Hiya! Thank you to everyone that has followed my blog for the past several years. I've had a blast covering massive construction updates from the beginning like the new King Kong ride at Islands of Adventure. As many of you already know I have started an entirely new website devoted to the Orlando parks: OrlandoParkStop.com.
In an effort to focus more on my new site I will no longer be posting articles and updates to this blog. Please follow the news feed RSS for my new site, and subscribe to the Email Newsletter for continuing coverage. I've already covered the opening of Pandora and Volcano Bay in great detail since starting the site. And I've discussed many rumors about upcoming lands and attractions like the Epcot upgrades and Toy Story Land. New stories about Super Nintendo World and Star Wars land are coming soon as well!
I hope to see you at the new website and once again, thanks so much for your support! Visit now at OrlandoParkStop.com.
Construction is actually underway over at Disney's Hollywood Studios! We're finally seeing some movement on the Star Wars and Toy Story land work. The queue building for Slinky Dog coaster is going up and foundation work is happening at Star Wars land. The Muppets balloon with Kermit's face on it has been removed from the MuppetVision theater tower. This was to prevent it from being seen from within Star Wars land, (although I'm not sure why it had to come down so soon.) See below for more details about these massive new expansions, including concept art and a map outlining the ride placements in relation to the rest of the park.
Elsewhere in the park, Starring Rolls Cafe has closed its doors for good, with many of its baked goods now only available at the Trolley Car Cafe across Sunset Blvd. The tables out front are still present for guests, and signage remains (for now,) but there's no indication that Starring Rolls is ever going to be coming back. And lastly, guests now have a chance to check out a preview for the new live-action Beauty and the Beast at One Man's Dream. Plus, you can see props and Belle's dress used in filming. See the video as well as the extensive photo report below and stay tuned for more theme park news and updates!
Land is still being cleared for Star Wars over at Disney's Hollywood Studios and the flat New York skyline facades are completely gone now. Toy Story Land is coming along now that all the pavement has been removed, the entire production tour building has been removed and the old Streets of America city hall is gone. PizzeRizzo, the new Muppets themed pizza restaurant is now open in Muppets Courtyard, replacing the old Pizza Planet restaurant. The new re-skin includes cute funny nods to the Muppets throughout, but otherwise hardly adds to the park's overall (muddled) atmosphere. And I checked out the new Rogue One props and costumes on display in the Preview Gallery at the Star Wars Launch Bay. See the video and photos below for more information and stay tuned for more theme park updates!
It has been a few years since I've visited Disney's Hollywood Studios so I thought I'd check out this currently front-heavy theme park and see how all the new (massive) projects are coming along. Toy Story Land, which should hopefully be opening within the next two years, is off to a good start. The third track for Midway Mania is open and keeping lines short(er). They've made great progress clearing the land and moving out all the debris so construction can begin soon. Star Wars Land (or the Star Wars Experience as it's being referred to in-house) is not as far along. With much more to tear down on the Streets of America and surrounding areas, there will still be some time before we actually see vertical construction I'm afraid. That being said, it is surreal to be able to see clear across the Streets of America without facades in your way. Seeing Muppets from Writer's Stop is interesting for sure.
And speaking of The Muppets, the newly re-themed restaurant PizzeRizzo is coming along nicely and should open for guests within a month or two. This former location of Pizza Planet is receiving a makeover to create a more cohesive "land" for the Muppets called Muppets Courtyard. The only last remnants of a true backlot, Muppets Courtyard has a New York street feel, and the new PizzeRizzo facade really shows that. (If they could only do something about the unthemed soundstage smack in the middle of the area that currently houses a Muppet gift shop.) I was happy to see a little nod to Pizza Planet in the newly designed pizzeria. It says "Best Pizza on the Planet", but PIZZA and PLANET are in big block letters. Beautiful way to remember the former location. New outdoor bathrooms are being added as well, aptly named Gonzo's Royal Flush. Check out the video plus many images below and stay tuned for more theme park updates!
