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Ears the News with Richard

The final curtain call for the American Idol Experience closure has been brought forward from January 2015 to the end of this month. The final show will take place on August 30, 2014. Disney has not yet announced any plans for the theater, although there is speculation that a temporary show, such as the Frozen sing-along, may be staged until further plans the space are developed.

Image courtesy the Walt Disney World website
The Sunrise Safari tour at Disney's Animal Kingdom will be ending on December 28, 2014. The tour, which is offered to concierge guests staying at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, takes guests on an adventure through both Animal Kingdom Lodge, and Disney's Animal Kingdom theme park. The 2.5 hour tour costs $75 for adults and $40 for children, which includes a breakfast buffet at Pizzafari in the park.

If you are staying as a concierge level guest at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, you can book the tour through the converge desk. Rumor is that this closure might be temporary so work can be completed for the nighttime version of the Safari.

Disney is presenting a third offering in its range of Ultimate Day VIP experiences. 'The Ultimate Day at Epcot's International Food and Wine Festival' costs $399+tax per person, and takes you on a day of highlights at Epcot during the Food and Wine Festival.

The tour includes:
  • A champagne and appetizer welcome at the VIP Lounge in the Festival Center.
  • A ride on Test Track, Soarin', Spaceship Earth and Seas with Nemo and Friends.
  • A hosted beverage tasting at the VIP Lounge, followed by a 6 course tapas-style lunch with beverage pairings.
  • A backstage tour of The Land's Greenhouses.
  • A hosted tasting of three food and beverage pairings from the World Showcase Marketplace.
  • VIP seating with champagne at the Eat to the Beat Concert in World Showcase.
  • Reserved viewing location for IllumiNations.

Image courtesy
'Villains Unleashed' is just days away on August 23, 2014 and today Disney has released more details about the timings and schedule for the event.

Tickets are still available for the event, get details about tickets here. The schedule information is preliminary, and subject to change, so be sure to check with a times guide at the park on the day for any last minute changes.

Event Hours
Villains Unleashed begins at 8:00 PM, with event tickets allowing entry from 5:00 PM. If you are already in the park, you can obtain event passes at the Epic Theater and Soundstage One.

From 3:00 PM, the secondary entrance to Disney's Hollywood Studios will be closed. After 3:00 PM the only entry will be via the main entrance on World Drive.

Hades Hangout at the Sorcerer Hat Stage - 8:PM PM to 1:00 PM
Event Start at the Sorcerer Hat Stage - 8:00 PM
Oogie Boogie's Freaky Funhouse Show at the Theater of the Stars - 8:30 PM, 9:30 PM, 10:30 PM and 11:30 PM
"Guardians of the Galaxy" Awesome Mix Tape Dance Party at the Stage 5 Animation Courtyard - 8:00 PM to 12:45 AM
Fantasmic! with Special Pre-show - 10:00 PM show time, Pre-show starts at 9:35 PM
Villainy in the Sky Fireworks - 12:45 AM

Character Meet and Greets
Darth Maul - Star Tours area
Boba Fett - Near Backlot Express
Darth Vader - Star Tours event stage area
Stormtroopers - Star Tours area
Emperor Palpatine and Royal Guards - Outside SciFi Drive In
Cruella de Vil - Streets of America
Dr Facilier - Streets of America
Jafar - Streets of America
Bowler Hat Guy - Streets of America
Constatine - Near MuppetVision
Shan Yu - Streets of America
The Queen - Streets of America
Captain Gantu - Streets of America
Dr Hamsterviel - Streets of America
Barbossa (until 11:30 PM) - Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
Maleficient (until 11:30 PM) - Animation Courtyard
The Witch - Sunset Blvd

Roaming Characters

From 8:30 PM to 1:00 AM

Hades Hangout
Captain Hook
Mr Smee
Queen of Hearts
Big Bad Wolf
Goevernor Ratcliffe

Streets of America
Judge Claude Frollo
Lady Tremaine
Prince John
Sherrif of Nottingham
J Worthington Foulfellow

Star Tours area
Zam Wesell
Aurra Sing
Tusken Raiders
Asajj Ventress
Jango Fett
Gamorrean Guard

Epic Stunt Theater area
Br'er Fox
Br'er Bear

The Great Movie Ride - Until 11:15 PM
Star Tours
Muppet Vision 3D
Voyage of the Little Mermaid
Tower of Terror
Rock n RollerCoaster
Toy Story Mania - Until 11:30 PM

Food and Drink
Club Evil - Hollywood Brown Derby

Studio Prop Shop opposite Honey I shrunk the Audience Playground and throughout the park.

Epcot has opened an EV charging station in the guest parking lot. The four Level 2 charging stations, operated by ChargePoint, are the first to be deployed at Walt Disney World.

Drivers of the Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, Tesla and other electric vehicles can find the chargers at the front of the Journey parking lot, with a cost to charge of $.35 per kw/h, with a minimum charge cost of $1.50. Like all ChargePoint stations, they are available on a first come, first served basis, and guests can request directions to the stations from the Cast Members at the Epcot parking booth plaza.

ChargePoint accepts payment via credit card at the charge station, or via a ChargePoint account card, which you can obtain free from ChargePoint. It is expected that more charge stations will be rolled out across property as part of the Drive Electric Orlando program of which Disney is a partner.

A newborn male gorilla is the latest addition to Pangani Forest Exploration Trail at Disney's Animal Kingdom. He was born on August 7, 2014 to mother Azizi and father Gino, the baby gorilla has now joined the family group while being closely watched by the Disney Animal Programs team.

Image courtesy the Disney Parks Blog
“We’re pleased with the way Azizi is bonding with her baby and meeting his needs,” said Jay Therien, Animal Operations Manager for Disney’s Animal Programs. ”As we work to maintain the population of critically endangered western lowland gorillas, healthy babies like this little guy are critical to the survival of his species.”

The new baby, which is yet to be named, is the fourth gorilla born at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) Species Survival Plan, which manages genetic diversity among species through detailed records of individual animals. The first gorilla birth at Disney’s Animal Kingdom occurred in 1997 before the park opened, the second baby arrived in 1999 and the third was born in 2010.

Image courtesy the Walt Disney World website
Disney will begin allowing the purchase of MagicBands without being linked to an existing ticket.

Until now, MagicBands had to be linked to a My Disney Experience account with valid ticket media at the time of purchase. From August 19, 2014, MagicBands can be purchased as a stand-alone item at the parks, Downtown Disney, Disney's Art of Animation Resort, Disney's Contemporary Resort, Disney's Pop Century Resort and Disney's Port Orleans Resort. It is expected that more locations will be added later.

Only regular solid color bands will be included within the new policy. The MagicBands with a printed image will continue to be required to be linked to ticket media at the time of purchase.

The change to purchasing MagicBands will now make it possible for guests to buy MagicBands to be given as gifts, or for future trips that have not yet been booked. Before you go out and buy huge stockpiles of MagicBands, be aware there is a purchase limit of 5 per SKU.

The official Disney Parks Blog today released a new video giving a new glimpse of Disney Springs and more information about the new unifying backstory. The video is courtesy of the Disney Parks blog. Click here if you have trouble viewing the video.  

Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room will be closed for refurbishment in late September. The refurbishment is scheduled for September 27 through to October 3.

The annual Festival of the Masters event at Downtown Disney has been cancelled for this year, and a return in future years remains to be decided.

Due to the large amount of construction and parking restrictions currently underway as part of the Disney Springs redevelopment, Disney has determined that it will not be possible to host the show. Taking place each November, the annual event hosted hundreds of award winning artists in an exhibition and art marketplace. In recent years, the festival has expanded to include food and drink offerings. It is unclear what the future of the event will be, and if it will return in later years at Disney Springs or elsewhere on Walt Disney World property.

Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has sold out for Halloween night in record time. While sell outs for Halloween night are all but guaranteed, this is the earliest sellout in memory. Tickets are currently available for all other dates.

Image courtesy of the Disney Parks Blog
Disney has announced that changes are coming to the "Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! Street Party" at the Magic Kingdom.

First up is a name change to "Move it! Shake It! Dance & Play It! Street Party." Joining Mickey, Minnie, Donald and Goofy will be Stitch and Phineas & Ferb. New music will include a medley of remixed classic party songs, with guests voting for one of three current hits during the finale “Play It!” part of the show.

Disney did not announce a specific opening date, but did give a fall opening of the new street party. Until then, the existing Move It, Shake It, Celebrate It! Street Party will continue daily.


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