Slow-speed Hogwarts Express testing has begun at Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter (photo by Seth Kubersky)
Exciting news, Harry Potter fans: Hogwarts Express testing has commenced at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Universal Orlando Resort! The iconic Hogwarts Express trains, which were lifted onto their elevated rails in late October, began slow-speed movement tests over the weekend.
It will still be many months before guests get to ride the Hogwarts Express attraction, which is expected to officially debut in June 2014. When complete, the Hogwarts Express will provide transportation between the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Diagon Alley expansion in Universal Studios Florida, and the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter: Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure.
Ordinarily, the Touring Plans team would be the first to bring you footage of the Hogwarts Express testing, but this time our friends at Orlando Attractions Magazine have beat us to the punch (blame our post-Thanksgivukha turkey & latke hangovers). Check out their video below, which also includes some shots of the London Waterfront construction, and check back here often for further PotterWatch progress updates on Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
We all have opinions about proper theme park etiquette.
THIS is the way you should behave in public. THAT behavior is inappropriate. Can you believe he did THAT?
But while some tourist infractions are universally reviled, other perceived transgressions may simply be stylistic matters or mutable cultural differences. And as with any opinion-based topic, there’s bound to be a substantial gray area. What slightly miffs one person might absolutely horrify another. In the interest of promoting discussion, here are some commonly mentioned theme park infractions and my personal assessment of their level of severity.
I’m going to rank items on a scale of 1-5.
1 = Perfectly fine. No bother at all.
2 = Mildly annoying.
3 = Pretty yucky.
4 = Bad. This is really no way to behave.
5 = Really super bad. Just stop now, you’re embarrassing yourself and those around you.
Stopping in the middle of a walkway.
What’s the issue?: You’re lost and need to consult your park map. Instead of pulling over to the side, you stop in the middle of a walkway to get your bearings.
My rating: 2 to 3, depending on the crowd level.
My rationale: When you stop with no warning in the middle of a walkway, the folks behind you have to stop short or possibly run into you, or possible have others run into them. If the park crowds are low, it’s relatively easy for the folks behind you to course correct. If park crowds are high, someone’s going to get hurt. Read the rest of this entry »
The first test recently rolled out at Disney’s Pop Century Resort, but now Disney is ready to start a new version of this testing at all three of Disney’s All-Star Resorts. As part of the MyMagic+ assessment, upon check in at one of these three resorts, guests will be issued only a MagicBand for use throughout their stay at the Walt Disney World Resort.
Join Len Testa and Jim Hill as they discus various pieces of Disney theme park memorabilia. It’s part 1 of a 3-part special edition of Ask Jim Hill! In this episode the guys discuss memorabilia related to the infamous Walt Disney World birthday cake castle, early artwork and plans for Disney California Adventure, and more!
Today is the first in a new series taking a grand tour around the World Showcase in Epcot. I’m always curious when folks enter this section of the park if they head right towards Canada or if they go left towards Mexico. As a kid we always went to the left under the assumption that the average day guest went right on instinct. (Not to mention the rides were to the left!) So it only made sense for me to start our tour with the lovely land of Mexico.
I always like to start these posts with a photo that really encompasses the land. You can see the detail of the main show building in the below photo. Modeled after an Aztec Temple, there are intricate details on every inch of this building. (Remember – you can click any photo to see a larger image)
Thanks to your comments on my recent post about the costumes of the Magic Kingdom, I decided to take this idea around the world. As always, if you’re a cast member pictured here and you’d prefer that I not use your image please leave a comment below and I will remove your photo. But I’m sure everyone will agree all the ladies of the World Showcase look beautiful!! Let’s get started with Mexico.
I almost didn’t ask to take this photo. It was a little awkward since I had to lean over the rail of the walkway and ask her to get up from her work. But I saw the opportunity for framing the photo with all of her hand painted art, which was lovely. I love the vibrant and relaxed costumes in Mexico! You’ll notice that I only took photos of the ladies in this one. That is because especially around the World Showcase I think the girls have the better costumes. Maybe I can go back and visit the guys if anyone has interest?
