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Orlando Parkhopper

Star Wars Weekends have arrived, Uni and SeaWorld construction, Final Flowers

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by , 05-21-2012 at 08:03 PM

Wookies, Sith Lords and Jedi! OH MY! Yes, it's Star Wars Weekends at the Disney Hollywood Studios in Walt Disney World. But that's not all that is happening at Orlando Theme Parks. We have the last bits of news from Epcot's Flower and Garden Festival and a recent look at the Fantasyland expansion at the Magic Kingdom. We then move on to Universal Orlando to see the work on Despicable Me and how they seem to be using the new parade floats between shows. Finally, we trim things up by riding the current through SeaWorld to check in on Antarctica and the bizarre new paint job at Clyde and Seymore's. We also have the winners from Gatorland's ticket giveaway to announce, so let's get hopping.

CONGRATULATIONS to Terrytiger and operkill. They each win a pair of tickets for answering the following question correctly...


A. Owen Godwin in 1949

Have fun and take lots of photos to share on MiceChat!


Summer Florida Resident Special
Adults - $9.99 per Person
Children (3-12) - $9.99 per Person
Seniors (55 yrs. and older) - $9.99 per person
Offer Valid: May 5 -June 30, 2012

Proof of Residency Required, Per Adult. All rates are plus tax.

Florida residents will also be allowed to apply the cost of their admission towards the purchase of an annual pass with extended benefits that include 30% admission discounts for accompanying guests, 50% off the Adventure Hour, 20% off Rookie Wrestling Experience & in-park photography stations, 20% off Gift Shop purchases and 10% off food & beverages within the park.

At these prices, a family of four can visit Gatorland for about half the cost of ONE adult ticket at any of the larger area theme parks!

Gatorland is a 110-acre theme park and wildlife preserve, combining “Old Florida” charm with exciting new exhibits and entertainment. The park opened as a roadside attraction in 1949. Today, it provides affordable-priced family fun with thousands of alligators, crocodiles, an aviary, breeding marsh with observation tower, petting zoo, nature walk, educational wildlife programs, Gatorland award-winning gift shop, Florida’s best train-ride, restaurant, Gator Gully Splash Park and one-of-a-kind reptilian shows including the Gator Wrestlin’ Show, Gator Jumparoo and the Up-close Encounters Show. And, don’t miss the world’s largest collection of giant white alligators in the new White Gator Swamp and the all new Screamin’ Gator Zip Line featuring over 1,200 feet of high flying thrills, five intense zip lines and a massive 150 ft. suspension bridge.

To find out more about “Orlando’s only Theme Park with Bite and Attitude”, visit Gatorland online HERE or call 1-800-393-JAWS.


Work continues on Main Street's Bakery facade. Does it seem like this is taking forever?

This week we review the progress in Fantasyland. Landscaping is beginning to appear near the Be Our Guest Restaurant facade. We also get a look at the Casey Jr. Water play area at night.

This cottage is adoraBELLE.

May 18th was the opening day of Star Wars Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Wars fans came out in DROVES to check out the festivities! Traffic coming into the park in the morning was so heavy that cast working the toll booths were just waving vehicles through and not charging for parking (too keep traffic continually moving and not get backed up).

One of the special offerings during this year’s event is “Behind the Force”, a look behind the scenes of the making of “The Clone Wars” animated series, hosted by Ashley Eckstein, the voice of “Ahoska Tano” on the series. She was joined this past weekend by James Arnold Taylor (voice of “Obi-Wan Kenobi”) and Dee Bradley Baker (voice of “Captain Rex”). During the show, guests were picked to participate onstage to show how recording voicework for the series goes. The guests also got copies of their performances to take home to share with family and friends!

There are always lots of opportunities to get photos with various characters from the Star Wars universe during the event. You can find everyone from Chewbacca to Clone Troopers to Anakin Skywalker and MORE!

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):

Nice hats

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.

Over at One Man’s Dream, a new model of the Fantasyland expansion is now on display. It gives guests a nice look at how detailed this project is and an overview of how everything should look once construction is completed.

There’s also a detailed model of the new Dumbo spinner on display in a glass case.

The wonderful Flower and Garden Festival came to a close over the weekend and we were sad to see not leave. It is a wonderful annual event. Hopefully next year will see an expansion instead of more cutbacks.

Micky Dolenz of The Monkees rounded out this year’s Flower Power Concert Series during the Flower & Garden Festival. Davy Jones was originally scheduled to perform, but sadly due to his untimely passing in March, former bandmate Micky stepped in and did a terrific job! He performed “Daydream Believer” and “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You” and dedicated them to Davy’s memory.

The Kim Possible “sign up” area in the walkway from Future World to World Showcase is behind walls to transform it to the Agent Perry attraction opening in June.

The other sign up carts around World Showcase are closed up but not behind walls.

Epcot will be turning 30 years old this fall and MiceChat will be holding a gala event in World Showcase on September 29th. Proudly announcing . . .


Come celebrate EPCOT's 30th Anniversary in style with a live taping of MiceChat's Communicore Weekly! Join co-hosts Jeff Heimbuch & George Taylor, along with Kevin Yee, Dusty Sage and the Communicore Weekly Orchestra, for a fun-filled night of fandom and frivolity as they tape a special hour long episode of the hit show, Communicore Weekly. The show will be filled with Epcot history, trivia, and special guests.

