SATURDAY SIX Presents: Flights with @bioreconstruct Vol 2 – EPCOT Construction, Tron Lightcycle Run, EPIC Universe and more!

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This week the SATURDAY SIX Proudly Presents: Flights with @bioreconstruct! That’s right, this week we’re hopping back into the helicopter with blogger-in-the-sky @bioreconstruct to get a bird’s eye view of the latest developments at Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando. However, despite how much time Bio spends in the sky, he’s also frequently seen wearing out his sneakers on the ground taking photos of the latest developments in Florida, including the recent opening of…

# 6 – WDW Store on I-Drive

One of the biggest tourist strips in Orlando is International Drive. Here you will find the Orange County Convention Center along with a metric ton of hotels, restaurants, mini-golf courses, gift shops promising “4 t-shirts for $10”, Icon Park and more. The current Universal Orlando is located extremely close to I-Drive (with the Endless Summer resorts actually directly off I-Drive) and the upcoming EPIC Universe theme park will also be located near I-Drive. Well, in-between the current Universal parks and EPIC Universe, Disney installed a GIGANTIC LED screen on top of a parking garage that can be seen from space. This parking garage is located on I-Drive near Sand Lake Road.

WDW Store on I-Drive. (photo by @bioreonstruct)

Let’s take a trip back to late September 2021, and look at the parking garage before the WDW signage was installed.

Hollywood Parking Garage. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

From what I can tell, Bio has documenting the construction of this large video wall every single day for the past year. Below we’ll go over some of the highlights he has seen.

Flowing video ribbon being tested. It’s dim white, except for an unlit rectangle at arrow. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Below the LED ribbon display you’ll see that circles of LED lighting have been added onto the parking garage. The circles of LED lighting are also on the side around the right corner.

A look at the curves of the flowing ribbon display at top of the Hollywood Plaza parking garage.  (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Here is the state of the video wall back on May 13th. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Ok, now we are in the sky and the aerial photo below features a look at the video construction on April 29th. The arrow is pointing to where a WDW ticket store is now located, in the building attached to the parking garage. The WDW store faces I-Drive.

Aerial overview of the Hollywood Plaza parking garage.  (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Now let’s take a look at the I-Drive skyline. From L-R we have the Hollywood Parking Garage (home of WDW’s giant LED ribbon), Magic Midway SlingShot, Orlando StarFlyer (in red, white & blue lighting for July 4th weekend), the Orlando FreeFall (currently closed), and The Wheel. As you can see, the LED circles that were installed across the entire parking garage combined with the Disney flowing video screen

Aerial of the I-Drive skyline. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

This aerial photo of EPCOT has the “iconic” I-Drive skyline seen in the background. The arrow is pointing to the Hollywood Parking Garage (home to the new WDW ticket store and giant LED ribbon wall.)

EPCOT. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Speaking of EPCOT….

# 5 – July 4th Weekend at EPCOT

The new lighting package at Spaceship Earth is straight up E-Ticket and allows for Disney to do some truly tremendous things, such as having SSE lit up like the American Flag during July 4th weekend.

EPCOT. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Just absolutely gorgeous.

Spaceship Earth. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Spaceship Earth. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Spaceship Earth. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Spaceship Earth. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Breezeway in EPCOT lit with red, white, and blue lighting. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The Nova Corps Star Blaster outside Cosmic Rewind, with Spaceship Earth in the background.

Well they were right. You can barely notice the stand holding up the “floating” Star Cruiser. They say a big man admits when he is wrong and today I am that bigger man. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

This aerial gives another angle of the Star Blaster in front of the entrance to Cosmic Rewind.

Cosmic Rewind. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Closer view of  the Nova Corps. Star Blaster. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 4 – EPCOT Construction

Staying on Cosmic Rewind, let’s go back a couple weeks ago to late May, as the photo below has arrows at where construction staging was for the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster. This picture was taken on May 27th, the official grand opening of the attraction.

Cosmic Rewind. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Our next photo is of the same general area, taken from the EPCOT monorail, and shows the fencing which was up.

EPCOT. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Our last photo in this series is a view of the same area  taking more recently, showing the fencing removed from the area. This photo was also taken from the EPCOT monorail.

EPCOT, with a Disney Springs Aerophile in the background. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Let’s head into the park and look at what’s going on with the Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana walkthrough attraction. How this project is still nowhere near to being completed is mind boggling. The bottom arrow at what seems like waterproofing on top of the service basement remaining from Innoventions West. This area likely to be buried in dirt soon. The top arrow at some interesting material staging. Seems like dense foam blocks.

