It's been a crazy, sad, and crazy-sad start to the week for a lot of us, but if anything can distract you from the neverending madness that has become daily life, it's the intricacies of theme park updates.
From sporks to surveys to Swedish House Mafia (really), it all means a bunch of nothing to the outside world but to us, it's our community — so here's what you may have missed in the past seven days:
JUST SOME NINTENDO STUFF
There's not too much news stateside, but we wanted to keep you informed and updated because it's all going to be rad. Universal Studios Japan unveiled news about their forthcoming land earlier this year, but we're still deeply in the early phases of seeing how this place works. There will be interactive bands available for purchase, there will be one-ups, there will be Charlie XCX music?!
It looks colorful and fantastic and given that it's opening in 2020 — yep, this year — there's plenty more on the way, including on our own soil.
The inventive land, which has been rumored for Orlando and California for what feels like my entire adulthood, finally got some on-the-books confirmation last week when it was confirmed that Super Nintendo World will indeed join Universal Orlando Resort's forthcoming Epic Universe park when it opens in 2023.
While the worst-kept secret of all time has still not offered any official details for the one headed California park, one can only guess when it'll open on the West Coast as construction continues to move along. It's one of the boldest and most bizarre instances of theme park chutzpah I've ever seen considering, you know, a Universal Studios Hollywood tram tour drives past its much-rumored attraction construction site every few minutes.
As a journalist I'll err on the side of "no ride is yet announced" since I spent much too long trying to nail down if and where it was ever actually confirmed to be the structure rising on California's film lot. But anyone with eyeballs in their head, including myself, who saw it this past weekend, can easily note it's further along than Epic Universe according to this November photo via Bioreconstruct, the theme park eye in the sky.
THIS IS THE CANTINA SONG THAT NEVER ENDS
Heads up if you're traveling to Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at Walt Disney World, as Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run now offers FastPass. I will never stop reporting on Star Wars Land for the entirety of my life, it seems. The new FP+ option kicks in on February 19 — deep within the 30-day booking threshold, so pounce now for upcoming vacations you have on the books — and is the first shift to integrate Disney's newest land into regular park operations.
The ride, which allows guests to either pilot the Millennium Falcon or do two other ambiguous jobs, does not yet have Fastpass at Disneyland so we'll transition back to what everyone is still talking about: Boarding Groups! Y'all know where I stand on the matter but it appears Disney is indeed listening to everyone's feedback, as a new Walt Disney World survey is gauging guest preference on if they're liking the virtual queue system being used for the ever-popular Rise of the Resistance ride on both coasts :
The original poster, Drew, also did a poll to quick-grab a hot take on what Disney fans prefer and with nearly 1,500 votes, just about half of voters chose the Boarding Group process over Standby queues with Fastpass capabilities and a lengthy ol' regular line. It's unscientific, sure, but it's pretty telling.
We hate waiting in lines... and we hate not being ABLE to wait in lines! Dang, we are fickle. I'm still in full support of the virtual queue system and its boarding passes over waiting in a never-ending line for the entirety of a day, but it looks like this system will be in place for the time being. (I'm guessing survey work may be related to the other huge attraction opening at Disney's Hollywood Studios in five weeks.)
If you're curious to learn more about the survey Walt Disney World is sending out, I recommend listening to this week's episode of The Disney Dish, and if your Disney vacation is rapidly approaching and you're like "wait what is this boarding pass thing?" because it's very possible you don't know about it, visit last week's column for the important deets!
LUNAR NEW YEAR, PART DEUX
Since we discussed Disneyland's festivities last week, today is all about Universal Studios Hollywood's Lunar New Year celebrations. The seasonal event brings out a Mandarin-enabled Megatron, meet-and-greets with Minions and Hello Kitty in celebratory wares, along with Kung Fu Panda drawing classes, live entertainment, and extra character appearances.
Chit-chatting with an interactive Mr. Ping is always great — as are this year's perfectly-cooked sesame balls at his noodle shop around the corner — but my favorite part, which I recognize is unhinged, is peeping the wishes hanging from the cherry blossom trees. I'm a snoop!! What can I say!!!
There are so many special events like these I didn't know about until I became a themeparkaholic, which is why you can find me shouting about them every top of the year. (I just think it's great that a cultural celebration like this one is embraced within the California parks and included in admission, okay!)
If you find yourself in Orlando and are missing out on reading a tween's innermost thoughts about how they want a significant other and/or clear skin in 2020 (both things I read! Snooping pays dividends, you guys) there's also a dope Mardi Gras party at Universal Studios Florida from February 1 to April 2 with a nightly parade, themed food, loads of entertainment and even a major concert series featuring artists like The Roots, Diana Ross, TLC and Marshmello that's all included with admission. Included with admission!
As the first person to gripe if popcorn prices go up 75 cents, it's only fair if I call out these extra incentives to visit the park as a delightful bonus.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
We all missed the best party to ever throw down in Florida and I will never forgive myself for not uprooting my family to Orlando solely for things like this because Swedish House Mafia's Axwell played Magic Kingdom and it looked... insane??
So, I reached out to our Tweeter of the Weeker (look at me doing real journalism) and got all the pertinent details. Disney employees could sign up to attend the concert — 8,000 Disney cast members made it in! — and were each allowed to bring a pal to the bonkers event, which was put on by Parks & Resorts Scandinavia.
Can you even IMAGINE?! Is this what I'll ask a Will Smith-resembling genie for if I get three wishes along with more proper nacho cheese sauce to be served in the parks!? Absolutely. Now, if anyone has a ballpark on how much this thing cost, please DM me because I gotta know.
LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!
Buckle up for an extra-long roundup of this past week's news:
- If you're headed to Knott's Berry Farm for their seasonal PEANUTS celebration, I implore you to see the unmissable Space Beagle show — or at least watch the video while at your desk pretending to do work for a major pick-me-up.
- Sucks to be anyone's baby but these folks'.
- WHAT IS THIS DOLE WHIP DROID AND HOW DO I GET ONE!?!?
- Catch me out here majorly stanning Universal Studios Hollywood's new Secret Life of Pets ride — and its facial recognition tech that turns you into a stray puppy.
- Mark Hoppus for Disneyland Mayor, plz.
- Want to be one of the first to sneak an early peek at Disney's newest cruise liner? Here's how.
- Bay Area folks, don't snooze on the fantastic Walt Disney Family Museum events — including this now sold-out conversation between The Haunted Mansion's interior designer Tania Norris and The Imagineering Story's Tom Morris!
- I hate running, but I'm almost willing to do it for a Minion medal and a themed donut at the end of Universal Orlando's race. (Registration closes tomorrow!) On the West Coast? Don't miss Universal Hollywood's Trolls glitter-packed Trolls race this April.