Ordinarily, we would send up a flare to signal that the final weekend of Harambe Nights is upon us. The limited-time event at Disney's Animal Kingdom includes an after-dark street party that's preceded by "The Lion King: Concert in the Wild" stage show.
Saturday's celebrity narrator is Tony winner Patina Miller, who starred on Broadway in "Sister Act" and last year's revival of "Pippin."
But if this is news to you, well, sorry, it's too late. The event is sold out — just like all nine previous evenings of Harambe Nights.
When the special event was announced, there were doubts, primarily because of the price tag. A ticket to Harambe was $119, and you could even upgrade to a premium level with reserved seating for $134.
Ouch. That's more than a full day at the park.
It did have some intriguing elements going for it, however: a fresh take on the "Lion King" story (with dancers and live music), the star factor (with folks who mostly have not been in Disney's spotlight) and the rare opportunity to experience Animal Kingdom after hours.
The Harambe Night success certainly didn't discourage the Disney World powers-that-be from creating more late-night, separately ticketed events. Last week, the company announced that a street party would be added on select nights during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, which begins next month.
These parties — dubbed Late Nights Live! — will include, from 9:45 p.m. to 1 a.m., some food and drink and a DJ/dance party in the stretch between the United Kingdom pavilion and World Showcase Plaza at the theme park.
That will be $79 per person, please.
This may be a case in which it's difficult for locals to wrap their heads around the idea of paying more for the privilege of hanging around Epcot into the wee hours. And yet I have friends — Disney World regulars — who enjoyed the Epcot After-Hours Wind Down sessions, which sold for $30.
For out-of-towners, these late-nighters have presented an option that doesn't involve fighting the traffic around the under-reconstruction Downtown Disney area.
Ah, but let's not underestimate the Disney fans. They've given me another chance to answer the burning question "Why does Disney charge so much?"
Because they can.
From paper to plastic
Last week I paid homage to my sturdy old Universal Orlando annual pass. Many folks wrote and said they are in my camp, preferring the plastic "hard cards" to paper passes.
And some of you let me know about an option at SeaWorld Orlando, which issues paper passes that fade with time and present a challenge at the entrance gate. SeaWorld annual passholders can request a plastic card. Although its costs $5, the money goes to the SeaWorld & Busch Gardens Conservation Fund, a nonprofit foundation that supports wildlife research and education.
Annual passholders can make the transition at Guest Services at the theme park.
For those keeping score at home, Legoland Florida and Fun Spot both use plastic passes. After last week's column was posted online, Fun Spot tweeted that "we used plastic so our fans could save them for memories, like old pics."
What a difference an "A" makes. Two Central Florida-based Twitter feeds have similar names: @FSOrlando and @FSAOrlando.
One is for the posh, just-opened Four Seasons Orlando, and the other is for Fun Spot America, the attraction near International Drive. You know, the "It's Huge" people.
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