Friday, August 31, 2012

UOR Permit Update 8/31/12: Project 971

Today, Universal Orlando filed two new building permits with the City of Orlando for Building 72.  Limited information indicates that the building will be partially demolished and altered.

Earlier this summer, permits were filed for Simpsons which is building 73.  ParkRumors says that Building 72 is a complex comprised of the Kwik E Mart, restrooms, and International Food and Film Festival.

More on Project 971 as the permits update.  As always, follow us on Twitter @Parkscope and @CaptMichael87.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Drainage Documents for Cabana Bay Plot

 UPDATE: The following plans are only mass drainage plans/changes to the plots of land on Universal property. They do not reflect the final layout or plans of the Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

Universal has submitted documents to the South Florida Water Management District for "Basin Improvements" to the future site of Cabana Bay Beach Resort.  Recently, similar documents were submitted prior to the dewatering permits for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter additions at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida.

The documents for Cabana Bay's basin improvements are much more detailed than the Potter ones.  As you can see in the following photo, there clearly many parking spots.  You can also see the new and/or expanded ponds that are used to mitigate the loss of natural surface for when parking lots and foundations are poured.  What is unusual are the lack of any indication of the buildings, pools, etc.  Sure, there are the gray spaces within the parking lots, but none are identical and there is no clear main building, just tons of parking spaces.

©2012 Universal City Development Partners, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.

Even more unusual is that both remaining expansion plots owned by Universal are taken up by this new project and mega-parking.  Will the hotel straddle Adventure Way?  Are the gray spaces nondescript on purpose but are where the hotel structures will be?
©2012 Universal City Development Partners, LLC.  All Rights Reserved.
It could just be a placeholder to show the authorities where the new ponds will be. The original announcement of the resort said it would occupy 37 acres of the Universal Orlando Resort, but this plan clearly shows a vastly bigger area taken up by the resort. If this is indeed the plans, the resort would take up almost 105 acres of UOR.

On top of that, if these are the plans...who designed them? The original concept art of Cabana Bay gave out a feeling of well designed grounds and plenty of theming and foliage.

But these plans? They scream parking lots and concrete wastelands. Where's the potential for beauty here?

If you can shed any light on this matter, let us know.  As I live in Louisiana and am in the current path of Isaac, I may be incommunicado for a few days, but @Parkscope will be holding down the fort.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Transformers Construction Update 8/25/12

Today we're lucky enough to have a reader send us in a construction of the Transformers site at Universal Studios Florida. Enjoy!

Hope you enjoyed those, and as always, remember to follow @Parkscope on twitter!

How I Learned to Stop Worrying About New Attractions and Love the Bathrooms

Deprived of new developments on property, Disney fans, DM, DH, DS, and DSs are reading up on the new Fantasyland bathroom. Will it have an ATTRACTION in it (besides toilets, which knowing Disney... don't give them ideas)? Will it have Tangled influence, as Tangled was all about toilets, bodily functions, and washing hands?

Whatever the case, when you go to your favorite Disney News Site (tm) and read up on all the construction updates, meditate to this music that is played the in Blue Man Group restrooms; the world famous BMG 'Bathroom Song'.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Walt Disney World Permit Update 8/23/2012

New notice of commencements came out today for WDW, and there were a few that caught my eye. Looks like we should start looking for some sort of construction at Small World and Star Tours, as both had construction permits filed for. There was another filed for Test Track today, as well as a mechanical one for the World Drive/DHS Entrance redo.

And on a more exciting/concrete front, the Notice of Commencements to begin work on the Osborne Spectacle of Dancing Lights have been filed. Links to all can be seen below.

Test Track NoC

Small World Construction NoC

Osborne Spectacle NoC 1

Osborne Spectacle NoC 2

World Drive Mechanical NoC

Star Tours Construction NoC

As always, follow @Parkscope for up to the minute updates!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


As the resident North Eastern Ohio Parkscope Representative, I apologize for tardiness. I have been on vacation to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando for 10 days, and this never got posted.

Cedar Point, after Screamscape reports and a leaked image of the design was posted, has confirmed the replacement for Disaster Transport and the Space Spiral. I present you Gatekeeper.

Image copyright Cedar Fair Inc.

