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.
This week’s theme park highlights:
- The paper Fastpass testing continues! Disney is now testing out paper reservations similar to the old FastPass system at Be Our Guest in Magic Kingdom. Like the tests for Elsa and Anna at Princess Fairytale Hall and Soarin' in Epcot, standby lunch guests are given a ticket to come back at a later time. The paper FastPass test is only during lunch at the popular dining spot. Dinner remains one of the toughest places to land an advance dining reservation and should be made a full 180 days in advance. If you have tried out the paper FastPass reservation system at Be Our Guest or anywhere else, please share your experience in comments below!
- The orcas will be getting expanded, state-of-the-art homes at all SeaWorld parks. San Diego will go first, with construction on the new, 10 million gallon environment expected to be completed in 2018.
- It's been a very big year for Universal Orlando and Harry Potter, and fans will be delighted to know that there is more to come next year. A Celebration of Harry Potter will be back at Universal Orlando at the end of this coming January. The event includes Q&A sessions with Potter film actors and an expo of props and costumes for guests with regular park admission. Hard-core fans may opt for a package that includes reserved seating at select events, an after-hours party and Potter-themed goodies.
- Busch Gardens Tampa Bay employees took to the air yesterday, sharing this pic from their ride on Falcon's Fury.
- Universal Orlando has delved into the mind of one of Halloween Horror Night's show directors to explore the genesis for this year's three original houses, Dollhouse of the Damned, Giggles & Gore Inc. and Roanoke - Cannibal Colony. Don't know about you, but I am so curious about the masterminds behind the nation's premier Halloween event. (Don't forget, you can still get tickets.)
- Meanwhile at Universal Studios Hollywood, my worst fear as a wee tadpole has come to life in its most recently announced Halloween Horror Nights house. Universal has teamed with guitarist Slash to create Clowns 3D: Music by Slash, which will feature music composed specifically for the house and demented clowns. Let the nightmares begin!
- For those of you attending Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party this year, there is a new, exclusive Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom card to be gained. Helmsman from Pirates of the Caribbean will be included in the regular card packs for party guests (you will have to show your ticket and wristband to get one).
- Disney has rolled out a new plus for those of you who have MagicBands and are purchasing Memory Maker. If you ride Twilight Zone Tower of Terror, you will get video of your 13-story drop and you don't have to do anything to get it! It will automagically appear in your My Disney Experience account.
- Jewelry maker Pandora will be bringing a collection of sterling silver and 14K gold charms to Disney World and Disneyland this fall. The collection will include 25 styles, with addition styles found only at the parks.
- We're a ways off from Christmas, but now is the time to start planning those November and December trips if you haven't already. Good news for those of you heading to Florida! Christmas Town will be included with regular park admission at Busch Gardens.
- If you're planning to hit up Universal Orlando, Christmas will come to the parks in the form of Grinchmas and the Macy's Holiday Parade, starting Dec. 6.
- Finally, in Mommy Frog DIY news, I made the super sweet (and easy) Mickey Marshmallow Pops from Crafting in the Rain with a little help from Lily last night. I was going to take pics this morning, but I woke up and found the Mickeys had already "lost" a few ears.
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 planning pages.