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!
Over at Universal Studios Florida, Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon is officially set to open April 6, but word on the street is that it might actually start soft opens this month. In fact, it might start any day now, if you can believe it. They have just finished construction on the ride exit stairs inside The Tonight Shop gift shop. And it looks like the ride entrance and marquee are very close to being complete as well! We'll keep you posted on soft openings when they happen.
Fast & Furious Supercharged construction continues as new steel is up behind the queue building that went up during our last update. This new structure is separate from the queue warehouse building next to it. Also going on in the park, work walls are still up at the candy store in New York, the free phone chargers that were installed last month are already gone this month (that was fast,) and The Simpsons Ride is back open after a brief refurbishment. Check out the video and photo update below, and stay tuned for more updates coming soon!
Lots more trees and plants have been added since my last visit to check out Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom. It's beginning to get more difficult to see into the area with all of the new plants and trees being planted, but that's a good thing for full immersion in the new land once it's open. Just one more sign that we're getting closer to the opening! I got video and photos of the bridge leading into Pandora for the first time this update. I was excited to see a flock of Imagineers surveying the area while I was there too.
Kali River Rapids is closed for its annual refurbishment and is scheduled to re-open sometime in the Spring. The water has been drained from the ride as part of this rehab. I saw workers touching up painted designs on the load platform using stencils while I was there. The new monkey enclosure at Maharajah Jungle Trek is now open featuring lion-tailed macaques. And I took some video of the Rivers of Light stadium seating, effects, projectors and boats since I hadn't gotten a good look at it yet myself. Watch the video and check out the photo update below for more details!
Construction is moving right along at Universal Studios Florida. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon may be set to open April 6, but the gift shop, aptly named "The Tonight Shop," is looking more and more ready by the day. It's been my assumption that it will open much sooner than the ride, especially considering work walls are down around the store and we can already see merchandise showing up inside. I bet you can't wait to get your very own Hashtag the panda plush! Fast & Furious Supercharged construction continues as they have started building a large queue structure in front of the giant ride building.
Universal has been testing their new Virtual Line system at Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem, (more details about that can be found here.) Also going on in the park, there's minor construction happening at the Candy store in New York, free phone chargers have been installed throughout the park sponsored by Coca-Cola, and The Simpsons Ride is temporarily closed for regular maintenance until January 22nd. Check out the video for full coverage as well as the complete photo update below! And stay tuned for more theme park news and construction updates.
It's the final week before Christmas and while the parks are getting busier and busier, workers are not letting up, working harder and harder to get Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon done in time for its spring 2017 opening at Universal Studios Florida! The new attraction's main entrance sign has been installed, as well as the NBC store's signs. And work continues to theme the bland soundstage building. Over at Fast & Furious Supercharged, all but one small section of the huge show building has now been enclosed. The giant structure can now be seen towering over the buildings in San Fransisco. And finally I took a look at this year's Macy's Holiday Parade, the 15th annual! Check out the video and photo report below and stay tuned for more theme park 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!
The holidays have arrived at Disney's Animal Kingdom and DINOSAUR is back open again! After its recent refurbishment, DINOSAUR has re-opened with new lighting and special effects and more. While the ride is still incredibly dark, some areas have been enhanced with lit-up backdrops and the Compsognathus have been replaced with projected screens (which is actually an improvement in my opinion.) Some other improvements include the Carnotsaurus skins' paint scheme has more detail and the museum lobby displays in the queue have been improved. Over at Pandora: The World of Avatar construction, the pathway leading into the new area has received new lanterns and a big weird scary fake plant too. See the video and images below for more information and stay tuned for more theme park updates!
Christmas is in the air at Universal Studios Florida, as decorations are showing up all over the park. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will be opening in Spring of 2017 and it's starting to look more ready every day. The front facade is quickly beginning to match the concept art released nearly a month ago. Fast & Furious Supercharged construction is finally in full swing as a gigantic show building has been erected. The Roboasis near the Men in Black ride has closed to make way for a new enclosed Coca-Cola Refreshment Station! Not only can you purchase and fill up your souvenir Freestyle cups here, but this is the first location at the Universal parks where you can purchase a single use fountain cup for the Coke Freestyle machines! The RFID sticker on the cup's bottom only allows for one fill-up, which is great for folks that aren't willing to carry around a plastic cup all day but want a Freestyle flavor (like me!) Check out the video and snapshots below and stay tuned for more 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!
Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom will be an entirely new themed land filled with bioluminescent plants, floating mountains, two new attractions as well as themed dining and shopping options. The area is looking spectacular, at least what parts of it that can be seen from guest areas. Much of the floating mountains and show building exteriors are complete and work has begun on guest pathways and more. While I was there I saw that my favorite ride, DINOSAUR, is currently closed for refurbishment. It should be opening back up sometime in late October (or hopefully sooner). Check out the video update as well as images and concept art below, and stay tuned for some more Walt Disney World construction updates coming soon!