Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts – Behind the Scenes

10275539_10152135911272852_283523096013524292_oWell, the big announcement from Universal Studios Orlando was released today and unfortunately it was not the opening date for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter-Diagon Alley.

It was however the announcement of the official name of the big attraction Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts along with some behind the scenes footage.

Guests will enter Gringotts™ bank beneath the massive fire-breathing dragon at the far end of Diagon Alley™. Inside Gringotts™ you’ll walk through the bank’s grand marble lobby and see goblins hard at work. Then, get ready to take a journey through cavernous passageways that lead deep underground as you climb aboard Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts™.

This new, multi-dimensional 3D thrill ride puts you right in the middle of the action as you face the bank’s stringent security measures while navigating the perilous underground vaults. You’ll encounter Harry, Ron, and Hermione along the way, but you’ll have to evade the wrath of malicious villains Voldemort™ and Bellatrix as well as trolls and other creatures who stand between you and a safe return to Diagon Alley™.

Enjoy the behind the scenes footage and stay tuned for Universal Studios Orlando updates and hopefully, soon, the opening date for Diagon Alley.

Universal Orlando Rumor Buzz on Interactive Wand Experience for Wizarding World of Harry Potter

I have recently heard rumors of an some exciting new technology that Universal Orlando could be introducing with the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley this summer.

This information comes from Central Florida Top 5 and Orlando Informer.   They have managed to combine all previously-leaked information with some insider intel of their own to give us our most exciting glimpse yet of the new RFID-equipped wands that will be flooding the Wizarding Worlds starting (possibly) this summer.
The information is impressive, compelling, and – perhaps ironically – magical, so be sure to be sitting down when reading this, preferably with a cup of butterbeer (frozen, of course) in hand.

Harry Potter, interactive wands, and you
While there is no word on what Universal will end up calling these new interactive wands, we do know that, as of right now, there are 13 different types planned – about a third of the selection of the older wands. They will be sold alongside the traditional ones and will only be offered within the Wizarding Worlds themselves, meaning that the gift shops at the front of the parks, within CityWalk, at the Orlando International Airport, and on Universal’s online store will all be exempt. The current thinking in terms of price is somewhere around twice as much as the non-interactive wands, but it could be as much as three times.

David Radcliffe, left, as Harry Potter and John Hurt as Ollivander in the Warner Bros. Pictures movie "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone." photo by Peter Mountain.                                                             UPFRONT layout 2-3/ FOR WELKOS STORY SNEAKS NOV.11, 2001
How do the wands work? They will be equipped with RFID sensors – not unlike Disney’s MagicBands – and will also have a gyroscope, similar to the one found in the iPhone, built in. When combined with hidden Microsoft Kinect sensors that will be scattered throughout the parks, these wands will allow guests to flick, swoosh, and swipe to cast spells, just as the characters in the books and films do.
And you better start memorizing them all, because current scuttlebutt has a whopping 19 spells being used at various stops all throughout Harry’s wondrous world.

The method to the madness
Although it seems as if the plan right now doesn’t call for each of the interactive displays in the Wizarding Worlds to be expressly marked on guidemaps – having them be “discovered” by guests not only increases the overall sense of magical immersion, it may also serve as a method of crowd control – there will be a medallion on the ground at each of the stops, serving as a marker for the sensors to track you and also hinting at which spell(s) can be used. Eagle-eyed visitors, as such, will be able to pick out the locations relatively quickly.

It sounds like Universal’s current game plan is to give each would-be wizard just one attempt to cast a spell; whether it’s successful or a failure, she would then have to go back to the end of the line to try it all over again. (Don’t ask how Universal plans on enforcing this rule, as we simply have no idea just yet. Will there be Team Members stationed at each of the interactive displays? This would make the most sense, but it would also help to give away their “secret” locations.)

Diagon Alley’s spell-casting locations
Approximately 18 different interactive displays, most of them (fake) storefronts, will be on-hand at or shortly after the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley’s grand opening. These include:

