Sunday, December 28, 2014

GameScope 2014 Year in Review

Joe and Sean get drunk, play video games, and discuss 2014. Topics include Microsoft's change in tune, broken games, bad people online, Nintendo's bad decisions, our favorite games we played this year, and 2015.

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Thoughts on Theme Parks and Alcohol

I enjoy alcohol and drinking at Universal and Disney parks. I’ve had Krakatoas Trader Sam’s, Martinis Carthay Circle, Carls’ Combo at Rose & Crown, Duffs at Moe’s, and Dragon Scales while watching a performance of Tales of Beadle the Bard. There’s a cognitive dissonance held when alcohol is discussed with theme parks, especially the ‘Magic Kingdom’ style parks. When it was rumored Disneyland was going to get a limited access restaurant with alcohol and Magic Kingdom’s Be Our Guest at dinner was going to have alcohol there were several people complaining about the decision. But why, and who are supporting this change?

When opened in 1955, Walt Disney did not sell alcohol in Disneyland to the general public. Club 33, a private venue for corporate sponsors and entertainment elite, did, but that did not open till 1967. How American culture views alcohol in 1955 is vastly different than it is today. Repeal of prohibition occurred in 1933, 22 years before the opening of Disneyland. To give some context, that’s the same distance between today in 2014 and the opening of Aladdin in theaters. In reverse, cigarette advertising was allowed on TV and radio was allowed up till 1971, while ‘distilled spirits’ advertising on the same mediums was banned until 1997. The climate of acceptance has advanced the 60 years since Disneyland’s founding, and as such the park should adapt to those changes.

Disneyland is designed as an escape from the reality and burdens of society. For some, one of these stresses is alcohol. Not limited to those who’re on a path to sobriety, alcoholism is a disease that affects many. And not just alcoholics can take in too much, but regular guests can abuse the drug too. Here are several tweets from Chad, aka ExTrashcan on Twitter, who said it better than I ever could.

In my opinion, these comments don’t really reflect the state of Disney’s treatment of alcohol. My issue is Disney does not respect the adult nature of alcohol. Take a look below, a snap shot of the Disney Parks blog:

Two alcoholic mixed drinks, with foam and glow cubes, ‘themed’ around the movie Frozen. How is this appropriate? How can it stand where Cast Members are not supported to cut guests off from alcohol sales? Any other business that doesn’t respect alcohol and the effects it has on people cannot function, so how can Disney? Can you actually call someone a guest if you do not look out for their well-beings? Are you a host or an enabler with open cash registers? 

My trouble point and question to Disney and Universal is how does alcohol fit in a theme park? Is it through sweet drinks with glow cubes? Black coolers or carts set outside of attractions full of the major beer options? I do not think these are the answer. While I am not against alcohol sales, any sort of fantasy element to it or backing of cast/team member cannot happen. I do not have the answers and won’t pretend to, what I want to do is ask why are people against these changes. What are your thoughts?

Thursday, December 18, 2014

3.16 - Ten Days or Whatever of Kwanzaa

Joe, Nick, and Sean draw Cards Against Humanity cards then dive into SeaWorld, Cedar Point, the Polynesian, Avatar is doing something or another, Be Our Guest for breakfasts, Kong updates, and water park permits. Then Nick dives into his recent trip talking about Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, HOT Butterbeer, and Cowfish. Happy Festivus y'all!

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

3.15- Universal vs Disney: The Unofficial Guide with Sam Gennawey

Joe and Nick are joined by Sam Gennawey, urban designer, planner, and author of the book 'Universal versus Disney: The Unofficial Guide to American Theme Parks' Greatest Rivalry'. We discuss the origins of the book, the creation of the Universal Studios Hollywood Tour, the developments that lead to the creation of Universal Studios Florida, the creation of Islands of Adventure, and much much more. This is just a sample of the full contents of the book, now available!

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

UOR Permit Update: More Water Park News

First I want to apologize for the incomplete nature of this post. I'm having a hard time getting pictures up through Blogger right now, but Mike will be updating this post ASAP with the documents in question.

