Your subscriptions support new blog articles and research. Please consider

subscribing.

today.


SATURDAY SIX: Six Reasons We LOVE the Queue For SKULL ISLAND: REIGN OF KONG

by on June 25, 2016

This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Reasons We LOVE the queue for SKULL ISLAND: REIGN OF KONG. Over the last two years, Trygve Nelson and Seth Kubersky have been tracking the progress of Skull Island at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Earlier this month it began technical rehearsals and started letting guests experience the attraction. One area that has drawn consistent raves is the queue. Over the last fifteen years, Universal has become the best in the business at building queues in which people actually enjoy spending time in line. Guests walk through what seems like the actual movie set for Men In Black: Alien Attack. At The Simpsons Ride, in two separate pre-show rooms, guests enjoy some hilarious jokes written by actual writers of The Simpsons television show. Meanwhile guests get to tour the Daily Bugle in The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man (which even has a dedicated themed experience just for Express Pass guests, allowing them to see Peter Parker’s dark room). Universal then perfected the queue experience with Forbidden Journey and Escape From Gringotts, creating lines guests actually wanted to spend more time in. This was not just the theme park equivalent of breaking the four minute mile, this was breaking the three minute mile. 

KongLogo_glover

Skull Island: Reign of KONG. (photo by Brandon Gllover)

The good news, is that not only does Skull Island: Reign of Kong continue Universal’s era of incredible queues, it becomes the first to take a page from the Halloween Horror Nights playbook and be extremely creepy as well. A good queue sets up a ride’s story and atmosphere, and Skull Island takes that to the next level. The giant facade alone, with seemingly thousands of skulls strewn about and a giant ape head made carved out of rock, is something pretty intense for the theme park world. Inside, the queue gets even better. Today we are going to look at six reasons we love the Skull Island queue, including some details many guests may miss when walking through. So sit back, grab a banana, and let’s start our countdown with…

# 6 – Reference to Revenge of the Mummy

Kongfrontation was an opening day ride for Universal Studios Florida back in 1990, and was based more or less around the King Kong film from 1976. Like Jaws, this was an iconic Universal ride that many guests fondly remember to this day. Kongfrontation closed in 2002 to make way for The Revenge of the Mummy. As with many recent attractions, Mummy has several tributes to Kong in both the queue and attraction itself. In an Inception-like nod, Skull Island has a reference back to Revenge of the Mummy. As guests load onto the ride vehicle, to their right will be several skeletons. One of these skeletons is just like one of the skeletons that rise up and attack guests in the Mummy’s impressive throne room sequence.

KONG_mummy_terrell

Skeleton in Kong queue. (photo by Travis Terrell)

Mummy_skeleton_courtesyunivesal

Skeletons in Revenge of the Mummy. (photo courtesy of the Universal Orlando Resort)

# 5 – Eighth Wonder Expedition Co.

Back in March, Universal started teasing their upcoming Kong attraction through the Myth Explorer web series and blog featuring Erin Ryder. In several of her updates, the 8th Wonder Expedition Company was seen or mentioned. In the Skull Island attraction, right before guests grab their 3D glasses, they will be able to see a crate stamped with this mysterious group’s logo. Many Universal fans, including Your Humble Author, believe Universal should have a full line of 8th Wonder Expedition Co. merchandise available. As of this writing, there is nothing.

KONG_8thwonder_Terrell

Eighth Wonder Expedition Co. Hopefully soon to be seen on t-shirts, hats, Tervis tumblers, and pressed pennies. Hey, a guy can dream can’t he? (photo by Travis Terrell)

Read the rest of this entry »

Celebrate the Fourth of July at Walt Disney World

by on June 24, 2016

©Disney

©Disney

It’s time to celebrate America with a bang and Disney will be doing so in red, white, and blue style! If you’re looking for fireworks spectaculars, Walt Disney World is the place to be! Here’s what you can expect to experience when saluting all nations, but mostly America.

Magic Kingdom

 

Celebrate the country’s highest office by enjoying a stop at the infamous Hall of Presidents. This inspirational Liberty Square show which includes all 43 U.S. Presidents tracing the history of the office, takes place every hour and half hour. Another must see is the Flag Retreat which takes place at 5:00 p.m. each day.

The Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade will be shown twice on both July 3 and 4 – once at 12:00 p.m. and once at 3:30 p.m.

Guests will have two chances to catch the spectacular fireworks extravaganza that is “Disney’s Celebrate America! A Fourth of July Concert in the Sky.” The 14 minute showcase will take place on both July 3 and 4 at 9:00 p.m.

There will also be two showings of the Main Street Electrical Parade, once at 10:15 p.m. and once at 12:15 a.m.

Read the rest of this entry »

In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of June 24, 2016

by on June 24, 2016

ICYMI

We are here! It is finally summer, though of course, if you’ve stepped outside at all, you could already feel it. Stay hydrated out there!

