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Theme Park News: 2019 was a massive year for Disney, Legoland... and your face
Hello, theme park friends! It’s not a regular column, it’s a **cool** column, because this week it’s our INAUGURAL SYFYWIRE THEME PARK YEAR IN REVIEW!!!!!!!!!
This column has been rearing its (debatably decent) head since the end of June, which means we’ve built a half-year of memories together, people. The good! The bad! The ... time I lost my s**t over Space Mountain celebrating Christmas! Things move so quickly in this ToonTown lifestyle that it’s hard to remember just how much has happened in this past 365-day trip ‘round the sun, which is why I’m here to shove it all back in your face just to recall truly how much we’ve gone through together in 2K19.
I command you to savor every moment of this column, because this will be the last time you hear from me until next year. Yes, I’m heading overseas to unwind from the crazy world of visiting theme parks by visiting ... more theme parks. I don’t know if that makes me incredibly wise for loving my job so much I spend my free time there or foolish for losing money by traipsing from Tokyo Disney Resort and Universal Studios Japan to Shanghai Disneyland without making at least a freelancer’s bag nickels from it, but alas!
I’m thrilled and can’t wait to watch SPY on the 14-hour flight, because SPY is the best movie you can watch on an airplane and they almost always have it. Follow along @CarlyeWisel on Instagram and Twitter if you wanna see the Mickey-shaped Peking duck pizzas and Duffy merchandise up close, or sit tight until I scream all the details at you circa early 2020. :)
2019’S MOST SURPRISING ANNOUNCEMENT: LEGO FACTORY ADVENTURE:
I know I’m supposed to say Epic Universe, the massive forthcoming new park at Universal Orlando, but I’m going with LEGOLAND’s face-recognition mini-figure mania, which I am dying to see firsthand. Will I get generic girl-with-glasses? If I wear my regular wardrobe of colorful clown clothes will I feel like seeing myself in a mirror? Will I like myself better as brick?!!?
I’ll have to hold tight until LEGOLAND New York opens next summer to discover my minifigure insecurities, but in terms of Epic Universe and all future theme park news, isn’t it so interesting how they announce this stuff so far in advance? Maybe it just tickles my fancy because it’s the basis of my entire career, but the pattern of swinging big with major reveals that don’t quite reveal all too much is so intriguing.
Star Wars Hotel (nee Galactic Starcruiser) was announced 4 years before opening, Epic Universe doesn’t even have an opening date, and even all the stuff out of D23 Expo 2019 this year was long-lede, like the name and a couple visual details for Disney Wish (which sets sail in early 2022) and Joe Rohde Island, which will be completed in 2022 or 2023 at the earliest. Yeah, I know this stuff takes time, but it’s an interesting concept that ultimately works, considering I got more questions about Star Wars Hotel in 2017 and 2018 from non-regulars than anything else Disney at all.
2019’S MOST UNEXPECTED MOMENT:
With so many good contenders from Beverly’s biggest surprise to Selena Gomez’s ankle weight predilection, it all comes down to one shocking occurrence: the day Disney clapped back at WDWNT. It’s now DisTwitter canon, but when this happened it was **intense** because this has never happened before.
You see, when Disney speaks on the record about things happening in its parks, it’s tantamount to etching it into stone and holding it toward the sky atop a mountain. That’s why Disney announcements, like Mary Poppins landing at Epcot’s UK Pavilion, are often so specific and carefully worded; take notice how they haven’t quite confirmed whether the attraction will be a show, experience, or ride. And it makes sense, because every crumb of news, good or bad, has an impact on millions and millions and millions of people’s vacations. Details about a new Dole Whip flavor or closure of a beloved Magic Kingdom show are big news, even though at the core it’s just fro-yo and puppets.
So, for everything to be so official, Disney responding in not-so-thinly-veiled words to the proverbial gossip thorn in their side Disney Parks Blog was so biting, not to mention bizarre. Clearly, WDWNT’s proposed leaks and rumors got under their skin — and likely led to way, way, way too many guests calling to ask about rumored changes over the years — so we got not one but two Disney Parks Blog posts clapping back in response to an extremely unofficial website on their most public forum. I still can’t believe it happened, but I gotta tell ya, I’ve never screamed so loud, at least in recent memory.
2019’S NECESSARY RECANTING:
My, ahem, tantrum over the Enchanted Rose Bar interiors. OKAY, so let me explain. I’m not quite sorry for anything I said, because I stand by it; Disney’s Grand Floridian is WDW’s flagship hotel, and inserting jewel-toned round velvet couches you could buy on Anthropologie.com is ~not~ the spooky grandmother's house vibes I come to the GrandFlo for.
H-O-W-E-V-E-R, I will state loudly and proudly (instead of cowering as I apologize) that I went to this bar. And it was good. Quite good. Okay! There, I said it. The view from the maligned chairs looked very nice and lovely, and I had a killer old fashioned in the back corner of the bar’s ample seating with a bunch of Brits, which was utterly lovely. I’d rate it higher, but the kitchen closed too early for my liquor-fueled temperament and I ended scarfing a bag of raw nuts I swiped from a press room earlier that day instead of those artisan flatbreads that appear on every Disney bar menu.
So don’t skip Enchanted Rose on my angry accord, but at least do an eye roll at the fancy furniture before you suck down that seriously good cocktail.
2019’S THING YOU DEFINITELY FORGOT ABOUT AND I DID TOO BUT MAYBE WE SHOULDN’T HAVE:
I wrote a whole paragraph about that newfangled late-arrival ticket Disney rolled out before realizing sales ended the next day lol (WHOOPS), but thankfully that path led me toward a cherished memory of the time FuelRod tried to charge us a couple bucks to kindly replace our chargers with fully charged ones and we FREAKED OUT.
Disney fans spend more than that on festive plastic holiday straws, and yet! We revolted so hard that some Disney fans **sued FuelRod** and all went back to normal. We are chaotic, but wow, do we get things done. Beware, whoever lies in our path. We will never spend $3 more than ZERO for the ability to use our phone while out for 14 hours with our family making memories and will force you to back down if you challenge us otherwise!!!
TWEET OF THE WEEK:
LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!:
And with that, the final link fiesta for 2019:
- What we have lost in themed butter we have regained in themed ice!
- UNTITLED BEAKER GAME IS MY NEW RELIGION!
- The Orlando Sentinel is doing some really, really, really good work this week:
- Remind me to play this on a loop next time I get sucked too deep into this column
- Even the author of this Disney Prince rankings called it unhinged, and yet I am HERE FOR IT
- If you have not yet finished The Imagineering Story’s sixth episode, heed my warning!
- I’m about two sentences away from being on vacation so I’m just linking my own tweets now SORRY
- On the rare chance you haven’t seen it all over Instagram from its social-media-packed debut, Disney’s Riviera Resort, the Disney Vacation Club tower located off the new Disney Skyliner, is officially open.