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.
Here Are This Week’s Theme Park Highlights:
- Exciting news! Disney World plans to bring back many more live entertainment experiences throughout the resort over the next few months. At Disney's Hollywood Studios, both the Indiana Jones Epic Stunt Spectacular and Disney Movie Magic will return Dec. 19 and Nov. 7, respectively. Over at Disney's Animal Kingdom, Chakranadi and Kora Tinga Tinga come back next week, while the Tam Tam Drummers will join them in early November. Starting Oct. 14, Yeehaw Bob will perform once again in the River Roost Lounge at Disney's Port Orleans Resort - Riverside, and the Disney Boardwalk street performers are set to return in the near future. Not to mention, several acts — Casey's Corner pianist, Sergio the Italian Juggler, Alberta Bound and Matsuriza — are already back at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT. Oh, how we've missed them all!
- There's also a big change on the horizon for character interactions at Disney World! Starting in November, guests will be able to have individualized time with some characters — though it's not quite time for hugs and autographs yet. Catch the Disney princesses at Princess Fairytale Hall, Minnie Mouse at Red Carpet Dreams, the Disney Junior Pals in Animation Courtyard and Mickey Mouse dressed in his EARidescent best at Town Square Theater. Cavalcades, motorcades, flotillas and surprise sightings will continue on, but now you can guarantee that you'll see and spend some quality time with your favorite characters.
- October has only just begun, but Universal Orlando already has Christmas AND Mardi Gras on top of mind. Universal's holiday season officially begins Nov. 13, with Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's and the Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular confirmed to return this year (we missed them in 2020!). For Mardi Gras, the good times will definitely be rolling Feb. 5 through April 24, 2022, because the parade and concerts will be back too!
- Speaking of the holidays, Disneyland Park will be welcoming a new holiday store called Plaza Point, coming soon to the corner of Main Street and East Plaza Street. As soon as you walk in, you'll be greeted by garland, nutcrackers, festive decor and more. Christmas-themed merchandise will be available year-round, but other holidays, such as Hanukkah, Lunar New Year, Easter and Halloween, will also be represented throughout the year.
- Who's cutting onions? Universal Orlando announced that the Shrek 4-D attraction will permanently close Jan. 10, 2022, after 18 years. Shrek's Ye Olde Souvenir Shoppe, the corresponding gift shop, will also shut its doors. No details were shared about any replacement plans. But for now, it's not all doom and gloom — the meet-and-greet experience with Shrek and Donkey will remain. Along with this announcement, Universal is planning to close Revenge of the Mummy for maintenance from Jan. 7 through late summer in 2022.
- Aboard the Disney Wish, tadpoles can embark on themed adventures in the reimagined Disney's Oceaneer Club. We've previously learned a little bit about Marvel Super Hero Academy, Fairytale Hall and Walt Disney Imagineering Lab. But that's not all! Two more experiences have been announced — Star Wars: Cargo Bay and Mickey and Minnie's Captain Deck. Star Wars: Cargo Bay will allow kids to become creature handlers and use datapads to track and study galactic beings, such as porgs, Loth-cats and more, for special assignments. They will also help Rey and Chewbacca return to the Resistance, and in turn, Rey and Chewbacca provide their expertise when things go awry. Mickey and Minnie's Captain Deck is a nautical playground filled with maritime-themed physical and sensory-style games and activities. Kids will get a chance to graduate from "Minnie's Captain Academy," and Captain Minnie herself will bestow their new titles as honorary captains.
- Universal Studios Hollywood and Six Flags Magic Mountain are now requiring proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test within 72 hours for guests ages 12 and older, due to county mandates. Be sure to review the parks' protocol before you visit! We've got an overview of health and safety policies by theme park here.
That’s it for the theme park news this week! Have a great weekend.