Summer just began and it's already an unprecedented season of theme park openings. Unlike the debuts of yesteryear where you showed up, stood in line for an eternity and waited it out to ride the next big thing, parks are doing their best to alleviate the crush of traffic for a new attraction or land, learning on the fly and doing their best to avoid pitfalls.
Universal Orlando Resort seems to have put any issues behind them during Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure's first week. The coaster, which features a record-breaking number of launches through the famed Forbidden Forest, faced “technical difficulties” when it premiered earlier this month, but Universal quickly amended hours and worked to rectify the situation.
And, after three weeks of reservation-only entries, Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge smoothly opened to the public Monday. It hit capacity just twenty minutes into its first day, spurring the debut of its virtual queue, a relatively seamless “boarding pass” system.
Still, with the past month's learning curve of reservations, boarding groups and virtual queues, it ends up you may not need to worry about a dang thing because guests have been able to walk right into Galaxy's Edge since 6PM Monday night. That's right — on the second day of Disneyland's largest-ever land expansion, guests were able to join the Millennium Falcon line, no boarding pass or reservation required. That's likely to soon change as word gets out about how low wait times have been throughout the park, but if you can get to Disneyland this week, you should speed there.
Planning to make your own saber or toss back a cocktail with floating Worrt eggs during your visit to Batuu? Savi's Workshop — Handcrafted Lightsabers and Oga's Cantina, two of the most popular experiences within Galaxy's Edge, now require same-day reservations beginning at 7AM each day. Know, too, that a lot of merchandise is currently sold out — so much so that Disneyland has begun selling regular Star Wars-branded items, like porg plushies, regular lightsabers, and a somewhat disconcerting Chewbacca doll in their place. Rancor teeth beer flight trays have run out at Oga's Cantina and red or blue Kyber crystals can only be purchased with a holocron; all other crystal colors are sold out.
Walt Disney World's version of the 14-acre land opens August 29, and while annual passholder preview details will be announced soon, no further information has been revealed. Stay tuned for updates — or book a hotel that grants exclusive access starting at 6AM all summer long.
The Simpsons will now be part of Disney's forthcoming D23 convention, in the first major move to bring the television show, obtained from the Fox merger, into the fandom fold. Disney's biennial con, which shows never-before-seen footage from films and shows across the Disney spectrum and regularly drops major theme park news, will host a panel with creator Matt Groening, executive producers Al Jean and Matt Selman, supervising director Mike B. Anderson as well as Yeardley Smith, who voices Lisa Simpson, and Nancy Cartwright, voice of Bart Simpson, Flanders, Ralph Wiggum and more.
A Simpsons-themed Springfield USA land already stands at both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Studios Florida, but D23 Expo 2019 will mark the start of Fox's shows and films first entering the Disney stratosphere. There's been much discussion of how properties such as Deadpool, Alien, and Fantastic 4 could be incorporated into Disney's six global theme park resorts, and championing Homer, Marge, Maggie and the gang at the energetic hub of deep Disney fandom feels like there's sure to be more on the way.
SUMMERTIME RIDES ARE UPON US
Tigris has already unleashed its heartline roll and 60 mph speeds upon crowds at Busch Gardens Tampa, the double-launch Copperhead Strike brought its five inversions to North Carolina's Carowinds and Canada's Wonderland's Yukon Striker, with its 245-foot, 90-degree drop, have all opened for the summer. Other major rides are still on the way: Kennywood's Steel Curtain, a Pittsburgh Steelers-themed coaster with a record-breaking 197-foot inversion is currently in test runs, and West Coast Racers dueling launch coaster has yet to open at Six Flags Magic Mountain.
All of Disney and Universal's summer attractions have announced opening dates except for one. Jurassic World: The Ride, Universal Studios Hollywood's refresh of Jurassic Park: The Ride, will add new audio-animatronics and special effects from the film reboot when it opens later this summer. No word yet, but the ride is currently in testing, so it should be soon.
WHAT YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED IF YOU SPENT TIME OFF TWITTER THIS WEEK...
- A She-Ra meet-and-greet was added to Universal's Islands of Adventure park — and it's the real deal.
- Don't feel like you've gotten enough of Disney's 2019 cinematic release schedule? Peep the new Tale of the Lion King show at Disney's California Adventure ‘til September 2nd, and if you need to stay awake late at night, skip the 5-hour Energy and let this photo of the new Bo Peep meet-and-greet keep you from bedtime.
- Universal Studios Florida is already gearing up for Halloween Horror Nights 2019 with the just-announced, all-new Yeti: Terror of the Yukon house.
- Kiss that bent Eiffel Tower goodbye, because Soarin' Over California's run was just extended at Disney California Adventure through the end of summer.