Sunday 30 April 2017

Special News Update - Pandora - 30th April 2017

It's been a couple of weeks since I've done a proper news update. I have been wrapped up with a new real life work project, and sadly haven't had time. However, I cannot ignore the media preview of Pandora - The World of Avatar that happened at Disney's Animal Kingdom today. So here is an update with a bunch of interesting stuff from this Orlando expansion.

Obviously, SPOILERS. If you don't want to see anything about this new land, look away now.

Firstly, the animatronics that have been added for this new land are amazing, but also a bit frightening:

And if you've got 15 minutes and want to see where she fits in, here is a POV from Inside the Magic:

The other major ride to open is the Flight of Passage, which I've seen today as a cross between Soarin' and the Tower of Terror, so it will be interesting to see more about this, but we have seen another incredibly detailed Queue, with a massive "Avatar" animatronic:

As of yet, we haven't seen a POV of Flight of Passage, I'm sure that will appear (even given the rough nature of the ride) over the next month as the previews and soft opens occur. But this land is as much about the place than these two rides, So if you want to just look at the immersive environment they have build, So it's worth taking a look around:

And if you haven't heard the word Bioluminescence enough yet...

... it looks even better at night (which is apparently not fully operational).

And of course, no new land is complete without food, so here is a preview of the Satu'li Canteen:

 For all your shopping needs, pop over to Windtraders:

If you want a summary from one of the lucky media people that was able to tour the site today, check out this article in the Orlando Sentinel from Sarah Pedicini. Pandora: The World of Avatar opens May 27th at Disney's Animal Kingdom.

Saturday 8 April 2017

News Update - 9th April 2017

Starting this week in Spain (something I rarely say), this week saw the opening of Ferrari Land at Port Aventura World! This second gate for the resort now contains Europe's fastest and tallest ride, Big Red. The ride has made viral news this week, not just for it's opening, but for the bizarre footage of a rider being struck by a bird.

In Orlando, Universal has officially opened the Race through New York starrring Jimmy Fallon. This ride had been soft opened for a few weeks, but this marked the opening ceremony. It also included a great moment where Jimmy Fallon and the Rock dressed up as themselves as mascots, and pranked fans around Universal Orlando.

For U.S. residents, Disney has announced a Twitter and Instagram competition for the opening of the new Pirates of the Caribbean movie, where winner will get win a trip on a Disney Cruise and a trip to Walt Disney World. Details on the Disney parks blog.

After "disappointing" attendance results in the last week, Tokyo Disney redirected attention this week with a groundbreaking ceremony for their 2020 Fantasyland expansion. The expansion will include a Beauty and the Beast sub-land with a brand new dark ride. 2020 is the year that Tokyo will host the Summer Olympics (and rival Universal will open their Super Nintendo land).

At home, Dreamworld opened the first Australian Jelly Belly store on Main Street yesterday. Check out Dreamworld on Instagram for a tonne of photos.

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

Sunday 2 April 2017

News Update - 2nd April 2017

It's April! Can you believe it? Let's get into another Theme park news update for the first week of April 2017!

The biggest news stories this week, come out of Paris and Japan. Firstly in Paris, Disneyland Paris started it's 25th anniversary celebrations this week! They celebrated by adding a couple of new shows; the "Mickey Presents: Happy Anniversary, Disneyland Paris" and "The Starlit Princess Waltz". The also debuted a new parade, "Disney Stars On Parade" and new nighttime show "Disney Illuminations".

In Japan yesterday saw the opening of LEGOLAND JAPAN! If you jump onto you can see an absolute TONNE of videos and photos from the opening day of this little park. Honestly, I'm totally jealous of this. Legoland Parks are super fun little parks, and I have a theory that one day they will be the first of the major chains to open in Australia, but until then we will have to survive by looking at the overseas parks (and perhaps visiting the Legoland Discovery Centre, that is opening in Melbourne later in the year).

