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Weekend Update

Busch Gardens Tampa Bay; Dreamworld's Buzzsaw Ride; Fort Desoto Park

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by , 09-16-2011 at 08:57 PM

Denise Preskitt has an update from Florida and she has some news and photos from one of my favorite parks. We don't hear too much about Busch Gardens Tampa Bay here on MiceChat, but this is definitely the little park that could. It has a unique blend of beautifully landscaped grounds with exotic animals and some rockin' roller coasters. Not to mention, it's only an hour drive from Walt Disney World. I highly recommend it.

Rya86n has some news from Dreamworld in Australia. It turns out that Buzzsaw The Ride has quite a backstory!

Rounding out the Weekend Update, SummerInFL went on a company picnic last weekend and shares her great photos of Fort Desoto Park in St. Petersburg, Florida.

That'll do it for this weekend. Thanks for visiting the Weekend Update!

Denise Preskitt shares an Orlando area update

The last week has been a busy one! We went to Busch Gardens for the Iceploration announcement, spent a couple of days at the pin event at World Showplace at Epcot, and attended the first Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party for 2011.

We became Platinum Passholders recently for Busch Gardens/Sea World (and all the other parks) while we were in California. It's already been a great deal for us!

Busch Gardens:

It's almost time for Howl-O-Scream:

Performers from the upcoming Iceploration ice show at Busch Gardens Tampa, which will even feature animals!

One of the beautiful huskies that will be in the show:

One of two cakes that were made for the event, one was a 20 sheet cake themed to the ocean and the 16 sheet cake was themed to Africa:

We have a video of the announcement:

We enjoyed a couple of more hours at the park before heading back to check in for the pin event. I love the animal encounters there, and the park better than it ever has!

In the Howl-O-Scream shop, this guy looks a bit scared:

We enjoyed The Florida Project pin event. The biggest surprise was when a friend noticed artwork for the new Disney Fantasy ship that featured Dumbo and Timothy Mouse on the stern (it hadn't been announced yet):

There was a lot of great theming, including this submarine from 20K:

Ride vehicles from Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, in front of a facade:

The Haunted Mansion area:

We have two videos, one shows the atmosphere and the other is the Orange Bird song with animation!

I took these two pictures on Saturday evening at Epcot:

We enjoyed the first Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, and I have 250 photos on my site from the evening! With two sponsors (Kellogg's and Werthers), the candy has also gotten better this year.

The toll booth:

Br'er Rabbit's Candy Patch has replaced the Mickey's Toontown treat trail as "the" place to go for candy! (with several stations in one area)

There are themed pumpkins throughout:

This Trader Sam's didn't look as promising as the one in California. It wasn't yet open (they were still putting finishing touches on), but it sounded like they were going to sell soda and snacks:

There was a new beginning float for the Boo-To-You Parade:

Angelica is now in the parade:


The Villains Mix & Mingle show is quite different than previous years:

We have video of the full show:

And a few last photos that I took - I brought my tripod:

For continuing coverage of events at Walt Disney World and its environs, check out Denise's website:


As this edition of Weekend Update goes to print, rya86n along with a few fellow brave souls from Zendorphin will investigating the stange happenings in the small, happy, country town of Gold Rush.

Visitors to the town all say the same thing; there's something… odd… about the town of Gold Rush. Formed during the great gold rush of 1876, it thrived until the gold ran out in 1887. It then turned to timber and continued to prosper.

The people are neat and friendly, the general store often echoes with their pleasantries and a catchy tune. The only thing you can't put your finger on is the sawmill. Mention it and the townsfolk stiffen.

"It's been closed since the accident," they say.
"Jack Darke, a quiet man, tried to burn down the sawmill one night but slipped and was dragged into the buzz saw. Tragic really. But it'll reopen soon."

And yet no matter how many months pass, it never seems to reopen. Poke around up there and you'll see it's all boarded up. Do Not Enter and Danger signs everywhere. The faint hint of burnt wood. It must be close to reopening though, because quite often you'll hear that giant buzz saw start up.
None of this, however, explains why the locals get so skittish around dusk. Beware. In the town of Gold Rush…
Everything. Changes. At night.

It's true Jack Darke was a quiet man. He'd worked at the sawmill for may years, yet no one really knew him. He kept to himself and did his job without fuss or bother. And he was good at it. Jack was in his forties, he was big and strong and had gnarled hands with a vice-like grip.

He was on his own the night it all happened. It was late and he was reading in his cottage when some of the townsfolk came to his door in a panic. The young men from the sawmill had been at the tavern complaining and had set off to the sawmill intent on burning it down. Jack went to investigate. He found the men and managed to stop the fire but there was a scuffle and… well… whether it was an accident or not no one really knows, but machinery was bumped and poor Jack was pulled through the giant buzz saw.

The townsfolk felt horrible. Who wouldn't? But their men were their lifeblood. They covered up the incident and reported it as Jack who had been trying to burn down the sawmill, only he'd slipped and fallen into the buzz saw.
Now when the moon is high and the sky is clear like the night he was killed, Jack reappears and seeks revenge. In fact, when the sun goes down God help anyone who isn't boarded up inside when day turns to night.

Through strange occurances or errie coincidence, the southern hemisphere skies have featured big, bright, high set full moons this week, all in the lead up to today September 17th, when Buzzsaw officially launchs at Dreamworld!

As you read this rya86n will personally be taking on this Australian first! Labelled as "the ride to conquer for high-action adrenaline seekers", Buzzsaw is the highest inversion ride experience in the Southern Hemisphere.

