This is the weekly rumor and refurbishment update for Orlando-area theme parks for the week of January 19, 2014.

Walt Disney World:


FastPass+ is now available to all guests visiting Walt Disney World. In December of 2013, Disney’s Animal Kingdom became the first park in Walt Disney World to convert to FastPass+ only. During the second week of January, the Magic Kingdom became the second park to convert to FastPass+ only. This past week, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot converted to FastPass+ only. There are officially no more paper FastPasses being distributed in Walt Disney World. This marks a major milestone since MyMagic+ and FastPass+ was announced just over one year ago.

© Disney

FastPass+ at Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will function the same way it does at the Magic Kingdom or Animal Kingdom. Offsite guests will have the ability to make FastPass+ selections at the park for that same day. The guest would need to visit a MyMagic+ kiosk and will be able to make three FastPass+ selections for that day. Onsite guests will be able to reserve FastPass+ selections sixty days in advance.

MyMagic+ kiosk locations at Disney’s Hollywood Studios:

  • The tip board
  • Voyage of the Little Mermaid
  • The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror
  • Muppet Vision 3D

MyMagic+ kiosk locations at Epcot:

  • The tip board
  • The Futureworld East breezeway
  • The Futureworld West breezeway
  • International Gateway
  • Soarin’
  • Mission: Space

Now that legacy FastPass machines are no longer in use, many of the old FastPass distribution locations are currently being converted into MyMagic+ kiosk locations. This will help alleviate the lines that form at current kiosk locations. In the meantime, Cast Members with iPads are distributed throughout the park to help guests with their reservations and temporary MyMagic+ locations have been added (basically an iPad on a themed stand).

Animal Kingdom:

Creature Comforts is currently a merchandise location at Animal Kingdom located on Discovery Island right before the entrance to Africa. Disney has notified Cast Members that it will close January 2015, but no explanation has been given as to why.

© Disney

One likely possibility is to convert Creature Comforts into a Starbucks location. The Magic Kingdom and Epcot have Starbucks locations with Animal Kingdom and Hollywood Studios expecting to follow.

Beastly Bazaar closed last year to make way for a new meet and greet to replace the ones at the now closed Camp Minnie-Mickey. With another retail location expected to close, where am I going to escape the Florida sun on my way to Africa?


© Disney

The Epcot international Flower and Garden Festival will be returning this year starting March 5 until May 18. Last year Disney debuted the Epcot International Food Festival, their version of the Food and Wine Festival during the spring. I was not impressed with last year’s food offering, but this year Disney is marketing the food stands as Outdoor kitchens with all new menu items.

Universal Orlando:

Diagon Alley artwork

Universal unveiled details of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley expansion and it is impressive. You can find the full details here. With a new family coaster and several immersive retail and dining experiences, there is no arguing this will be a great addition to Universal Studios. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley is set to open summer 2014.


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