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:
- LEGOLAND Florida celebrated its 5th birthday this week by announcing five new additions and expansions for the resort over the next year, including a brand-new on-site hotel and a major new ride. LEGO NINJAGO The Ride is a gesture-based interactive, shoot-em-up that will allow guests to blast animated fireballs, lightning, shockwaves and ice in the dojos before moving on to a powerful villain. It's the centerpiece of a new LEGO NINJAGO World that will open in 2017. The LEGOLAND Beach Retreat will also open next year, offering views of Lake Dexter. This village-style resort will be distinguished by a LEGO lighthouse and will feature 83 single-story duplex units that sleep up to five.
- Universal Orlando released more details this week about Skull Island: Reign of Kong, which is set to debut at Universal's Islands of Adventure this summer. The trackless all-terrain vehicle is 40-feet-long, uses a positioning system to navigate the jungle road and can accommodate up to 72 guests. The front and back axles allow the wheels to be steered individually for sharp turns and complicated maneuvers. The vehicles will have their own drivers, each with distinct personalities that will make riding multiple times a must.
- Disney's Night of Joy has expanded for 2016, moving into a new, larger location, and will feature 15 performers, including MercyMe, Casting Crowns and the newsboys. The event will take place Sept. 9 and 10 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
- The Disney Parks Blog gave us the first behind-the-scenes look at the new "Frozen" stage show set to debut at Disney California Adventure on May 27.
- A new "Walking Dead" attraction is headed to Universal Studios Hollywood this summer. This fully immersive walk-through experience would include animatronics as well as live actors. The permanent attraction would allow guests to follow in the footsteps of the show's characters, taking in the sets and special effects.
- SeaWorld made news by announcing that it would no longer breed orcas in captivity. It will also be ending its theatrical shows and will introduce "natural orca encounters."
- A Willy Wonka-esque chocolate factory is coming to Universal Orlando's CityWalk some time this year. The Toothsome Chocolate Factory restaurant will go up in the location of the former NBA City restaurant.
- For the first time ever, the Invictus Games will be held in the United States—at Disney World this May 8-12! Three competitors were invited to tour the facilities this week and even got to through out the first pitch at the Atlanta Braves-St. Louis Cardinals spring training game. The sporting event is the only international adaptive sporting event for wounded, ill and injured active duty and veteran service members.
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.