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Fireworks!! Hoop-Dee-Doo New Show Times; Rapunzel Princess Addition; HHN Orlando News

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by , 07-03-2011 at 10:46 PM

Everyone here at the Orlando Parkhopper hopes you're having a wonderful 4th of July! Let's take a look at what's new in the parks this week!

  • Feature of the Week: Mission: Space
  • Dining Around the World: Bongo's Cuban Cafe
  • July 3rd's Fireworks at the Magic Kingdom!
  • Hoop-Dee-Doo: Testing New Showtimes!
  • Rapunzel To Become a Permanent Princess!
  • Firework Shots Throughout the WDW Resort
  • Halloween Horror Nights Preview (Universal Orlando)
  • Busch Gardens Annual Passholder Savings
  • Saratoga Springs - Paddock Pool Grand Opening

Free Dining Plan Again Available
For a limited time, get a free dining plan when you buy the new Walt Disney Travel Co. Memories Vacation Package for 5 nights/6 days at select Walt Disney World Resort Hotels for arrivals most nights between Aug. 28 and Sept. 24, 2011. This package includes room, theme park tickets and a 20-page Disney’s PhotoPass Photo Book to preserve and share your family memories.
This offer applies to vacations booked now through Aug. 27, 2011, on trips that take place Aug. 28-Sept. 24, 2011.


Mission: Space is an E-ticket that has had a lot of bumps in its short existence. Already having at least one strike against it from most Disneyphiles (it replaced the beloved Horizons), Mission: Space's concept has been around since the beginning, but only in the 21st century did the concept come into being. Of course, several modifications to the original grand design were made, but overall the ISTC is here for the forseeable future. Add to that the Orange/Green switch a few years ago (and the circumstances surrounding it) and M:S is an attraction that tries to be the cutting edge thrill ride, but never really fulfills that place alongside other headliners like Test Track and Soarin'. Like it or loathe it, Mission: Space does offer a truly unique experience that is worth at least a chance, and while I will always look at that space in Future World and wish that gold gem shaped building celebrating the future was still there, I can't help but agree that the replacement building is a pretty grand sight in its own right. Though, I always knew, "If you can dream it, you can do it." - YoyoFlamingo




Bongo's Cuban Cafe
(Downtown Disney Westside)
by TerryTiger
Article 3

Bongo's Cuban Cafe has been part of Downtown Disney since 1997. The 2-story restaurant/nightclub itself is quite unique. Built in the style of an old Havana nightclub it features a giant pineapple made of adobe in one corner that dominates the Downtown Disney waterfront. Bongo's is most famous for being owned by latin pop stars Gloria and Emilio Estefan.

Bongo's opens for lunch every day at 11 AM and stays open for dinner until 10:30 PM Monday-Thursday and serves until 11:30 PM on Friday and Saturday. Also on Friday and Saturday, the three bars stay open with a live band for music and dancing until 2 AM! Bongo's also has an express window for take-out orders.

The menu is quite extensive and most of the items are titled in Spanish. Each dish has an accompanying description in English which is helpful since this isn't the usual mexican-cuban mix one comes to expect in Central Florida. Here you can get chicken, pork, steak, fish, shrimp, calamari, scallops, and lobster cooked in many different ways: fried, breaded, grilled, sauteed, roasted. Most entrees come with rice, black beans, and plantains. The portions are generous (most large enough to share).

On a recent visit, we started with the Fried Calamari. It arrived promptly and was cooked properly. The breading was light and the banana pepper aioli was a nice (albeit different) alternative to the standard marinara sauce usually accompanying this dish. We skipped soups & salads and went on to the main course which turned out to be good because the portions are huge! I tried the Bistec a la Milanesa (Cuban Breaded Steak topped with Marinara sauce and melted Mozzarella Cheese). It was supposed to be served with Moro Rice (rice cooked together with black beans) and Maduros (sweet fried plantains). Mine came with white rice and black beans in a bowl on the side. I just mixed them together anyway. This entree is kind of like a cuban version of Veal Parmesan. It was delicious but my arteries hardened just a bit as I finished up the gooey fried goodness. My dining companion had the Masitas de Puerco which consists of deep-fried pork chunks marinated in Mojo sauce and topped with seasoned grilled onions. It was accompanied by Moro rice and yuca con mojo. Always a tasty meal, it is a common Cuban dish and is similar to it's Mexican counterpart, Carnitas. We were quite full after we finished our entrees, but we had to sample the Flan. It was simply delicious.

Dinner at Bongo's can run from as little as $15 for soup and a sandwich up to $35 for Surf & Turf. Reservations recommended but not usually necessary. Bongo's accepts all credit cards as well as Tables in Wonderland.

