D23 to Offer Star Tours ‘Final Flight’ Event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios Sept. 7

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Following in the footsteps of the ‘Final Flight’ event at Disneyland, in which D23 members were invited to enter the park after hours to ride Star Tours for the final time before it closes for its refurb and transition into Star Tours 2: The Adventure Begins, D23 has announced a ‘Final Flight’ for Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World on September 7. The attraction is currently scheduled to re-open on May 17, 2011.

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‘Star Tours II’ Previewed by Disney Parks in Queue Video First Look

On its official blog, Disney Parks and Resorts shared the following video today which was also shared at the Disney Parks panel at the Star Wars Celebration V convention currently taking place in Orlando.

Although Bespin, Endor and Alderaan are mentioned in the promotional film for the Star Tours Travel Company that guests will see while in the queue for the upgraded classic attraction, the official blog makes the disclaimer that the destinations may or may not be featured in Star Tours II. It has long been expected since the initial announcement at the Disney D23 Expo in 2009 that Star Tours II will feature multiple destinations and will be in 3D. Rumors speculate that the destination will be voted on by the attraction’s riders per voyage.

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First Look: The Little Mermaid: Ariel’s Undersea Adventure, Goofy’s Flying School and More

After a recent update, the Blue Sky Cellar at Disney California Adventure re-opened today and we got a first look before the park opened at some of the new and exciting attractions coming to the Disneyland Resort within the next couple of years and here’s what we have learned of the upcoming additions:

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Ariel’s Undersea Adventure – This attraction, which is slated to open in 2011 is also coming to the Magic Kingdom in 2012. Boarding what looks at first to be a clammobile from the Nemo & Friends attraction at Epcot (the vehicles here are simply called clamshells), guests actually enter the doorless vehicles from the sides (as the vehicle will be perpendicular to the guest at loading). A vehicle identified as Triton’s Chariot will be able to directly support a wheelchair. In the loading area will be a mural telling the story of The Little Mermaid and measuring in at an amazing 86 foot length and 12 foot height.

On display is a layout of the attraction at 1:96 scale and maps out all of the defined areas of the attraction. After boarding the vehicle (Scene 1): the guest will travel to see Scuttle and Sebastion (Scene 2); descend (Scene 3) into Ariel’s Grotto (Scene 4) where the guest will encounter an audio animatronic of Ariel holding a chest in her lap and a figure of a dancing couple as she sings ‘Part of Your World.’ According to the plans on display, Ariel will be capable of almost 30 separate functions including full control of her pupils (as well as blinking) and full mouth movement. Guests will then continue on to journey under the sea which includes new effects to enhance the sensation (Scene 5); Travel to Ursula’s Lair (Scene 6); ascend (Scene 7) to the ‘Kiss the Girl’ scene (Scene 8); journey on to Love’s First Kiss (Scene 9); and finally live Happily Ever After (Scene 10) before unloading (Scene 11).

Interestingly enough, the attraction’s ride system and vehicles are being constructed in Japan.

Goofy’s Sky School – A redo of Mulholland Madness and also expected to open in 2011, Goofy’s Sky School is based on the classic ‘how to’ cartoons featuring every one’s favorite talking dog. Although it looks like the billboards will remain (but re-themed), the facades will all be lowered to ground level, opening the attraction up. Guests will enter the queue through a ‘control tower’ designed to fit in with the early seaside attraction theming of Paradise Pier. The vehicles will also remain the same but will receive a paint and decal makeover as well as a hood ornament of sorts.

Red Car Trolley – Probably one of the more highly anticipated new attractions of the park makeover is the addition of the Red Car vehicle system for moving around the park. At a height of  10’4″ and approximate length of 26′, the ‘butterfly-wing’ grilled cars are reminiscent of their inspiration from the 1920s and 30s. They are battery powered despite the presence of overhead wires which exist only for show. As they are shown, the cars will seat 20 guests as well as one guest with a wheelchair/ECV in addition to the vehicle operator. There are four stops connecting Buena Vista Street with Hollywood (where tracks have already been embedded into the streets). A map shows proposed wig wag locations for the system: Buena Vista, Carthay Circle and Tower/Bugs. As a sidebar, concept art reveals that the vehicles (or perhaps specially designed ones) can serve as entertainment vehicles as the Omnibus has at Magic Kingdom for example.

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WDW Refurb Update: Toy Story Mania Date Change, One Man’s Dream to Take a Nap

A couple of brief refurbishment updates for Disney’s Hollywood Studios at the Walt Disney World.

