New This Week:
  • Feature of the Week: Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse
  • Dining Around the World: Tusker House
  • Pinocchio's Village Haus Construction
  • Star Wars Weekends: A Final Look
  • Main Street Firehouse Closing
  • Confectionery Unwrapped!
  • Epcot Food and Wine Festival Event Information
  • Tiki Room News - New Show Details!



Firehouse station set to close on Main Street.
Insider News!!

The Confectionary tarps have come down to reveal a new color scheme. Upon further inspection the only thing that caught my attention was the bricks not decreasing in size as you look further up the wall. Someone may be able to clarify this but doesn't that mess with the idea of forced perspective?

A more detailed look at the new changes courtesy of Jeff Lange DVD.


A closer look at the Storybook Section of the new Fantasyland.
by YoyoFlamingo

A Closer Look at Storybook Circus
Disney recently shared some new concept art of the Fantasyland Expansion on their Parks Blog, mainly the Storybook Circus. A general overhead glimpse at what the area will look like shows the tents, Great Goofini, Dueling Dumbos, and the train station with Casey Jr. Water Play Area. While nothing new is showcased in the art, it gives the viewer a chance to gain a better perspective at how the area will play out. The most notable feature seems to be the inclusion of a lot of greenery and trees, much like was added to the DCA expansion on the West Coast, as well as possibly the water fountains underneath the Dumbos like Disneyland has. While there's still a lot of time to change the plans, check out the current peak at the expansion and hope water and greenery are in the future for this corner of Fantasyland.

But while we wait, let's take a look at some construction photos taken this Saturday and check on the progress.

Sadly, the Fantasyland Skyway station is no more.

A more detailed look at the new changes courtesy of Jeff Lange DVD.

Pinocchio's Village Haus has tarps up behind the tower.

While the roof receives some maintenance as well.

The work is now extending into the common areas of Fantasyland, with groundwork being completed right next to Dumbo.

Work on the new expansion is coming along rather nicely, with Belle's Cottage really starting to take shape and reflect what we have seen in the drawings.

A more detailed look at the new changes courtesy of Jeff Lange DVD.


You Don't Have To Pull The Sword From This Stone To Be A Hero...
by Tom Bricker (WDWFigment)

This sword in the stone from the animated film of the same name is one of those little details that can make for some great photos, both with people in the shots and without. The stone used to be the sight of a neat little show involving Merlin and a child pulling the sword out after grown men failed at the task, but sadly this show has disappeared to Yesterland.

Here, I used an ultra wide angle lens to bring in as much of Fantasyland as possible on the sides. This also made the Castle appear smaller in relation to the sword in the stone, which was desired as the sword in the stone, and not the Castle, is the subject of this shot.


Most people, when an attraction stops, find themselves wondering how quickly it will get started again. Not me, I wonder how long I have to take photos and secretly hope for an evacuation. How about you? Do you hope for a Disney 101?


Tiki Room set to be original show minus Offenbach.
Insider News!!

Tiki Room News!!
We've just learned that the new Tiki room will indeed be the full original show minus Offenbach, which makes it akin to the show currently showing in Disneyland on the west coast. Also, the pre-show script reflects the original tropical serenade pre-show.


Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse




Frontierland Shootin Arcade will be closed for refurbishment June 9th - September 30th.

Work continues behind tarped walls on the Frontierland Shooting Arcade

A more detailed look at the new changes courtesy of Jeff Lange DVD.


The Carousel of Progress sign had returned in its original form, albeit missing the current year.
Jeff Lange DVD


Epcot Food and Wine Festival Event Information
by YoyoFlamingo

Food and Wine Festival Event Information
From the DisneyParks Blog comes news of this year's Food and Wine Festival at EPCOT, running September 30th-November 13th.

Some favorites are returning, such as:

What is interesting is the new features, such as new booths from Portugal, the Caribbean Islands, Hawaii, a new Cranberry bog display, and most interesting is the Odyssey Lounge in the old Odyssey restaurant with Internet access and charging stations. Hopefully this marks a return of the Odyssey, especially if it proves to be popular. More details can be found on the blog site.


Hosted by James Arnold Taylor
Guests: Peter Mayhew & Ray Park
by Lisa Mills

James Arnold Taylor talks with Peter Mayhew who plays Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy and in Revenge of The Sith. Peter Mayhew has just had knee surgery, so he is led in by special guest Chewie.

Peter Mayhew talks about how they developed the personality of Chewbacca.

A question from a special member of the audience-Chewie!

Chewie takes a seat while Peter Mahew answers his question, well..I think so, because only Peter Mayhew understands Wookiee

Chewie takes an exit once his question is answered.

Ray Park is bouncing all over the stage even with suffering heat stroke earlier that morning.

Ray Park has a question from a special audience member-R2D2!

R2D2 wants to know if Ray Park can make any item a "Deadly Weapon"?

Peter Mayhew, James Arnold Taylor, and Ray Park.

Hosted by Ashley Eckstein
Guests: Tom Kane
by Lisa Mills

Ashley Eckstein talks with Tom Kane who is the voice of Yoda in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. He is the 6' 5" man who voices Yoda who is under 3' tall!

