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January 17, 2013

Quick Update today.  Local 6's Evan Lambert is at a big announcement. 

I mentioned a few days ago, in some ways this is the year of I-Drive.

Today, developers of I-Drive Live & The nearby Wyndham hotel redevelopment I-Shops revealed more of their plans for their plots of land just south of Sand Lake Dr.

One big headline: construction on The Orlando Eye observation wheel will be the first big part of the project to start vertical construction.  It's base should start rising  in the next week or so.  

While the Orlando Eye won't be ready until Fall of 2014, Developer Chuck Whittall tells Local 6 that he expects the first phase, mainly restaurants and retail could open late this year.

A Madame Tussauds, and Sea Life aquarium are also part of the  20-acre, $250 million redevelopment of  the long-demolished Mercado shopping center.

Opening first -- in just weeks -- Kings Bowl America,  featuring 22 bowling lanes, billiards, bocce, plus a restaurant and lounge.

It is part of the I-Shops project next to I-Drive Live. This sister project is  a $50 million redevelopment of the old Wyndham Hotel site. It will include revamping 600 Guest rooms & has 13 spaces for shops and restaurants. Much of it will be  open by late this year.

Here's a link to a description of all of the projects underway on I-Drive, from the I-Drive District's web site.

We'll keep you posted on these and other developments here on Theme World and on Local 6.


January 15, 2013

Universal is transforming its image.

Think fast:  If you heard this in an ad: "Vacation is a precious thing. This year don't just take time off.  Put time in. Turn spending time with your family into spending time as a family" -- you'd probably think it was probably for one of Disney's Celebrate The Wishes of a Magical Family Dream Come True marketing campaigns. You'd be wrong.

 That  sentiment is the start and heart of Universal's new ad campaign:Vacation Like You Mean It.

Okay -- yes the  new commercial does have one fireball (this IS Universal after all) but overall -- this is the resort clearly taking aim at the Disney crowd and using a page from the Disney playbook.

Watch the TV Version of the commercial and take a look at what you DON'T See.

Not one image -- not one mention of the ultra-testosterone Transformers: The Ride-3D rapidly under construction and opening soon at a studios park near you.

It's Slogan: Prepare for Battle.

That's much more in line with OTHER Universal marketing slogans of the past: like "Experience the Thrill" and  "Shout Louder" -- even  the 2011 ad campaign: "I'm here because..."

That ad is full of "I" and "Me" and "THRILL" -- not "let's hold hands and spend time together with the kids." Universal is clearly repositioning itself for a reason.
See more at Universal's "Vacation Like You Mean it" web page.


January 14, 2013

Rumors, Rumors, Rumors....

Happy Monday --

Internet-loving Theme park fans are famous for spreading rumors. But there are several types of rumors. Let's look at some of them out there in the blogosphere/interweb:

Star Wars Land / Star Wars Minipark

Since Disney announced it was buying LucasFilm, and since CEO Robert Iger announced they were looking at exploiting the Star Wars properties in all of the companies divisions, fanboys & girls have been frothing at the bit of this idea: a Star Wars miniland at Disney's Hollywood Studios or at Disney's Animal Kingdom (replacing the generally-fan-hated AvatarLand). 

From what I hear, at this point at least, nothing Star Wars is coming to the US Disney parks for the foreseeable future. Doesn't mean it won't. Doesn't mean it wouldn't be popular. But this rumor is more hope and dream that reality at this point. Disneyland Paris looks like it might be the first place for an expanded Star Wars presence. The insightful DisneyandMore blog has long touted a plan to redo a corner of the Paris version of Tomorrowland (Discoveryland) with a Star Wars theme.

 Ok. This one should be a no-brainer. It was announced by Disney -- and was reiterated recently by Disney Big Wigs as being on the way.  Sources I trust, and some of the more reliable internet posters seem to back up, that this project remains very troubled. From what I glean, most of the powers-that-be recognize Animal Kingdom needs SOMETHING. But this project, from cost to design to attraction make-up has produced only one extremely vague concept model picture after years of work. That's not a promising sign, especially because the picture released (of James Cameron looking at said model) is said to be months old.