We have four newly listed refurbishments at the Walt Disney World Resort to share with you.
First up is Kouzzina by Cat Cora at Disney’s Boardwalk Inn. The restaurant will be closed for a couple of weeks beginning on November 29 and re-opening on December 15.
Beginning December 3, the Paddock leisure pool at Disney’s Saratoga Springs DVC Resort will close for an extended refurbishment and is currently scheduled to re-open on June 30, 2011.
Finally, a couple of announcements for Disney’s Animal Kingdom which includes an extended closure for Primeval Whirl in Chester and Hester’s Dinoland, closing on January 17 and re-opening on April 6. In addition, Kali River Rapids in Asia will be closed for most of January, starting January 3 and re-opening on January 30.
Planning a trip to Walt Disney World? Be the first to know when changes that potentially affect your trip occur by signing up with ReSearch! The only Disney Parks refurbishment schedule that covers attractions, dining and resorts, lets you drill down to your own specific dates and even emails you when your dates are affected — and it’s completely free!
This post has officially been dumbed down due to massive complaints about the direction of it previously, so here it is short and sweet.
Strong rumors indicate that early next year, in either January or February, KJS will be closing for an extensive refurbishment and when it re-opens, it may very well contain no remnants of the storyline it once held.
Currently, guests are set to embark on a two week safari through the savanna aboard SIMBA-1, only to have their trip cut short when other touring vehicles come across signs of poachers.
This is not the first time the story has been minused, however. In the original, version of the attraction, ‘Big Red’ was physically represented as the fallen victim of the poachers. Determined to be too family unfriendly, the faux corpse was removed from the attraction and ‘Big Red’ turned out okay (so they tell us) before the attraction opened to the public. A few years ago, the storyline was thinned out even further.
So what provoked these rumored changes? Sources have given us several rationales, but none of them really seem to make sense from an operations perspective. The only other change we know to be occurring is the new tour that will be offered to guests as first announced on the Disney Parks blog. Although that tour was said to be launching later this year, we have been assured that its success depends on the changes in the attraction so it’s not actually likely to begin until early next year. From what we understand, the tour does stand to benefit from the proposed changes to the attraction.
Update #1 – 9/1/10: Stitch Kingdom reader Tonya offered the following on our Facebook page:
‘We were there the end of August. I was asked to take a short survey. They asked questions about the length of the ride, how many animals did we see and if our children enjoyed it. All they would tell me is that they are thinking about changing the ride like making it longer.’
Update #2 – 9/1/10: This is 130% speculation on my part, but I just want to say it for the sake of it being said. If this pans out, I believe it’s a good chance the safari will go in the way of automated spiels that will be triggered as the vehicle passes through certain areas, just like Living with the Land and the Backlot Tour have done and the Planet Watch Wildlife Express attempted to do.
In addition to the Annual Passholder exclusive Mr. Toad 3″ Vinylmation figure being released at the Disneyland Resort on August 27, the Toy Story collection will also be making its debut at both Disneyland and Walt Disney World at D-Street in the Downtown Disney district. The Mr. Toad 3″ vinylmation will be available to annual passholders at Walt Disney World on August 29.
Also on August 27, the Animal Kingdom series will be released only at Disney’s Animal Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort. Meanwhile, the Disney Pin Trading 10th Anniversary 9″ and 3″ will be available at the Disneyland Resort (also available now at DisneyStore.com)
In regards to the Trade City, USA Vinylmation event taking place August 29 at Epcot, there will be a silent auction which includes many one-of-a-kind, original production, pre-production variations of Vinylmation figures.
Pictured above is the 9″ Dr. Elias Frumberlockle Steampunk Vinylmation by Chris Chapman which comes complete as shown. Other unique 9″ figures include a pre-production of a canceled figure also by Chris Chapman called Moai and a Tiki figure by Adrienne Draude. Other 9″ figures such as SHAG’s Haunted Mansion 9″ & 3″ set, variations on the Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet 9″ and 3″ sets and more.
There will be one-of-a-kind 3″ clear glitter set along with figures from the Sports series #1 (in which the tennis ball has actual flocking), as well as variations on other collections in addition to many other Vinylmation collectibles.
You can access the auction’s catalog here (PDF).
Also available at the Trade City, USA event will be a limited number of Toy Story, Animal Kingdom, Mr. Toad and the Pin Trading 10th Anniversary 9″ and 3″ set.
WESH Orlando is reporting that 18 cast members at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World have reported feeling ill today with six being transported to the hospital for care. Fumes as a result of repaving the parking lots were determined to be the source of the problem which had only affected the reporting cast members as they had experienced prolonged exposure to the fumes while working at the parking lot.
The report notes that no guests have reported becoming ill as a result nor has park operations been affected at all according to Reedy Creek officials.
A tiny Colombian primate known for its distinctive punk-rock hairstyle is in imminent danger of extinction, according to new research done by an animal expert at Walt Disney World Resort. The findings paint the clearest picture yet of a dwindling population at risk.
