This is the weekly rumor and refurbishment update for Orlando-area theme parks for the week of September 22, 2013.
Walt Disney World
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train completed its first drop test this past week. Last week Disney announced that the attraction was doing “push/pull” testing and now the train completed a trip around the track under its own gravity. As you can see in the photo below, each train will consist of five log cars. With fairly small drops and banks, the experience of guests riding in the front of the train should be much milder than guests riding in the back of the train, somewhat similar to Big Thunder Mountain across the way in Frontierland. The new coaster is a family ride and said to be less intense than Big Thunder, so it will be interesting to see how much of a thrill the passengers up front will get, if any. If you look closely, you can almost make out the swinging effect of the cars. It is difficult to notice without any additional weight, but this photo proves that the log cars are not going to be in a fixed position. This swinging effect will probably be the most exciting aspect of the new attraction and not the drops or steep banks. The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train is still set to open in 2014 with no specific date given.
The Festival of Fantasy Parade got new concept art and details this past week. The new parade has now been given an opening date of spring 2014, rather than the ambiguous 2014 date that was previously stated. My best guess is that it will debut around the same time as the grand opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The new parade will feature floats from Dumbo, Sleeping Beauty, Tangled, Peter Pan, Pinocchio, The Little Mermaid, Brave and more. Due to the introduction of the new parade, the Celebrate a Dream Come True Parade will officially end on December 20, 2013 with finale performances scheduled for January 1 – 4, 2014. Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmastime Parade will run everyday during the holiday season.
This weekend is the first weekend of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival and a place that hosts several events for the festival is the Festival Center located between Mission Space and Ellen’s Energy Adventure. The Festival Center, as some of you might remember, was previously the Wonders of Life Pavilion and housed several attractions such as, Cranium Command and Body Wars before it was permanently closed in 2007. Now twice a year, for the Food and Wine and Flower and Garden festival, guests are encouraged to walk in and explore what was once the most popular destination in Epcot. I think that this space is not being used to its full potential and I know I am not the only one. I never liked the attraction, Body Wars, and the old Wonders of Life Pavilion would make me nauseous. To some extent, I am actually glad they discontinued that theme. What I am not glad about is that nothing replaced it. My grand idea would be to expand the concept behind Ellen’s Energy Adventure and create a Universe of Energy Pavilion. That would keep in theming with Future World West and the building is already located directly adjacent to Ellen’s Energy Adventure. Of course, this is simply myself dreaming of a concept and in no way is confirmation on anything changing with the Festival Center. If you are visiting Epcot between now and the beginning of November, I encourage you to check out the building and explore a piece of Disney history.
Last week I mentioned that Splash Mountain was closed between January 6th and 31th 2014. Now the Refurbishment has been increased to January 6th to March 21th 2014. That’s an increase of nearly two months from earlier. The reason for the lengthy closure is unknown, so be prepared to miss your visit to the brier patch if you are planning a vacation during that time. It might seem excessive to close an attraction for 3 months after a refurbishment of nearly the same length occurred this past winter, but anybody who visits the Magic Kingdom regularly will tell you that Splash Mountain is prone to closures. A long refurbishment during the low ride attendance of the winter months should keep it operating better come the grueling summer months.
Halloween Horror Nights have begun at Universal Studios Orlando Resort. The event is a separate hard-ticket event. Meaning that a regular theme park ticket will not suffice to get into the event. Prices vary greatly depending on the night and how many nights you wish to visit. The Express-Pass is also available during the Halloween Horror Night and is an additional cost above the entrance fee if you choose to get one. Again, prices vary depending on the night. Halloween Horror Nights is not recommended for children under the age of 13, but if you have a little tot that loves blood and the stench of rotting flesh, then by all means. The main draw of the Horror Nights are the haunted houses show cased around the park and the actors walking throughout the park waiting for a good scare. The Horror Nights are extremely popular and do tend to get very crowded, especially as the dates get closer to Halloween. If you want to experience everything Universal has to offer then get to the park around 5:00pm since they will begin letting guests in at 6:00pm. I would also consider getting a multi-day pass or an Express-Pass as lines for the haunted houses are generally between 1 to 3 hours long in the evening. If the idea of zombies lurking behind is not your thing, then there is always Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party across the highway at the Magic Kingdom for the little ones or grown-ups who are kids at heart. At the Mickey Party you can enjoy candy, the Boo-to-You Parade and a special Happy Hallowishes fireworks show. For all the Halloween fun, visit this page.