This post has more to do with the water park, which is quickly coming into view as more and more permits are found. The newest update comes as an addition to our previous report on the water park. More documents have been added to the original, giving us more insight into the water park project. According to the updated permit, the water park construction will disturb 53 acres of land, and will have a construction period of 11/20/2014 - 11/20/2016. That's interesting, as it's seems to be only two years to build and complete the park.

As always, keep an eye on Parkscope for more details.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

3.14 - Food Coma

Joe and Nick are stuffed with food and give thanks by talking about the Great Movie Ride, hats, Animal Kingdom developments, WonderSea permits, what we're thankful for, and we answer your questions.

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

UOR Permit Update: More Water Park Proof

Morning, everyone. We're here for another Universal water park update for everyone. The above two images come from a NPDES Stormwater CGP (Construction General Permit) on the land south of Cabana Bay, which we all know is rumored to be the location of the new Universal water park. Our sources have told us there are only two types of these permits: one for projects larger than five acres, and one for projects less than five acres. As you can see, this project is for more than five acres, meaning Project 533 is more than just a construction trailer park for another remote location. Of course this doesn't tell us what it will be, only that it will be big. The permit also has an expiration date 5 years from the filing date. We're not sure if that's just the standard length for such a permit or not, but that would be an awfully long build time for Universal's recent track record.
That's all for now, but stay tuned to Parkscope for more information as it comes out.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

UOR Permit Update: Project 533 Water Park Permit Posted

Well, I've been waiting for this for a while, but it looks like the first permit for Project 533, rumored to be the Universal Water Park, has finally been put up. First, this was first posted at Orlando United's forums. But the address, which coincides with the location south of Cabana Bay Beach Resort, has long been rumored to be the location for the water park coming to Universal. Rumored to be themed to a volcanic island, complete with an active volcano centerpiece, Universal has trademarked names such as Volcano Bay and Wondersea Island for the park.

Stay tuned to Parkscope for more updates.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

3.13 - Let My Sign Go

Joe, Nick, and Sean team up to discuss Pop Tarts, I-Drive, Tokyo Disneyland Expansion, Fifth Gate at WDW Discussions are Stupid, Cowfish, Kong, Frequent Fear, Building 88, 25th anniversaries, and answer your last minute questions!

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

UOR Permit Update: Selective Demolition of Gardens of Allah

Looks like we may finally be seeing some progress on a long standing rumor for Universal Orlando today. Two permits have just been filed for selective demolition and additions to Building 88 which we have found is the Gardens of Allah area. This location has long been rumored to become a museum of sorts celebrating UOR for its 25th anniversary next year. Stay tuned to Parkscope for more information as it's released. (note, pictures of the permits will be up later)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

3.12 - Some News, Rumors, and Disney Cruise Line

Joe, Mike, and Nick are joined by the illustrious Derek Burgan and Seth Kubersky of the internet. We talk Disney Springs news, Disney Hollywood Studios rumors, UOR rumors, and talk about their trips on the Disney Cruise Line.

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

3.11 - Diagon Alley Impressions

*NOTE: More than the usual amount of adult language in this episode* 

Joe, Mike, Nick, and Sean finally got to experience Diagon Alley in late September. After 10 minutes talking about beer and bars, we finally discuss all aspects of Diagon Alley and the Hogwarts Express. We cover the land, shops, food, drink, shows, and attractions. And you'll be surprised how angry we get each other over the owl shop.

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Inevitable Maelstrom Post

From Wikipedia
This past Sunday Maelstrom closed to be replaced by a ride through the movie Frozen in 2016. As the sun rises in the east and winter gives way to spring, people are debating and commenting on the change. 

I do not agree with the statement fantasy/folk lore doesn’t belong in Epcot. For a long time the America Pavilion was designed to have a boat ride through the tall tales and folklore of America. Many American folk stories have featured in Disney short films or movies, but they were authentic to the culture and creations of it. In addition Norway was ONE of the original sponsors for the pavilion, a pavilion devoted to Nordic countries. While designing the pavilion, the theme and location was kept broad enough to encompass a geographic region, not a country. As funding finalized, Norway and several Norwegian companies were the financial sponsors of the attraction, and as of 2002, Norway has stopped funding the pavilion.

