This week’s SATURDAY SIX is special one as we once again dust off the blue blazer and step behind the SATURDAY SIX News Desk. If you’re like us you’ve been deluged with news lately. Many childhoods have been “ruined” because of female Ghostbusters, Justin Beiber – a noted Canadian – was offered $5 Million to perform at the Republican National Convention, and maybe most important of all Taco Bell created a Cheetos burrito. However we’ve been informed that a whole lot of stuff happened in the theme park world recently. So we took a page out of our old college playbook, guzzled down a dozen 5 Hour Energys, and pulled another all-nighter. We crammed as much information as possible into our brains so that we could report back to you, Dear Reader, with all the relevant facts (and before we forget it all tomorrow). So sit back, know that you are getting all the news that’s fit to print (and plenty more that’s not), and let’s begin our countdown starting with…
# 6 – Universal’s Fast & Furious Supercharged Pushed Back to 2018?
Get your Coronas, baby oil, and English-to-Vin Diesel/Vin Diesel-to-English dictionaries ready, SUPERCHARGED is coming in 2018. (photo by Michael Sheehy and Matt Cleary)
While many people would scoff at the idea of the Fast and Furious franchise being an equivalent to Star Wars or Harry Potter, the box office numbers show that there is some smoke to that fire. To date the Fast and Furious movies are approaching four Billion dollars, which is about half of what SW and Potter have done, but F&F is picking up steam fast. In part thanks to F&F’s ethnically diverse cast, it appeals to demographics across the globe in a way that very few brands can. For example, in China Fast and Furious 7 opened to $182,000,000 while Star Wars: The Force Awakens opened to $52,000,000.
Universal announced that Fast & Furious Supercharged would be making its way to Universal Studios Florida in 2017, replacing Disaster and Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue. Walls were put up in front of the old attractions, and graffiti was spray painted along the walls teasing the upcoming Fast and Furious ride. Earlier this summer, the year “2018” suddenly appeared in the artwork, so it looks like Race Through New York starring Jimmy Fallon and Volcano Bay will be Universal’s major projects opening in 2017. Supercharged, with a cast featuring more six packs than a Budweiser plant, will headline Universal’s summer a year later. Hopefully this extra time will allow Universal to develop F&F merchandise that can approach the levels Disney gets with Star Wars and Universal gets with Potter, because that is one area the franchise is way behind in.
# 5 – At Comic Con Disney Announces Guardians of the Galaxy Attraction to a Mixed Near Unanimous Fan Reaction
After a one year break, Marvel Studios returned to the world famous San Diego Comic Con and dropped some major bombshells, including one for the Disney theme parks. After giving news on their upcoming film slate (including Black Panther, Dr. Strange, and Thor: Ragnarok), Marvel brought out the cast for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. At the end of the Guardians presentation, it was announced that a new attraction was coming to Disney’s California Adventure: Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: Breakout. As we wrote back in March (Looking at ways Disney can introduce Marvel to the theme parks) the Guardians of the Galaxy attraction would not be a brand new ride, but instead replace the Hollywood Tower of Terror. The reaction in Hall H was not what anyone would call overwhelmingly enthusiastic.
This week’s SATURDAY SIX looks at Reasons We Love EPCOT. This July we’re celebrating Walt Disney World here on the SATURDAY SIX. We started at Animal Kingdom, and then made our way to Hollywood Studios, but this week we are going to look at a theme park that is unlike any other in America: Epcot.
EPCOT, the only Walt Disney World park in which the monorail goes into the actual park. (photo by Brian Carey)
Comprised of two distinct sections (Future World and World Showcase,) it’s impossible to compare EPCOT to any other theme park you’ve been to. The term “edutainment” is often used to describe the park because it generally eschewed the traditional model of quick and whimsical children’s rides, and instead focused on long and elaborate dark rides that refused to shoehorn in Disney characters (RIP Horizons.) EPCOT’s mascot Figment became an immediate hit, and certainly remains the most popular character ever designed for a theme park. We’ve seen many changes to EPCOT over the years, but it remains a wonderfully unique park. Yes, we miss Kitchen Kaberet, World of Motion, and the original Journey into Imagination as much as anyone, but there are still plenty of things to love about EPCOT’s current state. What’s our favorite? Well, sit back, snack on some school bread, and let’s start our countdown with…
# 6 – Frozen Ever After
In 2014 we shed our tears with the rest of the #SaveMaelstrom movement, but an amazing thing happened when Walt Disney Imagineering converted the old Norway boat ride into an attraction based around the hit movie Frozen: they hit a monstrous home run. Given the constraints WDI had to work with including – for Disney – a rapid turnaround, Frozen Ever After is a dark ride so good that it would fit in perfectly with the legendary Fantasyland attractions at the Magic Kingdom. The animatronics are amazing (Olaf steals the show), guests get to see all their favorite Frozen characters and hear almost the entire film’s soundtrack, including the contractually obligated “Let It Go.”
Elsa, Anna, and Olaf in Frozen Ever After. (photo by Brian Carey)
Sven after getting a triple dog dare. (photo by Brandon Glover)
Best Week Ever is a series that began as a way to take you along for a jam packed journey through Orlando’s theme parks and other attractions. Along the way our contributors have changed, but our approach remains: to make the most of every visit. This past week I have been fortunate enough to have one of my absolute best weeks ever, and I am excited to share some of the highlights with you.
Independence Day Weekend is a cause for celebration throughout the entire country. In recent years it has meant traveling to my parents’ home and spending time with my brother, sister in law, and my five nieces and nephews. Such was the case this year. Cedar Key, FL feels worlds apart from the hustle and bustle of Orlando. It is about a two and a half hour drive to this island that sits in the Northwest corner of Florida. This little island has a small town feel; there are no chain restaurants, one school, one gas station, time moves slower here. If you have enough time in your Central Florida vacation for a side trip somewhere in Florida, consider Cedar Key for a dramatic change of pace.
