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Hello and welcome back, if you were lucky enough to make a vacation out of last week's fall break. My recent trip to Walt Disney World was dope — except for that Epcot Forever got canceled the night I went to see it due to technical difficulties so I'll need a few more weeks before I can give you the first-hand review of the park's interim show.
Either way, I still rode Spaceship Earth, shoved some German food from Epcot Food & Wine festival down my gullet, and had a fantastic time returning to the new Gran Destino Tower at Disney's Coronado Springs after park-hopping — so once again, a magical visit. Serena Williams seemed to have enjoyed herself, as well! (See above.)
This week in Theme Park News, we've got Galaxy's Edge changes, some fine reading material, and official details on the forthcoming fifth Universal Studios park, set to debut in Beijing in 2021. (NBCUniversal is the parent company of SYFY WIRE and we must disclose that, but I am a mere freelance journalist whose only ties are to my love of nacho cheese, so I wouldn't rave about a new theme park unless I was actually stoked about it, which I am.)
So! With that, here's what's happening this week:
UNIVERSAL BEIJING TAKES SHAPE
Ahhhh, that new theme park smell! Full, confirmed details dropped for the forthcoming world's largest Universal park, and truly, Universal Beijing Resort looks incredible. They're not lobbing a softball with this one, they're going bigger than ever and I am all in. (So is Steven Speilberg!!)
When the park opens in 2021, Universal Beijing won't just have WaterWorld — it'll have an entire WaterWorld WORLD!!! Thrillist did a fantastic piece last week on the show's incredible staying power, and this announcement of a whole theme park land dedicated to WaterWorld is that revelation in action. And, according to that same Thrillist story, a survey conducted for Asian markets revealed 80 percent of the audience didn't even know it was based on a movie, which is fantastic and I TOO will choose to believe it as an odd yet fantastical, strangely high-concept stunt show going forward.
Like Universal's domestic parks, there will be lands themed to Hollywood, Minions, and Harry Potter — this one's getting the Hogsmeade half, which includes Hogwarts Castle — but here, Jurassic World Isla Nublar will be Universal's first land themed to the newer films, letting guests get up-close to the Indominus Rex and other dinos from the films. Early footage even shows building designs inspired by the Jurassic World theme park, which is deliciously meta — even if there's no word on which attractions will land here.
It's no surprise the most exciting bits are the lands that don't exist anywhere else, like an entirely indoor Kung Fu Panda Land of Awesomeness filled with Chinese design and decor as well as spaces from the films, such as the Panda Village and Peach Tree of Heavenly Wisdom. (Given how good the food is at the Kung Fu Panda Chinese New Year celebrations at Universal Studios Hollywood, I can only imagine how great it'll be here too.)
There will also be a full Transformers: Metrobase land, which expands upon the popular attraction for a futuristic, technological expanse that looks crazy cool, along with a Beijing CityWalk and two hotels — one of which is the first-ever Universal-themed hotel.
It's never lost on me that we're having a bit of a theme park boom at the moment, and having too many international theme park resorts to visit is a problem I am stoked about having, especially with how fine this one is seemingly shaping up to be.
SPACE IS GETTING HIT WITH THAT NEWNESS
New food is coming to Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland starting tomorrow! Yes, only at Disneyland — everything is remaining as-is over at Batuu East at Disney's Hollywood Studios in Disney World — as the West Coast is getting a new line-up of enhanced intergalactic grub.
In case you can't hear me screaming from the Milky Way with glee, I happily welcome more ways to spend the money I earn from writing about Galaxy's Edge on Galaxy's Edge food and some of these look g-o-o-d.
Let's break it down, shall we?:
A vegetarian Ronto Wrap. Vegetarian! This is an absolute triumph. One of the park's best vegetarian meals, Felucian Garden Spread, is already at Docking Bay 7 and following the removal of the Ithorian Garden Loaf, it's fantastic to have another option, especially one that's grab-and-go. Even as a meat-free option, the Ronto-less Garden Wrap will appeal to all guests for its very good Korean flavor profile with kimchi slaw (!), Gochujang sauce (!), and pickled cucumbers. I know some meat-eating Galaxy's Edge visitors couldn't eat the Ronto Wrap because it was pork (double pork, in fact) so this addition is thrilling. Bravo!
Kyryll Pork Rinds... with cinnamon-sugar? Sure! Bonus applause for this thing being delightfully strange and outer space-y, though I'd have to assume this could replace the inedible turkey jerky that's currently served there. Please know I am not disparaging — jerky is one of my main food groups. I eat a bag every other day and I am dangerously dehydrated and on the cusp of becoming ill on a daily basis. STILL! I was most hype for that jerky at opening and it fell upsettingly short when I could not even bite through it. Maybe the pork rinds will be better! (Good sign they're soon to hit permanent status: the rinds are being served in a souvenir mouse droid container — previously sold with sweet-spicy popcorn next door at Kat Saka's Kettle.)
Happabore Sampler charcuterie plate at Oga's Cantina. I don't hate this, but will mention that as a Midwesterner, anything smaller than six full portions of cheese is sacrilege. Still, paté is going to be intergalactically strange for many theme park guests, so I approve!
This Garden Patty Bun isn't my cup of tea, but frankly, I've never had a burger on a bao bun, so I truly can't knock this one until I try it. Disney has positioned these all as menu additions but it's weird if it doesn't replace kid's menu item Taste of Takodana — which, with its chilled dipping vegetables and meat-free protein is eerily similar? TBD, but seems unlikely to have two things serving the same purpose remaining on the menu.
And, last but not least, the chocolate popcorn with Crait red salt. Oh, I'm sorry, a dessert (YES) and popcorn (hell yes) with thematic salt? Count. Me. IN. This gives me major Tokyo Disney Resort vibes (they have flavored popcorn throughout the property!) and I am here for it. Crait red salt!! Ahhh, this is brilliant. Disney has not mentioned if any food items are going away as these new arrivals land, but I'll be curious to see if the Kat Saka's Kettle mix remains alongside this new chocolatey option.
PHOTO OF THE WEEK:
Can I get an amen?
LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!
- The Guardian did a great job of explaining the world of Disney Instagrammers.
- It's not everything — but Disney+ finally released details of what deep cuts will be on the service.
- This is what it's like to become one of Universal's Halloween Horror Nights Scareactors.
- Dan Aykroyd went inside the Ghostbusters HHN house with Ivan Reitman and it's so good.
- The Void has a new Avengers-themed VR experience featuring Ant-Man and Doctor Strange.
- Imagineer Joe Rohde won an award!
- Chicago-based eatery Portillo's (home of the world's best cheese fries!) is coming to the Walt Disney World area.
- This week's episode The Disney Dish dives into the Skyliner situation with a first-person account of the system malfunction.
- If you get this joke, you're one of us.
- Burudika at Disney's Animal Kingdom just played its final show.
- As I thought, nobody knows for certain if you're supposed to do this.