EPCOT Center/Epcot’s purpose is to inspire and inform people about the real world around them. Future World uses history and the present to inform people about the science and technology of the future; World Showcase uses culture, food, drink, and entertainment to… well… showcase other cultures. And this leads us to our first issue with Frozen coming to Epcot: it’s not authentic to the culture.

The attraction coming to Norway, per the Disney Parks Blog, is going to be a Fantasyland style ride retelling the story of the movie. It is not about Anna and Elsa visiting Norway, nor is it about the myths and legends of Norway. The Three Caballeros featured live action trips to Mexico (along with Brazil) and discussions about its culture (and yes, it was a political puff piece). Maelstrom was rooted in fantasy, but genuine to culture and stories from the area. Frozen did start as the Snow Queen, a Nordic tale, but the end product is a Disney creation. Nowhere in Frozen is any of the original Danish fairy tale. Disney’s trying to pass off an ‘inspired by’ byline to this attraction to justify the ride. I believe a classic retelling of a unique, and good, Disney story does not belong in World Showcase.

If you believe that Frozen can/should still be added to World Showcase, I think there’s something people are missing: Epcot has expansion pads.

This is a view of Norway in Epcot, north of it is a huge expansion plot for a new land or attraction. There are 6 additional plots located around the World Showcase and several empty pavilions and spaces in Future World. With “an abundance of size”, why is Disney replacing rides in a park that needs more rides just to simply fill out it’s FP+ system?

Frozen deserves a classic dark ride for a classic movie. A fully realized version of Arandale with a Frozen dark ride would be welcome by all. What is confusing and frustrating is Disney’s handling of a $1.24bn property by supplying Olafs on a stick, an ice rink, a temporary mini parade, and an overlay over a low capacity attraction. It is a disappointing reaction from a company that has asked us to hold them to a higher standard (and pay for it too). 

Thursday, October 2, 2014

3.9- Post Trip Blues News

Joe and Nick cover the news and events form the past few weeks. Backlot Tour, loss of Epcot entertainment, Kongstruction, NASCAR Grille, Iger, and some teasers for future podcasts.

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

3.8 - La Det Gå

Subscribe to our RSS
Direct Download

Joe, Mike, and Sean talk HHN, Sapphire Falls, Paint the Night, and FROZEN. HEY Y'ALL LET IT GO.

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

New Universal Orlando Hotel Sapphire Falls, Opens 2016

Today Loews Hotels and Universal Orlando Resort announced their 5th hotel, Loews Sapphire Falls (Project 664). The hotel will open Summer 2016 with reservations starting in 2015.

Caribbean themed, it will be the "sister" resort to Royal Pacific and located south west of RPR. 

Sapphire Falls will feature 1000 rooms, early entry to the parks, but will not have ExpressPass. 

This post will be updated thought the day as we learn more. 

Monday, September 1, 2014

3.7 - A True Disaster

Blubrry player!
Subscribe to our RSS
Direct Download

Joe, Mike, Nick, and Sean are joined by Tom Bricker to discuss his last trip to WDW and UOR, his opinions on the Villains Unleashed event, UOR, Potter, ET, Disaster, and then your questions.

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

3.6 - Mike Gets a Ring

Blubrry player!
Subscribe to our RSS
Direct Download

Joe, Mike, Nick, and Sean are all back to discuss SeaWorld, Busch Parks, Potter Celebration, HHN, Hollywood Studios, Villains, hard tickets, random stories, things, and some postulation on Parkscope Weekend. Trust me it makes sense.

