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“Frozen” characters find new home at Walt Disney World as FastPass+ cuts wait to meet Anna and Elsa – when it works

“Frozen” characters find new home at Walt Disney World as FastPass+ cuts wait to meet Anna and Elsa – when it works

Beginning today, Easter Sunday, Walt Disney World guests no longer have to wait hours upon hours to meet the popular characters Anna and Elsa from Disney’s hit film “Frozen” – if they plan ahead.

The duo has moved from Epcot to the Magic Kingdom in Princess Fairytale Hall, paired up with another princess. At Epcot, lines stretched far beyond the Norway pavilion boundaries, with guests waiting upwards of 4 hours to meet Anna and Elsa. Now at the Magic Kingdom, Disney is offering the option to book FastPass+ reservations to skip the wait entirely, though there are most definitely still some bugs to work out of the system, which is still in testing. (More on that below.)

From the moment the park opened today, it was clear that the “Frozen” stars will be the Magic Kingdom’s most popular attraction for the foreseeable future, likely drawing even more attention than the nearby Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, nearly ready to open. A 3-hour wait formed nearly instantaneously when the park opened, adding another hour to that time by 1pm. But those who booked a FastPass+ reservation when they became available 60 days ago (30 days ago for annual passholders), could be admitted to see Anna and Elsa with little to no wait.


Video: “Frozen” Anna and Elsa move to Princess Fairytale Hall at the Magic Kingdom


Princess Fairytale Hall has two sides, currently featuring Cinderella and Rapunzel in one plus Anna and Elsa together and a final “visiting Princess” in the last spot. Guests can wait in line for one side or the other, not both. Likewise, FastPass+ reservations must be made separately for each side.

"Frozen" Anna and Elsa at Magic Kingdom meet and greet

Today it was clear who the popular princesses were, with Cinderella and Rapunzel only having a 15 minute wait while the posted wait time early in the morning for Anna and Elsa was 3 hours. Those who didn’t make FastPass+ reservations when they became available on MyDisneyExperience.com 1-2 months ago or at an in-park kiosk first thing in the morning (with extremely limited availability) had to wait in the standby line.

"Frozen" Anna and Elsa at Magic Kingdom meet and greet

"Frozen" Anna and Elsa at Magic Kingdom meet and greet

But regardless of how guests got in, everyone was delighted to meet Anna and Elsa inside. There is no “Frozen” backdrop, as Anna and Elsa are simply visiting this royal meeting area, part of the Cinderella Castle courtyard. But the pair seems happy to be there for now, until Disney can build something more permanent back in Epcot’s Norway.

"Frozen" Anna and Elsa at Magic Kingdom meet and greet

"Frozen" Anna and Elsa at Magic Kingdom meet and greet

"Frozen" Anna and Elsa at Magic Kingdom meet and greet

However, FastPass+ is a new system and there are definitely still glitches to be worked out, as I discovered today.


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WonderCon 2014 arrives to Anaheim as smaller sister of San Diego Comic-Con, includes “Frozen” panel on story and song

WonderCon 2014 arrives to Anaheim as smaller sister of San Diego Comic-Con, includes “Frozen” panel on story and song

WonderCon is making its third appearance in as many years in Anaheim in 2014, and it looks like it is here to stay.

Many comic book and fantasy fans are getting fed up with the over-crowding to be found at the San Diego Comic Con, and are liking the chance to attend a “con” and not feel so pressed in. Judging by the numbers (Saturday was sold out weeks ago) of people at the Anaheim Convention Center, it looks like the more relaxed WonderCon has some appeal.

WonderCon 2014

WonderCon 2014

WonderCon 2014

WonderCon has grown since its first appearance three years ago. Where it first occupied just one of the exhibit halls at the Anaheim Convention Center, it now fills two. Plus it is using nearly all the rooms upstairs for panels and lectures.

Another added bonus is a lot more room, leading to a much larger “Artists Alley” and “Small Press” area, something very welcomed by this attendee.

WonderCon 2014

WonderCon 2014

WonderCon 2014

Hollywood is starting to take notice of the growing attendance. Dreamworks was there with a booth, as were some other smaller studios. In addition, there were several movie-related panels upstairs, including one on the story and design development of Disney’s “Frozen” called “Frozen: The Art of Story.”


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Preview: Knott’s Berry Farm mines new joy by updating classics – Calico Mine Train, Camp Snoopy

Preview: Knott’s Berry Farm mines new joy by updating classics – Calico Mine Train, Camp Snoopy

Knott’s Berry Farm might have found the mother lode by mining existing rides with “like new” updates.

