Orlando Theme Park News and Updates Week of June 11, 2014

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Here is the latest news at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando from our friends at Destinations in Florida Travel. This week features Fastpass+ updates, several Disney special events, and a bunch of operational updates. At Universal Orlando, we’ve got a look at the amazing new entertainment offerings coming to Diagon Alley, sneak peeks from the ‘Weasleys’ and Halloween Horror Nights info!

What’s New This Week?

Walt Disney World Resort in Florida

New! FastPass+ Experience Group Changes at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios: As a reminder, Guests make FastPass+ selections at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios from experience groups. This allows more Guests to secure their most-preferred experiences. For FastPass+ selections on June 16 and beyond at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, The Great Movie Ride will move to group 1, and at Epcot, Living with the Land will move to group 1, while Character Spot and Maelstrom will move to group 2. If you already have FastPass+ selections for either park, you will be able to keep your selections, as long as you do not cancel an entire selection set. The updated experience groups will apply to all new FastPass+ selections, including those for which a Guest cancels an entire set. Also, beginning June 12, Guests will have the option to select English, Spanish or Portuguese at any of the in-park FastPass+ kiosks.

New! Car Masters Weekend Jun 14 – 15 at Downtown Disney: Car Masters Weekend, an event that’s perfect for car lovers (and lovers of “Cars”), will return to Downtown Disney June 14 – June 15, 2014. This year, guests can cruise through over 100 classic, muscle and exotic vehicles at the Downtown Disney Car Show Presented by Meguiar’s. The cars will be displayed throughout the West Side promenade, where fans of all ages can vote for their favorite.  Those who complete a voting ballot will receive a coupon for a 20% lunch discount to use at any of the following participating Downtown Disney restaurants, while supplies last:  Bongos, House of Blues, Paradiso 37, Planet Hollywood, Wolfgang Puck, and Splitsville. Automotive Legend Chip Foose will be returning to the event; he’s scheduled to make celebrity appearances and will take the stage to share his passion for cars. He’s also created some brand-new merchandise, available for sale throughout the weekend. Other happenings include: Disney-Pixar’s Cars movie marathons at AMC, Live entertainment, including a DJ, National Yo-Yo Champions and DisneyQuest Animators teaching how to draw Disney-Pixar’s Cars characters, A Disney Interactive tent, where Guests can play the new Disney Infinity game, Specialty merchandise and signing opportunities with celebrities, Meet ‘n’ greet opportunities with favorite Disney-Pixar’s Cars characters and Richard Petty Driving Experience, unveiling two new Pixar cars for junior ride-alongs!

New! Watch World Cup Games from Walt Disney World: The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off June 12, and everyone is getting into the spirit.  If you’re visiting Walt Disney World during the World Cup and wish to catch a game, you can catch it at these on-property viewing locations:

  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort – Silver Screen Spirits Pool Bar and World Premiere Food Court
  • Disney’s All-Star Music Resort – Intermission Food Court and Singing Spirits Pool Bar
  • Disney’s All-Star Sports Resort – End Zone Food Court and Grandstand Spirits Pool Bar
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Sanaa Lounge, Maji Pool Bar and Uzima Springs Pool Bar
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort – Martha’s Vineyard
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – Banana Cabana Pool Bar
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort – The Wave … of American Flavors
  • The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort – Crockett’s Tavern
  • Disney’s Old Key West Resort – Gurgling Suitcase
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort – Tambu Lounge and Barefoot Pool Bar
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort – Everything POP Shopping & Dining
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside – River Roost
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter – Scat Cat’s Club

You can also follow along with the World Cup at Rainforest Cafe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Odyssey at Epcot, as well as ESPN Club and Big River Grille & Brewing Works at Disney’s BoardWalk!

New! World Cup-themed Fun at Walt Disney World: Guests can also celebrate the World Cup with some exclusive Disney experiences. For instance, a themed Goofy topiary is featured at Epcot for a special photo opportunity. From June 9-July 13 at the Germany pavilion inside Epcot, a Disney-created soccer experience is available for anyone wanting to practice his or her skills. For those interested in adorning themselves in themed apparel, specialty merchandise is available in select retail locations across property, including the new United World Soccer store at Downtown Disney.

