Fun Spot’s Mine Blower coaster to open June 23

Mine Blower, the new roller coaster at Fun Spot in Kissimmee, will open June 23, the company announced Thursday.

The wooden-steel coaster will feature a 360-degree barrel roll and an overbanked turn.

Each ride vehicle can hold 12 people.

Mine Blower will be about 80 feet tall and reach speeds of more than 48 mph.

Fun Spot invested $6 million into the project, partnering with Gravity Group, which handled the design work.

Mine Blower is the second roller coaster at Fun Spot’s Kissimmee location.


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Theme Park Roundup: Kraken Unleashed, Mine Blower opening

In this edition of Theme Park Roundup, SeaWorld Orlando unleashes its Kraken roller coaster, Fun Spot announces an opening date for Mine Blower and Disney buys out Disneyland Paris.

VR Kraken

SeaWorld Orlando has given its Kraken roller coaster a virtual-reality update.

When riders board Kraken Unleashed, they now have the option of putting on a VR headset, which will take them on an underwater adventure.

Kraken Unleashed will also feature a virtual queue system that allows riders to receive a designated time to ride and avoid waiting in a long line.

Mine Blower opening date

Fun Spot has revealed the opening date for its new wooden/steel coaster, Mine Blower.

The coaster will open June 23 at the company’s Kissimmee location.

Mine Blower will feature a 360-degree barrel roll and overbanked turn.

Disneyland Paris buyout

The Walt Disney Company has acquired enough stock in Euro Disney SCA to take over ownership of Disneyland Paris.

Disney began offering to buy out stockholders in May.

Disneyland Paris, originally known as Euro Disney, has been owned by an independent company for 27 years.


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Disney monorail service to Epcot shut down Friday

Disney World monorail service to Epcot is currently down, but the company has not yet officially said why.

A Disney spokeswoman said a monorail headed to Epcot from the transportation center was down for about 20 minutes Friday afternoon. The riders were given alternate transportation to Epcot.

Literally, FML. It’s smoking, sparking, storming, sweltering…OMG. pic.twitter.com/Euy5Jj1t13

— Leighton Shields (@DirtyWildThings) June 16, 2017

Removed emergency Windows. Too hot. 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/CY0vpKwWSj

— Leighton Shields (@DirtyWildThings) June 16, 2017

She didn’t know why the monorail went down.

However, a sign in front of the entrance to the Epcot monorail says service is down and directs guests to bus transportation.

At least two Disney World guests say a piece of metal fell from the blue line. We’re working to confirm; check back for updates.


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Universal’s Sapphire Falls debuts new Caribbean-themed dinner show

International Drive isn’t the only place to have interactive dinner shows.

Loews Sapphire Falls Resort at Universal has debuted a new weekly dinner show that’s supposed to make you feel like you’re not in Central Florida anymore.

Called Caribbean Carnaval, the two-hour experience strives to deliver as much authenticity as possible.

“It feels I’m at the shores of the Caribbean,” said Jacob Alexander of Montana, there to celebrate his 11th birthday.

“You see a little bit of Cuba, a little bit of Jamaica,” added Barb Bowden, Loews Sapphire Falls and Royal Pacific Resorts complex managing director. “We really wanted it to be kind of a journey through everyone favorite, most beautiful islands of the Caribbean.”

The buffet-style dinner starts at 6 p.m., when guests are greeted by dancers handing out bead necklaces. Roaming musicians set the tone.

“The instruments that you hear in the city aren’t anything like this,” Jacob smiled.

The chef in change is Chef Carlos Castano, sous chef at Strongwater Tavern. He describes Caribbean food as “very vibrant, very natural, very healthy.”

Here’s the menu:

Dinner Menu

Salad Display:

Organic Greens, Tomato, Red Onion, Cucumber, Carrots Corn Bread Croutons, Grilled Pineapple Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette

Pinto Bean and Shrimp Salad, Chorizo, Peppers, Cilantro Oven Roasted Vegetables with Chili-Lime Vinaigrette, Green Banana and Yucca Escabeche

Carving Station

Mojo Roasted Suckling Pig

Coconut-Pineapple Brioche Carving Roll

Hot Pots

Ropa Vieja, Shredded Beef, Tomato & Sweet Plantains

Grilled Snapper, Coconut Rice, Corn-Black Bean Salpicon

Jerk Chicken, Mango-Papaya Relish, Jerk Sauce

Oven Roasted Sweet Potatoes & Seasonal Vegetables

Johnny Cakes

Mini Desserts

Caribbean Rum Cake

Guava Flan

Mexican Chocolate Fudge Cake

Coconut & Caramel Rice Pudding

If your kids don’t have the most adventurous of palettes – worry not.