Image copyright Cedar Fair Inc.

Not only is it replacing those rides, it's replacing the entryway, as now the 'keyhole' element of the coaster will take place over the turnstiles! Demo of Disaster Transport has started, and Gatekeeper will go vertical later this fall. Expect a late May opening.

Exaled Moment

The up-charge attraction, for better or worse, seems inherently shady. Carnies conning customers in games of 'skill', freak shows on the boardwalk, and fortune tellers are part of the American amusement park culture. With the opening of Disneyland and the suburbanization of the American family, these up-charges died off. Now such opportunities come in the form of gag photos, temporary tattoos, hair braids, and unique package experiences. Even today, a theme park goer can see Vegas or Broadway quality shows or unique dining experiences. Disney has had a lock on this for several years, thanks to it's successful Downtown Disney projects such as La Nouba.

Universal in 2005 filled in the deserted Nickelodeon Studios, and gaps in their CityWalk offerings, with Blue Man Group. An off Broadway hit since the early 90s, they made names of themselves through Tonight Show with Jay Leno appearances, Intel TV spots, and many successful shows around the world. 

The Orlando show, as it opened in 2007, was based on a show design from the short lived Toronto version. Prior to Toronto in 2007, Blue Man had their small theater shows (NYC, Boston, and Chicago) and large theater shows (Vegas, Potsdamer Platz). The show features the size and scope of their lager shows (Vegas), while paring it down to have a smaller supporting band and to fit in smaller theaters. 

As part of the “Year to be Here”, the Blue Man show was upgraded to feature the material from the new Touring Show. Universal and Blue Man shared the costs of upgrading the theater, to the reported tune of $2 million. The improvements include widening the stage, removal of the set, installation of high tech LED curtains and displays, upgraded lighting systems, and installation of the Zygote Balls.

My past vacation to Universal Florida I got a chance to see the new Blue Man Group show; row F, seat 20. Unlike previous visits, I saw this show alone after my family and friends left to go back home. This allowed my ideas to ferment into what I hope is a six-pack of Parkscope articles.

Blue Man show’s themes center around the expanding role of technology, information overload, absence of physical human communication, gender roles, the human vision system, modern art, and vaudeville comedy. To the Blue Man, there is no fourth wall; you are experiencing part of the world of Blue Man. The stage and seating area are both playgrounds for the Blue Man.

And despite what people say, or what you might think, the Blue Man are not aliens. They are genderless (there have been women Blue Man), raceless, egoless figures who experience the world with new eyes. Captain Crunch cereal is used to make music (what else would you use a cereal advertised for it’s crunch for, anyway?) Art is made with gumballs and marshmallows. And Yves Klein is celebrated.

The whole experience ends in the Exaled Moment. From the original Blue Man Show in New York till very recently, this featured endless rolls of cray paper streaming across the audience as KLF’s ‘Last Train to Transcentral’ plays. The new ending now incorporates a dance party, Blue Man humor, and audience participation into a colorful celebration of your booty.

I have been a Blue Man fan for many years, so it should be no surprise that I recommend this show to everyone. It's not typical production, as equal parts music, improv, and science fair are combined to form a typical show. But if you are open minded and want a fun night at Universal, Blue Man is a great night cap or kick start to a night of partying.

The Blue Man experience is an ideal, condensed theme park experience. We enter the theatre segmented and isolated, yet we leave as a group. Comedy, drama, music, education, and technology all cumulate into a euphoric, exalted moment. What was once was alien turns out to be identifiably human and pure. For 90 minutes, we are a child again exploring the world with the Blue Man.


Wizarding World of Harry Potter 2 is...

VERTICAL! Credit goes to Orlando United.Head there to discuss this exciting development and as always follow @Parkscope on twitter.

Splash Mountain Being Removed From Evening EMH

Beginning August 26th, 2012, Splash Mountain will no longer be a part of Evening EMH, and will be replaced by The Enchanted Tiki Room on the lineup. Ignoring the hilarious "replacement" choice of Tiki Room, I'd like to look a bit into what this could mean for the Magic Kingdom.

We all know Splash Mountain has been in terrible shape the past few years, and even yearly refurbs haven't helped it all that much. And while a few more hours of maintenance each week may help it a bit, this cut reeks more of a cutback than a maintenance move. Six hours a week won't put a dent into the ride's problems. Sure, there may be a tweak here and a tweak there that works, but nothing substantial.

