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:
- Accio warm Butterbeer! The frog pond was hopping with holiday cheer when we learned the details of the new Universal Studios Hollywood Holiday experiences coming this year. Christmas in the Wizarding World will place wizards in a Hogsmeade that's decked out in holiday decorations. Muggles can dine on special holiday food and drink while enjoying a holiday-themed performance by the Frog Choir, along with The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle projection show. Not to be forgotten is The Grinch, whos — sorry — whose Grinchmas Who-bilation will return on select days in December. Learn more about Grinchmas festivities in our guide and look for more updates soon.
- It takes a special someone brave enough to jump out and scare the wits out people at Halloween Horror Nights Orlando. Those folks are called scareactors, and they take their jobs very seriously. The Universal Orlando Close Up blog has a neat look at one man's experience scare acting for a night. If you're ready to see scareactors at their best, hop here for our discount Halloween Horror Nights Orlando tickets.
- Talking Donald, Minnie and Mickey Mouse have been spotted at Disney California Adventure. The three chatty characters appeared for a test run, greeting guests and posing for pics. OMG this is adorable, and Sarah Bricker has the life I want to live.
- What better place than Pandora — The World of Avatar for the world to see the first photo of the stars of the next "Avatar" sequel? Principal photography has begun for "Avatar 2," which is scheduled to be released Dec. 18, 2020.
- Downtown Disney at the Disneyland Resort is receiving festive fall decorations. Brass trees filled with pumpkins have appeared, along with stacks of pumpkins and decorative gourds. They are the perfect setting for your pumpkin spice-filled shopping sprees.
- "Hasta la vista, baby." The final day of operation for Terminator 2: 3-D at Universal Studios Florida will be Oct. 8. The long-running show is making way for a new experience, scheduled to open in 2019.
- Oscar Martinez, the longest-tenured Disney parks cast member has retired after more than 60 years of dedication. Oscar has been part of Disneyland since 1956 — one year after the park opened. Oscar worked at Carnation Café on Main Street U.S.A. since 1967 and delighted guests with his charm, personality and signature breakfast potatoes. Congrats, Oscar!
- LEGOLAND Florida is giving families who have been impacted by Hurricane Irma a sweet treat. The resort is donating 20,000 tickets to local Florida charities. Made in connection with LEGOLAND Florida's ownership group, Merlin Entertainment, the donation is valued at more than $1.8 million.
- Sunny days, sweeping the ... aaaaaah! Sesame Place is adding its first wooden coaster. Oscar's Wacky Taxi will be a wood and steel hybrid coaster, featuring a 40-foot initial drop and travel over 1,2000 feet of track. The cars will resemble a yellow taxi and will feature Oscar in the front. The new coaster is scheduled to open in 2018.
- No, YOU have zero space in your kitchen for these new Starbucks Walt Disney World mugs. Two new designs for Disney's Animal Kingdom and Disney's Hollywood Studios have been spotted in the parks. I don't have a problem. I can quit anytime.
- And finally, this Sunday, Oct. 1 will mark the 35th anniversary of Epcot. Originally conceived by Walt Disney as the Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow, the park will mark the occasion with an anniversary ceremony, exclusive merchandise and a special showing of IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth. To commemorate this birthday, the Disney Parks Blog posted a rare promo video — "The Dream Called EPCOT" — that was produced in 1980 to showcase the new park. Hit the nostalgia button, folks. It's a trip.
That’s it for the theme park news this week. Have a great weekend. Hoppy 35th Epcot!