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SYFY WIRE Theme Park News

Theme Park News: The big Disney Parks changes we're hyped for (and shook by)

By Carlye Wisel
Fall Theme Park preview

Vogue has its September issue, Entertainment Weekly serves up a Summer Movie Preview and in this corner of deep theme park nonsense, we have the inaugural Fall Thingy, discussing what we're looking forward to, what we're disappointed that's going away, and what's coming down the pike once Christmastime kicks off *checks calendar* incredibly soon.

We're just eight weeks away from snow falling on Main Street, USA, so grab your pumpkin spiced iced latte (preferably with cold foam!) and tuck in for some festive autumnal nonsense:



From BBQ beef to a literal bag of bugs, here's what we're amped on seeing before forgetting to write 2020 on every bill, check and bank statement:

- Oogie Boogie Bash. Disneyland Resort is kicking things up a notch with this updated (and likely upgraded) version of the former Mickey's Halloween Party, which starts tonight at Disney California Adventure. I'll be in attendance later this week — brace for a recap next Tuesday — and I'm going to eat so many Kit Kats in the shadow of the Mad Hatter in these newfangled treat trails that I cannot WAIT.

- Epcot Forever. YES, loving IllumiNations is the official currency of being a die-hard Disney Parks person, but whatever! I hate it. I hate it? I hate it. I cannot wait to be pandered to with a nighttime show that's all about the beloved kookiness and history of EPCOT, rainbow space uniforms and all. Fan service at its finest while the rest of the park crumbles around us to emerge anew? Perhaps, but I'll take it!

- America Pavilion's new restaurant, which will bring barbecued meats and a bunch o' beers to Epcot's World Showcase before the year's end. Each time I've walked past since the announcement of Regal Eagle Smokehouse, I've drifted away on a mental cloud wondering what kind of mac n' cheese they'll serve because you know they're gonna serve some good mac n' cheese.

- Taking the Skyliner between Disney's Hollywood Studios and EPCOT starting September 29 because I love me some novelty transportation (and the stations look gorgeous.)

- Rise of the Resistance, which I've gambled all my future joy on. COME FOR ME KYLO REN!!!


Main Street Electrical Parade

The incoming changes that don't excite us — and the entertainment we are less than pleased to see go away:

- Main Street Electrical Parade, which closes on September 30. I could barely enjoy the dazzling spectacle of vintage characters and bright lights at Disneyland this past week because I knew it could be a long time — possibly forever? — until I see it again. It's better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, fine whatever, but I'm already mega depressed that I got my love back only to lose it once more. My friend Rachel pointed out how nice it was to see characters we don't often spot in nighttime performances (Pinocchio! Elliot the dragon! Those psychotic twirling turtles!!), and she's right. The amount of glee that filled my human body during this parade can never be matched by Paint The Night — a wonderful parade, sure, but one that personally could never occupy the American Flag float-shaped hole in my heart.

- Arendelle Aqua. My one food rule as a theme park reporter is to never eat blue — you'd be shocked by how restrictive this can actually be — and this teal-tinged situation seems like my stomach's own personal scare zone. Pass!

- Christmastime. It's not because I disavow the holiday spirit — I'm listening to A Charlie Brown Christmas as I type this, so understand my hypocrisy up top — it's just that I feel the Haunted Mansion's 50th Anniversary did not last as long as it should have. A nitpick, perhaps, but this is about justice. Yes, there was that late-night event and some cool souvenirs, but its commemorative food bled right into Halloweentime (pun not intended) and with the Disneyland attraction donning a Jack Skellington costume 'til early January, I feel the fearful fete could have lasted just a bit longer, and possibly have had a bigger presence throughout Hallow's Eve season.

