We are now, to put it in Marvel terms, in the endgame. Or, rather, reaching the end of our phase. If all goes according to plan, despite rising numbers of COVID-19 cases in Florida, by this time next week, two of Walt Disney World’s four theme parks will be open to guests.
Actually, scratch that — by the time you read this today, people will already be in the parks; Disney employees are exclusively allowed in today and tomorrow, followed by two days of Annual Passholder previews and the big show going down at Magic Kingdom and Animal Kingdom on Saturday, July 11. I’ll give you a lil’ summary of what happens when the Mouse House opens its doors in next week’s column, but until then, here’s your last dose of updates before the big-big theme park news comes sailing in.
UNIVERSAL'S NOT-SO-SECRET COASTER
I tried to not talk about this — I tried! — but it’s just too much. We have to discuss the elephant in the room: Universal Orlando’s supposed new Jurassic Park coaster.
There’s currently no official news announcement about it, but like a gift-wrapped bicycle for Christmas or a person wearing a sheet as a ghost costume, it’s quite possibly the worst-kept secret in Universal’s Islands of Adventure.
Why’s that, you ask? Because...
It can be seen...
When it comes to theme park reporting, like with all reporting, you want to tread lightly when it comes to rumors — but rumors don’t generally present themselves at the border of Wizarding World of Harry Potter or display their watchtowers loudly and proudly.
We’re not saying there’s any validity to any of this, but if there was hypothetically a coaster being built at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure, and you were hypothetically curious about it, Alicia Stella’s coverage might be something you’d want to check out.
There's a lot we weren't prepared for in 2020, but this week's most noteworthy shenanigan is a strange one. Not to don my Nancy Drew best or anything, but I present to you: The curious case of the sandwich:
Soccer player Omar Gonzales tweeted the above photo of a sandwich from Walt Disney World, where MLS players are gathering to resume playing. Everyone had a chuckle at the "seasonal fruit" choice, but then TMZ got involved, and things got weird:
After five years of only reporting about theme parks, I have very few real-life skills — but I know a Swan and Dolphin hotel room when I see one. And, with a little sleuthing, it was easy to (somewhat) debunk their claim that the photo wasn't taken at WDW:
There may only be a sliver of an image in the photo, but that's the same hotel room. The desk, the chair, the carpet: it all lines up.
So, what happened here? It's unclear, exactly. According to TMZ, the player wasn't even in the United States yet (!), which is somewhat irrefutable. But, paired with the footage that also came out during that 24-hour drop — including a snake!? — something curious was definitely afoot. We have our theories, but Gonzales is now within the "bubble" at Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin hotel, where the food looks way better — salmon! vegetables! — and even if it didn't, he has a whole kitchen set up right there in the room:
THE SHOW MUST GO ON
News broke last week that Cirque du Soleil, the Montreal-based performing arts company, had filed for bankruptcy protection due to the inability to perform shows during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Why is this theme park news, you may ask? Well, following a nearly two-decade run of their show La Nouba at Downtown Disney, Cirque was hard at work on Drawn To Life, a new performance based on the storied history of Disney animation that was set to start previews on March 20, 2020 — just a few days after Disney World ended up shutting down.
Now I’m not a finance expert nor do I plan on becoming one as I creep ever-so-slightly closer to my deadline, but according to the Fortune article I read, bankruptcy protection doesn’t necessarily mean Cirque is going away for good, but simply doing what it can to adjust the business so that it can come out of the other end of the pandemic in decent shape. The news came with significant layoffs — including Blue Man Group employees at the show’s Universal Orlando location — but also the surprising news that Orlando’s forthcoming performance will likely open before other shows. How early? Nov. 5, to be exact, because tickets for Drawn To Life are now on sale. (As an Orlando Sentinel story pointed out late last month, it's also dependent on governmental regulations of large gatherings.)
I may not be a money whiz, but I do know Disney live entertainment, and once it’s safe to see this one? Oh boy, you gotta. Pulling inspiration from the “Nine Old Men” of animation, the show includes up to 100 Disney characters in different scenes, but most notably puts wild setpieces on display that sees performers acting out animation in real-time.
We were only able to view a portion of the show earlier this year, but it was mind-melting! A man doing acrobatics with a larger-than-life pencil! A woman dressed as scrap paper! It was extremely enjoyable, and we’re glad the show will go on — dancing hands and all.
GIMME A BREAK, GIMME A BREAK
Naw, no Kit Kats here, just recommending you take the time to read this brilliantly comprehensive story on Disney's never-built America theme park, via Collider's Drew Taylor.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
If this doesn't bring your Disney-loving heart a burst of joy, I don't know what will:
LINKS LINKS LINKS
- The truest version of trying to make do in a tough time.
- Candymonium, the new hypercoaster at Hersheypark, is officially open — and it looks unbelievably good.
- Sadly, Disney College Program is nixed for the fall.
- LEGOLAND Florida faced layoffs last week.
- Downtown Disney opens in just a matter of days, and employees will be given a first look.
- For the first time in forever, Tokyo Disney Resort's app is finally available in America!
- This Disney Paper Parks activity sheet is so good.
- This Orlando Sentinel scoop is somethin'.
- Bars are back at half-capacity — and so is bowling.
SYFY and Universal Orlando are properties of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.