An unofficial Walt Disney World news and trip planning guide!

Space Shuttle Endeavour final flight flyover at WDW

Space Shuttle Endeavour was transported from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida today on top of the modified 747 airliner, and performed a flyover at Walt Disney World, passing over Epcot and then the Magic Kingdom. 

Periwinkle meet and greet opening date announced

A character from the upcoming Disney movie, "Secret of the Wings" will be coming to the Magic Kingdom is set to begin a character meet and greet inside Tinker Bell's Magic Nook (locatedi n Adventureland). 

The character, "Periwinkle" will be at the park from September 9 2012.

Disney to resume tests of the NextGen FASTPASS system in September

Disney is expected to resume trialing its "NextGen FASTPASS+" system in September. A limited number of tests were carried out with a new RFID FASTPASS system back in May. It's expected that this next round of tests will be more extensive and will use the new WiFi system currently being rolled out across the theme parks.

This will in turn allow Disney to use the FASTPASS system with their recently launched "My Disney Experience" smartphone application. The end result will mean that guests can get a FASTPASS from their phone, without having to go to a FASTPASS distribution terminal at a single location.

The NextGen WiFi system is currently available in the Magic Kingdom, and is expected to be available in other parks over the coming months. This next round of tests may signal that the WiFi rollout will be completed , ready for September.

Blizzard Beach & Typhoon Lagoon closed due to Tropical Storm Beryl

Both Blizzard Beach and Typhoon Lagoon have been temporarily closed as the Tropical Storm Beryl hits the theme park areas. The storm is expected to move away fairly quickly however the water parks will remain closed until park officials are happy that it is safe to resume operations.

Tough to be a Bug re-opens.

Tough to be a Bug re-opened yesterday after being closed for a week due to am emergency closure. A small branch from The Tree of Life, which Tough to be a Bug is housed under, fell. These branches are made from metal, concrete and other tough materials, so park engineers had to take a look and ensure that the structure was safe, and to determine the cause. While no official reason (or even acknowledgement of the issue) has been provided, it does appear that they are still not 100% sure what happened. Large nets have been placed around the tree in areas they suspect may be at possible risk and work continues around the tree. 

It's likely that they will be checking every joint on the tree to ensure they are not damaged.

Other areas around the tree are still currently closed, this included the animal trails and Kid's Discovery Club.

Starbucks to launch at Walt Disney World parks

Disney have announced via the Disney Parks Blog that both Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World will, as from June this year have Starbucks locations inside their parks.

Today, we’re excited to officially announce plans to bring your favorite Starbucks drinks and food items to all of our theme parks at Disneyland Resort and Walt Disney World Resort.

In June, the first of six planned Starbucks locations is scheduled to open at Disney California Adventure park. And more locations are planned at Disneyland park and Walt Disney World Resort (Magic Kingdom Park, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom).

The Starbucks locations inside our parks will be designed to fit the theme of their surroundings. At Disney California Adventure park, Starbucks will be located in the Fiddler, Fifer and Practical Café on Buena Vista Street, a place that transports guests to 1920s Los Angeles, when Walt Disney arrived in California and a cup of coffee was the perfect way to jumpstart a busy day. The store’s location plays off the Spanish/Mexican architecture of the period, and baristas will wear 1920s-inspired attire.

The café will serve Starbucks items, including coffee and espresso beverages, Frappuccino® blended beverages, and signature breakfast sandwiches and pastries. Guests also will have their choice of Disney favorites, including signature sandwiches and other items, as well as delicious desserts and sweet treats.

A Cappella group to perform outside Test Track during closure

An A Caleppa group will be performing outside of Test Track during its lengthly refurbishment, scheduled to start on Monay 16th April. This comes just a day after it was announced that The Land and Character Spot would remain open until 10:00 pm during the closure. Park officials are clearly worried about the effect that Test Track's closure will have over the busy summer period, as attendance is likely to drop. By providing a few new entertainment platforms they are hoping to lessen the disapointment for first-time guests.

Test Track is scheduled to reopen with a new and improved ride system in Fall 2012

The Land and Character Spot to open late during Test Track closure

With Test Track's refurbishment scheduled to start just days away on April 16th, its been announced that both The Land pavilion and Character Spot will be staying open until 10:00 pm to help take some of the capacity that Test Track would usually cover. Park hours are expected to stay roughly the same, however remain to be confirmed after this update.

Test Track is due to reopen in the Fall of 2012 with an enhanced ride and a complete makeover for the first time in its history.

Time-Lapse video of the new Fantasyland construction released

The official Disney Parks Blog today released a time-lapse video giving a birds eye view of the Fantasyland construction work. The camera appears to be placed on the side of Cinderella Castle and overlooks part of  the new Storybook Circus area. The area on the left of the video will be Enchanted Tales With Belle, Beast Castle (Be Our Guest Restaurant will be located inside) and Gaston's Tavern. The building and rockwork to the right side wil be home to Under The see - Journey of the Little Mermaid.

Click below to see the video.

Walt Disney World Launches PhotoPass Plus


Last night Disney announced an update to the PhotoPass service via their Facebook page. PhotoPass allows you to purchase photos taken of you and your family by official Disney Photographers, usually found at landmark areas around the parks.