Journey of Taking Forever: Inspired by EPCOT Construction. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Despite taking forever, the attraction is starting to take shape visually and surely will looking fantastic when finished. Here we have a look at stages of craftsmanship by the Journey of Water rock work artists. 1) Colors outline plan for the sculpting. 2) Gunite applied for a sculpt of a cavity at top of a rock work feature. 3) Sculpted areas that seem ready for paint

Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Arrow in this photo at a dividing rock column in what seems to be a passageway forming in rock work.

Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana.  (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Rock work “chips” are being added to the tallest frame of Journey of Water.

Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 3 – “Aloha means goodbye…”

Just as Universal welcomed back their luau show at the Royal Pacific Resort, Disney officially began removing the former home of the Spirit of Aloha dinner show at the Poly. This area will be converted into more Disney Vacation Club units (and will probably be finished faster than the Journey of Water attraction in EPCOT.) Below is an aerial look at the demolition as it was just starting in mid June.

Former home of the Spirt of Aloha dinner show. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Same view of the demolition taken from the Magic Kingdom monorail. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

About a week later, the area looked like this…

Former home of the Spirit of Aloha dinner show. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

As you can see below, by the beginning of July, the area was ready for the upcoming DVC tower.

We need MORE dinner shows in WDW, not LESS! (photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 2 – Tron Lightcycle Run

If it seems like we’ve been waiting forever for the upcoming Tron coaster at Disney’s Magic Kingdom it’s because we have. This past week we celebrated the five year anniversary of Bob Chapek announcing the attraction was coming. To put that number in context, five years ago Dueling Dragons was still in operation at Universal’s Islands of Adventure. Since that time Universal has replaced Dueling Dragons with Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. Universal also built ANOTHER coaster in the same park with the VelocCoaster in Jurassic Park.

As crazy as this sounds, Tron actually seems AHEAD of schedule and seems that it will be ready earlier than many had expected. Construction has really ramped up this year for whatever reason (possibly because they want to somehow count this as part of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary…which was on October 1st, 2021.)

Tron Lightcycle Run and Space Mountain in Tomorrowland. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Current look at the lighting installed inside the tunnel for the Magic Kingdom railroad that will be running underneath the Tron coaster.

Tron tunnel.  (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Lighting and more inside the steam train tunnel through Tron. Note also the square openings. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 1 – Epic Universe

Now let’s head across town and look at some construction projects which seem to have the “fast forward” button pressed on them. Several lands at Universal’s upcoming EPIC Universe theme park are showing tremendous progress. Our first photo is a very wide overview of EPIC Universe construction. The arrow is pointing at the Mythos restaurant in Islands of Adventure, to show how close all of Universal’s parks will be when finished.

Epic Universal.  (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Before we get into closer looks, here is a list of some of the projects being worked on in this area…

1) Super Nintendo World. 2) Universal Classic Monsters. 3) Ministry of Magic. 4) Fountain for the onsite hotel. 5) Team Member building. 6) Warehouse. 7) Chilled water plant. 8) High-speed dueling roller coaster. 9) How to Train Your Dragon roller coaster. 10) Guest entrance (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Aerial overview of construction in Universal’s Epic Universe. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

So let’s start at the center of EPIC Universe, and this large circle will be the home of a fountain which will surely have show elements like World of Color at DCA. The adjacent excavation will be another water feature which will have an attraction attached to it. At the top left of the photo is excavation for a turn that will occur in the dueling coaster. About a month ago we did a full rundown of what’s expected to be coming to EPIC Universe and you can read that article by CLICKING HERE.

EPIC Universe. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Closer look at that turn for the dueling coaster.

Epic Universe. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

The photo below shows the many projects being worked on at the same time inside the Universal Classic Monsters Land. Top left is the featured attraction in the land. The large circle at the right is main fountain of the park which we discussed above. The arrow is pointing to what potentially could be a restaurant fronting the onsite hotel.

EPIC Universe.  (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Closer look at the front of the Universal Classic Monsters featured attraction so far. Guests to enter mansion with towers at left. Likely tall trees hide the show building, where boom lift is seen bottom center.

Universal Classic Monsters Land. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Top down view of the main attraction in Universal Classic Monsters Land. 1) Entrance. Framing seen of a mansion with varied height towers. 2) Hexagon of likely atrium. 3) Likely there will be large trees here to hide show building. 4 & 5) Rides often have 2 routes. 2 pairs of concrete.

