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11 BIG Updates From Walt Disney World (and Beyond) This Week (April 25 - May 1, 2016)

This week at Walt Disney World, an unconventional "virtual" RunDisney event is announced, a new entertainment offering hits Epcot, plus we get an updated look at PANDORA: The World of Avatar. 

Outside Walt Disney World, Universal's parent company makes a key acquisition, a new house is confirmed for the latest iteration of Halloween Horror Nights, plus SeaWorld announces an unlikely new partnership, and teases the return of a fan favorite. 

1. Virtual runDisney event announced

Image: Disney

This week Disney announced the first ever virtual runDisney event, which will allow runners to participate in an official Disney race, no matter where they are. Entitled the Virtual Running Shorts Series, this set of three virtual races (Yellow Shoes 5K, Red Pants 5k and White Glove 5K), will allow guests to complete in their own choice of location, at their own pace, and does not require participants to submit times or even prove they ran the race in order to earn a medal. 

Individual 5K races costs $39 to enter and guests will receive a medal by mail after they register. Guests who want to participate in all three 5K races can pay $143 for the entire series and will receive all three individual race medals, as well as a special challenge medal, digital race bib and a Mickey tumbler. 

2. New details about PANDORA: The World of Avatar released

Image: Disney

Though not a big update, Disney released some additional details about what guests can expect to experience when PANDORA: The World of Avatar opens next year. In this small update, it was confirmed that there will be special "bioluminecence" effects in this new area at night (including the previously mentioned glowing floor effect), and there will also be special "artifacts" left by the Na'Vi for guests to investigate to learn more about these amazing fictional beings. 

3. TradNation makes way for Alberta Bound 

New musical act Alberta Bound will be replacing TradNation at the Canadian Pavilion's Mill Stage later this month. The group is actually not new to Epcot, as Alberta Bound previously played at Epcot when previous entertainment act Off Kilter was on break.  

4. Fulton's Crab House to reopen in the fall as Paddlefish 

While Fulton's Crab House at Disney Springs has been closed for refurbishment for several weeks now, it has now been confirmed that this dining location will reopen in the fall with a new name: Paddlefish. In addition to the new name, this dining location will also have a full interior remodel, with new decor, a rooftop lounge and an outdoor bar. 

5. The Earful Tower officially removed

Image: Disney

Though we already knew that the Earful Tower wasn't long for this world, reports surfaced Friday that this former park icon had indeed been torn down this week, officially signaling the end of an era for Disney's Hollywood Studios.  

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