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Archive for the ‘Theme parks’ Category

Disney Will Break Ground on Star Wars Land Next Year

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

The 14-acre Star Wars Land will debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Orlando. Star Wars Land will include a Millennium Falcon ride that includes “the ability to take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy,” the iconic cantina, and a second E-ticket ride themed to Episode 7.

Star Wars Land at Disney

Disney will create a jaw-dropping new world that represents the largest single themed land expansion ever. The new land at Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance. The attraction is slated to open by 2020.

Star Wars Launch Bay

Star Wars Launch Bay will be a new interactive experience, and will be located in the former Animation pavilion space at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Wars Launch Bay will include character meet and greets, exhibits themed to the new Star Wars films, and new stores. It will open later this year.

SeaWorld unveils Mako, new 200-foot coaster opening 2016

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

SeaWorld Orlando has unveiled its next thrill ride, Mako, which the theme park said will be Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest coaster when it opens in 2016.

SeaWorld’s Brian Morrow revealed Wednesday that Mako will be 4,760 feet long — over 9/10 of a mile — and feature a 200-foot drop at a top speed of 73 mph.Seaworld Orlando Mako

Quick Facts

  • Opening summer 2016, Mako will be the tallest, fastest and longest coaster in Orlando.
  • Mako will be a hypercoaster, designed for speed and relentless “air time.”
  • SeaWorld Orlando will now have a portfolio of 5 thrill rides: 3 distinctly different coasters, plus 2 family coasters.
  • The 2-acre realm of the park will now be fully themed around sharks: including Mako, Shark Encounter, Sharks Underwater Grill, themed gift shops, shark and shipwreck theming and educational experiences.

Surfacing summer 2016 at SeaWorld Orlando will be Mako, a 200-foot-tall hypercoaster that will reach 73 mph along 4,760 feet of steel track — nearly a mile long — and leave riders feeling both breathless and weightless. Named for one of the ocean’s fastest known sharks, Mako will be Orlando’s tallest, fastest and longest roller coaster.

“On Mako, you’ll experience what it’s like to be this apex predator, surging through the water at top speed and chasing prey throughout a massive reef,” said Brian Morrow, SeaWorld’s attraction creative director. “It will be a wild mix of fear, thrills and fun.”

Mako’s tight turns and speed are inspired by reality. Mako sharks — also called “blue pointers” — are known for their top speed, making extreme jumps and the ability to quickly change course as they pursue their prey.

The new coaster will become one of the world’s true hypercoasters, a group of roller coasters known for high speeds and steep drops and hills that create a feeling of weightlessness or “air time.” As the sleek coaster cars crest each hill, riders float, nearly weightless.

New Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

Downtown Disney is undergoing a multi-year transformation, representing the largest expansion in its history. The renamed Disney Springs will double the number of shopping, dining and entertainment experiences, and feature an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands.

Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

With a flowing spring as a centerpiece, Disney Springs will feature four outdoor neighborhoods.

The story of Disney Springs begins at our new Town Center, which is oriented around a series of bubbling natural springs that first attracted settlers to the area. From there, the town grew to encompass three additional neighborhoods: The Landing, Marketplace and West Side – each with its own distinct charm and atmosphere.

Disney Springs at Walt Disney World Resort

As part of Disney Springs, the family-friendly Marketplace will continue to delight guests of all ages and include new experiences, such as an over-the-water pedestrian causeway.

 

Once complete, Disney Springs will expand from 75 to more than 150 shopping, dining and entertainment venues, featuring some of the world’s most iconic brands and restaurants. Construction is set to begin next month. The expansion will open in phases and we expect to complete our development in 2016.

New attractions coming to Walt Disney World

Monday, April 29th, 2013

There are plenty of projects in the works at Walt Disney World, but here are progress reports on four incoming attractions. Disney gave updates on them last week during a preview for members of the media.

Train schedule

The middle of New Fantasyland remains a construction zone for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train roller coaster. Its indoor-outdoor track and swaying ride vehicles will add buzz to an area surrounded by proper princess-driven attractions.

