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Though Universal Studios Hollywood’s newest attraction isn't completely open yet, I scored a ride during technical rehearsals over the weekend, and ladies and gentlemen, this one's worth getting soaked for.
The changes made to the original Jurassic Park: The Ride — which opened in 1994 — are vast, leaving only one scene from the previous version intact with new audio, animatronics, effects, and design elements throughout the others (and no more seeing surrounding sound stages from the boat!). With sleek, modern updates including a Mosasaurus tank and appearances by Bryce Dallas Howard and Chris Pratt, the improvements lift the previous iteration's duller moments to solidify Jurassic World: The Ride as the attraction it was always intended to be: a top-to-bottom fear-filled joy.
THE NEWEST THING FOR THEME PARK FOOD: IT'S ACTUALLY GOOD
Say goodbye to the ballpark nachos and sad cheeseburgers of yesteryear. Theme park food is truly thriving, and three new openings this week are pushing the envelope even further.
Epcot debuted its high-end Japanese restaurant concept Takumi-Tei at Epcot and it's an elegant affair, evidenced by its upscale furnishings and an Omakase menu boasting dishes like bone marrow and a duo of American and Japanese-style Wagyu beef. Don't miss the cocktail menu — the Volcano comes in a smoke-filled box — and grab your seven closest family members for an exclusive kaseki-style meal in the Water Room.
The newest place to find a solid meal at Disneyland may just be Disney's Grand Californian Hotel's... pool bar. Yes, GCH Craftsman Bar & Grill hasn't even officially opened yet, but with guests already getting their hands on grub like lobster quesadillas, double-baked beef nachos, and black truffle grilled cheese during its soft opening, it's bound to be a doozy.
And, over at Universal Studios Hollywood, Jurassic Cafe is elevating the quick-service food game with dishes like chorizo & potato empanadas and mojo pork replacing turkey legs and pizza. (I had pomegranate guacamole and plantain chips across the way from a Panda Express this weekend, so the reckoning is upon us and it is delicious.)
THIS WEEK'S TOP THRILL
MAXXFORCE opened at Illinois' Six Flags Great America on July 4th and it looks, well, insane. Touted as a triple record-breaker, it shatters records for speed with the fastest launch in North America and hits new global highs as the fastest inversion and tallest double-inversion of any coaster in the world.
So, even if you survive the launch catapulting you from 0-to-78 miles per hour in less than two seconds, you won't find any solace at the top of the ride. Our suggestion? Maybe wait to have that ICEE until later in the day.
OTHER THINGS YOU DEFINITELY MISSED THIS WEEK
– Gran Destino Tower at Disney's Coronado Springs Resort opens today, bringing a ritzy new lobby, on-demand Disney movies and 545 new rooms to the Walt Disney World convention hotel.
– Get stoked for more brick-fueled fun. As it moves towards being taken private, Merlin Entertainment has expressed hopes of operating 20 Legoland Parks worldwide, according to Bloomberg. (There are currently eight global locations, with three on the way.)
– If DCA wasn't already the most random Disney park on Earth, you can now get a button just for buying corn dogs from your phone.
– WDW travelers, be warned: FastPass tiers are changing at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
– Knott's Berry Farm's Mystery Lodge is rumored to be closing forever. The attraction was first noted as being closed nearly a month ago, and no reopening date has been announced by the park itself.