But, let's give Disney the benefit of the doubt, and say it is for maintenance...why? I mean, Splash Mountain's yearly refurb is usually in January, a few months away. If your ride is already in bad shape, and you clearly don't have a problem with running it in bad shape, why not give it to the resort guests over the busy holiday period?

Could it be that Splash isn't going down for a refurb in 2013? Maybe because something else will be going down for a long period of time in 2013? Something...Jungle related?

That of course is half speculation, half wishful thinking on my part.

We'll see. This could just be a cost cutting measure. Could be for something more. We'll keep our eye on it, and as always, please follow @Parkscope for up to the minute updates.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

WDW Construction and Permit Update 8/21/12

New Notice of Commencements were put up today, but first let's check in on what we reported on a couple weeks ago. Remember this post about the Jungle Cruise? Well, we have some movement on this front.

From @EPCOTCitizen
As you can see from this picture from @EPCOTCitizen, you can see that Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats have been encased by a work wall. I've been told by @ProgressCityUSA that the boats will be removed permanently, but it's unknown what will be done with the area at this time.

What could this mean for the big refurb rumored to happen next year? Well, if the rumored expansion does indeed happen, we can expect to see Jungle Cruise boats flowing by this area to make the trip around the Swiss Family Robinson Treehouse. We'll have to keep an eye on the area when the walls come down to see if any substantial work has gone on.

On the notice of commencement side of things, some turned up today for a few refurbs. A few came through for the Coral Reef restaurant and kitchen, as well as the Contemporary monorail station.

But I wanted to focus on two of the more interesting ones. The first is for "Pilings" at Fort Wilderness.

Not sure what it's for. The picture below it had the first word blurred out and just said "Refurbishment" after it.

The second is for Test Track.
I find this one interesting because the contractor is Show Systems Integrators, which is the company that did the A/V and lighting package for Rip, Ride Rockit, and The Simpsons Ride over at Universal.

That's all for tonight, true believers. As always, be sure to follow @Parkscope for up to the minute details.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Country Bears Refurb, and what is the S.A.M.S. Project?

Today, Disney posted a slew of Notice of Commencements on the OC Comptroller site.

One of the more mundane is the one for the upcoming Country Bear Jamboree refurbishment.

(C) Walt Disney World Resort. All rights reserved
(C) Walt Disney World Resort. All rights reserved
But aside from that, there were plenty, I'd say 15+, detailing something designated the S.A.M.S. Project. Whatever it is, it's listed as electrical work for entire resorts, DHS, the west side of EPCOT's Future World, and other areas of the resort.

At this time I won't speculate on what it is, since there's no real information on it. Could it be upgrades for future NextGen projects? Or something else?
(c) Walt Disney World Resort. All rights reserved.
We'll keep you informed as anything breaks on the project.

As always, continue to follow @Parkscope for up to the minute updates.

Be Our Guest Reservation Opening Revealed

Concept art of the Be Our Guest Ballroom
©2012 Walt Disney World.  All Rights Reserved.
Today the Disney Parks Blog announced that Walt Disney World will open up reservations for Be Our Guest on Monday, August 20th at 7AM EST.  On Monday, guests can make reservations for November 19th and beyond up to 180 days out.  Online reservations will open on Wednesday, August 22nd.  November 19th is also the day that previews for Enchanted Tales with Belle, The Little Mermaid, and Gaston's Tavern begin.  The Grand Opening is set for December 6th.  Seven Dwarves Mine Train will, however, will not open until 2014.

The dining reservation hotline for Walt Disney World is 1-407-WDW-DINE (3463.)  The phone lines are sure to be very busy on Monday for this highly anticipated restaurant.

Be Our Guest will have three different dining rooms: The West Wing, The Ball Room, and the Rose Gallery. During the day, the restaurant will operate as a quick service similar to The Three Broomsticks at Islands of Adventure.  Guests will order food and it will be brought to them at a table.  At night, it will operate as a table service.  As of now, Disney is saying that it will only require 1 credit on the Disney Dining Plan.  Guests cannot reserve specific area over the phone, but can request it at the restaurant on the day of their reservation.