New! Villains Unleashed Event Announced for August 23, 2014:  A brand new special event will take place at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Aug 23, 2014 8pm -1am — Villains Unleashed! Beware the power of evil as many of your favorite Disney villains run wild in Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a special after-hours night of mischief and mayhem capped off with a wicked fireworks spectacular! Tickets are on sale now, $67 (adults) and $62 (ages 3-9) + tax.

New! Attraction Photos Automatically Linked to Memory Maker: As of Tuesday, June 3, Guests who purchase and link Memory Maker and have a MagicBand linked to their My Disney Experience account will have their attraction photos automatically associated to their accounts without stopping at the counter to claim their photos. This functionality will be available at Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Test Track, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, DINOSAUR and Expedition Everest.

New! Check Quick Service Receipts for Coupons: Guests who visit certain quick-service dining locations in Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort theme parks June 10 through July 14 will receive a coupon attached to their receipt. The coupon offers 20 percent off purchase at participating merchandise locations during store opening and 1 p.m. between June 10 and July 15.

New! Changes in Animal Kingdom Due to Harambe Nights:  In preparation for Harambe Nights, Africa will close at 6 p.m.  every night the Harambe Nights event takes place through August 9. On these days, Tusker House will have its last seating at 4:30 p.m., and there will be no dinner period.

New Arcade Enhancement at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside: The Medicine Show Arcade at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside now offers a prize hub for Guests. Several games have the ability to add e-tickets to our Guests’ arcade cards after they play the game. Guests are able to collect as many e-tickets as possible, and they can redeem their e-tickets for prizes by scanning their arcade card at the prize hub. Each redemption game will have a yellow label if it is eligible for the prize hub.

New! Evening Shuttle Test from Downtown Disney West Side: Shuttle vans will be available midnight-1:45 a.m.to transport Guests to the Marketplace bus loop, which services Walt Disney World Resort Guests until 2 a.m. Vans will leave from the OPQ lot at the end of the West Side promenade behind Cirque du Soleil.

New! Walkway from TTC to Disney’s Polynesian Resort Closed: To accommodate renovations at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the existing sidewalk between the resort and the Transportation and Ticket Center will be closed. Beginning June 10, pedestrians will be directed to use a different path between the two locations.

New! Block -out Date Lifted on Military Park Hopper Tickets July 4th: Support for U.S. military personnel and retirees is a longstanding Disney tradition. Both the Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort offer promotional, multi-day park hopper tickets at a discounted price on participating U.S. military bases. The block-out on use of these tickets on Friday, July 4, has been lifted at Magic Kingdom Park, Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. There are currently no remaining block-out periods for the 2014 Disney Military Promotion

Reminder: New! Richard Petty Debuts Piston Cup Junior Ride-Along Cars June 14: Two vehicles from the “Cars” franchise, Aiken Axler and Sage VanDerSpin, are about to make their debut at the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World Resort as a part of the new Junior Ride-Along program. In it, children ages 6 to 13 (and at least 48 inches tall) will have the chance to experience real-life racing excitement as they ride shotgun with a professional driving instructor for three thrilling laps in a specially equipped Piston Cup race car. Junior Ride-Alongs do not require reservations and are given on a first-come, first-served basis. Find more, visitDrivepetty.com or call 800-237-3889.

Reminder! 2014 “Star Wars” Weekends Continue Through June 15: At “Star Wars” Weekends at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Guests can see celebrities from the films and television series and enjoy special shows and panels at various locations in the park. Returning this year are the shows: Behind the Force: “Star Wars Rebels”, Stars of the Saga and Obi-Wan and Beyond starring James Arnold Taylor. Also returning this year are “Legends of the Force” Motorcade and Celebrity Welcome, Padawan Mind Challenge and DJ Lobot Dance Party. New this year will be nightly “Symphony in the Sky” fireworks and the dining and experience options we mentioned previously. The celebrity host this year is James Arnold Taylor along with co-host Ashley Eckstein. The celebrity guests for Weekend V are James Arnold Taylor, Ashley Eckstein, Dee Bradley Baker (Voice of Captain Rex and Commander Cody in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”), Matt Lanter (Voice of Anakin Skywalker in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”), Steve Blum (Voice of Zeb Orrelios in “Star Wars Rebels”), Tom Kane (Voice of Yoda in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”) and Cat Taber (Voice of Padme Amidala in “Star Wars: The Clone Wars”).