In the spirit of the 4th of July our resident photographer Miles Bresin brings us some stunning photos of fireworks throughout the Walt Disney World.
By: Miles Bresin

ABOMIBOT braved the crowds to bring us some stunning photos of last nights fireworks.

Pre-Show Crowd (Still an hour to go!)


Post-Show Mob. Many an ankle was smacked by many a stroller.



Rapunzel Meet and Greet to be Adjusted
Beginning July 3rd, the Tangled meet & greet experience will be adjusted so the experience will focus on Rapunzel, who has become a guest favorite since her addition to the Magic Kingdom park last year. In addition, there will be an official ceremony on October 2nd at Kensington Palace in London, UK, commemorating Rapunzel's addition as an official member of the Disney Princess court. Ariel, Aurora, Belle, Cinderella, Jasmine, Mulan, Pocahontas, Snow White and Tiana are expected to be in attendance to the honor the newest Disney Princess.

Character observations.

Editor's Note: I just wanted to give a warm welcome to our newest team member Abomibot, his photography and story telling are legendary on the west coast, I can't say I'm sorry he now brings his keen eye and sharp wit to the Orlando area.

If you haven't been to the Magic Kingdom's Main Street Cinema Saturdays at 2:00pm you're missing out on a fun way to celebrate 40 years of Disney Magic in Florida. Each week, Kevin Yee & company meet and ride one of forty attractions for forty weeks ending October 1st, the fortieth anniversary of Walt Disney World's opening day.

A busy Saturday afternoon on Main Street U.S.A.

Our group was joined by a local suffragette. Claims one day she'll be mayor.

One of the advantages of living in central Florida is frequent check-ins to make your non-Floridian Facebook friends hate you more with each visit. Neener neener.

Zurg may have been defeated this time but know he shall return to fight another day!

As you can see from the schedule of remaining 40x40 meet & rides below, some of the best is yet to come. Come on by and join us Saturday for a ride on Jungle Cruise! You'll meet some fellow MiceChatters and have an awesome time! The first person to show up this week and mention code word, "pachyderm" to ABOMIBOT gets rewarded with the rare treat that is his famous elephant impersonation! (Okay, straight up there is no famous elephant impersonation. I just want you to come. But if you show up and say the magic word I'll make some kind of attempt, deal?)

  • 28. July 9 - Jungle Cruise
  • 29. July 16 - Hall of Presidents
  • 30. July 23 - Carousel of Progress
  • 31. July 30 – Tomorrowland Transit Authority PeopleMover
  • 32. Aug 6 – Walt Disney World Railroad
  • 33. Aug 13 – Space Mountain
  • 34. Aug 20 – Pirates of the Caribbean
  • 35. Aug 27 - Haunted Mansion
  • 36. Sept 3 - Splash Mountain
  • 37. Sept 10 – Big Thunder Mountain
  • 38. Sept 17 - Enchanted Tiki Room
  • 39. Sept 24 – Main Street Electrical Parade (8pm-9pm meet)
  • 40. Oct 1 - Wishes (8pm-9pm meet)

On my way home from this week's 40x40 spin on Buzz Lightyear's Space Ranger Spin, the "Dreams Come True" castle show was starting just as I was passing by.

Here you can see the new(ish) character heads that blink and lip sync recorded dialog. Some have been critical about getting photos of the characters with their eyes fully or partially closed. This clearly shows not all blinks captured on film appear as sleepiness (or worse). Adorable.

Donald lets himself dream... and its a dream of pirates! Aarrhhhhhh!!

Unfortunately Hook & Smee crash the party.

These character faces are hybrids, part human and part mask. They're wholly successful in motion, in context and with a little of what the pros call aesthetic distance. But you can really see the artificiality in a high resolution still. Thanks to the great performances of the cast, however, I honestly didn't know what was prosthetic and what was actor until I got home and really scrutinized the photos.

This is why you hire private security for your parties, people. You wanna keep the riff raff out.

Dreams vanquish nightmares and the world is once again safe from evil!

And (say it with me) they all lived happily ever after.


Reservations Open on August 16th for Food and Wine Festival Special Events
Set your alarm for 7 a.m. on Aug. 16, if you have a special event you want to be sure not to miss at this year’s Epcot International Food & Wine Festival Sept. 30 - Nov. 13 at Walt Disney World Resort. That’s when reservations open for ticketed culinary and beverage programs during the 16th annual food, wine, beer and cocktail extravaganza.

Over in Innoventions East the sign has been returned to "The House of Innoventions," with an expected soft opening sometime this week!

Entertainment happenings in Epcot!

July 4th at Epcot is expected to be a spectacular day with special holiday-themed entertainment, including a thrilling patriotic ending to the popular Illuminations: Reflections of Earth. In addition to special entertainment park hours will be extended one hour to 10pm and all guests will recieve a special American Flag pin when entering the park (while supplies last!)

