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SYFY WIRE Theme Park News

Theme Park News: Universal debuts a museum-style gift shop as a famed Disney Imagineer sells his wares

By Carlye Wisel

Welcome to Theme Park News. This week, we're excited because some treasures are going on display for the first time in ages and a significant change at Disneyland has fans looking forward to their next Monte Cristo in a whole new way. Read about all that (and the corn dog that has everybody talking!) in this week's roundup:


The new Universal Legacy Store at Universal Orlando Resort doesn't just sell merchandise — it also peddles in memories. Its debut brings both new items and incredible sights to Universal CityWalk, just steps outside Universal's theme parks, but it's everything that isn't for sale that'll have fans desperate to come inside.

The store, designed to look like a haphazard studio prop shop, is packed with retro-inspired merchandise alongside homages to old attractions like Kongfrontation, Twister...Ride It Out, and Dragon Challenge. Jumbled centerpieces honor beloved attractions like Jaws: The Ride with a replica scuba tank and harpoon gun along with other nautical set pieces, as props from now-shuttered attractions, including a Terminator head used in T2-3D: Battle Across Time, are displayed as museum-like decor throughout the store. (Check out a walkthrough here.)

Also of interest? Small vehicle models for Kongfrontation, Earthquake: The Big One, and E.T. Adventure showcase a look at the rides' early-stage designs from a new vantage point. There's a lot to take in from this collection of costumes, lamps, and phones, all of which complete the intentionally jumbled look of the shop.

Hogwarts table setting

The Legacy Store opens in tandem with an all-new flagship Universal Studios Store, which boasts plenty of merchandise in the event those display cases leave you wanting for something special. That incredible scale model of Wizarding World of Harry Potter may not be for sale, but you can still head home with a new Harry Potter dining set or coasters, perfect for when the muggles-in-law come over for dinner. Other retro merchandise, like throwback neon fanny packs, complete the vibe.


Joe Rohde, former lead Imagineer on projects such as Pandora – The World of Avatar left the company earlier this year to, well, help architect the future of space, but he's now offering us a piece of his storied career without having to brave zero-g.

Rohde announced last week on Instagram that he plans to offload some of his prized possessions — including ones he's completely forgotten he owned — on eBay. Some 40 years' worth of "old Disney memorabilia" that were "emerging from plastic bins and cardboard boxes" throughout his home are now in the hands of a friend who plans to upload every single treasure to the online auction site, meaning we'll now get to see what treasures he's held onto all these years.

That account only has three items up so far, but one already carries a hefty price tag. A commemorative backpack from the opening day of Animal Kingdom, a park Rohde's credited with ideating, was closing in on a whopping $2,000 prior to publishing; other goods include a polo shirt from the "working team," otherwise known as the Walt Disney Imagineering staff who built the park, and a signed copy of an Animal Kingdom preview brochure signed by Rohde himself.

Stay tuned to the seller's eBay page for further updates and to see what else may make its way onto the site.


In some unexpected news, Disneyland announced that it will officially sell booze at Blue Bayou Restaurant, its famed eatery inside the Pirates of the Caribbean ride.

This marks the second time alcohol will be sold to park guests inside Disneyland following the opening of Oga's Cantina in Galaxy's Edge in 2019.

When it reopens later this year (so not right on April 30), Blue Bayou Restaurant will serve beer, wine and a rummy Hurricane, befitting of its New Orleans theme. The dream of finally eating jambalaya and a fried Monte Cristo under those glowing lantern lights is back, and suddenly, much more exciting.


- We finally have opening date details for Universal's impeccably named VelociCoaster!

- Universal Studios Florida extended its Mardi Gras celebration to May 2.

- Proof that everyone need to follow the rules at Disney World, no matter how much you think you spent on Mickey-shaped snacks.

- Breakfast with Mickey Mouse is returning to Aulani, Disney's Hawaiian resort.

- Disney World is expanding its Bluetooth-linked on-ride photos.

- In other news this week, everyone got really, really, really, really invested in a disgusting-looking corn dog.

- Disney World made an Everest version of Disneyland's Matterhorn macaroon!

SYFY WIRE and Universal Studios are properties of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.