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:
- Several notable road improvement projects are moving forward at the Walt Disney World Resort after a recent vote of Disney's taxing district, Reedy Creek. A new flyover would allow guests to bypass the Magic Kingdom toll plaza for Disney's Polynesian, Grand Floridian and Contemporary Resorts. Other road projects are in anticipation of expected attendance increases at Disney's Hollywood Studios and the parks in general. While these projects are not yet scheduled, work is progressing quickly on improvements at Downtown Disney. A ramp along Buena Vista Drive that will funnel drivers into the third story of a new parking garage is set to open Sept. 8. A new half-mile spur off the westbound ramp from I-4 to Epcot Center Drive is expected to open in October.
- For those of you planning to attend this year's Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, there is some good news. FastPass+ reservations are now available for the Eat to the Beat concert series. The shows take place at 5:30 p.m., 6:45 p.m. and 8 p.m. each night of the festival at the American Garden Theatre. You'll find the full lineup on our guide to Disney World's special events.
- Disney World has chosen the "Dark Side" for its inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon Weekend coming April 14-17. The event includes a 5K, 10K and kids races plus the half-marathon, which will take runners through Epcot, Disney's Animal Kingdom, Disney's Hollywood Studios and ESPN Wide World of Sports. Disneyland's Star Wars Half Marathon will be known as the "Light Side."
- And for you Star Wars fans headed to the parks a little sooner, new themed merchandise is arriving September 4 at 12:01 a.m. in anticipation of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." You'll need a ticket to attend the Star Wars Force Friday at Once Upon A Toy at Downtown Disney at Disney World or the World of Disney store at Downtown Disney at Disneyland. Tickets, which are $50, give attendees the first chance at purchasing this new merchandise and an amenity gift, a messenger bag.
- In more shopping news, Disney has released a new merchandise app that allows you to more easily find and purchase Walt Disney World park merchandise. That's cool, but what's even cooler is that it has a feature so that you can find where these items are in the parks.
- Universal confirmed that a Fast & Furious: Supercharged would be headed to Universal Studios Florida in 2017. Disaster ... A Motion Picture Starring You and Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue are set to close to make way for the new attraction.
- It also revealed the remaining lineup for this year's Halloween Horror Nights houses and the theme for all of its scare zones. We have full details here, plus we've identified the best dates to attend this year's event.
- Over on the West Coast, the full lineup has been revealed for Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood. The Los Angeles Times looks at the evolution of the event.
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.