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Update from Orlando

Written by
Published: May 21, 2013 at 6:22 PM

ORLANDO -- I'm in Central Florida this week, mostly cover the opening of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin at SeaWorld, but I'll be stopping by Walt Disney World during my visit as well (and maybe Universal Orlando -- see below). I'm taking requests -- if you have something in the Orlando theme parks (including Downtown Disney or CityWalk) you'd love to see full-on reviewed here on Theme Park Insider, please let me know in the comments, and I'll see what I can do for you!

Aerial view of SeaWorld Orlando
We're on our way to SeaWorld! (Photo by TH Creative)

Taking a moment for much more important news, though, the folks at Holiday World are raising money for the American Red Cross to provide relief for the many people who've lost their homes, and more, in the tornado that struck the Oklahoma City area this week. Holiday World's put up a package with admission tickets, VIP pampering and a trunkload of memorabilia. If you'd like the details, and to bid, visit the Holiday World website. The auction's open until next Tuesday.

Returning to Orlando news, NBC's Today Show will be broadcasting from Universal Orlando this week, on Thursday morning. (Remember that NBCUniversal owns, well, NBC and Universal.) It's a lock that the Today Show crew will be promoting Universal Studios Florida's new Transformers ride during the show -- which leads one to wonder: If Matt Laurer gets to ride this week, can a public soft opening be too far away?

Switching focus to Disney, our resident Jungle Cruise advocate, TH Creative, appears on the Jungle Crews podcast this week to share the love for his favorite attraction.

And if you're in the mood to share the love for your favorite Disney attractions, Disney's now joined the late 20th century and begun accepting reader reviews of its attractions on the Walt Disney World website. (Just like you've been able to do here since 1999!) And, yes, even Disney's own website users rate Stitch's Great Escape with lousy reviews. The feature's in Beta now, so we'll have to wait a bit to see what Disney chooses to do with this much more public customer input.

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Readers' Opinions

From Dominick D on May 21, 2013 at 6:28 PM
Robert, I don't know if you've heard, but The Today Show cancelled their Orlando visit due to the tragic events in Oklahoma. Thoughts and prayers to the victims.
From 50.88.117.101 on May 21, 2013 at 6:41 PM
I have not heard any official word that the Today Show visit has been cancelled and I have tickets for the show. You would think we would be one of the first to know.
From 85.150.173.168 on May 21, 2013 at 7:03 PM
Could you check out the work they are doing on the Rain Forest Café at Downtown Disney and if they are already at work on their re imagination of whole of Downtown Disney?
Also would love to see how work progresses on I4 (the Orlando Eye location).
Have a great time at Sea World, would like to know how you like their new Antarctica area.
From 50.88.117.101 on May 21, 2013 at 7:05 PM
Just received an email that states The Today Show will still broadcast from Universal Orlando Thursday morning, but that it will be limited. Audience members were originally suppose to check-in at 5:30 AM but now don't have to until 7 AM.
From 99.6.249.79 on May 21, 2013 at 7:12 PM
Hey Robert.
I only had one visit to Orlando, and I did all four parks in walt Disney World. Very fun. but i didnt get to do it all.
Totally missed out on the cirque show in Downtown Disney.
And the transportation around the resort would be a fun topic to review. Also, would love more information on select rides such as Mission: Space and Expedition Everest.
thanks, Josh
From robert morris on May 22, 2013 at 6:15 PM
Swing by I-Drive Live construction, the walls of Madame Tussaud and Sea Life Aquarium are going up.

Or just swing by the first attraction open Kings Bowl Orlando and compare and contrast with Disney's Splittsville.

From TH Creative on May 22, 2013 at 1:27 AM
@ Mr. Niles, thanks for the plug! My first Podcast appearance was a lot of fun! The conversation went beyond Jungle Cruise chatter and into other industry-related stuff.

Thanks again!

From Kelly Muggleton on May 22, 2013 at 4:03 AM
I just can't wait to hear about Antarctica! I'm all about Seaworld!
From Dominick D on May 22, 2013 at 5:58 AM
Ok, thanks for the unregistered users for clearing it up. I thought they cancelled since Hard Rock Cafe Orlando sent out a tweet that they wouldn't be participating anymore.
From 69.47.145.107 on May 22, 2013 at 6:47 AM
So I made a review about Journey in Imagination... I said please a lot to make it sound nice... this is what I put..

I'm not sure what happened in the budget and/or storyboard for this redone attraction, but this ride has lost all of its charm and then some. Figment went from a mystical/student like character to one that is just annoying. I miss all the old set scenes that use to be in it. And you need to bring back Dreamfinder. Without him, you really don't have that great connection with the ride itself. Nigel just seems not right for this attraction either. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE bring back an updated version of the original Journey into Imagination. With the way computers are today, you can now make it work easily. Use the trackless system you used for other attractions at your international parks for it. If you brought this ride back, you would make a WHOLE bunch of people happy. Please restore ImageWorks to original glory as well and use the upstairs again. Please don't delete this comment. This is the truth about this ride. please embrace the harsh facts about it. There's reasons why on Epcot's most busiest days, this attraction still has little to no wait. If you do delete this comment, then please put it in your suggestion box at the very least.... thank you and have a magical day.

I doubt they will leave it up, but at least they know yet another person's feelings about the ride.

From Daniel Etcheberry on May 22, 2013 at 7:30 AM
I would like a review of the new Test Track.
From James Trexen on May 22, 2013 at 8:17 AM
I'd like to hear a review about the Legend of Jack Sparrow.
From Brian Emery on May 22, 2013 at 8:33 AM
Grab a Turkey Leg - and Review it...

If you get a chance - check out SplitsVille in DD.
Have a safe trip..

From James Rao on May 22, 2013 at 10:37 AM
I just realized from your picture that I have not ridden SeaWorld's Kraken for several (many) years. I have heard rumors that the wonderful, smooth, exhilarating experience of this coaster has diminished over time, so when you go to visit Antarctica, if you have time to check out Kraken, I would love to hear your unbiased opinion of its current ride experience.

Also, I would like your thoughts on the new interactive pirate adventure at the Magic Kingdom.

And as always, remember to stop by customer relations at the Animal Kingdom and complain about the Yeti.

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