“I had chicken strips, mac and cheese pizza and peanut butter & jelly,” Brayden Crusch, Montana, told us, who basically licked his plate.

Caribbean Carnaval is open to the public. You don’t have to be a guest of the hotel to attend.

Admission:

Adults: $69 + tax (regular seating) or $76 + tax (priority seating). Children ages 3–9: $35 + tax (regular seating) or $40 + tax (priority seating). Children 2 and under get in free. Includes gratuity, non-alcoholic beverages, wine, beer and Planters Punch.

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‘Summer Nights’ returns to Busch Gardens

Get ready for a fun-filled summer at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay.

  • Summer Nights: June 16 – Aug. 6
  • Food, entertainment and thrill rides
  • New ice show “Turn It Up!”

Visitors can enjoy Summer Nights–the annual summertime event–now until Aug. 6.

This time around, it’s been completely reimagined with all-new party zones, festive cuisine and a new ice show “Turn It Up!”

Three themed party zones are located throughout the park, offering visitors a place to eat, drink and dance. Fiesta Festa, which has taken over Cheetah Hunt Plaza, features Latin-inspired entertainment, cuisine (jerk chicken empanadas, slow roasted mojo pork) and several drink options. Over in Pantopia, visitors can enjoy a Hawaiian-themed party zone with huli huli chicken and barbecue ribs; tropical drinks and craft brews; and music. The Vibin’ Village party zone in Stanleyville has African-inspired cuisine and entertainment.

“So for the entire family, we have an amazing night planned for you, all the way from adults to kids,” Stewart Clark, president of Busch Gardens Tampa Bay. “While the kids are out enjoying some of our amazing rides and Sesame characters, adults can literally just hang out in the Vibin’ Village area or Fiesta Festa area.”

For the first time this year, visitors can purchase a sampler lanyard to enjoy eight items at the party zones and other food locations throughout the park. Busch Gardens decided to offer the lanyards after receiving feedback from visitors.

“So what we learned here at Busch Gardens from our Food & Wine Festival is that sampler lanyards are a guest favorite,” said Jamie Johnson, vice president of entertainment at SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment. “You can party your way around the park, and eat and drink to your heart’s content.”

Summer Night lanyards cost $34.99 per person. Discounts are available for Busch Gardens pass members.

The Moroccan Palace is home to a new ice show, “Turn It Up!” The 20-minute show features ice-skating, aerial performances and special effects set to contemporary pop music such as “Me Too” by Meghan Trainor and “24K Magic” by Bruno Mars.

With “Turn It Up,” Busch Gardens has turned up the volume and “raised the bar.”

“We value the feedback from our guests so much, we’ve heard for a long time that they like high energy entertainment during the summer and that’s what we’ve done with “Turn It Up,” said Johnson.

It’s being dubbed the “hottest show on ice.”

Another highlight of Summer Nights is the chance to ride the coasters at night, including Cobra’s Curse, Cheetah Hunt and SheiKra.

Other summer activities at the park include a patriotic celebration on July 4. Visitors can enjoy Independence Day with live entertainment, rides and special fireworks display that begins at 9:30 p.m.

During Summer Nights, the park will stay open until 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, and until 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

For more information about the event at Busch Gardens, click here.

WATCH: Preview of Turn It Up, the new ice show at Busch Gardens:


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Universal plans for resorts on Wet ‘n Wild property

The property formerly known as Wet ‘n Wild could become Orlando’s newest resort.

  • Universal plans resorts on former Wet ‘n Wild property
  • Orlando Municipal Planning Board approved the plan Tuesday
  • Plan would add up to 4,000 hotel rooms
  • RELATED: See the full proposal (.PDF)

Universal presented plans for a new resort complex to the Orlando Municipal Planning Board Tuesday.

The proposal calls for a resort and parking garage on the southeast corner of International Drive and Universal Boulevard, which is the old Wet ‘n Wild property.

Another resort is proposed directly across from that, where the parking lot for the water park was located.

The application says the resorts would add up to 4,000 hotel rooms to the I-Drive corridor.

