Despicable things are afoot in Florida's theme parks. While Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom continues with their Fantasyland expansion, we also have news on Star Wars Weekends and on recent developments at Epcot. But that's not all, we also have a full report from Universal Studios Orlando where the new Despicable Me attraction has sinage, Cinematic Spectacular lagoon show is on track and the parade route is being prepared for something new. We round out or huge update with a trip to Busch Gardens and a swim through Sea World Orlando. Let's hop to it . . .


Attention future Gumball Rally stars, this year's event is nearly sold out. Time to get your team registered!

The MiceChat Gumball Rally is a race to find out who can ride the most attractions at Disneyland in a single day. It's a fantastic event for Disney fans of any age and a great way to spend a day in the park with friends and family. Whether you win or lose, you are always a winner when the race takes place on your favorite rides at your favorite place on earth.

When: May 19th, 2012
Where: Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California
COST: $29.99 per person
How Do I sign up?: MiceChat Events Store Gumball Rally Sign Up
How Does the Rally Work?: Rally Information Page

But that's just a little piece of the puzzle. We'll also offer a pre-Rally pasta party on May 18th and a MiceChat Mega Meet on Sunday the 20th (save the date). T-Shirts are available for this year's event as well. If you've never heard of the Gumball Rally before, please visit the Rally Information Page HERE for more information and FAQ. A discussion thread has been created in the forums as well: MiceChat Gumball Rally Discussion.

Tickets for this year's event will likely sell out in the next few days, so don't delay, get your teams together and sign up today! RALLY SIGN UP HERE

Yesterday, Disney finally announced officially that Starbucks is coming to every Domestic Disney Park. Although we don't know the locations yet, our best guesses for the Florida Parks are: in the New Fantasyland or at the Bakery on Main Street in the Magic Kingdom, In the Fountain View Ice Cream Shop at Epcot, Possibly The Writer's Stop or Rolling Stars Cafe at Hollywood Studios, and a yet unknown location at Disney's Animal Kingdom replacing part of one of the many shops on Discovery Island. Starbucks is coming to Disneyland Resort first, at Disney California Adventure this June.

There is still plenty of work happening along Main Street. Mostly the same stuff as before.

Now that the Orange Bird has been officially reintroduced to the Magic Kingdom, the only interesting news to report at the moment is the massive amount on construction going on in Fantasyland. We have some beautifully comprehensive shots of the entire expansion project thanks again to the diligent Kevin Yee.

Barrier walls that will lead from the existing courtyard setting to the more fantasy-like forest beyond are being constructed.

We continue to be very happy with the beautiful facade being constructed on the Little Mermaid show building. Whimsical bluffs and sea cliffs nicely mask the large show building.

Can you spot the hidden cinnamon roll?

Access to backstage between Storybook circus and Little Mermaid.

The second Dumbo spinner is still under construction in Storybook Land Circus.

We also see that a tent has finally been installed on one of the structures.

Here is a look at the restaurant and meet and greet that is being constructed just on the other side of the walls.

The show building for the new restaurant can be seen next to Village Haus.

Supports for the new Seven Dwarfs Mine coaster with the Beast's castle not too far in the distance.

In this shot, Kevin really captures the massive blank spot left in the spot once occupied by the Fantasyland Skyway station. A new bathroom construction project is going into this space, just between "it's a small world" and Haunted Mansion.

Here's a new angle on the Mine coaster construction site, whose track began appearing a few weeks ago.

You can see the Seven Dwarfs coaster supports to the left.

In the same angel, notice the large retaining wall to the right of the track work.

Is there a part of the new Fantasyland expansion which you are most excited about? Anything you wish they would add to the project?

Weekend 2 (May 25- 27)Weekend 3 (June 1 -3)
Weekend 4 (June 8- 10)
Activities & entertainment (subject to change)
That is all that we have so far. The weekend events and appearances can change at any time so please check back for more updated info as the events get closer.

Communicore Weekly on the MiceTube

Do you miss Horizons at Epcot? We do! This week's Communicore Weekly takes a look at this much missed attraction as well as a new This Week In Disney History segment, Five Legged Goat, and even a Bathroom Break.

If you enjoy these awesome Communicore Weekly videos, please be sure to share them with your friends and leave a comment.

Load up the car with everyone you know and head on down to the park for a very special park admission deal. Now through June 30, passholders can get a $20 discount on admission for family and friends.

Go to the BGT site for specific rules and details


Budding young veterinarians will love seeing how the animals are cared for, though if you are squeamish, be warned.

The walls finally came down at Turtle Trek 4-D, giving us a peak at what to expect when this attraction opens this weekend on Friday April 27th, 2012. The new signage has been installed at the American Alligator exhibit giving us a better idea of what the signage inside the attraction will look like.

You'll see an orange fish-shaped digital wait-time sign on the far post.

Check back with us next week for full coverage of this new attraction.

The Television Preview Center that allows you to watch pilots of next fall's TV show line up on NBC, normally located next door at Universal Studios, has been relocated to the Port of Entry at Islands of Adventure. It's not a perfect fit thematically for Port of Entry (Though they've done a good job creating appropriate looking signage), hopefully this is a short term arrangement.

We reported months ago that the Lucky Monkey Dice were missing! However, this week the dice have reappeared! We are happy this little touch to the Port of Entry has returned!

Some work is being done on a support beam, the ride is open and operating while this work is being done.

Construction is moving ahead on the first part of the CityWalk promenade, and they have walled off areas for the additional sections of the new CityWalk Promenade. From the concept art we've seen, it looks like it will be a happening adult venue.

This bit of concept art doesn't reveal much (except for a single over dressed woman watching two underdressed women having a better time).

With Walt Disney World discontinuing Grad Night, Universal Studios is gearing up for a 2 Park Grad Bash party that will feature top tier acts like Pit Bull and more!

The theming of the barges has turned out to be an acceptable solution to an eye sore problem. With the help of Steven Spielberg, the park gave the first sneak peak at what we can expect from this show.

100 years of movie magic. That's something worth celebrating.

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You can be sure that on May 8th your Orlando ParkHopper team will be at Universal Studios to cover the opening of this new attraction!

A few months ago we reported that the Shrek 4-D moving sign had been fixed. Unfortunately it broke again and they have removed the sign and put a flat 2D sign up in it's place while they go back to the drawing board to hopefully come up with another fix.

Signage went up this week for the new attraction and for the new Gift Shop.

Congratulations go to RossMidlane for guessing last week's Hidden Parkhopper by posting...
"I'm thinking the hidden parkhopper is the Turtle Trek building."

Good job! Let's try this again. Look into the magnifying glass below and see if you can figure out where the park hoppers are this week. Post your guess in the comments area below. If you are the first to answer correctly, you will be featured in next week's update. GOOD LUCK!

Want to meet up with other Disney fans while at Disney World?
Several of the Orlando Parkhopper team members are part of a group that meets every weekend. Find out more about the weekly meets (often hosted by Kevin Yee) on Facebook HERE

If you appreciate this column, share this page with your friends and don't forget to click that Facebook thumbs up button at the top of the page (it give us the encouragement to bring you even bigger and better updates)!

Please join us in thanking the fantastic and talented crew of writers, photographers and news contributors who worked so hard this week to bring you the latest information from the parks. This week's team included:

- Aimster
Eric M. Davis (King Eric)
- Kevin Yee
- MB

- Editors this week: Fishbulb, Dustysage

Thank you for reading, we hope you have a wonderful week and are inspired to explore the amazing variety of attractions on your next visit to central Florida. We'd love to hear your comments below.