Over in Orlando, Universal has some anger pointed towards it this week as it  announced the new 3-Park Annual Passes, and upgrade options for their upcoming water park Volcano Bay (I refuse to call this a Theme Park, even though it looks great!). Currently annual park holders are apparently outraged that they have to pay to get access to this park. Honestly, these people they were going to get to enter this water park for free? People baffle me. Often Annual Park holders are paying significantly less per day than day pass people, so I'm not sure why that should give you some kind of golden ticket to new things outside what you have paid for. Anyway!

Staying with Universal, it seems Halloween Horror Nights is now pretty much a year round news machine. This week we found out that American Horror Story was returning to Universal Orlando's HHN in September this year. This isn't really surprising, it's pretty much the perfect franchise for this event.

Controversial Sea World Orlando this week closed their long time Dolphin Show Blue Horizons, which was then followed the next day by opening their brand new Dolphin Show Dolphin Days. Apparently the new show is designed to be more educational less entertainment than the previous show, which is a pointer to the way that public opinion has changed in the last 10 years about animal based theme parks.

Over at Walt Disney World, security at Magic Kingdom is changing, in that the security check points are being back to the entrance of the ferry and Monorail terminals. This effectively puts the Monorail loop inside the secure zone, which mirrors a similar move at Disneyland Resort, which moved the security checks to the Car Park and hotel entrances, which effectively put all of Downtown Disney into the secure zone. It's unclear whether these changes are in response to a specific threat, however I must admit the more security at Disney Parks, the better, in my opinion. These parks are such obvious targets as symbols of wealth and decadence, as well as being highly populated, so I have no qualms with having to go through multiple security checks if that is what has to happen.

Also at WDW, we've seen a response from Disney's water parks over the upcoming Volcano Bay upcoming Tapu Tapu virtual queuing devices. Disney's response is essentially the old school FastPass, but now in temporary wrist band form. It's interesting that this hasn't incorporated Magic Band technology (perhaps it isn't water proof??). Regardless, anytime that Universal is putting pressure on Disney, I'm excited!

Finally at Disneyland Resort, the Main Street Electrical Parade has extended it's temporary run through to August 20, effectively finishing the American Summer. This will hopefully spread the crowd for this parade, particularly as the previous finishing date had limited time for the Annual Pass members that were not blocked out.

Over in Europe, we've seen the second biggest park on the continent Europa Park, has opened for it's summer season. Along with it is a number of new features, as can be seen in videos that have been added to Youtube this week (I say videos, just because they do multiple of these in different languages. Particularly of note for me is the brand new Voletarium flying theatre ride, which looks awesome (a Soarin' clone, but still awesome!). Voletarium is said to be "almost ready to open", with a massive 21 meter screen.

In the UK, we have had a review this week of the re-launch of Derren Brown's Ghost Train attraction at Thorpe Park by This attraction looks much improved over the previous version of the attraction, and looks like it's going to scare the pants off a lot of people.

At home in Australia, Dreamworld this week is about to open up (on the 8th of April) a new Jelly Belly Store. The store is inside the park, next to the in-park entrance for the Lego Store, on Main Street, just in time for the Easter School Holidays. This is a welcome bit of good news for the Gold Coast parks, as this week all 3 major parks (Dreamworld, Movie World and Sea World) all had to close on Thursday last week after low pressure system following Tropical Cyclone Debbie, came down the coast. Thankfully the parks themselves were spared any major damage, and were able to open on Friday. Unfortunately the surrounding areas of Logan and the Gold Coast were not so lucky, with large amounts of damage from the storms and the subsequent flooding. The flood waters peaked yesterday (Saturday), and further north in Rockhampton the flood waters are expect to peak on next Wednesday (a week after the storm hit that region) which gives you an idea about the massive amount of water that has been dumped on Queensland this week. Hopefully we get back to our clear skies soon, and can stay that way for a little while.

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