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Disney World exec reveals more about new Epcot coaster, gondola system, 'stunt-atronics'

Walt Disney World is revealing more about some of its new attractions -- and showing off some of its newest technology -- that are coming soon to Central Florida.

“We’ve made the conscious decision to control our own destiny – to be the disruptor, not the disrupted,” Bob Chapek -- chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Consumer Products -- said at the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions conference in Orlando. 

At the conference, Chapek unveiled new animatronics called A1000s, which he said is Disney’s most innovative and expensive animatronics yet.

>> Read more trending news 

Disney is even developing new technology called stunt-tronics: Animatronics that can do stunts too dangerous for humans, like flying through the air and doing superhero-like moves.

Disney also revealed more about a much-anticipated attraction coming to Epcot: A new "Guardians of the Galaxy" ride being built at the former Universe of Energy pavilion. 

Chapek said it will be one of the longest enclosed roller coasters in the world. Just building the foundation was the largest concrete pour in Walt Disney World’s history. The building is so big, it can fit four Spaceship Earths inside, Chapek said.

The new roller coaster will spin as it moves, and will have a storyline that revolves around the plot and characters from the movie.

>>Read: Disney pass holder displays pro-Trump signs at park, gets banned again

“Guests will be able to experience it when it opens in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021,” Chapek said.

Disney also revealed more about the gondola system called Skyliner, which Disney now says will be operational in the fall of 2019. Crews have been building towers across the landscape of the property for months.

When it opens, Skyliner will connect Epcot, Hollywood Studios, and four resorts: Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach, and the new Rivera Resort, which is set to open in 2019.

>>Read: Up, up and away: WFTV gets exclusive look at Walt Disney World's Skyliner

What the actual gondolas look like remains a secret, though Disney has circulated artist renderings of the project.

One thing is clear, though: Mickey Mouse may be turning 90, but he and Disney aren’t slowing down.

“In this industry, complacency is the biggest threat,” Chapek said.

Royal Caribbean's largest cruise ship now at Port Canaveral

The biggest cruise ship in the world is now at Port Canaveral. 

Royal Caribbean's "Symphony of the Seas" arrived at about 4 a.m. Thursday. 

It's part of the port's push to get bigger ships and more passengers into the area. 

At Wednesday's State of the Port event, CEO John Murray talked about record revenue and the 4.5 million cruise passengers who moved through the port. 

>> Read more trending news 

"It's great for the port, great for Orlando, great for the theme parks, space center, local area, so that it all helps grow the local economy,” he said. “We're here to facilitate commerce between the ocean and the community, and that, to me, is first and foremost."

Symphony of the Seas is 1,184 feet long and can hold 6,680 passengers and 2,200 crew members. 

Carnival plans to bring its largest ship to Port Canaveral in 2020.

Universal Orlando: Elements of new Florida theme park revealed

New documents filed this week in Orange County, Florida, offer a first look at plans for Universal Orlando’s fourth theme park.

>> Watch the news report here

The plans will transform 540 acres of empty land near Lockheed Martin. That’s in addition to the construction of two hotels on the old Wet ‘n Wild property as part of the 4,000-room Endless Summer Resort.

“I see a very big easel for Universal Orlando and Comcast to paint through over the next few years,” said theme park analyst Rick Munarriz. “Universal now has the coloring book; now they just need to show us their crayons."

Documents filed with the county this week show plans for major infrastructure upgrades.

There will be 100 acres of new roads and more than 5,000 parking spots.

Munarriz said 5,000 parking spots seems like a conservative number.

“So I’m thinking there's going to be a transportation system to get people from the resort to the new resort,” Munarriz said.

>> Read more trending news 

The plans do not show exactly what's coming, but Universal has trademarked the name “Universal's Fantastic Worlds.”

The new Nintendo Land, including Mario Kart and a Donkey Kong roller coaster, was supposed to be built at the KidZone section of Universal Orlando. But analysts said those rides, which are already designed, will likely go into a new park.

“[Universal] really needs to step up its game if it's going to compete with what Disney has coming in three years. That is why we have this new playground coming,” Munarriz said.

Couple wants to hit 6 parks in Walt Disney World, Disneyland in one day

Your marathon trips to Disney are nothing compared to what one couple from Tennessee has planned. 

They want to hit six Disney parks on both coasts within 24 hours Wednesday, The Associated Press reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Clark and Heather Ensminger are planning to start their day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, have breakfast, then walk over to Epcot. After hitting that park, they’ll go to Magic Kingdom and finish their Florida day at Animal Kingdom. 

