Hi there! Welcome to our weekly roundup of the most interesting theme park news around the Walt Disney World Resort, Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and other theme parks.
Here are this week’s theme park highlights:
- A Celebration of Harry Potter starts today at Universal Studios Florida. For Potter fans, it's the ultimate chance to learn more about the books and films, plus take part in interactive experiences and meet some of the actors from the films. In some unfortunate related news, Hagrid's Robbie Coltrane was hospitalized after his flight into Orlando with flu-like symptoms. We're hoping that he's feeling better and will be taking part of the festivities as scheduled.
- We're so hoppy to hear that the Orlando Sentinel caught up with Bindi Irwin, who is participating in this weekend's Wild Days event at SeaWorld Orlando. Irwin, who wants to encourage more kids to get outside, will participate in the "Generation Nature Live" show at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
- Speaking of SeaWorld, Orlando's WKMG has produced a special about the company and its impact on the animals it cares for locally in its parks and around the world.
- Universal Orlando Resort has finalized its lineup for the Mardi Gras concert series with Phillip Phillips performing March 28 and MKTO performing March 13. Universal's annual Mardi Gras event is one of the biggest parties this spring, running on select days February through April.
- Disneyland revealed its big plans for its 60th anniversary. It includes "Disneyland Forever," a new nighttime projection show on park icons such as Sleeping Beauty Castle, the buildings along Main Street U.S.A. and Matterhorn Bobsleds; "Paint the Night" parade and a special edition of "World of Color." The Disneyland Resort Diamond Celebration starts May 22.
- It's the last weekend to ride Busch Gardens Tampa's Gwazi, the twister-style wooden coaster that opened in 1999.
- We've gotten a peek inside the deluxe studios at Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows. The studios will comfortably sleep five, thanks to the adorable pull-down bed! Perfect for your little Lilo!
- In more swank-digs-if-you-can-get-them news, the Four Seasons Orlando Resort on Disney World property has been named the best hotel in Orlando by U.S. News & World Report. The resort, which opened in August, is also the only Orlando to receive the coveted AAA five diamond award.
- Last but not least, new authentic merchandise for my very favorite ride, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, is dropping into the Disney parks this February on Friday the 13th!
That’s it for the theme park news this week. Have a great weekend!
If you’re thinking about a trip to Disney World, make sure to check out the other news, tips and information we post to the blog throughout the week. If you’re ready to plan your trip, we recommend you start with our Orlando Planning Guide.