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

“I think it’s definitely going to add a dynamic, a lot of kinetic energy, which will be fun,” says new Walt Disney World President George Kalogridis. The mine train will double as attraction and spectator sport, much like the very visible drop of Expedition Everest at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

“I think of it as theater in the round,” says Mark Kohl, director of project management for the Fantasyland expansion. “Our guests will be able to walk 360 degrees around the coaster when it’s complete and experience it from all angles.”

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

The new attraction is expected to open next spring.

Or maybe it’s a triple whammy. The attraction slows down indoors, morphing into a dark ride.

“We’re going to take you inside this magical cave where millions of diamonds and gems are going to shine, and seven of our closest friends are all going to be hard at work in there,” Kohl says. It later shifts back to coaster mode.

Mine Train is set to open next spring.

Meeting, greeting

The next element of New Fantasyland to open will be Princess Fairytale Hall, a central gathering place for Disney royalty in the shadow of Cinderella Castle.

“This is where all the royal subjects of Fantasyland, our guests, can go and meet them in sort of a royal receiving room,” says Jason Grandt of Walt Disney Imagineering. Look for Cinderella, Rapunzel and other princesses to rotate through there.

The space, formerly home of Snow White’s Scary Adventures ride, has been overhauled.

“If there’s a clue that Snow White [ride] used to be the building, it will be a well-placed homage by us,” Grandt says.

The attraction will be ready by the end of 2013, “in plenty of time for the holidays,” Kalogridis says.

Go West

California Grill, the restaurant topping Disney’s Contemporary Hotel, is midway through its first refreshening in 19 years. The establishment is a hot spot for anniversaries, birthdays and marriage proposals, says Michael Scheifler, food and beverage manager.

“Seating capacity stayed the same, but we changed quite a few of our tables to many more two-tops to accommodate the demand for those special occasions,” Scheifler says.

The look will be midcentury modern with tones found in a sunset, such as hot pink and amber. New energy-efficient windows are being installed. Guests will be greeted by a “wall of wine,” he says.

California Grill is expected to reopen in late August or early September, he says.

Digging in

Coming soon — within weeks — is Wilderness Explorers, an interactive experience being incorporated into Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

It has 30 “locations where kids and families can pay a little closer attention to the things that they see, dig deeper into the educational side of it, earn badges that sort of elevate their stature as Wilderness Explorers over time,” Imagineer Alex Wright says.

One stop, for example, will be along the park’s Maharajah Tiger Trek.

“There’s going to be a station where you can walk up and, through a little field viewer that we’ve got set up, you can experience how a predator like a tiger sees their prey in the wild,” Wright says.

Three endangered tiger cubs born at Busch Gardens Tampa

Friday, April 5th, 2013

Three Malayan tiger cubs — two males, one female — were born at Busch Gardens in Tampa on March 31.  The animals are part of an endangered species — about 500 Malayan tigers survive in the wild, and only in southern Thailand and the Malay Peninsula, the park says.

Three endangered tiger cubs born

Three endangered tiger cubs born at Busch Gardens Tampa

The newborns are the offspring of mother Bzui and father Mata, who are backstage with their firstborns, where there are being monitored by Busch Gardens’ animal-care team. The cubs will start being introduced to the park’s Jungala area in about a month.

The births are in conjuction with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ Species Survival Plan.

Legoland Florida’s water park doubles up on bricks

Sunday, March 10th, 2013

When the Legoland Florida water park reopenes for the season this weekend, guests will see even more figures and scenes constructed of Lego bricks. Two million bricks have been added since the Winter Haven water park opened last year, bringing its total to 4 million.

Legoland Florida Water park doubles up on bricks

Legoland Florida Water park doubles up on bricks

Sealife has strong representation among the new additions, including Moby Dick (made of more than 200,000 Duplo bricks) along the Build-A-Raft River and a shark (nearly 250,000) near the wave pool.

