Tag Archives | orlando theme park news

Theme Park News Tidbits

This week’s theme park news has focused around 5 of our major theme parks – Disney, Universal, SeaWorld, Legoland and Busch Gardens. It has been filled with good news and not-so-good news. For the most part, the news is good as Summer comes to an end and the Fall specials begin.

Legoland Hotel Now Accepting Reservations

Good news for Legoland as they begin accepting reservations for the summer of 2015. The five-story Lego themed hotel will feature 152 rooms and suites. The rooms will be brightly colored with pirate, kingdom or adventure themes.

The hotel will include a pool, restaurants (with a kid-size buffet) and filled with interactive play areas. Hotel guests perks will include early entrance into Legoland and be treated to nightly entertainment. Rates are thought to start at $249.

Legoland Hotel Construction

Universal Studios Passholders

Starting in September, annual passholders to Universal Studios Orlando will receive early access to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley on weekdays. This means an additional hour to enjoy the busy park, which has been particularly crowded since Diagon Alley debuted in July. With usually long lines at the Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts thrill ride, these guest will surely try to get this in early.

Look for more perks to come to passholders this September. Universal is calling this month Passholder Appreciation Month. For details and future announcements, go to UniversalOrlando.com.

Disney World Cancels Yearly Festival

Festival of the Masters will not take place this November as it has for the past 38 years. The renovations being made in  Downtown Disney are just too crazy to have such an event this year. Construction continues in this area which will be called Disney Springs once complete.

Since Disney Springs has a target date of 2016, it is uncertain whether the Festival of Masters will be held next year, or ever. More than 130 award-winning artists usually participate, as well as live performance artists and other entertainment. Since there has never been a charge for admission, this event brought in people of all walks of life, making it a great opportunity to introduce fine art to a large number of people. Hopefully, Disney will bring this festival back.

Busch Gardens Soft Opening of Falcon’s Fury

Originally scheduled to open back in May, Falcon’s Fury is finally getting off the ground with a soft opening. A few choice park guests are getting to ride this thrilling attraction. There is still no word on an official opening date, but an announcement is expected soon. It is unfortunate that this theme park missed out on the summer season.

SeaWorld Looks Ahead

The deadline to file a petition concerning the judgement the federal appeals court has passed. This ruling upheld OSHA’s citation issues following the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau. It appears that SeaWorld is giving up its ongoing battle with OSHA. They will continue with their new training methods around the killer whales.

SeaWorld’s stock plummeted 33 percent this week after it reported weak earnings and lackluster attendance for the year. With the expansion of the killer whale pools, SeaWorld hopes to gain more favor in the next year. SeaWorld continues to lead the way in marine mammal display, rescue and education.

Milestones & Extensions: Orlando Theme Parks Doing Well

Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios

Hogwarts Express Milestone

One day short of a full month, Universal Orlando reached a milestone of transporting 1 million passengers on the Hogwarts Express! The train that connects the Harry Potter attractions within Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure theme parks has been so efficient, the million passenger mark has come quicker than many expected.

When the new theme park attraction opened on July 8th, Universal was hoping to send out one set (2 trains) every 10 minutes. However, they have stepped it up a notch and are now launching trains about every 8 minutes. No small feat when you are talking about roughly 185 guests each trip. Hopefully, Diagon Alley will begin to see improvements in the Gringotts ride which remains less efficient than hoped. Surely all of those magic wands can cast a spell to make a million milestone there soon.

Disney Extends Frozen Event

"Frozen Summer Fun Live!" at Disney's Hollywood Studios

Another somewhat surprising announcement made this week came from Walt Disney World. They have extended the “Frozen” summer special event for an additional four weeks. This has been extremely popular for park guests, and Disney is not in a hurry to see the crowds go. Instead of ending September 1, 2014, the special event will continue through the 28th. However, after September 1, the “Frozen Fireworks” will only be featured on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

If you’ve not experienced the Frozen fun yet this summer, you now you have a few more weeks to join Anna, Elsa, Olaf and friends. Go ice skating (additional fee), play in the snow, sing along, or see them in the parade. It is sure to bring a few chills!