Classic Monsters Land. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Here is a photo of the construction of Universal Classic Monsters Land taken from ground level (Universal Blvd.)

Universal Classic Monsters Land. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Let’s head on over to Super Nintendo World, which is expected to be the huge draw of this park. In the foreground of this picture is a staging area which will later become an expansion area of the park once it is completed. Speaking of EPIC Universe expansions, “rumors and innuendo” suggest that the Lord of the Rings may finally be coming to a theme park. This has been talked about for Disney and Universal for YEARS and ultimately never coming to fruition. However, the permit princess Alicia Stella has put together a must watch video which covers the history of LOTR and the theme parks along with discussion of what may be coming to EPIC Universe. You can watch that video by CLICKING HERE.

Super Nintendo World. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Closer look at the upcoming Mario Kart attraction.

Super Nintendo World. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Donkey Kong attraction.

Super Nintendo World. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Yoshi’s Adventure. The track supports for this attraction are on the right.

Super Nintendo World. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Let’s quickly get on the ground for a moment to see how this area looks from Universal Blvd. The left arrow is pointing to the track supports for Yoshi’s Adventure that we mentioned above, and the right arrow is pointing to a large ring on the roof for that very same attraction.

Super Nintendo World. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Okay, back in the air and we get a look at the huge show building for the upcoming Ministry of Magic attraction.

Ministry of Magic.  (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Side view of the Ministry of Magic construction. Seems like much of the show building will be cavernous.

Ministry of Magic.  (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Next up, How to Train Your Dragon Land. This area will feature a roller coaster, and the service road indicates foundations at bottom center of the photo will be part of the land.  The yellow arrow is pointing to the turn for the high speed dueling coaster which will be located outside the land. The top center of the photo features the large Ministry of Magic show building.

How To Train Your Dragon Land. (aerial photo by @bioreoncstruct)

Another angle of How to Train Your Dragon Land. The coaster will have guests “flying” over rolling terrain. On the right hand side of the photo you’ll see a concrete trough where the coaster track will dip below grade.

How to Train Your Dragon Land. (aerial by @bioreconstruct)

Back on the ground, the photo below is a very wide shot showing various construction in EPCI Universe. At left, Universal Classic Monsters Land. Center is Ministry of Magic. At right is Super Nintendo World.

EPIC Universe as seen from Universal Blvd. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

While “back of house” stuff isn’t that exciting compared to theme park attractions, there a necessary component to EPIC Universe’s success. Below we have the concrete walls of a warehouse being raised on the right. The Kirkman Road extension can be seen in progress at top center. That road will be for guests to reach Epic Universe parking. Team Member parking is seen here, along Sand Lake Rd.

EPIC Universe. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Closer look at a Team Member support building under construction at Epic Universe. The concrete walls were cast flat, then raised. One of the casting areas being removed at right.

Epic Universe.  (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Closer look at floors being raised by boom lift in a Team Member office building at Epic Universe. Note the series of rectangles, indicating there will be atriums uniting the floors.

EPIC Universe.  (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

Below is a good look at how everything is fitting into place for the upcoming “3rd gate” for Universal.

A look at the roads near Universal’s Epic Universe. (aerial by @bioreconstruct)

HONORABLE MENTION – WDI Testing…

Folks taking the EPCOT Monorail from Magic Kingdom can get a glimpse of some testing being done by Walt Disney Imagineering. This test is being conducted outdoors across from the TTC parking lot.

WDI Testing. (aerial by @bioreconstruct)

Imagineers constantly test materials and products. Look towards former STOL Port (East of TTC parking) from the EPCOT monorail for a long term weathering test of artificial foliage.

WDI Testing. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Now what could WDI be testing weathering foliage for? Well it just so happens that it was recently announced that the Splash Mountain retheme looks to be coming sooner rather than later…

Double Secret Honorable Mention – The Resorts

For most people, the pictures they love the most from our pal Bio is his theme park construction shots. It’s incredible being able to see a project like EPIC Universe come to life in a way we just have never seen before (outside of Volcano Bay.) I get it, they are awesome, but for me my favorite BIO photos are the ones he takes of the theme park resorts showing the Big Picture that you just don’t get from ground level. I can’t get enough of them and here are some of my favorites from the past few weeks…

Pop Century (left) and Art of Animation. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Coronado Springs. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

VERY rare to see shots from Disney’s All Star Resorts.

