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 highlights:
- In a step closer to fully launching Fastpass+, Disney World began testing Fastpass+ for all park guests Wednesday at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Park guests who are not staying at one of the resorts are being invited to make Fastpass+ selections when they arrive at the park via kiosks.
Jan. 23 is the big day when Universal is set to reveal when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley will open this summer. Tad has already added it to his calendar!
There will be even more Potter goodness that week as stars Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), James Phelps (Fred Weasley) and Oliver Phelps (George Weasley) will be on hand for A Celebration of Harry Potter, happening Jan. 24-26 at Universal Orlando.
- There's a baby boom at Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, with SeaWorld welcoming the first penguin chick to be born at the new attraction with more expected in the coming weeks.
- Disney unveiled a new photo product offering, Memory Maker, that is replacing PhotoPass+ and will allow for unlimited digital downloads of all photos taken in the park by PhotoPass photographers and at attractions for 30 days after purchase. The cost is $199, or guests can pre-purchase online for $149, but they have to wait three days before downloading photos.
- Magic Kingdom is offering an all-you-can eat buffet at Tortuga Tavern in Adventure Land over the holidays from Dec. 21 to Jan. 4, serving new favorites such as Banana Leaf-baked Mahi, Barbosa’s Braised Beef and Captain Jack’s Chicken Breast.
- Lily's two favorite Disney friends, Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First, are joining the character breakfast and lunch at Hollywood & Vine in Disney's Hollywood Studios, starting Jan. 26.
- In even more dining news, the Disney Parks Blog revealed some of the menu items of the new Spice Road Table, coming to Morocco in Epcot in 2014.
- With less than a week until Christmas, I hope that you are wrapping up your shopping. For those of you heading to the parks, here are a few ideas for stocking stuffers -- I am still a fan of the Mickey Bar magnet!
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.
— Mommy Frog