Ashley Eckstein cracking up at Tom Kane doing excellent Sean Connery voice.

Tom Kane answering questions from the audience.

Tom Kane, James Arnold Taylor, and Ashley Eckstein showing how they provide the voices for the characters of The Clone Wars.

Pictorial Wrap-Up!
by Lisa Mills

Goodbye to Rex!

Star Tours: The Adventures Continue

Storm Troopers, Clones, Hero's, Villain's, and other Characters.

And that is all until Star Wars Weekends 2012.
Thank you Walt Disney World, Special Guests, and all involved-Excellent Job!
See Ya Real Soon!


Tusker House
Lunch at Tusker House in Disney's Animal Kingdom
By TerryTiger

My second article takes us to Disney's Animal Kingdom and the Tusker House restaurant in Harambe Village in Africa. This is another restaurant where you can often walk up without an Advance Dining Reservation (ADR) and still be seated (especially if you wait until 2PM or so). Tusker House is a sprawling facility with several dining rooms and a huge buffet courtyard in the center of the restaurant. This is an all-you-care-to-eat buffet restaurant featuring the exotic flavors of Africa and the Middle East. Tusker House is open for breakfast, lunch, and usually a short period in the late afternoon for dinner (since Animal Kingdom typically closes at 5PM or 6 PM). The breakfast is a character dining experience.

Although Tusker House looms prominently over the entire west side of Harambe Village, the actual entrance is a little hard to find all the way around in the back of the building where you will find the main check-in counter (to help confused diners they put another "check-in" counter between the main building and the outside Dawa Bar with a hostess that will direct you around the building to the back).

For those not-so-adventurous eaters, there are plenty of standard American dishes to supplement the exotic including fruits, salads, cold-cut meats and cheeses, and a section featuring the usual kid's fare of corn dog nuggets, chicken fingers, mac-n-cheese, PBJs, and the like. But the real treat here is the wide selection of foods that will probably be new to you. In addition to your standard bread varieties and the expected pita bread, the standouts are the mealie bread (a type of cornbread), fruit and nut multi-grain rolls and chocolate-mango bread. There is a wide assortment of spreads such as hummus, tabbouleh, and several chutneys. Vegetarian options abound here with several varieties of couscous, rice and samosas as well as all kinds of meats and seafood which provides something for everyone.

The serving stations are spread in a semi-circular fashion around the courtyard so you rarely have to stand in a line, just head over to any section and serve yourself. The exception to this is the carving station featuring prime rib of beef and Kenyan Coffee-rubbed pork loin (and the pork goes great with the excellent mustard sauce provided in front). Also of note: the pearl couscous, the seafood stew (loaded with shrimp, scallops, and fish), the salmon, and the Cape Malay Curry Chicken (spicy).

Smack dab in the center of the courtyard is the dessert station which features dozens of different items from banana-cinnamon bread pudding with a vanilla sauce to chocolate lava cake as well as passion fruit tarts, lemon bars, brownies, cookies and even a wonderful nutty baklava!

Beer and wine are available from the adjoining Dawa Bar, but all other non-alcoholic beverages are included with the meal. Lunch will run $20-25 a person which is a bargain considering the amount of food available including drinks and desserts. All the usual credit cards are accepted along with the Disney Dining Plan and Tables in Wonderland.

Comparisons to Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge are inevitable as the food served is quite similar. My personal preference is for lunch at Tusker House (Boma is not open for lunch and dinner there will run almost twice as much).


Royal guest rooms now available for booking.
by YoyoFlamingo

Royal Guests Room Now Available
Port Orleans Riverside allow princes and princesses of all ages to stay where Disney royalty have stayed. Guests find regal touches left behind by some of their favorite Disney characters like fiber optics special effects above ornately decorated beds with gold and crystal accents; custom linens and drapes; and in-room art and details including princely banners and princess friends. The 512 Royal Guest Rooms start at $189 per night.


Guests set a Guiness world record for swimming at Typhoon Lagoon.
by YoyoFlamingo

Everyone has a favorite Hidden Mickey. I know of several families that make Mickey hunting a central feature of their vacation - perhaps you do it, too?

For myself, I was never that taken with the entire phenomenon. Maybe I visited too often, but it was hard to muster much enthusiasm for those famous three intersecting circles. That said, from time to time I came across a Hidden Mickey that interested me. Usually it was something unusual, like a Hidden Minnie (Great Movie Ride loading dock) or a Hidden Kermit (old Star Tours queue), but sometimes it was just the Mickey shape. My favorite one was near First Aid in the Magic Kingdom.

I said "was" because I noticed this weekend that it's not there. Hopefully this is temporary, and they plan to replant the necessary row of flowers to re-make the Hidden Mickey. The circular fence around the fountain was the "head" and there were two "ears" (not even half-circles, but definitely intentional) courtesy of a row of flowers around each of the trees on one side.

The flowers are gone, and there's no telling if they'll be back. Maybe the current gardeners just didn't know about the purpose of the flowers? Here's hoping for a quick return.

