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Acclaimed Restaurants Planned for Disney Springs

Scott Joseph

By Scott Joseph
Published: April 23, 2014 at 2:44 PM

Disney Springs, the major renovation of Walt Disney World's Pleasure Island entertainment district, is planning on some big name restaurants to be on site when it opens in 2016. And Planet Hollywood will be converted from a large globe to a planetary observatory. Read the details.

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Beyond CaliFlorida: Ice cold in the summertime

Jeff Elliott

By Jeff Elliott
Published: April 23, 2014 at 11:30 AM

Editor's note: Before I turn it over to Jeff, allow me to interrupt to note that NBC's Today show has canceled its planned Friday broadcast from Universal Orlando. No word on whether Universal or the Today show made that call, or why. So we're left to keep waiting for an announcement on when Diagon Alley will open at Universal Studios Florida. And now, on to Jeff, though we'll start by sticking with more Harry Potter news.

Universal Studios Japan – The park reported that attendance at this park was up 7.7% to 10.5 million guests during an off year where no new attractions opened. I take that back. There was a new attraction. Funny enough it was the same attraction that Universal Studios Hollywood has this year… construction. An extra 700,000 guests went to the park to see how much progress was being made on the Harry Potter expansion. I get the feeling that the summer opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is going to be met by a massive cosplay riot that breaks out between the Slytherin and Gryffindor students while the Ravenclaw students figure out a way to get into the park early and the Hufflepuff students get lost in the parking garage.

Disney Studios Paris – While it’s no massive line to see the Frozen princesses, Spiderman’s debut was marked by nearly an hour and a half wait to see the webslinger. What is it with people shooting weird things out of their hands?

Elsa vs. Spider-Man

Is that now really popular? What would happen if Spiderman and Elsa held hands? Who would win if they battled it out? What if they were to team up and have the webbing strengthen the ice like Pykrete? Their kids would be scary… Maybe we should vote on this…

Sochi Amusement Park – Hey! The park built for the Olympic Games will open just in time for…crap…we missed it…again. Is it open now? Nope. July. At least it is so long past its required opening date that it really doesn’t matter anymore. I mean, in the history books of parks that opened way later than planned, Universal Studios Singapore opened 18 months after it was scheduled to. Now granted it was in “previews” and “soft opening” for more than a year, but still. Two months late for the Sochi park and needs another 3 months….yeah, it was really close to being ready for the Games…

Liseberg (Sweden) – The new Mack art exhibit of a roller coaster called Helix should be open this weekend when the park opens for the season. If you just happen to be in Sweden. Sweden seems to be getting all of the good coasters in Europe. If you are going to sit right between Norway and Finland to keep them from bickering, then you probably deserve the best new roller coasters. It is kind of weird that the roller coaster called helix really doesn’t have a helix in it. It would be like naming a kiddy coaster “loop” or “barrel roll.”

Efteling (Never Never Land) – The park has confirmed that they are getting a 123-ft tall B&M dive coaster for the 2015 season. It should be similar in design to the one below.

Knotts Berry Farm – Back when the Berry Farm still had some berries being grown and the chicken dinner was something unique and worth driving to the park for, there was the Calico Mine Train. But in recent years, its age has been showing pretty badly. Much like what they did with their flume ride, this attraction is getting a makeover. Yes, it needed it. But how about making over Bear-y Tales or Kingdom of the Dinosaur and turning that back on?

Mega Cave (Louisville) - Speaking of long lines, this seemed like something interesting to mention. This is one of those crazy ideas that I would get a brainwave on…right before I had to lie down. Kudos to those dreamers who were able to pull this off.

Kings Dominion – Kings Island gets a roller coaster. Carowinds gets a bunch of land and a huge coaster for next year. Cedar Point gets anything they want. Kings Dominion gets the following…which is some historical attraction that was rebuilt for their 40th anniversary. At least they are not Michigan Adventure that is just ignored. But really? Singing Mushrooms? That’s almost as bad as a slow boat attraction that keeps playing the same earworm song over and over again…wait…nevermind…

Six Flags Great America – A family of five who had season passes last year to Six Flags Great America jumped at the opportunity to renew their season passes in December. Tragically, in January, the father was diagnosed with cancer and lost his fight to the illness in March. The mother, while trying to sort things out and get the family’s business in order, called up Six Flags and tried to get a refund for the unused and never would be used season pass. But, Six Flags has a no refund policy. They were willing to transfer it, which I also believe is also against their policy, but completely unwilling to give the grieving widow back the $72 for the season pass. The media outlet she contacted was able to get the woman her $72 back, which means that there was some leniency in the rules, but only if you holler really loud. Why would Six Flags want to put their reputation on the line for a stinking $72? Why would you take the risk that jerks like me will pick up the story and make Six Flags look like a bunch of greedy stooges?

