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:
- Universal Orlando's hoppin' Mardi Gras event will return this year, from Feb. 6 through March 28! With food taking center stage in 2021, there will be more opportunities to savor and sample your way through both Cajun and international favorites. In lieu of the traditional Mardi Gras parade, guests will be able to get a close-up view of both Pirate Treasure-themed and classic floats stationed around the park to maintain social distancing. And don't worry — both beads AND music will be available throughout the park! Want to learn more about this year's event? Hop over to our full post for all of the kickin' details!
- Ready for a half-pound cookie?! Gideon's Bakehouse will open its doors for its grand opening Jan. 16! While the bakehouse has been open off and on for a soft opening, Saturday's event will include free gargoyle stickers, free commemorative art prints of the restaurant's Gargoyle (signed and numbered by artist Michael Reyes) and even a hot cookie bar to get your goodies a la mode from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Best of all? There's a virtual queue currently, so you can put your name in and shop while you wait your turn. Have you hopped by yet? Be sure to give us a scoop on your favorite flavors!
- This week, Walt Disney World released some news about retiring (croak) and upcoming (ribbit!) services for on-site guests. Disney’s Magical Express, the free bus service from Orlando International Airport to Walt Disney World Resort hotels, will no longer operate as of Jan. 1, 2022 — the service will continue to run through 2021. Likewise, Extra Magic Hours will not be returning to the resort ... though a new, similar perk is debuting! Early Theme Park Admission will enable hotel guests to enter any park a half-hour prior to opening, every day. Early Theme Park Admission is "coming soon," per Walt Disney World, so we've got our ears open for more information!
- The Sesame Street Parade of Lights Drive-Thru is coming to SeaWorld San Diego! On Friday through Sunday nights from Jan. 15 to Feb. 14, guests can drive through the marine park to catch twinkling lights, plus Sesame Street parade floats and favorite characters from the comfort of their cars. Dates must be reserved in advance, so be sure to hop to it if your tadpole is jumping at the chance to go!
- Disneyland Resort is cancelling its current Annual Passholder program, effective immediately. Per a statement from Ken Potrock, President of Disneyland Resort, "Due to the continued uncertainty of the pandemic and limitations surrounding the reopening of our California theme parks, we will be issuing appropriate refunds for eligible Disneyland Resort Annual Passports and sunsetting the current program ... We plan to use this time while we remain closed to develop new membership offerings that will utilize consumer insights to deliver choice, flexibility and value for our biggest fans." Sending big hugs to our West Coast frog friends.
- An all-new exhibit will debut at EPCOT in February! “The Soul of Jazz: An American Adventure" will be available in The American Adventure pavilion, and will feature Joe Gardner from Disney and Pixar’s “Soul." The exhibit takes guests on a musical tour of America to learn all about jazz.
That’s it for the theme park news this week! Have a great weekend.