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This week’s highlights:
- It was a big week in Walt Disney World news with the announcement of the Grand Opening of Fantasyland. The opening of this phase of the Magic Kingdom expansion will include Under the Sea — Journey of the Little Mermaid, the newly redesigned Ariel’s Grotto, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Gaston’s Tavern and Be Our Guest Restaurant. Leading up to the official opening Dec. 6, 2012 will be a special preview for passholders. Ever the masters of suspense, the folks at Disney have not yet released information on how to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime preview event, but we will let you know when they do.
- We’re edging closer to the Epcot Food & Wine Festival September 28-November 12, with registration opening next week on August 14 at 7 a.m. (eastern). Theme Park Foodie, who guest blogged for us earlier this week about the best budget eats in the Magic Kingdom, has the menus of this year’s world marketplace booths.
- While we were doing more research on the food festival, we stumbled upon the recipe for Polynesian Resort’s Tonga Toast on the Disney Food Blog. I know many of you feel much like the Frog Family — that no Disney vacation is complete without a trip to the Kona Cafe for the ultimate breakfast treat. No, the ambiance isn’t the same at home, but at least now we can now make it anytime we want.
- Universal Orlando is cooking up a spectacular scare event this fall, with Emmy-winning illusionists Penn & Teller bringing a dark and dilapidated version of Sin City to Halloween Horror Nights. The Emmy-winning illusionists join previous HHN announcements about the Walking Dead, Alice Cooper and Silent Hill. Tickets to this event are available at Undercover Tourist.
- Meanwhile, Busch Gardens Tampa is again opening the gates to the “dark side of the Garden” with Howl O Scream. This year’s haunted houses include a blood asylum, 3-D circus of superstition and zombie mortuary.
- Pirates of the Caribbean in the Magic Kingdom will have a one-day refurbishment October 9. As always, you can check our closings and refurbishments schedule when planning your visits to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando.
- Think you’re the ultimate Disney mom? The Walt Disney World Moms Panel begins its search in September, and this year it’s looking for its first Sports Team Panelist as well as more international travelers and Spanish speakers. My vote is for Mommy Frog, who did her fair share of globe hopping before she had Tad and Lily.
- Speaking of Mommy Frog, Tom Cruise (and Suri) got to check off one of her bucket list items during their recent Walt Disney World trip by staying in Cinderella’s Castle! (It doesn’t count for Mommy Frog since she didn’t actually get to do it herself, and please don’t tell her because she will be so jealous.)
- Kristin Ford at AllEars.Net provides a helpful guide to SeaWorld Orlando if you are visiting with children
- In more SeaWorld news, the park has released a manatee and her cub back into the wild. The manatee was pregnant when it was rescued after a fishing line injury
Until next week, happy planning!