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Sea World Trademark Update: Sea Lion High, New Show Title and Concept Art

So, in what may be a first for Parkscope, we're here to break some SeaWorld information. We received a tip to check the trusty trademark site for some SeaWorld news, and came across the mark above for "Sea Lion High", which seems to be the new show title for the Clyde and Seamore show. Throwing the title into Google led us to this site full of concept art. Looks like it's going to be a pretty elaborate replacement for what was already, in my opinion, the best attraction at SeaWorld not called Manta. As always, stay tuned to Parkscope for more information.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Robin Williams

On August 11th, 2014 Robin Williams was discovered dead in his home at age 63. A hugely influential entertainer, his life and accomplishments were recognized by actors, comedians, the Walt Disney Company, and even the White House. As people come to grasp the nature of his death and memorialize him, they will rewatch his old movies and comedy specials. Even as a kid, I was hugely influenced by his work in Aladdin, Jumanji, Dead Poets Society, and Patch Adams.

But Robin's work that will stick with me the most is his fantastic theme park work. In the late 80s to mid 90s Disney lead a campaign to add popular, contemporary entertainers to the parks, and Robin Williams led the push.

His most recognizable additions to the parks came from his most beloved Disney character, the Genie from Aladdin. From SpectroMagic to World of Color, the Genie has been a staple character using Robin's voice in the parks. And even more face characters and performers have represented the interpretation of the Genie that Robin popularized, from parades to stage shows.

Robin Williams also lent his voice and personality to two other fantastic Disney attractions. The first is The Magic of Disney Animation tour in the Disney-MGM Studios. Robin lent his acting and personality to the "Back to Neverland" opening film, where his avatar was a lost boy from Peter Pan. The full breadth of the birth of animation was covered, from storyboarding to final production.

Back To Neverland: Walter and Robin from Joe Pitt on Vimeo.

But my favorite, and his best work in my humble opinion, is that of the Timekeeper. A crazed genius android, Timekeeper invented time travel and a nine eye robot (named 9 Eye and voiced by Rhea Perlman) so he can safety travel through time meet Jules Verne and H.G. Wells. He set up shop in the Tomorrowland Science Center, where you can take part in his demonstration. Of course, bad things happen, H.G. comes back to modern time, and hijinks happen.

Timekeeper HQ from Martins Videos on Vimeo.

Timekeeper is brilliantly paced and finally fulfilled the promise of the CircleVision technology. Combining an exquisite script, amazing AAs and a physical set, amazing videography, and one of the best soundtracks to an attraction ever, Timekeeper is deeply missed from the theme park line-up.

And of course, it wouldn't be a post by me without featuring Blue Man Group, here using Robin as a paintbrush in a Yves Klein esque painting.

Robin Williams was a brilliant actor, comedian, and person. He will be missed. I will leave you with one last video with Robin Williams.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

3.5 - Ugliest Podcast in Norway

Blubrry player!
Subscribe to our RSS
Direct Download

Joe and Mike are joined by the incomparable Len Testa from your books, websites, and podcasts (and other podcasts) to discuss Halloween Horror Nights, Frozen invasion, Norway, 1 million riders, Len's UOR trip, Italian food, and UOR updates to the 2015 edition of the Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World. Then we close out with your questions.

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

UOR Permit Update: Project 664 and Kong

Big news from the world of permits today, as a few new additions were put up on the Orange Country Comptroller site. Today we have NoCs for work on the King Kong show building as well as for a new mystery project, "Project 664". Our sources had indicated to us weeks ago that project 664 was to be UOR's fifth hotel. The NoC backs that up, as there are mutiple call outs to "Site D" in it, which is the plot of land between Royal Pacific and Cabana Bay. The NoC is also attributed to the Universal City Hotel venture, another giveaway. As always, stay tuned to Parkscope for more updates.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

3.4- Teranadan

Blubrry player!
Subscribe to our RSS
Direct Download

Joe, Mike, and Nick are joined by The Tim Tracker and The Jenn Tracker from the YouTubes and Twitters to talk Halloween Horror Nights, 25th Anniversary Plans, Soarin', new nighttime shows ALL OVER ORLANDO, King Kong, Avatar, WonderSea/Volcano Bay, Sean sucks, and more!

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

3.3 - Don't Throw Pumpkins

Blubrry player!
Subscribe to our RSS
Direct Download

Joe, Mike, and Nick are joined with Adam and Andrew from the DisneyHipsters to talk Disneyland, interactive games, Food and Wine, Nashville!, vegetarians in theme parks, Universal thoughts, Club 33, and your questions!

