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:
- Are you ready to hang ten ... on a roller coaster? Pipeline will become the world's first-ever "surf coaster" once it debuts at SeaWorld Orlando in early 2023. Riders will feel like they're riding a wave as they're secured with a unique harness in a standing position atop a ride vehicle designed to look just like a surfboard. With nearly 3,000 feet of track, SeaWorld Orlando's seventh coaster will start with a launch and reach speeds of 60 mph and a maximum height of 110 feet. Surf's up!
- A trio of Disney World restaurants has some exciting updates for the coming weeks! At EPCOT, Akershus Royal Banquet will finally reopen its doors for its family-style lunch and dinner starting Nov. 4. Reservations for this character dining experience will open up for booking on Oct. 24. Meanwhile, Kona Cafe at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort will reopen Nov. 1 for breakfast, lunch and dinner after its months-long refurbishment. Lastly, Tusker House at Disney's Animal Kingdom will switch back to an all-you-care-to-enjoy buffet dining experience beginning Nov. 1. It's been too long — Norweigian meatballs and Tonga Toast, here we come!
- We have a date! The nighttime spectacular, Fantasmic!, will return Nov. 3 at Disney's Hollywood Studios. While remaining largely the same, the show will receive a new heroes sequence, featuring Aladdin, Elsa, Pocahontas, Moana and Mulan. Dining packages will return for shows from Nov. 30 and beyond (reservations become available Oct. 26). We have all the info you need to know in our Fantasmic! guide. Now it's time to get our imaginations ready!
- MagicBand+ has debuted for Magic Key holders and Disney Vacation Club members at Disneyland Resort. We spent the day hopping around the parks to test it all out before MagicBand+ becomes available to the general public, starting Oct. 26. If you have questions, we have answers in our Disneyland MagicBand+ post!
- It's time to start practicing your bead-catching skills. Universal Orlando's Mardi Gras: International Flavors of Carnaval event will officially return from Feb. 4 to April 16, 2023. As always, the good times will roll with food from places all over the world, a parade with giant floats and live music.
- Ready, set, go (mark your calendars)! runDisney released dates for the race weekends in late 2023 and early 2024 at Walt Disney World. Stay tuned for more information about registration dates, as well as details about 2024 events at Disneyland.
- Welcome to the world! A baby okapi was born in July at Disney's Animal Kingdom Lodge, though the news of Baby Beni's birth was announced this week on Oct. 18, aka World Okapi Day. Mom and baby are still bonding backstage, but Beni will soon make his debut on the Pembe Savanna at the resort. Additionally, hedgehog mom, Glitter Toaster Strudel, gave birth to seven hoglets at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park. Mom and dad are spending time with their babies backstage at Rafiki's Planet Watch. Congrats to the new parents!
- Wakanda Forever! Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure will celebrate the release of "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" with special offerings from Nov. 11, 2022, to Jan. 8, 2023. M'Baku will make his debut and invite recruits to join in "The Way of the Jabari," a new experience accompanied by chants and percussion. A "Flavors of Wakanda" marketplace located in the Hollywood backlot will feature traditional African dishes and Wakanda-inspired delicacies. Plus there will be props from the film, a limited-time mural in Downtown Disney District and more.
That’s it for the theme park news this week! Have a great weekend.