Some seats offer a fireworks view, but details are unknown.  Although featured in a few pieces of concept art, Lumiere will not be appearing in Be Our Guest.

A rundown of what New Fantasyland will feature can be found here at the Disney Parks Blog.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A Plea For Sanity: Transformers at USF

Can we please, pretty please drop any and all notions of Transformers The Ride coming to Universal Studios Florida having ANYTHING to do with Marvel theme park rights?

There are multiple, more logical reasons for Universal building Transformers in its Florida studio park.  First, we are 3 years away from phase 2 of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter opening in the former Jaws plot. The quick addition of Transformers at the front of the park fills the three year wait with a successful E-Ticket and will hopefully help better distribute the crowds when Potter opens.  Second, Transformers has been very successful at Universal Studios Hollywood.  Reportedly, the ride's success has exceeded both Comcast's and Disney's expectations.  It would a no-brainer to add it to a park that has not seen a new E-Ticket since Revenge of the Mummy opened in 2004 (unless you count Rip Ride Rockit.)  Third, Universal Orlando has been recording record profits since the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  Insiders say that Universal has made so much money that they basically need to spend it or get taxed on it.  Any smart business would elect to reinvest the money in its product in lieu of giving it away to the government.  This is apparently the reason for the quick construction timeline.  Universal has tons of money and needs to spend it fast.

Others would have you following an endless maze of conjecture and convolution, but as my pal Jim Hill would say, "Why for?"  Why continue trying to create drama and intrigue where there is not any?  Marvel is Universal Orlando's in perpetuity, meaning it has the theme park rights for as long as it wants.  The only way Disney will ever get the rights is if they pay up and pay up BIG.  This means that it will never happen.  Marvel is a hot commodity right now on the heals of the Avengers, but it would make no sense for Disney to pony up $1B+ for theme park rights, basically handing over all of the money they made on the film.  Conversely, it would make no sense for Universal to give the Marvel theme park rights, which are hot right now, back to its competitor unless they received a very large sum of money.  Just think about it.

I have heard people perpetuate the notion that it makes no sense for Universal to be giving money over to Disney and allowing Disney to see Universal's books.  Again, this is just further shenanigans.  Universal was always paying royalties to Marvel, and they still technically are.  The only difference is that Disney now owns Marvel. It's no different than Universal paying WB for the Harry Potter rights or Fox for the Simpsons rights.  As for Disney being able to see Universal's books, Disney and Universal made a deal when Marvel was acquired that Disney cannot have access to any proprietary or sensitive information regarding Universal Orlando's business.  Again, people are creating stories.  Marvel is staying at Universal Orlando.

I know Disney fans are desperate for new attractions at Walt Disney World, but it is time to let go of this dream that Disney and its board will suddenly sell the farm just to have an Avengers ride at Hollywood Studios.  Remember, you were crying about the Marvel deal a few years ago.  Now, you are willing to sacrifice the future.  It will not hurt you to visit Islands of Adventure to ride a Spider-Man attraction.

So please, no more Marvel coming to DHS threads or tweets!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

UOR Permit Update 8/14/12: Transformers & Potter, etc

It has been a while, but we finally have a few new permits and Notices of Commencements.

First off, "Core and Shell" for Transformers aka Project 609:

This must be for the building structure of Transformers.  As they are moving quickly on the project, they will need it soon. Universal started pouring the concrete foundation last week.

Next, Project 7611 for an "early facility package"

As mentioned previously, all project numbers in the 7000 range are related to Phase 2 of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Incredible Hulk Coaster is getting new infrared flame detectors:

The booths at the Three Broomsticks are already being replaced:

Lastly, fiber optic cable is being installed throughout Universal Studios Florida:

As always, please follow us on Twitter @Parkscope and @CaptMichael87 and like us on Facebook.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Dragon Challenge: A Big Cop Out

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has few if any faults.  People complain about things such as cramped shops, the exterior queue of Forbidden Journey (an unfortunate necessity due to success of the land), and the somewhat exposed showbuilding of Forbidden Journey.  However, the biggest problem of the Wizarding World, in my opinion, is the forced inclusion of the Lost Continent holdover, Dueling Dragons.