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Some Thoughts on MM+ and FP+

Now my first family vacation to WDW after the full roll out of MM+ has completed, I want to throw my two cents to the fountain of opinions, facts, and statistics of the program. These are my thoughts of my trip with the many benefits and detractors of the MM+ system.

Let's start out: my party is very unique and not standard at all. Of the 11 traveling with us, two are CMs (one from retail, one from DLR), two stayed for two days, one four days, three spilt travel between UOR and WDW, four APs, comp passes, and the remainder split between two resorts, including one DVC. We had multiple accounts, bands, and experiences planned. It was complicated.

And this starts my first criticism of MM+, it only "just works" for a subset of people: people who don't have many chess pieces or move them often. Guests who buy a package deal or tickets for length of stay and stay at one resort will find the MDX experience at home easy. 

We had two account creators for our trip, and this was a dumb mistake that caused many issues. Duplication of bands, accounts, and confusion on what is linked. Even now, to this day my MagicBand at a FP+ kiosk calls me by the wrong name. In the end we spend about an hour on the phone with tech support for MDX, and then had to have DVC make changes for us. Besides this one pain, the rest of the MDX site worked fine, with us being able to easily make reservations for attractions and restaurants.

Another major issue is Disney's obsession with having everyone be linked to a name and an account. All reservations, tickets, passes, hotel rooms, et all. This is a major mental hurdle for people used to the older system of "make a reservation for six and six can show up." I spent many hours explaining this system to the 50+ crowd traveling with us, in the end I compared it to having a Facebook account for Disney that tickets and hotel rooms are linked to. No longer can six people be attached to a reservation, with the idea of choosing who'd show up that day.

Ok, enough about pre-trip issues. What is nice is being able to make sure you see certain shows and attractions before your trip is very appealing. For someone at WDW more than five days it's easy to plan our the half dozen or so attractions that actually require a FP+ reservation. Knowing I can book at Toy Story Midway Mania FP+ without having to line up for entry is great.

Daily changes to FP+ on the day of are easy and the app has received many updates to improve the process of making changes. One day I had our friends make FP+ changes for us, thinking we'd go with them. Well, we didn't. But thankfully no one goes to Animal Kingdom, so FP+ reservations for Everest, Kilimanjaro Safaris, and Dinosaur (for me, Nemo for my parents) were made as we were on transit to the park.

Another benefit of FP+ is the removal of the now superfluous FP machines, queues, and paraphernalia. While this is a breath of fresh air at locations where retrofits took place, it's awkward to walk into Mission:Space (a location designed for FP and for a single riders line, and no green team) and see empty space used. Or Toy Story Midway Mania. Or those additions made to Rock'N'Rollercoaster and Tower of Terror. It seems like a decade of queue design was just haphazardly discarded by the MM+/FP+ ops team.

The only issues we had with the physical bands were the first entry into Epcot for my parents. They bought APs last October, and this is the first time they've used their new bands. There was a small hiccup, but once that was ironed out there were no further issues. Granted, the only things we used the band for was FP+ and park entry. We DID NOT use the bands for purchases or any other functions. One of Disney's hopes for this project was to 'lock in' guests

Lets talk about the physical bands. When I received the bands in May, it was my first time seeing one in person. I was pleasantly surprised by the lightness of the band and the nice textured grippy plastic. The unit felt well made with good materials. It probably says more about my dexterity than a design choice, but it was a pain trying to attach the band. Maybe in future version (or an upscale band) a clasp or buckle like device could be used instead of the holes and pegs.

For the past decade of "Next Generation Fastpass" rumors and speculation, it's clear that all the wagons hitched to this horse didn't make the trip. What turned from reserving FP at home turned into a alternate park/room entry system, overhaul to all of the online web properties, tying all reservation systems together, infrastructure improvements across the whole resort, and guest identification/tracking system for over a billion dollars. After outcries from fans and Congress, the guest tracking system has been either removed completely, or has been turned into a quiet, non-guest facing system to deploy CMs.