  • Bowman E. Wright, Blacksmith (Carkitt Market) – features a suit of house-elf armor that collapses, which gives guests the chance to put it back together, piece by piece. In addition, the coal on a hearth will glow once activated
  • Dystyl Phaeleanges, Purveyor of Fine Bones and Tusks (Knockturn Alley) – a troll skeleton that is brought to life by a Victorian-style slide projector can be made to mimic your movements
  • Florean Fortescue’s Ice-Cream Parlor (Diagon Alley) – a “fun” window display of a man and woman with ice cream hair will somehow animate, though it’s rumored this won’t be one of the first wave of interactive displays
  • Mermaid water fountain (Carkitt Market) – when the Agumenti spell is cast, water will shoot out at guests
  • Noggin and Bonce (Knockturn Alley) – with the right spell, a group of “very rude” shrunken heads can be silenced – and a counter-spell can release them from their silence
  • Pilliwinkle’s Playthings (Knockturn Alley) – this Dark Arts storefront features trolls in tutus that appear
  • Public conveniences (Carkitt Market) – an umbrella-shaped light fixture can be made to rain (while the WWN radio station can be heard coming from an open window nearby)
  • Scribbulus (Horizont Alley) – a large piece of parchment will reveal a randomized list of messages, which may include some “secrets,” when Aparecuim is cast. If a guest instead uses Wingardium Leviosa, a quill will rise from its display and hover in midair
  • Tallow and Hemp Toxic Tapers (Knockturn Alley) – guests can inflict one of three jinxes on a canary in the window
  • Trackleshanks (Knockturn Alley) – the shop’s door will chuckle at you if you use the wrong spell
  • Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes (Diagon Alley) – a U-No-Poo sign, once triggered, will display a scene from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

diagon-alley-universal-orlando-Florean-Fortescues-Ice-Cream-Parlour-oi-550x347It should be noted that another interactive element mentioned in the article was also in Knockturn Alley – this little stretch of land will be packed with such experiences, which should hopefully make up for its lack of shops and attractions – located above guests, presumably taking advantage of the alley’s ceiling. Whatever it is, it’s exciting to know that Universal and Warner Bros. are attempting to incorporate the interactive wands in a whole host of different ways.

Hogsmeade’s spell-casting locations
Yes, it’s true – the first Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be receiving something of a facelift, making the more immersive magical experiences from Diagon Alley carry over. Roughly ten new interactive elements will be installed, with some coming in the shape of brand-new storefronts – such as Madam Puddifoot’s, which just recently replaced Wiseacres (since the latter is moving off and becoming a full-fledged store of its very own at Diagon Alley) – and others being upgrades to older displays.

  • Dervish and Banges – the golden automata of Harry Potter being chased by a dragon will respond differently to a number of spells
  • Honeydukes – chocolate frogs will be revealed – and possibly come to life – when activated
  • Madam Puddifoot’s – one spell will animate cakes sitting on display, while another will make them go prone again
  • Pippin’s Potions – guests can cast Arresto Momento to stop a water-filled cauldron from overflowing onto them (with pixies watching gleefully from above)
  • Spintwitches – Wingardium Leviosa makes a return appearance here, causing a Quaffle to float up out of its box
  • Tomes and Scrolls – a secret never-ending page of The Tales of Beedle the Bard will be revealed when magically prodded
  • Zonko’s Joke Shop – reduced to just a tiny fake storefront, Zonko’s will feature an “impressive” display of fireworks when triggered by the correct spell

Puddifoot-550x332
Ceridwen’s Cauldrons, Gladrags, and McHavelock’s are the remaining three interactive spots, but there’s been no word as of yet what their magical elements will be.

Expect all this to make Hogsmeade nearly as busy as it was when it first opened four years ago – good news for crowd control at Universal Studios Florida, but bad news for those Muggles who want to take in all the new additions at Islands of Adventure.

The dark side of the magic
Excited to try your hand at these interactive experiences? Don’t get your hopes up too much just yet – everything is still waiting approval from that most demanding of mistresses, Jo Rowling, and given the topsy-turvy way that construction has been unfolding regardless, it’s still 50-50, at best, that we’ll be seeing the RFID wands on opening day. This may even be something that gets held up until next summer before being fully deployed, particularly since it seems that the tips of the new wands are extremely fragile and break rather easily.
Still, it sounds as if Universal is aiming to have at least a handful of the spell-casting stops be online right from day one, with all the others being slowly phased in over the course of the following months.

 

2014 Disney World Free Dining Offer Available To General Public

free-dining-281x300Booking is now available! Walt Disney World’s Free Dining Offer has been extended to the general public for select dates in September, October, November, and December 2014!

Travel Dates

Free Dining is being offered to guests ARRIVING during the dates listed below. A minimum stay of 3 nights is required and may not be booked for longer than 14 nights.

