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Month: January 2015

Is Indiana Jones Going To Animal Kingdom?

By Ken Storey

Back on July 3, 2014 I wrote shared some details of what would be coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios (DHS). At that time I noted that this was only Part 1 of an ongoing story. Well now it looks like the other shoe has finally dropped and that means it’s time for Part 2.

In Part 1 focused on Hollywood Studios, but that won’t be the only park getting a major update of the next few years. While DHS is getting its reboot with two proven franchises, Pixar and Star Wars, over at Animal Kingdom (DAK) a just as popular but still to be proven franchise is being introduced. Problem is it’s been pretty obvious from Day 1 that Avatar wasn’t the ‘Potter Swatter’ that it was hoped to be.   The project has already been delayed, stretched across two phases (which may now be bumped to one stage since Phase 1 has unofficially been delayed).

From early on there have been struggles of how to introduce food, beverage and merchandise into the new area. Back in November of 2013 I mentioned that Pandora will feature mess hall ruins that were planned to be doubled as a dining option. That may now be called off, in part to open the new land before the next movie and also in part due to the lack of authentic storyline (authenticity has seemingly become much more important since July 2014…).

Other dining and merchandise options have opened or are planned to open around DAK before Pandora. While Avatar has yet to be proven successful or not there is bigger issue for Disney here, oddly enough an exact issue that their primary competitor faces just up the road, is that a large chunk of merchandise sold has licensing fees being sent off to someone other than Disney.

While some at Disney has privately expressed interest in cancelling the whole project it seems to be moving forward, if for nothing else to keep James Cameron in the fold and on good terms.

Everest has been a popular ride at DAK but with Pandora opening across the park the draw of Everest might not be enough to even out the crowds. Dinosaur has seen some recent minor updates but even with those its popularity is nothing near what a large scale E-Ticket is in most other parks.

Back in the Nov 2013 article I also mentioned that the new Rivers of Light nighttime show was looking at using projection mapping technology, something we’ll be seeing to an extreme within Pandora itself, onto Everest. This was an attempt to both bring the show past the Tree of Life and into other parts of the park but it was also an attempt to draw guest into this side of the park.

Well it looks like the night time show won’t be using Everest in that manor after all but Disney has different plans to draw people into that side of the park. Remember back in July when I said Indiana Jones was getting a new address? Well it looks like it might be inside DAK. If the rumors I’ve heard are all correct he will be moving into the park with a new indoor E-Ticket, an outdoor small footprint ride, a dining experience and plenty of merchandise. The big question here is will the new indoor E-Ticket be something from a more ‘golden’ place or one more familiar with a ‘breath-taking’ city?

With the success of Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy (more on that IP in a coming article…) it looks like Disney has tapped him to reboot this beloved franchise. Gone are the aliens but luckily for us, and for the Merch Department, the whip, hat and other iconic items are here to stay.

It looks like Indiana Jones will be coming to DAK sometime in the mid to late 2020s. The current show at DHS will likely remain at least through the first half of 2016 with the stadium staying even longer.

Oddly enough there is another rumor floating around regarding DAK and these two rumors may be one in the same. Awhile back news broke that Disney was working with a group of South American investors looking to sponsor a new country at Epcot. Well those talks fell apart but the concepts have been moved and kept alive. South America may become the next country at DAK. A major indoor E-Ticket is planned, along with a daily free range bird show, some new merchandise and a small museum style exhibit are all planned for the South America land. It looks like Disney might even be courting a number of South American companies for sponsorship for many of the new attractions, something that has fallen off in popularity with American companies in more recent years.  With the increases in wealth South American guests and the introduction of South American brands into the Central Florida market a sponsorship at Disney World might be just what one of these larger companies is looking for.

If the rumors of a new South America and the ones of Indy are actually one in the same it looks like Dinoland might not be long for this world. I’ve yet to hear anything that puts this beyond 50/50 but it would be a nice fix to one of the least popular areas of the park. This would also allow for the updating of many of the Oasis and Discovery Island exhibits. Maybe allowing for those exhibit spaces to feature/test other, less common animals that the park might feature in its 2030 expansion plans.

For now though it looks like we might be getting Pandora AND Indy. So what do you think? Would you like to see Indiana Jones at DAK? Will you miss the stunt show? Do you think Chris Pratt will make a good Indy?

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OTR – Ep 22 – The 43.7 Million Dollar Question

In the first episode of 2015 Kyle and Ken are joined by Jay of Orlando Tourist Blog. The guys cover all the news they’ve missed over the past month including Artegon’s Christmas Eve death, Gwazi’s closing, the coaster rumors at SeaWorld Orlando and Busch Gardens Tampa, Universal Orlando’s non-stop construction, restaurants at Disney Springs and more before sharing their thoughts on pay at Walt Disney World compared to that of Bob Iger’s.

Show Info

Ken Storey



Recorded Jan 22, 2015

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5 Things to Look Forward To In UOR’s New Diagon Alley

After 15 years in service Gwazi, one of only three wooden coasters in Central Florida, will be close on February 1 of this year. The ride, found in the Morocco section of Busch Gardens Tampa, holds the title for the most fly-bys on a dueling roller coaster.
In recent years the ride has gotten noticeable rougher with the lack of wait on even busy days pointing to a lack of interest from most park guest. Busch Gardens did install new trains in 2010, this helped some with the roughness but many still seem to complain about the roughness. Park merchandise has noticeable not included the ride in recent years as well.
The coaster had a Lion and a Tiger side with the Tiger side being closed near the end of the 2012 season. Since then only the Lion side has run. (Check out the video below to see a ride-thru on both sides.)
“No decisions have been made about what lies ahead for Gwazi or for the future plans of that area of Busch Gardens,” said Park President Jim Dean. “But, we are always looking for ways to enhance guests’ experiences, so stay tuned for more news.”

Also closing at Busch Gardens is the Pantopia Grill. The dinner theater is found in the spectacularly themed Pantopia land yet inside it remained similar to how it looked for many years. Busch Gardens has confirmed that the dinner theater is being remodeled and will reopen with a new food court model, similar to the Expedition Cafe found in Antarctica at SeaWorld Orlando. The new restaurant will offer windows with Italian, America, Asia and Mexican cuisine. The Busch Gardens Tampa blog mentioned menu items at the new restaurant including; “rotisserie chicken, flatbread pizza, teriyaki chicken, shrimp lo Mein and panini’s.”

Craft beer and Starbucks coffee will be also be available in the new dining pavilion. The new restaurant will be known as Dragon Fire Grill and is expected to open later this year.

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