Hi there! Welcome to our weekly roundup of the most interesting theme park news around the Walt Disney World Resort, the Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and other theme parks.
- This year, there will be nine new celebrity narrators (more than ever before!), alongside six returning favorites, participating in the Candlelight Processional during the EPCOT International Festival of the Holidays, beginning Nov. 24, 2023. New narrators include Jordan Fisher, Brendan Fraser, Eva Longoria and Audra McDonald. Plus, John Stamos and Neil Patrick Harris are among the favorite familiar faces. Find the full lineup and more details about this holiday tradition in our Festival of Holidays guide.
- Starting later this month, Disneyland Resort guests will be able to view theme park reservation availability and book their reservations up to 180 days in advance, further extending the booking window. Additionally, Disneyland's Disney Genie+ service will soon include Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway (currently an individual Lightning Lane selection), as well as The Little Mermaid ~ Ariel's Undersea Adventure next month.
- SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment is introducing new thrills to its theme parks in 2024! First announced, SeaWorld Orlando is getting a new family-friendly launch coaster called Penguin Trek. It will feature two launches, speeds up to 43 mph across a 3,200-foot indoor and outdoor track and ends in the heart of SeaWorld's penguin habitat. The thrilling Antarctic adventure is set to open in spring 2024.
- SeaWorld San Diego plans to open a new immersive jellyfish exhibit that will feature four different jellyfish species in three displays. The experience will have an 18-foot-tall cylinder (among the tallest in the country), a 10-foot-tall arch that guests can walk through for views from varying angles, and a vivid wall-to-ceiling display that shows virtual oceanic moments. The new exhibit will debut sometime in 2024.
- Busch Gardens Tampa also announced details about a family-friendly suspended roller coaster, coming spring 2024. Phoenix Rising will be the park's 10th coaster, though the first to feature on-board audio with a "one-of-a-kind soundtrack." Meanwhile, the fan-favorite Loch Ness Monster coaster at Busch Gardens Williamsburg will undergo extensive refurbishment starting Oct. 31 and will reopen in 2024.
- Journey of Water, Inspired by Moana officially opens Oct. 16, but you may get a chance to get a sneak peek during its soft opening. On select days and hours between Oct. 6 (today!) and Oct. 15, guests may get the opportunity to experience this new walkthrough attraction. A virtual queue may be available for guests inside the park to join starting at 9 a.m. when needed.
- More delectable dishes are coming to three popular Disney World hotel spots real soon. Starting Oct. 11, you can find new menu items at Geyser Point Bar & Grill (Disney's Wilderness Lodge), Three Bridges Bar & Grill (Disney's Coronado Springs Resort) and Banana Cabana (Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort). Highlights include new plant-based bites, charcuterie flatbread, a Pineapple Mule cocktail and more.
That's it for theme park news this week.