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---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(9/16/14) Frozen Ride Confirmed To Replace Maelstrom / Soarin’ Expasion Update
(9/8/14) World Showcase Photo Trip Report (MORE...)
(9/1/14) Soaring Expansion Progress Report (MORE...)
(8/29/14) Popular Entertainment Acts Cut from Epcot's World Showcase (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Final Performance of Mo’Rockin, Off Kilter and Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corp - Sept. 27, 2014
General Park News - (9/8/14) For those wanting to take a quick trip around the world… OrlandoParkNews has posted a new photo tour of World Showcase this weekend, showing off some of the best features and visuals from each pavilion along the way.
(8/29/14) Big shake-ups were announced today for the live entertainment acts at Epcot’s World Showcase as part of a ‘refreshment’ of the atmosphere starting this fall. According to Disney we will see a traditional Berber music and dance troupe in Morocco, a new flag-waving act in Italy, a new lumberjack inspired show in Canada, Celtic folk music in the UK and more.
On the downside, some longtime popular acts have been cut including Mo’Rockin in Morocco, the Spirit of America Fife & Drum Corp at the America pavilion, as well as extreme fan favorites (especially with the ladies) Off Kilter in Canada. Look for them to each have a special farewell performance sometime over the next couple of weeks, and I wouldn’t be surprise to see some kind of movement to keep Off Kilter due to their popularity. (My wife about killed me when I told her the news tonight! Don’t kill the messenger Hon...)
(8/1/14) Disney is adding yet another hard-ticket premium option to Walt Disney World this fall, this one at Epcot as the “Epcot Food & Wine Festival - Late Nights LIVE!” street party. It will take place from 9:45pm to 1am every Tuesday and Thursday during Food & Wine Fest between the UK Pavilion and World Showcase Plaza. The cost is $79 (plus tax) and for this you get “six tastes” of food or beverages from select marketplaces, live music, entertainment and a DJ. Reservations are recommended as space is limited. Call 407-939-3378 to get your spot reserved. The good news is that admission to Epcot is not required for this if you arrive after 9pm.
On the Premium end of things, they have another more expensive option that comes in at a staggering $199 per person (plus tax), does not include admission into Epcot itself, and requires you to be staying on-site in either a Walt Disney World Resort Hotel or at the Walt Disney World Dolphin or Swan hotels. This will take place from Noon to 8pm, Monday through Thursdays between Sept. 22 and Nov. 6. This ultra package will include an in-room gift (with wine), a festival wine glass, truffles, credentials to get into 10 Premium Package Areas at the Festival all around World Showcase, a Food & Wine Fest MagicBand, a $50 Disney gift card to spend. Oh, and you can order your food items from the comfort of the Premium Package Areas and have them delivered to you, so no standing in long lines. It also comes with access into the previously mentioned “Epcot Food & Wine Festival - Late Nights LIVE!” street party. Just remember that the later is only open on Tuesday and Thursday nights. To get your Epcot Food & Wine Premium Package call 407-939-1889.
Considering all the extras you get here, and that it is only $120 more than “Late Nights LIVE!” street party ticket, but you’ll get $50 of it back on that gift card to spend during the night, it sounds like the Premium Package may be the way to go for those who are serious about their Food & Wine Fest fun! Click here to read the official report.
(7/31/14) Fans of Spaceship Earth wont want to miss this, as Orlando Theme Park News has posted a huge series of detailed photos taken inside the attraction when it was empty of guests by a photographer on foot, including some behind the scenes views of things you have never seen before, including a very special Hidden Mickey.
(7/9/14) Walt Disney World released the partial list of celebrity narrators already booked for this year’s Candlelight Processional event at Epcot. They’ve also opened booking for the official Dinner Package as well if you click here.
2016 - Frozen Attraction - Confirmed - (9/16/14) Disney has confirmed that Maelstrom is leaving and will be replaced by a new Frozen themed attraction. Few details were given about the new ride, and according to Screamscape sources, this is because they still haven’t fully determined the budget for the new attraction. As we had reported back in January, they were rumored to have come up with three proposals at different budget levels: a cheaper re-theme of the existing ride system, the installation of a new modern flume system with a high-tech twist, possibly similar to the Shanghai version of Pirates under construction, or they could go for something land-based and use modern trackless dark ride cars, similar to Mystic Manor at Hong Kong Disneyland.
