Yes! BB-8 Will Make His Character Greating Debut This Spring

Hey Thrill Seekers,

The second most popular droid in the entire Galaxy (far, far away) will be making his debut this Spring at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. BB-8 the standout Droid  from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, begins character greetings at the park’s  Star Wars Launch Bay.

Visitors are already able to meet Star War’s characters like Kylo Ren and Chewbacca and the rolling droid will be a welcomed addition. Star Wars Launch Bay not only offers character greetings but also offers guests the chance to explore galleries full of treasured memorabilia and authentic replicas of large-scale Star Wars artifacts, including some from the latest film in the franchise, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Here’s what Disney say about Star Wars Launch Bay;

Star Wars Launch Bay is just one experience that has debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to the delight of Star Wars fans over the past two years: “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” daytime show features characters from around the Star Wars galaxy; while the guest-favorite “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” nighttime spectacular lights up the park each night. Guests age 4-12 can also become Jedi recruits and put their skills to the test in an unforgettable battle against villains like Darth Vader or the Seventh Sister Inquisitor. And just a few months ago, the park’s Star Tours – The Adventures Continue attraction began offering guests randomized destinations, making different planetary destinations possible for every galactic journey.

The addition of additional Star Wars IP to the Disney parks is just another step to cementing their position as market leader in Florida. My kids would lose their minds if they got to meet BB-8… and probably me too!

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Interview With Philip Britton From Kennedy Space Center

Hey Thrill Seekers,

It’s Interview Tuesday  (still not a thing) and today we’ve got a good one with Phil from Kennedy Space Center. If you met Phil you’d like him, he’s one of those guys. A top bloke and what he doesn’t know about Kennedy isn’t worth knowing.

Lets get to know him;

Name: Philip Britton
Company: Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex
Position: UK Account Manager

GETTING TO KNOW YOU

If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get? Walkers Salt & Vinegar……….simply the best there is!

If you were an animal, what would you be and why? Elephant…..Gentle, caring, intelligent and loves roaming around, playing and a good swim!

If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction? Part 1 would be an action film (aged 1 – 25), part 2 a drama (26 – 50), and then in part 3 (51-nutil the end!) life becomes a comedy!

Complete the sentence; I was once mistaken for . . . Gary Lineker

If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be? Glenn Hoddle followed by Kylie Minogue and then an Astronaut!

WORK

What was the highlight of 2016 for your company?: KSC had a great year in the UK as interest in Space Travel really hit the headlines. Tim Peake’s Mission to the International Space station was fantastic and we look forward to his return. Watching the new private space companies re land a rocket back on the launch pad at Kennedy after it had released its payload was an amazing feat of engineering. KSC itself opened Heroes & Legends, a new walk through interactive attraction that combines the Astronaut Hall of Fame and is simply stunning.

What can we expect from your company in 2017?: More Space related News and Press to Flow from Florida. 2017 will see NASA move closer to launching the first test flight of the rocket which will hopefully one day be able to take a man to Mars, called the SLS (Space Launch System) it will be the most powerful rocket ever built and hopefully will fly in 2018. There is still a long way to go then, the technology required is hugely advanced and there will be many tests before we finally reach the red planet in many, many years’ time!. Meanwhile at the visitor complex the exhibitions will evolve, the world’s only back to back IMAX screens will keep showing wonderful space films, one is entitled “A Beautiful Planet” and shows us hundreds of spectacular images of Earth taken from the International Space Station…… Simply amazing!

Make a 2017 prediction…:  2017 will be a challenging year but Florida will not shut down because of Brexit, the exchange rate or politics. As a nation, we continue to regard Florida as a great destination and the weather, the parks and the thrill of it all will keep drawing us back. Kennedy is just an hour’s drive from Orlando, it’s a fantastic day out, standing underneath the Saturn V rocket, one of which took Man to the moon or gazing in awe at Space Shuttle Atlantis which made 33 missions into space are memories that will never be forgotten. 2016 was a record year for Brits at the Visitor Complex and we hope the our fascination with Space will draw even more of us this year. Maybe a future British Astronaut will pass through the gates!, KSC is where many dreams are made…..

