Tuesday 12 May 2015

Theme Park Nut News Update - 12th May 2015

I miss one week of blogging and the whole Theme Park world goes nuts!! I can't believe how much has happened in the last two weeks. Buckle up, because this going to a huge Theme Park Nut News update.

Let's start with what I think is the biggest theme park news of the year so far. This week it was announced that Universal had struck an international rights deal to bring the characters of Nintendo to their theme parks. This is a huge deal for both Nintendo and Universal. While Nintendo have proven time and again that their franchises have staying power, it comes at a time when their profits have been incredibly flat, and the world is waiting to see what is coming in their next console. For Universal it comes at a time when profits are on the up, and they finally have the money and talent to do something decent with this kind of IP. This is exactly what Universal have always needed. While they have some great IP, they have always been behind for the younger kids. I'm just saying that Popeye and Woody Woodpecker mean nothing to any kids under 45. However, Mario is the closest thing in the world to a Mickey like globally iconic character.

I have to stop myself from thinking about this, because I genuinely think that it will be tough to live up to the hype that has already been generated by this announcement. Geeks (like me) are salivating at the prospect. I must also confess that in the past I have planned out an entire Nintendo theme park, so I'm sure there is plenty of fertile ground for Universal Creative. Now, we just have to wait and see what they will do and which parks will get the updates first.

Strongest rumour I've heard is that "KidZone" at Universal Studios Orlando is on the chopping block. Time will tell.

Staying at Universal Orlando, some news that was somewhat over shadowed this week, the return of King Kong was official announced! Wait, hasn't that been announced like a million year ago? Nope, it had been leaked, re-leaked, partial confirmed, accidentally confirmed and construction is over half complete, but it had not been officially announced. So good news, that you already knew, King Kong is coming to Islands of Adventure. Long live Kong.

In Disneyland, another long rumoured return has occurred. The Hatbox Ghost has returned to Haunted Mansion. From all reports it's impressive in person, but I can't say that it is totally effective on video. Still it's nice to see a classic part of Disney folklore come back to life (so to speak).

Two big expansions were officially announced for Tokyo Disney in the last two weeks. Tokyo DisneySea is going to add an entire Frozen land, and Tokyo Disneyland is expanding it's fantasy mini-lands. Although I'm sure people are meant to be excited about Frozen, I'm much more excited about the mini-lands. They are to be themed to Beauty and the Beast and Alice in Wonderland. While Beauty and the Beast have good representation at Disney parks world wide, I feel Alice is really under used, so it's good to see it come to a Disney park. If anywhere that it is going to be done properly, it will be in Tokyo where money is (seemingly) no object.

In news that I don't care about, Universal have given a preview of the Fast & Furious attraction. I'm sure someone cares, but I don't.

Six Flags Magic Mountain have announced the opening date of Twisted Colossus, the world's longest Hybrid Coaster, to be May 23rd. I do like the trend of re-tracking old wooden coasters so they can have a second life, and I'm hopeful that Twisted Colossus could be the best yet.

In Australian park news, I was checking out Dreamworld last Tuesday (on my birthday, which is why I didn't get to posting), and I notice a fair amount of work going on around Wiggles World. I was going to mention it as a curious foot note in today's post, when low and behold Dreamworld announced that they are expanding Wiggles World and re-theming it to ABC Kids. The ABC Kids World section is expected to open in June. While the announcement is a surprise, there were swirling rumours about 2 years ago about ABC wanting to get into the theme park business. I think it a great idea. For our overseas readers, the ABC is a government owned entertainment network, that runs a special channel (sort of) entirely for children. They have been responsible for a large amount of Australian kids entertainment production, and are a very recognisable brand within the country. They will continue to be home to the Wiggles, which will still add international appeal to this area. It should be a great move by Dreamworld. Let's see what gets added to the existing area in the next few months.

The good folks at Parkz took a tour of Sea World last week, and had some great pictures of the progress of the Creatures of the Deep and the destruction of the Sea World's kid's area Beach Break Bay. Progress continues on both at break-neck speed.

For more Theme Park coverage, follow me on Twitter @themeparknut. Until next week, Cheers!

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