Reminder! Some Performances of Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Cancelled: Due to upcoming concrete work on Main Street, U.S.A., there will not be morning performances of the Move It! Shake It! Celebrate It! Street Party on the following dates: June 3, June 6 and June 13. The parade will only perform at 5:40 and 7 p.m. on these dates.

New! Merchandise Events:

  • June 12 – 22: Find the latest releases from Precious Moments doll designer and artist Linda Rick at Once Upon A Toy in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Add to your collection and meet representatives June 12 – 22 and June 26 – July 7. Look for a special appearance by Linda throughout the day, each day, June 12 – 15 and July 3 – 6.
  • June 12 – 15: Look for special appearances by artist Larry Dotson throughout the day at Main Street Cinema in Magic Kingdom Park
  • June 14: World-renowned Celebrity DJ Pauly D will appear in the Downtown Disney Marketplace from Noon to 1 p.m. to sign his recently released line of DJ Pauly D headphones from SMS Audio.
  • June 14 – 15: It is Car Masters Weekend at Downtown Disney. Special merchandise will be available at various locations.
  • June 18 – 22: Artist Greg McCullough returns to Art of Disney in Epcot.
  • June 20 – July 3: Artist David E. Doss will be appearing daily at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Stop in and find a new piece of art to add to your collection!
  •  June 21: Stop by Animation Gallery inside Disney’s Hollywood Studios for the limited edition release of  “Studio Flashback,” featuring Oswald, and meet the artists from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.. Can’t make it to the event? Order yours now!
  • June 26 – 29: Look for special appearances by artist Larry Dotson throughout the day at Main Street Cinema in Magic Kingdom Park
  • June 28: Now, all the world is Figment’s stage! To celebrate the launch of the new, limited edition figurine, Figment Actor, sculptor Jacqueline Perrault will be on hand for a special appearance and signing from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and again from 3 to 4 p.m. at Art of Disney in Epcot. Unable to make it? Take advantage of a special pre-purchase opportunity now through June 27. Also appearing for a special artist signing will be Kevin-John from 1 – 3 p.m.

Closures and Refurbishments

Click here to view the latest renovations and closures at Walt Disney World Resort.

Universal Orlando Resort


New! Halloween Horror Nights Schedule and Tickets Available Now: Halloween Horror Nights returns to Universal Orlando on select nights Sep. 19-Nov. 1, 2014. Watch your worst nightmare take shape as Universal Studios Florida theme park is transformed into the award-winning Halloween Horror Nights 24. See if you can survive all-new haunted houses, spine-chilling street experiences, outrageous live shows, and more! Here are the dates for this year’s spooktacular event! Scheduled dates are:

  • September: 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28
  • October: 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31
  • November: 1
  • Event tickets can be purchased either on their own or as part of a Universal Orlando package.

New! AMC’s ‘The Walking Dead’ to Return to Halloween Horror Nights: After rave reviews from fans on both coasts, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood are bringing back AMC’s “The Walking Dead” to Halloween Horror Nights for an unprecedented third consecutive year. Horror-hungry fans will experience all-new terrifying mazes inspired by Season 4.

New! Entertainment Details Announced for Diagon Alley: Imagine wandering up the cobbled street of Diagon Alley, turning into nearby Carkitt Market, and enjoying a live performance by one of the wizarding world’s most popular singing sensations or seeing stories from The Tales of Beedle the Bard come to life right before your eyes. Universal Orlando Resort revealed the exciting details behind the unique entertainment and interactive experiences that will debut as part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, the all-new, magnificently themed land opening this summer at Universal Studios Florida.