The Municipal Planning Board approved the project, which now goes to the Orlando City Commission for final approval next month.

Universal closed down Wet ‘n Wild on Dec. 31, 2016. Much of the park is torn down.

A man vacationing from Ireland said he was surprised to see Wet ‘n Wild gone, but says he believes the development planned for the site is needed.

“If they can generate more facilities here, and make it more attractive for people to travel this part of International Drive, all I can say is that would be a good thing,” said Stephen Magennis.

Reporter Jeff Allen contributed to this story.

Wet ‘n Wild park vs. proposed resort

Used the center slider bar to see the full image.


The full Google map for Wet ‘n Wild can be found here.

Current Wet ‘n Wild parking lot vs. proposed resort

Used the center slider bar to see the full image.


The full Google map for Wet ‘n Wild can be found here.


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Magical thread: Disney signs jersey sponsorship with Orlando Magic

The “Happiest Place on Earth” will soon be on hardwood floors all across the country — especially in downtown Orlando.

  • Disney patch to be featured on Orlando Magic jerseys
  • Orlando Magic become 7th NBA team with jersey sponsor
  • The jersey sponsorship is part of a multiyear agreement

The Orlando Magic and Walt Disney World have agreed to a jersey patch sponsorship for the 2017-2018 NBA season.

Disney is the team’s first jersey sponsor. The team announced the agreement Tuesday morning on social media using the hashtag #ConnectedByMagic.

“With Orlando as our hometown, magic has always been a key strand of our DNA,” Orlando Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a statement on the team’s website. “This expanded agreement with Disney brings our story full circle and represents the coming together of two dynamic organizations that have become synonymous with Orlando.”

As part of the multiyear agreement, Disney will expand its presence at the Amway Center by adding a special seating and hospitality area that may be used for annual passholder upgrades during select Magic home games, the team announced. Disney-branded Orlando Magic jerseys will also be available for purchase at the Amway Center.

The Magic become the seventh team to announce a jersey sponsorship. The Disney name will appear on the front left of the jersey and measure 2.5 inches by 2.5 inches.

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Madame Tussauds Orlando unveils Justin Bieber figure

Madame Tussauds debuted the new Justin Bieber wax figure at its Orlando location Wednesday.

The life-like figure of Bieber is dressed in a plaid yellow shirt (with a white t-shirt underneath) and ripped jeans. No detail was overlooked.

In fact, Madame Tussauds delayed the unveiling of the figure so artists could add Bieber’s newest tattoo, which reads “Better at 70.” Visitors can see it through the rip of the figure’s jeans.

The unveiling of the Bieber figure coincided with National Selfie Day.

A group from Give Kids the World were among the first to take selfies with the new wax figure during the ceremony.

Since the International Drive attraction has been open, Bieber has been the most requested celebrity figure.

“It was very easy for us to say yes, we’re going to add Bieber,” said Todd Andrus, head of marketing for the Orlando Eye, Sea Life Aquarium and Madame Tussauds Orlando.

It took artists six months to recreate him, from sculpting the clay to inserting hair in the figure’s head strand by strand.

The figure was made just outside of London, just like all the other celebrity figures. Once complete, it’s shipped to Orlando to be put on display.

Other celebrities already on display at the Orlando attraction are Will Smith, Angelina Jolie, Pitbull, Miley Cyrus and Tiger Woods.

Figures of Justin Bieber are also on display at other Madame Tussaud locations, including Las Vegas, Washington, D.C. and London.

Bieber has recently been featured on chart-topping singles like “I’m the One” by DJ Khaled and “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee.

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Kenny G, Taylor Dayne, Hanson set for Epcot’s Eat to the Beat concert series

Walt Disney World has released the 2017 lineup for its Eat to the Beat concert series, which is held during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.

There are 11 new acts, including Kenny G, Postmodern Jukebox, American Authors, Blue October, Squeeze, 10,000 Maniacs, Mark Wills, Lauren Alaina, Devon Allman and Baha Man. They join returning performers such as Hanson, Boyz II Men and Sister Hazel.

Each artists performs three times a night during the festival. Concerts are included in regular Epcot admission.

