Saturday SixWalt Disney World (FL)

The SATURDAY SIX Presents: Flights with @bioreconstruct (aerials of Galactic Starcruiser, Epic Universe construction and more!)

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This week’s SATURDAY SIX proudly presents: Flights with @bioreconstruct! Grab your Dramamine because we’re getting into the blogger high-in-the-sky helicopter with none other than @bioreconstruct to get a bird’s eye view of Disney and Universal. Bio took not just one, not two, but THREE separate flights this past week, and we’ll be covering a whole bunch of spots around the theme park corridor, but we’ll first start above an area which will soon be supporting the Disney parks…

# 6 – Lake Nona, the Future Home to Walt Disney Imagineering

A while back Disney announced that it would be moving Walt Disney Imagineering from Glendale, California to Lake Nona, Florida. This is a major change and hopefully will have some long term dividends for the Florida parks as the people designing the rides will now be living in the temperamental Florida climate rather than the idyllic one found in Southern California. For example, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge was created for both Disneyland in CA and Disney’s Hollywood Studios in FL, but we can possibly assume that if the land were designed with Florida weather in mind rather than California, we’d see more covered areas built into the design to provide cover from the heat/humidity and consistent rain storms. That benefit comes at a cost though, as many longtime Disney Imagineers will not be relocating to Florida, instead choosing to leave the company. The new development in Lake Nona will be called the Disney Regional Campus, and will be home to 2,000+ jobs from the Parks, Experience, and Products division.

The yellow outlined area is the 65 acres Disney will be using in Lake Nona. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Site preparation of the 65-acre Disney Regional Campus at Lake Nona. An existing pond is being filled. Yellow line is the extent of the property. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Disney Regional Campus site. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Disney Regional Campus site. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Some of the neighbors to the Disney Regional Campus including the Orlando VA medical center in the top right. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Map on the Lake Nona website identifying where the Disney Regional Campus will be in relation to the other businesses in the area.

# 5 – Star Wars: Galactic Star Cruiser Grand Opening

In the Theme Park Enjoyment Index for February, we mentioned that the Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser had begun doing sailings for invited media. On March 1st, the very first paying guests were able to experience the Starcruiser for the first time.

Star Wars: Galactic Star Cruiser on March 1st, 2022. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

This Fine Blog Series will be covering the Starcruiser in depth over the course of the year, including the antics of one Len Testa. The immersive storytelling and Cast Members being allowed to truly shine seem to be a huge hit with everyone who has experienced the Starcruiser so far.

TouringPlans’ own Len Testa in character as Hank Lonley. a ne’er do well loveable scamp who made quite an impression on the Starcruiser.

Our next area shows the Starcruiser (top right) in relation to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in DHS.

A close look reveals the “Hollywood film studio-like” aspects of Galaxy’s Edge in which some of the rockwork is held up by posts. You only need to theme the areas that guests actually see. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Let’s stay at Walt Disney World for a bit and head on over to EPCOT.

EPCOT. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Arrows at some recent activity. White tents are worker break areas. The EPCOT Flower and Garden Festival started on March 2nd and you can see some “Hidden Mickeys” in floral murals. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Current state of Moana: Journey of Water. Arrow at concrete recently cast in some forms. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Last month’s TPEI also touched on the online-drama behind the support beam of the Nova Corps Star Blaster. Here the spaceship is sitting front and center of the picture. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Backstage of World Discovery neighborhood. Over/Under on how long this ridiculous “neighborhood” concept will last? (photo by @bioreconstruct)

When Typhoon Lagoon finally reopened (the last major Disney park to reopen after the worldwide Corona virus related shutdown in March 2020), Blizzard Beach closed for a multi-month refurbishment.

Blizzard Beach. Currently closed for refurbishment. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Water slide sections staged in Blizzard Beach parking lot. Grouped as six similar sections. Approximately 56 groups seen top right and appears to be 5 groups bottom right. Across from the slide sections are chairs from the park’s ski lift along with a gondola.   (photo by @bioreconstruct)

I love shots of the Disney Skyliner.

Disney Skyliner. EPCOT line. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 4 – Murder, She Wrote at Universal Studios Florida

Here at the SATURDAY SIX we are still in mourning over the passing of Shrek 4D, but as Universal prepares the area for an upcoming attraction based on Minions, long time theme park fans got a brief bit of nostalgia. As the signage was being removed from the outside of the Shrek 4D show building, older attraction posters were revealed, including one for the Murder, She Wrote Mystery Theater. You can read more about the Murder, She Wrote Mystery Theater (along with other attractions such as Kongfrontation, Alfred Hitchcock Presents: The Art of Making Movies, and Back to the Future: The Ride) in SATURDAY SIX: 6 Attractions We Miss at Universal Studios Florida.

Murder, She Wrote billboard. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

The Murder, She Wrote billboard did not stay up for very long. Not long after the aerial was taken, Bio was on the ground taking shots of the park and it had already been removed.

