Tuesday 16 February 2016

Theme Park Nut News Update - 16th February 2016

Universal has given us two big stories to lead off this week's Theme Park Nut News Update!

Firstly, one of the most anticipated lands to open this year has soft-opened at Universal Studios Hollywood, where the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opened for the first time last Friday afternoon. While the land itself is very similar to the original Wizarding World in Orlando, it has had some small updates, including the inclusion of enhanced interactive wand usage and 3D in the signature ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey. This new land will no doubt have a massive impact on Universal Studios Hollywood over the next 12 months, as it has had in Orlando and Japan. There is no stopping the boy wizard.

In Orlando, Universal has increased their single day ticket prices to US$105 this week. This puts it's two parks in line with Magic Kingdom, as the most expensive theme parks in America. I would be very surprised if this had much, if any effect on attendance numbers at the resort in the next year, but I do expect the move will be good for Universals balance sheet.

At Cedar Point in Ohio, the troubled Shoot the Rapids ride is closing. This ride became infamous after an incident in 2013 where 7 riders were flipped upside down when their boat went backwards down the lift hill. This isn't a terrible surprise given all the trouble this ride has caused the park.

Over at WDW, we've got a sneak peak at the vague ride layout for the Na'vi River Journey boat ride that is coming as part of the Pandora expansion of Animal Kingdom. There isn't any real surprise here either, as it looks like a fairly standard dark boat ride track. What will be great to see is the effects used inside the ride that bring this bioluminescent planet to life.

At home, Village Roadshow Theme parks have made a curios announcement, where they have announced that they have limited number of memberships for sale which will close on the 29th of February. This is strange as most expected these memberships to be the plan for the future when it replace the existing Annual Passes in the middle of last year. What exactly is going to happen when the 29th of February rolls around, we aren't sure but for one I am sure there will be some way to be a longer pass to the parks after February. The cynic in me says this is purely an artificial scarcity designed to increase demand. I guess we only have two weeks to wait to find out!

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