Insider's Update: When will (fill in the blank) open?

April 19, 2014, 10:57 AM · Universal Orlando has told its team members that NBC's Today show will be broadcasting from the resort next Friday, April 25. The consensus among team members seems to be that the visit is to announce the official opening date for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. We've estimated an official opening on June 13 with a soft open on May 14, but now we're hearing that both might slip a week from those original projections. When Universal Orlando opened the original Wizarding World, it held an opening ceremony on Wednesday, June 16, 2010, a media day on Thursday, and the public grand opening on Friday morning, June 18, 2010. If Universal goes with the same type of schedule this time, that could put the ceremony on June 18 and the public opening on June 20. But we might know for certain on Friday.

Harry Potter opening day in 2010
Tom Felton, Daniel Radcliffe, Oliver Phelps and Rupert Grint greet fans at the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade on June 18, 2010.

Meanwhile, the Walt Disney World Resort has scheduled a media event for April 30-May 2 to introduce the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. However, it appears that the ride has yet to be turned over to the attraction operations department for cast member training and check-out. (*Update: Now hearing that ops training IS going on! WDW CMs, email or hit the anonymous comments, please!) Back in the day, ops cast members needed five days to check out and be cleared to operate roller coasters in the park. That leaves almost no time for any public soft open before the press event, even if the ride were to go over to ops immediately, which doesn't appear to be happening. In fact, there's some skepticism among cast members in the Magic Kingdom that the Mine Train will be ready to ride in fully functioning form in time for the press event, which Disney's now calling a "preview" anyway. Could Diagon Alley soft open to the public before the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train? It's looking like it might be close.

Busch Gardens Tampa has gone ahead and cancelled its media days next week for the debut of Falcon's Fury, citing construction delays. The park's not announced a new date for a media debut, though the park's still aiming for a public debut in early May.

Walt Disney World has started the countdown to the 25th anniversary of the Studios theme park, which opened May 1, 1989. The Disney Parks blog this week teased some of the merchandise that the resort is selling to commemorate the anniversary. Notice anything missing?

Anniversary logo

That would be the original name of the park, Disney-MGM Studios, and its original Mickey-Mouse-and-Leo-the-Lion logo. Disney no longer has the rights to use the MGM name or logo, so it can't issue any anniversary merchandise that includes it. So if you want a more authentic opening-day throwback tchotchke, you'd better hit eBay or Theme Park Connection.

Moving into Jeff's "Beyond CaliFlorida" territory, Holiday World in Santa Claus, Indiana, has confirmed that it will tear down the former Pilgrim's Plunge shoot-the-chutes ride. The ride featured a unique 90-degree-vertical lift to a 165-foot drop, which left riders absolutely drenched.

The lift and drop
The splash
The evidence

Last year, Holiday World removed the attraction from the Holiday World map, reassigning it to the Splashin' Safari water park and renaming the ride Giraffica to better fit the water park's theme. But the ride suffered from too-frequent downtimes and this year the park is throwing in the (very often used after riding) towel and removing the attraction entirely.

Wow. This has been a downer of an update. Let's hope for better news next week! If you'd like to keep in touch with Theme Park Insider throughout the week, we're on just about any social media network out there. If you haven't connected with us yet, please take a moment to follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instgram, LinkedIn or Tumblr, or subscribe to our weekly newsletter. That way, you can get Theme Park Insider updates through those networks, as well as here on the Web. Thank you, as always, for being part of the Theme Park Insider community!