A 15-foot tall Lego Mermaid (176,000 bricks) now stands at the water park entrance amide water spouts and bubbles. Surfers, seahorses, clams and shells can also be seen.

Legoland has also added a hotdog vendor called Waveside Grill near the pool.

Legoland’s water park is only available as an add-on to a regular Legoland Florida ticket. (There is no water-park-only ticket.) A one-day pass to Legoland with water park is $91 ($81 for ages 3-12). There are discounts for Florida residents who pick a specific day and purchase tickets in advance. Floridians can also opt to buy an annual pass, which includes the water park, for $99.

Water park hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m.

The Legoland Florida calendar opens up a bit next week when it operates seven days a week during the Spring Break season. The park commonly is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays … and sometimes the water park only operates on weekends. To double-check the operating hours and days (and for other information), go to www.legoland.com.

Walt Disney World – MyMagic+ explained

Sunday, March 3rd, 2013

MyMagic+ explained

Making “How” Guests Experience Disney Parks Even Better: MyMagic+ Walt Disney Parks and Resorts is taking another step forward to evolve “how” guests experience Disney Parks and is using technology to make it easier than ever before for guests to make the most of their Walt Disney World visit. Many of these efforts fall under the umbrella of MyMagic+, which has the ability to connect nearly all aspects of the guest experience and make it better for everyone, at no additional charge.

WDW MyMagic+

WDW MyMagic+

My Disney Experience

A new website and mobile app called My Disney Experience provides a one-­-stop shop for all things Walt Disney World throughout every phase of a guest’s vacation. It will enable guests to:

  • Get more information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer, from resort hotels and attractions to dining and merchandise.
  • Design the overall experience they want, planning as much or as little as they wish.
  • Make dining and other reservations and FastPass+ selections.
  • Connect with family and friends to coordinate plans and share photos.

Disney FastPass+ service

Guests will be able to select FastPass+ attractions and entertainment experiences through My Disney Experience before they leave home and make changes on the go.

  • For the first time, guests will be able to reserve firework and parade viewing areas, shows, Disney Character Greetings and more, in addition to their favorite attractions.
  • For guests who don’t know where to start, Disney will recommend FastPicks – a set of three FastPass+ selections that serve as a starting point – and give guests the option to customize their selections.
  • Disney FastPass+ service is included with Theme Park admission.

MagicBand

Worn on the wrist, the colorful MagicBand is an all-­-in-­-one device that effortlessly connects all the vacation choices guests make online with My Disney Experience.

  • Guests can use their MagicBand to enter their Disney Resort hotel room, buy food and merchandise, and enter Walt Disney World theme parks and water parks. Plus, the MagicBand provides FastPass+ access to all the experiences selected and serves as the connection to Disney’s PhotoPass .
  • The MagicBand is initially available to select Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests and guests who purchase other specific products. Other guests will be able to use their standard ticket to access the benefits of MyMagic+, such as making FastPass+ selections on My Disney Experience.
WDW MyMagic+

WDW MyMagic+

MyMagic+ FAQ

1. What does ‘MyMagic+’ provide?

‘MyMagic+’ comprises of 3 main components: My Disney Experience website and smartphone app, FASTPASS+, and MagicBand RFID bracelet. The MagicBand replaces traditional tickets with a bracelet that is worn on the wrist. MagicBand combines all tickets, allowing room entry, park entry, FASTPASS+ attraction entry, PHOTOPASS, and room charging.

2. When will ‘MyMagic+’ be available?

The system is in limited testing now, and Disney has said that it should be available to all Walt Disney World guests later in 2013.

3. How much does ‘MyMagic+’ cost?

The system will be available at no additional cost. The basic MagicBand RFID bracelet can be upgraded to a customized band, such as a Princess band, for an additional fee. This is only a cosmetic change however, and does not impact the actual experience.

4. Will you have to use ‘MyMagic+’?

No. The system is opt in, and is not required. However, if you do not use ‘MyMagic+’ you will not be able to use FASTPASS+.