>>Read: Walt Disney World's new ticket pricing structure takes effect

Then they plan to leave Walt Disney World in Florida and grab a direct flight to Los Angeles at 4:30 p.m., the AP reported.

Using the time zones to their advantage, they will hopefully be in California Adventure by 8 p.m. and in Walt Disney’s first park Disneyland before it closes at midnight. 

So how do they plan to stay on schedule? The Ensmingers have a spreadsheet with all of their times mapped out for where and when they have to be, the AP reported

Walt Disney World's new ticket pricing structure takes effect

It could cost you more to visit Walt Disney World.

New ticket prices began Tuesday and the new pricing structure varies based on the date you're going. It also comes with a new online planning tool.

Disney World officials said in September that prices at the resort's four theme parks will be tweaked so they're the same. For some time, the Magic Kingdom had a higher price on any given day than Epcot, Hollywood Studios or Animal Kingdom.

>> Read more trending news 

Disney introduced flexible pricing at U.S. parks three years ago as an incentive for guests to visit during less busy times. Each month was divided into value, regular and peak days.

Single-day tickets now range from $109 to $129, depending on how popular the day is expected to be. Disney said the pricing structure could cost guests more or less than with the previous pricing structure.

Travel and Leisure reported that the price of annual passes and parking also increased. 

Visitors can find the lowest-priced days by clicking on a calendar on Walt Disney World's website.

Recently, Disney increased the cost of snacks and soda on the property, Travel and Leisure reported.

The Associated Press and the National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Baby will soon complete 50-state road trip

She’s only 5 months old but a little girl is finishing up something that may be on the bucket lists of many adults -- to visit all 50 states in the U.S.

But age isn’t stopping Harper Yeats. Her parents have taken her on a road trip to end all road trips and hope to finish the journey on Oct. 18 when the family gets to Vermont, “Good Morning America reported”

The Green Mountain State will finally get crossed off Cindy Lim and Tristan Yeats’ list that took them four months to complete. 

And while many will say little Harper is too young to remember the once-in-a-lifetime trip around the country, her parents have taken a photograph after they crossed each state line to help document the journey.

The trip has been documented on Instagram.

>> Read more trending news 

The trip will also make Harper the youngest member of the All 50 States Club and she may even get a Guinness World Record title out of the trip. But Guinness has to create the record before the family can submit the application, “Good Morning America” reported.

Lim and Yeats are originally from Australia but live in Canada. They started their drive around the country in June just a few weeks after Harper was born and near the beginning of Lim’s year-long maternity leave, “Good Morning America” reported.

>> Need something to lift your spirits? Read more uplifting news 

Hurricane Michael: Delta caps some airfares due to storm

Delta Air Lines says it is capping airfares for travel to and from certain cities in Florida and Alabama later this week due to Hurricane Michael.

>> Hurricane Michael: Live updates

Atlanta-based Delta said it is capping fares at $299 each way Oct. 9-11 for coach class to and from Pensacola, Panama City, Destin-Fort Walton Beach and Tallahassee, Florida; and Mobile, Alabama.

>> On AJC.com: Delta, Southwest warn Hurricane Michael could disrupt flights

First-class fares are capped at $499 each way for those cities during that Tuesday-Thursday time period.

>> Read more trending news 

Delta is also waiving certain change fees for passengers flying to, from or through those cities Tuesday or Wednesday who want to change their plans to avoid the storm. 

Hurricane Michael: Delta, Southwest warn storm could disrupt flights

Delta Air Lines is warning flights in Florida and Alabama could be disrupted by Hurricane Michael.

>> Hurricane Michael: Live updates

Atlanta-based Delta said flights to, from or through Florida's Fort Walton Beach, Panama City, Pensacola and Tallahassee, as well as Mobile, Alabama, could be affected by the hurricane.

Delta passengers with flights booked to, from or through those cities on Tuesday or Wednesday can change their itineraries to avoid the storm without paying certain change fees.

>> On AJC.com: Delta caps some air fares due to Hurricane Michael

The airline said it is monitoring the storm, which is predicted to move through south Georgia and the Carolinas “by mid-week into Friday as the storm weakens,” according to the carrier.

Meanwhile, Dallas-based Southwest warned that flights could be disrupted in Atlanta through Friday. Flights also could be disrupted through Tuesday in Cancun, Mexico, and Havana, Cuba; and from Tuesday through Thursday in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Panama City and Pensacola, Florida, according to Southwest. 

>> Read more trending news 

Flights may be delayed, diverted or canceled, the airline said.

Southwest said customers who have flights booked to, from or through those cities on those dates can rebook without paying an additional charge, under certain restrictions.

