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Ta-Ta, Disney World turnstiles

Grand entrances are in the making at the theme parks

Dewayne Bevil on Attractions

Theme Park Ranger

6:06 AM PST, January 24, 2013

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News and notes from Central Florida's theme parks and attractions.

Welcome change

I've been watching the new non-turnstiles being put through their paces at the entrances of Walt Disney World theme parks. The change, part of Disney's MyMagic+ promotion, allows guests into the parks without pushing through those narrow booths with lap bars.

Only folks staying in Disney hotels enter this way right now, and there are just a few MyMagic+ entrances installed. Eventually, most guests will go through this routine: Tap ticket or bracelet against a sphere with Mickey Mouse symbol, press finger to keypad, enter breezily the park.

Naturally, cast members are on hand to make sure people don't glide in without tickets.

The beauty of the system is that wheelchairs and strollers — even the double-wides — go straight through. No more backing up and waiting for a cast member to open an awkward gateway. This should help traffic flow.

Alas, the dreaded finger-scan method remains, which seems to be my personal holdup at the gates. I wish I could say that similar problems don't plague Central Florida's other parks, but I can't. My solution: Just put a chip in my head.

Still, let's salute front-gate progress and hope, one day, for MyAnnualPassholderExpressLanes+. Get out of our way, we know what we're doing.

Wish upon a Skar?

We're in the midst of a Limited Time Magic offering I was looking forward to: Long Lost Friends Week at Magic Kingdom, featuring costumed characters that aren't in the regular Disney World rotation.

There's demand for this. After it was announced on the official Disney Parks Blog, the first 30 commenters wished for a variety of characters, including Dumbo, Darkwing Duck, Uncle Scrooge, Three Little Pigs, Dreamfinder, Hercules, Quasimodo, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, Skar, Steamboat Willie, Herbie the Love Bug and Kuzco from "The Emperor's New Groove." That's a big wish list, and just the beginning.

Limited Time Magic is a collection of weeklong special mini-events. Generally, they are announced on Fridays and start the following Monday. They're revealed in a variety of ways, but one surefire method is to check out LimitedTimeMagic.com, which is keeping a running tally of the local LTMs as well as what's going on at the Disneyland Resort parks in California.

Some shine state

My interest in bling is limited, but the "Jewels of Titanic" exhibit at Titanic the Experience on International Drive has star power at its disposal. On display are 15 items recovered from the wreckage 75 years after the giant ship sank.

And, man, are they shiny. You can't help but marvel at their journey, from England to the bottom of the sea to I-Drive.

One necklace has three ragged, gold nuggets. Another has a charm that was a "good-luck pig." Those were different times, right?

"Jewels of the Titanic" remains in town through March 12.

Back again

"Our Body: The Universe Within" has moved in near our Titanic attraction, sharing a building with "CSI: The Experience." A version of the eye-popping exhibit had an extended run at Orlando Science Center in 2006 and 2007. "Our Body" strives to be educational in its approach, using well-preserved corpses in a variety of ways.

It replaces "Star Trek: The Experience."

Music to our ears

It's concert season, the right time to break into song at Orlando's theme parks.

SeaWorld Orlando is in the midst of its Just for Kids events. Next up are Choo-Choo Soul with Genevieve on Saturday and the Kratt Brothers on Feb. 2. The theme park is doubling up its Bands, Brew & BBQ concerts this year, with two performances per weekend. It begins with Chris Young and Jerrod Niemann on Feb. 9, then Merle Haggard on Feb. 10.

Universal Studios' Mardi Gras concerts begin with Lifehouse on Feb. 9, and Epcot's Flower Power series kicks off with Micky Dolenz on March 6.

dbevil@tribune.com or 407-420-5477