Obama's going to Disney World, plus other theme park news
Written by Robert Niles
The White House has announced that President Obama will be visiting Walt Disney World this Thursday. The president will "unveil a strategy that will significantly help boost tourism and travel," according to the Orlando Sentinel. (Note: Link updated. Obama will be in the Magic Kingdom sometime between noon and 2 pm Thursday, and Disney's trying to steer guests to the other three parks on that day.)Tweet
Obama will be in Orlando for real this week.
No word yet on what that strategy might be, but might I suggest that if the US really wants to boost tourism, we might try treating visitors like welcomed guests instead of potential terrorists… whom we'll just soak with rental car and hotel taxes and airline security fees if they turn out not to be a threat?
In other theme park news: also on Thursday, Legoland California will announce its new attraction for 2012.
Then next week, on Wednesday, January 25, Universal Orlando will reveal details about the openings for Despicable Me and the new enhancements on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.
Finally, Holiday World is said to be looking into Kentucky Kingdom. The family that owns the Santa Claus, Indiana theme park is "in talks" over the closed Louisville theme park. The Kentucky State Fair Board owns the lands upon which the park sits and has been in litigation with former Kentucky Kingdom operator Six Flags. (Has anyone been following that?) It's not uncommon for theme park companies to explore a bid for a competitor, when one goes on the block, simply as a way to get a peek into the competition's books. And it's sometimes possible for a park to pick up a few rides or other assets from a closed competitor, short of buying the whole thing, too. So anything's possible at this stage. Or nothing. But it certainly gives Midwestern theme park fans something to talk about during the winter.
Update on the Universal announcement: Sources have told me what to expect from Universal's invitation-only webcast next week.
First, the new 4K HD film for Spider-Man will debut in March. With the new high-def imagery on the ride, Universal's dropping some fresh new detail for us to spot, including a cameo from Marvel's Stan Lee.
Second, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem (note the new title) will open in "Summer." Perhaps Universal might narrow that window between now and the 25th, but that's the projected opening at this point. The film's original cast will be voicing the 3D film, including Steve Carell and Miranda Cosgrove, and the audience will be transformed into minions at the end.
Third, Universal's getting both a new nighttime show and parade in 2012: Universal's Cinematic Spectacular - 100 Years of Movie Magic. Replacing "Universal 360 - A Cinesphere Spectacular," this new night-time show, with narration by Morgan Freeman, celebrates Universal Studios's 100th anniversary with scenes from some of the studio's top films, projected onto water screens in the Studios' lagoon. Choreographed lighting, fountains and pyrotechnics will complete the experience.
The new parade will Universal's Superstar Parade, and feature several Universal and Nickelodeon animated characters, including the Minions, Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer. Both the parade and night-time show will debut in the spring.
Finally, there will be a new Blue Man Group show debuting in February, as well.
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