Weekend theme park news round-up: Despicable Me opening date, SeaWorld strikes back
An attentive Twitter user discovered an online contest that appears to have revealed the opening date for Universal Studios Hollywood's version of Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem
. The attraction will open in April, according to this contest
found and Tweeted by @jmillsgreen. USH's Minion Mayhem will be accompanied by a Super Silly Fun Land
play area, a merchandise store, and a "Despicable Delights" food location.
In our new Orlando guidebook, Theme Park Insider: Orlando 2014, we talk about the "monorail or ferry boat" choice that Walt Disney World visitors face when traveling from the Transportation and Ticket Center to the Magic Kingdom. Starting January 21, and continuing through March, Disney will be closing the monorails on the Magic Kingdom route between 11:30am and 7pm on weekdays. That means it's ferry boats or buses for getting to and from the Magic Kingdom during those hours. Disney's doing maintenance on the monorail route, in an effort to cut down on the unscheduled downtimes that have been plaguing the monorails in recent months.
SeaWorld's finally fighting back against the creators of Blackfish and the Change.org campaigns to pressure musicians not to perform at SeaWorld Orlando. In a letter run as a full-page ad in several newspapers late last week, SeaWorld debunked falsehoods in the movie and defended its animal care practices.
In a twist, some theme park fans have started their own Change.org petition, trying to pressure Netflix to remove Blackfish from its streaming catalogue. The bands that Blackfish supporters targeted bailed from their SeaWorld gigs after those petitions received as few as 5,000 signatures. This new, pro-SeaWorld petition has about 500 signatures as of this posting. It'll be interesting to see if it can gain more signatures than the anti-SeaWorld petitions.
And if you would prefer to just put your brain on autopilot for the holidays and look at some pretty pictures, Disney's got you covered with a photo gallery of Christmas trees at Disney parks around the world. If you'd like to look beyond the Disney parks, we ran with the same concept on our Pinterest page last year: Christmas trees from around the world of theme parks.
How long before the official opening do rides have soft openings? I know that there's no hard rule, but if you could give me some examples (Transformers and Despicable Me in Florida) that'd be great.
Pushing back seems to be working on some recent issues. I applause pushing back more often. No one should capitulate on misinformation.
Soft opens are pretty unpredictable, especially more than 6 months prior to the project opening. If you have a trip already planned for April, I'd say, you're probably out of luck for the three new Central Florida attractions (Harry Potter, Seven Dwarves Mine Coaster, and Falcon's Fury/Pantopia). You might have a chance if you already have a trip planned in May or June. If you don't have a trip planned already this summer, I'd highly recommend waiting until late summer (August) or the fall when it's guaranteed that everything will be open, and likely less crowded as well. If the opening of Hogsmeade was any indication, you can expect HUGE crowds this summer at Universal and lines up the wazoo to get on the new attractions, and just entering the new areas of USF.
As for Universal Studios Hollywood, Transformers had about a month of soft opening before the press event and the official open. The facade for Minion Mayhem appears to be nearly done, though we have no idea how construction's going inside. And there's much left to be done on Super Silly Fun Land. Given where they appear to be at now, I think a March soft-open sounds aggressive for the Despicable Me land.
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