American Adventure will be the place to be, featuring special decorations and entertainment for this day only.

Atmosphere entertainment at The American Adventure
  • Benjamin Franklin – (11:45 a.m. and 1, 2:30, 3:30, 4:30 and 5:30 p.m.)
  • Betsy Ross – (12:05, 12:50, 1:40, 3:50, 4:35 and 5:20 p.m.)
  • Spirit of America – (1, 2:15 and 3:30 p.m.) and also at 4 and 4:45 p.m.
  • Patriotic characters – Mickey, Goofy and Donald – (4:10 and 4:50 p.m.)
  • Voices of Liberty – The American Adventure Rotunda – (4:15 and 5 p.m.)
Live shows at America Gardens Theatre
  • Voices Of Liberty 4th of July Concert – (includes Voices of Liberty, Spirit of America, Character Performers at 12:30, 1:45 and 3 p.m.)
  • Little Queen – The Music of Heart – (5:15, 6:30, 7:45 and 9 p.m.)

Nighttime spectacular at World Showcase Lagoon: IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth with July 4th tag (10 p.m.)


Testing new showtimes!!
Insider News!

From November 13, 2011 to February 12, 2012, Hoop Dee Doo Musical Revue will be testing out new show times to evaluate the operation and needs of its guests. Show times will be adjusted to start one hour earlier at 4:00 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. (Current show times are 5:00 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.)

For those that have already booked their reservations the new reservation window that went into place on June 28th will reflect the change in time(s). It is not known whether this will become a permanent change once the testing period is over but the results will be analyzed at the end of the testing period.

After February 12th, 2012, the show will revert back to their current times of 5:00 p.m., 7:15 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. However the results of the feedback from guests will help them determine if a change will need to be made.

At this time the show times are the only thing that has changed, pricing, DDP and all other dinner shows will remain unaffected.

Paddock Pool Grand Opening
The Paddock Pool renovation has finally opened at Saratoga Springs Resort. This renovation adds a new, additional feature pool to the DVC resort complete with water slide, hot tub, and children's water play area, and also adds a desperately needed (in my opinion), quick service location, the Paddock Grill. Since Artist's Palette can get extremely busy, it's nice to have another option at the resort.

Halloween Horror Nights Preview
This past Tuesday Universal updated website to give us our first offical look at this year's event.
You glance at the cards in your hand and your pulse stops. Could it be? You ask yourself how you could be so unlucky? You think maybe your mind is playing tricks on you so you glance at your hand one more time. Your heart races. It's true! The Ace of Spades and the Queen of Spades glares back up at you. The queen almost with a deadly smile. Your worst fear has just come true in this game of risk and chance. Your Luck has just run out; you've been dealt the "Death Card" and suddenly you remember: "Be careful what you wager... Because nobody beats the house".

This popular event, now in it's 21st year, will run for 25 select nights starting September 23rd and runs through Halloween Night. Tickets are on sale now and start at $36.99 for stay and scream and go all the way up to $81.99 for general admission. Florida Residents and Universal Annual Passholders can save up to $45 when purchasing in advance. Also offered is the ever popular "Frequent Fear Pass" (15 nights for the price of one) and the brand new "Rush of Fear Pass" (all event nights for the first 3 weeks.)

The website hints heavily towards a 1920's-1930's gambling theme for this year. Just how much this theme will play into this year's main event is yet to be determined. The website also includes Guest Testimonials, Audition Information, and a look back at Past Years Events to give the general public an overview of what to expect at the Nation's Best Haunt Event.

Still to come is information on this year's Houses, Scare Zones, and Shows in addition to additional VIP Experiences and Tours. You can bet here at the OPH Column we will bring you all the latest information on this great event.

All images © 2011 Universal Orlando Resort. All Rights Reserved.

Advance Tickets Now Available!
Guests can purchase Halloween Horror Nights 21 tickets at the Halloween Horror Nights website or by calling 1-888-467-7677 (HORROR-7). Because of the event’s popularity, tickets for weekend nights are expected to sell out and should be purchased well in advance.
Event dates:
  • September 23-24 & 29-30
  • October 1-2, 6-9, 13-16, 19-23 and 26-31

“To wait for luck is the same as waiting for death.” – Japanese Proverb

Gory Getaway Vacation Package
Entire package starts at $325 per adult, tax inclusive and includes..
  • 3 - night accommodations at a Universal Partner Hotel
  • 2 - day base ticket for admission to both Universal Orlando theme parks.
  • Early park admission to Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
  • 1 - night admission to Halloween Horror Nights.
  • Admission to select live entertainment venues at Universal CityWalk.
  • One 5” x 7” souvenir photograph.
  • On-site accommodations at one of Universal Orlando’s three AAA Four-Diamond hotels are also available.
  • Stay and Scream ~ Starts at $36.99 plus tax

Guests visiting the parks can add Halloween Horror Nights 21 to any Universal Orlando theme park ticket.

