We're just three months into 2013, and we are bursting with theme-park developments. And this is supposed to be the slow season. Instead of waiting nine months to compile a year-in-review post, I've decided to make quarterly reports that update the goings-on in one swoop. OK, a drawn-out swoop, but a swoop, nonetheless.
I've organized it in categories: New Business (attractions announced or opened), Old Business (progress made on previously known projects) and Came and Went (events and such that were contained within three months in question).
We won't pretend it's comprehensive, but it hits the highest points and may include a news item you missed or repressed. Some items include links for more details.
Legoland Florida announced its next expansion, World of Chima, will feature a water ride called the Quest for Chi. The Winter Haven park reopened its water park and, in the process, doubled the number of
Two attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will end their runs on April 6,
Fresh food offerings were added to the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival lineup at kiosks around World Showcase. (The very mention of "Dole Whip with Spice Rum" caused a minor frenzy.) Some call it a "pretty Food & Wine." This is the 20th year for the flower fest.
Disney World began unveiling details of its long-under-wraps MyMagic+ program, which eventually will include the ability to secure FastPasses in advance and colorful guest wristbands to activate other features at the parks. First up: Turnstile-free entrances at the theme parks.
The Kinsey Collection, art and artifacts documenting African-American history, opened in the American Adventure building at Epcot. Check out the Imagineered lanterns, designed to decorate and inform (and showcase stars such as
Rapunzel's Tower popped up in Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland. It stands high above a new restroom next to "it's a small world" and within spitting distance of Haunted Mansion. Not that Rapunzel would ever spit. Read more about Rapunzel's Tower (and bathroom) at Magic Kingdom.
Disney World introduced "Limited Time Magic," special mini-events that typically last one week. Examples: Meet and greets with rarely seen characters, Dapper Dans quartet sings boy-band medley.
George Kalogridis was appointed president of Walt Disney World. Kalogridis, a UCF alum, was previously president of
TNA Wrestling ended its eight-year run of taping episodes at Universal Studios in March. Read more about TNA Wrestling leaving Universal.
Hard Knocks announced it will open a location at Pointe Orlando on
Pirate's Dinner Adventure near International Drive added a "Three Musketeers" dinner show.
Silver Springs announced that Whitesnake will cap off this year's concert series, but that it would be back next year, even after the state took over operation of the park.
Chocolate Kingdom – part attraction, part museum and history center – opened in Kissimmee.
Construction continued on Transformers: The Ride – 3D, set to open this summer at Universal Studios. The park had other construction hot spots, including at the former location of the Jaws ride and Amity area and as at the remodeling of a restaurant in the World Expo section. Universal has not announced what form those projects eventually will take. There are also unspecified construction walls up at the Studios’ sister park,
Cabana Bay Beach Resort, the under-construction hotel at Universal Orlando, remained under construction. Reservations can be made for stays for March 31, 2014, and later.
Construction continued at the Fun Spot USA expansion near International Drive. Two roller coasters and an arch for the SkyCoaster are taking shape and are set for a grand opening in early June.
Work is being done on the next phases of Magic Kingdom's New Fantasyland, including Princess Fairytale Hall (a meet-and-greet opportunity set to open sometime in 2013) and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, a roller coaster scheduled to open in 2014.
CAME AND WENT
SeaWorld Orlando’s Bands, Brew & BBQ festival ran for six weekends, with different national acts performing Saturdays and Sundays. Included in the lineup:
"The Jewels of the Titanic" exhibit, featuring relics found from the ocean-floor wreckage, made a stop at Titanic: The Experience on I-Drive.
Talk show “Live With Kelly & Michael” produced four episodes in front of a live audience at Magic Kingdom. The shows included taped segments of co-hosts
Baltimore Ravens quarterback
Ten actors from “Days of Our Lives,” an