Best Theme Park ride/attraction of 2017?: At KSC we have an experience called the “Space Shuttle Launch Experience”. Designed by NASA astronauts it gives the feeling of a real Space Shuttle launch, strap in for the sights, sounds and excitement of what it was really like to reach 17,000mph and head towards Space. It’s an adrenaline filled rush that should not be missed!.

Best Theme Park/attraction food of 2016?: Space Ice Cream!….. NASA has designed hundreds of different foods to give the astronauts the opportunity to experience the types of food we have here on earth. Space food is very different, but one is very popular, Space Ice Cream and sells by the scoop load in the Space Shop at KSC……! Try it, it melts in the mouth!

Best Theme Park/attraction tip?: Any visit to Kennedy isn’t complete without taking the “Lunch with an Astronaut” optional upgrade. Where else can you actually sit down and dine and hear space stories from a former NASA astronaut?, It’s a superb addition to any visit, includes a picture with the astronaut of the day and a 3 course buffet lunch, an experience not to be forgotten!

Best kept secret in Florida?: There continues to be many rocket launches each year from KSC, satellites and payloads to the International Space Station are always being sent up!. Why not check out the launch time table on the Kennedy Space Center website and see if your visit to Florida co-indices with a launch. They are spectacular events and can be seen from many miles away or up close (Well a few miles back!) at KSC!

Thanks Phil for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat to us. Remember Kennedy Space Center Admission tickets adult prices are currently on offer at the same price as child tickets, so take advantage while you can.

You can read other interviews in the series here;

Eat & Play Card

Fun Spot

Kids Eat Free Card

Gatorland

WonderWorks

Smiles included…

Jamie

 

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New Skyway Gondola Transportation System at Disney Rumoured.

Hey Thrill Seekers,

There is currently a rumour ‘floating’ around about a new, wacky transportation system between Disney’s Epcot and Hollywood Studios parks that’s all well and good if you aren’t afraid of heights ;-)..

According to permits filed by Walt Disney World it appears that a ‘Skyway-type Gondola system’ might be put in to place to transport guests between Epcot, Hollywood Studios and some resort hotels. Looking at the permits, the cable car type carriages will stop at Epcot’s International Gateway, Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, shared station at Pop Century and Art of Animation Resorts as well as Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

There was once a Skyway attraction that operated at Magic Kingdom between the years of 1971 – 1999 that took guests between tomorrow land and fantasy land. The new system would probably be a lot bigger and it would be lovely to have a Skyway back at Walt Disney World working as a real transportation system and not an attraction.

It is well known that Disney aren’t going to be building a monorail expansion any time soon due to cost and efficiency issues but personally I would think that this system would be even more expensive don’t you?

Personally, I love this idea and think it would add to the whole Disney experience as well as being a mega cool way to get between the two parks / hotels and just imagine the views!!

What do you think of this rumour?

Smiles Included,

Jess

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Disney’s Retired Attractions

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Theme parks are constantly making improvements to their parks. Attractions are always coming and going; some we’re happy about and some we’re not. I’m going to take a look into some of the iconic Disney attractions that have been retired.

Disney’s Magic Kingdom is a great starting point with Extra TERRORestrial Alien Encounter which was a brilliant attraction that was replaced in 2003 with Stitch’s Great Escape! Rumour has it that even Stitch will be leaving us soon as the park has already scheduled Stitch’s Great Escape for seasonal closures! 🙁

Mr Toad’s Wild Ride is talked about on so many Disney forums so I can only imagine how amazing it was. Originally due to be a roller coaster, it ended up being a dark ride with the left and right tracks being 2 completely different experiences! Unfortunately, I’m too young to have seen this as it closed in 1998 to be replaced by The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.

