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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!
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!