Insider's Update: Get in while you can

August 16, 2014, 11:18 AM · Tickets are on sale now for next August's D23 Expo in Anaheim. One-day tickets are $52 for D23 members, with a three-day pass available for $149. Tickets cost more for non-members, but since you can get a basic D23 membership for free, and qualify for the members' Expo price with it, you might as well just do that and avoid the sucker rate. The Expo runs Aug. 14-16, 2015 at the Anaheim Convention Center, across the street from the Disneyland Resort, so if you're planning a Disneyland vacation along with a D23 visit, you'll want to book that soon, too, as hotels in the area will sell out.

Because I know you love hearing about these things, here's the scoop on Disney's latest "VIP Experience." For just $399 per person (not including theme park tickets, of course), you can enjoy the Ultimate Day VIP Tour of the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. It's a six-and-a-half-hour private, guided tour of Epcot and select Festival events, including Champagne in the Festival VIP lounge, a tapas lunch, VIP seating for an Eat to the Beat concert, and reserved seating for IllumiNations. Because of the free-flowing booze, the tour is restricted to guests 21 and older, and the tour runs on selected Thursdays and Sundays during the Festival. Call +1-407-WDW-TOUR to book, then take plenty of photos to post on a trip report for the rest of us jealous souls here on the site.

It looks like the attendance numbers are going up at Disney's Animal Kingdom — well, they are up by one, at least. The park welcomed a newborn gorilla on Aug. 7. The yet-to-be-named male was born to mother Azizi and father Gino. Here he is with mom, waiting in the Baby Swap area while Gino rides Expedition Everest. Replacing the broken Yeti with live gorillas on the train was a stroke of genius, I say.

Azizi and baby
Azizi with her newborn son. Photo courtesy Disney

Over at Disney's Hollywood Studios, we're hearing that the American Idol Experience will close at the end of this month, instead of in early 2015, as originally reported. We're also hearing that the American Film Institute display at the exit of the Studio Tour is closing by the end of the month, as well. The park has extended the Frozen special event through the end of September, however. With Star Wars Land slated for the park, one hopes that J.J. Abrams will continue to resist Disney's attempts to convince him to write Arendelle into the Star Wars universe simply so that Disney can transform the Studios park into the Ultimate Cash Cow. We kid. (We hope.)

By the way, if you're visiting Busch Gardens Tampa this week, and see Falcon's Fury open to the public, please let us know. Employees have been seen on the ride and we're hoping for a public opening soon. Update: We've heard that the ride opened this afternoon. Let's hear some reviews!

Let's close this update with a question from a reader, which stumped me: "To your knowledge is the spitting camel outside of Aladdin's Magic Carpets controlled by a cast member, or is it random? The debate rates in my family." I always assumed that the spitting was automatic, but I realize now that I don't know for certain. Can any Theme Park Insider readers provide a definitive answer? Thanks in advance.

Replies (7)

August 16, 2014 at 11:47 AM · Arendelle on Hoth and with Olaf as the new annoying character replacing Jar-jar or the Ewoks and there goes the Star Wars franchise to hell.
Great they close all these amazing entertainment options at the Disney Studios. This park went from doing TT and RnR to...well nothing changed.
August 16, 2014 at 6:26 PM · I've ridden Falcon. It's pretty awesome. As you're going up, you think "wow, what a view," and then you go above Sheikra even and you are thinking "ok, this is high enough now..." And you keep going.

When they flip you up to face down, you are still going up. Then it holds for a few seconds and drops. It's not as bad as it seems. I prefer it to tower of terror for sure.

August 16, 2014 at 9:24 PM · It is not is controlled by a man standing nearby.
August 17, 2014 at 7:22 AM · The camel in front of Aladdin is automatic. It can be shut off during cold months. I assisted in the design of the new attraction... god, i don't even remember how long ago now... lol. It wouldn't be cost efficient to have a CM control that though.
August 17, 2014 at 2:28 PM · Adventureland / Liberty Sq cast member here... are you ready....

.... random!

August 17, 2014 at 2:49 PM · I am one of the team members that has had a chance to ride it multiple times so far. Falcon's Fury is amazing. The ascent is cool as you pass once high points in the park, including the once mighty Sheikra. What is neat is its almost impossible to tell how high you're getting as the tower is up and behind you. Of course, the view from up top is incredible. That view changes quite dramatically as the seats are tilted. The "what the" moment is that its still going up. It really does seem like an eternity has you hang and thank that comfortable restraint for holding you. I love how your legs are free to move about as well as you arms, assuming you have the bravery to pry your hands off the restraints. Then of course comes the drop. Huge rush the drop. Super fast and really feels like you could just keep on going and slam into the ground. Seats tilt out back to upright nice and smoothly. Wonderfully scary, big adrenaline rush and huge fun. After 5 times on it so far, I just want to run back around and get back in line. Two thumbs up for Falcon's Fury :)
August 18, 2014 at 4:24 PM · Falcons fury is a fantastic edition to busch gardens, it is a truly unique experience and offers the highest of thrills. After a recent visit to six flags great adventure, I couldn't help but compare it to zumanjaro drop of doom. Falcons fury is far superior and is the best drop tower I've ever been on. The face down aspect sets it above its competitors.

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