Snow White’s Scary Adventures opened way back in 1971 but was deemed a little too scary for some guests so closed for a refurbishment in 1994 before opening back up to the public until 2012. Princess Fairy-tale Hall is now in it’s place.

Let’s pop over to Disney’s Epcot and see what’s been changing here over the years shall we? One of my all time favourites that I remember from the first time I ever visited Orlando, Honey! I Shrunk The Audience! I’m not usually a fan of 4D attractions but how can you not love this?! I was gutted when this got taken away but it was temporarily replaced with Captain EO Tribute in 2010.

Maelstrom was an indoor log flume ride which would have it’s twists and turns before moving you backwards. Sadly, this ride closed in 2014 although I was so happy to finally see a Frozen ride, Frozen Ever After!

Horizons was a dark ride taking you through the ideas that could be used in the future to make the world even greater! Horizons was then replaced by Mission: SPACE, a motion simulator ride in 1994.

Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Journey into the Jungle Book was a theatrical show filled with animals as well as costumed-humans which closed in 1999 and was replaced later on by Tarzan Rocks.

Tarzan Rocks was another theatrical show lasting about 30 minutes (perfect for the AC) which closed in 2006 before being replaced with Finding Nemo – The Musical.

Pocahontas and her Forest Friends opened with the park in 1998 and had an array of live animals as well as the lead character from the movie. The theatre seated 350 guests at a time but ended for good in 2008! Nothing major has replaced this show yet even today, but you can still have a meet and greet with Pocahontas herself!

Next stop, Disney’s Hollywood Studios where it used to be best known as the home to Mickey’s Sorcerer’s Hat which was inspired by the apprentice segment in Fantasia! Since 2015, his hat can no longer be found at Hollywood Studios, but instead, a view of The Great Movie Ride.

Journey into Narnia: Prince Caspian was a walk-through attraction, testing your knowledge on the movie and even includes a character meet and greet! This closed in 2011 being replaced with The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow before becoming Toy Story Land. Toy Story Land is currently under construction to become even larger in the near future.

Isn’t it amazing how much Walt Disney World has changed throughout the years?! Can you think of any other Disney attractions that we can no longer visit?

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Universal’s Volcano Bay Construction Photo’s

Hey Thrill Seekers,

To say we’re a little bit excited for the opening of Universal’s Volcano Bay is an understatement. Every little bit of information that appears we’re eagerly devouring, so we were delighted to get our grubby little mitts on these construction pics.

WOW!!!!!

Set to open on the 25th May 2017 you can see that the majority of the rides have already been installed and if you look closely you can see where the paths will be. Oh and of course, look how amazing the Volcano looks!!!

So with 3 months left until opening date do you think they’ll do it? Personally I think we could see a soft launch even before the official 25th opening day.

Credit: Chris Johnson (thanks very much to Cheri Lord as well)

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Disney Announce New Nighttime Spectacular Show ‘Happily Ever After’

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Another announcement! We just can’t get enough 😛

A new nighttime spectacular at Disney’s Magic Kingdom called Happily Ever After will debut on the 12th May replacing the long-running Wishes Nighttime Spectacular. Disney have said that it’s going to include a mixture of Disney storytelling, beloved Disney characters, fireworks and loads more!

“Gather ‘round Cinderella Castle for an awe-inspiring show that’s sure to surprise and delight.”

It appears that it’s going to focus on some of the magnificent adventures that different Disney characters have undertaken to achieve their dreams. Fireworks, pyrotechnics, original animation and a ‘heart tugging’ story line – what more can you ask for?

Happily Ever After is going to start with a dream and will continue to take you on a incredible journey that will capture all of the humour and heart of loads of Disney’s animated films including:

  • Aladdin
  • Big Hero Six
  • Brave
  • Frozen
  • The Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • The Incredibles
  • The Lion King
  • The Little Mermaid
  • Moana
  • Mulan
  • Tarzan
  • The Princess and the Frog
  • Toy Story
  • Up
  • WALL-E
  • Wreck-It Ralph
  • Zootopia

The show is set to be 18 minutes of lights, laser, projections and fireworks so don’t forget to gather round Cinderellas Castle if you are visiting Magic Kingdom from the 12th May onward.