Summer Night's
Now through August 14th
Returning this year is Kinetix, a 30 minute show that features acrobatics, dancers, singers and pyrotechnics. The show is included with admission and is performed nightly at 9:00pm at Gwazi Park (located behind the Gwazi roller coaster).

Also performing during Summer Nights is magician Christopher Cool, who will be performing nightly in front of the Sultan's tent in Morocco. Showtimes are 5:00pm, 6:00pm, 7:00pm & 8:00pm (except Mondays).

Island Nights - Adventure Island
Now through August 13th - 5PM to 9PM
This summer at Adventure Island, (BGT's water park) when the sun goes down, the fun heats up during Island Nights. It's a vacation from the everyday as Busch Garden's water park transforms into a celebration of island life with live music, authentic entertainment and inspiring cuisine.

A report on the exclusive savings being offered to annual passholders.
By Aimster

Pass Member Exclusive Dining Offer.
Save 20% on dining after 5 p.m. at SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Aquatica and Adventure Island. PLUS free dessert with the purchase of any adult entrée at select restaurants after 5 p.m.

Offers valid now - September 6, 2011. Not valid with any other offer. Not valid at Sharks Underwater Grill, Dine with Shamu, Mahahiki Luau or Pizza Pasta Buffet. Offer valid until restaurant closing time. Must present valid Platinum, 2 year or 1 year Pass to receive discount. Menu and prices are subject to change or cancellation.

Pass Member Exclusive Merchandise Offer.
Save 20% off your entire merchandise purchase of $20 or more at SeaWorld Orlando, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay, Aquatica and Adventure Island.

Offers valid now - September 6, 2011. Offer valid May 31- September 6, 2011. Must present valid Platinum, 2 year or 1 year Pass to receive discount. Discount applies to single transaction. Cannot be combined with any other offers. Offer valid only on gift shop items and not valid for stroller or wheelchair rental.

Mangomania! Fruit Fair
July 30th & 31st - Pine Island, FL
Adults: $6.00
Children: 10 and Under FREE!!
Mango Mania is a summer festival and celebration of Pine Island's Mangos and other tropical fruits.
It is a festive, informal and incredibly fun family event.

Kennedy Space Center - Star Trek Exhibit
Now through September 5th
Appearing for the first time in Florida, STAR TREK: THE EXHIBITION, presented by EMS Exhibits, Inc., is an interactive exhibit of authentic Star Trek artifacts from the past 45 years, featuring one-of-a-kind costumes, props and filming models from Star Trek television series and feature films. Together these elements offer, Star Trek fans and novices alike, an opportunity to experience first-hand the imagination, artistry, technology and meticulous craftsmanship that have made Star Trek the most enduring science fiction franchise in history.

Orlando Science Center - Guitar: The Instrument that Rocked the World
Now through September 11th
The National GUITAR Museum announced that its touring exhibition, GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World will launch worldwide at the Orlando Science Center. The 5,000 square foot will explore the history and evolution of the guitar-from lutes and lyres to modern high-tech instruments-and show how the instrument became the cultural symbol it is today.

Don't forget to check out the other areas of MiceChat that offer news, updates and photos about the other Disney Parks around the World!

  • Dateline Disneyland which is packed with great news and photos from the Disneyland Resort.
  • Weekend Update Offers a world of Disney theme parks as well as other sights and landmarks!
  • In The Parks offers news, updates and tips from Disneyland and other Southern California offerings.
  • SAMLAND - Your weekly look at some interesting tales from Disney history.
  • And you'll always find something of interest on the forums or MiceAge!

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Updated 07-06-2011 at 05:56 AM by SummerInFL



  1. aimster's Avatar
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    As always great update. I wanted to note that at Busch Gardens, Christopher Cool's street magic show was moved to in front of the Sultan's Tent area.
  2. SummerInFL's Avatar
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    ^Psst, it's already been fixed.
  3. snowsbeau's Avatar
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    Great update. The final "Dreams Come True" shot with Princess' looks as though they and the cast are looking directly at you! How fun!!!
  4. Maverick's Avatar
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    Fabulous update as always, I laughed I cried, two thumbs up!

    Happy 4th of July
  5. RooBear's Avatar
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    Lovin' it, terrific as always!

  6. Dustysage's Avatar
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    This was a FANTASTIC update. Those fireworks photos were amazing.
  7. KevinYee's Avatar
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    Those fireworks pics are incredible!
  8. KingEric's Avatar
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    great update!