Thursday, July 31, 2014

3.4- Teranadan

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

2.24 - Indescribable

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Joe, Nick, and Sean talk Frozen events, Diagon Alley media week, Harry Potter and the Making of Diagon Alley, CityWalk fun, Kongstruction, UOR Hotel Updates, WonderSea/Volcano Bay, 3rd parks, we're in the Unofficial Guide!, your question, and PARKSCOPE THE WEEKEND.

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

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Volcano Bay: UOR's New Waterpark?

Well, I seriously can't get a break from all these new things popping up for Universal Orlando Resort, can I? Today it comes from the trademark registry database, and a new trademark filed by Universal for "Volcano Bay" in the area of water parks. The most recent and strong rumors surrounding the new Universal Orlando Resort water park, said to go in the area south of Cabana Bay Beach resort, is that it will be built around a massive 200ft erupting volcano. This trademark seems to back those rumors up. This is a recent filing, only going through on June 26th of this year. With construction rumored to begin soon, hopefully we'll get a definitive answer on this soon, along with Hotel 5. As always, stay tuned to us here and on Twitter for more updates.
UPDATE: Teebin on Orlando United is saying Volcano Bay may simply be a name for one of the lands or areas inside the water park, so the original rumored name of Wondersea Island may still be in play. I could see Volcano Bay being the name of the wave pool and surrounding slides. Either way, it seems to confirm that there will be a volcano included in the park as rumored.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

UOR Permit Update: Kong Foundation/Structure

We've been busy around here with the permits, haven't we? Well, as you can see below, Universal has filed for the foundation and structural steel for Project 340. Project 340, as we all know, is widely believed to be a new King Kong attraction for Islands of Adventure. As always, stay tuned to Parkscope for more updates.