Ground clearing for the new miniature golf attraction.
By Dsneyfan89

Ground clearing is underway at Universal City Walk for their brand new "Hollywood Drive-in Golf." These two new 18-hole miniature gold courses will take their cues from classic 1950's horror movies and science fiction movies. Here is a look at some of the work taking place next to the AMC Cineplex and the main walk way into City Walk:

Next to the Movie theater.

Further to right near Valet Parking

On the opposite side of the walkway.

A little further to the right.

Over by the movie theater they removed part of the wall for what will eventually become the entrance.

Looking at the space it seems like these golf courses will be very small and cramped. Not to mention awfully close to the pre-existing road. We doubt the space could hold the beautifully sprawling Fantasia Gardens course or even one half of the smaller Winter Summerland golf course that Disney built (and lets not forget the countless other miniature golf courses located in the central Florida Area!) Universal will have to really step up to the plate in terms of size and execution if they want to draw tourist away from other competitors.

To learn more about the New Golf Course slated to open early next year check out this Orlando Sentinel article: Universal Orlando: Miniature golf courses set for Universal CityWalk

Construction photos.
By Dsneyfan89

Over at Jaws we can now see the frame for what will become this house's facade.

Back over at Disaster construction is now in high gear.

The Disaster queue provides a unique challenge for the HHN designers as when they are building the maze they have to work around large unmovable props in the Disaster Queue such as the airplane in this photo.

Now that the frames of the houses are up the set designers will move in and begin to transform these spaces into settings. Universal is extremely secretive of their event and try to withhold as much information about the Houses, ScareZones, and overall theme of the event. So far this year Universal has been keeping a tighter lid than usual on details for this year as not a single clue has been released to the public. Usually by now the first clues start to emerge on the Event's Website.

*Disclaimer: All Construction photos where taken on stage in open guest areas. At no time should you ever enter a backstage area or construction site without permission and proper safety equipment.*

Do you want to be a part of this year's HHN event? Have you ever wanted to be one of the many Scareactors who bring people's nightmares to life? Starting July 12th Universal will begin holding their first open auditions for this year's event. However due to the overwhelming response Universal received last year, this year's auditions are by appointment only. To learn how you can sign up and for more info for this year's auditions you can visit Universal Orlando's audition website at: Universal Studios Orlando

Summer Night's
Now through August 14th
Returning this year is Kinetix, a 30 minute show that features acrobatics, dancers, singers and pyrotechnics. The show is included with admission and is performed nightly at 9:00pm at Gwazi Park (located behind the Gwazi roller coaster).

Also performing during Summer Nights is magician Christopher Cool, who will be performing nightly in the Marrakesh Theatre. Showtimes are 5:00pm, 6:00pm, 7:00pm & 8:00pm (except Mondays).

Also on July 2, 3 & 4 after Kinetix, there will be fireworks to celebrate Independence Day.

Island Nights - Adventure Island
Now through August 13th - 5PM to 9PM
This summer at Adventure Island, (BGT's water park) when the sun goes down, the fun heats up during Island Nights. From June 9th to August 13th, it's a vacation from the everyday as Busch Garden's water park transforms into a celebration of island life with live music, authentic entertainment and inspiring cuisine.

Random park photos.
By Aimster

Kasi and his puppy pal, Mtani.

A look at some of the "streetmosphere" at the Crossroad of Culture...

A juggler.

Magician who does some really neat card tricks.

Gatorland - Screamin Gator
Opening Summer 2011Kennedy Space Center - Star Trek Exhibit
Now through September 5th
Appearing for the first time in Florida, STAR TREK: THE EXHIBITION, presented by EMS Exhibits, Inc., is an interactive exhibit of authentic Star Trek artifacts from the past 45 years, featuring one-of-a-kind costumes, props and filming models from Star Trek television series and feature films. Together these elements offer, Star Trek fans and novices alike, an opportunity to experience first-hand the imagination, artistry, technology and meticulous craftsmanship that have made Star Trek the most enduring science fiction franchise in history.

Orlando Science Center - Guitar: The Instrument that Rocked the World
Now through September 11th
The National GUITAR Museum announced that its touring exhibition, GUITAR: The Instrument That Rocked The World will launch worldwide at the Orlando Science Center. The 5,000 square foot will explore the history and evolution of the guitar-from lutes and lyres to modern high-tech instruments-and show how the instrument became the cultural symbol it is today.

Don't forget to check out the other areas of MiceChat that offer news, updates and photos about the other Disney Parks around the World!
  • Dateline Disneyland which is packed with great news and photos from the Disneyland Resort.
  • Weekend Update Offers a world of Disney theme parks as well as other sights and landmarks!
  • In The Parks offers news, updates and tips from Disneyland and other Southern California offerings.
  • SAMLAND - Your weekly look at some interesting tales from Disney history.
  • And you'll always find something of interest on the forums or MiceAge!

Show us you appreciate this column by sharing this page with your friends!

We want your photos! Contribute to the Orlando Parkhopper by emailing with your submissions. We welcome volunteers for single contributions as well as permanent "Parkhopper" staff.

Thanks to our fantastic and talented crew of writers, photographers and news contributors who work hard every week to bring you the latest information available: