What’s New around Orlando June 16, 2014

What’s New for the week of June 16, 2014 – Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando News

There are new things popping up every day at the Walt Disney World Resort and the Universal Orlando Resort.  Join us every week to read about “what’s new” in Orlando!  This week features Fastpass + updates, several Disney special events, and a bunch of operational updates. At Universal, we’ve for a look at the amazing new entertainment offerings coming to Diagon Alley, sneak peeks from the “Weasleys” and Halloween Horror Nights info!

What’s New This Week?

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Walt Disney World Resort in Florida

NEW! Fastpass + Experience group changes at Epcot and Hollywood Studios: As a reminder, guests make fastpass + selections at Epcot and Hollywood studios from experience groups.  This allows more guests to secure their most preferred experiences.  For fastpass + selections on June 16 and  beyond at Hollywood Studios, The Great Movie Ride will move to group 1, and at Epcot, Living with the Land will move to group 1, while Character Spot and Maelstrom will move to group 2.  If you already have Fastpass + selections for either park, you will be able to keep your selections, as long as you do not cancel an entire selection set.  The updated experience groups will apply to all new fastpass selections, including those for which a guest cancels an entire set.  Also, beginning June 12, guests will have the option to select English, Spanish or Portuguese at any of the in-park kiosks.

NEW! Watch the World Cup games from Walt Disney World: The 2014 FIFA World Cup kicks off June 12, and everyone is getting into the spirit.  If you’re visiting Disney World during this time and wish to catch a game, you can catch it at these on property locations:

  • Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort Silver Screen Spirits Pool bar and World Premiere Food Court.
  • Disney’s All­Star Music Resort – Intermission Food Court and Singing Spirits Pool Bar
  • Disney’s All­Star Sports Resort – End Zone Food Court and Grandstand Spirits Pool Bar
  • Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge – Sanaa Lounge, Maji Pool bar and Uzima Sprints Pool bar.
  • Disney’s Beach Club Resort – Martha’s Vineyard
  • Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort – Banana Cabana Pool Bar
  • Disney’s Contemporary Resort – The Wave … of American Flavors
  • The Campsites at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort – Crockett’s Tavern
  •  Disney’s Old Key West Resort – Gurgling Suitcase
  • Disney’s Polynesian Resort – Tambu Lounge and Barefoot Pool Bar
  • Disney’s Pop Century Resort – Everything POP Shopping & Dining
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – Riverside – River Roost
  • Disney’s Port Orleans Resort – French Quarter – Scat Cat’s Club

You can also follow along with the World Cup at Rainforest Cafe at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Odyssey at Epcot, as well as ESPN Club and Big River Grille & Brewing Works at Disney’s Boardwalk!

NEW! World Cup themed fun at Walt Disney World: Guests can also celebrate the World Cup with some exclusive Disney experiences. For instance, a themed Goofy topiary is featured at Epcot for a special photo opportunity. From June 9 – July 13 at the Germany pavilion inside Epcot, a Disney created soccer experience is available for anyone wanting to practice their skills.  For those interested in adorning themselves in themed apparel, specialty merchandise is available in select retail locations across property, including the new United World Soccer store at Downtown Disney.

NEW! Villians Unleashed event announced for August 23, 2014: A brand new special event will take place at Hollywood Studios on August 23,2014 at 8pm — Villains Unleashed!  Beware the power of evil as many of your favorite Disney villains run wild through Hollywood Studios for a special after hours night of mischief and mayhem capped off with a wicked fireworks spectacular!  Tickets are on sale now, $67 for adults and $62 for children ages 3 – 9 plus tax.

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NEW! Attraction photos automatically linked to Memory Maker: As of Tuesday, June 3, guests who purchase and link Memory Maker and have a MagicBand linked to their My Disney Experience account will have their attraction photos automatically associated to their accounts without stopping at the counter to clain their photos.  This functionality will be available at Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, Space Mountain, Splash Mountain, Test Track, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, DINOSAUR and Expedition Everest.

New! Check Quick Service Receipts for Coupons: Guests who visit certain quick service locations across Disney World June 10 through July 14 will receive a coupon attached to their receipt.  The coupon offers 20% off of purchases at participating locations between store opening and 1 pm.

New! Changes in Animal Kingdom Due to Harambe Nights: In preperation for Harambe Nights, Africa will close at 6 om each night when Harambe Nights event takes place through August 9.  On these days, Tusker House will have its last seating at 4:30 pm, and there will be no dinner period.

New Arcade Enhancement at Disney’s Port Orleans Resort ­ Riverside: The medicine show arcade at Port Orleans Resort- Riverside now offers a prize hub for guests.  Several games have the ability to add e-tickets to our guests arcade cards after they play the game.  Guests are able to collect as many e-tickets as possible, and they can redeem them for prizes by scanning their arcade card at the hub. Each redemption will have a yellow label if it is eligible for the prize hub.