(photos kindly supplied by Dreamworld) It is the first menacing thrill ride guests can spot as they arrive in the main car park.

Just the sight of it will send chills through your bones.

Seated in an open carriage, riders will be held in by a single waist harness leaving the upper body fully exposed to the elements, and with little to cling onto. This white-knuckle ride starts with a suspenseful 46m vertical ascent that will have riders instantly wishing they were back on the ground.

At its peak, the rider’s centre of gravity is flipped and they are dangled upside-down 15 stories in the air before the ride car free-falls through a 360 degree heart roll, and plummets down a final vertical drop at speeds of up to 105km/hour.

Stay tuned, next week I'll have the photo coverage of our complete Buzzsaw and Gold Rush investigation! And if you cant wait that long, pass the time by looking for Jack Darke in the construction photos available of the official website.

SummerInFL goes on a PicnicInFL

My company decided to have a Fall Picnic at Fort Desoto Park in St. Petersburg, FL. The park is made up of five islands for a total of 1,136 acres and more than six miles of beach frontage. Also contained within are the remains of a military fort, for which the park is so named.

When the United States became involved in a conflict with Cuba, this prompted the citizens of Tampa to demand military defenses for Tampa Bay. Henry B. Plant, a prominent railroad, shipping and hotel magnate, was instrumental in convincing the Secretary of War to order construction of fortifications on two of the islands.

Comprised of a shell, sand and cement mix, the fort was named Fort De Soto after the Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto and was a new battery design built to withstand the modifications that came from the increased efficiency in weaponry at the time.

With eight 12-inch M-1890 MI mortars that were breech-loading and rifled, each gun had a 12-man crew to manually load and aim it. The crew would choose an 800-, 824-, or 1,046-pound projectile, along with a powder charge in a silk bag weighing 54 to 67 pounds. After the powder bag was put in the mortar, the sergeant would hang a fuse containing 1.25 pounds of black powder on the breech end of the powder bag. The fuse was ignited by the electrical primer, which fired the powder bag charge. The minimum range of the mortar was 1.25 miles at 70 degrees and a maximum range of 6.8 miles at 45 degrees.

To spot the enemy in the Gulf of Mexico, the post has observers on towers who relayed information to the Relocating Room in the mortar batter. That information would be telephoned to the Data booths, where it was translated and posted on slate boards for the gun crews to view. After the mortars were set into position, the gun commander would insert the electrical firing plug and the guns would be fired from the firing room. The army frequently would tow a barge behind a boat in the gulf to fire at for practice.

Fort De Soto was never the site of any major battle. In fact, the weapons of were never fired in combat, however, it did have a significant hand in terms of evolution in modern weaponry.

Inside the fort there is a nice historical recount of the fort and the islands themselves. Bring bug spray though, the mosquitoes follow you in packs.

Views from the top of the fort:

Imagine this area at the turn of the century and the hardships the troops faced - mosquitos, heat, isolation - and you will appreciate what we have in this modern age of mosquito repellent, air conditioning, automobiles and fine roads.

If you'd like a little history with your beach visit, I highly recommend a visit to Ft. Desoto for the perfect mix of beach, fun and history all in one sunny location.

Might we also suggest that you visit these fine MiceAge/MiceChat attractions for even more Disney and theme park fun:
  • MiceTube - Introducing MiceChat's new channel on YouTube. Kevin Yee and MiceChat Sarah have been uploading entertaining videos weekly, along with many other of your MiceAge and MiceChat favorites.
  • Dateline Disneyland which is packed with great news and photos from the Disneyland Resort.
  • Orlando Parkhopper featuring news and photos from Disney World and Orlando area theme parks.
  • 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.
  • MiceDeals - You won't want to miss out on these great deals for Orlando and Anaheim!
  • Vacationeering - Every Sunday, we feature articles designed to help you create magical family vacation memories!

And that brings us to the end of another week. Our photographers have just enough time to reload their cameras before we see you all again next weekend. Thank you to all of our wonderful readers, and as always, a huge thank you to our amazing team of global photographers, spies, and gossips:

Denise Preskitt

Your Editor - Rixter

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Updated 09-17-2011 at 09:30 AM by Weekend Update



  1. rya86n's Avatar
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    Having just spent the day queueing, waiting, riding and photographing Buzzsaw over and over again, there will definitely be just as many photos in next weeks report as there was text and backstory this week!
  2. jpg391's Avatar
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    Another great Weekend Update!!!!
  3. Barbossa's Avatar
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    Great update. It's wierd seeing all the Halloween stuff out. It really doesn't feel like fall yet. Even here in Calgary. We've been getting nothing but warm weather.
  4. DisWedWay's Avatar
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    It's Good to see one of the original Walt Disney World Nautilus 20K vehicles in the Florida Project Event Show. I had heard there was one still back stage there. I remember my friend Tom Sherman, who put the Nautilus back in Paris Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Seas, made a trip to Florida after the attraction was removed and photographed the submarines all in Pluto Park. Hope they build the permanent Disney Archives where treasures like this can be displayed to park guests year round. PD
  5. Ukulele Guy's Avatar
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    No Universal Shanghai? I am dissapoint.
  6. wdwnut4life's Avatar
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    great pics!
  7. kcnole's Avatar
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    sorry, I was too busy to get the report out this week. You'll get the remainder of Universal Singapore soon. I have to get work to relax long enough to put it together.
  8. Timekeeper's Avatar
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    Nice update.