Keep in mind that the pavilion itself will remain the Norway Pavilion, but it will also become home to a new “royal greeting location” where you can meet Anna and Elsa. Another factoid not put into the public press release, but was mentioned in the one sent to travel and tour booking agents is that the new Frozen attraction will not be ready to open until sometime in 2016.
Sadly, it’s time for Maelstrom to go. While it is always sad to see a ride leave, in this case Maelstrom always felt like kind of a half-hearted attraction. The second half of the ride with the trolls was always the best part and the rest was always kind of iffy at best, so it will be nice to see a big budget, top shelf attraction come to Epcot. Plus 2016 just might be a really great year for Epcot, if the rumored new extra theaters and ride-film for Soarin’ also comes true.
(7/15/14) Screamscape sources tell us that there is a good chance that the rumored plans to remove Maelstrom and replace it with a new attraction themed to Frozen at Epcot will come to pass. In fact, a news report from Norway has some people quite upset about the idea. If you watch the video below, with English Closed Captions on so you can understand what is being said, they confirm that Disney came to Norway with an offer to either invest $9 million towards a new Norway themed attraction at the World Showcase pavilion, or else Disney will be taking it over to transform the entire area into a Frozen themed area with a new attraction.
There are those in Norway urging the government to work with Disney to ensure Norway’s continued existence at Epcot, rather than be given a Frozen makeover. At one point they interview a man who worked at the Pavilion who says that all big budget refurbishment funds for the Maelstrom ride have already been stopped, and that they expect to see the ride close down sometime between October 2014 and January 2015 to make way for the new Frozen themed ride. He also stated that about 70% of the retail space in the store will be reallocated for Disney’s Frozen themed merchandise, and that some of the buildings in the land have started to get repainted into new colors that will fit in with the new theme.
As the world of Frozen takes place in the fictional world of “Arendelle” and not in Norway, it does make sense why proud Norwegian people might be more than a little irritated is Disney decides to push aside an exhibit based on their true culture in favor of a fictional one.
(6/16/14) I’d take this with a grain of salt for now, but I’m told that those with WDW reservations who try to book a FastPass+ for Maelstrom in mid August or later have been unable to do so, as the system says that the ride is unavailable.
So is it simply time for Maelstrom to undergo an annual rehab (common for water rides due to the excessive wear they see) or could this possibly be a sign of a Frozen themed make-over project? We’ll have to wait and see.
(1/3/14) This could just be a fanboy rumor, but according to an email sent my way, WDI has been given the initial nod to do a little Blue Sky dreaming to determine just how they could transform the Maelstrom ride in the Norway Pavilion into a new Frozen themed attraction concept. (Credit to “Allen W” for the tip…)
Since this is Blue Sky phase, they are looking at all budget levels here, from a simple rethemed of the existing boat ride system and layout, to the installation of a new kind of flume ride system, possibly the one rumored to be put to use on the Pirates ride at Shanghai Disneyland. Given a big enough budget, the entire current ride structure could be demolished to make way for a new trackless ride system concept. Given the cold snow and ice theme of frozen, I would love to see trackless ride cars used, themed as a sleigh ride through the wilderness, scooting across the frozen landscape.
Just remember… a new ride has not been approved. WDI was only approved to do some initial Blue Sky dreaming to see what might work best in response to the stellar box office results Frozen has been bringing in, as well as guest reactions to the Frozen character meet & greet already in Epcot.
2016 - Soarin’ Over The Horizon - Rumor - (9/16/14) OrlandoParksNews has a great new update showing off improvements that have been made to The Land pavilion lately, as well as an update as to what is taking place behind the pavilion to prepare the site for the rumored new Soarin’ theaters for added capacity. Now in addition all those containers being removed, the office trailers have now been divided up and wrapped up, ready for transport to a new home. With the trailers ready to be moved any day now, it sounds like the site will be ready for ground-breaking to take place within the next couple months.