The former show building for Shrek 4D. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Here is a photo of the now removed Murder, She Wrote billboard. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Jessica Fletcher may be gone, but she’ll live in our hearts – and the bottom of this sign – forever. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Base panel of another billboard on exterior of former Shrek 4D attraction. Surface has remnants of multiple previous signs. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 3 – Universal Orlando Resort at Twilight

While we are in the area of Universal, let’s check out some gorgeous aerials taken at twilight.

Islands of Adventure. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Arrows are pointing a two IOA refurbishments. Left, Posedion’s Fury refurb is nearly complete. Right arrow at roof replacement for Caro-Seuess-el. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Sapphire Falls, Aventura Hotel. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Universal’s Endless Summer Resort of Surfside (closer to the foreground) and Dockside. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Surfside Inn & Suites. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

# 2 – Universal Mardi Gras

We have several Universal Mardi Gras articles planned for later this month, including a detailed look at the incredible Tribute Store next week.  Today we have Bio’s overhead shots of the incredible Mardi Gras parade winding its way through the streets of Universal Studios Florida.

Mardi Gras parade at USF.  (photo by @bioreconstruct)
7 Mardi Gras floats are seen in this photo.(photo by @bioreconstruct)
Aerial view of Mardi Gras float. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Street level photo of same Mardi Gras float, taken on February 5th.  (photo by @bioreconstruct)
The iconic King Gator float. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Look at crowd on either side of King Gator float. Arrow is at a rope carried by Team Members. Ahead, Team Members are rapidly taking down ropes along the parade route. Behind, some guest are following the end of the parade, but most are starting to exit the park. (photo by @bioreconstruct)


# 1 – EPIC Universe

Well today we get to see the speed of two different companies at work. Above we got the current state of the Journey of Water: Inspired by Moana attraction at EPCOT, and below we are going to check out what is going on with EPIC Universe, Universal’s latest theme park resort. These two projects may finish at the exact same time.

One of the spurs of the Epic Universe property. It runs alongside Shingle Creek. The creek is headwaters of the Florida Everglades. The theme park is in the clearing top center of the photo. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Overview of Epic Universe. Property is a couple miles from the North part of the Universal Orlando Resort. Arrow at Dr. Doom’s Fear Fall. Intersection in foreground is one of the ways to reach guest parking, which will be located on the right side of the picture.  (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Left arrows at 2 intersections for day guest to reach parking lot (right arrow). At center of the photo are 2 tall poles. Closest pole is about where the Epic Universe entrance will be, while the second pole is the center of the park.  (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Destination Parkway intersection with “public road,” a new road to access Epic Universe. Curved road bed right of the traffic circle leads to day guest parking. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Utility work in progress near the chilled water plant. Pipes for circulating this form of central air condition near plant at right. Purple pipe for reclaimed water in excavation top center.  Many other projects seen. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Recently added concrete plant on-site. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Left arrow at where park entrance will be. Center arrow is at center of park. Track for Yoshi’s Adventure at top arrow. Yellow crane is at site of Yoshi’s Adventure. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Excavation and nearby dewatering. Located in a section based on classic Universal Monsters. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Excavations for How To Train Your Dragon section of Epic Universe. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Excavation for How To Train Your Dragon section of Epic Universe. . (photo by @bioreconstruct)
The tall pole bottom center is at the entrance to Epic Universe will be. Pole at right center located about at center of the park. Bottom right is driving in progress for another retention wall in How To Train Your Dragon area. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

Okay let’s check out what will surely be one of the biggest draws to Epic Universe, the area for Super Nintendo World. Be sure to follow Alicia Stella over at Orlando Park Stop for all the latest news and rumors for Epic Universe.

Super Nintendo World. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Various projects for Super Nintendo World. Donkey Kong Mine Cart Coaster in the top left, Mario Cart in the bottom left,  and Yoshi’s Adventure on the right. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Super Nintendo World. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Donkey Kong Mine Cart Coaster in Super Nintendo World. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Yoshi’s Adventure in Super Nintendo World. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Staging area for Epic Universe, track for Yoshi’s Adventure under the blue tarp. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Blue tarps are over track for Yoshi’s Adventure. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Exterior testing for Epic Universe. Common in theme park construction. Mock ups to see how materials look in different kinds of light and how well they weather. They are also references later for artistic teams when making actual exteriors. These possibly could be samples for walls of a castle in the Universal Classic Monsters area or perhaps Bowser’s castle in Super Nintendo World. (photo by @bioreconstruct)
Very wide photo with the downtown Orlando skyline on horizon and Epic Universe construction in foreground. Large building near center of this photo is the chilled water plant for Epic Universe. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

HONORABLE MENTION – Another Very Wide Photo

We closed the Epic Universe section with one of my favorite photo types from @biorecontruct. Bio’s Very Wide Photos reveal so much that I just can’t get enough of them and below is one which features many Disney buildings including Expedition Everest, The Walt Disney World Swan, Spaceship Earth, and the Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind show building.

Very Wide Photo including WDW. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

So there you have it: The SATURDAY SIX Takes Flight 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: 

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, 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.

Aerial look at how an accident on one side of I-4 causes a traffic jam on both sides of the road. Arrow at the center of this picture. (photo by @bioreconstruct)

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