Congratulations to both of these Orlando theme parks! It is great to see such milestones being reached, and extensions being made when something is working so well. Like these larger attractions, Capone’s Dinner & Show continues its success with a hilarious show that is suitable for all ages. If it has been awhile since you’ve visited our theatre, you need to return! If you’ve never experienced our speakeasy, you owe it to yourself to give it a try. The gang will treat you like “family.”

Discovery Cove Does It Again!

Swim with dolphins at Discovery Cove

Congratulations to Discovery Cove for receiving the number 1 ranking of amusement parks on TripAdvisor’s Travelers’ Choice competition! This Orlando theme park also won the award last year, making it a back-to-back recognition by travelers. Great job! There were several other Orlando attractions earning top spots as well.

TripAdvisor collects reviews for a year and uses a special algorithm based upon quantity and quality of guests experiences to determine the rankings. Orlando theme parks and water parks did very well in taking many of the top spots. Here are the local results of the top 25:

Attractions/Theme Parks:

1. Discovery Cove
2. Universal’s Islands of Adventure
3. Magic Kingdom
4. Disney’s Hollywood Studios
6. Animal Kingdom
7. SeaWorld Orlando
10. Busch Gardens
11. Epcot
15. Universal Studios

Water Parks:

1. Disney’s Blizzard Beach
2. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon
3. Aquatica
9. Wet ‘n Wild
13. Adventure Island (Tampa)

It is no small feat in keeping as many travelers happy as what our local theme parks receive every day of the year. Since these rankings are based upon reviews written by actual travelers (and not based upon travel agents commissioned to book trips here), they provide a fairly honest system for ranking a guest’s experience. Those who work in the guest service industry know that there are some people who are never pleased, so to get this many people to be happy enough to write a positive review and rank an attraction a 5-star experience, is a wonderful acknowledgement.

Capone’s Dinner & Show has received a Certificate of Excellence four years in a row. We’re always happy when a guest enjoys themselves enough to take the time to write a positive review. Thank you to our guests for helping us achieve this honor once again this year!

Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence

Florida received 10 rankings within the top 25 best beaches. Siesta Key ranked 3rd, St. Pete ranked 9th and Clearwater ranked 21st. My personal local favorite, New Smyrna Beach, did not make the list, but that is fine with me (our secret is safe for now). Of the top 10 restaurants, only Victoria & Albert’s made the list from the Orlando area, ranking 3rd. With so many attractions making the list, I was a little surprised that Orlando didn’t rank higher as a top destination. Orlando came in 10th (Miami Beach came in 25th). New York held on to the top spot. Perhaps it was the void in ranking of the top hotels – Florida did not receive a single ranking in this category.

Regardless, there are many reasons to vacation in Orlando. Be sure to visit at least one of these top attractions or water parks when you get the chance. Also, save a night for Capone’s Dinner & Show, it’s a blast from the past and an award-winning dinner show!

Animal Kingdom to Add Avatar as New Orlando Attraction

Avatar land at Animal Kingdom

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc. All rights reserved.

Mark 2017 on your calendar. Avatar is coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. It will be over three years before theme park goers can enjoy this new Orlando attraction, but a project this big and detailed will surely be worth the wait.

Over two years ago, Disney secured the theme park rights to this blockbuster film franchise. Our first look at this new attraction includes artistic renderings recently released by Disney, depicting guests totally immersed in “Pandora.” This is the fictional planet in which the 2009 film featured and will be the new area within Animal Kingdom. Park visitors will be able to walk among floating mountains with beautiful cascading waterfalls; float down a jungle river with bio-luminescent plants, and be able to soar in the sky on a new ride which will simulate riding a Banshee.

The attractions in Avatar Land will include at least these four experiences:

  1. A soaring-style attraction
  2. An immersive boat ride
  3. A walk-through attraction
  4. Multiple themed restaurants and stores

Avatar is currently the highest grossing movie of all time. How Disney will make it suitable for young children is to focus on the imaginative creatures, intriguing characters and the strong theme of family and loyalty. They will not focus on the plot of the movie. The issue will be when a young child experiences the theme park and then asks to see the movie! What will parents say? Perhaps the movie sequel in this franchise slated to be out in December of 2016, will focus on less violence.

