore Weekly videos, please be sure to share them with your friends and leave a comment.

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

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay’s famous cheetah cub, Kasi, visited the park’s new Animal Care Center last week for his one-year check-up.

The 90-minute routine procedure included cleaning Kasi’s teeth, taking X-rays and using an endoscope to check out and take biopsies along his digestive tract. Kasi was under anesthetic during the procedure, and by early afternoon was awake and resuming his normal afternoon activities in his bedroom at the Cheetah Run habitat.

Kasi turned one year old in February, and recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of his relationship with his puppy pal, Mtani the yellow lab. During Kasi’s check-up, Mtani and her handlers watched from the guest side of the Animal Care Center’s Examination Room viewing window.

Budding young veterinarians will love seeing how the animals are cared for, though if you are squeamish, be warned.

The walls finally came down at Turtle Trek 4-D, giving us a peak at what to expect when this attraction opens this weekend on Friday April 27th, 2012. The new signage has been installed at the American Alligator exhibit giving us a better idea of what the signage inside the attraction will look like.

You'll see an orange fish-shaped digital wait-time sign on the far post.

Check back with us next week for full coverage of this new attraction.

The Television Preview Center that allows you to watch pilots of next fall's TV show line up on NBC, normally located next door at Universal Studios, has been relocated to the Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure. It's not a perfect fit thematically for Port of Entry (Though they've done a good job creating appropriate looking signage), hopefully this is a short term arrangement.

We reported months ago that the Lucky Monkey Dice were missing! However, this week the dice have reappeared! We are happy this little touch to the Port of Entry has returned!

Some work is being done on a support beam, the ride is open and operating while this work is being done.

Construction is moving ahead on the first part of the CityWalk promenade, and they have walled off areas for the additional sections of the new CityWalk Promenade. From the concept art we've seen, it looks like it will be a happening adult venue.

This bit of concept art doesn't reveal much (except for a single over dressed woman watching two underdressed women having a better time).

With Walt Disney World discontinuing Grad Night, Universal Studios is gearing up for a 2 Park Grad Bash party that will feature top tier acts like Pit Bull and more!

The theming of the barges has turned out to be an acceptable solution to an eye sore problem. With the help of Steven Spielberg, the park gave the first sneak peak at what we can expect from this show.

100 years of movie magic. That's something worth celebrating.

You can be sure that on May 8th your Orlando ParkHopper team will be at Universal Studios to cover the opening of this new attraction!

A few months ago we reported that the Shrek 4-D moving sign had been fixed. Unfortunately it broke again and they have removed the sign and put a flat 2D sign up in it's place while they go back to the drawing board to hopefully come up with another fix.

Signage went up this week for the new attraction and for the new Gift Shop.

Congratulations go to RossMidlane for guessing last week's Hidden Parkhopper by posting...
"I'm thinking the hidden parkhopper is the Turtle Trek building."

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. Find out more about the weekly meets (often hosted by Kevin Yee) on Facebook HERE

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:

- Aimster
Eric M. Davis (King Eric)
- Kevin Yee
- MB

- Editors this week: Fishbulb, Dustysage

Thank you 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 04-23-2012 at 09:15 PM by Orlando Parkhopper



  1. RossMidlane's Avatar
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    Parkhopper: The 'Universal' theming on the barges of Cinematic Spectacular.
  2. mratigan's Avatar
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    The barge for the universal lagoon show
  3. MrTour's Avatar
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    Progress at City Walk is moving fast! I was there last week and nothing had been started!

    Also, did the Mini Golf and had a blast! Most fun of the entire trip!

    Updated 04-24-2012 at 06:44 AM by MrTour
  4. longears's Avatar
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    Hidden pic is of the alligator sign
  5. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Excellent update today. Can't wait to hear more about the Despicable Me and Turtle Trek attractions and Uni and SeaWorld.

    However, I find it disturbing that a limb fell from the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom. How could this happen? Doesn't Disney perform maintenance on their attractions - especially ones which could kill a guest if something falls from above?

    Love the Tree of Life and hope that Disney performs the necessary tests and makes the necessary adjustments to make sure that nothing like this ever happens again.

    I hope this isn't a sign of a deeper lack of maintenance and safety precautions in the parks.
  6. WDW1971's Avatar
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    Great update, you guys are really getting better and better. I've seen a vast improvement from the early beginnings of this blog!

    Eh, Starbucks inside the parks? Do we really need them to be everywhere. I mean I am in Disney World and want to go someplace unique yet I have to get my coffee from the same place as around the block. Hopefully it is only Starbucks branded coffee at Disney locations and there are not green Starbucks logos everywhere.

    I liked the little comment about the cinnamon roll at the Little Mermaid.

    Am I the only one that feels Dumbo is too close to the Raceway and they need better land definition so there's no thematic crash. Why would there be a circus tent at a futuristic raceway? Hmmmmm.
  7. DonaldMissingPants's Avatar
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    the full show of Universal's Cinematic Spectacular is on Youtube: Full HD show - Universal's Cinematic Spectacular: 100 Years of Movie Memories - YouTube
    Updated 04-24-2012 at 05:28 PM by DonaldMissingPants
  8. yoyoflamingo's Avatar
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    Fantasyland keeps getting better and better!