Disney’s All Star Resorts. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
All Star Sports. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
All Star Sports. Baseball diamond shaped pool, footballs and helmets among the theming. The giant Coca-Cola cups are enclosures around stairways. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
All Star Movies and All Star Music. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Guitar shaped pool at All Star Music. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Universal’s Sapphire Falls. The pool is shallow across the middle, like a sand bar. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Universal’s Royal Pacific Resort. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Very wide aerial overview of Universal’s Surfside and Dockside. (aerial by @bioreconstruct)

Triple Threat Honorable Mention – SeaWorld’s New Coaster

SeaWorld, which seems to be in an “arms race” with Disney and Universal to create new coasters, recently announced that a new Surf Coaster will be coming to the park in Orlando. SeaWorld is currently home to four pretty significant coasters: Mako, Kraken, Ice Breaker and Manta. For me, Mako is a NAY NAY coaster and way too scary with the large drop, but Manta is pound for pound one of my favorite coasters in all of Florida. We have done SAT 6’s on SeaWorld in general (years ago) and the recent Sesame Street addition to the park, and I think once the Surf Coaster opens it will be time to take the fam back there to get content for a new article and check out Ice Breaker.

SeaWorld surf coaster. (aerial by @bioerconstruct)
Arrow at footers in progress for Surf Coaster. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
A look at track and components staged for the  Surf Coaster. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Surf Coaster track. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)
Surf Coaster track.. (aerial photo by @bioreconstruct)

So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Presents: Flights with @bioreconstruct! See you next weekend for the latest installment of the SATURDAY SIX, where we’ll look at something fun from the world of Disney and Universal. If you enjoyed yourself, be sure to check out the THEME PARK ENJOYMENT INDEX, giving a monthly recap of all the theme park news you need to know (and a lot more you don’t need to know, but we’re gonna tell you anyway). You can also follow Your Humble Author on Twitter (@derekburgan).

If you enjoyed this article, you will surely like the following: 

SATURDAY SIX Presents: Flights with @bioreconstruct Vol 1

The SATURDAY SIX Presents: @bioreconstruct’s favorite aerial photos

The SATURDAY SIX Takes 3 Flights in a Single Day with @bioreconstrut

The SATURDAY SIX Presents: Our favorite @bioreconstruct photos of 2021

The SATURDAY SIX Presents: Our favorite @bioreconstruct photos of 2020

 

Special Thanks to The Elite Brandon Glover, Digital Maestro Scott Walker, the bio-est of all reconstructs @bioreconstruct, Captain Cruiseline Scott Sanders of the world famous Disney Cruise Line Blog, my personal protege Hunter “Elvey” Underwood, artist @SonderQuest, the mighty maven of merchandise Hedgehog’s Corner, the SAT SIX Fun Squad of Parkscope Joe and “the Dadalorian” Nick, hot shot Michael Carelli, charter member of the Universal Four @Nitro230, the permit princess Alicia Stella, master cartographer Tommy Hawkins, and Hermione Granger’s tutor Megan Stump for their invaluable assistance with this article. Absolutely no help was added by SeaWorld Influencer @SuperWeenieHtJr. The SAT SIX is inspired each week by goofballs Aengus Mackenzie and LitemAndHyde and you Potterheads will  enjoy Meg’s other blog work over at the Central Florida Slug Club.

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3 thoughts on “SATURDAY SIX Presents: Flights with @bioreconstruct Vol 2 – EPCOT Construction, Tron Lightcycle Run, EPIC Universe and more!

  • July 16, 2022 at 10:35 am
    Permalink

    Pop Century is to the left, and Art of Animation is to the right in the photo.

    I like the way you’ve grouped the photos!

    Reply
    • July 16, 2022 at 10:47 am
      Permalink

      That’s on me. In my mind I wrote “left” as I just stayed at Pop last month. First typo in SAT SIX history.

      Reply
  • July 18, 2022 at 2:47 pm
    Permalink

    We picked up a fun card to sea world this year since on discount from an employer. Hadn’t been in a long long time. The park still suffers greatly from height restrictions. They are also suffering from staffing issues. But they are in an arms race to pull the thrill crowd to experience their coasters. We have logged 4 trips this year and have one more when we pop back down in December for our annual Disney visit.

    Having a general primer for this property might be nice, even if we don’t get all of the analysis about wait times, lines, food changes, etc. I feel the same about legoland. We were very surprised they exceeded our somewhat low expectations last september.

    Reply

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