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SYFY WIRE Theme Park News

Theme Park News: A new Universal park, some Halloween spooks, and a new Star Wars ride

By Carlye Wisel
Universal's Epic Universe - Concept Art

There were some major theme park announcements over the last five days, with lots to look forward to in both the short- and long-term future. Here's what theme park fans and visitors need to know. It's time for Theme Park News.


Mickey's Halloween Party moves to Disney California Adventure park this year, becoming a villain-inspired, The Nightmare Before Christmas-helmed romp called Oogie Boogie Bash. The kid-friendly mainstays will remain — treat trails for trick-or-treating, rare character meet-and-greets, and entertainment from Mickey Mouse + pals — but there's more for adults than ever before.

After attending an exclusive preview this past week, I gotta say, it feels like this one could be darker and more Halloween-y than ever. All 20 "party" evenings will have a villain-themed World of Color show, character appearances by famed baddies, and a new Villains Grove walkthrough with creepy music and scenes honoring the troublemakers from The Hunchback of Notre Dame, The Lion King, Alice in Wonderland, and more. With the experience still in a Disney park but so clearly bordering on a spooky maze, the new Oogie Boogie Bash could make Disneyland Resort a spooky Halloween contender to Knott's and Universal Studios' annual fright-filled Halloween events.


Early staff previews for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Walt Disney World have begun, and unlike Disneyland's, everyone has been able to snap and share photos from the start. There are some differences in the rockwork's color scheme which was an intentional choice for the Floridian sun, which provides an opportunity for killer sunsets given the orientation of the land. (Counterpoint: Disneyland's is the only one with perfectly framed evening fireworks.)

The main difference I'm most hung up on, though, comes down to alcoholic milk. Yes, Walt Disney World's blue Bantha and green thala-siren milks will be served with rum and tequila, respectively. If spiked non-dairy sea cow milk isn't stoking your interest in visiting Batuu, remember that Rise of the Resistance will open at Walt Disney World first — December 5, to be exact — and should be nothing short of bonkers.


Following last week's press conference, Universal's new Epic Universe theme park was finally announced...with nearly no information beyond that. Epic Universe is confirmed to have shops, dining, and a hotel (because that's how these things work, natch) but the big breaking news so far is this: the new mega-park will splinter Universal Orlando Resort into two "chunks," instead of everything being centrally located near Universal CityWalk.

With Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure connected by a walkway (or Hogwarts Express, if that's your preference), this third park shifts the center of Universal Orlando Resort in an unprecedented way, pulling focus to an entirely new location that will be accessible by bus.

Wondering what attractions will go into the land? Turn to Twitter — there are lots of hypothetical discussions and deep-researching within the early park rendering about where new attractions might go.

SYFY is owned by the same parent company as Universal Studios, NBCUniversal.

Universal's Epic Universe - Concept Art


Non-profit organization Khan Academy has released a free "Imagineering in a Box" online course that teaches prospective students and theme park fans how to build a park from the ground up, but forget learning — there's something way more important lurking within the lessons. Slipped into one of the classes is real, actual footage of the long-rumored Bantha ride for Disney's Star Wars-themed lands. Photos! Videos! A dude riding an early concept program within the Imagineering offices!

If you don't feel bad enough about this glorious gem not being inside the parks, remember that somewhere, in a dark black box corner of the Walt Disney Imagineering campus, someone is spending their workday riding prototypes over and over and over while the rest of us blast through our inboxes. Woof. And with that, the news:


— The Main Street Electrical Parade is back at Disneyland if you want to remember what life was like when things were good. (There's also loads of themed food, which is so charming.)

— Details about Knott's Berry Farm's Halloween blowout and HHN were announced at spooky fan convention Midsummer Scream this past weekend. Knott's Scary Farm will see the return of Scary Farm: Dark Ride and Special Ops: Infected, while Creepshow will get the maze treatment at Universal Studios Hollywood's event.

— The full D23 Expo 2019 schedule has been released, if you're getting your con on at Disney's biennial celebration. We'll be there the whole time, so stay tuned to SYFY for news and more!

— A grown woman threw a tantrum in a Disney Hotel this week. (Spoiler alert, it's me)

Harry Potter fans itching to GTFO of town, take note: Universal Orlando Resort is offering a new themed travel package with hotel, tickets and loads of themed keepsakes from now through mid-December.