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:
- Disneyland shared its first look at the reimagined waterfront along the north bank of the Rivers of America. The area closed earlier this week, along with several attractions, to make way for the coming Star Wars Land. The rendering shows the Disneyland Railroad traveling over several trestles along the river, offering views of several new waterfalls. The Mark Twain Riverboat, pictured, and Sailing Ship Columbia are expected to set sail again after the closure. In the meantime, some limited-time experiences with the boats are in the works.
- Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films, has been added to the lineup of talent who will be at "A Celebration of Harry Potter." The event takes place at Universal Orlando on Jan. 29-31.
- Disney World and Universal Orlando are hiring additional security at the theme parks. This comes after the parks added metal detectors last month.
- A launch date has been set for Shanghai Disney Resort, with the official grand opening celebration to be held June 16. The resort includes two hotels, a shopping and entertainment district and recreation area—in addition to the brand-new theme park.
- SeaWorld Orlando kicks off its Wild Days this weekend, the first of three weekends hosted by different animal experts. The event includes new educational shows, hands-on animal encounters, and meet-and-greets. Jack Hanna is hosting the first weekend.
- Merlin Entertainment, the company that runs LEGOLAND, has opened a new Florida facility where all of the Lego models for its parks are built. Merlin hired dozens of model builders for the new facility, which is not open to the public.
- It's almost time for Happy Lunar New Year. Disney California Adventure will be celebrating the Year of the Monkey and bringing traditions from the Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese to the park. Mulan, Mushu, Mickey, Minnie and Chip 'n' Dale will take part in the festivities, which will include performers, musicians, artisans and special food.
- A new Special Effects Show has opened at Universal Studios Hollywood that gives guests a chance to see how moviemakers use visual and sound effects to make their films come to life.
- Last but not least, congratulations are in order for Fredison Costa and Natasha Yaremczuk, who were the winners of this year's Walt Disney World Marathon, held this past weekend.
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.