Tying reservations systems together and improving infrastructure at the resorts is great, but should it have been attached to this project? When the parks and resorts see a blank check for MM+/FP+, it seems everyone wanted in on it somehow. And the perceived success of the initiative will always be tied to the amount spent on it, the attractions not built, and the things done by Universal and Sea World down I4.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

3.2 - Anglophilia

Blubrry player!
Subscribe to our RSS
Direct Download

Joe, Nick, and Sean are joined by MegS from the famous PotterWatch outside of Diagon Alley. We discuss ride evacs, StarTrek, and then Megs' experience with PotterWatch and Diagon Alley

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Monday, July 14, 2014

How Much Could You Buy For A Club 33 Membership?

The new Club 33 exteriors have come out from under the tarps, and many people have expressed outrage, sadness, hope, and confusion over the interesting changes. I'm not a fan of the unveiled changes so far, but I do not have a Club 33 membership, so I've been told I cannot have an opinion on the changes.

So instead, if you do not like the changes made to Club 33 and have a membership, might I suggest some different options for spending your $14,000 a year membership fee? (NOTE: This does not include the cost of food or drinks.)

Things To Buy Instead of a $14,000 Year Membership Fee for Club 33 (California tax applied as applicable)

Delux Disneyland APs

iPad mini (16 gig, no 4G)

Feed families of four, for one year, on a low-cost food plan per USAToday

Toyota Prius Purchase Outright (MSRP, Avg)

Cloth families of four, for one year per HowStuffWorks

Educating One Student in CA, per year, per Governing.Com


Spend your money however it makes you happy, we live in a capitalistic society. But I'd rather have 39 iPad minis. That'd be one awesome video wall.

You have other suggestions for things to buy instead of a year's membership to Club 33? Leave it in the comments!

UPDATE 7/15/2014

A round trip, direct flight from LAX to MSY (actual New Orleans), per at 8:25am 7/15/2014

Saturday, July 12, 2014

3.1 - Alohomora

Blubrry player!
Subscribe to our RSS
Direct Download

Joe and Nick are joined by a late Mike to discuss the opening crowds of Diagon Alley, capacity woes, Frozen characters on sticks, new IP at UOR, replacement for San Fran area at USF, and more.

Email us at parkscopeblog at gmail dot com or follow us at ParkscopeParkscopeJoeCaptMichael87ParkscopeNick, and/or Parkscope_Sean.

Monday, July 7, 2014

100% Totally True Theme Park History with Derek Burgan - The Original Plans for WWoHP Phase 2!

With the opening of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley just moments away, we thought it was time to reveal the original plans for this new Potter-themed area. Yes, these plans even pre-date the ones from December 2011 we saw at Theme Park InsiderAt the time Universal was flush with cash thanks to the success of Hogsmeade village at Islands of Adventure and wanted to strike while the iron was hot. Universal Creative immediately commissioned two proposals for a WWoHP expansion; one from Mark Woodbury, Theiry Coup, and Steven Jayson, and another from a group of individuals who ended up leaving Universal after being summarily dismissed when the pitch was rejected.

Today we are going to look at that second proposal, the one in which Universal turned down.  To be fair, this version would have be completed much faster than Diagon Alley, a full three years earlier. And don’t feel bad for those responsible. They landed on their feet at Walt Disney Imagineering and recently put together the recent Frozen Summer Fun LIVE! at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.


The JK Rowling Royalties Clock will be the first thing Muggles see when they walk into Diagon Alley. It’s a breathtaking reminder of every dollar, cent, quid, pound and galleon that JK Rowling is making off this fantastical land. Every time a Gillywater is drank, an official Harry Potter Quidditch uniform is bought, or a Butterbeer ice-cream is consumed, the Clock keeps ticking as it adds up the fat stacks! Step aside George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and Andrew Jackson, the bills within this clock carry the visage of someone truly important!


