Happy Holidays! Yes, that's an unhinged thing to say while wearing a tank top and Birkenstocks in the Southern California sun, but it's officially ~*theme park holiday season*~ which is the best time of year to visit. Everything looks even more beautiful! It's practically required for you to eat cookies as breakfast! And in Florida, the humidity doesn't choke you upon arrival! Highly recommended.
We've got a lot to cover this week so I'm just going to get right to it since you're likely reading this with one eye on Disney+ which is out NOW (watch The Imagineering Story!). From Stan Lee hotels to Grinch-flavored treats, here's everything you gotta know about theme parks this week:
STAY OVERNIGHT WITH SPIDER-MAN
In the most ambitious crossover event to ever happen to your bedtime, Marvel is getting its first-ever hotel at Disneyland Paris. It opens June 15, 2020, and from the new renderings released this week, it's going to be niiiice.
When Disney's Hotel New York — The Art of Marvel debuts, it'll bring a new superhero overlay to the previously metropolitan-inspired hotel packed with hundreds of pieces of Marvel artwork by dozens of artists for an Avengers-approved stay.
Now, keep in mind that it's themed to the art of Marvel — because if it was Marvel-themed, it would likely be crumbling under siege during a Sokovian battle — but the updates are, I gotta say, super classy. Maroon bedding offers a low-key nod to Iron Man, themed suites boast one-of-a-kind murals and an on-site Marvel Design Studio teaches kids how to make their very own comic books. There are also vaguely Manhattan-themed upscale eateries and Skyline Bar (which seemingly repurposes the tech from the eponymous Disney Cruise Line bar), but what's especially rad is that you can meet characters *inside* the hotel, no park ticket required.
With an impending Marvel re-theme coming to a portion of Walt Disney Studios Park, the first-ever Marvel hotel is only the first in a lengthy list of forthcoming experiences.
HAPPY (THEME PARK) HOLIDAYS
Hear ye, hear ye, it's theme park holiday time! Yes, if you also like wearing shorts while posing in front of eye-poppingly large trees, then you are one of us (and also Merry Christmas despite it being early November!).
There's truly so much happening at all the parks, so here's a quick n' dirty breakdown of the basics and what's worth seeking out at these festive celebrations:
Universal Orlando Resort:
Universal's Floridian theme parks boast some serious holiday traditions, including the live Grinchmas Who-liday Spectacular, Mannheim Steamroller performances and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter's delightfully in-canon festooning. Special themed foods abound this year including a Voodoo Doughnut Santa set (it's so cool) and, of course, hot Butterbeer, but my personal favorite is Universal's Holiday Parade featuring Macy's.
With those massive balloons *just barely squeaking past* the falsified theme park high-rises, it's all the magic of New York City's Thanksgiving phenom, with none of the stress. Catch the festivities at both parks through January 5.
Disney's Californian theme park resort simply explodes with end-of-year cheer as well as extra-special SoCal touches, like ¡Viva Navidad!. There's Festival of Holidays at Disney California Adventure — which brings cultural performances and a full-out food festival to the park — while Cars Land takes on a wintry theme and World of Color Season of Light adds a celebratory twist to the nightly performance.
Over at Disneyland, holiday fireworks and decor aplenty set the tone, while the best of all remains it's a small world holiday, which transforms the iconic attraction into a seasonal spectacular. (Haunted Mansion Holiday also retains its The Nightmare Before Christmas Halloween theming for the season.) Don't miss an endless array of themed food, characters dressed in festive garb and more, through January 6.
Walt Disney World Resort:
Disney World is known for its over-the-top holiday celebrations — Christmas trees abounding, Epcot's festive foods, thrice-nightly Candlelight Processional performances with celebrity narrators — but even with a super-popular ticketed Christmas party at Disney's Magic Kingdom, there's more to celebrate this year. Disney's Animal Kingdom toasts to the season for the first time ever this year, while Tomorrowland attractions are now holiday-themed during Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party evenings. I may not be able to discuss Space Mountain's X-mas theming without needing a straightjacket, but between a Minnie Mouse-led fireworks show and the regular lineup of eye-popping festivities, it's worth the trip.
Universal Studios Hollywood
With The Wizarding World of Harry Potter donning the festive spirit, Grinchmas taking over the center of the park with enticing Who-ville activities and plenty of holiday food and decor, Universal Studios Hollywood offers plenty of celebratory additions through December 29th. Don't miss out on meeting The Grinch's dog, Max, who takes Christmas card-worthy pictures with guests throughout the day.
Knott's Berry Farm
The aptly-named Knott's Merry Farm turns the California park into a Christmas wonderland, complete with a crafts village, decorations and even an evening snowfall each night through January 5th. Whatever you do, don't miss the entertainment, which includes a Peanuts Guide to Christmas and a holiday Snoopy On Ice show that can't be missed.
Smoky Mountain Christmas brings food, entertainment (Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer!) and celebrations to the fully-themed park, but most notably an award-winning display of glimmering lights that runs in the millions. Don't miss the 50-foot tree, light tunnel (!) and Northern Lights instillation at the Pigeon Forge, Tennessee event, which runs through January 4.
NNNN-N-NICK NICK NICK
You might come here for your weekly recap of theme park news, but when it comes to all those deep roller coaster details I rarely delve into, I go to Arthur Levine. The dude knows everything that's everything and of course, penned this great take on Nickelodeon Universe — that crazy New Jersey indoor amusement park — for USA Today. It sounds both delightful and terrifying!
LINKS LINKS LINKS!
- In case you need help raising the temperature of that Frozen 2 fever:
- The other half of Universal's Endless Summer Resort, Dockside Inn and Suites, will open in March.
- I wish all ride merch was this insider-y.
- Run, don't walk, to eat all of Disneyland Resort's seasonal food.
- An age-old ride at Disneyland is finally getting an update.