5. Will Annual Passholders be able to use ‘MyMagic+’?

Yes, Disney has said that they will be contacting Annual Passholders to provide them with a MagicBand to take part in the program.

6. Will guests have to use a smartphone to use FASTPASS+?

No. Guests will be able to use kiosks inside the parks to choose FASTPASS+ experiences as well as using smartphones or websites.

7. Is the MagicBand bracelet secure?

Yes, just like a normal park ticket, the bracelet just contains a unique ID code. This code identifies guests in the Disney database. No information is stored on the bracelet.

8. Will MyMagic+ be available to non-Walt Disney World Resort guests?

Yes. Guests staying at Walt Disney World Resort hotels, and Annual Passholders will receive a MagicBand, as well as those guests who purchase a photography package. Guests who stay at non-Disney hotels will receive an RFID enabled ticket with features of touch to enter the park, touch to redeem FastPass+ and touch to pay. These guests can participate in My Disney Experience and purchase a MagicBand if they wish.

Disney Parks and Resorts Chairman Tom Staggs makes the official announcement of the Next Gen ‘MyMagic+’

Tom Staggs, Chairman, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, has made the first official announcement of the NextGen initiative ‘MyMagic+’. ‘MyMagic+’ is the combination of several technologies that we have been following over the past year, including FASTPASS+, the MagicBand RFID wrist strap, and the My Disney Experience website and apps.
Here is the full text from the official Disney Parks Blog as posted on 7 January 2013.

At Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, we continually push the boundaries of creativity and innovation to deliver the best possible experience for our guests. We’re always looking for ways to take what we do and do it even better. Over the past few years, we’ve devoted considerable time and resources to create a more immersive, more seamless and more personal experience for each and every guest who spends time with us. I know there’s been significant speculation about these efforts among our fans, so we’re pleased to give you a glimpse into the work we are doing to take the entire Disney guest experience to the next level.

Some of these initiatives are more apparent and can already be seen by our guests – like our interactive queues at Walt Disney World Resort and the Enchanted Art on our cruise ships – while others are more behind-the-scenes and are focused on “how” visitors plan, access and enjoy their experiences with us. Over the next several months, we’ll be rolling out a collection of tools at the Walt Disney World Resort called MyMagic+ that will give guests more opportunities to customize and personalize their entire visit.

Like most people who visit Walt Disney World Resort, my family and I have our “must-do” attractions, and as the father of three boys, those attractions often end with the word “mountain.” Now, rather than dashing as a group, or even splitting up to gather FastPasses, imagine booking guaranteed ride times for your favorite shows and attractions even before setting foot in the park. With MyMagic+, guests will be able to do that and more, enabling them to spend more time together and creating an experience that’s better for everyone.

A major component of MyMagic+ is the new My Disney Experience website and mobile app, which gives guests planning their trip the latest information on all Walt Disney World Resort has to offer. We know that some people like to plan every aspect of their Disney vacation in advance while others like to plan very little, letting their day unfold spontaneously. No matter where guests fall in that spectrum, My Disney Experience gives them the flexibility to plan as much or as little as they’d like to create the exact Disney experience they want. They can book dining and other experiences and reserve times for their favorite attractions, shows and more through an enhanced FastPass system, FastPass+. Once they arrive, they can use their smart phones to spontaneously change their plans in the moment, exploring our parks at their own pace and getting the most out of their visit.

Linking the entire MyMagic+ experience together is an innovative piece of technology we developed called the MagicBand. Worn on the wrist, it will serve as a guest’s room key, theme park ticket, access to FastPass+ selections, PhotoPass card and optional payment account all rolled into one. We’ve began testing certain aspects of MyMagic+ in Florida last month and the early reactions we’ve gotten have been fantastic.

This collection of tools is another step forward in the ongoing evolution of our guest experience, giving us even more ways to help friends and family create the unforgettable Disney memories that they want most. We’ll be testing, adjusting and adding features to MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience over time and will continue to make improvements based on our guests’ feedback. We look forward to sharing more with you in the months ahead!
Thank you to www.wdwmagic.com for providing this information.