- And, last but not least, the news that set me into a full-tilt tizzy over the weekend: Walt Disney World cutting The Muppets Present... Great Moments In American History as of early October. (PR would not confirm directly, but puppeteers confirmed it would be ending over the weekend.) The problem here isn't just that they plucked my favorite thing out of Magic Kingdom, which happened to be an informative and fun performance that energized Liberty Square and offered live puppetry while highlighting criminally underused characters who just keep getting the short stick. It's that Disney Parks seem to be pulling every Disney obsessive's most-loved entertainment out of the park.

There are still nighttime spectacles, Fantasmic! showings and fireworks lighting up the sky, but repeat guests who have fallen in love with the smaller shows like Pixarmonic Orchestra's raucous tunes, Laughing Stock Co. at Golden Horseshoe Saloon and Red Car Trolley News Boys at Disneyland Resort are seeing their favorites removed. While one-time visitors may never know they were there, those of us who return time and time again to do more than just hit the rides will feel their loss like a ghost haunting our regular locales.

This week's news of the Muppets closure — along with Royal Majesty Makers and the Lightning McQueen Pit Crew — is the latest in a pattern of Disney pulling "non-essential" entertainment out of the parks. Around this same time last year brought the closure of Jedi Training: Trails of The Temple, two live bands and an Oswald meet-and-greet at Disneyland Resort, and Magic Kingdom's Captain Jack Sparrow's pirate tutorial as well as additional Walt Disney World entertainment. It reads like small, innocuous cuts here and there, but the sum of its parts among fans has become too great to ignore.

Plenty of other performances remain on offer throughout the parks, sure, but in times of budgetary changes, entertainment often receives the hacksaw the hardest, and just because it's not a building doesn't mean it's expendable. If you happen to be reading this from a TWDC IP address, let me put it plainly: the "Disney difference" is being eroded in front of our eyes under the assumption that no one will notice or remember. They do, and oh, how they will.


Hey look it's a grown woman being terrorized by cartoon clowns:

As a reformed easy scare — okay, a current one, considering stepping inside the Us house was Not! An! Option! — I had an utter blast at Halloween Horror Nights last week. The Ghostbusters house was a joy, Killer Klowns from Outer Space was a delightful neon-hued nightmare scape, and as much as I hate chainsaws (ugh), my adrenaline was at such a high that I was able to have a work call 'til 11pm afterwards. Wide awake without spending another $5 at Starbucks? That's a win!

Jenna's full-scale review has the goods, but if you've also been to scared to step foot inside the houses, give it a go this year, truly. Those two properties are the easiest entry into the world of scare mazes, and my Fraidy Cat's Guide to HHN will give you all the essentials (earplugs! dark colors! Be Midwestern!) you'll need to make it through seamlessly. Not mentioned in there is how having a few cocktails can help immensely, if that's your bag — and while we're at it, consider this a shameless plug the tortilla chips at CityWalk's Antojitos, because they're incredible. Incredible!


Breaking news this Tuesday morning! Magic Kingdom's Tomorrowland has a new look and we are INTO IT:

For reference, here's the old version. Not as cool!

And with that, it's time for the news!:


- Walt Disney Archives' 50th Anniversary is on the way, and with it will come a museum exhibit.

- Sign me up for the first issue of this Star Wars fashion magazine, please.

- I regret not owning these vintage-style HHN glasses, even with the $5 price increase.

- OMG the best part of those Disney character bedtime calls is definitely them recounting the minutiae of their day.

- Mmmmmm can they please sell me one of these Pascal Audio-Animatronics as a pet!?

- Running Universal, which first debuted at Universal Studios Hollywood, is coming to Universal Orlando Resort.

- Disney+ low key launched this week in Netherlands and it looks pretty fantastic so far.

- You can get those Stranger Things selfies at Universal's Cabana Bay Beach Resort.

- Maybe... don't read the leaked ingredient list of Galaxy's Edge's green and blue milk.

- The Disney x Target crossover seems to have begun and we are into it.

- Disney World: where robots are literally stealing our jobs.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's, and do not necessarily reflect those of SYFY WIRE, SYFY, or NBCUniversal.