The endangered cotton-top tamarin is found in a small area of northwest Colombia. According to the research featured in the journal Nature Communication, there are now just 7,000 of the species left in the wild.
“Everything we do at Disney’s Animal Kingdom revolves around caring for wildlife and wild places,” said Dr. Ann Savage, senior conservation biologist at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. “Our research project is an example of the leading edge work our animal experts are doing around the world. At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, all of us are committed to using new technologies and new techniques to study animals.”
Cotton-top tamarins are threatened by habitat destruction, where natural forest is converted to cattle pasture, and trees are used for housing and fuel. They are also captured as part of an illegal wildlife trade.
Averaging about ten inches long, cotton-tops are tiny in size and hard to see since they live high up in the forest canopies and flee at the first sign of people. Before the study, there was no reliable estimate of how many of these animals are left in the wild and no feasible method of counting them.
However, Dr. Savage knew that cotton-tops tamarins were attracted to the sound of tamarin vocalizations. That proved to be the key to surveying the shy animal. So Dr. Savage, working with Dr. Len Thomas of St. Andrews University in Scotland, developed a technique of playing recordings of cotton-top tamarin calls and counting the animals that came to find the source of the vocalization. Because of the work of Dr. Savage and Dr. Thomas, cotton-top tamarins are now on the list of the world’s 25 most endangered primates.
Guests at Disney’s Animal Kingdom can spot the cotton-top tamarin shortly after stepping off the train at Rafiki’s Planet Watch, where they can also learn what’s being done to protect the species.
Guests celebrating the Fourth of July at Walt Disney World Resort will have a choice of fireworks shows as Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Hollywood Studios present special pyrotechnics, and Epcot adds a patriotic “tag” to its famous “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” spectacular. Here’s what’s in store (entertainment and park hours are subject to change without notice):
- Magic Kingdom – “Celebrate America Fireworks” will fill the sky at 9 p.m. July 4 (guests who’d like to begin the celebratory weekend a day early can enjoy the special fireworks on July 3 at 9 p.m.). After the fireworks, guests can enjoy Disney’s “Main Street Electrical Parade” of lights, music and magic at 10 p.m. and midnight on July 4 (on July 3, the parade will be at 10:30 p.m.). Park hours on July 4 are 8 a.m.-1 a.m.
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios – Special fireworks set to a rock ‘n’ roll soundtrack will be presented at 9:50 p.m. on July 4, providing guests with a bonus nighttime entertainment extravaganza to complement “Fantasmic!” (which will be at 9 and 10:30 p.m.). Park hours on July 4 are 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
- Epcot – “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth,” which features dazzling special effects, colorful lasers, brilliant fireworks, and fiery torches all choreographed to a musical score, becomes even more dynamic on July 4 as the normal show is supplemented with a patriotic finale. The performance begins at 10 p.m. Earlier in the day, guests will be treated to the Voices of Liberty 4th of July Concert – featuring an expanded cast of singers plus the Spirit of America Fife and Drum Corps and Disney characters – at 12:30, 1:45 and 3 p.m. on the America Gardens Theatre stage. Park hours on July 4 are 9 a.m.-10 p.m.
- Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Guests can enjoy all the regular attractions and shows on July 4 from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.?
According to the very reliable character resource WDW Character Hunt, we already have a couple of confirmed additions to the meet & greet character line-up at the Walt Disney World Resort. The site reports that Vidia, who has a much stronger role in the upcoming home video release Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue will begin greeting guests in Pixie Hollow at some point in August.
The site also reports that Duffy (a.k.a. The Disney Bear) will be making regular appearances at Epcot beginning in September. The Disney Bear has made rare appearances at Walt Disney World in the past, most notably during the now defunct Teddy Bear & Doll Weekend event (where the photo seen here was taken) and occasionally at Once Upon a Toy at the Downtown Disney Marketplace. Duffy (as he became known to his incredible fanbase in Tokyo) is a regular at the Tokyo Disneyland Resort and a fixture at the Disney Store Japan. Overseas, he’s known to wear a sailor’s outfit while his appearances at Walt Disney World have been much less modest.
Looking much closer, however, the site reports that the Good Times Gathering Spot will celebrate a temporary return for the summer between June 13th and August 7th from 10 am – 3 pm daily. This DJ-moderated event takes place at Grandmother Willow’s Theater in Camp Minnie-Mickey. Note that this is an opportunity for guests to mix and mingle and play games with characters not often seen at the parks, but not for autographs (although some have reported success in getting them, usually towards the end of the session).
This is not all, however. The site has also updated its rumored changes section. Previously the site had reported that Rapunzel from Disney’s Tangled is rumored to begin meeting guests at the Magic Kingdom in October. The site now reports that Rapunzel may be joined by both Flynn Rider and Mother Gothel.
Ten year old Asante, a male giraffe, left Disney’s Animal Kingdom earlier this week, headed for Dickerson Park Zoo in Springfield, Missouri. Owned by the San Diego Zoo and loaned out to other zoological parks for breeding purposes, Asante reportedly suffered a broken neck most likely in transit. Upon arrival at the Dickerson Park Zoo, the giraffe had difficulty exiting the trailer and maintaining his balance.