Disney reveals NextGen details with ‘MyMagic+’

Monday, February 11th, 2013

After more than three years in development and $1 billion in spending, the Walt Disney Co. on Monday unveiled the central elements of its “Next Generation Experience,” the sweeping, vacation-planning project aimed at getting travelers to spend more time and money at Walt Disney World.

Packaged under the name “MyMagic+,” the project includes a new website and mobile-phone app, a revamped ride-reservation system, and wristbands equipped with wireless transmitters that will serve as all-in-one theme-park tickets, hotel-room keys and credit cards.

MagicBands

MagicBands

The goal is to make an increasingly congested Disney World, whose four theme parks drew more than 47 million visitors last year, less intimidating and more pleasant to navigate for travelers.

But it is also designed to allow Disney to cull vast amounts of new information from its guests — from individual spending habits to crowd movements in its parks — in hopes of better tailoring everything from sales pitches to operating hours.

“There’s the key. It’s a marketing bonanza,” said Duncan Dickson, a professor in the University of Central Florida’s Rosen College of Hospitality Management. “It opens up so much rich information and gives the marketing groups the ability to target-market specifically to the guest.”

Rumors have been swirling around Disney’s technology project for years. The Orlando Sentinel first reported the existence of “NextGen” — and its billion-dollar price tag — in January 2010, though the project wasn’t formally approved by the Burbank, Calif.-based company’s board of directors until February 2011.

Disney said Monday that the project includes three central elements:

• A new website and mobile app dubbed “My Disney Experience,” which Disney said will be a “one-stop shop” for planning a Disney vacation. In addition to details such as hotel-room availability, travelers will be encouraged to provide personal details ranging from their favorite characters to celebrations such as birthdays.

• A revamped version of its existing FastPass ride-reservation system dubbed “FastPass+,” in which travelers will be permitted to reserve a limited number of attraction times from home. In addition to rides, options will include reserved seating for nightly fireworks displays and other shows — even specific character-greeting times. For travelers uncertain about how to plan, Disney said it will recommended a prepackaged set of three FastPass+ reservations to “serve as a starting point.”

• Radio frequency identification-equipped wrist bands, to be known as “MagicBands,” that will replace paper tickets and can be used to enter parks and hotel rooms and to buy food and souvenirs throughout the resort. The RFI wristbands will also interact with other sensors in Disney’s parks, allowing characters to greet guests by name and verifying guests’ “FastPass+” return times.

Disney said MagicBands will initially be available to certain guests staying in Disney-owned hotels or to those who purchase other, unidentified products — a move Disney hopes will help rebuild hotel-occupancy rates that dipped to 78 percent during Disney’s fiscal fourth quarter last year.

Dickson said he expects the wristbands will help drive bookings particularly for Disney’s mid-tier hotels, which he said have not fared as well in recent years as Disney’s top- and bottom-end hotels.

But Dickson also said Disney will have to articulate a strategy for how the new planning tools help annual pass holders, who are some of the company’s most loyal customers and who may not benefit from advance reservations as much as travelers planning vacations six months or more ahead of time.

SeaWorld Orlando Embarks on Epic Voyage

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

SeaWorld Orlando kicks off its “Epic Voyage” campaign to launch Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, the park’s all-new, largest-ever attraction opening this spring. The campaign starts in New York City and includes stops in six other cities and a new mobile app, both designed to give families a sneak peek into the new attraction’s thrilling and chilling adventure in ways as amazing as the continent itself.

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin

Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin

The new attraction, Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin will transport families into a rarely seen, icy world. You’ll feel the majestic grandeur of the South Pole and see it through the penguins’ eyes on an exhilarating, first-of-its-kind family ride. You’ll explore a massive penguin colony in an expanse that envelops you in cool extremes, both above and below the penguins’ icy world. It’s a must-see, one-of-a-kind theme park experience only at SeaWorld in Orlando.

