New book takes whack at hacking Disney World vacations

A new book for Disney World visitors is designed to help them pack — and hack – their way to productive vacations. Susan Veness’ “Walt Disney World Hacks” features helpful hints for first-timers and veteran theme-park goers.

The tips are “ways to make your trip less stressful, get more out of it,” she said. “This is not a guide book, but more of a planning resource.”

Her book covers the vast options for issues such as transportation, eating, souvenirs, tickets, photography and more. One section succinctly breaks down FastPass+, Disney’s app-based system for reserving ride times.

‘We know that FastPass+ is definitely one of the things that people struggle with, probably the most. There is this sense that you have to get all the right FastPasses, and you have to be super-savvy about it … and, if you don’t, your trip will be ruined,” she said. “Hopefully, the book will help put some of that to rest and give people a lot more confidence as to how to use the system effectively.”

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Universal Orlando shares new images of Endless Summer Resort

Universal Orlando Resort gave a sneak peek of what its latest hotels — and the pool — will look like in new renderings released Wednesday.

Surfside Inn and Suites will debuts June 27, while Dockside Inn Suites is scheduled for a spring 2020 opening.

The two hotels make up Univeral’s Endless Summer Resort that has been redeveloped over the former home of the Wet ‘n Wild water park.

The vibe of the sister hotels are “free-spirited” and “beach-themed,” Universal said in a news release Wednesday.

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DoubleTree Orlando at SeaWorld offers special for Sesame Street land

To celebrate the opening of Sesame Street land, DoubleTree Orlando at SeaWorld and the theme park are offering a $129 per person starting rate from May 1 to Sept. 30.

The cost covers a one-night stay at the hotel, 14 days of unlimited theme park admission, front-of-the-line ride access, 10% off dining and some merchandise as well as signature reserved seating for SeaWorld Orlando shows and other perks.

With each paying adult, one child between the ages of 3 to 9 gets in free. There is a limit of two children to qualify for the special, which is called SeaWorld Orlando Kids Free Package.

The hotel is located at 10100 International Dr.

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Disney won’t be fined for worker’s death at Caribbean Beach Resort, OSHA says

Walt Disney World didn’t violate any safety rules and won’t be fined by OSHA after a worker was crushed to death by a utility cart he was repairing last year, according to the federal agency’s findings released this week.

Juan Alberto Ojeda, 33, of Kissimmee, was killed in July in the accident that happened in the backstage area at by Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, which is near Epcot.

Late Tuesday, OSHA released about 250 pages of documents, some heavily redacted, from the completed investigation. The report recommended Disney train its employees and have them follow the manufacturer’s instruction manual when working on the carts.

“OSHA does not issue a citation solely because there was a workplace fatality,” according to a Jan. 30 letter from OSHA Tampa director Les Grove that was sent to James Provencher, an Orlando attorney representing the worker’s family.

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Universal: New original haunted house at Halloween Horror Nights themed around grisly Roman gladiator games

Gore and gladiators.

Universal Orlando Resort announced the Roman gladiator games-themed Nightingales: Blood Pit as its first original haunted house that will appear in this year’s Halloween Horror Nights.

“Guests will be transported to ancient Rome where they must escape the gladiator arena as the bloodthirsty nightingales begin to feed on the dead and dying. But with nothing to protect them, will they make it out alive or become part of history?” Universal said in a press release Friday.

The nightingales, the namesake of the house, are described as “a grisly race of creatures,” according to Universal.

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SeaWorld lays off undisclosed number of workers in ‘efficiency’ move

Even with SeaWorld’s finances improving, the company laid off an undisclosed number of employees Friday, said a spokeswoman, who called it a move toward greater efficiency.

“Like most companies, we regularly evaluate operations to ensure we are properly organized for performance and efficiency,” Suzanne Pelisson-Beasley said Saturday. “As part of those ongoing efforts, SeaWorld has eliminated a limited number of positions.”

She declined to say in what departments the cuts were made. SeaWorld Entertainment, based in Orlando, has 12 theme parks across the country — including its marque SeaWorld Orlando and sister Aquatica water park as well as Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

On social media, there were unconfirmed reports that the cuts included animal trainers, bird staff and the animal ambassadors who go out into the public to teach about wildlife. Other departments, from merchandise to entertainment to park operations, also were affected, according to a website where people can post anonymously about layoffs.

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Disney reveals more details, images of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge

With only a few months before Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opens on both coasts, Disney is trickling out details of what the new land will look like, and on Saturday released images of everything from its animatronics to X-Wing fighters.

The new images and video were shared with the Star Wars devotees during a celebration in Chicago that was live streamed on the Disney parks blog.

Disneyland’s land debuts May 31, while Orlando’s at Hollywood Studios arrives Aug. 29.

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge — A first look at Disney’s ambitious new world »

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Universal: Hagrid’s coaster creatures unveiled all week

Wizarding World of Harry Potter fans and roller coaster enthusiasts will get their first looks this week at the beings that will populate Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, a thrill ride under construction at Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme park.

Look for creatures to be unveiled on the official Universal Orlando Blog (blog.universalorlando.com) every day at 11 a.m. through Friday, April 19.

Spoiler alert: We start today with Fluffy, the infamous three-headed dog that appears in the “Harry Potter” fiction by J.K. Rowling. Also coming up: One of the ride’s featured characters — Universal remains coy on the identity — is one not seen in the “Potter” film series.

The coaster, going up on the site of the long-running Dragon Challenge Dueling Dragons ride, opens to the public on June 13. Universal says the ride has twists, turns, backward and forward motion, speeds up to 50 mph and a trip through the Forbidden Forest, which Universal has created with 1,200 transplanted trees.

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2 SeaWorld corporate board leaders aren’t seeking new terms

Two members of SeaWorld Entertainment’s corporate board of directors are stepping down and not seeking re-election for their seats, the company said.

The departing members are Deborah Thomas, who has been on the nine-person board since 2013, and Donald Robinson, a member since 2016.

“Both Ms. Thomas and Mr. Robinson advised the Company that they are retiring after serving their full term and not because of any disagreement with the Company on any matter,” SeaWorld disclosed in a SEC filing Monday.

Thomas is Hasbro’s chief financial officer and Robinson owns a hospitality consulting firm, Potcake Holdings, according to their biographies on the company’s website.

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Disney gondolas, moving 11 mph, will give bird’s eye views nearly 60 feet over Walt Disney World Resort

Disney World’s monorails of the air were gliding smoothly Tuesday above a scenic lake separating two hotels.

Soon the Disney Skyliner system of 300 gondolas, opening to the public later this fall, will carry enough Disney-goers to roughly match the capacity of its monorail trains, company officials said.

“Our vision is, this is the most magical flight on Earth,” said Dean Huspen, a principal architect with Walt Disney Imagineering.

Disney leaders gave a construction update Tuesday on the gondolas, which are in testing. All but one was covered in plastic, protecting them like a new car. They will gradually be unveiled starting around May to show off the eight bright colors and 22 Disney characters themes.

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