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The Blog Flume Filter for March 14, 2013

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Published: March 14, 2013 at 12:46 PM

Jeff Elliott's being held in a bus somewhere in the Rocky Mountains, and since we couldn't raise the cash for the ransom, I'm stuck doing the Filter this week.

Walt Disney World today confirmed its planned transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, which we first told you about here last month.

Disney Springs
Concept art courtesy Disney

It's the latest planned makeover for an area that's had more facelifts than Heidi Montag (for readers under 40) or Joan Rivers (for those over). What we didn't have last month was a timeline, which Disney provided today: Construction starts in April and completion's slated for 2016. So let's start taking bets. Which do we see finished first: Disney Springs or Avatar?

Disney's Hollywood Studios -- Disney's released the logo for this year's Star Wars Weekends, which honors the 30th anniversary of the release of "Return of the Jedi." Disney's also announced a couple of celebrity appearances for this year's events, including the return of Ray Park (Darth Maul) and lead Ewok Warwick Davis, who brings together the worlds of "Star Wars" and "Harry Potter" the way President Obama mashes up The Force with Vulcan telepathy.

Disneyland -- While you east coast theme park fans get to enjoy yet another series of Star Wars weekends, the Disneyland Resort is offering us on the west coast… a tribute to Greece? May 25-27, Disneyland and California Adventure will host special Greek-themed entertainment and food booths. The events will run in the Small World plaza in Disneyland and in Paradise Garden at DCA. Details to come.

Tokyo Disneyland -- Wrapping up the Disney news, Tokyo Disneyland is promoting the upcoming revamp of its Star Tours ride into Version 2.0 with an awesome video clip of the Empire invading Japan.

Which is cool until you realize, hey, wait a minute, isn't Japan already officially run by… an emperor? What's going on here?!?

Update: Universal Studios Japan announced today that is will be running a train on its Hollywood Dream - The Ride roller coaster backward, starting March 15- July 7. No word on whether the music played on the coaster will run backward, too.

SeaWorld Orlando -- It's time for the latest installation of SeaWorld's video blog promoting its new Antarctica ride, opening May 24:

This week's installment shows how SeaWorld is making all the ice that will be displayed in its Antarctica attraction. In fact, the ride will become the second largest source of ice in the Orlando area, trailing only the bars serving Disney cast members on the night of their weekly payday.

Speaking of attraction openings, Hong Kong Disneyland is now set to debut its new Mystic Manor attraction in May, as well. Back in the US, Disney's also confirmed that the new Mickey and the Magical Map show will debut at Disneyland on May 25. But if you're in the mood for a new attraction right away, don't miss our own James Rao's review of Silver Dollar City's Outlaw Run, a wooden coaster with a twist (actually, several of them), which debuts this weekend.

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Readers' Opinions

From Dominick D on March 14, 2013 at 12:53 PM
I visited vader.jp, and all it is is an ad for Star Tours. In Japenese.
From Mike Gallagher on March 14, 2013 at 1:38 PM
So I'm familiar with BOTH Montag and Rivers. What does that say about ME??
From Gabriel Schroll on March 14, 2013 at 2:19 PM
I don't believe Avatar is going to happen at all, so I definitely would put my money on Disney Springs being completed first.

It looks awesome, and if you've ever been to Downtown Disney lately, this is a big deal because traffic and parking are a total mess, especially on Friday and Saturday nights!

Also, I haven't been to Sea World in a long time, but I'll go just to check out Antarctica. It definitely looks innovative.

Greece? At Disneyland? Errr.....howabout no, Scott?

From James Rao on March 14, 2013 at 4:34 PM
I am excited for Disney Springs. The current incarnation of DTD leaves a lot to be desired, and the plans for the redo look great so far. The key will be the shops, restaurants, and unique attractions that flesh out the area. Can't wait to hear more about them.

I know this part of my comment is just wishful thinking, but I would love for Disney to move both One Man's Dream and Walt Disney's Carousel of Progress to the Disney Springs area. For a reasonable up charge, folks could visit these classics in a more appropriate setting, and their footprints in the parks could be used for some innovative, new attractions. Plus the up charge could be used to maintain and improve the attractions on a regular basis. Just a thought.

From TH Creative on March 14, 2013 at 4:37 PM
Gabriel Schroll writes: "I don't believe Avatar is going to happen at all ..."

I respond: You're wrong.

From James Rao on March 14, 2013 at 5:37 PM
^I hope you're right, TH. I am not ashamed to say I think Avatar/Pandora is an amazing idea for Animal Kingdom. That expansion can't get here soon enough. I hope Disney ignores their whiny, "Never change" fans and does what it does best: create immersive and enjoyable environments that make whiny fans eat crow.
From Dominick D on March 14, 2013 at 5:48 PM
I'm still excited for Avatar. Was it the best movie? No, but I thought it was pretty good, even if the story has been used a bunch of times. Avatar just screams theme park, and Disney can do something amazing with this. I just want them to start construction SOON.
From 211.114.49.233 on March 14, 2013 at 8:18 PM
Disney Springs looks like the outlet mall behind my house. My eyes are hurting from the concept art. I can't imagine what the real thing will do. I really miss the glitz of PI. Hyperion Wharf looked like a step in the right direction.
From 72.197.30.46 on March 14, 2013 at 11:10 PM
Avatar sucks sorry. There are so many interesting fictional planets in Star Wars, Star trek and other franchises. Avatar was just a giant ILM exposition with the most basic of plots and characters. ILMs stunning 3D presentation was the only reason why avatar was such a success. Beastly kingdom was far more interesting and well suited to AK then avatar. If anything avatar belongs in DHS not AK any more than Oz or John Carter belongs in AK.
And how much will this DD Makeover cost? They didn't have money for a decent beauty and the beast attraction or for beastly kingdom but they have money for a shopping mall?
From Phil B. on March 15, 2013 at 6:34 PM
Would be nice if some elements of P.I. returned. I really had a blast every time I went there. City Walk owns DTD in this respect. In the very least, if Disney wanted to make a huge crowd pleasing splash with this announcement, they could have announced that the Adventurer's club would be making a triumphant return as part of the Disney Springs project. It always amazes me at times how Disney can be so on the money, and so off the mark all at the same time.

Count me in for one of the few looking forward to Avatar as well. The way the bar has been raised the last few years for whole themed lands being built, coupled with all of the next gen tech being incorporated into attractions on almost a daily basis, Avatar/Pandora could prove to be one of the most immersive, beautiful and fully realized lands ever to be built. Fingers crossed Disney knocks it out of the park, and gives AK a much needed raise in attendance and overall profile.

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