WDW Refurb Update: House of Innoventions Closed til Mid-2012; Studio Backlot Tour

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House of Innoventions at Epcot’s Innoventions East is now closed, presumably due to the recent announcement that Green Builder Media will be transitioning it into what will be known as the ‘VISION House.’ No specific date has been provided for the re-opening other than an expected time frame of May, 2012.

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Joe Rohde, Disney Parks Attractions Among TEA Industry Award Recipients

The Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) today named its recipients of its 18th annual Thea Awards, for which Disney Parks and Resorts received a number of accolades for its contributions ot the industry over the past year. According to TEA president (and former Walt Disney Imagineer) Rick Rothschild, the award sets out to ‘recognize and honor excellence in the creation of extraordinary visitor experiences, attractions, exhibits and places. As this year we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the founding of TEA, we can reflect on how much has changed: the tools and techniques our industry employs, the use of digital media and interactivity, the sophistication of themed environments and the international expansion of the business, especially into Asia. At the same time, storytelling and teamwork remain the bedrock of the Experience Design Industry and its projects.’ He adds, ‘the Thea Awards honor teamwork at its very best — the creative handshake between the visionary project owner and the multidisciplinary collective of designers, artisans and technicians who realize the vision. TEA’s Thea Awards celebrate storytelling across the globe — educational and entertaining stories of heritage, history, fiction, fantasy, magic and even hard science — delivered with artistry and the appropriate use of technology at museums, theme parks, world expos, special events and other settings. TEA looks forward to the next 20 years of leading the visitor attractions industry.’

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Photos: Jake from ‘Neverland Pirates’ to Meet and Greet at Disney Parks

Jake meet & greet character from Disney Junior's 'Jake and the Neverland Pirates'

It’s been a long time coming, but Jake from ‘Jake and the Neverland Pirates,’ the top rated animated program in the Disney Junior programming block on Disney Channel, will finally be landing at the Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resorts beginning this month.

We first met Jake back in March during a private event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios which is where he will begin meeting guests on Monday, November 13. He will be found at the meet and greet area outside the Disney Junior stage show. While Handy Manny will continue to also meet and greet fans at the location, Annie, June, Leo and and Quincy from ‘Little Einsteins’ will no longer be there.

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‘Star Wars’ Author Timothy Zahn to Offer Signing at Walt Disney World, October 14

'Heir to the Empire' 20th Anniversary Edition by Timothy ZahnOn Friday, October 14, 2011, noted author Timothy Zahn will be on hand to sign his latest Star Wars novel, Choices of One as well as the 20th anniversary edition of the best-seller, Heir to the Empire.

Zahn will be at The Writer’s Stop located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios from 1 – 3 pm. As always, theme park admission is not included and items must be purchased at the event (no personal items).

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Tower of Terror Joins Disney PhotoPass System at Walt Disney World

Tower of Terror, located in Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World Resort,, has become the third attraction to allow guests to place their photos directly on the Disney PhotoPass system, according to cast member @BellHopDave (who provides a photo of the options). Like Space Mountain, the ability to add the Tower of Terror photo to PhotoPass requires a paid purchase and it seems to be fairly identical to the Space Mountain options and prices, save for no mention of the USB drive option.

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Ink & Paint Cel Release for ‘Key to the Kingdom’ Celebrating Walt Disney World’s 40th Anniversary

'Key to the Kingdom' Ink & Paint CelOn Saturday, September 3, join Disney Design Group Artist Costa Alavezos and Disney Ink and Paint Artists: James Bonserio, Erin Magill, Theodora M. DeLaney, David Rippberger, Lynn Rippberger and Sharon K. Vincent as they celebrate the premiere of the Key to the Kingdom entry into the Ink and Paint Cel series. The celaptures the essence of wonder and excitement that comprised the magical kingdom since it opened its gates on October 1, 1971.

The talented Ink & Paint team hand painted the iconic Mickey Mouse and loveable Pluto onto each Key to the Kingdom cel in this celebratory limited release.

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WDW Refurb Update: Studio Backlot Tour, HISTK Playground Closures in September

The official Walt Disney World website has begun listing closures for both the ‘Honey, I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure’ and the ‘Studio Backlot Tour’ beginning on September 4, 2011 and re-opening on September 25.

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!

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WDW Refurb Update: Tough to be a Bug, Shooting Arcade, Mermaid Extension and More

We have a bunch of refurbishment/closure updates at the Walt Disney World Resort to share with you today, starting with the Magic Kingdom, where the Frontierland Shootin’ Arcade will be closed beginning today and expected to re-open on October 1, 2011.

At Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the 4D attraction, It’s Tough to be a Bug, is scheduled to close on August 15, 2011 and also expected to re-open on October 1.

We previously announced that Voyage of the Little Mermaid at Disney’s Hollywood Studios would be going dark beginning August 15, but according to the official Walt Disney World site, that date may have been moved forward to August 13. It’s still expected to re-open on September 4.

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PHOTOS: ‘American Idol’ Scotty McCreery Performs at Walt Disney World

American Idol Scotty McCreery with Minnie and Mickey Mouse (Matt Stroshane/Disney)Newly crowned “American Idol” Scotty McCreery poses May 30, 2011 with Mickey and Minnie Mouse in front of “The American Idol Experience” attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.  McCreery was honored in a parade at the Disney theme park and performed his new song, “I Love You This Big.”  On Wednesday, the 17-year-old singer was crowned the new “American Idol” on the season finale which was viewed by an estimated 29.3 million people.

Photo by Matt Stroshane,  courtesy Walt Disney World Resort

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Photo/Video: ‘Star Tours 2.0′ Grand Opening with George Lucas and Bob Iger

Bob Iger and George Lucas at 'Star Tours' opening (Todd Anderson/Disney)Walt Disney Co. president and CEO Bob Iger (left) talks with Star Wars creator George Lucas as they walk through Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. May 20, 2011 during grand opening ceremonies for “Star Tours — The Adventures Continue,” a new 3-D attraction based on the “Star Wars” films. The attraction, which features more than 50 possible random ride experiences, opened May 20, 2011 at Walt Disney World in Florida and will open June 3, 2011 at Disneyland Resort in California. Photo by Todd Anderson.

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