August 31 – October 3, 2014
October 26 – November 1, 2014
November 9 – 20, 2014
December 12 – 23, 2014

Disney Resorts

If you stay at a Value Resort, you’ll receive the Quick Service Dining plan for FREE. (Note that you can upgrade to the standard or deluxe dining plans by paying the difference in cost per night.)

If you reserve a Moderate, Deluxe, or Deluxe Villa Resort, you will receive the standard Dining plan for FREE. (You can upgrade to the deluxe dining plan by paying the difference in cost per night).

NOTE: Fort Wilderness campsites, 3-bedroom Disney Vacation Club villas, Little Mermaid rooms at Art of Animation Resort, all Villas at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort, All-Star Movies rooms, and rooms at Port Orleans Resort Riverside and French Quarter are not included in this offer.

Tickets

In addition to booking a minimum stay of 3 nights at one of the above Disney resorts, you’ll also need to purchase AT LEAST a 2-day Magic Your Way Disney World ticket.

Call We Travelers Three today at 614-458-8617 or contact via email at kelly@wetravelersthree.com to book your FREE dining package today.

Dates for Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party Announced

DSCF0035 Don your favorite costume and get ready to trick-or-treat at this Halloween-themed event held inside Magic Kingdom park.

This special event will be held on September: 1, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28 and October: 2, 3, 5, 9, 10, 13, 16, 17, 19, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30, 31 — separate event tickets can be purchased in advance. The tone of the party is “not-so-scary,” which means children of all ages can enjoy it.

Photo0070FourBySixTrick-or-Treat Fun for Everyone
Dress up in your favorite costume to collect candy throughout Magic Kingdom park. You’ll soon discover all the boo-tiful ways that the spirits of the season have transformed the park into a happy haunted hallows! Many favorite Disney Characters are dressed in Halloween costumes, too. So come celebrate and scare up a good time!

You will receive a Trick or Treat Bag to be used at the candy stations found throughout the Magic Kingdom.  Some cast members will give more than others, but there’s no limit to how many times you can go back to the same location for more.

Photo0087FourBySixTrick or Treat Stations

  • Adventureland:  Walt Disney’s Enchanted Tiki Room, Pirates of the Caribbean queue
  • Liberty Square:  Liberty Square Riverboat
  • Fantasyland:  Peter Pan’s Flight queue, Pinocchio Village Haus, Storybook Circus, near Pete’s Silly Sideshow
  • Tomorrowland:  Tomorrowland Speedway, Space Mountain, Stitch’s Great Escape!

Trick or Treat Trails

  • Frontierland :  Near Splash Mountain queue
  • Tomorrowland:  Enter near Space Mountain and exit at Storybook Circus

Options for guests with food allergies are available upon request at City Hall on Main Street, U.S.A.

DSCF0047Eerie Entertainment
The night howls with excitement at this spook-tacular party for all little ghouls and boys. Unearth some of the great entertainment that awaits you at this ghastly bash:

Disney Villains Dance Mix and Mingle!
Some of your favorite baddies from Disney films rock you with this thrilling opening number in front of a ghostly Cinderella Castle. When the number is over, the villains veer into the crowds for meet and greets.

Frontierland
Venture into Frontierland where you might even meet a barbershop quartet of dead cowboys who sing songs in the style of the Dapper Dans. They like “axing” Guests questions and answering with puns as part of their “dead pan” humor.

Mickey’s “Boo-to-You” Halloween Parade
The grandmaster of this bone-rattling parade has truly lost his head! A hair-raising ride by the Headless Horseman himself begins the festivities, followed by a collection of frightful floats featuring Disney Characters in Halloween costumes. Get ready for the grave diggers! The Haunted Mansion stars in this delightful parade. It’s really not so scary—just fiendish fun!

Happy HalloWishes
The Ghost Host from the Haunted Mansion invites you to “drop in” as Disney Villains tear up the night with fireworks and wicked remixes of their theme songs. Cruella de Vil, Jafar and Oogie Boogie are just some of the scoundrels who croon their spooky tunes. Feel a chill as creepy colors crawl over Cinderella Castle. The finale casts a spell you will never forget!

DSCF0036General Pricing
September 2014
September 1, 9, 12, 14, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 2014

  • Advance Purchase:  Adult: $62.00 + tax, Child: $57.00 + tax

October 2014
October 2, 3, 5, 9, 13, 16, 19, 21, 23, 26, 28, 2014

 

  • Advance Purchase:  Adult: $67.00 + tax, Child: $62.00 + tax

October 10, 17, 24, 30, 2014

  • Advance Purchase:  Adult: $71.00 + tax, Child: $66.00 + tax

October 31, 2013

  • Advance Purchase:  Adult: $77.00 + tax, Child: $72.00 + tax

Tickets can be ordered by calling We Travelers Three at 614-458-8617 or through your We Travelers Three as part of your package/room reservation.