In Norway the costumes are certainly a bit more tailored. For some reason this costume always makes me think of Christmas! Does anyone else agree? These outfits certainly fit in with the heavy, rich woods of the Norway pavilion. They are beautiful but I don’t know that I would want to be wearing them in our brutal Florida summers! (Of course, I doubt they have that problem in the real Norway!) Read the rest of this entry »
Universal still has not released on any dates on when the Potter area will open, but we may have been given a little bit of a hint earlier this week thanks to an interview with Loews hotels chairman Jonathan Tisch. While talking to CNBC (which you can watch here), Tisch said that the upcoming 1,800 room Cabana Bay Beach Resort at Universal would be:
“The largest hotel under construction in the world outside of China. Phase One will open April 1, 600 rooms. The rest of the hotel by June, when Harry Potter 2 opens.” – Jonathan Tisch, Loews Hotels Chairman
On the Universal website, Cabana Bay is having “preview pricing” that ends on June 14, 2014. That’s another red flag that they expect demand to go up in June. Here’s an example of what type of savings you can get for a Family Suite at Universal compared to Disney. I booked out a room from April 12-18 for 2 adults and 2 children at both Cabana Bay and Disney’s Art of Animation resort. The cheapest room at Cabana Bay was $232.00 a night, compared to the cheapest room at AoA at $498.76. After taxes, this particular week at Cabana Bay would cost a family $1572.06, while AoA would cost $2992.53.
A few weeks ago, Disney announced via the Disney Parks Blog that its was going to start a new runDisney program called On The Road To Disney Parks and that their first stop would be my hometown of Atlanta, Georgia! I immediately signed up my husband (he is the runner in our family…me…I tend to only run if someone’s chasing me.)
However, the more I thought about it, the more I thought I should sign up, too. I only had to run 2 miles, and I knew it would be an experience I would not forget. (I have actually previously done two other runDisney races: the Disney Halloween 5k in 2011 and the Castaway Cay 5k this past July.) So, I signed myself up and a few hours later, saw both mine and my husband’s name listed. Which meant I had to get out there and do a little bit of training.
In the couple of weeks leading up to the event, I went out most days to “practice” running and enhance my skills. By the time the event came around, I was more or less ready.
A popular Anaheim tradition returns to the resort on the day after Thanksgiving, as fresh handmade candy canes are again available at both Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure through Christmas Day. Availability alternates between Disneyland’s Candy Palace (Fridays and Tuesdays) and Disney California Adventure’s Trolley Treats (Mondays and Saturdays) and is strictly limited to about 120 canes per day.
The complete handmade candy cane schedule is as follows:
At Disneyland’s Candy Palace: November 29; December 3, 6, 10, 13, 17, 20.
At DCA’s, Trolly Treats: November 30; December 2, 7, 9, 14, 16, 21.
On Christmas week only, the schedule is Candy Palace on Sunday & Tuesday (Dec 22 & 24) and Trolly Treats on Monday & Wednesday (Dec 23 & 25).
Fresh handmade candy canes sell out quickly, so if you want one you’ll need to secure a wristband at park opening and pick up your candy before 4pm. Candy canes cost $13 each, and no discounts are offered. For more details, check out the full report on the Disney Food Blog.
Are you planning to line up at dawn for one of these delicious holiday treats? Or are you unable to tell the difference between handmade candy canes and the standard store-bought ones? Let us know in the comments below!
This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at the Top Six Iconic Snacks at the Magic Kingdom. Regular readers of the Saturday Six know that we love eating and drinking at the theme parks. From outrageous snacks like the Chocolate Allspark at Transformers: The Ride-3D, to signature drinks like the Flaming Moe, to a meal at the Three Broomsticks, we’re constantly on the look out for new food an drink options. But sometimes we want our old standbys… our long time favorites… the snacks which evoke memories of trips gone by and remind us of why we became fans of theme parks in the first place. The Mecca for these snacks is, of course, the Magic Kingdom.
Now it seems that pretty much everyone has an absolute favorite snack at the Magic Kingdom, but today we’re going to eschew newer snacks such as the Mickey Pretzel, LeFou’s Brew, and the incredible cup cakes and focus on the six most iconic snacks. Without further ado, let’s start the list!