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April 16, 2013

Openings & Celebrations
It's a time of openings & celebrations around Theme World -- as several major projects get ready for guests.

Up first -- KINGS Bowl Orlando -- the first piece of the I-Drive Live development on the site of the long bulldozed Mercado shopping center near Ripley's Believe it or Not.
KINGS celebrated its opening night last night -- and from this ad - -you can see what they are aiming for.

kingsopening


Like Universal's Cabana Bay Resort -- KINGS is trying to make late 50s-60s design retro-hip. And Like Cabana Bay -- a big draw is bowling. 22 Lanes of it. Unlike the similarSplitsville at Downtown Disney -- KINGS is promising specials and bowling leagues aimed squarely at bringing locals in -- and bringing them back.

kings1


Both upscale bowling places are touting chef-created cuisine. KINGS is also offering Bocce ball & shuffleboard. Many tables also feature  sure-to-be-popular beer on tap right at your seat - no server needed for a refill. And the little ones even have a mascot to meet: Woody.

woody

KINGS is closed today for a charity event benefiting the Orlando Ballet. Tomorrow -- the place hosts a VIP event. But Thursday -- it is back open to the general public. This is a soft-opening -- so hours may change a bit until the Grand Opening April 25th. From then on hours are expected to be 11 a.m.- 2 a.m.
Check the KINGS Bowl website  for hours  and more info.

Over at Universal -- I hear testing is well underway inside the new Transformers: The Ride-3D.Though Universal has yet to announce a grand opening date. Insiders say we should expect soft openings to guests in the next few weeks.

transformers1

At SeaWorld -- an even bigger attraction is on the way - at least size-wise. We've been following the progress of Antarctica: Empire of the Penguins since it was announced. This shot from Sky 6 shows just how the new land is changing the whole look and feel of the heart of the park.
 
antarctica april4

While there are still a few construction workers on the pathways -- it seems the ground-breaking new ride and land is well on its way to the announced May 24 opening.


antarctica april1


You can still see a couple of cranes in the area -- but they are disappearing fast as the elaborate rockwork wraps up.

antarctica april2


In the shot below -- you can see construction crews have even added "ice" to the pavement of the land. The blue "ice" you see in the right side of the picture is supposed to have a dazzling lighting effect.

antarctica april3

We look forward to bringing you more from Antarctica soon.

At Epcot -- work is winding up on a small -- but tasty addition. Remember the old  pastry shop in France that closed a few months ago for a much larger space?
 We now know it will be called 'L'Artisan des Glaces'  -- and ice cream and sorbet shop opening in mid-June. It is expected to offer 16 homemade flavors, and for you "drink around the world" fans -- some will be served in a martini glass with a shot of liquor.


old pastry

Finally -- we take you to Animal Kingdom -- where the park is gearing up for its 15th Birthday next week.



ak15logo

Disney is promising "Party for the Planet" festivities on the anniversary, April 22, which is, appropriately, also Earth Day.
A ceremony will he held at the Tree of Life at 8:40 a.m. -- but there will also be special interactive animal encounters -- and artists with hand-made crafts all day long.
And of course -- expect merchandise!

Tree-of-Life construction

One curious omission -- the man who dreamed up Animal Kingdom -- and has been its lead creative force since the beginning: Joe Rohde.

Joe_Rohde

Rohde was originally announced to be attending - but has dropped out -- leading to lots of speculation about his future at Walt Disney Imagineering. You'll recall legendary Imaginner Tony Baxter was recently shown the door -- and last week Disney let go 9 of their most senior animators.

Still -- in honor of Rohde and his team, here is a picture of the park's  145-foot-tall icon "The Tree of Life" under construction.

Tree-of-Life construction

Coincidentally -- Disney just posted a Youtube video showing timelapse video of the Tree being built.




Let's hope Disney can make sure the tree stands for many more decades (and that they can reopen pathways that were closed -- as well as the ugly netting added after a small branch fell from the tree) -- and in honor of the 15th -- it would be nice if we hear more about Avatarland -- and whether or not it really is coming. I still hear it is having problems getting off the ground, and if it is built will be much smaller than originally envisioned.  We'll see.

That's it for today -- feel free to keep emailing me your questions, tips and feedback! I always appreciate hearing from you.

And here's a link to other recent Theme World blog entries.