New! Evening Shuttle Test from Downtown Disney West Side: Shuttle vans will be available midnight to 1:45am to transport guests to the Marketplace bus loop, which services Disney World Resort guests until 2 am. Vans will leave from the OPQ lot at the end of the West Side Promenade behind Cirque du Soleil.

New! Walkway from TTC to Disney’s Polynesian Resort Closed: To accommodate renovations at Disney’s Polynesian Resort, the existing sidewalk between the resort and the Ticket and Transportation center will be closed. Beginning June 10, pedesetrians will be directed to use a different path between the 2 locations.

New! Black Out Date Lifted on Military Park Hopper Tickets July 4th: Support for U.S. military personnel and retirees is a longstanding tradition.  Both the Walt Disney World resort and the Disneyland resort offer promotional, multi-day park hopper tickets at a discounted price on participating US military bases.  The block out on use of these tickets for July 4, has been lifted at Magic Kingdom Park at Disney World.  There are currently no remaining block out dates for the 2014 Disney Military Promotion.

Reminder: New! Richard Petty Debuts Piston Cup Junior Ride ­Along Cars June 14: Two vehicles from the “Cars” franchise, Aiken Axler and Sage VanDerSpin, are about to make their debut at the Richard Petty Driving Experience at Walt Disney World as a part of the new Junior Ride along program.  In it, children ages 6 to 13 (and at lease 48 inches tall) will have the chance to experience real life racing excitement as they ride shotgun with a professional driving instructor for 3 thrilling laps in a specially equipped Piston Cup race car. Junior ride alongs do not require reservations and are given on a first-come, first-served basis.  Find more, visit Drivepetty.com or call 800-237-3889.

New! Merchandise Events:

  • June 12 – 22: Find the latest releases from Precious Moments doll designer and artist Linda Rick at Once Upon a Toy in Downtown Disney.  Add to your collection and meet representatives June 12 – 22 and June 26 – July 7. Look for a special appearance by Linda throughout the day, each day, June 12 – 15 and July 3 – 6.
  • June 18 – 22: Artist Greg McCullough returns to Art of Disney in Epcot.
  • June 20 – July 3: Artist David E. Doss will be appearing daily at Art of Disney in Downtown Disney Marketplace. Stop in and find a new piece of art to add to your collection!
  • June 21: Stop by Animation Gallery inside Hollywood Studios for the limited edition release of “Studio Flashback,” featuring Oswald, and meet the artists from 10 am to 1 pm and 2 pm to 5 pm. Can’t make it to the event?  ORDER YOURS NOW!
  • June 26 – 29: Look for special appearances by artist Larry Dotson throughout the day at Main Street Cinema in Magic Kingdom Park.
  • June 28: Now, all the world is Figment’s stage!  To celebrate the launch of the new, limited edition figurine, Figment actor, sculptor Jacqueline Perrault will be on hand for a special appearance and signing from 11 am to 1 pm and again from 3 to 4 pm at Art of Disney in Epcot.  Unable to make it?  Take advantage of a special PRE-PURCHASE OPPORTUNITY now through June 27. Also appearing for a special artist signing will be Kevin John from 1 to 3 pm.

Closures and Refurbishments:

Click HERE to view the latest renovations and closures at Walt Disney World.

 

Universal Orlando Resort

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NEW! Halloween Horror Nights Schedule and Tickets available now:  Halloween Horror Nights returns to Universal Orlando on select nights Sep. 19- Nov. 1, 2014. Watch your worst nightmare take shape as Universal Orlando Florida theme park is transformed into the award winning Halloween Horror Nights 24. See if you can survive all new haunted houses, spine-chilling street experiences, outrageous live shows, and more!  Here are hte dates for this year’s spooktacular event!

  • September: 19, 20, 25, 26, 27, 28
  • October: 2, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 29, 30, 31
  • November: 1
  • Event tickets can be purchased either on their own or as part of a Universal Orlando Package.

NEW! AMC’s The Walking Dead is set to return to Halloween Horror Nights: After rave reviews from fans on both coasts, Universal Orlando Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood are bringing back AMC’s The Walking Dead to Halloween Horror Nights for an unprecedented third consecutive year.  Horror-hungry fans will experience all new terrifying mazes inspired by season 4.

NEW! Entertainment details announced for Diagon Alley: Imagine wandering up the cobbled street of Diagon Alley, turning into nearby Carkitt Market, and enjoying a live performance by one of the wizarding world’s most popular singing sensations or seeing stories from The Takes of Beedle the Bard come to life right before your eyes.  Universal Orlando Resort revealed the exciting details behind the unique entertainment and interactive experiences that will debut as part of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, the all-new, magnificently themed land opening this summer at Universal Studios Florida.

