Tuesday theme park news round-up: Disney, Legoland, Universal, Star Wars and Halloween
Written by Robert Niles
We've got tons of theme park news flowing in this week, so let's clear it with a round-up, shall we?
Disney's Chairman and CEO, Bob Iger, has agreed to stay on until 2016, instead of retiring from his CEO gig next year, as originally planned. That keeps Iger on board through the planned opening of the Shanghai Disneyland park in 2015, as well the seventh episode of the Star Wars saga, also scheduled to drop that year.
Remember the big CALIFORNIA letters that stood at the front of the Disney California Adventure park up until its billion-dollar refurb? They've returned this week, in their new "retirement home" at the California state fairgrounds in Sacramento.
Legoland Florida this week opens its new "World of Chima" attractions, based on the Cartoon Network's "Legends of Chima" show debuting next week. The centerpiece is The Quest for CHI, a themed "Splash Battle"-type water shooter ride, where riders use their shooting skills to "help their hero, Laval the Lion Prince, defeat Cragger the Crocodile King as he attempts to steal the precious supply of CHI." A 4-D movie and interactive play area round out the expansion, which opens to the public tomorrow, July 3.
Photo courtesy Legoland
Sure, it's the middle of summer, but July's the month when theme parks begin releasing details of their annual Halloween events. Disneyland's revealed the 13 dates for this year's Mickey's Halloween Party, and Universal Studios Hollywood is about to start the voting on its Facebook page to determine the winner for its fan-designed character contest. Universal Orlando's revealed its first maze concept for this year's Halloween Horror Nights. And Knott's has a press conference scheduled for next week to reveal details about this year's Halloween Haunt (including the return of Elvira?), and we'll be there for that.
The Orlando Business Journal followed up on our report that Disney will build a Star Wars land at Disney's Hollywood Studios with its own confirmation of the report, then it found some more details on how Star Wars might be taking over a good chunk of the park.
We've had a discussion going for a week or so about Universal Studios Florida visitors being surveyed about The Smurfs replacing the park's ET ride. The Orlando Business Journal says that one's a go, too.
Universal fans also are buzzing about a report that the park will replace Disaster! with a new King Kong attraction. This isn't a clone of Hollywood's 360: 3D experience, but a new attraction with practical effects and an animatronic Kong.
Something to think about on those last couple of reports: The word "rumor" is pretty much worthless in describing theme park developments. Either something exists in a design life-cycle, or it doesn't. I like to think of the development process in three steps. An attraction starts as an idea, when creative design employee or team envisions what an attraction might be. Creative teams have tons of ideas, many of which never proceed in development, but that sometimes get leaked or released before that decision gets made, anyway.
The second step in development is becoming a plan. This is when designers start working up advanced models, blueprints and other tangible assets that will be used to guide construction or implementation of the development. Again, many projects get to this stage, but never proceed.
The third step is for a development to become a project. This is the stage where parks start spending real money, green-lighting budgets, hiring contractors, and filing permits. When a development hits the project stage, I'm confident in reporting here on Theme Park Insider that it's going to happen. So whenever you hear about "rumors," what you really want to know is: Is this an idea, a plan, or a project? The answer to that question tells you how likely that development is to happen some day.
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