Insider's Update: There be dragons...
Published: May 24, 2014 at 12:13 PM
The dragon now sits atop Gringotts Bank in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida. The dragon was the last major decoration piece to be installed in Diagon Alley, so the #Potterwatch continues for the construction walls to come down and a soft opening to begin.
Looking at the dragon from the top of Simpsons pic.twitter.com/ttgyXca3Al— Amusement Buzz (@AmusementBuzz) May 24, 2014
Speaking of dragons. the new dragon-themed roller coaster/shooter ride Wonder Mountain's Guardian opened today at Canada's Wonderland, north of Toronto. If anyone's there today, we'd love a report.
Other debuts this weekend include CBeebies Land at Alton Towers in the United Kingdom and a soft open of Cookie's Monster Land at Sesame Place in Pennsylvania.
Our Russell Meyer has been covering the Food and Wine Festival at Busch Gardens Williamsburg in Virginia, running this weekend, and we'll have his report later today. (Update: now linked!)
Busch Gardens, SeaWorld, and Sesame Place all have new mobile apps, available free on the Apple and Google Play app stores. The new features include, according to SeaWorld's press release:
Planning: Up-to-the-minute ride wait times and show times, ride-height filters, car finder function and insider park tips help make the most out of a visit. The interactive map provides a walking path showing clear starting and ending points with estimated walking time. Easy purchasing and upgrades: This summer, a mobile wallet will be added with one-touch purchasing. This allows guests to make spur-of-the-moment upgrades to skip lines with Quick Queue or add the All-Day Dining Deal. Later this year, new functionality will even allow guests to pre-order meals on the go for easy pick up at select locations. Push notifications: Starting next month, guests inside the park will be alerted automatically on their mobile device with offers and discounts only for app users, such as tours or culinary specials. In future releases, guests will receive contextual notifications, based on interests particular to each guest. Gaming: The 50th Celebration Scavenger Hunt follows a growing trend in gaming and is available at all three SeaWorld parks. Guests collect badges as they visit locations throughout the park to earn valuable in-park rewards. New games for additional parks will be added in 2014. Sharing: Fun photo frames used to showcase photos taken in the parks can be easily shared on social channels.
Finally, if you'd like to hear more about all the new stuff opening at top parks around the world this year, please download my guest appearance on the Stacking Benjamins podcast from last week, where I talk about what's hot in theme parks for the summer of 2014 and share some trip-planning and budget-saving tips.