Hello, theme park fans! This past week was filled with a small explosion of updates, so I'll get right to it. From California reopenings to Marvel updates and ticketing news, here is everything you need to know in the wide world of Theme Park News.
UNIVERSAL STUDIOS HOLLYWOOD IS OFFICIALLY OPEN
The cinematic theme park reopened its famed gates on Friday with two noteworthy premieres. The Secret Life of Pets: Off The Leash! dark ride, based on the 2016 film and its sequel, was set to open last spring but was delayed until this month due to the pandemic. Located just beyond an apartment facade in Pets Place, the new Manhattan-themed street features a faux bodega and subway station, while the attraction takes passengers in a cardboard box-like vehicle through New York City, encountering characters from the movie throughout colorful scenes. Riders, who take on the role of soon-to-be adopted pets, even see themselves snaking through different apartments as part of the queue, befitting of the film's four-legged perspective.
Jurassic World – The Ride may have debuted its upgrades back in 2019 with the addition of a Mosasaurus scene, updated effects, and characters from the new film trilogy, but it wasn't until this month that guests were able to experience its full potential with the new and terrifying Indominus rex. We'll save our full review of both for next week, but fans are already raving over both attractions, providing some much-needed glee to fans — California residents exclusively, that is — who have gone without theme park attractions for over a year.
(COVID-19 safety protocols, including enhanced cleaning, capacity limitations, social distancing efforts, and mask requirements, are in place throughout the park. Universal Studios Hollywood is currently restricted to California residents.)
DISNEYLAND'S DIGITAL TICKET BOOTHS ARE OPEN FOR BUSINESS
Universal's reopening wasn't the only noteworthy California park news of the week. Tickets went on sale for Disneyland Resort last Thursday, and fans were so excited to make plans and reservations that Disney's website incurred shockingly long waits — as lengthy as 28 hours, as reported by the Los Angeles Times.
As we've seen happen before with park reopenings, there can often be massive technical issues when ticketing first debuts — just look at Universal's Annual Passholder bookings or Disney World when it reopened in 2020 — and while a full day in a digital queue with the errors outlined in that article is beyond stressful, if quantities do remain, things even out shortly thereafter. With Disneyland Resort's two parks currently restricted to California residents (along with all other theme and amusement parks in the state of California), there is still wide availability for anyone hoping to visit Disneyland or Disney California Adventure in the next two months. And, with limited capacity, it sounds like the longest line anyone will have waited in was on their computer screen.
Park reservations, which are required in addition to valid admission, have been snapped up for days surrounding the park reopening on April 30 and Avengers Campus opening on June 4, as well as on many Saturdays. Fear not, though: There is still availability at both parks, including almost full access to Disney California Adventure, putting locals just a bit closer to feeling the rush of Guardians of the Galaxy Mission: BREAKOUT! for the first time in so many months.
DISNEYLAND RESORT'S MARVEL-THEMED LAND OPENS IN JUNE
At long last, Pym Particle-infused food, web-slinging technology, and, yes, shawarma, will make their way to the Southern California theme park when Avengers Campus bows in on June 4.
The new themed expanse, which gives Marvel Cinematic Universe characters their very own land in a domestic Disney park for the first time, was slated to open in 2020 but will now debut just weeks before the release of Black Widow (which hits theaters and Disney+ Premier Access on July 9).
For fans of the franchise who have soaked up WandaVision and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as California's parks sat closed, it's finally time to celebrate these heroes properly with character appearances, a tree-lined sanctum, Tom Holland appearing within a theme park attraction (!), and so much more.
Until then, excelsior!
DISNEY UPDATES ITS EMPLOYEE APPEARANCE GUIDELINES
Last week, it was revealed that The Walt Disney Company would be expanding its corporate guidelines for employee appearance, allowing them to have exposed tattoos and bolder nail polish colors but, more importantly, newfound freedom in how they appear while on the clock. The shift to "Disney Look" comes with a renewed emphasis on inclusion for all cast members, as well as to make them feel more comfortable to be themselves, whether that means gender-inclusive costuming and gender-neutral hairstyles or simply the ability to not have to hide certain tattoos. It's a fantastic change worthy of praise, and one that better honors the many, many cast members who power these parks and give so much of themselves to them already.
Additionally, Walt Disney World appears to also be offering furloughed and currently employed Florida cast members one free night in a Disney hotel, making for a well-earned staycation.
LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!
- Knott's Berry Farm will reopen on Friday, May 21.
- And over in Tokyo, a nightmare comes to an end.
- If you're heading to Disney World, be sure to bookmark this not-so-secret menu.
- Festival of the Lion King at Disney's Animal Kingdom is back in rehearsals.
- This story is a really interesting exploration of nostalgia within theme park experiences.
SYFY WIRE and Universal Studios are properties of NBCUniversal, a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.