Obama's going to Disney World, plus other theme park news

January 17, 2012, 9:47 AM · The White House has announced that President Obama will be visiting Walt Disney World this Thursday. The president will "unveil a strategy that will significantly help boost tourism and travel," according to the Orlando Sentinel. (Note: Link updated. Obama will be in the Magic Kingdom sometime between noon and 2 pm Thursday, and Disney's trying to steer guests to the other three parks on that day.)

Obama in the Hall of Presidents
Obama will be in Orlando for real this week.

No word yet on what that strategy might be, but might I suggest that if the US really wants to boost tourism, we might try treating visitors like welcomed guests instead of potential terrorists… whom we'll just soak with rental car and hotel taxes and airline security fees if they turn out not to be a threat?

In other theme park news: also on Thursday, Legoland California will announce its new attraction for 2012.

Then next week, on Wednesday, January 25, Universal Orlando will reveal details about the openings for Despicable Me and the new enhancements on The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man.

Finally, Holiday World is said to be looking into Kentucky Kingdom. The family that owns the Santa Claus, Indiana theme park is "in talks" over the closed Louisville theme park. The Kentucky State Fair Board owns the lands upon which the park sits and has been in litigation with former Kentucky Kingdom operator Six Flags. (Has anyone been following that?) It's not uncommon for theme park companies to explore a bid for a competitor, when one goes on the block, simply as a way to get a peek into the competition's books. And it's sometimes possible for a park to pick up a few rides or other assets from a closed competitor, short of buying the whole thing, too. So anything's possible at this stage. Or nothing. But it certainly gives Midwestern theme park fans something to talk about during the winter.

Update on the Universal announcement: Sources have told me what to expect from Universal's invitation-only webcast next week.

First, the new 4K HD film for Spider-Man will debut in March. With the new high-def imagery on the ride, Universal's dropping some fresh new detail for us to spot, including a cameo from Marvel's Stan Lee.

Second, Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem (note the new title) will open in "Summer." Perhaps Universal might narrow that window between now and the 25th, but that's the projected opening at this point. The film's original cast will be voicing the 3D film, including Steve Carell and Miranda Cosgrove, and the audience will be transformed into minions at the end.

Third, Universal's getting both a new nighttime show and parade in 2012: Universal's Cinematic Spectacular - 100 Years of Movie Magic. Replacing "Universal 360 - A Cinesphere Spectacular," this new night-time show, with narration by Morgan Freeman, celebrates Universal Studios's 100th anniversary with scenes from some of the studio's top films, projected onto water screens in the Studios' lagoon. Choreographed lighting, fountains and pyrotechnics will complete the experience.

The new parade will Universal's Superstar Parade, and feature several Universal and Nickelodeon animated characters, including the Minions, Spongebob Squarepants and Dora the Explorer. Both the parade and night-time show will debut in the spring.

Finally, there will be a new Blue Man Group show debuting in February, as well.


Replies (20)

January 17, 2012 at 10:01 AM · Good, I can listen to an Obama speech and see what they did to my Jimmy Neutron!
January 17, 2012 at 10:08 AM · Jimmy's dead, Dom. Move on, huh?
January 17, 2012 at 10:22 AM · NEVER!!!!!
January 17, 2012 at 11:09 AM · Disney is too overrated for the president to visit.
January 17, 2012 at 11:35 AM · Wait...he's visiting WDW to talk about tourism like Disney needs help attracting more visitors? I'm pretty sure all the Orlando area parks are doing just fine - except maybe SeaWorld.

And the Spiderman announcement is good but maybe not immediately coughclosedinfebcough.

Also, does anyone else think Disney bag check will be a nightmare on Thursday?

January 17, 2012 at 11:55 AM · Jorge, the only reason you say that is because it doesn't have big boy rides. Grow Up.
January 17, 2012 at 12:13 PM · In regards to Kentucky Kingdom (I live 15 minutes from Louisville, KY and work downtown): last I heard before the news today about Holiday World, the current owner, Ed Hart, is suing the state of KY to regain the money he lost trying to re-open the park.
January 17, 2012 at 1:02 PM · The fact that Florida will be a swing state in the 2012 election has nothing at all to do with President Obama's visit to Orlando. Nope, not a thing.
January 17, 2012 at 1:04 PM · Looking forward to the announcement. No news about announcing the new HP expansion then?
January 17, 2012 at 1:09 PM · Just updated the post with detail about Universal's announcement next week. You are correct, Ashleigh. Nothing on the Potter expansion next week.

And I might I suggest that Thursday would be an excellent day to visit Universal or SeaWorld in lieu of Disney, if you were planning such a day on your trip this week? Presidential security is a hassle best avoided on one's vacation - and I doubt that that the public will be able to get anywhere near glimpsing Obama while he's there.

January 17, 2012 at 1:09 PM · I really hope your source was mistaken on the parade concept.

Doesn't sound all that strong.

January 17, 2012 at 1:13 PM · Crap next week imma be in IoA I really really hope spiderman isnt closed cuz thats my favorite ride :/
January 17, 2012 at 1:29 PM · Parades all come down to execution. Could be cool. Could be lame. No idea until we see some concept art, at least. But plenty of people love the Nick characters (and the Minions), so there's definitely an audience there for something well done.
January 17, 2012 at 5:56 PM · Maybe Obama decided to see his AA for a last time because a Romney AA could replace him next year.
January 17, 2012 at 1:48 PM · Wait, Minion Mayhem was a video game, right? Anyways, it's good that Spiderman gets it's coat of paint before my AP expires.
January 17, 2012 at 3:03 PM · I thought that the new lagoon makeover had something to do with the 100th anniversary! News sounds good all in all, but sad that there is no jaws/potter announcement.
January 17, 2012 at 4:18 PM · Love to hear about a new night show. Hopefully the folks at Universal have been paying attention to how much love World of Color has been getting.

Obviously I'm not implying that the two shows will be in the same league, but anything is a vast improvement over those horrid cinespheres.

Oh, and Morgan Freeman FTW.

January 17, 2012 at 8:44 PM · I am most excited to see the new nighttime show at Universal. I hope it has the energy to rival the other park nighttime shows. Right now Illuminations at Epcot is my favorite. Hopefully if its a hit, then Islands of Adventure will add a nighttime show as well.
January 18, 2012 at 11:39 AM · I'm sure that whatever Obama says, he'll have zero impact.

He vacations in Hawaii.

Not sure why his visit is only at Disney properties. It sends a mixed message. Orlando isn't just about Disney or the parks. I'm sure he won't be welcome at the space center where he shut down the Space Shuttle program.

January 18, 2012 at 11:13 PM · I bet that Despicable Me ride is going to be a family-pleasing ride this summer. I personally enjoyed the movie and I'm looking forward to some "minion mayhem".

This article has been archived and is no longer accepting comments.

Park tickets

Weekly newsletter

New attraction reviews

News archive