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Insider's Update: What's new at a park near you?

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Published: July 12, 2014 at 10:32 AM

The big attraction openings continued this past week, as Ratatouille: L'Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy debuted officially on Thursday at Walt Disney Studios Paris, following the official opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida on Tuesday. This Tuesday, July 15, the party moves to Osaka, where The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will make its Asian debut at Universal Studios Japan. Keep watching Theme Park Insider for coverage.

Busch Gardens Tampa is opening an attraction, too, and it's coming to the park's new Pantopia land. It's not the long-delayed Falcon's Fury, though. The new attraction is Opening Night Critters, a live show featuring a cast of rescued domestic and exotic animals, playing in the Pantopia Theater (formerly the Timbuktu Theater, which housed several 4D shows over the years). Here's a preview, from the park:

Busch Gardens' parent SeaWorld announced this week that it is switching to a new type of refillable cup at all its SeaWorld and Busch Gardens theme parks. The recyclable "PlantBottle" plastic in the cups replaces traditional petroleum-based resins with natural sugars found in plants. SeaWorld said that the switch "is expected to remove 35 metric tons of CO2 emissions annually -- the equivalent of saving more than 80 barrels of oil a year."

Disneyland this week opened its new interactive experience, Legends of Frontierland: Gold Rush!, where park guests role-play a land war between the residents of Frontierland and nearby Rainbow Ridge. Designed to appeal to a generation whose idea of entertainment is defined more by multiplayer online video games than passively watching a screen, Legends of Frontierland is Walt Disney Imagineering's latest attempt at expanding the idea of what a theme park attraction can be. Here's an interesting analysis, and we will have more coverage of this massive multiplayer offline role-playing game in the weeks to come.

Legends of Frontierland map
A map of gameplay locations for Legends of Frontierland, from Disney

Unfortunate news from Walt Disney World: Pirates of the Caribbean claimed another couple of fingertips this week, as a British tourist was injured when he was holding on to the outside of the boat. The man lost the tips of his ring and pinky fingers. This is why they tell you to "keep your hands and arms inside the boat at all times," everyone. On Pirates, as well as Small World and many other boat rides, the boats are contained on the course by underwater metal flume walls on either side of the boats. Horizontal wheels underneath the boats ride along those flume walls and if your fingers or anything else comes between the boat and the flume wall, well, you're going to lose them. This isn't "magic," it's mechanics. Please, please, please, listen to and follow the safety rules, everyone. No one wants anyone to get hurt. We wish this tourist the best possible recovery.

Finally, construction of a proposed Paramount theme park outside London could begin as early as 2016 for a summer 2019 opening, according to a public presentation by the park's backers this past week. The £2 billion project would include a Paramount theme park, a water park, movie theaters, shops, sporting facilities and 5,000 hotel rooms on a site on the Swanscombe Peninsula, on the Thames River east of London. Full details on the proposal are due in October, and the project still needs public money for substantial local infrastructure development, as well as overall government approval, to go forward.

Readers' Opinions

From Robert Niles on July 12, 2014 at 10:36 AM
By the way, if I read one more article trying to diminish Diagon Alley by claiming it is "one ride and seven shops," I'm going to scream. (By the way, that's not the only error in the linked article.) More accurate reporting might describe Universal's Diagon Alley expansion instead as three rides (Gringotts, the Hogwarts Express from Kings Cross to Hogsmeade, and the Hogwarts Express from Hogsmeade to Kings Cross), four shows (Tales of Beedle the Bard, Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, the Ollivander's show, and the "Turtle Talk"-style Gringotts Money Exchange), and three places to eat and drink (The Leaky Cauldron, Florean Fortescue's, and the Hopping Pot beverage bar), plus those seven shops.

And people wonder why newspapers are dying. As a former newspaper employee, I see much more accurate reporting from independent online publications than I see from most newspapers, especially from general assignment reporters. It pays to actually know a beat.

