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Welcome to this week in Theme Park News! Entertainment is returning to Magic Kingdom, Disneyland Paris is causing major stateside drama and we discuss the coolest update of the week that way too many people are sleeping on. From Universal's epic opening date to news from coast to coast, here's what theme park news you may have missed:
THE BEST BIT OF NEWS THAT NO ONE DISCUSSED
Loads of entertainment news dropped earlier this week (following an All Ears exclusive) that finally set opening dates for some Disney World parades and shows that had not yet returned following the parks' 2020 pandemic closure:
- Mickey's Magical Friendship Faire, the daily stage show in front of Cinderella Castle at Disney's Magic Kingdom will return on Feb. 25. The updated performance will have a new ending in honor of the resort's 50th Anniversary, as well as a new opening number.
- Festival of Fantasy parade will return on March 9. The spectacle, which culminates with a massive, fire-breathing Maleficent dragon traveling down Main Street, U.S.A., is a fan favorite.
- Disney Adventure Friends Cavalcade will debut on Feb. 11. This brand new processional features over two dozen characters, and will mark Magic Kingdom's debut of Miguel from Coco.
All of that is exciting, yes — a sign that things are returning to (a new) normal and, with a more robust entertainment lineup, that guests are getting close to the same value for ticket prices as they did back in 2020 — but it pales in comparison to the other entertainment news we got this past week. (At least, where I'm concerned.)
Disneyland Paris rolled out plenty of new details for its 30th Anniversary celebration, starting March 6, and with it came this announcement of Disney D-Light. This new nighttime pre-show, which runs prior to Disney Illuminations, will be packed with all the good stuff (video projections! water jets! mist!) but most importantly, DRONES. Drones!
In partnership with Dronisos, a European drone light show company, 200 drones will be used to create an emblematic "30" in the sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle, in honor of Disneyland Paris' anniversary. Why does that matter? Because it's the first time that drones will be used in a daily Disney castle show.
Disney has dabbled with drones before — there was the Starbright Holidays display in partnership with Intel at Disney Springs back in 2016 and one-night-only displays, like X-Wing drones at a Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge press event in 2019 — and while even Universal has utilized them for nighttime displays shows, Disney never has in such a regular capacity, particularly as part of a daily castle show.
As a company that can often be on the forefront of evening entertainment like this, it's been a long time coming, but this is a huge deal. There is still so much potential for drone usage within their nighttime shows, and Disneyland Paris' 30th breaks that seal. Without getting too into the nitty gritty of FAA regulations and drone models — which, if you are interested in, boy have I got the podcast episode for you — I'm willing to say that, despite international borders, this can only be viewed as a good sign we may one day get drones domestically at either Walt Disney World or Disneyland Resort, and I'll be leading the charge full of hope.
IN WHICH I RELUCTANTLY TALK ABOUT THE MINNIE PANTSUIT DRAMA
(With a heavy heart, I acknowledge that this is a news publication and we are somewhat forced to discuss the bizarre vitality of Disneyland Paris' new costume for Minnie Mouse, but know that I proceed unto this venture unwillingly!)
In honor of Disneyland Paris' 30th anniversary celebration, the theme park resort announced special nighttime entertainment (as mentioned above), special garden displays, seasonal offerings and even a new costume for Mickey's main squeeze. Now, it shouldn't be a big deal. These costume changes happen constantly — for holidays, special events, even one-night parties. Just like Mickey & Friends' special iridescent outfits for Disney World's 50th Anniversary celebration, the gang will see new wardrobes for Paris' celebration, only one of those outfits has gone completely viral.
Yes, a Stella McCartney-designed Minnie Mouse pantsuit has somehow taken the crown as the biggest Disney story of the week.
There's this phenomenon that happens when a small tidbit of Disney news starts gaining traction as a trending topic and then cyclones out of control to the point where I'm being asked about it from friends and colleagues who aren't tapped in to day to day Disneymania. The weird thing is, it's never about things that people need to know — how to navigate Disney Genie+, why a new ride is worth traveling to see — but asinine observations that serve as a microcosm of our societal conflicts, like Disneyland's beautifully reimagined Snow White ride being chastised for neglecting to display consent. (Case in point: one of the biggest news stories of last week for fans who are deeply tapped in wasn't the polka dotted jumpsuit but a structural pillar holding up a faux spaceship outside Epcot's forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy coaster. Seriously.)
So, how did the polka dot pantsuit become the mainstream narrative du jour? I'd point to the fine print of it being part of a collaboration between Disney and the famed designer for International Women's Rights Day. (Minnie Mouse, who is slated to wear the pantsuit during March 2022, will also appear on an exclusive t-shirt in the day's honor.) I'm not about to dedicate any space in this column to quoting Candace Owens, but just put it this way: the whole drama over Minnie Mouse wearing pants is nonsensical in a way only America could dream up. The French language tweet on Disneyland Paris' proper account also garnered accusations of her outfit being "woke" — beam me off this planet, please — but went nowhere near as viral as the English language update despite being posting nearly simultaneously.
Defending a pretend mouse-lady's wardrobe isn't really in my job description, but my colleague Chris Hayner says it best: where was everyone when Minnie Mouse started wearing pants on Disney Cruise Line, which she's been doing for years? If Minnie being able to flop around without her thighs rubbing together is woke, well, sign me up. (After all, a Stella McCartney sweatsuit retails for $1,670, so I'd happily accept any kind of fancy new getup.)
The best part, however, is this isn't Minnie Mouse's main outfit for Disneyland's 30th! Mickey, Minnie and the rest of the regular crew will be sporting special iridescent costumes revealed by the French park — skirt and all! — making the outrage that much more pointless.
So! There you have it. Another day, another drama solved. (Let's just hope she can wear that two-piece suit in peace come March.)
Cases in Los Angeles County are trending downward following the peak of Omicron variant cases over the past two months, but the Los Angeles Times reports that deaths are still high. L.A. County had 16,835 new cases this past Sunday, a decrease from 26,354 new cases the week prior. Orange County, California, reported 9,366 new cases as of yesterday; Orange County, Florida did not have new enough data in at the time of publishing.
Hong Kong Disneyland is currently closed and will remain closed until mid-February.
LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!
- Loving this breakdown of how Disney's Star Tours attraction came to be.
- We learned two major things from Comcast's earnings call: Epic Universe is slated to open in 2025 and Universal Parks pulled in a whole heck of a lot of money last year.
- Don't miss this Orange County Register story about Post 21, Downtown Disney's first Black-owned business, which reopens this week.
- Here in full support of Blog Mickey's plea to Disney to please let us park hop. Please! Let us park hop!
- Disney Cruise Line's new Pixar Day at Sea will bring Toy Story and Incredibles meet-and-greets, a staged puppetry retelling of Coco and exclusive character dining experiences to select 2023 sailings on the Disney Fantasy.
- LEGOLAND New York will reopen for the season on April 8, 2022.
- Disney Parks launches Celebrate Soulfully today, which highlights experiences that honor Black culture and heritage throughout the parks. Don't miss Celebrate Gospel at Disneyland Park, which brings a capella groups, Grammy-award winning singers and even local choirs on select dates in February.
- I now present: the cutest picture of Tigger you'll ever see.