Here’s a look at the complete lineup, which is subject to change:

  • Aug. 31 – Sept. 1 – Delta Rae (“Bottom of the River”)
  • Sept. 2 – Sept. 3 – The Hooters (“And We Danced”) NEW
  • Sept. 4 – Sept. 5 – Baha Men (“Who Let the Dogs Out”) NEW
  • Sept. 5 – Sept. 7 – Fuel (“Shimmer”)
  • Sept. 8 – Sept. 10 – STARSHIP starring Mickey Thomas (“We Built This City”)
  • Sept. 11 – Sept. 12 – Lauren Alaina (“Road Less Traveled”) NEW
  • Sept. 13 – Sept. 15 – Plain White T’s (“Hey There Delilah”)
  • Sept. 16 – Sept. 17 – Sister Hazel (“All For You”)
  • Sept. 18 – Sept. 20 – Air Supply (“All Out Of Love”)
  • Sept. 21 – Sept. 22 – David Cook (“Light On”)
  • Sept. 23 – Sept. 24 – Everclear (“Santa Monica”)
  • Sept. 25 – Sept. 27 – Sugar Ray (“Every Morning)
  • Sept. 28 – Sept. 29 – .38 Special (“Hold On Loosely”)
  • Sept. 30 – Oct. 1 – Mark Wills (“19 Somethin’”) NEW
  • Oct. 2 – Oct. 3 – American Authors (“Best Day of My Life”) NEW
  • Oct. 4 – Oct. 5 – Christopher Cross (“Sailing”)
  • Oct. 6 – Oct. 8 – Devon Allman (“Rugged and Dirty”) NEW
  • Oct. 9 – Oct. 11 – Dennis DeYoung: The music of STYX (“Come Sail Away”)
  • Oct. 12 – Oct. 13 – Taylor Dayne (“Tell It To My Heart”)
  • Oct. 14 – Oct. 15 – Jeffrey Osborne (“On The Wings of Love”)
  • Oct. 16 – Oct. 17 – Postmodern Jukebox (Various Hits) NEW
  • Oct. 18 – Oct. 20 – 10,000 Maniacs (“Because the Night”) NEW
  • Oct. 21 – Oct. 22 – Toad The Wet Sprocket (“Walk on the Ocean”)
  • Oct. 23 – Oct. 24 – Kenny G (“Songbird”) NEW
  • Oct. 25 – Oct. 26 – Billy Ocean (“Get Outta My Dreams, Get Into My Car”)
  • Oct. 27 – Oct. 29 – Tiffany (“I Think We’re Alone Now”)
  • Oct. 30 – Nov. 1 – Hanson (“MMMBop”)
  • Nov. 2 – Nov. 3 – Blue October (“Into The Ocean”) NEW
  • Nov. 4 – Nov. 5 – Living Colour (“Cult of Personality”)
  • Nov. 6 – Nov. 8 – Boyz II Men (“End of the Road”)
  • Nov. 9 – Nov. 11 – Big Bad Voodoo Daddy (“Go Daddy-O”)
  • Nove. 12 – Nov. 13 – Squeeze (“Tempted”) NEW

The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival runs Aug. 31 through Nov. 1.


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Disney World adds alcohol, specialty drinks to 2018 dining plans

Walt Disney World is adding new beverage options to its 2018 dining plans — including alcohol.

  • 2018 Disney Dining plans include alcohol
  • Options include wine, beer, specialty cocktails
  • Dining plan can be used at over 100 participating locations
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With the new plans, guests will be able to select beer or wine as an option with their quick-service or table-service meals.

Other alcoholic options include mixed drinks, cider, sangria and specialty cocktails.

Each quick-service meal, for example, includes one entrée and one nonalcoholic beverage (or an alcoholic beverage for guests 21 and older, with the 2018 plans only). Each table-service meal used for lunch and dinner includes one entrée, one dessert and nonalcoholic beverage (or alcoholic beverage for guests 21 and older).

Guests younger than 21 can choose from several nonalcoholic options, including artisanal milkshakes, smoothies, hot chocolate, soda, coffee and tea.

The addition of alcohol as a beverage option is a departure from previous dining plans, which excluded alcohol.

This is another recent example of Disney Word expanding alcohol options at the resort. Last year, four more restaurants at Disney’s Magic Kingdom Park added alcohol to their menus. For years, alcohol was not sold inside the Magic Kingdom as a way to keep the family atmosphere.

Disney offers three different dining plans: Quick-Service Dining Plan, Disney Dining Plan and Disney Deluxe Dining Plan, which can be used at participating restaurants and dining locations across Walt Disney World Resort. Each one includes a different number of meals and snacks for each guest each day.

For more information about the 2018 dining plans, click here.


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