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Universal Orlando Early Park Admission Changes Starting September 2 [UPDATED 8/30/14]

by on August 30, 2014

Early Park Admission Sign

Big changes are coming in September to Universal Orlando’s Early Park Admission perk (Photo by Seth Kubersky)

As the summer season comes to a close, we’ve gotten word of some upcoming changes to Universal Orlando Early Park Admission policies that are scheduled to go into effect early next month.

While no details have been officially announced, we’ve confirmed this information with guest service leads at both parks, and we believe the following modifications will be made to Universal Orlando’s early park admission perk (otherwise known as “early entry” or “early admission”) offered to guests at the resort’s four on-site hotels.

We will be on hand to report on the new procedures, and we will update the information on our Early Park Admission page as policy changes develop.

[Note: Universal Orlando has recently confirmed an update to the off-season early entry, see below for bolded changes]

Early Park Admission General Information

Universal Orlando offers admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter areas at Islands of Adventure (Hogsmeade) and/or Universal Studios Florida (Diagon Alley) one hour before regular park opening. This perk is given for free to all guests staying at a Universal Resort Hotel. Guests with certain types of “vacation packages” (most commonly sold by Universal Parks & Resorts Vacations and involving both accommodations at a Universal partner hotel and theme park admission) are also allowed in early.

The turnstiles to the park(s) participating in early entry should open approximately 90 minutes before the official opening time. Both hotel and day guests will be admitted to the park, and each eligible guest will need to show his or her own room key to pass beyond the park’s entry plaza during the early admission hour. Guests not eligible for early admission will be held in an alternative area to await the official opening time.

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Pineapple Lanai Opens at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

by on August 29, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

Do you miss getting Dole Whips at Disney’s Polynesian? Well I bring good news, as the sweet/tart pineapple treat is now back! Guests looking to purchase a Dole Whip must now head to the all new Pineapple Lanai kiosk window, which can be found near the pool area, taking up part of the space occupied by the former Wyland Gallery. This new addition is all part of the current renovation project taking place at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort.

The Pineapple Lanai menu features only Dole Whips:

  • Dole Whip Soft Serve: vanilla or pineapple – $3.99
  • Dole Whip Soft Serve Swirl: pineapple swirled with vanilla – $3.99
  • Pineapple Float: vanilla or pineapple soft serve in pineapple juice – $4.99

Guests can also choose to purchase these items in fun tiki-themed souvenir containers. The two Soft Serve options can be served in a Tiki Bowl for $8.79. The Pineapple Float can be served in a Tiki Sipper, which can be purchased for $9.99.

One other change: the Lanai is not a self-serve location, so for those of you who liked to see how high you could fill a cup with the treat over at Captain Cook’s, I’m sorry to say that option has gone the way of the dodo.

Who else is excited that Dole Whips are back at The Poly?

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Walt Disney World Monorail Schedule Changing September 1

by on August 29, 2014

Earlier this summer, the Walt Disney World Resort changed the monorail operating hours. Well, with Labor Day Weekend upon us and summer quickly fading away into fall at WDW, it appears that the monorail will be running different hours again. Beginning on September 1 and lasting (right now) until September 26, the Walt Disney World Resort monorail service will be seeing another set of updated hours, which are:

  • Magic Kingdom Resort Beam: 8:30 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. (12:00 midnight on hard ticket event evenings)
  • Magic Kingdom Express Beam: 9:30 a.m. through 1 hour after the Magic Kingdom fireworks
  • Epcot Beam: 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.

During times when the monorail will not be running, additional watercraft and buses will be available to transport guests.

There is no word yet regarding whether after September 26 monorail hours will still be reduced or if they will return to their standard schedule. As a reminder, the Walt Disney World Resort monorails are currently undergoing an update where they are adding an automated operating system.

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Starbucks Opening at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Early 2015

by on August 29, 2014

Starbucks Coming to Disney ParksIf you’ve been waiting for the official announcement of Starbucks coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this is it.

A new Starbucks location is currently being built on the corner of Hollywood Boulevard and Sunset Boulevard. (It was where you previously could find the L.A. Prop Cinema Storage Shop). The new coffee house, which will be called The Trolley Car Cafe, will be themed after a classic trolley car station, which fits in perfectly with the theming of that section of Hollywood Studios.

This is the third location to be built in the Florida parks. The fourth location, which will be found at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, is expected to begin construction sometime next year. The Disney’s Hollywood Studios store will be similar to the other two Starbucks locations, The Main Street Bakery in Magic Kingdom and The Fountain View at Epcot. There are two additional Starbucks locations at Downtown Disney.

This new Starbucks is expected to open in February 2015.

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Big Changes Coming to Epcot’s World Showcase Performances

by on August 28, 2014

Bye Bye Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps. Such a great show!

Bye Bye Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corps. Such a great show!

Here’s how I started my morning…I got a text from a friend telling me that something crazy was happening…a bunch of World Showcase acts were being removed. You know, those fantastic performers that you see around the promenade. I thought…no way. This has to be one of those off-the-wall rumors…it can’t be true. And then I got on Twitter…and I kept seeing the rumors with more fervor. It can’t be…

Well, now, it is official. Four different acts that perform around Epcot’s World Showcase – Off Kilter, MO’ROCKIN, the World Showcase Players, and the Spirit of America Fife & Drums Corps - will give their final performances at the end of September.

The first to leave will be the World Showcase Players. The last performance date for this comedic troupe found in the United Kingdom Pavilion will be on Thursday, September 25. They performed skits, oftentimes enlisting audience members to be a part of the fun.