Dueling Dragons is my favorite coaster that I have been on.  I love the flying sensation you get while riding in the first row, but the attraction suffered from visuals.  The ride itself was largely unchanged in the "retheme" and the queue was weakened.  I understand why it needed to be included in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  It was a popular coaster and Universal was cash-strapped.  Having said that, I am surprised it basically survived the retheme virtually unchanged.  The tracks were not repainted to better reflect the dragons from the source material, the premise in no way resembles the First Task from the film or novel, and there is zero theming along the track to further the premise.  You are riding Dueling Dragons with a Potter queue.

J.K. Rowling and Warner Bros. are known to very protective about Potter and were very strict and nitpicky about the rest of the land, so why did Dueling Dragons get a pass?  I do not have an answer.  I suppose it was just a compromise.  Universal gave into every demand from smaller shops to no Coca-Cola products to specific shades of moss.  I guess both parties agreed to let Dragons slide because there is no way that Dragons, in its current state, adheres to the standards mandated by the licensing agreement.  The most glaring problem is the sound barrier wall that used to be green but is now a very faded and worn white green.  At the very least, that should have been repainted.

As mentioned before, there is nothing on the ride itself to further the story set up by the queue.  Universal Creative could have at least included a nest with a golden egg at the center of the ride.  For those unfamiliar with Goblet of Fire, Harry must evade a protective mother dragon and take from her a nest a golden egg.  That is what the "Dragon Challenge" is in the book.  Harry does not battle two dragons, and he does not ride a dragon (at least not in Goblet, but I digress.)  The queue itself, while not as elaborate as the Dueling Dragons queue, does set up the First Task well with an appearance by the Goblet of Fire, dragon projections in the Champions Tent, and banners supporting the four TriWizard Champions.  Once you board a dragon, any semblance of a Potter attraction is gone, and in my opinion, that is unacceptable.

I and the rest of the Parkscope team have heaped tons of praise on Universal Creative for the effort shown in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and most recently, Minion Mayhem, but with Dragon Challenge, they did not even try.  The easiest and most sensible transition of Dueling Dragons would have been to convert it to a Quidditch coaster.  The game of Quidditch is an extreme sport that takes place on a broom and features near misses with other players, looping, and rolling around through the air...sound familiar?  The track could have been painted sky blue and the coaster should have been surrounded by the Hogwarts Quidditch Stadium with 3 golden hoops on each end.  The ground beneath the coaster could have been astro turf with the Quidditch lines painted on it.  While this would have cost more than Dragon Challenge, it would have been a much better Potter attraction, and it still would not have cost that much.

If you really want to get picky, a TriWizard Tournament event on the same day as the Quidditch match in Forbidden Journey is impossible as there was no Quidditch during Goblet of Fire, and there would most certainly never be Quidditch and a TriWizard event on the same day.  Whereas, if Dueling Dragons had become a Quidditch ride, the Quidditch match in Forbidden Journey and the Quidditch ride could be the same one creating a connected story throughout the land.

Dragon Challenge rarely has more than a ten minute wait regardless of how crowded the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is.  Most attribute this to its capacity and/or its very nondescript entrance.  I would add to that the attraction just does not live up to the standards of the Wizarding World.  I think that most guests who are on the fence about such a coaster would respond better to a game of Quidditch than a non-canon Dragon duel that no longer has dueling.

Tweet me your thoughts @CaptMichael87 or leave a comment below.  Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Universe of Energy Upgrades

Yesterday, two new notice of commencements popped up on the OC Comptroller site for EPCOT's Universe of Energy, and can be seen below. The first is for electrical, and the contractor is Elite AV Systems Inc.

The second is for mechanical work from ERMCO of Florida.

Now, what are these for? Impossible to know for sure from these documents, but the first one seems to deal with AV systems. Could new projectors for the ride or preshow be on the way? Hopefully, as the quality on them could definitely be a lot better. We'll keep you up to date if more info comes to light.

As always, you can follow @Parkscope for up to the minute details and updates.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Penn & Teller House Coming to Halloween Horror Nights

Universal has now confirmed four houses for Halloween Horror Nights 22.  They announced Silent, then The Walking Dead, Alice Cooper, and most recently, Penn and Teller.  So far, each rumored house has been dead on (pun intended.)  This leaves three houses for the Universal Orlando event unannounced, but Universal seems to have gotten the licensed houses out of the way.