From James Rao on July 12, 2014 at 11:31 AM
I think the "one ride" issue for DA stems from the fact that Gringotts is the attraction receiving most, if not all, the buzz, and it is the only attraction experiencing significant waits. Combine those six hour waits with all the tweets and posts about operations issues, downtime, and non-functioning effects and it leads to misinformation. Since everyone is talking about the Gringotts issues, uninformed mainstream news people think it is the only ride. And since it's "just an amusement park" who cares about doing that extra little bit of research to get the facts? Just one more reason to get your theme park news from TPI instead of the mainstream media!

So, when did Paramount decide to get back in the theme park business? You think they will learn from their past failures and emerge as a major player? Their parks had some great ideas, they just didn't maintain them. Will be an interesting story to follow...

From 173.170.103.20 on July 12, 2014 at 12:15 PM
This is in answer to James Rao's question: "when did Paramount decide to get back in the theme park business?"

The short answer is: they didn't. Paramount's intellectual property is being licensed by the developers of the proposed London theme park, London Resort Company Holdings. This is much like the defunct Hard Rock Park in Myrtle Beach, S.C., was not a development of the Seminole Indian tribe, owners of the Hard Rock brand, but a licensed property.

I'm pretty sure Robert can correct this, but I think Paramount owner Viacom intends to stay out of the theme park business.

Brian

From Rod Whitenack on July 12, 2014 at 1:52 PM
I, for one, think we all will be done a great disservice when traditional print media and newspapers ultimately cease to exist. In the meantime, I hope that schools and higher learning institutions start teaching courses and offering certifiable degrees in online journalism because it has been quickly taken over by the loudest, least trained writers with no real background or discipline other than their own innate and unshakable confidence in themselves.

However, due to the fact that most journalists are now earning less than full time McDonald's employees, the slide in quality and caring was bound to happen. The difference between a website like TPI and a major newspaper is that TPI is written and edited by folks who truly love and know the theme park business while a newspaper article on a theme park is likely written by a 20-something who is being paid by the word and needs to turn in his story as quickly as possible and get on to the next one if he wants to pay the rent and eat this month.

From James Rao on July 12, 2014 at 2:20 PM
Thanks for the clarification, Brian. So does the park have access to all Paramount films... I mean, can they make an Indiana Jones ride since Paramount distributed Raiders of the Lost Ark?
From 173.170.103.20 on July 12, 2014 at 4:33 PM
James Rao wrote: "So does the park have access to all Paramount films... I mean, can they make an Indiana Jones ride since Paramount distributed Raiders of the Lost Ark?"

Absolutely, as long as Disney (who owns the Indiana Jones IP) agrees to the license. As far as the other Paramount properties, it's up to the terms of the license agreement. Robert's written about this topic fairly extensively.

Brian

From 173.170.103.20 on July 12, 2014 at 4:40 PM
Rod Whitenack wrote: "I, for one, think we all will be done a great disservice when traditional print media and newspapers ultimately cease to exist."

Thanks for the nice compliment. As a veteran print journalist, I wholeheartedly agree with you. I'll take one exception, though: we aren't paid by the word. Most fulltime newspaper reporters and editors earn a salary. Although inexperienced ones are indeed paid poorly initially, experience changes this quite nicely.

Brian

From James Rao on July 12, 2014 at 6:32 PM
^"Absolutely, as long as Disney (who owns the Indiana Jones IP) agrees to the license."

So, the answer is no, since Disney isn't about to part with their $4B baby. ;)

From 65.87.190.248 on July 12, 2014 at 8:46 PM
So, that will be 3 Star Trek rides plan outside the U.S. One in Spain, another for the Red Sea, and now UK. I wonder what timeline they will use. Either the new movies or old series. Just to recap CBS & Paramount are separated, so only Paramount can use the movies & CBS can license the TV shows. I ask a former Star Trek insider about the UK Trek ship mode to see if they using TV or movies. Seems like they keeping it vague either waiting for Spain to be builted there's to copy or going with TV version. Still, why can there be plans for Star Trek here most likely with Universal I hope. And don't give me any guff that Trek is too old now. Same can be said of Indiana Jones. There's no new movies, but they made Billions. Same as Trek, it's made Billions but there's a 50th coming and like to see this either announce for UK and America Trek ride.
From Daniel Etcheberry on July 13, 2014 at 8:16 AM
Did they remove those fingertips?

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