Last year the farm refreshed the Timber Mountain Log Ride by replacing nearly all the show elements, and refurbishing the ride track and other hardware systems. It was rewarded with long lines and according to reports, solid attendance.

This year the farm is doing the same thing but in a bigger way.

Camp Snoopy changes

Snoopy and Charlie Brown have construction garb on for Knott’s Berry Farm preview.

Calico Mine Train

First, Knott’s is doing a complete makeover of the Calico Mine Train ride.

Since January, the eight-minute ride has been closed and most of the show elements stripped out. Designers at the farm are working with the same company that led the redo of the log ride, Garner Holt Productions. The team promises the same amazing results seen in the log ride – new, more highly detailed figures with more motion, all new and improved lighting and audio systems, and a brand new paint job throughout.


Video: Calico Mine Train ride update preview at Knott’s Berry Farm


Calico Mine Train ride changes

A newly “aged” sign denoting the entrance to the Calico Mine Train ride at Knott’s Berry Farm.

The ride first opened in 1960, and was designed by theme park legend Bud Hurlbut. It contained full size human figures that had movement. A short time after it opened, Walt Disney came by to see and ride it, leading some to speculate that it led to bigger things at Disneyland.

Calico Mine Ride - Bud Hurlbut in engine, ca 1960

The man in the locomotive is Bud Hurlbut, designer and builder of the original Calico Mine Train ride at Knott’s Berry Farm. Bud spent much of his own money building the ride, and made it back in less than a year after its opening in 1960. (Photo courtesy: Knott’s Berry Farm.)

“Knott’s Berry Farm had the first attraction with AA figures, seven years before ‘Pirates of the Caribbean,” said J. Eric Lynxweiler, a designer at Knott’s, and historian.

Knott’s officials showed off some of the “plusses” they were doing to the classic attraction, and their work to restore other parts to the glory days of the past.


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FEATURED STORY

Easter Bunny hops to Magic Kingdom in time for busy holiday weekend at Walt Disney World

Easter Bunny hops to Magic Kingdom in time for busy holiday weekend at Walt Disney World

Easter weekend is upon us and that means theme parks have been quickly filling up with massive crowds. While rides and shows will be packed throughout the holiday weekend, Walt Disney World adds a bit of extra entertainment.

The Easter Bunny and Mrs. Bunny have been available daily this week for meet-and-greets in the Town Square area near City Hall at the Magic Kingdom, continuing through Easter Sunday. (They will also meet at Epcot and Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Sunday.)


Video: Easter Bunny meet and greet at Walt Disney World


Easter Bunny at Walt Disney World

Easter Bunny at Walt Disney World

Easter Bunny at Walt Disney World

Easter Bunny at Walt Disney World

Easter Bunny at Walt Disney World

Easter Bunny at Walt Disney World

After meeting the duo and posing for pictures, guests can grab complimentary Peeps candies on the way out.

Easter Bunny at Walt Disney World

The Easter Bunny will take part in a pre-parade appearance on April 19 and 20 down Main Street USA.

Nearby at the Grand Floridian hotel, Disney has put out a display of artistically decorated oversized eggs featuring Disney characters.

Meanwhile, at Epcot, limited quantities of egg hunting maps are available for purchase ($4.95) to seek out character eggs throughout the park and return for a special prize at the end of the hunt.

Guests can find the maps at Heritage Manor (American Adventure Pavilion), Disney Traders, International Gateway, Pin Central and Port of Entry.


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Topics: Entertainment, Theme Parks, Universal Studios JapanTags:

Universal Studios Japan has announced the opening date for their Wizarding World of Harry Potter as July 15, 2014.

The Japan version of the Wizarding World will be largely the same as Orlando’s original, including Hogwarts Castle with Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Flight of the Hippogriff, and the shops and dining of Hogsmeade Village.

A big difference, however, is the absence of the Dragon Challenge roller coaster, formerly Islands of Adventure’s Dueling Dragons ride. In Orlando, it’s the least “Potter” of all the Wizarding World attractions, particularly with its brightly colored exposed track, so it’s not surprising that it isn’t duplicated overseas. Representing the Triwizard Tournament will still be the students from Beauxbatons and Durmstrang performing outside Hogwarts.

And though Zonko’s has closed in Orlando in preparation for the opening of Diagon Alley (which will feature the similar Weasleys Wizard Wheezes), Japan’s Wizarding World does feature the original store.

More information can be found on the Universal Studios Japan web site.


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