This week, you need to make sure to read the interview with Bob Iger, see why Finding Dory is standing out as one of the best sequels, learn about what you can expect with Volcano Bay, and more.

In Case You Missed It – Disney and Universal Orlando News and Rumors

 

Hundreds of people gathered at the Magic Kingdom for an unofficial gathering to celebrate those who were lost during the Pulse Nightclub shooting.

This week, a waitress from Morimoto Asia left a touching note for some customers who were affected by the recent tragedy. #OrlandoStrong

When I read this, just tears. I love JK Rowling even more. Read the rest of this entry »

Pete’s Dragon Sneak Peek to Occur at Disney Parks

by on June 24, 2016 1 Comment

©Disney

©Disney

Are you excited about the upcoming re-imagined version of Pete’s Dragon? Well, beginning on July 1, Guests at both Disney California Adventure and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will get the opportunity to catch a sneak peek of this film.

At Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guests can make a stop at One Man’s Dream’s theater while while Guests at Disney California Adventure will get to see this advance look in 3D with in-theater effects at the Sunset Showcase Theater (formerly Crown Jewel Theater) in Hollywood Land. The sneak peek will last about 10 minutes.

Pete’s Dragon is the tale of an orphaned boy, named Pete and his best friend Elliot. Oh and did I mention that Elliot happens to be a dragon?

Pete’s Dragon opens in theaters on August 12.

Walt Disney World Resort Beaches and Recreation Update

by on June 24, 2016 2 Comments

©Rikki Niblett

©Rikki Niblett

Following that terrible alligator attack last week, the beaches and recreation around the Walt Disney World Resort are now available to Guests once again, with some modifications.

First, the resort beaches are not going to be open at night. They are now currently available to Guests one hour after sunrise until one hour prior to sunset. In addition, temporary signage and barriers are now up to keep Guests safe. Cast Members will be on hand to assist Guests’ needs. In addition the “Movies Under the Stars” that had been held on the beaches for years will now take place on the hotel lawns.

Also, the marinas at the hotels are now offering boat rentals for all Guests, including Sammy Duvall’s Watersports, who will be offering activities from 9:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. at Disney’s Contemporary Resort.

During the hunt for the alligator who attacked in Bay Lake, six alligators had been trapped from the area.

 

Refillable Popcorn Bucket to be Offered at Walt Disney World

by on June 24, 2016 4 Comments

PopcornAre you a fan of that delicious, buttery goodness that you can smell from a mile away? That’s right, I’m talking about popcorn found throughout the Walt Disney World Resort.

Well, I have good news for those who may be making a trip (or a few trips) to the resort between June 26 and September 1. Disney will be offering a souvenir popcorn bucket that may be refilled. (For a price, of course!) The bucket can be purchased for an initial cost of $10 and refills will cost $1.50 each after.

Guests can purchase the bucket at select cart locations and the refillable popcorn can be purchased at the four theme parks, two water parks, Disney Springs, and ESPN Wide World of Sports wherever you see a popcorn cart.

Honestly, I’m hungry just thinking about it and I plan on eating as much popcorn as possible on my next trip!

 

STK Orlando Dining Review

by on June 24, 2016 3 Comments

As we’ve highlighted the past few weeks, Disney Springs is really stepping up its dining game with a ton of new restaurants. Today, I take a look at a meal I recently enjoyed at one of the new higher-end offerings, STK Orlando, located in The Landing just across from Paradiso 37. STK is a popular modern take on the classic steakhouse with locations in big cities like Miami, LA, NYC, and Chicago; it definitely trends towards a younger crowd with a DJ located on the main floor of each of the restaurants (and Disney Springs’ location is no different). I was interested to see how this restaurant would fit with Disney’s typical family clientele, so I picked an early dinner reservation slot for my meal; the restaurant also serves lunch with a few sandwiches added to the salad, steak, and side dish staples. I was seated immediately upon arrival in the bar area of a nearly empty restaurant (save for a lot of furniture – you will definitely get to know the table next to you here, given how closely you sit next to them). My initial impression was that the ambiance was pretty low-key – the music wasn’t loud, but the place also just wasn’t busy yet. All in good time…

After a few greetings by several servers and wait staff, my server arrived and gave me a quick introduction to the food and cocktail menus (though oddly, he skipped over the steak section, which I expect is why most people would stop here). Several salads and hot appetizers are on offer to start your meal off, followed by a large selection of steak cuts as well as local seafood and other meat entrees. I was also informed that they were a “full order kitchen”, so I would need to order everything all at once, and he would pace it out for me. I wasn’t too surprised by this – many upscale restaurants prefer guests order like this to keep everything timed out just right for the kitchen – but it was the first time I’d had it flat-out explained to me, which is probably a good thing for most guests not used to restaurants like this. I started the night off with the Green Intensity cocktail ($14), one of their more unique offerings in a short, sweet-leaning, pretty standard craft cocktail menu. This drink is pure shtick – the subtlety of Absolut Elyx (a copper-distilled, high quality version of the Absolut vodka you’re probably used to) is completely drowned out by whole jalapeno slices and tons of seeds, a bit of basil for some earthiness, and lime to cut a little of the spice. This is legitimately spicy stuff, which may scare you in cocktail form, but it’s refreshing and definitely wakes you up. I give them credit for creating something a bit off the beaten path, but next time, I’ll stick to the Elyx served straight-up. Read the rest of this entry »

