Construction is going strong since the November groundbreaking and LEGOLAND Hotel recently reached its “topping off” milestone as the concrete was poured onto the roof.
Emmet, from “The LEGO Movie,” dusted off his construction hat to help with the placing of the Merlin flag. Merlin Entertainments, the parent company of LEGOLAND Parks, is the number one attraction operator in Europe and the second largest in the world with more than 100 attractions in 22 countries and across four continents.
Located at the main entrance of LEGOLAND Florida, the Hotel includes a pool, restaurants including a kid-size buffet, interactive play areas and is truly designed to inspire imaginations and create memories for all visitors. Hotel guests will have early access to the Park and be treated to nightly entertainment.
Families can choose from one of three popular LEGO toy lines as their room theme: Pirate, Kingdom or Adventure.
All rooms include two separate sleeping areas, with a queen-size bed for grown-ups, and a separate sleeping area for up to three little ones, complete with a bunk bed, pull-out trundle bed and their very own TV! An exciting new room theme will be announced at a later date. Room rates start as low as $249, varying by season. For the most updated information, visit Florida.LEGOLAND.com.
About LEGOLAND® Florida Resort:
LEGOLAND® Florida Resort is a 150-acre interactive theme park with more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, a Water Park and The LEGO® World of Chima presented by Cartoon Network all geared to families with children ages 2 to 12. Recently announced, The LEGOLAND Hotel will open in 2015 featuring 152 highly themed rooms and suites, LEGO décor, interactive play areas, a pool and a restaurant. There are currently five other LEGOLAND Parks in the world – LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad, LEGOLAND Billund in Denmark, LEGOLAND Deutschland near Günzburg, Germany and LEGOLAND Windsor outside of London and LEGOLAND Malaysia —the sixth LEGOLAND Park and first in Asia. The LEGOLAND theme parks are a part of Merlin Entertainments Group, the second largest attractions operator in the world. For the most current information, log on to www.LEGOLAND.com.
About Merlin Entertainments:
MERLIN ENTERTAINMENTS plc is the leading name in location-based, family entertainment. Europe’s number one and the world’s second-largest visitor attraction operator, Merlin now operates 104 attractions, 10 hotels/3 holiday villages in 22 countries and across 4 continents. The company aims to deliver memorable and rewarding experiences to its almost 60 million visitors worldwide, through its iconic global and local brands, and the commitment and passion of its managers and more than 20,000 employees.
Merlin has twenty three attractions and one hotel in North America – including two stunning LEGOLAND Resorts – LEGOLAND Florida with its theme park, water park, and LEGOLAND California theme park with water park, SEA LIFE Aquarium and themed hotel; Madame Tussauds celebrity wax attractions in New York City, Washington D.C., Las Vegas; Hollywood; and San Francisco; LEGOLAND Discovery Centers in Chicago, Dallas/Fort Worth, Kansas City Missouri, Atlanta, Boston; Westchester and Toronto, Canada; a Dungeon in San Francisco; and SEA LIFE Aquariums in Phoenix, Arizona; Kansas City, Missouri; Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, the Mall of America in Minneapolis and Charlotte underlining the company’s position as the world’s biggest global aquarium operator. Visit www.merlinentertainments.biz for more information.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is the perfect place to visit with the start of the new school year just around the corner and many summer camps ending, as parents are looking for fun but educational experiences to round out summer vacation.
Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers an interactive learning experience that kids will love. From the earliest days of America’s storied space program, Kennedy Space Center has captured the world’s imagination as the epicenter of mankind’s greatest adventure. Today, at the Visitor Complex, kids can learn about the past, present and future of the space program and the role that STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) subjects play.
Here are the top 5 fun learning activities/attractions at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex:
Guests experience the inspiring accomplishments of the U.S. space shuttle program at the unique $100 million, 90,000-square-foot Space Shuttle AtlantisSMattraction (see image below), where visitors get nose to nose with a real spaceflown orbiter. Space Shuttle Atlantis is displayed as if floating in space – the only space shuttle orbiter in the world exhibited this way. Guests also can train on various realistic simulators: take a simulated spacewalk, land the space shuttle on the shuttle landing facility, operate the robotic Canadarm or dock with the International Space Station. Shuttle Launch Experience, part of Space Shuttle Atlantis, is an incredible journey of vertically launching into space and orbiting Earth aboard the space shuttle. Guests also strap in for an all-too-real simulation, which immerses visitors in the sights, sounds and feelings of a space shuttle launch, including simulated weightlessness.
The new Great Balls of Fire interactive exhibit opened this month and allows guests to discover the risks that asteroids, comets and meteorites present to our planet. The exhibit explores how we keep track of near-Earth objects while examining the effects of possible impacts. Within the Great Balls of Fire exhibit is Asteroid Encounter, where guests can climb aboard a “spaceship” and blast off to the asteroid belt and Jupiter while compiling data about asteroids and comets. Guests also can explore what would happen if one of these celestial bodies were to hit their hometown, determine Science Fact or Science Fictionof Hollywood movie clips and much more.
KSC Up-Close Explore Tour gives an insider’s view of the U.S. Space Program, from the launch sites of today at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to the past and future of space exploration at Kennedy Space Center. The KSC Up-Close Explore Tour includes up-close views of the massive, 525-foot-high Vehicle Assembly Building (VAB) (one of the largest structures in the world) and the Shuttle Landing Facility. The tour stops in between the Kennedy Space Center launch pads for a close-up photo opportunity, in front of the VAB, and on the NASA Causeway where guests are surrounded by a panoramic view of launch pads at Cape Canaveral that are currently accommodating rocket launches by NASA, SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance.
The Apollo/Saturn V Center features dramatic multimedia shows and numerous hands-on displays that provide visitors with an inspirational and exhilarating look into America’s bold quest for the moon. Guests relive the historic launch of Apollo 8 at the Firing Room Theater, then marvel at a monstrous 363-foot long Saturn V moon rocket, the most powerful rocket ever built and one of only three Saturn V rockets in existence. The Apollo Treasures Gallery showcases treasures from the Apollo moon missions, including Apollo 14 Commander Alan Shepard’s spacesuit and the Apollo 14 Command Module, Kitty Hawk. July 16 marked the 45th anniversary of the lift off of Apollo 11, which landed the first humans on the moon.
Also new at the Visitor Complex are hands-on, science-based “Activity Adventures.” The activities, each lasting from 90 minutes to two hours, provide guests the opportunity to launch a water rocket (Rockitz), create and then land a rover on “Mars” (Rover Lander Drop) or race a jet car (Super Jet Cars). See image below.
Admission is $50 + tax for adults and $40 + tax for children ages 3-11. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex offers annual passes starting at $75 + tax for adults and $60 + tax for children ages 3-11. Space Shuttle Atlantis, Shuttle Launch Experience, Apollo/Saturn V Center, and Great Balls of Fire are included in daily admission.
A touch of winter is going to be coming to Florida for this runDisney event, as the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend presented by Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals at Walt Disney World next year as the Disney Princess 5K and runDisney Kids races will have a Frozen theme with new medals inspired from the film.
Also returning is the Disney Princess Enchanted 10K to help round out the Disney Glass Slipper Challenge, which involves running the 10K and half marathon on consecutive days for a total of 19.3 miles to earn an additional Disney Glass Slipper Challenge Medal!
The Princess Half Marathon and Tinker Bell Half Marathon hosted at Disneyland in California are women-focused runDisney events and focus on healthy and active lifestyles for women and girls. And participants in both the Tinker Bell and Princess Half Marathons have the opportunity to earn a special Coast-to-Coast Challenge medal.
Keep your eyes open, because we hear there might be a ‘tropical’ challenge that might be announced soon that Olaf would LOVE!!!!
The Princess Half Marathon was my first Half Marathon in 2012, and it is by far my absolute favorite runDisney race!!! I look forward to it every year, because it holds so many special memories and is an amazing display of women and girls excelling in a supportive and positive atmosphere. I love it!
Enjoy Hemingway’s Signature Summer Pre-Fixe Menu in July and August
Savor the flavor of the islands with Hemingway’s summer pre-fixe menu at Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. Designed by Executive Chef Kenneth Juran, the three-course menu is available in July and August and features many of “Papa’s” seasonal favorites including:
Key Lime Caesar Salad
Florida Rock Shrimp Chowder with Zellwood sweet corn
Hemingway’s “Cayo Hueso” Crab Cakes
Duvall Street Shrimp Scampi featuring jumbo tiger shrimp
Cuban Criollo Chicken seasoned with a blend of fresh herbs and spices
Crispy Black Fin Snapper served with a coconut yucca cake
Key Lime Tart or Peanut Butter Bombe for dessert
“Our summer menu serves as a showcase for the high quality, fresh ingredients the season delivers,” Juran says. “Each course was designed to capture the essence of the islands and provide guests with a truly delectable experience.”
Starting at $64 per couple, the three-course #FlavorsOfSummer menu may also be paired with Canvas wines for $89 per couple.
A TripAdvisor® Certificate of Excellence recipient, Hemingway’salso offers menu selections for young diners, as well seasonal vegetarian and gluten-free options including the Long Boat Key salad, vegetable truffle, pasta roulade, and vegan, gluten-free chocolate cake.
Located just minutes from popular Orlando area attractions, the 1,500 acre Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress boasts luxurious amenities surrounded by a tropical oasis that features the resort’s signature, half-acre lagoon pool. Florida resident rates, starting at $129 per night, are available now through Dec. 31, 2014.
About Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress
The award-winning, 1,500 acre Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is located one mile from Walt Disney World® and close to Universal Orlando® and SeaWorld® Orlando with a host of amenities and activities including 45 holes of Jack Nicklaus Signature Design golf and the award-winning Tennis and Racquet Club. Located along the 1,000 feet of white sandy beach of private Lake Windsong, the free-flowing lagoon pool boasts 12 waterfalls, heated and non-heated pools, two whirlpools, new Water Slide Tower Pavilion, new children’s Rock Climbing Stations, new interactive Water Jet Splash Zone, rope bridge, walking paths, and expansive, wrap-around sundecks. New features complement the resort’s favorite activities including; S’mores pit, beach volleyball, tether ball, hammocks, watersports and marked jogging, walking, and biking trails.
Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress is centrally located with convenient access to Orlando International Airport and Interstate 4 off Exit 68 in LakeBuena Vista. The resort’s address is One Grand Cypress Blvd., Orlando, Florida, USA 32836. For more information; call 407.239.1234; visitwww.GrandCypress.Hyatt.com; like Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress on Facebook; and follow on Twitter at @HRGrandCypress.
About Hyatt Regency
The Hyatt Regency brand is an energizing hotel brand that connects travelers to who and what matters most to them. More than 140 conveniently located Hyatt Regency urban and resort locations in over 30 countries around the world serve as the go-to gathering space for every occasion – from efficient business meetings to memorable family vacations. The brand offers a one-stop experience that puts everything guests need right at their fingertips. Hyatt Regency hotels and resorts offer a full range of services and amenities, including notable culinary experiences; technology-enabled ways to collaborate; the space to work, engage or relax; and expert planners who take care of every detail. For more information, visit hyattregency.com or facebook.com/HyattRegency.
Disney Vacation Club will embark on two unique Member Cruise voyages in 2015 as part of Membership Magic: our traditional 4-night Bahamian sailing and our first 7-night Member Cruise to Alaska!
Both voyages will elevate the already spectacular Disney Cruise Line experience with added special entertainment, in-room gifts and more, all created with Members in mind. Here’s a quick look at the two itineraries.
Up first on the calendar is the 7-night Alaskan voyage, sailing aboard the Disney Wonder from May 25-June 1, 2015, out of Vancouver, B.C. Members will enjoy scheduled port days in Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan, an awe-inspiring pass through the Tracy Arm Fjord and two sea days filled with Disney Vacation Club-created entertainment. Both the special entertainment and the in-room gifts for this sailing will draw inspiration from the voyage’s wild and wintery setting, creating a Member Cruise unlike any other.
For Members who prefer sunglasses and sandals to scarves and sweaters, a 4-night Bahamian voyage will sail aboard the Disney Dream from Aug. 24-28, 2015, out of Port Canaveral, Florida. Two scheduled visits to Disney’s private-island paradise, Castaway Cay, will bookend an activity-filled sea day, with Disney Vacation Club-created entertainment celebrating Disney’s storied history and exciting future.
Bookings for both voyages will open on Sunday, June 22, 2014, with Member Services’ operating hours from 8 a.m.-5:30 p.m. EDT specifically for 2015 Member Cruise reservations. As previous Member Cruise voyages have quickly filled to capacity, calling early (at 1-800-800-9800 or 407-566-3800) is highly recommended.
In the meantime, click here* for more information about the voyages, including the associated Points Charts for each sailing.
*Please note in order to view the link, you will need to login to your dvcmember.com account
To celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, I thought it would be fun to share some of our favorite facts, fun times, and pictures from a park we love!
“The World you have entered was created by The Walt Disney Company and is dedicated to Hollywood—not a place on a map, but a state of mind that exists wherever people dream and wonder and imagine, a place where illusion and reality are fused by technological magic. We welcome you to a Hollywood that never was and always will be.” – Michael Eisner May 1, 1989
Disney’s Hollywood Studios Fun Facts!
I found these great facts on some sites that I love! Make sure you visit Studios Central and The Dis for even more facts!
1. The Disney’s Hollywood Studios entrance plaza outside the ticket booths forms a big Hidden Pluto. You can see his face with eyes, nose, and mouth. This is clearly visible on the park map.
2. The opening date for Disney’s Hollywood Studios is on the gas pump (if you get up close and look at the numbers) right when you first enter the park.
3. All the pictures in the Brown Derby that are in BLACK frames are copies of the originals. All The pics in the GOLD frames are the originals from the original Brown Derby…which no longer exists.
4. What is the significance behind the license plate number “021-429” on the car depicted in the gangster shoot-out sequence of “The Great Movie Ride?” It is the date of the Valentine’s Day Massacre—February 14, 1929.
5. Gertie the Dinosaur, on Echo Lake, pays homage to pioneering animator Winsor McCay and his revolutionary 1914 animated cartoon, Gertie the Dinosaur.
6. The Earffel Tower is 130 feet tall with a diameter of 8 ½ feet and translates to a hat size of 342 3/8.
7. In Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream, if you look closely at Walt Disney’s grade-school desk, you can see the initials “W.D.” carved into it.
8. The belt buckle worn by John Wayne in the Western Scene is an actual buckle worn by the Duke in one of his movies.
9. At 40 feet tall, the larger-than-life stratocaster guitar that adorns the entrance of the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster has a 32-foot-long neck which is nearly 15 times the size of the neck on an average stratocaster guitar.
10. The golden idol is an exact replica of the one from “Raiders of the Lost Ark”.
11. You’ll see a long brick wall to your right as you approach the ride from Star Tours. Along the top of the wall are planters with flowers and such in them. If you follow them along to the very end, the last one has an ice cream sundae in it instead of the flowers.
12. It has been estimated that each day at Toy Story Midway Mania! guests may break over one million virtual plates using the spring-action shooters.
13. Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the third theme park opened its doors in April 1989 and cost more than $500 million. It covers 231 acres, 77 acres of which is for parking.
14. Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ first full length film to be produced at the studio was Mulan.
15. When the Tower of Terror was being built, it was struck by lightning.
16. The Sorcerer’s Hat in the center of the park weighs a wopping 150 tons and stands 122-foot-tall.
17. When you’re in line for Indiana Jones, you go past a well, I think to the right of the entrance. If you pull on the rope, you’ll hear someone down in the well.
18. Look for the key under the doormat at Muppets 3D. Just after you go through the turnstile, go to your right and you’ll find a welcome mat. Take a peek underneath it.
19. A replica of the Colony Theater, New York, is at the Studios. The Colony Theater is where Steamboat Willie, Mickey’s first starting roll, debuted
20. It would take 5,026 toy soldiers lined up end-to-end to make up the total track length of Toy Story Midway Mania!
21. In the preshow Muppet 3D room at Hollywood there is a net full of green Jell-O hanging from the ceiling. It signifies Annette Funicello.
22.Imagineers used the blue-prints of the original 1927 Meyer and Holler building for reference, when building the replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theater. The facade is built to full scale. The 22 ft central roof section was constructed seperately and hoisted into place by crane.
23. Imagineers had mahjongg players set up the game in the lobby of the Tower of Terror so guests who know how to play the game can see that it is authentic.
24. In 1995, the Earful Tower had blue goggles in honor of Orlando Magic player Horace Grant. The Magic went on to play in the NBA championships, but they lost the series.
25. The names on the windows on the Streets of America are those of the Walt Disney Imagineering people who designed the park
Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln debuted 50 years ago at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, and Kelly Christine Delaney is back helping us celebrate this iconic attraction’s anniversary.
The 1964 World’s Fair is something I’ve discussed with my dad many times. I have enjoyed all of the stories he has told me of what it was like and he kept repeating “it was nothing I had ever seen before. Great Moments With Mr. Lincoln was definitely something that had never been seen before.
Walt Disney had the idea for a show that would pay tribute to the Presidents of the United States in Disneyland but wasn’t able to due to technology and space. Instead imagineers focused on a show about one of Walt’s heroes, Abraham Lincoln. While this was being worked on, interested parties discussed bringing the show to the World’s Fair. It debuted in the Illinois state pavilion on April 22, 1964 and was duplicated and opened in Disneyland on July 18, 1965.
Since it has opened, there has been some additions to the show and times that Lincoln was taken out completely. The first time I saw the show it included the Walt Disney Story. The pre and post show have since changed and now include history of the Walt Disney company and Disneyland.
Every time I experience the attraction I get goosebumps thinking of the influence Walt had on the attraction. As someone who has spent much more time in the Florida Disney parks, I rarely felt the direct connection to Walt. I really appreciate the amount of history and tradition that is throughout this attraction. I look forward to seeing the evolution of it in the next 50 years.
Have you experienced this attraction in any previous forms or the current form? What are your favorite parts of Great Moments With Mr Lincoln?
Earlier today we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of It’s a Small World, so don’t forget to take a moment to check that out!
Inside of Universal Studios Florida at the Universal Orlando Resort you can find Finnegan’s Bar & Grill which is one of my favorite places to grab a great meal in the parks!
Nestled among the park’s New York streets you will find this fun-filled Irish-American pub and full-service restaurant that specializes in pairing traditional Irish foods with great beers!
The restaurant décor is cozy, and while it is distinctly that of an Irish-American pub there are touches of Universal Studios Florida all around.
Each meal starts off with Irish soda bread with apple butter that is served on a shamrock board for an extra special touch!
While Finnegan’s offers authentic Irish dishes such as Potato and Leek Soup, Bangers and Mash, Shepherd’s Pie, Corned Beef and Cabbage, Guinness Beef Stew, and Fish ‘n Chips. You can also find salads, sandwiches, burgers, fish, steak, and more with an Irish twist.
My favorite meal starts off with the Potato Leek Soup, which is creamy and flavorful.
As a main entre the Shepherd’s Pie is a savory and filling dish which has changed the way that I make my own at home! The cheese on top of the mashed potatoesmixed with the savory meat and the slightly sweet root vegetables pair nicely together.
In the restaurant and pub you can enjoy a wide range of imported and domestic draft beers, bottled beers, cocktails, and specialty drinks.
Finnegan’s has a 5-beer samplers, which includes a souvenir glass, which is a fan favorite.
The pub also frequently features live music so you can sing along to all your favorite pub songs – or learn some new ones.
Finnegan’s Bar & Grill at a Glance…
Service Type: Full Service
Location: Streets of New York in Universal Studios Florida
Dining Hours: Lunch and Dinner daily
Price Range: From $10 to $18
Food: Irish-American dishes with familiar favorites
Every year the Florida Film Festival premieres the best in current independent and foreign cinema. And this year we salute our 23rd anniversary by bringing you more of the best. With over 170 cutting-edge films, 100 visiting filmmakers, plenty of special guests, and non-stop events, this festival will do everything to ensure 10-days of eye opening fun.
For the most access, purchase a Festival Pass. Passes allow you to see films without an advance ticket. Simply arrive at least 15 minutes before the film with your pass to guarantee priority access. There are 3 types of passholders which give you varying amounts of access. Limited quantities are available.
Purchase a Festival Package to select your films before the general public and get discounted tickets. Package holder voucher redemption follows announcement on March 12, and Individual tickets go on sale March 15, 2014. Pick the package that works best for your needs and reserve your seats before the general public.
Individual tickets go on sale March 15, 2014, and can be purchased a la carte in advance or day of show, based on availability. If you’d like to select your tickets before March 15, consider purchasing a festival pass or a package. Individual tickets are $11 for Regular tickets after 5pm and $9 for Matinee tickets 5pm or earlier.
DAY OF SHOW TICKETS
Additional tickets are often available prior to the event based on passholder attendance and advance ticket sales. To gain entry to a “Stand-by” film, arrive at the theater at least 45 minutes prior to show time. Numbers will be handed out and available tickets will be sold, in numerical order, until the event is sold out.