What this shows is that Six Flags doesn’t care about listening to specific mitigating details that could factor into a decision because they have hard and fast rules that they are not allowed to deviate from. For $72, Six Flags was completely willing to burn four other year-over-year customers before the media caught onto this. Yes, I am aware that loose policies have been abused. But there is nothing wrong with listening to the circumstances and making the right decision whether it is on a company policy statement or not. Other companies are successful because they build a culture of customer service, and not eternal suspicion.

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Treasures of the Walt Disney Archive: A Historian’s Review

Matt McDonough

By Matt McDonough
Published: April 22, 2014 at 6:17 PM

This past week I fortunate enough to attend a conference in Chicago and inadvertently stumbled upon some remarkable history. The trip was to be a short 3 day event where I presented a paper, listened to some panels, and flew back home. Instead, I saw some of the coolest Disney memorabilia on the planet.

While many of my fellow attendees like to grab drinks and relax after presenting, I jumped at the opportunity to head to the local museum. I had heard good things about Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry, especially for the fact that they have the only German World War II U-boat in the country on display. Upon my arrival I also discovered that there was another special exhibit entitled “Treasures of the Walt Disney Archive.” It sounded promising, so I purchased my ticket and hoped for the best.

Wow. The submarine was cool but the artifacts on loan from Disney were truly impressive. They had authentic movie costumes:

Pirates costume

Another costume

As well as props and miniatures used in some of their older classics. Including the coonskin cap made famous by Fess Parker and even the model used in 20,000 Leagues under the Sea:

Coonskin cap

Nautilus model

They also had an impressive display regarding the construction of Disneyland and some of its denizens, such as a poster for Pirates of the Caribbean:

Pirates poster

Some of the hitchhiking ghosts,

Hitchhiking ghosts

The always creepy medusa portrait.


And then a large map detailing the original location of each land in one of the earliest drafts of Walt’s planned park. I stood there transfixed. While we are all intimately aware with how the park looks now it was intriguing see where each land would be located.

Disneyland art

The central spoke idea was still intact but instead of one major body of water there were two with the second one featuring a pirate ship (this would eventually be used and then removed but in a different location). In addition Tom Sawyer’s Island looked to have the Swiss Family treehouse on it.


Some of the proposed areas even included Holiday Land and Lilliputan Land.

Disney's lands

The entire exhibit was well worth the cost of entrance and as an added bonus they even offered patrons a chance to practice their doodling skills and draw some of their favorite Disney characters. Granted I was unable to match every stroke of the instructor but I think I just may have created the finest depiction of Goofy every made.

My Goofy

For those who are in the Chicago area be sure to check this impressive exhibit out but hurry as it only runs at this location until May 4th.

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Disney World's Seven Dwarfs Mine Train gets ready for its close-up

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: April 22, 2014 at 3:42 PM

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom got some new passengers today, as the park ran the new roller coaster for a commercial filming session.

"Visitors" (actors or cast members) were seen riding the coaster today, along with Dopey, as a crew filmed the ride in operation.

If you were in the Magic Kingdom today and got a photo or video, please email us at themeparkinsider@gmail.com. (That goes for anyone in any park at any time who sees a new ride in operation!) We'd love to share your images and video.

What we don't know from today's filming is whether all the stuff inside the mountain is operational, or how close Disney is to allowing non-employee guests to ride.

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Keep reading: April 2014 Archive

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Stories from a Theme Park Insider

Stories from a Theme Park Insider

What's it like to work in a theme park? Stories from a Theme Park Insider takes you inside the famous tunnels and backstage at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom for a look at how theme parks really work, sharing the funny moments and embarrassments that can happen when your job is someone else's vacation.
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