The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure has been completely refreshed and is now open for guests! We've witnessed the entire track being replaced piece by piece, the queue building get new paint, signage, and storyline, the whole area receiving beautiful nighttime lighting effects, and a gorgeous new entrance created with a realistic full-size Hulk statue standing tall. But now we finally get to see what the queue looks like inside, how the launch tunnel has improved, and what the on-board music sounds like on the ride! It's wonderful to see such a classic attraction like the Hulk receive some much-needed TLC. I love the new area music around the Hulk courtyard, (hear it in the video below just after a minute in.) It has a military feel, and is very cinematic, perfectly punctuating the new area theming as a secret military base and scientific lab. Check out the video for your area update plus the images below of the updated ride, queue, and grand opening ceremony. Stay tuned for more theme park updates coming soon!
All remnants of the old NBA City restaurant are gone as work looks be wrapping up on the exterior of the new Toothsome Chocolate Emporium & Savory Feast Kitchen. This original steampunk themed restaurant should be opening soon at Universal CityWalk. I was there Friday evening and the immense size of those smokestacks is incredible. They can be seen from everywhere on property, including from inside the parks! Check out the video and photographs below for a look at the new smokestacks, steampunk decor, and even working gauges that really spin! No word yet on an opening date but tables, chairs, and everything else is starting to show up inside and on the outdoor patios, so it shouldn't be too much longer now! Stay tuned for more Toothsome news as it happens.
The Incredible Hulk Coaster at Universal's Islands of Adventure has been completely rebuilt from the ground up and it's looking like it's just about ready to re-open! Spectacular lighting effects and new roar sound effects have been added since my last visit, as well as some smaller details throughout the area. Everything looks truly incredible at night and I cannot wait to ride it with the new launch effects, sounds, and music! As I was leaving last night they were taking down the construction walls, so hopefully that means a soft opening is not too far away. See today's video and photographs below and stay tuned for more Hulk updates coming soon!
We're a few steps closer to the grand re-opening of the Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure later this Summer. The brand new entrance and plaza are ready. Most of the work walls are now down throughout the area. A new life-size Hulk statue holding a piece of coaster train between two ripped pieces of track beckons you to enter. And the new locker station is complete, with a new system that utilizes your park ticket to reserve your free locker rather than your fingerprint which can be faulty at times (especially in the hot summer months). Other changes since my last update include some new safety nets, lots of nighttime lighting has been installed on the track supports, the lagoon is filled with water again, and the queue building looks nearly complete on the outside. Trains are now cycling empty for testing, so no more water dummies as far as I could tell. Check out the video as well as lots of images below and stay tuned for more theme park updates!
Universal Orlando has started rolling out a brand new logo, which has already been noticed in commercials featuring King Kong. The new logo was designed to be more modern and to align with the master Universal brand, matching the style of their film company's logo. The new logo will be rolled out slowly over the course of several years. During this time guests may see both the old and the new logos in different places throughout the resort on signs, brochures, marquees, etc. Personally, I like the new logo, especially the way the Earth looks in the background, much more realistic and modern. But it's unfortunate that they just started replacing annual passes with new plastic ones that still carry the old logo. Missed it by this much. What do you think of the new design?
I braved the crowds on a very busy Memorial Day weekend to get some pictures and video of vehicle testing as well as construction progress for the Incredible Hulk Coaster at Islands of Adventure. The brand new coaster trains look incredible in person and I cannot wait to hear the on-board music while riding. (Learn more about the new trains here.) The "roar" of the trains has been dampened a little to make for a quieter Hulk Coaster. I've been told this was to make the area a little more bearable for people trying to hear each other talking, but also help you to be able to hear the new on-board music for the ride. But trust me, it still roars out of the launch tunnel! It looks like there's still a lot of work to be done to the queue building before the Hulk Coaster can re-open later this summer. The queue building is being extended as well. Check out the video and all the images below for more details!