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Category: Walt Disney World

Ep 86 – Grassey talks about ALL the WDW rumors

Tim Grassey of WDW Theme Parks sits down with Ken to talk about nearly every single WDW currently being tracked on his site. They go park by park to discuss the rumors.

A few quick rumors from UOR are also discussed but this is a WDW heavy episode.


Special Guest– Tim Grassey of WDWThemeParks

Recording Date- Nov 22, 2016

Music- Song 1

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5 Questions With Safari Mike

We’re excited to have Animal Kingdom expert Safari Mike from the Radio Harambe podcast and the Jambo Everyone website answer a few questions regarding his views on Orlando tourism. Mike has long been an advocate of Animal Kingdom and has supported numerous conservation efforts around the world. His weekly podcast has become the go-to place for the very latest news regarding Animal Kingdom and all of Walt Disney World.  Mike and his Radio Harambe co-host Dave McBride have both long been advocates of Animal Kingdom not being a half day park.

OTR- What makes Orlando unique when compared to other tourist centric destinations?

SM- This one is easy: Volume. The sheer number of theme parks and attractions is overwhelming. Like I said, I never set foot “off property” but I know I am missing another world. Back when I first started going to WDW, there was just the Magic Kingdom (yes I am that old). So we would go to Busch Gardens, Sea World, Silver Springs, Cypress Gardens. Then Epcot opened and we stopped doing a couple of those other attractions. Then Disney MGM Studios opened and it was game set and match. Other than checking out Universal Studios in its infancy we really never set foot off property. But there is sooooo much out there that people could spend a month on vacation in Central Florida and not see everything.

OTR- What is the most ‘Disney’ ride currently at Universal Orlando Resort?

SM- This one is a toughie since I usually don’t leave the World. But I am constantly looking at videos and whatnot of Universal. The easy answer would be something Potter due to the level of theming or perhaps Spider Man since that’s actually a Disney property. But I am going to pick Revenge of the Mummy. It just seems like a Disney type ride with the level of details in it. The queues, the effects, the façade, all are quite “Disney.” And if they ever put it into Hollywood Studios it would automatically be a Top 3 attraction, no?

OTR- What are your predictions/hopes on what the next big news item regarding Disney World resorts being?

SM- This would have to be what’s the next DVC. We all know its coming and they have pretty much maxed out the monorail resorts for vacation club expansion. Once the Poly is done, what will Disney do next for DVC? I have heard all sorts of things including even a large addition to the Caribbean Beach resort to allow for rooftop Illuminations viewing or something build right behind Epcot for the same advantageous views. I suppose only time will tell but with DVC being such a cash cow, you can bet they are not done with it.

As for hopes? I want them to build a train that runs from Kidani to Jambo to a dedicated DAK entrance at Harambe. How cool would that be?????

OTR- What is the one thing that would cause the biggest improvement to Orlando International Airport?

SM- I have three words for this – Earl. Of. Sandwich. That’s right, my home airport of Newark NJ has an Earl in one of its terminals. Let’s put one in the Orlando airport. Then I wouldn’t have to try to work my way down to that ridiculous Disney Springs area and its nightmarish construction to get a decent sub. And who wouldn’t feel better about going home munching on a holiday sandwich? I say no one. And what better way to enjoy the Magical Express ride to the Animal Kingdom Lodge than by chowing down on a Chipotle Chicken Avocado. Better WiFi? Sure that would be nice. Quicker baggage claims? OK, that helps. But both pale in comparison to adding an Earl.

OTR- What ride at Walt Disney World would you point to as best resembling what the future of the parks will be?

SM- I was going to say Triceratops Spin here, but I decided against that. Instead, I am going with Enchanted Tales with Belle. What’s that you say? Well, hear me out on this one. Yes, I know it’s an attraction that is basically for little kids and it doesn’t have a ride element. But the reality is the technology in here is pretty amazing. The mirror effect and the Luminere AA are wow factors. I see these types of things continuing; clearly the 7 dwarves at the mine train take a cue from the Luminere figure. The lighting effects are used so well (Avatarland anyone?). And, most importantly, an immersive experience, which is of course, a Disney hallmark. Yeah, this attraction is not necessarily a “big deal” but it does show to me where Disney is possibly going into the future.

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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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