JK Rowling demands a level of authenticity that many theme parks simply can not deliver.  Sure, upon first glance Cars Land in Disneyland seems spectacular, but why would automobiles build a restaurant that serves human food? It doesn’t make any sense. The universe that JK Rowling has built for Harry Potter demands accuracy in every sense of the word, and that includes the extremely small retail spaces that one can expect to find in England.

When Universal Studios built Hogsmeade village as part of the original WWoHP, it made Honeydukes, Dervish & Banges, and Filch’s Emporium smaller and more cramped than any retail space in any theme park in North America. It was good, but it wasn’t quite good enough. The level of frustration and lack of personal space still didn’t quite nail the shopping experience that those living in the UK have to deal with on a daily basis. We will solve this problem by making all the stores in Diagon Alley 25% smaller! So suck in that gut and leave the baby strollers outside please. The only things that are large here is the prices!

More Quickly Re-themed Rides!

When the original WWoHP opened in Summer of 2010 it was a blockbuster hit despite having only one new attraction. Crowds have kept up and both merchandise and food sales are through the roof. Guests have spoken and they love old attractions re-themed to Harry Potter! So in the spirit of The Flying Unicorn and Dueling Dragons changing to Flight of the Hippogriff and Dragon Challenge, Universal is proud to present three “new” attractions for the Harry Potter expansion!

SIRIUS BLACK: BOGGART ATTACK - is a spinning, spell-shooting dark ride  that used to be Men In Black: Alien Attack, but you’ll never be able to tell! In this interactive attraction guests will board their vehicle that have been equipped with wands. The vehicles will travel through Black’s family house - 12 Grimmauld Place - which has been bewitched to look like the streets of New York City. The house has been overrun with a bunch of escaped boggarts, who have all taken the appearance of aliens from space. Guests will use their wands to shoot the boggarts in order to get points.

FEAR FACTOR: LIVE FEATURING DEMENTORS - The most extreme audience participation show ever now features Dementors straight from the wizard prison Azkaban! It’s the same show you loved before, with gravity-defying stunts performed in front of thousands, now with soul-sucking fiends keeping watch from the stage!

HAGRID’S FIRST YEAR BOAT RIDES TO HOGWARTS is a thrilling attraction in which guests are “first years” heading to Hogwarts for the first time. Captained by Rubeus Hagrid using state of the art projection technology, the boat will travel across Black Lake in the Hogwarts tradition. However, Black Lake has been mysteriously bewitched to appear like a New England island town by Lucious Malfoy. Along the way “first years” may also find their boat attacked by Victor Krum, apparently still stuck in his animangus form of a shark from the Tri Wizard Tournament! It’s an action packed thrilling adventure as only JK Rowling and Universal Creative can deliver!

BUT THAT’S NOT ALL! Unlike Islands of Adventure, the Wizarding World of Harry  Potter wasn’t originally going to be contained in just one section of Universal Studios Florida. Everywhere guests look they will see Potterized versions their favorite attractions, dining locations, and shows including…

HARRY POTTER CAFÉ - is the restaurant Potter fans have been waiting for! Not only is all the food inside magically themed to the Harry Potter universe (such as Ron Weasley’s pepperoni pizza slices and Dobby presents: Nathan’s famous hot dogs) but there’s even a photo-op outside where guests can have their picture taken with a cardboard cut-out of The Boy Who Lived!

HE WHO SHALL NOT BE NAMED GROUP - is one part science,  one part laughter, one part music, and one part evil looking dudes with no nose! You’ll be amazed the entire time with a huge smile across your face, and not only because you’re under the Imperius curse!

About the authors:

Matt Cleary majored in Photoshop and graduated with honors from South Central Louisiana State University. Cleary attained some fame in the late 70’s while working for Sea World as an engineer. He was the one who finally figured out how to design a tank for Shamu. His solution? "Take a regular tank and make it bigger." That type of out-of-the-box thinking has kept him as a key figure in the theme park industry. His prized possession is a birthday card signed by Walt Disney himself, a card he bought at Theme Park Connection in Winter Garden, FL last October.

Derek Burgan can be seen bothering everyone with his weekly ranting and raving on the Pardon the Pixie Dust Podcast along with various click bait articles on the blog.