SeaWorld’s “Epic Voyage” takes over malls and consumer travel shows with a unique family experience filled with a massive ice dome, interactive virtual reality, shareable photo opportunities, chances to win incredible prizes, and, of course, live penguins! Who doesn’t want to meet a penguin up close? Plus, Coca-Cola Freestyle machines will also be part of the experience on site to quench the thirst of attendees with complimentary, refreshing drinks.   We’ll have street teams roaming the cities in wrapped, Antarctic-themed Hyundai Santa Fes and Sonata Hybrids as they mingle with the locals at various hot spots, commuter stations and key landmarks. The street team will test the locals with trivia, hand out prizes and allow them to escape to Antarctica through the augmented reality videos that can be shared with family and friends.   Everyone can follow the freeze with our all-new mobileapp to put you in the action … plus interactive elements to share with friends. From behind-the-scenes teaser videos and tour details to penguin fun facts and trivia, consumers can immerse themselves virtually into Antarctica through augmented reality and also enter the Family Voyage Sweepstakes. The app — SeaWorld’s Antarctica — is available for download today on iPhone/iPad and is coming soon for Android devices.   “Since Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin was announced in November 2011, we’ve been planning and looking forward to bringing a glimpse of the attraction to these key markets to connect with our fans and let them feel the chill,” said Vice President of Marketing & Sales for SeaWorld Parks & Resorts Orlando Toni Caracciolo.

Antarctic-themed Hyundai Santa Fes

Antarctic-themed Hyundai Santa Fes

Anyone can enter to win the trip of a lifetime with the Family Voyage Sweepstakes.Two lucky families will receive a 4-day, 3-night journey to SeaWorld Orlando to be one of the first to experience Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin. All of the details are found online so go check it out for your chance to win!   For more information about the Epic Voyage, visit SeaWorldOrlando.com/Antarctica, where you’re able to watch videos, sign up for emails, learn about penguins and Antarctica, enter the Family Voyage sweepstakes, and find the best vacation values to start planning your next voyage to SeaWorld Orlando.   We hope to see you along our voyage in one of these cities.

The Epic Voyage schedule:

NEW YORK  The New York Times Travel Show  Jacob K. Javits Convention Center  January 19-20

CHICAGO  Gurnee Mills Mall  Thursday, January 24   Chicago Travel & Adventure Show  Donald E. Stephens Convention Center  Rosemont  January 26-27

BOSTON  Boston Globe Travel Show  Seaport World Trade Center  February 8-10

PHILADELPHIA  King of Prussia Mall February 23-24

WASHINGTON D.C.  Washington, D.C. Travel & Adventure Show  Walter E. Washington Convention Center  March 9-10

JACKSONVILLE  The Avenues Mall  March 23-24

ATLANTA  April dates TBD

MIAMI  Miami Dolphins Fin Fest 2023  Saturday, April 27   Aventura Mall  May 4-5

The Force is Coming to LEGOLAND Florida – LEGO Star Wars Miniland Cluster Announced as Newest Expansion

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

The Force is coming to LEGOLAND Florida with a new expansion to the park, LEGO Star Wars Miniland Cluster. The expansion plans, revealed by the Winter Haven based theme park operator, are that the new LEGO Star Wars Miniland Cluster will include a scene from each of the six live-action Star Wars movies, as well as a scene from the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars all created from more than 1.5 million LEGO bricks and built in 1:20 scale. Following a chronological path through the Star Wars timeline, guests will retrace the major events of the beloved Saga. Some of the 2,000 LEGO models will be more than 6-feet-tall. Interactive buttons will allow children to activate animations throughout the scenes.

LEGOLAND Florida Star Wars Miniland Cluster

LEGOLAND Florida Star Wars Miniland Cluster

This new LEGO Star Wars Miniland Cluster will add further interest to the 150-acre family theme park which opened last Fall, and now has more than 50 rides, shows and interactive attractions. LEGO Star Wars Miniland is scheduled to open in November.