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:
- This is not a drill—a new Harry Potter roller coaster is coming to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade at Universal's Islands of Adventure! That being said, the park also announced the closure of Dragon Challenge on Sept. 5 to make way for the new ride. While few details have been revealed, Universal has said it will be fun for the whole family. We're taking that to mean a lower height requirement. While we love Dragon Challenge, its 54-inch height requirement certainly scared all but the bravest away. The new thrill ride is going to be "one of the most highly-themed coaster experiences" Universal has ever created. Keep an eye on our refurbishments post for more Universal ride closures.
- Get your Mardi Gras beads out! Universal Orlando Resort announced the dates of Universal's Mardi Gras Celebration 2018; the party will go for even longer, starting Feb. 8 and going through April 7. That means we can look forward to more concerts, entertainment and my personal favorite, Cajun cuisine! Meanwhile, we'll be getting our froggy legs ready to leap for those beads!
- Celebrating Shark Week 2017? Hop over to the all-new shark swim experience at Discovery Cove and meet Vertigo, the zebra shark! Vertigo is around 7-feet long and weighs 83 pounds. Check out his awesome striped pattern before it turns spotted!
- You can never have too many dresses! (Well, according to Leap you can, but that's a different story...) The Dress Shop made its return this week to Cherry Tree Lane in the Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs. With the shop's returning debut, we can also find the 10 original dresses inspired by the Orange Bird, Walt Disney's Enchanted Tiki Room, the Haunted Mansion (my personal favorite) and more!
- Disney revealed plans to add a new land at Disney's Hollywood Studios called Grand Avenue. Paying homage to the spirit of Downtown Los Angeles, Grand Avenue will be the first avenue of the park set in our current era. We can also look forward to a new eatery, BaseLine Tap House, featuring small plates, craft ales, lagers and cider. Can't wait to take a stroll (err...hop) down that avenue!
- Are you always losing your stroller while hopping through the Disney parks? Take a look at the Disney cast member badge-inspired stroller tags Chip & Co raved about.
- Come this fall and winter Disney California Adventure Park will introduce what Tad likes to call a toadally new seasonal experience, celebrating "the everlasting bonds of family" with inspiration from Día de los Muertos! The celebration takes place Sept. 15-Nov. 2 and includes special-themed experiences inspired by the new Disney-Pixar film "Coco," Mexican folk art, food and live entertainment. Be sure to also explore our guide to Disneyland Halloween Time 2017!
- Wanna skip even more lines? Disney World is now allowing mobile check-in at Disney Hotels through the My Disney Experience app. Traditional front desk check-in will still be available, but with the new mobile feature, guests can make room preferences, add credit cards to their room and more without ever hoppin' through a line!
- The much-awaited enhancements for Mission: SPACE will debut Aug. 13. Like we mentioned in What's New at Disney World in 2017 and Beyond, the Green Mission is transforming into a less intense experience (crossing my toes it'll make me less green, if that's even possible) and will also offer booster seats for younger tadpoles! The experience's height requirement is being lowered to 40 inches.
- "What? You never saw a guy with a chainsaw hand before?" If you haven't, well, you will at Halloween Horror Nights 2017! Universal Orlando unveiled another house themed Ash Vs Evil Dead. You'll need to hop over to our survival guide if you want a chance of surviving this year's Halloween Horror Nights.
- Last but not least, it is with sadness that we report the passing of legendary Disney imagineer Marty Sklar, 83. He was a mentor to many and authored "Mickey's Ten Commandments" for theme park attraction design as keeper. Beyond that, he was the only Disney employee to attend the opening of every Disney theme park.
That’s it for the theme park news this week. Have a great weekend.