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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Universal Orlando Update - Potter Progress, More

Universal is celebrating "The Year to be Here" in lots of ways - a new parade and lagoon show, an upcoming Despicable Me attraction, a revised Spider-Man, a new store for SpongeBob, and construction on the former Jaws site.



Amid all this, it's the 100th anniversary for Universal, and there are a few banners to this effect.

The shark photo opportunity that used to be stationed in front of the Jaws ride has been moved closer to Disaster while construction continues on the former Amity area. They still haven't announced details of the Potter expansion to come here.







Lastly, this pay phone caught my eye. It seems customized for international visitors, who are probably the only people still using pay phones in the American theme parks.



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Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.

Summer Castle Projections

The high-resolution projections on Cinderella Castle that precede (and sometimes follow) the Wishes fireworks have received a new seasonal addition for summer. It's the "sand castle" version of this famous icon!



There have been seasonal changes before. In Christmas 2011 (the show's first year), a new segment was inserted, and for Valentine's Day 2012, a love-theme section was added. The romance addition has stayed there, actually, and is still there during the summer, even side by side with the additions.

The summer additions start with a brief introduction by Phineas and Ferb (who famously try to find ways to fill 104 days of summer vacation), and we are treated to the sand castle, Crush from Finding Nemo, Goofy surfing, Timon and Pumbaa from the Lion King, and Ariel from Little Mermaid.











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Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Special rates at Swan/Dolphin for Father's Day Weekend

Press Release:


CELEBRATE WITH DAD AT THE
WALT DISNEY WORLD SWAN AND DOLPHIN HOTEL
In honor of Father’s Day, guests can receive a special rate and complimentary room upgrade during Father’s Day Weekend



LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – May 30, 2012 – Families looking to give dad the vacation he deserves can now do so with a special Father’s Day offer from the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel.  For the weekend of June 15-17, guests can receive rooms starting at $199 per night and a complimentary room upgrade at the Orlando hotel.

Located in the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, the Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel offers easy access for dads to spend time with their families in the Disney theme parks, unwind on one of the four championship golf courses or drive an exotic sports car at the Richard Petty Driving Experience. 

In addition, the hotel itself offers a number of amenities and activities that will appeal to dad and the entire family including five pools, recreational activities, and numerous dining options such as Shula’s Steak House and character dining.

Reservations can be made online at www.swandolphin.com/offers or by calling 1-800-227-1500 and mentioning “Father.” Based on rate schedule availability. Offer is valid for stays June 15-17. Taxes, resort services fee and gratuities not included. Not valid with any other special offers, promotions, or for existing reservations or groups. 

In the heart of the Walt Disney World Resort, the award-winning Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Hotel is the gateway to Central Florida’s greatest theme parks and attractions. The hotel is located between Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and nearby Disney’s Animal Kingdom Theme Park and Magic Kingdom Park. Guests can discover 17 world-class restaurants and lounges, sophisticated guest rooms with Westin Heavenly Beds and the luxurious Mandara Spa. The hotel features five pools, two health clubs, tennis, nearby golf, complimentary transportation throughout the Walt Disney World Resort and the Extra Magic Hours benefit, where each day, one of the four Walt Disney World Theme Parks is open extra time to enjoy select attractions.  (Valid Theme Park admission and Resort ID required). The hotel can be reached at 800-227-1500, www.swandolphin.com or through Facebook at www.facebook.com/swananddolphin


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Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.

SpongeBob StorePants opens at Universal Orlando

If you laughed out loud at the name "SpongeBob StorePants," then you simply must visit. This is the right place for you!



The store is newly opened in Universal Studios Florida, occupying the space of a previous (and much less themed) store not far from the pet show and around the corner from the ET Adventure.









This new store is packed to the rafters with decorative items, inside jokes, and, yes, even SpongeBob merchandise actually for sale.






























The problem of what's for sale is not insignificant; there are price tags on all the props, too, with ludicrous prices (so one assumes it's a joke. At least I think it's a joke). It's all part of the humor here, and there's a fair amount of attention paid to make things humorous in that customary SpongeBob way. Irreverent, and probably not for the youngest of children.... but ideal for those just a little bit older.





There's a photo location in one corner of the room, and interesting backdrops, too. I predict this very photogenic shop will get a lot of foot traffic. Bully for Universal for thinking along these lines. Just like the gift shop dedicated to the Simpsons, this one goes all-out and has Disney-quality theming all around.



I love the store - it's quirky, it's offbeat, and it's named STOREPANTS! How could you not love a store that manages to find a name so in-character, so weird, and so memorable?

Here's a video walkthrough:




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Kevin Yee is the author of numerous independent Disney books, including the popular Walt Disney World Earbook series and Walt Disney World Hidden History.