Cedar Key, FL
The drive to and from is actually one of my favorite parts of a visit to Cedar Key. There a few routes from which to choose, each having at least one portion that consists of driving through backroads, past horse farms, goat farms, and country landscape. Driving through this scenery made for a beautiful way to start Independence Day 2016.
Country road in Marion County, FL
I arrived back in the metropolitan sprawl of the Orlando area close to lunch time. I made the journey from one small town and was about to head to another. Later that afternoon a friend and I arrived at Celebration, FL. This is the town that Disney built. It is perfectly manicured and was the catalyst for the birth of many other planned communities throughout the country. Although Disney no longer owns the community, if you are a Disney fan a visit to Celebration will prove entertaining and enjoyable.
Visitors enjoy the lake at Celebration, FL while waiting for the July 4th concert and fireworks
On June 17, Soarin will officially see its new film debut with Soarin’ Around the World, but for those who want to take their farewell flights and experience the original film one last time, you will now be able to do so!
The classic Soarin’ film will be available for Guests to experience at The Land Pavilion in Epcot for a limited time starting on May 27 through June 16. Guests may book FastPass+ reservations to experience the classic film one last time beginning May 21.
In addition, at Disney California Adventure, Soarin’ Over California will be showing now through June 15.
For those unaware, when Soarin’ Around the World official debuts will take Guests to unique locations across the globe including the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Sydney Opera House in Australia, and more.
Ok, let’s review, that is seat, seatbelt, carry-on items, safety strap, fear of heights, keep your hands and arms inside at all times…anything else? Oh yeah…have a nice flight on classic Soarin’ one last time!
Guests will finally be able to see the world on Soarin’ at both Epcot and Disney California Adventure.
Beginning on June 17, Soarin’ Around the World will debut giving Guests a glimpse of the Great Wall of China, Sydney Harbor in Australia, and the Matterhorn in Switzerland. The ride will immerse Guests in a multi-sensory experience with sights, sounds, and smells.
The soundtrack of the attraction will see a bit of a change that fits with the new destinations, but will still be based on the current version. There will also be a surprise ending for Guests to experience.
Here is a preview of what Guests will be able to expect with the new film:
If you are planning your very first visit to Walt Disney World, and you’re like me, you’ve probably done your Disney homework on the parks and resorts. I’m sure you have lists of what attractions you want to see, what characters you want to meet, and I bet you even made those dining reservations the day you booked your trip, right? Still, despite all your planning and newly accumulated park knowledge, it’s still easy to make those Disney World Rookie mistakes. My goal today is to let you in on some tips and info that I wish I had known before my park visits to help your first time trip to Walt Disney World run a little more smoothly. I’ve already covered What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip to the Magic Kingdom; and so for today, I’m tackling What I Wish I Knew Before My Trip to Epcot!
The length of World Showcase is what I wish I knew before my trip to Epcot!
Two Parks in One
Epcot is one park, but it has two very different sections: Future World and the World Showcase. Future World was originally intended to educate visitors about the world and to be a showplace for new technology. However, Future World has suffered some criticism in recent years as many of its buildings sit empty and seems to be more representative of the past than the future. Still, Future World is home to some of the park’s most popular attractions such as Soarin’, Test Track, and the iconic Spaceship Earth. Epcot’s other section, World Showcase, sits towards the rear of the park and encircles the World Showcase Lagoon. This part of Epcot features eleven pavilions themed after different countries from around the world, as well as one for the United States.
What’s really awesome about World Showcase is that Imagineers went to great lengths to make each pavilion and its design both historically and culturally accurate, so you feel as if you’re in another country and also getting a sense of its history at the same time. Also, I absolutely love eating at the different World Showcase restaurants and shopping for souvenirs from around the world.
Welcome to the first Best Week Ever of 2016! I hope that you all had a wonderful New Year’s Eve celebration, and didn’t suffer too badly for it the next day. As it turns out, Walt Disney World itself requires a little “hair of the dog” to recover from the previous week’s capacity crowds. Peak season may have passed, but the Epcot holiday hangover lingers on…
My first Epcot visit of 2016 occurred 4 days into the new year, but the aftermath of holiday crowds — and the flood of cars that had to be parked on every available surface, including the lawn — was still in evidence as I approached the park.
Are you a Disney Park critic? I know, it’s hard to be critical of anything Disney (at least I think so), but even I have to admit that I’ve experienced a few things that some parks don’t do as well as others. Of course, there’s also a number of things that each park does very well! Today, I’m breaking down Disney Park Strengths and Weaknesses beginning with one of my personal favorite parks: Epcot.
Epcot has a very interesting history. What few guests know is that Epcot was one of Walt’s main focuses when it came to his Florida Project and that the park we know today wasn’t exactly what he had in mind. Epcot, formerly known as EPCOT Center, stands for Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow and was intended to be a real, working community with an innovative design to serve as a model for future cities. When Walt passed away, the vision for Epcot gradually turned into a park that celebrated both the future and the world. That is why Epcot is composed of two different sections: Future World and World Showcase.
Soarin’ at Epcot will be closed for a very lengthy refurbishment for the first half of 2016. The refurbishment of the popular attraction found in The Land Pavilion will be closed starting on January 4, 2016, and will reopen sometime during the summer of 2016. No official reopening date has been announced, nor do we know the exact extent of the work that is to be completed.
Currently, a third theater is under construction. This refurbishment is connected to that work. It is also unclear whether Soarin’ Around The World will be ready to debut when the refurbishment work is completed. However, one would expect that it would debut at or around that reopening time. I will keep you posted as more information gets released about this refurbishment.