And now, for the exciting conclusion, let’s head back to another sunny and comparatively warm part of the United States during early February: Anaheim, CA…
Welcome back readers! In last week’s post, we covered some exterior and interior details, the backstory, and the Disney magic and drinks you can find inside Trader Sam’s. This week we’ll focus exclusively on some of the hidden gems the Imagineers have placed throughout and explore some of Trader Sam’s connections to Walt Disney World (as well as other Disney Parks) and what may be in store for Orlando when the jungle’s “Head Salesman” expands his operations to the East Coast.
When you enter Sam’s the skippers behind the bar yell “Aloha!” to all who enter that happy place. Find a seat, grab an illustrated menu , then sit back and soak up the sights and sounds of Trader Sam’s.
It’s in the Details
Alternating tropical tunes and antique diddies like you might hear waiting in line for the Jungle Cruise comprise the soundtrack of Trader Sam’s. Patrons inside are constantly ordering one of the handful of drinks which “awaken” the tiki gods and stir up a little chaos. But, amidst all the sights and sounds, be sure to wander around and inspect the ephemera Sam has “collected”, which decorate the walls and ceiling. Including the walls behind the bar!
As we mentioned last week, there’s notes, postcards, photos, artifacts , and more that give a nod –or flat out refer- to different Disney characters, rides, and places, including Disneyland Tokyo and a photo of a familiar sight from Typhoon Lagoon!
I was originally going to list my top ten favorite Trader Sam’s artifacts, but there’s just too many to pick from. Plus, a great deal of fun is exploring the place on your own. So, instead, I’ll let some photos do the “talking.”
I showed the photo of Colonel Critchlow Suchbench last week, but patrons looking up at a crate hanging from the ceiling on the left side of the bar will note some other familiar Adventurer’s Club artifacts.
There’s a letter attached to the crate via wooden arrow. I took a close-up photo with flash so it was legible. Those familiar with the old Adventurer’s Club will find it amusing.
See how many other Adventure’s Club connections you can find throughout Sam’s. I’ve never tried to count them all, but just from the ones I’ve observed, there’s at least 12 or 13 (counting the identifiable objects in the crate separately)
Last week I mentioned TWO hidden Mickey’s inside Trader Sam’s. Well, here’s a photographic hint to one of them, also related to the Adventurer’s Club. Can you identify where this Col. Suchbench Vinylmation is “floating” around?
A lot to see stashed here. That white hat on top of the container of “Gorilla Grog” is probably just meant to be a “period” hat from the early decades of the 1900’s, but given the penchant for Indiana Jones here, I like to think that’s the hat worn by the Man in the Panama Hat in the prologue of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, whose hat we see floating with a hole in it at the end of the prologue.
This screen capture was taken from the Indiana Jones Wiki page.
After visiting more times than I can keep track of, I still notice new things. So, whether you’ve been before or haven’t been yet, there’s always going to be more eye candy for you to enjoy. Let’s hope the same imaginative and thorough approach is taken when Trader Sam’s comes to Orlando.
Trader Sam’s in Orlando
Not long after rumors first circulated about WDW engaging in a notable renovation of the Polynesian Hotel, rumors started to abound in late-2012 & early-2013 that Disney was actively planning to bring Trader Sam’s to Orlando. Not a huge surprise given its success in Anaheim. The joint is regularly packed, sits well with locals AND resort guests, and sells an average of 200 souvenir tiki mugs each weekend (according to one skipper, and that’s JUST the weekend). It was all too natural to pair the impending renovation of the Polynesian with plans to bring Trader Sam’s to Orlando. But, no official announcement was made regarding Sam’s.
However, shortly after Disney “officially” announced the renovation of the Downtown Disney area (soon to be “Disney Springs”) in March 2013, there was some initial confusion about the location of Orlando’s Sam’s. A logo banner with properties designed by one of the Creative contractors working with Disney leaked out with the Trader Sam’s logo. Quickly, rumor spread that WDW’s Trader Sam’s must be going into Disney Springs. But, to date, that does not appear to be the plan. (Apparently, the logo banner only contained projects the Creative firm had worked on previously, one of which was Trader Sam’s.)