Join us on the evening of Saturday, September 29th 2012 in the Norway Pavilion Special Events Lounge in EPCOT's World Showcase for this one of a kind event!

Your ticket includes:

  • Admission into the live taping of CW in the Norway Pavilion of EPCOT (note: admission into the park is NOT included)
  • Meet special guest, Ron Schneider, the original Dreamfinder
  • Decadent dessert reception
  • Short scavenger hunt event hosted by Kevin Yee before the show will be available to those who would like to participate (prizes will be awarded)
  • Prizes, giveaways and more
  • The chance to be a part of EPCOT and Communicore Weekly history
  • Endless Five Legged Goat stories and perhaps even a real life Bathroom Break
  • Illuminations viewing
  • Exclusive late night ride after park closing on a selected EPCOT attraction to cap off the evening

Fun, games, Epcot history, celebrities, and live performances of the catchy Communicore Weekly theme songs. This is an event you won't want to miss, but you'll want to act fast, there are a maximum 75 seats available.

For assistance planning your travel to this event, please contact You'll receive one free admission to this event with every room you book (minimum 3 night stay) through Fairy Godmother Travel (purchase your event ticket now and you will receive a gift card from Fairy Godmother Travel for for any free event tickets you earn).

Come early and stay late. We are also planning an early Halloween event for Friday, September 28th and a Sip and Nibble around Epcot's World Showcase for Food and Wine festival on Sunday, September 30th. More information about these two additional events will be available soon.

For more tickets and more information, be sure to visit

Rock out this summer at Universal Studios! Select nights June 9-July 14, you can catch 7 OF MUSIC'S BIGGEST STARS performing live in the Summer Concert Series, right next to Orlando's most exciting, cutting-edge rides and attractions.

The Summer Concert Series performances are included with your admission to Universal Studios Florida.

Artists confirmed so far:
June 9: The Cast of Nickelodeon's "Victorious"
June 16: ZZ Top and 3 Doors Down
June 23: Josh Turner
June 30: Al Green
July 7: Lupe Fiasco

For more information, please visit:

Construction continues on the first part of the CityWalk promenade. From the concept art we've seen, it looks like it will be a happening adult venue.

More minion madness is occurring as the work on the exterior of the Despicable Me attraction comes to a close. This ride looks like it is going to be a hoot!

Cute stuff

A long gray tunnel stretches from the San Francisco area to the Men In Black area due to construction of a new Harry Potter themed land inside Universal Studios.

Street actors entertain the crowds

The New Nick Toon themed store is getting even more toon-y.


It appears that Universal is taking the idea of show stops to a whole new level by sending the individual units from their brand new parade out to perform individual shows between parades.

Summer Nights June 23 through August 12!
Summer Nights at SeaWorld is a nighttime spectacular and the best place to be when the sun sets. Celebrate summer with exciting, nighttime shows, including a high-energy, rock ‘n roll Shamu Rocks, the hysterical duo of Clyde and Seamore in Sea Lions Tonite, and Reflections, a spectacular fireworks and fountains finale. Enjoy Summer Nights at SeaWorld every evening June 23-August 12.

For more information, visit:
Summer Nights | SeaWorld Orlando

A colorblind otter seems to have taken it upon himself to repaint the set for Clyde and Seymores show. The result is . . . bright. Wear your shades.

The Dine with Shamu location is still being worked on.

SeaWorld's mega attraction, Antarctica Empire of the Penguin, still has quite a ways to go before completion. Here is what the site look like right now.

Congratulations go to RossMidlane for guessing last week's Hidden Parkhopper by posting..."the retheming on the Sponge Bob store?"

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

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 update was brought to you by Eric M. Davis (King Eric), Spark In The Dark, Aimster, 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.

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)!

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  1. Gowood's Avatar
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    The image above is of the entrance to the new Despicable Me attraction at Universal Orlando. It's going to be a great new addition to the park!!!
  2. mratigan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gowood
    The image above is of the entrance to the new Despicable Me attraction at Universal Orlando. It's going to be a great new addition to the park!!!
  3. Terrytiger's Avatar
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    Yay, I won tickets to Gatorland! How do I collect them?
  4. Fishbulb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Terrytiger
    Yay, I won tickets to Gatorland! How do I collect them?
    Private messages were sent out with instructions. Congratulations to you both. Gatorland is a hoot!
  5. ImagiNERDing's Avatar
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    Thank you for the up close photos of the Fantasyland model. They are some of the better photos I have seen.

    I would love to get a closer look.
  6. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Despicable Me looks SO cute. I can't wait to see it!

  7. wdwprince's Avatar
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    Any word on when the scrim is coming down and work will be finished on Main Street Bakery? I can't believe it's still there.
  8. Dustysage's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wdwprince
    Any word on when the scrim is coming down and work will be finished on Main Street Bakery? I can't believe it's still there.
    I believe that the reason the Bakery scrim is so far extended from the building is because they are actually rebuilding the facade. It took them about this long to rebuild the candy store facade as well. Should look really good when complete.