Replies (14)

April 19, 2014 at 12:22 PM · Absolutely mind-boggling how long Disney is taking to open a ride that's not even a legit E-ticket. When will Disney Springs or Avatar be finished...2045?? Pathetic.
April 19, 2014 at 5:17 PM · Great article in the Orlando Sentinel about how Harry Potter has helped Universal Orlando take market share away from its competitors. Of course, Disney still leads attendance. But Harry has helped Universal in a big way.,0,2260547,full.story

April 19, 2014 at 10:49 PM · Pilgrim's Plunge was underwhelming. The elevator ride was scary, but the "plunge" was glacially slow.
Question, Robert; When you mention Diagon Alley soft opening, does that include Gringott's Coaster or just the area and stores? Thanks.
April 20, 2014 at 2:32 AM · Why does Disney move at such a snails pace!?
April 20, 2014 at 4:58 AM · Anonymous: Absolutely mind-boggling how long Disney is taking to open a ride that's not even a legit E-ticket.

I Respond: It is an E-ticket ride.

Anonymous: When will Disney Springs or Avatar be finished...2045?

I respond: Disney Springs will open in phases with final completion in 2016. Avatar is currently under construction and will open in 2017.

April 20, 2014 at 10:12 AM · TH, I am looking for info about the SDMT and where Disney assigns an E-ticket rating to this ride, but I cannot find it anywhere.
April 20, 2014 at 1:30 PM · Robert posted an article a while back explaining the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train was basically a last minute addition to the land and had to go through a lot of phases of design, testing, etc. that most rides have already gone through when announced - so that is why it has taken so long.

If they would have left Fantasyland the way it was (pixies and princesses everywhere) then it'd probably be done already. But they didn't.... and for that I am glad.... because I'd rather have to wait a little longer and get a new Seven Dwarfs roller coaster than get the instant gratification (?) - or lack thereof - with what the previous completed New Fantasyland would have been without the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. Of course, I wish it was done faster to.... but just reminding people why it seems to be taking so long.

However, I will say.... Maybe Disney may have made the same mistake with discussing Avatar land before it is really under construction in some ways too. Maybe Disney should start having the testing and blue prints ready to go (and maybe even a construction crew on site) before they start announcing things. Still, their slowness may be what allows them to take public reception into consideration with their planning (which may be a good thing).... it actually helped with Fantasyland.

April 20, 2014 at 5:35 PM · June 21 is the first day of "summer 2014".
April 21, 2014 at 7:29 AM · In spoke with a WDW CM on April 11th who has been assigned to opening operating staff for Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. She told us that training had not yet commenced for the new ride and that there had been several delays. However that was a week ago...
April 21, 2014 at 12:31 PM · Hey TH: I thought Avatar is also done in phases. It is unlikely that both the boat ride and the simulator ride will open at the same time. So maybe 2045 isn't off by much as we currently don't know when Avatar will be completed. Just kidding. Maybe they will finish in 2020 when the third Avatar sequel (the 4th Avatar movie) is released to the public (or direct to video).
April 21, 2014 at 1:03 PM · If you remember, the new Fantasyland blueprints and story leaked long before Disney made the official announcement. It's been said that they made the Avatar announcement early to prevent the story from leaking on it's own. Which is why it was so long in between the announcement and the first concept art.
April 21, 2014 at 4:13 PM · Orlando United insider Teeben is reporting that Monday June 16th is scheduled as media set up day for Diagon grand opening.
April 22, 2014 at 12:20 PM · That would be spectacular, Rob... I haven't booked the trip yet because I have no idea when it is going to open. We missed the Springfield opening by a day last year.

I am thinking late July would be a safe bet though.

April 22, 2014 at 4:04 PM · NB: I would bet the mortgage for opening by late July. Enjoy your trip. Diagon will be fantastic, no doubt. I think the London front should be open for my late May trip so that would be a nice teaser and set up for the longer September vacation. I'm doing the Universal hotel trifecta, Portofino (May), Cabana and Royal Pacific (Sept.). The announcement, I would guess, will be made this Friday on NBC Today show. Sounds like it might be a repeat of June 18th, since the media set up date is established for June 16th....Might want to book before Friday's announcement though, since the Hard Rock fills up the fastest of the on site hotels. You could always cancel if by some miracle it didn't open by then.

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