In this edition of Theme Park Bits:
- A Ghostbusters ride is heading to Dubai.
- Disney confirms that a newMuppets restaurant is one the way.
- Watch the opening ceremony for Universal Studios’ Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
- An update on the construction of Star Wars Land at Disneyland.
- A rumored location for Universal Studio’s The Secret Life of Pets ride.
- Kubo and the Two Strings characters are now in Universal parks.
- Tour Universal Orlando’s newest hotel.
- New updates on Halloween events at both Disney and Universal.
- And more!
The past decade has seen Dubai (and the United Arab Emirates in general) attempt to transform itself into a major tourism destination, with movies that film there depicting it as a desert paradise and new theme parks popping up at a rate that is just plain astonishing. One of those new theme parks is Motiongate Dubai, which will feature an area called the Sony Pictures Studios Zone, which we now know will feature an attraction called Ghostbusters: Battle for New York, which will place riders inside a trackless vehicle and task them with blasting projection-mapped ghosts as they ride through scenes from the classic 1984 film. You can tell that this is a theme park ride being unveiled in 2016 because “trackless” and “projection mapping” are the key words here. Naturally, you get points for shooting ghosts, making this the latest version of a ride design we’ve seen at Disney parks with Buzz Lightyear’s Astro Blasters and at Universal Studios Florida with Men in Black: Alien Attack.
The ride will be part of a larger Ghostbusters-themed complex, which will include a full-service restaurant called Slimer’s Diner. There will also be some kind of street show scheduled to take place outside.
After weeks of technical rehearsals, Universal Orlando’s Skull Island: Reign of Kong has officially opened to the public, complete with an in-character opening ceremony where visitors were welcomed to the “Eighth Wonder Expedition Company” by actors made up to look like various characters from the world of King Kong. Naturally, the presentation also included its fair share of impressive fire effects, because this wouldn’t be Universal without a little bit of bombast.
We first heard rumors that Universal Studios was plotting rides based on The Secret Life of Pets for its East Coast and West Coast locations a few weeks ago. Now that the film is a bonafide box office juggernaut, we can expect to star seeing and hearing more about this new attraction. But for now, we’ll settle for this rumor: it seems that Universal is planning to build the Florida version of the ride on the Toon Lagoon amphitheater, a location that once housed an unpopular live show and has been essentially abandoned (save for the occasional special event) for years. This makes sense – real estate is valuable at the Islands of Adventure theme park and that area has been barely used for ages. Plus, it should be able to blend right in with the surrounding land, which is a tribute to comic strip and animated characters.
Meanwhile, it looks like Universal Orlando is testing the waters with another new movie. Characters from the upcoming stop-motion animated film Kubo and the Two Strings are now present at the park, allowing guests to meet up with them at the Character Party Zone. They will also be present during the park’s evening parade. Right now, it’s hard to imagine too many people being excited about posing for photos with characters they know nothing about, but should the film be a hit, the park will have hit the ground running.
Speaking of new stuff opening at Universal Orlando, Inside the Magic has posted new video tours of the resort’s newest hotel, Sapphire Falls. Themed to the Caribbean, the hotel follows the resort’s trend of theming its hotels as straightforward island paradises, getaways from the high-tech thrills that the actual parks offer. Here is the list of amenities offered at the resort, via Inside the Magic:
- Snapping a photo from a water taxi of the hotel’s dazzling lagoon waterfalls lit up at night, welcoming guests to an island paradise
- Sliding down a water slide into the largest on-site pool at Universal Orlando Resort, complete with a children’s play area, two sand beaches and fire pit
- Sampling innovative, Caribbean-inspired food including the signature mojo marinated rotisserie chicken at Amatista Cookhouse, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner
- Taking a one-of-a-kind cocktail journey with a rum captain and sampling some of the 75 rums being poured in Strong Water Tavern
- Easing into ‘island time’ in the tasteful, relaxed design of the hotel’s guest rooms and suites, and just outside awaits the excitement and adventure of two incredible theme parks
- Enjoying Early Park Admission to the Universal Orlando theme parks one hour before the theme park opens, along with complimentary resort-wide transportation and other benefits
With a third gate in the form of the Volcano Bay waterpark opening soon, more on-site hotel space is required if Universal wants to continue stealing bites from Walt Disney World’s piece of the central Florida pie. And right now, they’re looking like they really mean business.
While Universal is introducing fancy hotels, Walt Disney World will do its best to lure you back with the complete menu for the 2016 Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, one of the best events in any theme park for those who like to expand their waistlines with interesting food before getting really drunk and passing out on the Donald Duck boat ride at the Mexico pavilion. As usual, the line-up of food and alcoholic beverages goes beyond the nations already represented around the World Showcase lagoon, offering guests the chance to sample cuisine from Africa, Brazil, Greece, and Hawaii. And yes, the beer selection seems especially robust this year.
Over at Disneyland, construction on the the new Star Wars Land continues and what was once a giant field of dirt is starting to look like a proper construction site. Everything has gone vertical, which means it’s time to break out that early concept art and try to guess to which building or attraction this wall belongs.