Hello and welcome to this week's roundup of Theme Park News! From Epcot's nighttime show taking one six-story step toward completion and an entirely new theme park announced for central Florida, here's everything you need to know:
EPCOT UNVEILS ITS HARMONIOUS CENTERPIECE
Prepare yourself, because a new iconic Disney structure has appeared.
The centerpiece of Epcot's forthcoming Harmonious nighttime show has arrived at the park's World Showcase Lagoon where it will be permanently moored — meaning this six-story ring will remain in place for years to come.
The forthcoming evening spectacular is poised to be a grand, visual... well... spectacular mostly aided by its larger "icon show platform," (aka the giant ring) which is capable of pyrotechnics, moving lights, and a "high-density water curtain," presumably for projecting images upon. Though the reaction from fans online was filled with mixed shock following Saturday's announcement, it's worth noting this central ring won't be exposed for long.
Once complete, the entirety of the barges will double as fountains during the day, adding a centerpiece to World Showcase Lagoon that previously was not there.
There's no denying this platform's ring is big. Really big, looming high in the center of a theme park land singularly dedicated to "pavilions" designed to wrap guests in the cuisine, culture, and architecture of foreign locales. While I have not yet seen the new structure in person, I would assume that if it does take away from the calm ambiance of this section of Epcot, it will undoubtedly provide a nighttime show that makes up for the ring's permanent appearance.
Illuminations: Reflections of Earth ran for nearly two decades, and with Epcot currently under mass construction and poised to emerge anew like Disney's Hollywood Studios recently did following the debut of multiple new lands, it's clear Disney has to bring the heat.
Yes, upon first reveal, it's a bit odd to see a final boss level of Sonic the Hedgehog come to life in the middle of a beloved theme park, but if all aspects of the structure — the center ring, the smaller barges — bring life to the lagoon throughout the day and explode with effects at night, it's a win.
My only real gripe? I keep accidentally thinking the central ring is a new waterfront Ferris wheel a la London Eye and then sadly realize I will not be able to ride it. Besides that, consider me on board.
VISIT SUPER NINTENDO WORLD... FROM HOME
A visit to Japan still is out of the question for most of us, but there's still a way to feel like you're sliding through a warp pipe or punching a question mark box without getting up off the couch.
The grand opening of Universal Studios Japan's Super Nintendo World may be delayed, but guests are still going into the land daily — and putting all that footage online. In fact, following early previews, attendees have posted plenty of first-hand accounts and walk-throughs of the colorful and inventive expanse that give you the experience of what it's like to really be there.
Thanks to YouTube, you can enter through Peach's Castle, meet Mario and Luigi, and see what a $26 cake baked by a princess tastes like. TDRExplorer's merchandise video will even take you through every single rack of clothing, jewelry, accessories, and yes, even boxers, within the new Nintendo shops, right down to the take-home racing gear. The popcorn buckets, too, are something special. (Don't miss my favorite of all — how the walk-around Toad character bops up and down!!)
If you're one of the many who plans on beelining to Universal Studios Japan the moment this pandemic ends but are concerned about attraction spoilers, consider skipping the footage of Mario Kart and Battling Bowser Jr. attractions. Augmented reality and other 3D aspects render them unrealistic to the true experience anyway, and this way you'll have something left to savor once you make it there in person. Either way, this one will surely be worth waiting for.
PEPPA PIG HAS ENTERED THE THEME PARK CHAT
Orlando theme parks are known for their mice, ducks, dogs, and, well, whatever SpongeBob SquarePants is, but a new theme park is setting up shop as the first in the area themed to a single television show.
Peppa Pig Theme Park will bring new rides, interactive attractions, water play areas, and live shows with Peppa and friends when it debuts in 2022. Set adjacent to LEGOLAND Florida in Winter Haven — about 45 minutes from the Orlando theme parks — it will operate with separate admission from the toy-themed expanse.
Though billed as the "World's first Peppa Pig Theme Park," Paultons Park in England has an outdoor Peppa Pig-themed section with multiple family-friendly rides, but this one packs more of a punch. And, given the character's popularity, it's sure to woo parents of younger children toward the resort on future trips to the Orlando area.
LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!
- Though the theme parks effectively remain closed, The Villas at Disney's Grand Californian Hotel will re-open to Disney Vacation Club members in May.
- Alton Towers is reopening next month.
- Six Flags has revealed its new rides for 2021.
- Saturday Night Live has been doing a lot of theme park sketches lately, haven't they?
- Reporter Brooke McDonald spotted that Disney World has updated its in-park mask policy.
- A good sign that Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser has taken one step closer to opening.
- Disney CEO Bob Chapek reiterated that theme park recovery will be based on the speed of vaccine rollout.
- The best fast-casual restaurant in Chicago has landed in theme park territory.
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