“It all comes together in a dazzling way—for a fantastical finale to your day at Magic Kingdom park.”

Know Before You Go

  • Don’t forget to check the Times Guide at Magic Kingdom park for schedule and showtimes.
  • It is an outdoor show and subject to cancellation due to inclement weather.
  • Showtimes are subject to change.

So what do you think of the new nighttime show at Magic Kingdom? I for one cannot wait and I LOOOOOOVE the title.

They all lived happily ever after..

Smiles Included…

Jess

 

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Interview With Sandy Sweatt From Gatorland

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Its interview Tuesday (still not a thing) and today’s interview happens to coincide with our fabulous February offering! Sandy represents Gatorland who for the whole of this month is part of our added value program.

Lets get to know Sandy a little better…

Name: Sandy Sweatt
Company: Gatorland
Position: Senior Sales Manager

GETTING TO KNOW YOU
If you could have an endless supply of any food, what would you get? Pasta, Pasta, Pasta!
If you were an animal, what would you be and why? A Gator of course … so I can just watch people all day long and not have to say a word! If they make me mad, I would snap at them!
If someone made a movie of your life would it be a drama, a comedy, a romantic-comedy, action film, or science fiction? A comedy, I am a native Floridian, but hate to be hot, my degree is in Fashion Merchandising and I promote a 110-acre park with lots of Alligators!
If you had your own talk show, who would your first three guests be? My Grandfather – to share past family history with me! Jackie Kennedy Onassis – would really like to meet her! Julia Roberts —- Love her!

WORK
What was the highlight of 2016 for your company?: Gatorland has so much to brag about. We have the most incredible team that is so dedicated to making Gatorland the best it can be for our guests! Our entertainment and animal care departments love what they do and the animals they care for and work with daily. They ensure our guests visit to Gatorland is filled with Fun, Smiles and Special Memories!
What can we expect from your company in 2017?: Gatorland will be 68 years old and we will continue to entertain guest for all over the world with our amazing animal show and exhibits! Look for a “New” Attraction at Gatorland in Fall 2016!
Make a 2017 prediction…: I really cannot predict what will happen in 2017. But, I do believe Orlando will continue to be the top tourist destination and Gatorland will continue to be that special place to visit, to see and touch those amazing gators that they cannot see everywhere! Orlando has a lot of amazing attractions small and large!
Best Theme Park ride/attraction of 2016?: Diagon Alley at Universal Studios
Best Theme Park/attraction food of 2016?: Butterbeer
Best Theme Park/attraction tip?: If it is raining in Orlando, still go to the parks. It may be raining where you are, but not necessarily a mile away! And the rain normally last a short time.
Best kept secret in Florida?: Boggy Creek Airboat Rides! An amazing adventure and so beautiful to see a bit of the real Florida!

Ooo a new attraction opening in the Fall… wonder what that will be! Thanks very much to Sandy for taking her time to answer our questions. Gatorland is an amazing attraction to visit and one that you wont regret. Gatorland is included for free in February with some of our most popular tickets.

You can read more interviews in the series here;

Kids Eat Free Card

WonderWorks

Fun Spot

Eat & Play Card

Smiles included…

Jamie

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Top 5 Things To Do At Gatorland

Hey Thrill Seekers,

For those of you who don’t already know, any bundle purchased including Disney  or just Disney tickets on their own will receive FREE tickets to Gatorland!! That’s right, FREE!! These tickets are worth £20.00 on a usual sale but we’re giving them away for the whole of February this year!

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So let’s have a little look at Gatorland and some of the awesome things that you can do there!

Trainer For A Day gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the Gatorland family. Starting from some of the tiniest members like baby alligators and working your way up to a great big alligator!

