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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!

Servers Can Be Key to Success for Florida Restaurant/Theme Park

One of the reasons Capone’s Dinner & Show has been so successful over the past 20 years is due, in large part, to their servers. This past year Capone’s had a “contest” of sorts and asked guests to give a shout out for their favorite server. Read the results at this website page. The following are just a few of some of the other comments received:

“Great experience! We laughed until our sides hurt. “Vito” was an excellent waiter but the whole staff was fun.”

“It was the highlight of our vacation. Our waitress Toni could not have been any nicer.  She went out of her way to ssure that we had  a great time.”

“Our server (Sticky fingas) was EXCELLENT with his service. I never had to ask for a drink refill…they just kept coming!”

“We had so much fun, the show, the beautiful cast, as well as the food was excellent. Our waiter Tiny was great too.”

“Our servers name was bullet, he made sure that our drinks were filled to the rim…We didn’t have to ask for refills because he was right on it….If you want a good value for your money then check out Capones – the actors and singers were fantastic, had me singing along with them.”

Even if you read the many dinner show reviews written on Trip Advisor, you won’t find a bad comment about the service at Capone’s Dinner & Show. Many of the service personnel have been on staff for several years; lots of experience creating a well-oiled machine. There is something to be said about that. New dining experiences at Orlando attractions are not nearly as smooth as this organization.

Be Our Guest Restaurant Menu Cover

Copyright Disney Enterprises, Inc.
All rights reserved

Take for instance, the opening of the New Fantasyland (parts anyway) at Magic Kingdom. Specifically, the Be Our Guest Restaurant now open for lunch, dinner and a special/unique dining service. Guests may need to take it easy on the servers or Cast Members working there. The folks at Walt Disney World have some work to do in order to make this Orlando dinner show experience a well-oiled machine.

Servers are discovering that many guests at the mysterious West Wing are staying much longer than expected in order to take in this unique dining experience. Every 15 minutes special effects take place within this Orlando restaurant (petals drop off an enchanted rose, a painting changes due to a lightning strike, etc.) and guests often linger at their table to make sure they don’t miss them. Instead of the normal hour and 15 minutes allotted per table, reservations (that have been made months in advance) are being delayed. Guests waiting an additional hour + to be seated when they have a reservation tend to not be happy!

Another reason for lingering at this new dining experience is the fact that this is the only Magic Kingdom restaurant to offer beer and wine. Even with steep prices (6+ for beer and $8-17 for a glass of wine), guests are staying for an additional beverage while taking in all of the sights. Sight is yet another issue. The lights must be dimmed so dark for the show that servers must use flash lights just to wait on and assist their guests in reading the menu.

There is no doubt that Disney will get the kinks worked out with the reservation scheduling. If you already have reservations, just be prepared for delays. Also show some kindness to your server. It isn’t their fault you’ve had to stand in line in the weather to be seated so late or can’t see your menu.

Not every Orlando restaurant or Central Florida theme park has a “Vito,” “Bullet” or “Baby Face.” Capone’s servers are unique and some of the best around. This Kissimmee restaurant isn’t new like the New Fantasyland, but they are featuring an all-new show for their 20th anniversary. Their invitation? “Be Our Guest” at a “family reunion” and experience service the way “Al” would approve of – fit for a boss, whether beauty or beast.