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Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage returns to Disneyland this Saturday

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: September 22, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Disneyland announced today that the Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage will reopen this Saturday after an extended refurbishment.

Finding Nemo submarine

The ride closed in early January, and Disney's promised refreshed and repainted scenes throughout the ride. The subs employ Disneyland's largest show building, which must accommodate two versions of every show scene, one for each side of the ride. That extends any amount of time for maintenance for the attraction. Though, to be honest, many observers suggest that Disney allowed the sub refurb to extend for all these months mostly to save on labor expenses, as the attraction has one of the worst labor-hours-to-guest-throughput ratios in the park.

But, given all the stuff that Disney's closing, it'll be nice to get an attraction back, won't it?

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Why theme park fans #BelieveInEpcot... and why theme park companies should, too

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: September 22, 2014 at 10:05 AM

Over the weekend, many Disney fans, led by Matthew Gottula, spread the #BelieveInEpcot hashtag on Twitter, to declare their support for what Disney did by creating a non-fiction theme park.

Their tweets offer a rebuke to Disney's current direction, in which the thematic distinctions between Disney's theme parks seem to be disappearing, and the company's focus appears to be settling on its own franchises, at the expense of the exploration of technology and culture that Epcot once offered.

Wow. I don't know about you, but now I'm fired up!

What #BelieveInEpcot illustrates is an enduring hunger for something real — a desire not just for truth in experience, but to be inspired by things real. This conversation rejects the ignorance, simplism and xenophobia that too often is promoted and even celebrated in modern media. #BelieveInEpcot acknowledges that people cannot live all their time in fantasy and still prepare for a better future. And it rejects the cynical counter-argument that places like Disney World serve merely as escapes from reality. They can serve as an inspiration to create a better reality, too! Indeed, Walt Disney built theme parks because of his passion for what we now call "urban planning," as much as (if not more than) a way to promote his film and television properties.

Several tweets in the conversation acknowledged that the Walt Disney Company, after Walt's death, built Epcot not simply out of a sense of altruism, but because the company could leverage an enormous amount of sponsorship money to finance the project. That money simply isn't flowing from those sources anymore. Epcot's largest single original sponsor might have been Exxon. (In fact, Marty Sklar has said that the park wouldn't have been built without Exxon's money.) Today, Exxon doesn't spend money to promote science. It spends money to deny science. Without money flowing to build and expand the types of pavilions that Disney developed for the original Epcot, the company's made a smart business decision to start promoting its own properties, instead.

But the market for the original Epcot remains. There is public demand for "inspirational reality," from Neil deGrasse Tyson rebooting Cosmos to Matthew Inman lauding Teslas in The Oatmeal [link maybe NSFW]. As Gottula tweeted:

If Disney doesn't want to meet this market demand anymore, will some other business step forward and try?


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Monday Top 10: The Best Places to Eat at Universal Orlando

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: September 22, 2014 at 9:04 AM

With the annual Halloween Horror Nights starting up and fans continuing to make their way to the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, the Universal Orlando Resort is more popular than ever. This week, let's give a little Monday Top 10 love to UOR and honor the 10 best places to eat in the two Universal Orlando theme parks. Of course, with CityWalk so close to these parks, many fans choose to step outside the gates for dinner, at new spots such as Antojitos and Vivo Italian Kitchen or long-time favorites such as Emeril's Orlando. But if you can't bear to lose even a few minutes of your ride time to go outside the park, here are 10 great options to refuel you during the day at Universal.

10. Captain America Diner
Islands of Adventure

Captain America Diner

While you'll find burgers and chicken sandwiches on the menu, the view might be the best reason to stop and have a bite at Captain America's.

9. Thunder Falls Terrace
Islands of Adventure

Thunder Falls Terrace

Load up like a carnivore-asaurus on barbecue chicken, ribs, and burgers, then wash it all down in a drenching splash from the nearby Jurassic Park ride.

8. Bumblebee Man's Taco Truck
Universal Studios Florida

Bumblebee Man's Taco Truck

Moving beyond typical theme park fare, Bumblebee Man serves up carne asada, chicken, fish, and Korean beef tacos in Springfield USA.

7. Confisco Grille
Islands of Adventure

Confisco Grille

Mythos might get all the attention, but many Theme Park Insiders swear by Confisco Grille for its selection of salads, soups, sandwiches, and fajitas.

6. Fast Food Boulevard
Universal Studios Florida

Fast Food Boulevard

If Universal's old motto was "Ride the Movies," Fast Food Boulevard allows you to "Eat the TV Show," by tasting for yourself some of the iconic foodstuff from The Simpsons, including Krusty Burgers and Flaming Moes.

5. The Three Broomsticks
Islands of Adventure

The Three Broomsticks

Hogsmeade Village's eatery transports you to the Wizarding World with favorites such as fish and chips, roasted chicken, and, of course, Butterbeer.

4. The Leaky Cauldron
Universal Studios Florida

The Leaky Cauldron

Diagon Alley's eatery offers British pub favorites in a stunning room that recreates the local that bridged London and the Wizarding World. Try something from the drinks menu, such as Fishy Green Ale or Wizard's Brew.

3. Finnegan's Bar and Grill
Universal Studios Florida

Finnegan's Bar and Grill

For the Muggle pub experience, many Theme Park Insiders adore Finnegan's, a table-service restaurant that served much of the fare you'll find on The Leaky Cauldron's menu since long before Universal got the rights to a certain wizard.

2. Lombard's Seafood Grille
Universal Studios Florida

Lombard's Seafood Grille

Universal Studios Florida's top table-service restaurant serves a variety of fried seafood, salads, burgers, and a lobster roll. You can get a reserved space to watch the park's evening lagoon show, Universal's Cinematic Spectacular, with a special dinner package.

1. Mythos Restaurant
Islands of Adventure

Mythos Restaurant

They love us. We love them. Mythos continues to impress for its value. Located inside an impressive cavern on the shore of the park's lagoon, Mythos serves salads, burgers, steak, fish, and a pasta and a risotto of the day on its seasonally changing menu.

What's your favorite thing to eat at the Universal Orlando Resort?

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Review: Halloween Horror Nights 2014 at Universal Studios Hollywood

Jacob Sundstrom

By Jacob Sundstrom
Published: September 21, 2014 at 5:01 PM

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The Week Ahead: Disney and Universal schedules for September 22-28, 2014

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: September 21, 2014 at 3:53 PM

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Insider's Update: Disney World closes its Studio Backlot Tour next weekend

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: September 19, 2014 at 10:18 PM

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Theme Park Insider interview with John Murdy: Horror never dies

Jacob Sundstrom

By Jacob Sundstrom
Published: September 19, 2014 at 1:06 PM

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Vote of the Week: Do you eat more or less than usual when you visit a theme park?

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: September 19, 2014 at 11:02 AM

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Cedar Point introduces Mantis' replacement: Rougarou

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: September 18, 2014 at 3:24 PM

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Is Diagon Alley really a game-changer for the theme park industry?

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: September 18, 2014 at 10:55 AM

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Will 'Frozen' kill Epcot?

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: September 16, 2014 at 9:26 PM

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Busch Gardens Williamsburg opens its 16th edition of Howl-O-Scream

Russell Meyer

By Russell Meyer
Published: September 16, 2014 at 11:07 AM

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Some 'hot' news updates from Disneyland

Robert Niles

By Robert Niles
Published: September 15, 2014 at 10:07 PM

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