Dani’s Best Week Ever June 23, 2016: Five Theme Parks in 24 hours

by on June 23, 2016 4 Comments

After one of the most emotional and trying weeks Orlando has ever encountered it is time to slowly get back into the habits that make us happy. Everyone grieves and heals in a different way. Personally, I wanted to get back into the swing of things and enjoy the life that I love. This is of course doesn’t mean that I’ve completely moved on or forgotten about the tragedy. But to me one of the ways to honor those that are no longer with us is to go enjoy life while we can, making each day the best we can make it. With that in mind, and with a bunch of new things to see at Walt Disney World and SeaWorld, I had a jam packed 24 hours spread across five Orlando theme parks.

Epcot

I took a half day off from work so I could get out to Walt Disney World and cover some of the new experiences that debuted on June 17, 2016. Originally my plan was to get to Magic Kingdom and then head to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. However, Anna and Elsa’s new meet and greet location inside Epcot, the Royal Sommerhus, opened a little unexpectedly. I couldn’t just let it go, and besides that weather had gone from rainy in the morning to pretty stunning in the afternoon, might as well make the most of it. The more themes parks, the merrier.

IMG_1063

When I arrived at Epcot I felt a sense of joy that I hadn’t felt in nearly a week. As I set my eyes on Spaceship Earth I smiled for the first time in days. I couldn’t linger though, royalty waits for no one. I quickly made my way to World Showcase and straight to the Norway pavilion. As I approached I noticed a whole clan of Norwegian Cast Members gathered throughout the pavilion, more than I’ve ever seen.

IMG_0988

IMG_0989

The Royal Sommerhus is one of the first areas you’ll encounter if you are strolling World Showcase starting in Mexico. This new building is a welcoming, cozy wood building meant to represent Anna and Elsa’s summer home, a place they used to visit when they were very young children. Upon arrival the posted wait time was 25 minutes, so after admiring the new buildings and the colorful flowers and landscaping I entered the queue. Past the 25-30 minute mark an overflow queue is utilized and it is entirely outside. Something to keep in mind if you visit on a busy day. Read the rest of this entry »

A Pirate’s Adventure ~ Treasures of the Seven Seas Now Offering FastPass+ Bonus

by on June 22, 2016 2 Comments

A Pirates Adventure

©Rikki Niblett

Guests who participate in the interactive game, A Pirate’s Adventure ~ Treasures of the Seven Seas at the Magic Kingdom will have the opportunity to earn a bonus FastPass+ for Pirates of the Caribbean. To earn your extra FastPass, Guests will need to complete at least three of the five different missions of the game to earn this FastPass bonus.

Guests will continue to receive the Collectible Treasurer Finder Cards after completing each mission, as well.

The game, takes Guests on five missions on a quest to find lost treasure with Captain Jack Sparrow around Adventureland. To sign up for the adventure, Guests must visit The Crow’s Nest located in between Pirates of the Caribbean and the Golden Oak Outpost. Each mission takes approximately 15-20 minutes to complete.

Keep in mind this is a limited test; no official end date has been announced.

 

Save

Save

Animal Kingdom at Night: What You Need to Know

by on June 22, 2016 10 Comments

©Disney

©Disney

Ever since the Animal Kingdom Park opened in 1998, guests could only enjoy the park during the day as it regularly closed at dark. Fortunately, that has now changed! On May 27th, Animal Kingdom introduced new extended hours and rolled out a variety of new nighttime entertainment and experiences. However, it’s important to note that Animal Kingdom is a different creature at night; and its signature nighttime show, Rivers of Light, and new land, Pandora – The World of AVATAR, haven’t even made their debuts yet. So, if you’re planning a night venture to Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park in the near future, here’s what you need to know…

KilimanjaroSafaris4

Kilimanjaro Safaris Artificial Sunset

Opt for a Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris

When Animal Kingdom first announced it was staying open after dark, it also promised a nighttime version of the park’s famous Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction, but with a constant sunset! While it sounds awesome and was highly anticipated, it has been met with criticism since it debuted. Why? The problem is that animals can’t be controlled. If they don’t want to be in view of the safari vehicles, they won’t; and while this is true of the daytime safaris as well, the animals are still often visible. This is not the case at night, even with new lighting effects.

Speaking of lighting, I can say that I was impressed with the constant sunset. While it wasn’t totally realistic, it looked fantastic and the glow and shadows from the effect looked great. I was, however, completely fooled when it came to the artificial moonlight towards the end of the safari, but it still did little to reveal the animals.

Read the rest of this entry »