Theme Park Bits: Spaceship Earth Becomes the Death Star, Harry Potter Loses 3D, and ‘The Secret Life of Pets’ Heads to Universal
Posted on Tuesday, December 13th, 2016 by Jacob Hall
In this edition of Theme Park Bits:
- Epoct temporarily transforms Spaceship Earth into the Death Star.
- A new round of Star Wars entertainment comes to Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
- Hong Kong Disneyland’s Iron Man Experience sets its opening day.
- Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey loses its 3D.
- Tickets to Universal’s Volcano Bay are now on sale.
- Both Disney and Universal plunge headfirst into the aerial drone game.
- The Secret Life of Pets comes to Universal Orlando.
- Disneyland is getting its own Splitsville bowling alley.
- And more!
Look, I’m not sure how I feel about Spaceship Earth, an attraction built to celebrate the interconnectedness of humankind and the power of communication to better our planet, being transformed into the planet-destroying Death Star for a special event. It feels…weird. So this is where I draw the line when it comes to Star Wars in Disney theme parks. At the same time: it’s an admittedly impressive effect and it was only for one night as part of a special event. So maybe I’m just overreacting?
For more appropriate Star Wars theme park news, Oh My Disney has a round-up of the new stuff coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including the return of the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular show, Rogue One additions to the Star Wars Launch Bay, new updates to Star Tours, and a new Star Wars-themed walking tour.
The Splitsville bowling alley has been a staple at Disney Springs (formerly Downtown Disney) at Walt Disney World for years, but now a new version of this luxury bowling alley and restaurant is coming to the Disneyland Resort in California, via the Disney Parks blog:
The first Splitsville in California will offer a unique combination of dining, bowling and live entertainment with 625 restaurant seats, a large outdoor patio overlooking the Downtown Disney District, two full-service bars and 20 luxury bowling lanes. You’ll want to visit, even if you don’t plan to bowl!
No opening date has been specified, but it looks like the doors will open in late 2017.
— Octavius (@MintCrocodile) December 4, 2016
And now we must balance out of the new bowling alley with something a little less fun: new security bag check tents have gone up between the Disneyland Hotel and Downtown Disney.
And in even less fun news, Disneyland Paris investors are currently suing the Disney company, claiming that the park keeps on not turning a profit due to character licensing fees:
This lawsuit presents a novel idea. It claims that the value of the 2,200 hectacres the resort sits on has been undervalued, meaning the resort is worth more than Disney says, and that Disney has unjustly profited by charging more than $1 billion in fees for use of the very characters and stories it built when it opened the park. Finally, the lawsuit claims Disney is trying to low-ball the value of shares in its latest buyback offer.
Naturally, Disney claims the lawsuit is “utterly without merit.”
Hong Kong Disneyland’s Iron Man Experience attraction has been officially set for a January 11, 2017 opening, making it official – this is the first Disney theme park attraction based on a Marvel superhero since they acquired the comic book giant. In case you haven’t been keeping up, here are the details about this ride, straight from the Disney parks blog:
Iron Man Experience – Presented by AIA will allow you to soar over the skies of Hong Kong alongside Iron Man in an epic battle against the evil forces of Hydra for a multi-sensory, immersive experience that’s sure to leave you breathless.
“Hong Kong Disneyland is excited to bring its first-ever Marvel-themed ride to Hong Kong,” said Samuel Lau, Executive Vice President and Managing Director of Hong Kong Disneyland Resort. “We are proud to give local and overseas guests a different perspective and experience of Hong Kong while promoting our vibrant city to the world at the same time.”
But the world of Iron Man doesn’t disappear when you land. Step outside and you’ll find the Expo Shop with hundreds of Iron Man and Marvel-themed merchandise items and memorabilia in reach, plus the chance to try on Iron Man’s own suit of armor in the interactive game called Become Iron Man at The Stark Expo. If you’re visiting the park, you might even get a glimpse of Iron Man himself.
Meanwhile, over at Universal Orlando, it has been announced that 2017’s Celebration of Harry Potter will feature appearances by Warwick Davis (who plays Professor Flitwick and Griphook in the films) and Matthew Lewis (who plays Neville Longbottom). More special guests are expected to be announced soon.