Friday 10 February 2017

News Update - 11th February 2017

Well it's a little late, but better late than never. Here is another Theme Park Nut News Update.

The big news this week is all about opening dates! We have had two massive pieces of news out of WDW this week, where we go an official opening date for Pandora: The World of Avatar, and (perhaps more excitingly) we have finally got at timeline for Star Wars land at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Pandora will open to the public on May 26th (the day after Volcano Bay!) but it is expected it might soft open in the weeks leading up to that date. For me, Star Wars land is the more exciting project, and we found out this week that is due to be opened in 2019, which for Disney is actually pretty rapid. Disney traditionally moves at a snails pace with new development, while this isn't exactly rapid, it's probably a year sooner than a lot of theme park enthusiasts were predicting. 

And to add to the opening date news, Disney announced that Rivers of Light at Disney's Animal Kingdom will finally open on February 17th, of this year! This was scheduled to open April last year, but has been delayed multiple time for production reasons. This week we were treated to a preview, which you can watch online, of the new show which looks really impressive.

At the Magic Kingdom the long running Wishes firework show will be ending on May 11. A new night time show Happily Ever After will start on the next night May 12th. Wishes had been running at the Magic Kingdom since 2003, when it replaced the original fireworks show Fantasy in the Sky which started in 1971. WDW released a teaser for the new show on YouTube this week.

This week the Madri Gras celebrations started for this year at Universal Orlando, with it's usual bluster and fun. The event runs through to March 23rd.

Universal Orlando announced this week a deal up until the end of May, which gives 2 free days (within a week) when booking a 2 day pass. This gives an added incentive to visit the parks right up until the opening of the new water park Volcano Bay on May 25th. Entry to Volcano Bay is not included for this deal, but the fact that it overlaps with the opening period suggests that crowds at the resort that week are going to be very large! We also saw a little bit more detail this week on the Tapu Tapu devices, which will be used for queuing inside the brand new water park. Theme Park Insider did an article comparing the Tapu Tapu device and their capabilities with the Magic Bands used an competitor WDW. There is a little doubt that the new devices will be great in the water park, but so far they don't have the wide reaching capabilities of the Magic Bands. It will be interesting to see how these devices go when the park opens in May.

Over in Universal Studios Japan, planning and construction is starting on the Super Nintendo World, which will open in the park in 2019. This week Theme Park Insider, had a chat to the Creative Director of USJ Steve Tatham about everything Nintendo. While he couldn't leak anything about the project that hadn't already been a approved by PR, it is a great little interview that shows just how serious Universal are about this Nintendo world, which is awesome news!

Over in Paris, Disney has made a play for complete ownership of the Disneyland Paris Resort, by buying a share of the parent company back from a Saudi prince, taking their ownership up to 87.5% of the entity. They also offered a reasonable share offer for the remaining shares, in the hopes of getting full control of the resort. The last movement like this by a major chain occurred in Japan, where Universal's owners Comcast, bought out the remaining shares of the USJ resort to take full ownership. They then followed this up by investing pretty heavily in the resort, which has shown very high attendance over the last few years. Let's hope that the Walt Disney Company wants to re-invest in Disneyland Paris Resort.

In the strangest news this week, there was a major drug bust on the grounds of the Legoland Windsor resort in the UK. The plants and equipment where found in a derelict shack, outside the boundary of the park (but still on land that is owned by Merlin, which owners), by maintenance staff and then reported to the police. To make things even more confusing the Legoland park is very close to Windsor Castle, which is the royal residence of the Queen and her family. It was stated in the article that this derelict shack was not accessible from the Legoland park, and could only be accessed from Crown land (meaning land owned by the Royal family/State). Who knows what that really means, but funny news none the less!

In Australian news, has had a brutal shut down of the Gold Coast Bulletin, for it's reporting of badly researched and incorrect information about the upcoming Hypercoaster at Movie World on the Gold Coast. In a week where fake news, and real journalism was a focus of mainstream news, with the suggestion that "real" news can only be reported by journalist, it's nice to see a the enthusiast community calling out professional journalist for failing to report true and accurate information. Let's be clear, the Hypercoaster is going to be massive, but it will NOT be taller than Dreamworld's Tower of Terror.

That's it for this week's News Update . For more Theme Park coverage, follow me on Twitter @themeparknut. Until next time, Cheers!


  1. Okay I definitely want to go to super nintendo world at Universal Studios, plus another reason to visit Japan again! :)

  2. Hell yes!! The preview images of it look incredible too! So it could be awesome!! It'll be on our list when we go!