avatar na'vi river journey

Seven years after it became the highest-grossing film in history, everybody spends more time talking about why no one talks about Avatar than talking about Avatar itself. That’s why the upcoming Pandora: The World of Avatar expansion coming the Animal Kingdom theme park in Walt Disney World feels like a bizarre combination of risky move and sure thing – building a theme park land around the most successful movie of all time certainly sounds like a license to print money until you remember that the film seems to have bounced off pop culture in the long run. They may have made less money, but Star Wars, Harry Potter, and Marvel are all embedded more deeply in the common psyche than James Cameron’s eco-centric science fiction epic. What if you build the most impressive theme park land ever devised and everyone shrugs?

That’s a question for the long term. Right now, your focus should be on the first footage of a Na’vi from one of the land’s attractions.

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toy story 4

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Shanghai Disneyland breaks ground on a new Toy Story-themed land.
  • Michael J. Fox poses with the DeLorean at Universal Studios.
  • You can now meet Doctor Strange at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • New images show off the construction of Star Wars Land at Disneyland.
  • Watch the latest World of Color nighttime show.
  • Shanghai Disneyland has already been visited by four million people.
  • Donald Trump will be added to the Hall of Presidents next year.
  • And more!

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disney world drones

If you ever want to know the future of theme parks, you’ve got to look to the patents. Every ride system and every piece of technology that can be incorporated into an attraction or show first exists as a patent, a dry design with an even drier description that feels like it was specifically designed to sound as boring as possible. It’s a great way to hide in plain sight – to read about exciting theme park advancements that may be on the horizon is to also be bored out of your mind.

Over the past year or so, Disney has been steadily filing patents for various drone designs and it looks like we’ll finally start to seeing the fruits of those plans this holiday season. In addition to fireworks and projection mapping, drones are coming to Disney theme park’s nighttime entertainment and the first video teaser for a mysterious new show has arrived.

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Ghostbusters Extended Cut

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • A new Ghostbusters ride is coming to Germany’s Heide Park.
  • Universal Studios is developing an entire theme park land for the Minions.
  • Season of the Force is finally heading to Disneyland Paris.
  • Hong Kong Disneyland’s Iron Man Experience is approaching its opening date.
  • Animal Kingdom’s Avatar-themed land is truly taking shape.
  • Disneyland previews footage and costumes from Doctor Strange.
  • Universal extends Halloween Horror Nights.
  • And more!

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nemo-and-friends-searider

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • The much-maligned Stitch’s Great Escape attraction goes seasonal.
  • Walt Disney World’s Hall of Presidents will shut down in January to prepare for the next audio-animatorinc commander-in-chief.
  • A new proposal sheds more light on the original version of Epcot.
  • Go behind-the-scenes of Disneyland’s new Halloween attractions.
  • Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo DisneySea are getting new attractions based on Finding Nemo and Zootopia.
  • Updates on season pass information for Disneyland and Walt Disney World visitors.
  • Universal Studios Hollywood adds more characters from The Simpsons.

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ghostbusters ride

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • A Ghostbusters ride is heading to Dubai.
  • Disney confirms that a new Muppets restaurant is one the way.
  • Watch the opening ceremony for Universal Studios’ Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
  • An update on the construction of Star Wars Land at Disneyland.
  • A rumored location for Universal Studio’s The Secret Life of Pets ride.
  • Kubo and the Two Strings characters are now in Universal parks.
  • Tour Universal Orlando’s newest hotel.
  • New updates on Halloween events at both Disney and Universal.
  • And more!

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The Walking Dead attraction at Universal Studios Hollywood

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Take a very close look at the new The Walking Dead Attraction and read an early review.
  • Learn how and when you can audition for Halloween Horror Nights.
  • Universal Studios doubles down on The Secret Life of Pets.
  • Disney introduces more Star Wars into its parks as Star Wars Land takes shape.
  • Universal is testing VR headsets for future attractions.
  • A new video teases the technology of Pandora: The Land of Avatar.
  • The history of Disney’s scrapped Virginia theme park.
  • And more!

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hotel concept art 3

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Frozen Ever After reveals a heavily remodeled entrance.
  • New videos show off a hugely impressive entrance and queue for Skull Island: Reign of Kong.
  • Our best look yet at Shanghai Disneyland‘s fireworks show.
  • Disneyland announces a new hotel that will open in 2019.

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new star wars fireworks show

It’s been about six months since Star Wars Land at Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts was first announced at D23, and in that time we’ve come up with tons of questions and not very many answers. That didn’t exactly change with tonight’s big Star Wars Land preview on ABC’s The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60 special — we still don’t know when exactly it’ll open, and we don’t know that much about what rides, stores, etc. to expect — but we did get a better sense of what the themed area will look like.

A whole bunch of new Star Wars Land concept art was revealed during the show, teasing a Millennium Falcon attraction, a Star Wars-themed street market, a cantina, a dinner club, and much more. Flip through the gallery of Star Wars Land concept art, and watch a video of the Star Wars Land presentation after the jump.  Read More »

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Star Wars Launch Bay
If there’s one downer to the Star Wars Land news announced today, it’s that we’ve still got a while to wait before we can actually go to there, as Star Wars nerd Liz Lemon would put it. Fortunately, Disney’s got a couple other Star Wars-themed treats in store for park visitors in the near future.

At D23, Disney announced a Star Wars: Season of the Force seasonal event coming to Disneyland and Disney World in early 2016. Season of the Force will turn Space Mountain into Hyperspace Mountain, a Star Wars-themed attraction.

And if even that’s too long to wait, later this brings a Star Tours upgrade, which will incorporate new locations and adventures from Star Wars: The Force Awakens, plus a Star Wars Launch Bay interactive experience. Get all the details after the jump.  Read More »