Rumor round-up for July 6, 2013: Star Wars Land at DHS, King Kong returns to USF & The Simpsons Springfield update

Rumor round-up for July 6, 2013: Star Wars Land at DHS, King Kong returns to USF & The Simpsons Springfield update

Rumor round-up for July 6, 2013: Star Wars Land at DHS, King Kong returns to USF & The Simpsons Springfield update

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A Star Wars blowout of epic proportions

Last month, Theme Park Insider broke word that Disney was planning on installing a “Star Wars Land” inside of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. More recently, the Orlando Business Journal has not only backed that claim up, it’s also published further details on just what will be going down over the course of the next few years.

First, the journal has reported on the brand-new attractions in the expansion, which will include an indoor Jedi Training Academy where the ABC Sound Studio now is, and which would replace the current outdoor event next to Star Tours. Other attractions include an unspecified kiddie ride, more than likely occupying the space where either the Backlot Express restaurant or the Studio Backlot Tour is, or both. And although this is all that Disney supposedly has planned for now, it sounds as if Star Wars Land will be rolled out in phases, in an effort to combat Universal’s growing threat as quickly as possible.

This tracks with an older rumor from StarToursLive.com two years ago, which also held that an indoor Jedi Training Academy would be set up at ABC Sound Studio. This makes the rest of the site’s claims of an advanced, walking-and-talking audio-animatronic Yoda, complete with realistic-looking lightsaber, and multi-leveled Dagobah set much more plausible.

Judge Me By My Size, Do You?
Judge Me By My Size, Do You? Source

If only two adolescent-centric attractions leaves you feeling decidedly underwhelmed, then OBJ’s next update will have you feeling better, as it purports that Star Wars Land will be the biggest expansion in Disney’s (recent) history, costing the company at least $200 million — for comparison’s sake, Universal dropped roughly $260 million on the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter. This price tag easily dwarfs the Cars Land clone that is also scheduled to open at Hollywood Studios within the next several years.

Last but certainly not least, the publication has one final report to file: Disney plans on extending the Star Wars theme beyond its new area to not only fill out many parts of Hollywood Studios, but also to hit upon the rest of Walt Disney World, as well. What does this mean, exactly? Disney World-exclusive food and beverages (please let it be blue milk!), repurposing the Fantasmic! night show, and other, as-yet-undefined events or experiences.

Will it be enough to combat the one-two punch of Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley? Only time will tell…

 

Project 301: Out with the old, in with the… old?

Kongfrontation, one of Universal Studios Florida’s original attractions from 1990, closed in 2002 to make room for Revenge of the Mummy. It was based off of King Kong Encounter over at Universal Studios Hollywood, which ran from 1986 until 2008, when a massive fire leveled it (and a good many other buildings as well). Universal was keen on replacing the attraction with a new, contemporary property, but fan outrage convinced the company to make the King return after all, in King Kong: 360 3D (based off of Peter Jackson’s travesty of a remake) just two short years later.

A young Orlando Informer and his family at Kongfrontation - March 1996.
A young Orlando Informer and his family at Kongfrontation – March 1996.

Why is this important to know? Because it seems like history is going to be repeating itself.

In the decade since Kongfrontation’s removal, fans have been decidedly and consistently vocal on having their beloved ape back, and the lightning-fast opening of 360 3D only added fuel to that fire (no pun intended). Now, in Comcast/NBCUniversal’s ongoing crusade to touch up almost the entirety of their Orlando resort, it seems that Disaster!: A Major Motion Picture Ride… Starring You will be heading for the chopping block, allowing a completely brand-new Kong attraction to be installed.

Orlando United tells us that the new ride has already been greenlit and has been given the working title of Project 301. Although short on specifics, the site does explain that King Kong’s fourth outing will have absolutely nothing to do with his previous attractions and will feature a detailed queue and pre-show that should (hopefully) put it on par with Universal’s latest offerings, from Harry Potter to Transformers to Fast Food Blvd. Even better, work is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2015, just one year after the opening of USF’s Diagon Alley and in the same time period as Jurassic Park’s new E-ticket ride over at Islands of Adventure (which is where, ironically, we all initially thought the new Kong attraction was going to be built).

With E.T. Adventure making way for Smurfs and Disaster! (a re-theming of Earthquake: The Big One) closing down for Kong, it seems that the only opening-day attraction left standing will be Lucy — A Tribute.