(9/1/14) According to a report posted to OrlandoParksNews that backs up what I’ve been hearing since July, the backstage area behind the Soarin’ theater structure has been cleared out except for the trailers. There are also many survey markings on the ground and utility flags marking locations in the area that indicate that something is indeed in the works for the site. With the all new version of Soarin’ expected to open in 2016, if they are going to add extra capacity to the site, they would have to get started on it in the next few months.
(7/10/14) Screamscape sources tell us that the office trailers behind Soarin’ have been emptied out and the loading / storage area behind the ride is currently in the process of being cleared out as well. Another rumor going around the park now is that there are two expansion plans, one which would add a 3rd theater to the attraction and a second more expensive option that would add two new theaters to the attraction instead. The later plan would take up much more room however, and require more changes to be made to the backstage infrastructure to accommodate it.
(7/8/14) According to the latest post at DisneyAtWork.com, Soarin’ at Epcot may be ready to begin construction on a third theater that would open by 2016, just in time to launch the new Soarin’ over the World ride film. This isn’t the first time a pitch to add a 3rd theater has come up... it was even said to be brought up and VETOd by Paul Pressler back when it was first built at Epcot. But there is no denying it... Soarin’ could certainly use one as it always has very long lines.
(7/26/13) I’m not quite sure how true this is, but according to one possible source the new Soarin’ 2 ride (aka: Soarin’ Over The Horizon) may borrow a little technology from the Star Tours 2 project. This would be more than the switch over from Imax film to Digital (each has it’s own merit), but a switch to digital would also allow for the possibility of using a randomizer to include different possible ride scenes to be shown during each visit.
Now while I can’ verify that this will happen, the simple fact that there are really far too many incredible places in the world worth Soarin’ over, more than would easily fit into a quick 5-6 minute ride film, this would be a great way to add them all into the mix of possible locations. In fact… they could even incorporate some of the great scenes from Soarin’ over California into the mix, ensuring that some of the existing ride lives on into the next generation.
However, I’ve always have one major complaint about the Soarin’ ride setups in California and especially in Florida at Epcot. The line is always… ALWAYS… way to friggin’ long! This is because Soarin’ only has two theaters, and I think it really should have had 3 or 4 to keep the line moving. If they do add this random scene concept, creating an even bigger urge for guests to ride this over and over they are really going to need to add two more theaters somehow. Lets hope they are looking into it at least in Florida because I don’t think they have the room to do anything in California.
(7/17/13) According to what I’ve been told, if Disney were up “upgrade” the Soarin’ ride system to use a 4K style digital projection system, it would actually be a downgrade from the current resolution achieved with the current IMAX film system used for Soarin’. From what I’m told, there really is no digital projection format yet that could replace the image quality achieved from IMAX.
(7/14/13) Disney and More has posted some great news this week about the future of the Soarin’ rides at California Adventure and Epcot. While the new Soarin’ Over The Horizon ridefilm is still expected to launch at both parks in 2016, they report that both of the US Soarin’ ride systems will receive projector system updates in 2014 that will bring the ride to life in new vivid HD style clarity. I’m guessing they’ll be upgrading the system up to the new 4K style projection systems.
As for the new ride film coming in 2016… while there will probably be a few more changes this new global Soarin’ concept is expected to shoot new aerial scenes in England, France, Italy, Egypt, India, China, Japan as well as in new locations in the USA like New York City and in the Grand Canyon.
Disney and More goes on to guess about the possible filming locations, but that is all just speculation. Some are obvious as any filming in India would likely involve the Taj Mahal and any footage of Egypt would have to include the massive Pyramids. Make the jump to see what world icon’s they think would be ideal in each location.
(5/20/13) Disney & More reports that the top secret new version of Soarin’ opening at Shanghai Disneyland in 2015 is expected to be called Soarin’ Over The Horizon, essentially a Global version of the Soarin’ concept featuring famous icons and landcapes from around the world. This same new ride will also come as an update to the existing Soarin’ rides at Epcot in Walt Disney World and to Disney’s California Adventure at the Disneyland Resort in 2016.