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New Villains’ Sinister Soiree Added to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

by on August 25, 2014

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

©Disney

Guests who are looking to add more treats to their Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party experience can participate in the “Villains’ Sinister Soiree: A Wicked Takeover of Cinderella Castle” Dessert Party. The event will include many perks, including a preferred viewing area for the 8:15 p.m. “Mickey’s Boo-To-You Parade,” a preferred viewing spot for “Happy HalloWishes” fireworks extravaganza, as well as a special dessert party at Cinderella’s Royal Table, hosted by Lady Tremaine. The restaurant will be transformed into a villainous atmosphere, with a piano player and haunting solos from Cinderella’s evil step-mother. The dessert party will include over-the-top desserts and non-alcoholic beverages, plus an autograph card and a souvenir Maleficent Dragon cup.

To check in for the event, guests must visit the Will Call booth outside the main entrance of the Magic Kingdom between 4:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Guests may begin checking in at the parade and fireworks viewing area, located in the central plaza by the Castle Forecourt Stage starting at 7:30 p.m. where they’ll receive wristband identification, which must be presented to enter the preferred viewing areas and Cinderella’s Royal Table. The dessert soiree will take place at either 10:15 p.m. or 11:45 p.m., depending on the day. It will take place at both 10:15 p.m. and 11:45 p.m. on September 1, 9 and 12 and at 10:15 p.m. only on September 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28 and October 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30 and 31.

The cost is $99 per person (ages 3 and up), plus tax (gratuity is included). Admission to Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party is required and not included in the price of the event. Reservations can be made by calling (407) 939-5262.

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Kongstruction: Skull Island Announced, Jurassic Park Arch Removed

by on August 23, 2014

Kongstruction project 340 Jurassic Park arch

Kongstruction has consumed an iconic Jurassic Park arch at Islands of Adventure (photos by Seth Kubersky)

Well, it looks like the monkey is out of the bag. For months, we’ve been mentioning the movement on Project 340, or as we like to call it, Kongstruction. Universal’s officially unannounced construction in the expansion pad behind Jurassic Park‘s Thunder Falls Terrace at Islands of Adventure recently required the removal of an iconic Jurassic Park archway.

 

The rumors we’ve reported regarding King Kong returning to Universal Orlando in a new attraction located in that plot have prompted some readers to question why the resort would revive a character with no major pop culture presence since Peter Jackson’s 2005 film. As if in response, Legendary Pictures announced at Comic-Con that Skull Island, an original prequel to the Kong mythos, would be released by Universal Pictures on November 4, 2016.

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New Fun Materializing for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party

by on August 22, 2014

©Disney

©Disney

We are just a week and a half away from the Halloween Season starting at Walt Disney World, as the first Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party will take place at the Magic Kingdom on Monday, September 1. (And for those of you keeping score, The Emporium has already begun to see some Halloween-themed merchandise creep in…get it…nevermind…I’ll stop with the bad puns now.)

Each year’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party sees a few minor tweaks and this year is no exception. It appears that Disney is fully realizing how big Disney Villains truly are, so these bad guys and gals are going to have a big presence at this year’s event.

New this year will be Club Villain, which will be found at the Diamond Horseshoe, located in Liberty Square. This dance party will feature a lively atmosphere, music, and of course, villains. Guests can expect to mingle with Dr. Facilier (The Princess and The Frog), Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians), and Cinderella’s wicked step-family, also known as Anastasia, Drizella, and Lady Tremaine. 

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Raglan Road’s Great Irish Hooley Returns This Labor Day to Downtown Disney

by on August 22, 2014

RaglanRoadHooley2014-AWCropCan you believe we are just one week out from Labor Day Weekend? Do you have your plans yet? If you’ll be in the Walt Disney World area from Friday, August 29 through Monday, September 1, consider heading to Downtown Disney for Raglan Road’s 3rd Annual Great Irish Hooley!

Wait…what’s a hooley? It’s basically an Irish celebration, and celebrate you will! The event will include activities like live music, step dancing, unique food offerings, and more.

The main draw of the event is that guests will be able to experience five different musical acts throughout the weekend. They include:

  • Scythian- Scythian plays gypsy-infused American Celtic.
  • Drops of Green- An exciting new ballad group from the heart of Ireland.
  • The Raglan Rebels- Ireland’s best up-and-coming young band with traditional and modern songs and ballads.
  • The Brayzen Heads- A popular duo on guitar and banjo who put their own spin on things.
  • The West Coast Trio- From Connemara, playing traditional and contemporary Irish songs on accordion, flute and guitar with plenty of reels and jigs.

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Changes Coming to “Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It” Street Party at the Magic Kingdom

by on August 21, 2014

MPL707746

©Disney

It appears that the rumors I’d been hearing were indeed true! The “Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It” Street Party, which takes place multiple times a day at the Magic Kingdom, will be getting a makeover.

The first change comes in the way of a new name; the street party will now be known as the “Move It, Shake It, Dance and Play It” Street Party. This new version will also feature some different characters, including Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy, as well as characters like Stitch and Phineas and Ferb. The street party will continue to feature stilt walkers, as well as dancers to keep the energy pumping.

The cavalcade will still make its way down Main Street, U.S.A., where it will end in the Central Plaza. Here’s where things really heat up and the dance party begins. The updated fun will feature a medley of remixed party song; however, a new twist will be that guests decide the final song to be played for the “Play It” portion by voting for one of three current hits.

The new version will debut sometime this fall.

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