Although Disney still has not officially announced any plans for a Trader Sam’s in Orlando, there is strong sentiment among the Disney community on-line that Sam’s will eventually show up at the Polynesian. It could end up in the Great Ceremonial House building, but it’s still anyone’s guess. For more detailed coverage of the Polynesian renovations and “Disney Springs” project, I’ve been following the Atomic Grog here, and Tikiman, who maintains the Unofficial Polynesian Resort pages here.
Given the amount of space to work with at the Polynesian and the general trend to fit the needs for WDW’s larger crowd capacity, it seems likely that any port of Trader Sam’s built in Orlando will reflect a significant increase of patron capacity beyond Trader Sam’s mere “47 occupants” inside the bar itself. And, perhaps, there could be a whole portion of Trader Sam’s with dedicated wait-staff service in addition to the bar we have already come to love. Those who have experienced Sam’s firsthand know that the tight capacity is both a blessing and a curse. It can be hard as heck to find ANYWHERE to sit (or stand) inside the bar on a Friday or Saturday night, or when there’s a big conference in Anaheim. And, the noise amplifies pretty quickly in those close quarters. But, it’s the coziness of the bar and proximity to other celebratory patrons that gives Sam’s part of its character. It creates the sense being in a place where everyone is nobody, but everyone belongs. It’s something that is hard to create in a bigger, open space where groups can keep to themselves.
Over at The Atomic Grog, there’s some pondering over whether the Orlando version of Trader Sam’s might also include some sort of a dinner show, akin to the old Adventurer’s Club or even closer to Walt Disney’s original concept for the Enchanted Tiki Room in Disneyland (which would have been a restaurant with animatronic bird show.) There’s been no indication of any such plan so far, but it sure does excite the mind to imagine the possibilities of what THAT experience could be like!
While planning his Orlando theme park, Walt Disney engaged in a lot of research, including sourcing inspiration for the Polynesian. It’s not inconceivable that Walt might have visited the historic Mai-Kai in Ft. Lauderdale, giving further influence to some of the initial design of the Polynesian (perhaps?) I’ve been to the Mai-Kai and it’s an amazing mid-century style South Seas dinner and show experience not to be missed for anyone visiting Ft. Lauderdale. An Orlando Trader Sam’s that looked and felt like this could be incredible! Here’s a couple of pictures to get your mind spinning.
I’d also like to imagine a dining area or bar that took some inspiration from Don the Beachcomber. There’s only two Don’s left now (Southern California and Kona, HI), but in its mid-century hey-day, Don’s was one of the biggest inspirations for the kind of “wall of artifacts” style of décor employed at Sam’s.
Don the Beachcomber image from the Don the Beachcomber Facebook page.
Hopefully the installation of former Disneyland Resort President George Kalogridis, who oversaw the transformation of Disney California Adventure, will encourage Orlando to create their new Trader Sam’s with the same sensibilities, fun, and tongue-in-cheek references that make Disneyland’s Trader Sam’s such an amazing experience.
What do you all want to see in the Trader Sam’s that’ll hopefully come to Walt Disney World? Tell me in the comments below.
Well, that’ll round out the second half of our visit with Trader Sam’s. Hope you all enjoyed it. Please do leave comments below and let us know what YOU HOPE TRADER SAM’S IN ORLANDO will be like.
As they used to say at another Orlando Disney location that was imbued with fun and “magic”, “If you come in here a stranger, you will exit as a friend.” That, friends, is the Trader Sam’s spirit of “aloha” we hope will find its way to Orlando.
With the start of a new year and with so much going on after the holidays, I thought it would be a great time to restart our Week in Review and play a little catch up on this week’s highlights and news from the Orlando and Central Florida Attractions and Venues!
Week in Review – December 30, 2013 to January 3, 2014
Walt Disney World Resort
The Disney Parks Blog announced a new contest where you can win a 5-day/4-night vacation for four to either the Walt Disney World Resort or Disneyland Resort.
We’ve just launched disney.com/resolutions where Disney celebrities are sharing how they plan to resolve to spend more time with family in 2014. A new video will be uploaded everyday in January.
On disney.com/resolutions, we are also awarding a vacation-a-day from December 31, 2013 through January 31, 2014! So enter every day for your chance to win because this is the year to spend more quality time with the people you love most. Good luck!
NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Void where prohibited. Open only to individuals, who are, as of Entry, legal residents of, and physically located within, the 50 U.S., D.C., Puerto Rico or Canada (excluding Quebec) and who are not Minors. Sweepstakes starts 12:01 AM (EST) on 12/31/13 and ends 11:59:59 PM (EST) on 1/31/14. Click here for Official Rules.
With Walt Disney World Marathon weekend right around the corner, runDisney was everywhere when they released details about the Limited Edition runDisney 2014 New Balance shoes!
I don’t know about you, but I am so excited for everything that is coming to the Universal Orlando Resort!!!
January is Passholder appreciation month at SeaWorld Orlando, and they are offering some great deals!
Bring a friend for FREE! SeaWorld® Orlando Pass Members receive a friend for free ticket*. Online registration is required. Valid for one single-day admission by January 31, 2014. Register Now.
Double Your Discount**
Save 20% on dining in all of our cafeteria-style restaurants
Save 20% on merchandise in our gift shops
*Pass Member must be present for guest to gain admittance. Free ticket offer valid for active SeaWorld Orlando 1-Year, 2-Year and FL Platinum Pass Members. Not valid for Fun Cards, Teacher’s Study Passes or Friends & Family Passes. Free ticket is non-transferable, not for resale and may be revoked for misuse.
**Offer only valid between Jan. 1-31, 2014. Must present active SeaWorld Orlando 1-Year, 2-Year, or FL Platinum Pass to receive savings. Not valid with any other discounts or offers. Not valid on All-Day Dining offers. Merchandise offer valid for in-park purchases only.
The Circus is coming to town!
Ringling Bros. Barnum and Bailey Circus LEGENDS is coming to the Amway Center January 9-12, but Monday the circus train rolls into Orlando. Fantastic photo opportunities will be available as the Ringling Bros. pachyderm performers parade to the Amway Center.
The Ringling Bros.animal performers will unload at 8:00 p.m. and walk beginning at 8:30 p.m. Animals will unload at railroad tracks near 1035 W. Amelia, then travel east on Amelia, south on North Hughey Ave., then west on West South St. and enter the GEICO Garage behind Amway Center. (Note: route and time are subject to change without notice.)
Tickets are still available and start at $16. Ticketmaster service charges and facility fees not included. All seats are reserved. Tickets are available atwww.ringling.com or www.ticketmaster.com, at any Ticketmaster outlet, by calling 800-745-3000, or at the Amway Center box office (phone:407-440-7900). For group ticket sales and information, call 866-248-8740.
If your house is anything like mine, you have watched the trailer for ‘The LEGO Movie’ four times daily and I was excited to see that they are going to be having a weekend of activities in February!
February 8 & 9, 2014 Enjoy fun for all with activities to celebrate “The LEGO Movie”, the first-ever, full-length theatrical LEGO adventure featuring an all-star cast and set to open in theaters February 7. Guests will enjoy a special movie-themed building activity, movie-themed scavenger hunt in Miniland USA and meet and greet sessions with costume characters Emmet and Wyldstyle, who play leading roles in this epic movie.
Busch Gardens Tampa
January is also Passholder appreciation month at Busch Gardens Tampa!
Double the Fun – Bring a Friend for FREE
During January, Pass Members can bring a friend for free! Online registration required. Limit one free ticket per active Pass Member. Offer valid between January 1-31, 2014. Other Restrictions Apply. Log in now to register your friend’s ticket and learn more about this limited time offer.
Triple the Savings – 30% off merchandise, food, and beverages
All month long, Pass Members get 30% off merchandise, food and beverages when you visit the park! Offer valid between January 1-31, 2014. Other Restrictions Apply.
Kennedy Space Center Visitors Complex
A Falcon 9 rocket is targeted to lift-off during a dramatic SpaceX launch scheduled for January 3, launch time is subject to change but the launch window of 5:05 p.m. to 7:17 p.m. EST. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex guests may view the launch from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, the closest possible public viewing area, or special areas at the Visitor Complex.
Launch viewing from the Apollo/Saturn V Center, located in Kennedy Space Center, includes live mission control commentary and is available for Visitor Complex guests for $20 plus the cost of admission. Admission to the Visitor Complex is $50 plus tax for adults and $40 plus tax for children 3-11. Bus boarding for the Apollo/Saturn V Center begins at 3:15 p.m.
Launch viewing, featuring live mission control commentary, also is available from Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex and is included in regular admission.