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 Studios Hollywood released even more demented details about this year's Halloween Horror Nights event — including the return of the fan-favorite Terror Tram! This year's theme? "The Ultimate Purge!" Try to survive the night along the world-famous Universal backlot as you journey into the world of "The Purge" franchise, where terror and mayhem reign as members of an underground movement that believe the Purge should be a daily occurrence take over. Also announced was the appearance of the original Halloween icon himself, Michael Myers, in "Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers" maze. *queue John Carpenter's "Halloween" theme*
- Over in Orlando, even the gators are getting in on the Halloween action! Gators, Ghosts and Goblins — Gatorland’s Halloween event — begins Oct. 9. Family-friendly activities including Swamp Ghost's Monster Museum, the Crocs and Cryptids Zone, interactive characters, costume parades and more will take place Saturdays and Sundays through Oct. 31.
- Disney Very Merriest After Hours tickets are now on sale — fa, la, la, la, la! The ticketed After Hours event will take place select dates beginning Nov. 8 and will include the return of Mickey's Once Upon a Christmastime Parade, the first parade to return to the parks, as well as low wait times, special fireworks (both the all-new Enchantment spectacular and Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks) , toadally decked halls and more! (You can save some green by purchasing through your favorite frogs! Ribbit!)
- Ready for some next-level pampering? Tenaya Stone Spa, inspired by the natural wonders and indigenous cultures of California, opens Sept. 16, 2021, at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. On top of providing treatments including couples massages, specialty massages (such as Mud Body Renewal) and salon treatments such as manicures, pedicures and more, the facility is gorgeously zen. It's even got a tenaya stone as a focal point, gifted from a Miwok Elder and her family, the descendants of Chief Tenaya in Yosemite Valley.
- Calling all princesses! Disney is kicking off the first-ever World Princess Week, with festivities extending to both Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort! The royal celebration will include a princess promenade, an all-new playground, and of course, merchandise and treats fit for (and paying homage to) princesses! Lily has her tiara ready!
- Cirque du Soleil's "Drawn to Life" show has a debut date — hooray! After postponements due to COVID-19, the show will officially open Nov. 18 at Disney Springs. A collaboration between Cirque du Soleil, Walt Disney Animation Studios and Walt Disney Imagineering, the show follows a girl named Julie who discovers that her Disney animator father left behind an unfinished animation. "Drawn to Life" features ten acrobatic acts as the animation comes to life, including reminiscing on Julie's childhood Disney memories. Tickets are now on sale.
- Perhaps the biggest news this week is that the FastPass+ system at Disney World and the FASTPASS/MaxPass system at Disneyland are officially retired. This fall, a new paid option will debut called Genie+ — with the quick-lane entrances being renamed Lightning Lanes. You can learn more about what's to come in our full guide.
- At both resorts, changes to the Disney Disability Access System (DAS) are coming too. Beginning this fall, guests will have the option to virtually register for the pass in advance, as well as booking a few advance ride passes and making in-app selections once in the parks.
That’s it for the theme park news this week! Have a great weekend.