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PostPosted: Fri Oct 26, 2007 4:36 pm    Post subject: theme park news Reply with quote

[img]http://www.orlandosentinel.com/media/photo/2007-10/33478650.jpg[/img]

Exterior of Kwik-E-Mart, a store within Universal Studios, which sells souvenirs related to 'The Simpsons' animated TV program. The outlet will be in support of the new Simpsons ride, which will be in the old Back to the Future attraction (background). The new ride is set for a Spring 2008 opening. (Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel / October 22, 2007)

Dewayne Bevil | Theme Park Ranger
October 26, 2007

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If we must have more shopping at theme parks, let it be as funny and entertaining as Universal Studios' new Kwik-E-Mart, a merchandising outlet for all things Simpsons built to resemble the convenience store that serves Springfield.

It's even funny from the outside as advertisements tout "products" such as Krusty Non-Narkotik Kough Syrup for Kids or Dry Diapers ("Won't leak for at least a week."). Inside, Simpsons-style humor is incorporated into signage such as "Buy 3 for the Price of 3!" Kwik-E-Mart proprietor Apu waves to customers above the door.

Much of the merchandise is standard fare featuring the whole Simpsons family but concentrating on Bart and Homer. Here you'll find T-shirts, talking refrigerator magnets, action figures, books, CDs, Christmas ornaments and dolls. (Is there a market for a "Ballet Bart"? Really?) Some of it is a little more unusual: oversized Pez dispensers and an Etch A Sketch that looks like the top half of Homer's head (the eyes control the stylus).

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But who wouldn't be amused by a bobblehead Flanders or "Dancin' Macho Man Homer," who moves to a disco beat and is clad only in a towel?

You might find the store a little heavy on alcohol-related products -- a set of shot glasses, tall hats that resemble a mug of beer -- but that's mostly done in conjunction with Duff Beer, a Homer favorite. Duff pops up on T-shirts and glasses.

For now, you don't see fictional products such as Buzz Cola in the shop or even any doughnuts.

Say it with me: D'oh!

More goodies are on the way, Universal says. This week you could find an energy drink known as "Flaming Moe." ("Fire made it better.")

The store is in the World Expo area, in the structure that previously sold Back to the Future ware, and will support the Simpsons ride now in the works. That building, adjacent to Kwik-E-Mart, is mostly covered with tarp, kind of like it is being tented for termites.

I felt very Bart peeking through the fence, but all I could see were concrete blocks. The attraction is scheduled to open in the spring.


Scares are coming to an end

October is winding up, and so, too, must the Halloween events running at our theme parks. Let's circle dates -- and look ahead.

Howl-O-Scream at Busch Gardens in Tampa ends Sunday, three days before Halloween, but Universal Studios' Halloween Horror Nights extends through Nov. 3 (with the exception of Monday and Tuesday).

SeaWorld Orlando's Spooktacular continues this weekend and Wednesday, and there are remaining sessions of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Magic Kingdom tonight, Sunday, Wednesday and next Friday.

Meanwhile, the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival concludes Nov. 11, while Super Soap Weekend at Disney-MGM Studios is Nov. 10-11.

That leads to MGM's presentation of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights, which begins Nov. 12. The flashing lights and music last year worked for me. I recommend sipping hot chocolate, pretending that it's cold and admiring several rounds of the show. Also on Nov. 12 is the first Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, which has 19 select dates at Magic Kingdom this year.

Candlelight Processional begins at Epcot on Nov. 23, the day after Thanksgiving. SeaWorld Orlando also kicks off its holiday-driven activities -- which will include Santa encounters -- on that day.

Holiday events at Universal Orlando gear up Dec. 7. Grinchmas will return to Islands of Adventure (after a one-year absence) and Universal Studios again will be home to the Macy's Holiday Parade.


Let's get musical

Want to be front and center for the High School Musical 2: School's Out! show at Disney-MGM Studios? Fellow Theme Park Ranger Steven Ford has a few tips, especially if you're attending with preschoolers. The traveling stage makes the logistics a little trickier, but in short, arrive early, get behind the rope and listen to the cast members' instructions. But don't think you'll be able to draft behind the float up to the front of the line.

For details -- and video highlights -- visit the Theme Park Rangers blog at orlandosenti nel.com/tpr.[i][img][/img][/url][/i]
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