While exploring the streets of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, guests will be able to enjoy the following shows:

  • The Tales of Beedle the Bard, a new stage show taking place within Carkitt Market, a covered, outdoor shopping area inspired by London’s famous markets.  The show will feature a troupe of four from the Wizarding Academy of Dramatic Arts who have set up to perform a trunk show using stylized scenic pieces, props, and puppetry fabricated by Emmy award winning designer Michael Curry. Curry is best known as the production designer on projects including the 2010 Winter Olympics opening ceremony and the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show.  The performers will retell 2 of the famed tales of Beedle the Bard, a 15th century author of wizarding fairy-tales.  The show will feature “The Fountain of Fair Fortune”, in which 3 witches and a knight meet in their attempt to reach the fountain in an enchanted garden, and “The Tale of the Three Brothers”- featured in the seventh film “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 1”- in which three wizard brothers come face to face with Death.
  • The Singing Sorceress:  Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, A musical performance featuring the ever popular singing sensation of the wizarding world, known from the books as Molly Weasley’s favorite singer, who she listens to on the WizardingWireless Network. The swinging show will feature never before heard songs including, “A Cauldron full of hot, strong love,” “You Stole My Cauldron but you Can’t have my heart” and “You Charmed the Heart Right Out of Me”. These titles were all created by J.K. Rowling and the lyrics also include never before revealed information on Celestina’s wand from Pottermore.

There will also be various interactive opportunities for guests to enjoy while visiting London and Diagon Alley.

  • The Knight Bus, which provides emergency transport for the stranded witch or wizard in the Harry Potter books and films, is located in the London area of the new land.  Guests will be able to meet and chat with the Knight Bus Conductor, and witness his rapport with the shrunken head hanging from the rear-view mirror.  The iconic three-story, purple Knight Bus was inspired by its first appearance in the third film, “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.”

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  • Gringotts Money Exchange, a place where guests will be able to interact with a Gringotts bank goblin and exchange their Muggle currency for Wizarding Bank Notes. These bank notes can be used within both Diagon Alley and Hogsmead (and throughout the rest of Universal’s 2 theme parks) to purchase shacks and items from the shops.
  • Ollivanders: Makers of Fine Wands since 382 BC, one of the wizarding world’s premier wand shops. Visitors to Ollivanders will step into the small, dusty shop and experience “A wand choosing a wizard” firsthand, reminiscent of one of the most iconic scenes from the Harry Potter books and films.  This interactive experience is also available at Ollivanders in Hogsmeade at Universal’s Islands of Adventure.

NEW!  The “Weasley Family” gets a sneak peek of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley: On June 5, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps and Bonnie Wright from the popular Harry Potter film series enjoyed a SNEAK PEEK of the highly anticipated, spectacularly themed environment, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter- Diagon Alley.  The actors- who portrayed siblings Fred, George and Ginny Weasley in the films- toured the new land with Theirry Coup, Senior VP of Universal Creative and Alan Gilmore, Art Director of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter and the Harry Potter films.  During their visit they:

  • Took the journey between Hogsmeade Station and King’s Cross Station aboard the Hogwarts Express
  • Stepped inside memorable shops within Diagon Alley, including the Weasley twins’ very own shop – Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes
  • Encountered goblins at work in the ornate marble hall of Gringotts bank
  • Sampled the world’s only Butterbeer ice­cream at Florean Fortescue’s Ice­Cream Parlour
  • Dined on traditional British fare at Leaky Cauldron
  • And more

NEW!  Construction walls are down at London Embankment of Diagon Alley: On Monday, June 9th, construction walls came down around Hogsmeade Station and the London Embankment. Both areas look spectacular, but neither are open to the public as of yet.  A grand opening has been announced for July 8th 2014.

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NEW! Universal Orlando Official App Announced: Universal Orlando Resort launched a new mobile app today that gives guests full control of their adventure by providing immediate attraction wait-times, interactive park maps, customizable favorites lists and more- all with the swipe of a finger.  The app is available as a free download for Apple and Android mobile devices:

Android – http://bit.ly/1nwUznz

Apple ­ http://bit.ly/1hIfKUb

NEW! Park-wide WiFi access: Universal announced the debut of free park wide mobile internet access from Xfinity WiFi. When you’re in the parks or Universal CityWalk, just look for “Xfinitywifi” on your mobile device and follow the steps to get started.

Closures and Refurbishments:

Universal’s Islands of Adventure

  • None scheduled

Universal Studios

  • Universal’s Cinematic Spectacular: 6/15 no show scheduled

My name is Jason Mayhew, and I am the owner of OFF On The Go. When not traveling with the website, I own my own marketing and PR company, J Mayhew Marketing. I have the best job where I get to travel the world and showcase the most amazing and unique experiences!

About Author

Jason Mayhew

My name is Jason Mayhew, and I am the owner of OFF On The Go. When not traveling with the website, I own my own marketing and PR company, J Mayhew Marketing. I have the best job where I get to travel the world and showcase the most amazing and unique experiences!