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Good Morning –
I was right about the serialization- widgets disappear when domain names change during a migration. They are stored in serialized arrays which stores the length of the domain name in the array. If the length changes and that length value is not updated – the array is invalid and the widgets – will not be displayed in site. Here is a good article which describes this http://www.themelab.com/why-wordpress-widgets-disappear/. At the moment I am getting ready to run the search and replace script from Interconnect. https://interconnectit.com/products/search-and-replace-for-wordpress-databases/.