 

Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Harambe Nights

dak_harambe_hero_900 In celebration of the 20th anniversary of The Lion King,
celebrate world-class theatrical entertainment alongside a sophisticated culinary experience as you immerse yourself in the story of The Lion King like never before.

An All-Inclusive Feast for the Senses

Harambe-nights-reception-ver-4-16x9Voyage into Harambe Village for a roaring summer celebration featuring the grandest tales and tastes of Africa.

Every Saturday, from June 7 to August 9, 2014, pay tribute to the 20th anniversary of Disney’s The Lion King at an all-inclusive extravaganza inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

The excitement kicks off with a warm welcome reception before moving into Harambe Theater for a private performance of the all-new show The Lion King: Concert in the Wild—complete with a special celebrity narrator and a live orchestra!

Then, once the show comes to a close, you’re invited to hit the streets for an exotic party where you can explore all sorts of sizzling seasonal fare, magical merchandise offerings and a series of Character appearances and artist signings.

Be sure to stick around as the night draws to a conclusion too and receive a fond farewell you won’t soon forget!

Event details are subject to change.

The Lion King: Concert in the Wild

harambe-nights-03Surround yourself in the Savannah setting of the Harambe Theater as you experience The Lion King like never before!

Marvel at the sights and sounds as iconic scenes from the film are recreated with splendid theatricality, all while a celebrity narrator and a live orchestra provide the soundtrack for a never-before-seen take on The Lion King tale.

Celebrity narrators currently scheduled to appear include:

Viola Davis – June 7, 2014
TBD – June 14, 2014
Montego Glover – June 21, 2014
David Alan Grier – June 28, 2014
Michael Beach – July 5, 2014
Harry Lennix – July 12, 2014
Joe Morton – July 19, 2014
Alfre Woodard – July 26, 2014
Brian Stokes Mitchell – August 2, 2014
Patina Miller – August 9, 2014
Entertainment and celebrity narrators are subject to change.

Harambe Nights Street Party

harambe-nights-02Move to the beat as you head out for fun, food, merchandise and more at the Harambe Nights Street Party.

As the celebration continues, dance alongside excited townspeople as a favorite local band fills the night air with non-stop Afro-pop rhythms. Then, take your pick from a festive array of event happenings.

From an assortment of all-inclusive food and beverages—including mouthwatering and sweet tastes, and African beers and wines; to special appearances and signings with select Disney Design Group artists; to magical meetings with Disney Characters showing off their wild sides, countless encounters await your arrival!

Plus, don’t miss your chance to purchase merchandise you won’t find elsewhere:

  • A limited-release case for iPhone 4 and 5 featuring imagery from Disney’s The Lion King, designed by Disney Design Group artist Randy Noble
  • Disney’s The Lion King 20th anniversary puzzle
  • Exclusive event items like apparel, art, collectibles and so much more!

Entertainment, merchandise and event details are subject to change. Guests must be 21 years of age or older to enjoy alcoholic beverages.

Admission Tickets

harambe-nights-04Reserve your place in the circle of life!  Purchase general seating admission to Harambe Nights:  $119.00 for adults; $79.00 for children (tax not included).  Get up close to the sights and sounds with premium seating admission: $134.00 for adults; $94.00 for children (tax not included).

Know Before You Go

harambe-nights-06Learn important information about Harambe Nights at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.

  • A separate ticket is required to enter and participate in Harambe Nights.
  • For more information on Harambe Nights—including booking a reservation—please call (614) 458-8617 or contact us via email. Guests under 18 years of age must have parent or guardian permission to call.
  • Theme park admission is included for the special event only. All attractions, entertainment and other offerings outside of the designated event area will not be available.
  • If Guests wish to enjoy Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park prior to the event, additional theme park admission will be required.
  • Advance reservations are highly recommended.
  • Tickets purchased prior to the date of the event will be mailed in advance. If you do not receive your tickets in time, you can pick them up at the ticket windows near the Main Entrance of Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.
  • Entry to Harambe Nights begins at 7:00 PM with a welcome reception. Please plan on arriving at least 45 minutes prior to the start of the event to ensure you have time to park and enter Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.
  • A wristband is required to enter the special event. To retrieve your wristband, please show your event ticket at the Main Entrance. If you are already inside the park prior to the start of the event, you can show your ticket to a Cast Member at the entrance of Harambe Village instead to receive your wristband.
  • Parking is complimentary during the event only, beginning at 4:00 PM.

