Happy Thanksgiving, Theme Park Insiders!
As the founder and editor of the site, I would like to share some of the things about theme parks that I feel thankful for this holiday season. And I also would like to invite each of you to share in the comments the theme park-related things you are giving thanks for this year, too.
In 2019, I am thankful...
...That we are finally getting a new major theme park in the United States. Disney California Adventure opened in 2001, so it soon will be two decades since we've had a top 20 (attendance) park open in the U.S. With firms looking to Asia for market growth, many insiders had worried that we'd never see another major new park in the U.S. again. But Universal Orlando this year announced plans to open its third theme park, Epic Universe, in 2023. With an innovative site design including a line-up of single-IP-focused lands, Epic Universe could quickly move up into the nation's top 10 most popular parks.
...For Joe Rohde's Instagram lectures. If you are not following this future Disney Legend on Instagram, please do. One of Disney's leading Imagineers, Joe offers fans wonderful, insightful, and engaging posts that dive deep into his world travels and why the art, architecture, design, and engineering that he encounters resonates with people. It's a free, never-ending master class in understanding the principles behind themed entertainment design.
...For "The Imagineering Story" on Disney+. Joe, of course, is just one in a long line of Imagineers who have created this industry. Leslie Iwerks' "The Imagineering Story" tells their story in one of the best original, non-fiction TV series to come along in years. To me, this is the best park of the new Disney+ streaming service and I have heard from many other theme park fans who agree.
...For designers that "go for it" instead of sticking with easier ways of doing things. This year, specifically, I love that Universal Creative went for it with a record-setting multi-launch coaster featuring animatronic-driven scenes on Hagrid's Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure. I love that Walt Disney Imagineering went for it with an original setting and storyline for Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, crafting a platform for interactive story participation. Neither attraction came out of the gate as the wildly popular, smoothly functioning hits that their companies had hoped for, but both projects thrilled countless fans who remain grateful that these designers tried to do something new and amazing.
...That Thanksgiving itself doesn't get completely ignored in the parks. For many theme parks as well as much of the retail industry, Halloween gives way to Christmas at the beginning of November, leaving only grocery stores to remind consumers about Thanksgiving. But Universal Orlando celebrates a Thanksgiving IP during its holiday festivities, with its Macy's parade. And, of course, Holiday World celebrates Thanksgiving throughout the park's operating season with an entire Thanksgiving-themed land. Pass the turkey! But only after another ride on The Voyage.
...For you, for reading Theme Park Insider and supporting this community by sharing your tips and experiences as well as telling family, friends, and colleagues about the site. Of all these things I have listed here, I am most grateful to all of you for the gifts of your time and attention to this community. As we enjoy this holiday season, I continue to send my thanks and best wishes to each of you for being here. Happy Thanksgiving!Tweet
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These parks are open or have a reopening date:
We're still waiting on these: