Rating The New Stuff At The Big Parks

Summer months mean the huge influx of family vacationers to Orlando’s big vacation destinations.  For many Floridians the arrival of grandchildren means that despite the heat, humidity, and thunderstorms also means a trip to the parks.

If it has been an entire year since you visited Walt Disney World or Universal or other parks, you might want to know what’s new or changed and whether it is worth the time and money.

HERE are the important summer 2018 stories:

Toy Story Will Open at Disney Hollywood Studios June 30

 As a Disney stockholder, I find it embarrassing that WDW is charging people full admission to this park with the entire back area torn down and The Movie Ride closed. They even terminated some of the better counter service food stops as attendance declined.

FLORIDATRAVELER toy-story-land

Little Kids Will Love It

Toy Story will be worthwhile if you have kids under ten years, but it is not enough to motivate teenagers or adults unless you have a multi-park pass.   Toy Story will not add any outstanding full service restaurants.  The food spots look like counter service comfort food.

Alien Swirling Saucers is a three minute “Mad Tea Party ride” in elevation hosted by Toy Story’s vending machine aliens.  The rise motion will be so slow that children under 32″ will be able to walk on with parents.  It will take Fastpass at least until the Star Wars area opens in another year.

Slinky Dog Dash is a three minute outdoor roller coaster that resembles a giant Lego and Erector construction by Andy of Toy Story.  It will have no fast curves and large drops since it is believed kids over 36″ will be accepted.  Fastpass might be needed for the ride looks like the biggest thing in the new area.

The Incredibles Headline Tomorrowland’s Expo

 Call it a big movie promo, but Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland will have a Incredible Tomorrowland Expo with a stage performance with Mr. and Mrs. Incredible, Frozone, and even Edna Mode.  There will be a character meet and greet.

FLORIDA TRAVELER the incredibles

Little kids will like it, but until the ride Tron opens to the left of Space Mountain, Tomorrowland is getting to look like Past-Land.  The show will continue until September 3.

Guardians of the Galaxy Land at American Adventure

 The theater in front of Epcot’s American Adventure has been taken over by another movie and future ride promotion.  The Guardians of the Galaxy  group led by Star-Lord, Gamora, and a video performance of Little Groot make conflict with a musical group from Xandar almost every hour from 1:30 to 8 pm until August 19.

FLORIDATRAVELER guardians of galaxy

The actual Guardians of the Galaxy ride being built in Future World is more than a year away.   The Xandarians are eventually convinced to play American 1970’s and 1980’s rock music.  In Florida’s heat and humidity to wear those outfits requires out of this world motivation.

The actual ride now open in California has much better script writing than the dumb story line of this stage show.  At least those Xandarians can rock!

All The New Disney Spring Restaurants Are Open!

 After much delay the new complex of restaurants and nightclubs on the waterfront of Disney Springs are open.  All of them have wonderfully themed structures; the food does not rate as highly in all places.


The Edison Has Unreal Machine Era Theming

Enzio’s Hideaway Tunnel Bar is a clever rum-running tunnel of rooms celebrating the 1920’s speakeasies and decent Italian and Sicilian food and some American dishes. The place is really a series of bars and small rooms.

Maria and Enzo’s Ristorante is a three story 1950’s air terminal of fantastic design.  The menu is expensive, but we found the Sicilian and Italian food to be more enjoyable than the more promoted Edison.  Try the ribeye or the swordfish.

Floridatraveler maria and enzio Dining Room BEST PIC

Maria and Enzo’s Stunning Airport Terminal Theme

The Edison is a huge vacant warehouse with all the machinery intact and converted into a 1920’s nightclub.  The restaurant has received the most publicity for at 10 pm it turns into a nightclub with flappers, an aerial act, a band, and DJs.  There are bars all over the place with some wild and costly signature drinks.

The new American menu is very original, but that means you may find the selections weird, expensive, and not too tasty.  I enjoyed the Edison Burger and the aged prime rib.  If you like parties, this is the adult night spot at Disney Springs.


Universal’s Volcano Bay Water Park Is Best In Florida

 Ready for its first full summer feast is Universal’s Volcano Bay, a water park that will cause updates at Disney’s two water parks.  Volcano uses more high tech to make your visit easier.  The TapuTapu wearable bracelets let you book places in the lines and not spend your hours melting in the Florida sun.


There is a Universal Express Plus one park pass for just $19.99 that allows a person to ignore all the lines and just pounce to the rides one after another.  There are too many rides to mention, but they resemble the rides at the Disney and Sea World and Busch Garden sites, but newer and more elaborate.

One element that stands out is the diversity of food choices at Volcano Bay.  Universal has a big advantage over Disney since its resort hotels are mostly a walk away.  The Kohola Reef Restaurant and Social Club and Whakawaiwai Eats look like restaurants that belong in the Asian themed resorts.

Universal’s Adventura Hotel Opens in August

 Universal’s sixth and perhaps last on-site resort Adventura Hotel will open in August and is a towering South Miami style tri-wall of curved glass. There will be no table service restaurants, just unique food court places, but there will be a rooftop bar and grille.


The regular rooms are small: 314 square feet standard and 395 square feet deluxe and will compete with the Disney All-Star hotels, which are much older.   The most notable thing is the 575 square foot Family Suites, which fit five and undercut Disney by almost $200.  Weak point for place: just one bathroom versus Disney’s two.






About floridatraveler

Historian and travel writer M. C. Bob Leonard makes the Sunshine State his home base. Besides serving as content editor for several textbook publishers and as an Emeritus college professor, he moderates the FHIC at www.floridahistory.org
This entry was posted in adventure vacation, attractions, dining, disney, disney springs, florida history, Florida parks, florida vacations, mcbobleonard, music, Recreational Experiences, Restaurants, travel, Universal Studios, Walt Disney World, wdw and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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