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Insider's Update: It's party time at Disney, and #Potterwatch at Universal

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Published: May 17, 2014 at 10:24 AM

Happy weekend, theme park fans! Here's what's happening in theme parks:

The construction walls might be coming down at any time around the London waterfront facades of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley, so please use or search for the hashtag #Potterwatch on Twitter to let other fans know about a soft open of the new land, when it happens. In that spirit, a Theme Park Insider reader this week tweeted us this photo of the Hogsmeade station of the Hogwarts Express, nearing completion.

Hogsmeade Station

Over at Walt Disney World, Star Wars Weekends has started, with the big change this year being the replacement of the irreverent Hyperspace Hoopla show with a more restrained character show and fireworks display. Some of our Theme Park Insider front-page writers are visiting Disney's Hollywood Studios for the event this year, and we're looking forward to reading their reports later this month.

Speaking of special events at the Walt Disney World Resort, tickets now are on sale for both Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey's Very Merry Christmas Party, at the Magic Kingdom. Sure, it's not even summer yet, but Theme Park Insiders are always thinking and planning at least a season in advance!

There is one more big Disney event coming up earlier than that, though — the latest 24-hour party, this time promoting the "Disney Side" theme. The party starts at 6am next Friday, May 23, at the Magic Kingdom, Disneyland, and Disney California Adventure and continued until 6am the next morning. Disneyland just released its special menus for the event on the west coast, and here's hoping that the fried chicken and Mickey waffles at the Plaza Inn becomes the next 24-hour party special menu item to make its way onto the permanent menu at the park.

Chicken and Mickey Waffles
Photo courtesy Disney

Also at Disneyland, the park has announced that the ever-popular Anna and Elsa from Frozen will be joining Olaf the Snowman on a "pre-parade" float running at the start of the Mickey's Soundsational Parade, starting in mid-June.


Concept art courtesy Disney

Around the world, the big event next month will be the start of the World Cup, in Brazil. Disney World has offered up this little video tribute, showing us what goes on in the park when it's closed and cast members ought to be working to get ready for guests, but might be getting ready for the World Cup instead:

For a game in which more of us can compete at an elite level, here's a video showing how to score the maximum 999,999 on Buzz Lightyear Space Ranger Spin. We haven't tested this one yet (or hit 999,999), so we'd love to read your analysis in the comments.

Finally, SeaWorld reported its first-quarter earning this past week. While the Orlando park continues to be overshadowed by popular new additions at Disney and Universal, SeaWorld officials revealed that they're working on developing a new park in the Middle East. Don't know if this is a revival of the long-abandoned Dubai project, or perhaps part of the new the Jebel Ali Entertainment District by Meraas that also involves Six Flags and Legoland. An as-yet-unnamed "marine park" has been slated as part of that development.

Update: One more... Just got a media pack in the mail today with a tease for a Monday announcement from Holiday World. The Santa Claus, Indiana theme and water park will post its announcement on 66DaysAtSea.com. Based on that domain name (that's the length of the Mayflower's voyage across the Atlantic) and the teaser clue (which I tweeted here), I'm guessing that the park will announce that it is rebuilding The Voyage roller coaster.

Readers' Opinions

From 166.137.12.60 on May 17, 2014 at 12:36 PM
I'll be at Star Wars weekends! It'll be my first time.
From James Trexen on May 17, 2014 at 12:50 PM
I've gotten 999,999 on my last two rides on Florida's Buzz Lightyear, but that's only because the ride is a broken mockery of what it used to be, not out of skill. The last time, I maxed out halfway through the ride with the finger hold down method and found myself wondering what to do next. California, however, is a far different story. Disney should redo the vehicles and system to match that one.
From James Rao on May 17, 2014 at 9:31 PM
Rebuilding the Voyage? Why? They just spent the last couple off seasons overhauling various sections of the track that had become a bit rough on this behemoth of a coaster. Man, I would sure hate to see this bad boy toned down, but if it has become overly painful since I last rode in 2008, then rebuilding it is better than tearing it down, that's for sure.

Do you think maybe Holiday World will give the Voyage a Rocky Mountain Construction overhaul? Can you imagine how crazy the Voyage would be with an Iron Horse makeover???!!! Yikes.

From 104.4.244.205 on May 20, 2014 at 5:59 AM
no way they rebuild the voyage, they just fixed it last year.

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