KYTV, Channel 3 in Springfield, MO, has more information on the unfortunate incident including a press release from the Zoo detailing the events that took place.
It absolutely never fails. Each time Travel Channel decides to run a block of its Disney-themed program, threads pop up on every Disney fan site message forum and quickly fill with dozens of responses ranging from ‘Thanks for letting us know!’ to ‘I’m watching it!’ to ‘Aww, I wish I would have known’ to the perennial favorite, ‘I’ve got my DVR full of them all!’
That’s why when we heard the news that the Disney Parks oriented programs produced by Lightship Entertainment were finally coming home to DVD and Blu-ray, we could barely contain ourselves and couldn’t wait to be the first to deliver the news.
Distributed by Questar, the Disney Parks collection promises to bring all the secrets, stories and magic from the world’s most beloved vacation destinations: the Walt Disney World and Disneyland resorts.
“Disney granted us unprecedented access into their theme parks, resorts, and attractions which has allowed us to present over five hours of programming that reveals incredible information and imagery,” said Andy Perrott, President and Executive Producer of Lightship Entertainment. “Working closely with Disney Parks, we proudly present over five hours of the most definitive collection of insiders information and imagery on Disney’s theme parks, resorts, and attractions.”
There are three different editions available in the Disney Parks collection: A DVD pack consisting of six of the programs; a Blu-ray/DVD/Digital Copy combo pack featuring three of the programs; and a single-disc edition DVD consisting of two of the programs. In addition to those, Questar has announced an additional special Premier Collection in special gold foil-wrap that will be available exclusively through Disney outlets.
“Questar is truly honored to be the exclusive provider of Disney Theme Park content,” said Kevin Silverman, Vice President, Digital Distribution and Programming at Questar Entertainment. “This is an exciting start to 2010 and proves that in its 25th year, Questar still has ‘Everything in the World Worth Watching.’”
Although most character meet & greets at the Walt Disney World Resort are fairly standard from day to day, there are a couple of times per year when there are significant changes. These changes usually occur in April/May and September/October. In 2010, these changes are further complicated by the closure of Toontown and the Fantasyland expansion in the Magic Kingdom. Since we’re already getting into April, it’s time to take a look at some of the expected upcoming changes.
April 11 will be the last day for Ariel’s Grotto. It is expected that Ariel will be appearing in human form near the Adventureland Veranda (where Lilo and Stitch currently appear) beginning around May 9 which is when a lot of the changes are set to occur, but the exact date appears to be uncertain at this time. When Ariel does begin appearing in Adventureland, she’s expected to bring Prince Eric with her. Previously an exclusive for the ill-fated but well-received Pirate and Princess Party, this will mark Eric’s full-time meet & greet debut, which we’re told is essentially a test for a possible permanent meet & greet with him in the Fantasy Forest expansion (we’re still holding our breaths for Gaston too). As Ariel and Eric are moving in, Lilo will be leaving the Magic Kingdom (but still appearing with Stitch at Disney’s Animal Kingdom) and Stitch will return to Tomorrowland. No word on whether Ariel will bring her dinglehopper with her at the new locale.
Also on April 11, Goofy will be leaving Frontierland and move to Adventureland where he’ll be dressed as a pirate and hang out near the quartermaster’s desk at the Pirates League. Winnie the Pooh and Tigger will relocate to the Toontown Fair train station. Finally on this date, Clarabelle Cow and Horace Horsecollar will join the Frontierland Hoedown, replacing Liverlips and Shaker of the Country Bears.
The majority of the changes are set to take place on May 9. In addition to the assumed date of Ariel’s re-appearance in the Magic Kingdom, the following character changes are expected across the parks:
- Mary Poppins and the formerly-rare Bert will be appearing in Fantasyland near the carrousel.
- Wendy will be joining Peter Pan once more in the new meet & greet location in Fantasyland
- Pooh and Tigger will leave the Toontown Train Station in Fantasyland and move to Town Square
- Chip and Dale are moving from Town Square to Tomorrowland
- Snow White is moving from Town Square to Cinderella’s Wishing Well
- Lotso from Toy Story 3 will be debuting at the Animation Building at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, replacing Carl, Russell and Dug from UP (they are expected to leave in April and may appear at the Animal Kingdom’s Oasis)
- Jojo and Goliath will no longer meet near Playhouse Disney Live. Jojo will remain at the Play’n'Dine meal where she’ll be joined by Handy Manny
- Piglet(!), Pooh and Stitch will join Donald, Daisy and Minnie at the Sorcerer’s Hat at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the mornings. This will be the only current opportunity to meet Piglet outside of dining at Crystal Palace.
This information comes from a very reliable source in the way of WDW Character Hunt which also reports some upcoming buzz for the October changes:
- Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Disney’s Tangled will begin making appearances
- Belle’s Storytime will close (the show will return in some form in the Fantasy Forest expansion)
The site also reports that it’s basically a given that Phineas and Ferb will not be appearing in the parks until at least 2011.
We will report more news as it becomes available.