First, we realize we caused some shockwaves when we first announced way back in March that Toy Story Mania would be closing for a refurb in mid-August. Many confused this with the recent TS3 additions that have already taken place, but the refurb is something completely different (reportedly something to do with unloading gates). And while Disney Parks has yet to confirm it, a recent tweet from DHS cast member @PaulChadkin confirms our announcement with a minor date change. According to Paul, the new dates for the refurb are August 16 through August 28 (opening on the 29th). Given this new announcement from another source we consider to be extremely credible, we will be updating ReSearch with these new dates.

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Disney Parks Confirms Closure Dates for Star Tours

Jedi Mickey appears alongside R2-MK. © DisneyWith Star Wars Weekends at Walt Disney World’s Disney’s Hollywood Studios rapidly approaching, Star Wars news on all fronts is pouring in.

In addition to announcing the personal appearance of R2-MK at Star Wars Weekends this year, Disney Parks has also confirmed closure dates for the Star Tours attraction at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts.

As we already advised back in March, the attraction is scheduled to close on September 8 with an expected re-opening date of May 20, 2011 in Orlando while the Anaheim version will close much earlier than originally anticipated on July 27 with an expected re-opening  date of May 10, 2011.

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Walt Disney World to Host ‘Last Tour to Endor’ Event for Celebration V Attendees

The Walt Disney World Resort and Celebration V (the premiere Star Wars fan event) have announced that in honor of the convention being held in Orlando this year along with the impending makeover of the Star Tours attraction to Star Tours 2 which will take the motion simulator film to a third dimension (and possible ‘multiple destinations’), there will be a special one-night-only event titled ‘Last Tour to Endor’ where Celebration V attendees are being invited to ‘be the first to be the last’ in an exclusive after-hours Star Wars party.

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Photo: Let Her Fly — Hootie’s Darius Rucker with Family at Magic Kingdom

Darius Rucker with family at the Magic Kingdom. (Gene Duncan/Disney)Singer/songwriter Darius Rucker (front, left) takes flight April 6, 2010 on the Magic Carpets of Aladdin attraction at the Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. with daughter Dani, 9, (front, center), son Jack, 5, (front, right), daughter Cary, 14, (back, right) and family friend Rachel Herman, 15, (back, left). Rucker, former lead singer of the Grammy Award-winning band Hootie & The Blowfish, won “New Artist of the Year” at the 2009 Country Music Association Awards. Rucker is vacationing with his family at the Walt Disney World Resort. (Gene Duncan, photographer)

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WDW Refurb Update: Star Tours Closure Earlier Than Anticipated, Toy Story Mania

We have received a tip on upcoming closures for Star Tours and Toy Story Mania at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. These are not from official Disney sources but we believe they are credible enough to pass along to you. Should we find out alternate information in the future, we will update and post in the Refurbs category not to mention on ReSearch! Disclaimer aside, on with the mega-news.

Our source informs us that Star Tours will close on September 8. This is earlier than announced by former Disney Parks and Resort Chairman Jay Rasulo at last year’s D23 Expo, but not unexpected. It’s also scheduled to take place after Celebration V, which takes place in Orlando this year, ends in mid-August.

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Tokyo DisneySea to Receive New Aladdin-Themed Attraction in 2011

Concept art of Jasmine's Flying Carpets. © DisneyIt was announced yesterday by the Oriental Land Company (OLC) that Tokyo DisneySea will receive a new attraction in 2011 based on Aladdin. Jasmine’s Flying Carpets will allow guests to manueuver their vehicles up and down to a maximum height of approximately 16 feet as well as tilt the vehicle forward and backwards. Located in the Arabian Coast area, next to Sindbad’s Storybook Voyage, each of the 16 vehicles will hold two rows of two guests each.

With a total approximate investment of $22 million dollars, Jasmine’s Flying Carpets is anticipated to open in Summer of 2011. Other attractions anticipated in 2011 at the Resort include Mickey’s Philharmagic and Cinderella’s Fairy Tale Hall, both in Tokyo Disneyland.

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We Are Go for Product Launch: ‘Captain EO’ Merchandise to Hit Disneyland Shelves

Captain EO logo to be featured on products available at DisneylandYou probably saw this coming a lightyear away, but with the return of Captain EO to Disneyland, there simply must be a way to bring the experience home with you. Enter a full line of limited release EO merchandise featuring the Captain EO logo.

Among the items to be found at the Main Street Emporium, Star Trader and Tomorrowlanding, you’ll find a button ($3.95), poster ($7.95), men’s tee ($26.95), ladies’ tee ($24.95), crew fleece ($42.95), military cap ($24.95) and beanie hat ($24.95).

There will also be an embroidered nylon jacket expected to be released in mid-March.

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