All information and photos come right from the Walt Disney World website.

2014 FREE Dining Promotion for Disney VISA Cardholders

Mickey_and_Minnie_Waffle
Mickey and Minnie waffles

Great News! Disney World just released their 2014 Fall Free Dining Promotion  for Disney Visa Cardholders.

August 31 – October 3 / October 26 – November 1 / November 9 – 20 / December 12 – 23 Arrivals
Must book by August 8, 2014
Limited Availability ~ Black-Out Days Apply

We expect to see this promotion released to the general public on Wednesday, May 7, 2014.

Book a qualifying vacation package at a Disney World moderate or deluxe resort and receive the Standard / Plus Dining Plan at no extra cost. This dining plan includes 1 counter-service meal credit, 1 table-service meal credit, and 1 snack credit per person, per night of stay. Receiving this dining plan free of charge saves a family of four about $107 or more per night of stay, based on the regular cost of this dining plan. You can upgrade to the Deluxe dining plan by just paying the difference between the standard and the deluxe plans. Contact us for details.  Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort and Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort are excluded from this offer.

Book a qualifying vacation package at a Disney World Value Resort (Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, All-Stars Music or All-Star Sports Resorts, or Pop Century) and receive the Disney Quick-Service Dining plan at no extra cost. The quick-service plan provides two quick/counter-service meals + 1 snack per person, per night of stay. Receiving this plan at no extra cost saves a family of four about $85 per night of stay. You can upgrade to the Standard or Deluxe dining plans by paying the difference between the quick service dining plan and your preferred dining plan. Contact us for details.  Disney’s All-Star Movies Resort is excluded from this offer. The Little Mermaid Standard Rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are excluded from this promotion but the family suites are included.

Travel Dates: Your arrival (check-in) date must fall between August 31 – October 3 / October 26 – November 1 / November 9 – 20 / December 12 – 23, 2014  to qualify for the free dining promotion.    Remember that the check-in date is the important date, if you arrive by December 23, your departure date can extend beyond December 23 and you will still have free dining for the duration of your vacation, even over Christmas.

Minimum Requirements: Must purchase a package that includes three (3) Consecutive nights stay at a Disney Resort + at least 2-Day Disney Magic Your Way theme park Tickets.

Must book by August 8, 2014.

You must use your Disney Visa to pay a $200 deposit at the time of booking with the balance due 45 days prior to arrival.  The deposit is completely refundable up to 45 days prior to arrival so there is no risk at this time.   If you think you might want to take advantage of Free Dining, book a room now and then cancel later, if necessary.

Exclusions: Fort Wilderness campsites, Disney’s Port Orleans French Quarter Resort, Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside Resort, Disney’s All-Star Movies, all 3-bedroom villas, Villas at Grand Floridian Resort, and Little Mermaid rooms at Disney’s Art of Animation Resort are excluded from this offer. The Cabins at the Fort Wilderness campground and Family Suites at Disney’s Art of Animation are included in the promotion.

Dining Reservations – Dining can be booked up to 180 days prior to your arrival which means that dining can now be booked for most of the free dining dates. Have We Travelers Three book your dining reservations by purchasing one of our Customized Itinerary Plans or Magical Meal Plans as soon as you are able. The free dining promotion has a serious impact on the number of available dining reservations and some restaurants will fully book very early.

In addition to the free dining promotions, you can receive vacation planning help for an additional fee when you book your Disney vacation through We Travelers Three. We will provide a Customized daily itinerary, help with dining reservations, and a  subscription to Disney+ Newsletter to help you with Disney World Theme Park touring plans that keep you ahead of the crowds and out of the long lines.

Click here to book your vacation with free dining today

Please let me know if you have any questions about the above information – I’m here to help.

Full Ride-Through: Take A Trip Aboard Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Walt Disney World’s newest roller coaster is opening in the Magic Kingdom later this spring, but you can ride it right now in this first-person POV video released by the company on Wednesday.

The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train features new audio animatronic characters that use computer graphics to give them a full range of facial expressions.

A video released by the company on Tuesday shows the effect up close.

The new coaster is being billed as a family ride with a height requirement of just 38 inches, or just a tad higher than the 35-inch requirement for the Barnstormer, the park’s “kiddie” coaster.