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:
- Ready to do some shopping? Signs are expected to go up soon for the first retail tenants announced for The Landing, the first section of Disney Springs. Art of Shaving, Erin McKenna's Bakery NYC (serving gluten-free and vegan baked goods), Havianas (including a place to design your own flip flops) and Sound Lion (offering earbuds, speakers and other musical products) are among seven retailers that will open up in the area formerly known as Pleasure Island at Downtown Disney.
- Get ready, muggles! The Universal Orlando Resort has released the schedule for A Celebration of Harry Potter, which takes place Jan. 30 through Feb. 1. The Wizarding event includes Q&As, dueling demonstrations, behind-the-scenes discussions and autograph sessions with special guests, including Michael Gambon (Dumbledore), Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid), James and Oliver Phelps (the Weasley twins) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood).
- Starting this summer, there will be more "Frozen" experiences aboard Disney's cruise ships. Olaf will be joining Anna and Elsa so he can enjoy his favorite season. Additionally there will be a spectacular nighttime deck party, a "Frozen" stage show aboard the Disney Magic and an Olaf-themed "Frozen" bar serving non-alcoholic drinks at Castaway Cay.
- The San Diego Union Tribune shared more details about SeaWorld's Blue World Project, which will greatly expand and provide a more naturalistic environment for its killer whales. Guests will get incredible views from several vantage points, starting along the shoreline. Perhaps most impressive, guests are expected to be able to take elevators or escalators down to a viewing area of the deepest part of the killer whale habitat floor 50 feet below.
- More than 23,000 runners came out for the first-ever Star Wars Half-Marathon, held this past weekend at Disneyland! Congrats to winners Nick Arciniaga and Jennifer Berry.
- Gatorland is partnering with Fun Spot America in Orlando to bring live gators to International Drive. The 15,000-square foot alligator oasis called GatorSpot at Fun Spot is expected to open in March.
- Splitsville in Downtown Disney has added one more reason to visit, with live music Saturday nights. There's no cover charge, and you and the whole family can dance and sing along, bowl and dine!
- Last but not least, congratulations are in order for Busch Gardens Tampa, which is expecting another gorilla birth soon! Mary, a 27-year-old western lowland gorilla, is expected to give birth in March to her fifth offspring.
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.