Hurricane Florence: These airlines will waive fees for flights impacted by storm

As the East Coast braces for Hurricane Florence to hit Thursday, several airlines have issued travel advisories

>> On WSOCTV.com: Tracking Hurricane Florence: Live updates from the Carolinas

Hurricane Florence is currently projected to hit the Carolinas as a Category 4 storm.

Here is the list of airlines that have waived fees as of Monday evening:

American Airlines

American Airlines will waive its change/cancellation fee if you are traveling through Sept. 16 at one of these airports:

  • Georgia: Augusta, Savannah
  • North Carolina: Asheville, Charlotte, Fayetteville, Greensboro/High Point, Jacksonville, New Bern, Raleigh/Durham, Wilmington
  • South Carolina: Charleston, Columbia, Florence, Greenville/Spartansburg, Hilton Head, Myrtle Beach
  • Virginia: Charlottesville, Hampton / Newport News, Lynchburg, Norfolk, Roanoke

The waived fees are valid if you booked your ticket by Sept. 10.

Delta Air Lines

The Atlanta-based airline is waiving fees for flights scheduled from Sept. 13 to 16 to these airports: Charleston, South Carolina; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Greensboro, North Carolina; Jacksonville, North Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; New Bern, North Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; Newport News, Virginia; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia; Savannah, Georgia; and Wilmington, North Carolina.

>> How dangerous is a hurricane? Understanding hurricane categories

The offer is valid for tickets booked by Sept. 10 and tickets must be reissued by Sept. 20. 

The airline said it is also capping air fares for flights from certain cities. The fare cap is $299 each way in coach class for flights to Atlanta from coastal cities in Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia through Sept. 16. Some fares may be less.

The fare caps for flights from inland cities such as Raleigh-Durham are higher, up to $599 each way for coach class to the West Coast.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines said it has enacted guidelines through Sept. 16 at airports in Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; Norfolk, Virginia; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Savannah, Georgia.

>> Hurricane, tropical storm and tropical depression: What’s the difference?

The airline has not specifically outlined what the guidelines are or if it is waiving fees. 

JetBlue

JetBlue will waive fees and fare differences for flights that are traveling in Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia.

>> 9 weather terms you should know when preparing for a hurricane

Their customers have until Sept. 20 to reschedule if they originally booked flights before Sept. 10. You can rebook online at jetblue.com or call 1-800-JETBLUE.

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines said flights for Charleston, South Carolina; Charlotte, North Carolina; Greenville-Spartanburg, South Carolina; Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Virginia; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia, could be impacted.

>> What is a storm surge and why is it dangerous?

Anyone with flights into or out of those airports from Sept. 11 to 17 can rebook without paying an additional charge. Customers can reschedule their flights online or by calling 1-800-435-9792. 

Spirit Airlines

Spirit Airlines said it is waiving the fees for flights at Asheville, North Carolina; Greensboro, North Carolina; Myrtle Beach, South Carolina; and Richmond, Virginia. The original travel dates must be from Sept. 12 to 16.

>> Read more trending news 

Customers must rebook their flight by Sept. 20 or a fare difference may apply. 

– Information from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution was used in this report.

BrewDog DogHouse: ‘World's first’ craft beer hotel opens in Ohio this weekend

BrewDog will celebrate the opening of its new “beer-hotel” in Ohio this weekend. 

The brewery said the hotel, named the DogHouse, is the “world’s first craft beer hotel,” according to BrewDog’s website

>> PREVIOUS STORY: World’s first beer-themed hotel may be coming to Ohio

Named the DogHouse, the hotel in Canal Winchester, a city near Columbus, is the first of its kind and features 32 rooms, including eight deluxe suites and a workout facility, according to WBNS.

Other features include a lobby bar with games and activities, a marketplace for takeaway food, international continental breakfast daily and select dog-friendly rooms. Guests also will have views of the brewery throughout in order to watch the brewers work.

All rooms include in-room refrigerators stocked with BrewDog beers, in-shower fridges, in-room taps, 42-inch flat screens and plenty more.

>> Read more trending news 

In addition to the craft beer escape, BrewDog also has unveiled its on-site, interactive beer museum. This 6,000-square-foot space provides a journey through the brewing process, a deep dive into the history of craft beer, and a hands-on experience of "the fundamental four" ingredients that contribute to the creation of a craft beer.

Established in 2007, BrewDog has grown from selling craft beer in the United Kingdom to exporting to 60 countries and 49 bars around the world.

The first night patrons can sleep at the DogHouse hotel will be Aug. 26, according to the website.

Read more here.

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