While exploring the streets of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, guests will be able to enjoy the following shows:

  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a new stage show taking place within Carkitt Market, a covered, outdoor shopping area inspired by London’s famous markets. The show will feature a troupe of four from the Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts who have set up to perform a trunk show using stylized scenic pieces, props and puppetry fabricated by Emmy-award-winning designer Michael Curry. Curry is best known as the production designer  on projects including the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony and the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show. The performers will retell two of the famed tales of Beedle the Bard, a 15th-century author of wizarding fairytales. The show will feature “The Fountain of Fair Fortune”, in which three witches and a knight meet in their attempt to reach the Fountain in an enchanted garden, and “The Tale of the Three Brothers” – featured in the seventh film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1” – in which three wizard brothers come face to face with Death.
  • The Singing Sorceress:  Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, a musical performance featuring the ever-popular singing sensation of the wizarding world, known from the books as Molly Weasley’s favorite singer, who she listens to on the WizardingWireless Network. The swinging show will feature never-before heard songs including, “A Cauldron Full Of Hot, Strong Love,” “You Stole My Cauldron But You Can’t Have My Heart” and “You Charmed The Heart Right Out Of Me”. These titles were all created by J.K. Rowling and the lyrics also include never-before-revealed information on Celestina’s wand from Pottermore.

There will also be various interactive opportunities for guests to enjoy while visiting London and Diagon Alley:

  • The Knight Bus, which provides emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard in the Harry Potter books and films, is located in the London area of the new land.  Guests will be able to meet and chat with the Knight Bus Conductor, and witness his rapport with the shrunken head hanging from the rear-view mirror. The iconic three-story, purple Knight Bus was inspired by its first appearance in the third film, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”The Knight Bus at Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley
  • Gringotts Money Exchange, a place where guests will be able to interact with a Gringotts bank goblin and exchange their Muggle currency for Wizarding Bank Notes. These bank notes can be used within both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade (and throughout the rest of Universal’s two theme parks) to purchase snacks and items from the shops.
  • Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC, one of the wizarding world’s premier wand shops. Visitors to Ollivanders will step into the small, dusty shop and experience “a wand choosing a wizard” firsthand, reminiscent of one of the most iconic scenes from the Harry Potter books and films.  This interactive experience is also available at Ollivanders in Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

 New! Construction Walls Down at London Embankment of Diagon Alley: On Monday, June 9th, constructions walls came down around Hogsmede Station and the London Embankment. Both areas looks spectacular, but neither are open to the public as of this writing. A grand opening date has not yet been announced for Diagon Alley.

New! Universal Orlando Official App Announced: Universal Orlando Resort launched a new mobile application today that gives guests full control of their adventure by providing immediate attraction wait-times, interactive park maps, customizable favorites lists and more – all with the swipe of a finger. The app is available as a free download for Apple and Android mobile devices. Android – http://bit.ly/1nwUznz  Apple – http://bit.ly/1hIfKUb

New! Park-wide Free Wifi Access: Universal announced the debut of free park-wide mobile Internet access from Xfinity WiFi. When you’re in the parks or Universal CityWalk, just look for “xfinitywifi” on your mobile device and follow the steps to get started.

New! DJ Sandman Spinning Live at the groove? Jun 14: Electrifying South Florida’s most high-profile celebrity events, Mr. Sandman has become one of the most sought-after DJs in the local entertainment scene. A-list celebs like Jennifer Lopez, Eva Longoria, Shaquille O’Neal, Common and numerous others continue to call upon Mr. Sandman to bring his trademark sound and style to their star-studded events. Sat • June 14, Doors Open @ 9pm, 21+ only | $7 Cover. VIP Bottle Service Available. FREE Parking for Florida Residents (after 6pm)

Closures and Refurbishments

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

  • None scheduled

Universal Studios

  • Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular: 6/15 no show scheduled

When Heather isn’t busy sharing Planning tips about Walt Disney World, the Disneyland Resort, Universal Orlando, and more, you can find her planning Disney and Universal Orlando vacations. Contact her on Facebook at Heather Abbott-Agent with Destinations in Florida. For more info and to book your travel, use the Price Your Vacation Form in the Sidebar or click here. You can also call 877-918-8941 and ask for Heather to book. Make sure to mention that you were referred by Socalthrills.com! Safe travels everyone!

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