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:
- For those of you planning trips to Disney World this Christmas, there is a new holiday dining character experience coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios. Minnie will play hosts to Mickey, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and everyone's favorite — Santa Goofy! — at Hollywood & Vine on select dates Nov. 7 through Jan. 3. The characters will be in their best holiday duds at Minnie's Holiday Dine at Hollywood & Vine Dinner Fantasmic! and reservations are already available. We recommend booking as soon as possible if this is something you're interested in, because we expect reservations to fill up fast! The dinner also includes VIP seating at Fantasmic!
- Some good news for those of you who will not be staying on-site at Disney World and want to purchase MagicBands in advance. The Disney Store online has added character MagicBands featuring Goofy, Donald, Mickey, Minnie and Pluto. The signature bands retail for $19.95 and work just like the standard MagicBands, which remain $12.95. For those of you waiting to purchase in park, Disney has added even more open edition bands, including Jack Skellington, Pooh Bear and Finding Nemo, plus new slider accessories.
- Be Our Guest is making breakfast a permanent part of the Magic Kingdom restaurant's dining. Breakfast has been popular enough that it's been extended past its original test dates, and guests can now make reservations for dates starting on Oct. 4 for the yummy prix fixe Frenchish breakfast.
- For those of you who have been wondering whether a "Fast & Furious" attraction will make its way to the Universal Orlando Resort, the New York Times apparently thinks so. It listed it, "The Tonight Show," Hello Kitty and Nintendo as sources for new attractions coming to the parks. For now, we'll have to visit Universal Studios Hollywood to get our F&F fix!
- Universal Studios, the actual film studio, achieved a milestone this summer: the highest-grossing box office for a Hollywood Studio. "Jurassic World," "Fast & Furious 7" and "Minions" all contributed to the success. Of course, the year isn't over yet, with more Universal movies on the way.
- Disney Channel original movie "Descendants" hasn't done so bad either, already the fourth most-watched cable TV movie since 2007. No surprise here. Tad and Lily loved it. Me too. We're still watching it over and over, and I might even have watched the video for the very catchy "Be Our Guest" while writing this ;)
- For you big dreamers or parents of big dreamers, Disney is accepting applications for its Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE for high school students. This outside the box, innovative education program is open to students nationwide.
- The Orlando Sentinel took a look at Disney World and Disneyland, strictly by the numbers, to see who had the edge. Both of the resorts have a lot to offer, but these results might surprise you.
- The Walt Disney Co. has purchased three parcels of land in Anaheim, leading to speculation that Disneyland is headed for expansion. Disney officials say, however, that any expansion will remain within the resort's current footprint.
- Last but not least, A Celebration of Harry Potter will return in 2016, offering fans the chance to celebrate their favorite wizard. Some of the cast and crew from the films are expected to return for Q&As an other events, although no names have been announced.
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.