Orange you glad that Bird is back at Disney?

Ramblings and a semi-rant of a Theme Park Ranger:

•I can't get over the outpouring of love for

Orange Bird

, the cartoon character that returned to

Magic Kingdom

last month. Some Disney fans have been jubilant ever since.

His appeal could be based in his old-school lineage, having been designed specifically for use in

Disney World

in the early 1970s, but I've overheard teenagers squeal with delight upon approaching his perch at the

Adventureland's Sunshine Tree Terrace

, where you can once again buy the long-missing, yummy

Citrus Swirl

treat ("orange slush" with vanilla ice cream).

Orange Bird doesn't appear in Disney films or have much in the Disney vault, except for a couple of record albums, although that's a feat because Orange Bird is mute. Plus, he is tied, via orange-juice commercials, with singer

Anita Bryant

, which hasn't been a career boost for many.

Yet here we are, four decades later, with Orange Bird pins, sippy cups and Orange Bird T-shirts for sale next to the also-mysterious turkey-leg T's. Coming this summer: mouse-ear hats that look like the top half of Orange Bird's head.

You can't tweet this stuff up.

But I can't help but notice the similarity to

Duffy the Disney Bear

. Oh, yes, I went there.

Duffy and O.B. were both in the parks (Duffy was then just an unnamed Teddy), faded away, had no real entertainment product, gained popularity in Japan, then returned to fanfare.

But I suspect Duffy gets hate mail. A legion of Disney fans are decidedly, vocally anti-Duffy. "It's like they're trying to shove him down our throats," one Duffy hater told me.

On the other hand, park guests are voting with their pocketbooks and snatching up Duffy merchandise and posing with him at



Maybe Duffy needs a better public-relations expert. Or a taste treat — something with berries, perhaps?

•Isn't it startling to see Disney cast members with beards? Men were given the OK for full facial hair in February, but my instinct is still to point them out — with two fingers, of course. It's the Disney way.

•All the


talk has overshadowed the re-imagining of Epcot's

Test Track

attraction, which is set to reopen this fall. Disney hasn't been too specific with the plans, but we do know that the migraine-inducing pre-show will be gone, that the inside-outside speedy part will remain — as will the single-riders line.


Universal's Cinematic Spectacular

lagoon show now in place, you might wonder if its mesmerizing water screens might be used to horrific effect during

Halloween Horror Nights

. When Universal officials were asked that during a recent event, the response was somewhere between sheepish and awkward and landed squarely in the "maybe" folder.

And then there's the annual rumor that HHN will take place in both

Universal Studios


Islands of Adventure

. I'm still waiting for spooky songs to be added to

Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit's

soundtrack, so I'll believe it when I see it.

SeaWorld Orlando's Manta



roller coasters are part of

Travel Channel's

upcoming series "

Insane Coaster Wars

," which debuts July 8. But fans can vote for their favorites online ( now.

Each episode will cover a different category. Manta is in the "Hang 'em High" program, which airs July 8 (vying against

Busch Gardens' Montu

and others), while Kraken will be seen July 22 in the "Wrong Way Up" episode.

•Closing with a semi-rant that applies to all of our theme parks' parking situations. Why, dear guests, do you insist on getting out of the car and walking head-on into traffic when one aisle over, it's completely clear and safe for all? Were you raised by wolves? or 407-420-5477