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:
- SeaWorld Orlando provided a behind-the-scenes look at its new coaster, Mako, which is set to open June 10. The hypercoaster will be Orlando's longest, tallest and fastest. You coaster enthusiasts will be delighted to hear that riders will experience the feeling of being lifted out of their seats almost the entire time, according to SeaWorld VP Brian Morrow. The coaster is almost a mile long, hits a top speed of 73 miles per hour and will clock in at around three minutes.
- Disney announced the debut date of Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks show at Disney's Hollywood Studios. This pyrotechnic, projection-mapping show—the first of its kind at Disney World—will officially debut June 17.
- The testing phase has begun for two Marvel rides, Universal Orlando's Incredible Hulk Coaster and Hong Kong Disneyland's Iron Man Experience. As we mentioned last week, the Incredible Hulk Coaster is being rebuilt at Universal's Islands of Adventure and is expected to open in late summer. Iron Man Experience is a Star Tours-like simulator and the first Marvel ride inside a Disney park.
- Starting Memorial Day Weekend, Disney's Animal Kingdom begins nighttime hours. And in the heart of the African village of Harambe, there will be a party—the Harambe Wildlife Parti! As guests enjoy exotic eats and drinks, local street musicians and entertainers take to the streets. Look for the Burundika Band, the Harambe Meerkats soccer team, African harpist Kora Tinga Tinga, the always lively Karibu Sisters and more.
- As we mentioned last week, Disney Springs' Town Center officially opened with an impressive list of retailers and restaurants—and, of course, more to come. You fellow shoppers know how hoppy this makes me!
- We've got a first look at the gorgeous gown that the brand-new Princess Elena will be wearing in Disney Channel's "Elena of Avalor." The gown was designed by "Project Runway" contestant Layana Aguilar and will be the inspiration for the one she wears when her meet and greet opens in Magic Kingdom this August.
- New animated Magic Shots have been added to your Disney World PhotoPass options. Cinderella's Jaq and Gus, and Mickey and Minnie are part of the photo magic added to your photos at key locations such as Hollywood Boulevard in Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Princess Fairytale Hall and Cinderella's Royal Table in Magic Kingdom.
- The new Walking Dead attraction coming to Universal Studios Hollywood will debut July 4. It's yet one more reason to hit the West Coast park, which debuted a new Wizarding World this spring.
- In p-aaawwwwww news, Mickey and Pluto were on hand to meet up with some of amazing service dogs that took part in the recent Invictus Games at ESPN's Wide World of Sports at Disney World.
- One of the Boardwalk Entertainment Area's best restaurants, the Flying Fish, is reopening later this summer with a new(ish) name, new menu and new chef. Sustainable fish will be the focus along with expanded wine selections and a gorgeous new Art Deco-inspired interior.
- Next door, the new Abracada Bar will be opening its doors in the location of the former candy and ice cream shop. This "curious cocktail lounge" was once a secret spot for magicians, their assistants and illusionists, and their magic remains inside this new spot.
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.