Rookie Wrestling is maybe not for everyone (I would be too much of a pansy) but you can enter into the Gator Wrestlin’ Arena and take a seat upon an alligators back. These gators can be up to 8 or 9 feet in length with 82 razor sharp teeth!

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Screamin’ Gator Zip Line is 1200 feet high! You will soar through the air viewing some of the theme parks greatest attractions including some of the parks most beautiful alligators and crocodiles.

Gator Night Shine is one of the most stunning sights that you will see at Gatorland as this is when the alligators really come out to play!

Not forgetting some of the amazing shows that Gatorland have to offer such as the Gator Jumparoo Show, Gator Wrestlin’ Show and Up Close Encounters.

gator

All of this is coming free with your Disney tickets for a whole month! Why would you not want to jump in on this?!

Smiles Included…

Louise

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Disney Announce Rivers Of Light Will Debut on 17th February at Animal Kingdom

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Disney are just spoiling us with announcements this week!! Last night they announced a new nighttime experience at Animal Kingdom called ‘Rivers of Light‘ to add to the variety of nighttime experiences that are currently available at the park.

The new show is set to debut on the 17th February.

“Continuing the grand Disney tradition of innovative, after-dark entertainment, “Rivers of Light” combines live performance, floating set pieces, a soaring musical score, fountains and more in a celebration of animals and nature.”

disneylights

The story of the show will unfold on the Discovery River and will convey the spirit of an ‘ancient and timeless’ lantern ceremony. It will be ‘filled with symbolism, storytelling and plenty of heart.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom is already home to amazing nighttime experiences such as Kilimanjaro Safaris after sunset, Harambe Wildlife Parti, Discovery Island Carnivale and of course when the Tree of Life literally comes to life with light and colour to showcase different stories. I’m very excited to see the new show, who doesn’t like pretty lights 😉

Animal Kingdom is a great place to visit in the evenings with so much to see and do and if you’re visiting from the 17th February onward then you’re in for a real treat! We would love to see some pictures if you go to watch the show!

Smiles Included

Jess

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Top Secrets at Busch Gardens Tampa Bay

Hey Thrill Seekers,

We’re coming to the end of my secret stories on the parks but before we go, we’ll take a look at Busch Gardens. Just like at SeaWorld, Busch Gardens cater for everyone! It’s probably the best park for thrill seekers and animal lovers! Although it’s about an hours drive from the other parks, it’s so worth it!

The thrill seekers have so many coasters at Busch Gardens including Falcon’s Fury, Cheetah Hunt, SheiKra, Montu, Kumba, Scorpion an the new Cobra’s Curse! Could you want anymore coasters in one park?! You’ve also got Congo River Rapids and Stanley Falls to cool you down with a bit of a splash too.

congo

For all you animal lovers, Busch Gardens give you the chance to get up close and personal with some of the most beautiful animals in some once in a lifetime opportunities. Walkabout Way is just like being in Australia with all of the kookaburras, kangaroos and wallabies. Not only that but you can also hand feed the kangaroos and wallabies! Be sure to check out the feeding times in the morning when you enter the parks.

kangaroos

Serengeti Safari is a well known attraction at Busch Gardens but a lot of people still don’t know that there is an amazing feature on this safari where you can hand feed giraffes! That’s right..they will come over to you on your safari truck and eat right out of your hands!

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Over at Jungala you can see some the most breathtaking endangered animals such as Bengal tigers and orangutans. You can even soar through the trees on Jungle Flyer. If you enter Jungala from the bridge and look closely at the water rocks you’ll see the word ‘Jungala’! 😉

Just to show you even more of the care that they take over their animals, their Animal Care Centre is right inside the action in the park. You can go into the centre at any time of day (inside park opening hours of course) and if you’re there at the right time, you might even be able to watch the treatment. This could be anything from an x-ray to surgery!

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Busch Gardens really is an incredible park that you will never forget!

Sadly, we have come to the end of our secrets but be sure to let us know of anything else that you find on your holidays!

Smiles Included…

Louise

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