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:
- Disney has broken ground on new Star Wars Lands at both Disneyland and Disney World. The Disney Parks Blog offered up a 360-degree photo view of the groundbreaking ceremonies, with BB-8 and R2D2 in attendance, at Disneyland Park. The photo provides a good lay of the land, so to speak, with help from the existing park landmarks. At Disney's Hollywood Studios, the park recently closed the Lights! Motors! Action! Extreme Stunt Show, Streets of America and other places in anticipation of this ground breaking, and we expect to see more of that soon.
- In more hoppy news, some major updates to FastPass+ took effect earlier this week. Disney World park-goers now have the ability to book FastPass+ reservations for each day individually, with available times displayed. Additionally, guests now have the option to book their additional in-park FastPasses using the My Disney App. You'll need to upgrade to the latest versions of the app to take advantage of these new features.
- While Disney World park-goers seem to love their MagicBands, when Shanghai Disneyland opens in June, it won't be using them. Disney CEO Bob Iger recently told shareholders that Disney is looking at ways to expand MyMagic+, the program behind MagicBands and FastPass+, through mobile technology and personal devices instead. Iger has said previously that the technology would expand to Disneyland and other parks.
- Wondering how the new Wizarding World at Universal Studios Hollywood compares to its counterparts in Florida? Empire Online has shared some of the differences. The Hollywood version includes a faster Flight of the Hippogriff and a larger stock of wands at Ollivanders. There's no reason to fret over which one to attend—we frogs offer discount tickets for both!
- If you've ever wondered what goes on behind the curtain at some of Universal Orlando's best rides, wonder no more. The resort invited reporters for a revealing look at The Simpsons Ride, Revenge of the Mummy, and Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
- As we've told you previously, the Invictus Games are coming to America for the first time and will be held at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Prince Harry and First Lady Michele Obama will be in attendance, along with Derek Hough and Shawn Johnson. Additionally, there are some new renderings of the event's stage. The Games take place May 8-12. Tickets are available now.
- Four additional "Avatar" films are in the works, director James Cameron confirmed earlier this week. The final installment will debut in 2023, which seems like an eternity away. Meanwhile, progress continues on the construction of an Avatar-based land, Pandora, set to debut in 2017 at Disney's Animal Kingdom.
- Last but not least, you have just one more week to enter our Hoppiest Dream Vacation Sweepstakes, in which we're giving away a dream vacation (deluxe hotel + tickets!) to Disney World. It's super easy to enter, and you can get up to 10 additional entries for referring friends.
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.