Archive for August, 2014

Universal Merchandise: The Film Vault in Universal Studios Florida (Kong, Ghostbusters, BTTF)

by on August 31, 2014

Earlier this month Universal Studios Florida opened a new store called The Film Vault which offers products featuring a wide assortment of fan favorite Universal properties including Ghostbusters, King Kong, The Godfather, Back to the Future and more. The store is located across from Transformers: The Ride 3-D and replaces the Delancey Street Preview Center, where guests were used as test audiences for upcoming television shows. The preview center has been moved closer to the front of the park near Schwab’s Pharmacy.


The Film Vault (photo by Seth Kubersky)

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The Magic, The Memories, and Merch! August 2014 Photo Report of the Disney Outlet Store

by on August 31, 2014

MMM positiveHave we reached the end of August already?!  What a month. We saw a new hard ticket event – Villains Unleashed – have its first ever party (and possibly last ever considering all the refunds that were given out to unhappy guests). Speaking of hard ticket events, Disney announced the first ever hard ticket event during a hard ticket event with the Sinister Soiree experience during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. We said goodbye to the American Idol Experience and hello to Falcon’s Fury at Busch Gardens Tampa, which finally allowed human beings on months later than expected. The “busy” season is finally over, and with kids back in school, we Florida residents can finally enjoy the slow days at the park where Anna & Elsa only have only a two hour wait!

With that out of the way, who is ready to hit the Outlets?!

Our first find is FRONTIERLAND PLUTO. I bought one of these as I enjoyed the elaborate theming. From the ‘coon skin hat, the various supplies being carried on his back and sides, and the moccasins on the paws, this is one plush that stands out from the rest. I’m also a sucker for the big tongue sticking out in in pure puppy happiness.


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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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SATURDAY SIX: Six Takeaways from Disney’s Villains Unleashed

by on August 30, 2014

This week’s SATURDAY SIX takes a look at Six Takeaways from Disney’s Villains Unleashed. Last weekend the first hard ticket event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios since 2009 took place, celebrating everybody’s favorite bad guys. It was created out of the Unleash the Villains event, which took place at DHS on Friday the 13th in September of last year as part of Limited Time Magic. If anything, Unleash the Villains in 2013 may have been too popular, as what many people remember from that fateful night is the gridlock of vehicles outside DHS trying to get in, unorganized queues to meet the villains inside the park, and nowhere near enough staff to handle the throngs of guests who descended upon the night’s events. What was popular? The Villainy in the Sky fireworks show, which almost all who have seen it agree it was among the best nighttime spectaculars Disney has ever produced. The good news is that Disney brought Villainy in the Sky back, but did it fix the other problems? We’ll examine that and other issues as we look at Six Takeaways from Villains Unleashed starting with…


# 6 – The biggest villains of the night may have been the eBay pirates


Villains Unleashed shirt (photo by Scott Wurzel)


Most of us theme park fans love our merchandise, and nothing is more frustrating than to find out that limited edition merchandise is completely sold out halfway through an event, only to see the very same items up for sale on eBay with ridiculous prices. It happens all the time, so we shouldn’t be surprised, but it happened in spectacular fashion at Villains Unleashed. There were only a couple pieces of event specific merchandise (including a shirt, a water bottle, and a pin), and much of it flew off the shelves before the majority of party goers even had a chance to see it. Lo and behold, all the items began immediately appearing for sale online.



eBay items put up during the Villains Unleashed event


Villians Unleashed pin put up on eBay while the event was taking place












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Pineapple Lanai Opens at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort

by on August 29, 2014



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?

Observations from Magic Kingdom: Frozen Meet & Greet and Be Our Guest Lunch Queue Updates

by on August 29, 2014

Queue update

Guests line up for busses to the Magic Kingdom due to morning monorail maintenance (photos by Seth Kubersky)

In the final weeks of the 2014 summer season, Walt Disney World experimented with some new queuing procedures at popular attractions and eateries, with somewhat controversial results. As the peak crowds have departed, so have most of those tests, so I recently headed into the Magic Kingdom for an early morning queue update on operations at Princess Fairytale Hall’s Frozen Meet & Greet and Be Our Guest restaurant.

My first goal was to arrive well before rope drop, in order to see how swiftly the infamously long line to meet Anna and Elsa was moving first thing in the morning. Unfortunately, I forgot that the monorail is currently opening late due to maintenance upgrades, which made the trip from the TTC to the park a bit more cumbersome than usual.

I opted for the bus transportation option over the overburdened ferry, which turned out to not be a bad choice. The busses loaded about as quickly as could be expected, with a continuous line of vehicles pulling up to service the sizable crowd, and before too long we had arrived at the recently expanded Magic Kingdom bus loop.

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In Case You Missed It: Disney News and Rumors – Week of August 29, 2014

by on August 29, 2014

In Case You Missed It!

In Case You Missed It!

This is it…the last “weekend of Summer,” unofficially of course. I hope you’ve got a ton of fun plans to take advantage of this long weekend. So, start it right! (We both know you stopped officially working hours ago in excitement of the holiday weekend.)

Read about the interesting things that I came across this week that I wanted to share with you, including a peek of the upcoming Inside Out, a Schoohouse Rock TV special, and more!

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


Hmmm…interesting…Disney could potentially use drones at the theme parks in the future…what do you think a creative use for this technology could be?

While Villains Unleashed had a few hiccups (ok…maybe more than a few) I found one thing that’s kind of fun. If you enjoyed the dance mix from the evening, here it is…all five sets. I think I’ve found my new running tracks…

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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.

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.

Halloween Horror Nights and Howl-O-Scream: A Primer

by on August 29, 2014

Ed. – if it’s August, it must be Halloween in Central Florida. Today we’re running articles on Walt Disney World’s Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, along with this one on Universal Orlando Resort’s Halloween Horror Nights and Busch Gardens Tampa’s Howl-O-Scream.

Halloween Horror Nights and Howl-O-Scream 2014

Hello, tender lumplings everywhere! If you believe that life’s no fun without a good scare, chances are you’re a big fan of Halloween. Luckily for you, Florida is one of the best places to enjoy the Halloween season, and I’m not just saying that because literally anything is better than back home in Canada, where all the kids have to wear parkas over their costumes. (If you look at my childhood photo album, you might assume every year I was a skier. I was a fairy princess, curse you!) In fact, two of the biggest Halloween events happen less than an hour away from each other… Busch Gardens Tampa’s Howl-o-Scream, and Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights

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