Penn and Teller's "New(kd) Las Vegas is the latest house announced for annual Orlando Halloween event.  The house will utilize 3D effects and feature a Las Vegas fallen victim to a Penn and Teller trick gone awry.

An excerpt from Universal's Press Release:

This fall, Penn & Teller invite Halloween Horror Nights guests to step into a dark, dilapidated and radioactive version of “Sin City,” as if one of their magic tricks has gone terribly awry and the city has been covered in nuclear ooze. Concepted by the duo themselves, the maze will feature the best of Vegas – showgirls, slot machines, little white wedding chapel, all-you-can-eat buffet, and more – all glowing with a toxic green hue.

“Universal Horror Nights can scare the living Elvis out of you, and me & Teller, well, we've been known to take things a bit too far.  Now we're working together on showing you what it would be like to live in a post-nuclear explosion Sin City.  C'mon by, but remember, you're not playing with children here,” said Penn Jillette, the larger, louder half of the duo.

“We’ve done more than just tap into the wildly creative minds of Penn & Teller, the most influential illusionists in the world. We’ve been working really closely with them. You are literally going to hear Penn directing you through this toxic wasteland before coming face-to-face with both Penn & Teller in this jarring 3D experience,” said Jim Timon, Senior Vice President of Entertainment at Universal Orlando Resort.
In an article by the Huffington Post, it was mentioned that Penn and Teller themselves plan to be in the House as much as possible which is very exciting.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Jungle Cruise Changes?

While trolling the Orlando/Orange County Comptroller site tonight, I came across what seems to be an interesting notice of commencement, seen below for "Site Work".
And with it, came this diagram, which includes the entire area of the Jungle Cruise, including Shrunken Ned's Junior Jungle Boats, and the backstage boat maintenance area.

Now, I'm far from an expert on these, but I would consider myself somewhat of a Jungle Cruise expert being a former skipper myself. Michael believes this may just be related to Fastpass+, and he may be right. But the whole area, including backstage areas, being included on it leads me to believe it may be a bit more substantial. Could it be the long delayed JC refrub? I sure hope so.

Anyone who may know more, feel free to leave a comment or talk to us @Parkscope on twitter.

Notice of Commencement:

Universal Orlando Project Update 8/3/12

Universal Orlando Resort currently has multiple projects underway.  Since permits for most of them have been approved, new details have been scant.  That being said, we can update you on inspections and recent pictures that have been taken.

Project 722 Lagoon Wall

©2012 Universal Creative.  All Rights Reserved.
Thank you Lee.
The project with the most visible progress and the one that is furthest along is the new London Lagoon Waterfront that is replacing Amity Village.  The area is being modeled after London's Victoria Embankment which features a concrete with wall with pillars, fancy lamps, and greenery.  PCL Construction has completed nearly two thirds of the new wall.  It would not be too crazy to think that the whole wall could be compete in the next two weeks.

After the wall is complete, they will need to get to work on the inland portion which will either feature planters or ponds.  The plans we received from Lee at WDWMagic did not specify what they were.  If the areas are indeed ponds, that could take a while to complete.  If they are planters, we could see this area open up some time this year, at the rate they are going.  Inspections on various sections of the wall have been  scheduled almost daily.

Project 7542: Gringotts Bank

Gringotts is seemingly far along, but we cannot see it without someone going on a helicopter tour of Universal Orlando.  It is tucked away far back in the former Jaws plot and is obscured by trees from the Fear Factor Live theater.  Over the past week, it has had various footer inspections for "pile reinforcements"; "test pile rebar"; and "column/vertical cell/shaft."  Clearly, a foundation is clearly in its future

Project 7685: Pre-Engineered Metal Building

At first glance, I believed this to be for Gringotts.  Only time will tell.  The permit and review are short on details.  It is currently awaiting revisions since July 25th.

Project 609: Transformers

Transformers has either caught-up with or surpassed Gringotts.  Recent photographs and inspections of the site reveal that there is a rebar mat already in place within the confines of the below grade, sheet-piling reinforced area where Soundstage 44 used to stand.  Today, there was a "Final Inspection for Concrete reinforcement."  Visitors to Universal Studios Florida should be seeing a slab appear shortly.  Universal is wasting no time on this project and looks to be on track for a Winter 2013 opening.