For now.

 

The Simpsons Springfield round-up

Testing has begun on Kang & Kodos’s Twirl ‘n Hurl! Universal has been busy in the month since the first phase of Fast Food Blvd opened, installing the ride cars and Kodos’s head and tentacles. With the rider-less testing already beginning, we’re looking at an opening date hopefully by the end of this month. Here is a video posted Wednesday night on the OI YouTube channel of Kang & Kodos testing:

[youtube_video]abDktnsnC00[/youtube_video]

Screamscape has some fun new details on Kang & Kodos, gleaned from a recent tour of the area: Kodos will talk to the “foolish Earthlings” on the ride, possibly even giving them instructions on how to interact with the tentacles circling the outside of the ride area. Apparently, the cars will have to fly up or down to hit some kind of target, and if the tentacles’ sensor beams are broken, a “special event” will be triggered – although we don’t know if this will be a reward or a punishment, as in One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish over at Seuss Landing.

What is unexplained at this point — at least to us; feel free to share in the comment section below if you have intel — is why the Simpsons waterfront area still appears to be a couple of weeks from opening. Strong rumors indicated that the entire Springfield expansion was originally targeted to open with Transformers on June 20, allowing Universal to show off multiple projects to all the press and VIPs in town. While Fast Food Blvd hit the June 20 date without a problem — it actually opened June 1, only one week after Universal officially announced the Springfield expansion — the waterfront area seems to have hit major delays. At this point I would consider us a little lucky if Duff Gardens, Kang & Kodos, and the other features in the waterfront area open by the end of July.

The Simpsons waterfront construction - July 3, 2013.
The Simpsons waterfront construction – July 3, 2013.
The Simpsons waterfront construction - July 3, 2013.
The Simpsons waterfront construction – July 3, 2013.

If you’d like to see more construction photos, you can see everything Dan shot at Universal Orlando this week on the new OI Flickr page.

But let’s end with some good news. If you are headed to the Springfield expansion anytime soon, be sure to keep an eye out for Krusty the Clown and Sideshow Bob (replete in prison regalia) making the rounds for photo opportunities alongside the Simpsons family.

 

[sws_author_bio user=”msunyata@yahoo.com” size=”105″ authorposts=”More OI posts by Marc” name_format=”About the author”] [/sws_author_bio]

Orlando Informer Tickets
Marc N. Kleinhenz Marc N. Kleinhenz’s first dream in life was to be an astronaut. His second was an Imagineer. While neither completely worked out, he now works exclusively for Orlando Informer as a writer, editor, and podcast co-host. He’s also written for 32 other sites (including Screen Rant, IGN, The Escapist, and California Informer [OI's sister site]), has had his fiction featured in several publications, and has even taught English in Japan. Imagineering school won’t be too far behind.

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UniversalFan
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UniversalFan

OrlandoInformer maybe. I just don’t want King Kong 360:3D going over there. It is Hollywood exclusive.

Russell Date
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Russell Date

Heck ya and back to the future ride too and jaws 🙂 now ill be happy

Ashley Marie Gondek
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Ashley Marie Gondek

“With E.T. Adventure making way for Smurfs and Disaster! (a re-theming of Earthquake: The Big One) closing down for Kong..”
WHY? I love both of those rides!! Is Smurfs a pretty definite thing now, you think? If it is, that’s such a stupid move, in my eyes. King Kong would be cool, but there are plenty of 3D rides now.. *sigh*

OrlandoInformer.com
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OrlandoInformer.com

Like almost everything we share in the RRUs, Smurfs taking over USF’s KidZone is a rumor and nothing has been confirmed by the resort. You can read about it in last week’s RRU http://orlandoinformer.com/wpold/2013/rumor-round-up-june-28-universal-orlando-hhn-wet-n-wild/. And, honestly, fan reactions seem so negative I am having a tougher time believing this will actually come to pass.

Lauren Highsmith
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Lauren Highsmith

Norman Highsmith
Kim Largen Highsmith
Rebecca Highsmith

Ashley Marie Gondek
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Ashley Marie Gondek

Yeah, I saw that one last week.. let’s hope it stays a rumor. ET may be a bit dated, but the Smurfs would be such a downgrade replacement. Thanks for all the updates! 🙂

Joshua Zeff
Guest
Joshua Zeff

What could the new Jurassic park E-ticket ride be!!!! Super stoked I’m wanting a Jurassic park jeep ride with the technology of King Kong 3-D and maybe some realistic props like in harry potter:the forbidden journey 😀 love USF keep it moving!!!

OrlandoInformer.com
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OrlandoInformer.com

If you love E.T., take a moment to leave a review on our site and let the world know! http://orlandoinformer.com/wpold/universal/et-adventure/#reviews

Joshua Zeff
Guest
Joshua Zeff

I hope ET at least gets turned into a spongebob ride! With a Krusty krab restaurant! Make the smurfs outta follows and possibly that old hard rock building ???? God knows what’s in there!?

Regina Hickenbottom Campbell
Guest
Regina Hickenbottom Campbell

We just got home from USF yesterday & loved it! I wish they would do something with the Terminator show. Dislike it very much.

Ashley Marie Gondek
Guest
Ashley Marie Gondek

Lol, I’ll be completely honest.. It’s not that I *love* ET, I just think it’d be a shame to get rid of it for the Smurfs. Do you have a review page for the Horror Show (my favorite thing in the park – a close tie to MiB)? If so, I’ll write one for that!

Ashley Marie Gondek
Guest
Ashley Marie Gondek

Ah, I found it, never mind. I’ll write one now! 😀

DanielDowns
Guest
DanielDowns

Would love to see them do a Star Trek ride.  With all of the fans out there it could be as big as Harry Potter.  Star Trek will be 50 years old in 2016 and is still producing new movies.  Why not have an attraction.  Just my thoughts.

OrlandoInformer
Guest
OrlandoInformer

DanielDowns I don’t disagree with that at all. Before Diagon Alley was announced, I was (secretly) hoping Amity might turn into a Sci-fi land like Universal has at other parks. Star Trek would have fit very well there!

Rachel Mulieri
Guest
Rachel Mulieri

Not a fan of Smurfs..I didnt like them when I grew up with them and I don’t care for them now..I think they need to find something with wide appeal .Right now that would be Spongebob or something smiliar.Kong would be great IF they tailor it somehow to the Peter Jackson version..We don’t need another 3d movie or motion simulator

Teresa Norris
Guest
Teresa Norris

loved king kong

Rebecca Thomas
Guest
Rebecca Thomas

hell yeah…..I tell my kids about it all the time. Just wish they could experience it!!

Joy Shaw
Guest
Joy Shaw

Smurfs are so last decade but a Spongebob ride and themed restaurant would be brilliant. I like the special effects in disaster. Would probably be better getting rid of Twister to make room for King Kong

Trombonefreak
Guest
Trombonefreak

@Joy Shaw You don’t know how much i would’ve wanted a krusty krab instead of krusty burger!! But something happened that nick severed ties with universal! Thats why they got rid of the nicktoons studios and ride!

Allen Sinclair
Guest
Allen Sinclair

they are getting rid E T for the smurfs?thats as bad when they got rid of JAWS for more potter stuff.soon there will be no universal movie rides there.

Rysa26
Guest
Rysa26

Well said

Grace Egan
Guest
Grace Egan

Out with the old and in with the new, all of these people still whining about jaws really annoy me. There was always some part of jaws that wasn’t working/broken, the propane polluted the water and it was lame… Get over it already. If you want the same old crap that has been around for 30 years then go to Disney. Universal is amazing and always looking for the next great thing. Personally I will be glad to see Disaster gone but wish it was something new instead of bringing King Kong back (which was awesome but is from so… Read more »

Alex Arellano
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Alex Arellano

“based off of Peter Jackson’s travesty of a remake”…c’mon guys, it wasn’t that bad. lol

Cassy
Guest
Cassy

I can’t wait to see Disney’s “Star Wars” land. No one does theming like Disney and it is a well-loved franchise so I’m sure that the expansion will do very well.

McEpic
Guest
McEpic

What’s horribly weird about the ‘Kong’ rumor is that in recent years Universal has done INCREDIBLE things when it comes to crating super immersive environments…but at the same time just plops random attractions in ‘areas’. With Kong in San Fran…what a discordant mess that will be.  The Wizarding World (both 1.0 and 2.0), The Simpsons Expansion and all of Islands of Adventure are all incredible examples of what Universal is capable of. Yet over at the Studios it just feels like rides placed in places that have no connection to their ‘space.’  I know that whatever they do will be… Read more »

David Lieberman
Guest
David Lieberman

As much as I love ET and will sorely miss it when it leaves, I understand something new will need to replace it. But the smurfs? Seriously? Nobody is demanding a smurfs ride. Nobody. And as for King Kong? Can’t Hollywood have anything unique? Disaster Studios is fantastic the way it is and not even that old in its current form. I love Frank Kincaid.

Allen Jason Sheplee
Guest
Allen Jason Sheplee

Aka Christopher walken

Allen Jason Sheplee
Guest
Allen Jason Sheplee

Disaster studios used to be earthquake based on the movie earthquake the big one how did everyone feel when earthquake died? ._.

Heatherbelle Taylor
Guest
Heatherbelle Taylor

bring back the old rides

Trev Davies
Guest
Trev Davies

to right, love to see that, shame to see that E.T will be going though, must get the hoodies this year then seeing that E.T. is going to be scrapped

Dave Reid
Guest
Dave Reid

Yes

Vicki Jennette
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Vicki Jennette

Yea..awesome! Kongfrontation was absolutely my favorite ride at Universal! Can’t remember how many times I rode it but was sad when it burned up.

Frankie Yacovone
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Frankie Yacovone

One of our favorite rides!!! The photo op outside the ride was priceless! A gem we are hoping they bring back!

BuenaVista28
Guest
BuenaVista28

OrlandoInformer StarWarsland is the only interesting thing out of those 3. Why would Uni bring Kong back? how about something NEW?

AndyWigginz
Guest
AndyWigginz

OrlandoInformer BuenaVista28 You just dont get it, do you? Universal is perfect! Havent you been to Potterland? OMG ITS AMAZING!!1!

AndyWigginz
Guest
AndyWigginz

OrlandoInformer BuenaVista28 Im #TeamComcast and #TeamBrianRoberts , Disney doesnt understand the magic like cable giant Comcast!

danielstaten
Guest
danielstaten

OrlandoInformer good update!

the1annatheresa
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the1annatheresa

OrlandoInformer so sad about ET 🙁 One of my favorite rides honestly

AnnaTheresa Treppiedi
Guest
AnnaTheresa Treppiedi

Very sad about ET 🙁

Melissa Crawford
Guest
Melissa Crawford

I want Jaws back so very badly…….miss him!

Rysa26
Guest
Rysa26

I’m loving the updates OI gives we are coming over in Sept 29 so god willing everything should be done keep up the great work OI

PaulMcBane
Guest
PaulMcBane

OrlandoInformer UniversalORL honestly. Id rather they redesign the movie roles a bit and re-work the subway scenes to be more realistic

PaulMcBane
Guest
PaulMcBane

OrlandoInformer UniversalORL if you want Kong ride get rid of Twister. Twister is the weak link right now.

Lorrie Buxton
Guest
Lorrie Buxton

Those are awesome ideas

Joan S
Guest
Joan S

Smurfs?? I’m just not digging that they will be more popular than ET and have staying power. Obviously, Barney has to go. Why not expand the Minions as a child/ toddler option in that park- cute and fun and wait for it … CURRENT! Did Universal even look at the box office ratings this week? IDK, smurfs… hmm….

Rob Morris
Guest
Rob Morris

Am I the only who thinks Kong doesn’t make any sense in San Fran. If anything demo Fear Factor and build USH version of Kong to be in World Expo. As for it makes more sense to re-invent Shrek (as Universal has to share those revenues with Dreamworks), granted Spielberg gets paid via ET and Shrek.

Trombonefreak
Guest
Trombonefreak

What they should do if they are going the king kong route is make a mixture of 3D Simulation effects from the hollywood attraction and Regular ride components a boat ride similar to to jurassic park or a pure dark 3-D moving ride!

MitchybNoPe
Guest
MitchybNoPe

You guys pulled the ifo on universal from Orlando united yet didn’t seem to look further into it… HTF posted saying ET is not getting replaced but getting a major refurb. So all those sad about et closing, don’t be. It isn’t.

AngelaBuckley
Guest
AngelaBuckley

You didnt comment on one major Disney roumer that is said to have happened this week – the muder of spectromagic

OrlandoInformer
Guest
OrlandoInformer

AngelaBuckley I thought that was official, not a rumor.

AngelaBuckley
Guest
AngelaBuckley

Maybe im trying to kid myself that its not true still, but I was surprised it wasnt mentioned. Im totally devastated