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:
- Park hoppers, rejoice! The EPCOT monorail service will begin July 18, for the first time since Walt Disney World Resort reopened in July 2020. We can't wait to watch it glide through Future World once more. Its return comes shortly after the beginning of the EPCOT International Food and Wine Festival, which started July 15. Couldn't have been better timing, if you ask me. Catch a ride with us frogs as we hop over to the park to stuff our bellies at Food & Wine this upcoming Monday (July 19) on our Instagram, @themeparkfrog! In the meantime, sink your teeth into all of the deets in our Food & Wine guide.
- Ready for a new adventure? Jungle Cruise reopens July 16 at Disneyland Park after a lengthy refurbishment that introduces new characters, ride scenes and, of course, witty puns from your favorite skippers. The changes aim to provide a more inclusive experience. A similar refurbishment is currently hoppening at Magic Kingdom Park, while the ride remains open, and is expected to be completed later this summer.
- Universal announced two more haunted houses inspired by classic horror films for Halloween Horror Nights in both Orlando and Hollywood. First up is Universal Monsters: The Bride of Frankenstein Lives. This electrifying house picks up where the 1935 film, "The Bride of Frankenstein," left off, as the Bride begins her mission to revive Frankenstein. The other newly announced house is inspired by "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre." Guests must outrun Leatherface through familiar scenes from the 1974 film, including a dilapidated gas station and a creepy farmhouse, before eventually falling victim to a family of cannibals.
- Wait ... we're not done with Halloween news just yet! This week, tickets went on sale for Oogie Boogie Bash — A Halloween Party at Disney California Adventure Park. Knott's Scary Farm is returning on select nights from Sept. 16 to Oct. 31, 2021, at Knott's Berry Farm. And SeaWorld Orlando announced the initial details about its inaugural Howl-O-Scream event, including the first haunted house and scare zone, as well as a themed bar experience. Phew, it's almost scary how much spooky news we were treated to this week!
- Not to be outdone, we are halfway to the holidays, so we got some Christmas news too! Disney released initial details about the holiday season at Walt Disney World, including a brand-new Disney Very Merriest After Hours event at Magic Kingdom Park. The merry season will officially begin Nov. 12, 2021, across all four theme parks, Disney Resort hotels (gingerbread displays are back!) and Disney Springs. For more info about all of the festivities, you can catch them in our Disney World holiday events guide. Plus, take a first look at the Haunted Mansion Holiday makeover at Disneyland Park, inspired by elements from the past 19 years to create a spooktacularly festive gingerbread house for its 20th anniversary.
- In foodie news, character dining is returning to Disneyland Resort! Minnie and Friends Breakfast at Plaza Inn (Disneyland Park) and Mickey's Tales of Adventure Breakfast at Storytellers Cafe (Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa) will kick off in the next several weeks. Minnie and Friends Breakfast will open Aug. 12, with bookings available soon. Mickey's Tales of Adventure Breakfast will open July 22, with bookings for daily breakfast and brunch (11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays) available July 20.
- Also, you can now score a delicious meal while watching your favorite sports team at the newly opened NBC Sports Grill and Brew at Universal CityWalk Hollywood. With an array of HDTV screens broadcasting continuous sports coverage, diners can chow down upon converted shuffleboard and foosball tables. The menu covers all the bases with traditional pub fare, as well as vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free offerings. The restaurant also features a full bar and a selection of cocktails, wines and over 40 beers on tap.
- There's a baby boom in Florida! Disney's Animal Kingdom welcomed two new residents, one day apart, earlier this week. A Nile hippopotamus calf was born July 12, and a western lowland gorilla infant was born July 13. Both mom-and-baby pairs are now bonding, and guests may spot Tuma and her newborn calf on Kilimanjaro Safaris and Azizi and her baby along the Gorilla Falls Exploration Trail. Meanwhile, in Tampa, Busch Gardens Tampa Bay announced a giraffe calf was born on the same night that the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup last week. Guess what his name is? Stanley — how adorably fitting!
- We've been hopping on top of the latest news about the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary Celebration. The first "Disney Fab 50" sculpture has been revealed to be none other than Mickey Mouse himself. The 50 golden character statues will be displayed across all of the theme parks. Also, additional non-Disney-owned hotels have been added to the list of hotels offering the Early Theme Park Entry benefit, which debuts Oct. 1. Though not listed yet, Shades of Green Resort has announced it will be a participating hotel, and the Walt Disney World Swan Resort, Walt Disney World Dolphin Resort and Walt Disney Swan Reserve Hotel will offer both Early Theme Park Entry and Extended Evening Hours.
That’s it for the theme park news this week! Have a great weekend.