©2012 Warner Bros Pictures.  All Rights Reserved.

Projects 7717 North Station: Platform 9 3/4

Like Gringotts, progress on this project will remain a mystery until someone gets a helicopter update.  Utilities were put in earlier this year.  The area is likely undergoing dewatering or preparations for dewatering at the moment as the permit was recently approved by the South Florida Water Management District.

Project 4691 Connector:  Hogwarts Express Track

©2012 Google Earth.  All Rights Reserved.  
Work has reportedly begun behind the Revenge of the Mummy showbuilding on the Hogwarts Express track.  Many believe that there will be a track switch in this area for trains to bypass each other as they make the trip between Hogsmeade and London.

Project 3641 South Station:  Hogsmeade Station

©2012 Google Earth.  All Rights Reserved.
©2012 Universal Creative.  All Rights Reserved.
Pictures have recently sprung up showing an excavator behind the Lost Continent construction walls and there is a noticeable absence of trees.  The future home of Hogsmeade Station is likely undergoing dewatering or is being set up to be dewatered.  Riders of Dragon Challenge should be able to see this.

Could Hogsmeade look like this in a few years?
©2012 Google Earth.  All Rights Reserved.
Project 7448:  Diagon Alley

The Diagon Alley permits have been languishing in the review stages since late May.  The review of the second set of plan revisions were completed on July 20th.  Today, August 3rd, was the first update in two weeks.  Wastewater seems to have gotten new plans and changed their Disapproval to Approved.  Hopefully the other hang-ups received revisions as well.  It would be nice for every aspect of WWoHP Phase 2 be ready for construction.  This is currently the last piece of the puzzle, at least for the foundations of Phase 2.

Project 142:  Cabana Bay Beach Resort

Work has seemingly begun as pictures of a crane and green fences have appeared on the internet.  The resort is currently being built in 3 phases of 600 hotel rooms.  There are currently permits for fire pits, swimming pools, and a bar.  Some people are reporting that the water taxi canal will not be extended to Cabana Bay which is unfortunate if true.

To discuss these projects, visit and join Orlando United.  For updates, follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rumor: Something Big on the Horizon for WDW?

No, I'm not talking about blue cat-people here.

The rumor mill has been churning on full blast the past few days regarding Walt Disney World.

First, Al Lutz posts this on his MiceAge column:

Who is also paying attention to Anaheim’s radical attendance shift are the executives in Orlando. Imagineering, buoyed by the huge success of DCA’s extreme makeover, has put together a proposal to do the same type of massive multi-year makeover for the floundering Disney Hollywood Studios park out in Disney World. It may not get the nearly 1.5 Billion that was spent on DCA from 2007 to 2012 (with Midway Mania, Pixar Play Parade, and World of Color paid for separately and on top of the 1.2 Billion dedicated to the makeover), but Imagineering would love to tear in to DHS and give the muddled theme of that park a fresh start and new look, bolstered with at least one new mega E Ticket and a smattering of smaller rides.

Exciting, isn't it? DHS has, by most accounts, been a thematic mess of a park for a long while, and there are many reports that those within WDW management know it. It's also the part that is apparently prone to cannibalization as well as losing people to competing parks like Universal and SeaWorld. So the idea behind it makes sense.

Now, does it have any merit? just might. Last night and early this morning word started getting around the fan community that Kathy Mangum has been moved from the DCA project to a new project for WDW. Not familiar with Kathy? Well, I'm sure your familiar with this:

(c) Disneyland Resort 2012. All rights reserved.

Yup, Kathy was one of the main people responsible for Cars Land serving as the land's producer. You're a bit more excited now, aren't you?

What could this mean? Could it be a big expansion for DHS? Maybe a direct clone of the insanely popular Cars Land from California Adventure? Something on the same scale but themed differently?

At the moment, we really have no clue. But the fact that someone from this very successful and thematically great attraction has been moved to work on something for WDW is exciting. But until we know what that is, let's have fun speculating!

As always, follow @Parkscope on Twitter for more updates.