When choosing which Orlando attractions to visit, we hope that guests to the Orlando area will keep in mind that Capone’s Dinner & Show is friendly for all ages to experience! A perfect way to enjoy a day at the theme parks is to visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the day followed by an evening at this Orlando dinner show!

The addition of Avatar/Pandora will help Animal Kingdom’s night-time attendance. Some guests attending this Orlando theme park feel it is currently a half day or short day attraction. Some days during the year, it closes as early as 5:00 p.m. With a nighttime show with floating lanterns, water screens and glowing creatures, Disney will captivate their guests for several more hours. In some ways, this new Orlando attraction may even be better experienced at night! A lot of focus is going into new technologies in the park’s development and nighttime features are sure to benefit.

Some people are concerned about the safety and health of the real animals at this Orlando theme park. The additional hours and noises could possibly impact them. Pandora’s animals are imaginary creatures, so there is no concern about their addition.  Disney has assured us that the real animals will be taken to an area away from the night activities and not suffer in any way. Time will tell.

This new attraction coming to Orlando will be an exciting one to experience. Waiting more than 3 years will be the hardest part! During the coming years, parts of Animal Kingdom will be under construction and not so attractive. Let’s just hope anyone visiting this theme park between now and when Avatar Land opens will excuse the dust and return to see the final product. By the way, 2017 will also mark the year when the Orlando International Airport’s expansion is set to be complete. The expansion almost doubles the airport’s capacity…perhaps to accommodate all of the Avatar fans!

Orlando Attraction Expansion – Legoland

Build a Raft at Legoland

Attractions in Orlando are constantly expanding and adding new rides and features. It helps keep visitors returning year after year. When Legoland opened in October of 2011, it has been in a constant state of building. A “Star Wars” section was added to its Miniland USA area this past year. Also, the water park section, which was added last year, has added twice as many Lego bricks as it had when it opened. Other features have also been added to the water park. They include:

  • An intricate Lego entrance now welcomes guests at the 1,000-foot lazy river experience where swimmers (of floaters) can build their own Lego rafts.
  • While floating along, be sure to check out the new 200,879 Lego Duplo bricks that make up a huge whale, none other than Moby Dick.
  • What water feature would be complete without a mermaid? The 15-foot tall Lego mermaid is made of 176,210 bricks and spouts bubbles intermittently at the water park entrance.
  • Friends of the mermaid include a Lego shark and scuba diver. You’ll find them at the 583,000-gallon wave pool.

World of Chima comes to Legoland Florida attraction

Legoland has also announced a future expansion of their Central Florida theme park. Around July of this year, the “World of Chima” will open. The expansion includes a new interactive ride, a 4D movie and more. This area will be presented by Cartoon Network because of their animated TV series based on the Legends of Chima. They will also have screens placed sporadically around the park where you can view their network.

The new interactive ride will consist of a family-friendly water ride where guests will enter the World of Chima through a stone and moss covered entrance. At the Lion Temple, guests will join the Lion tribe in a battle to recover the stolen CHI orbs. Guests will enjoy helping their hero with the use of water cannons.

The expansion featuring the 4D movie experience will bring the World of Chima characters to life on the big screen. There will be daily meet and greet sessions where guests can interact with Laval the Lion Prince and Cragger the Crocodile King. Of course, young guests will want to save up their money so that they may purchase the Lego sets of Legends of Chima and Speedorz.

You will have to wait until late this summer to experience the World of Chima, however, the water park is open now. During Spring Break, the park, which is commonly closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. During the cooler months, it is not uncommon for this section of Legoland to only be open on the weekends. It is best to double-check the hours before you head out to this area theme park.

If you haven’t been to Legoland, or it has been a few months since you’ve gone, check out their expansion. The bricks just keep piling up! Building with Legos has always been fun; this is just at a grander scale. In fact, it is the grandest! Legoland Florida is the largest Legoland park in the world!