Theme Park Bits: Frozen Ever After Opening, Haunted Mansion Documentary, Last Chance To Ride Soarin'

In today's Theme Park Bits:

  • Disney announces an opening date for Frozen Ever After.
  • You'll have one more chance to ride the original Soarin' before it's updated.
  • Disney sets a date for its Star Wars fireworks show.
  • Universal plans a Waterworld stunt show refurbishment.
  • Disney's nighttime Jungle Book show is just around the corner.
  • A Haunted Mansion documentary is currently on Kickstarter.
  • Disney has announced that their newest attraction, the Frozen Ever After log flume ride, will open at the Epcot theme park in Orlando, Florida on June 21, 2016. This opening follows the controversial closing of Maelstrom, the not-particularly-famous but well-liked-by-certain-die-hard-fanatics attraction that transported riders through Norwegian history and folklore. Still, considering the massive popularity of Frozen, and the unspeakably long lines to meet Anna and Elsa at the parks, Disney probably has a surefire hit on its hands. The specifics of the attraction have not been revealed, but we know it will repurpose the basic structure of Maelstrom, taking guests from from a "Summer Snow Day" celebration (where Elsa has used her powers to make it snow in the middle of the warm seasons) through Troll Valley and eventually up into the mountains, where they will ride through the ice palace seen in the movie. The neighboring Royal Sommerhus, the new establishment especially built for Anna and Elsa meet-and-greets, will also open on June 21.

    Speaking of big changes coming to Epcot, guests will have one final chance to experience the classic Soarin' attraction before it gets upgraded to the highly anticipated Soarin' Around the World. The hang gliding motion simulator will re-open at the Land Pavillion in Epcot's Future World on May 27, following extensive refurbishments (including the construction of a third theater, which should help with those long waits). You'll then have a few weeks to get those last few rides in, because classic Soarin' will end on June 16, with Soarin' Around the World immediately opening in its place on June 17. Meanwhile, the west coast version of the ride will operate in Disney's California Adventure park until June 15 before also switching over to the new show on June 17. While some fans may be upset by this change, it makes sense. The original attraction was developed for California guests and the focus on that state's locations in the ride film was a little baffling down in Florida. It was time for a refresh.

    If you want a preview of what to expect from the new version, you can watch ride footage from the Soarin' Around the World in Shanghai Disneyland below.

    Meanwhile, Disney has announced that that the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular nighttime show will begin on June 17 at the Hollywood Studios park in Florida. Considering the dearth of attractions at that park (half of the land is currently shut down for construction on Toy Story land and Star Wars land), this will give guests a chance to linger. Here's how the show is being described:

    This elaborate show will combine fireworks, pyrotechnics, special effects and video projections that will turn the park's Chinese Theater and other buildings into the twin suns of Tatooine, a field of battle droids, the trench of the Death Star, Starkiller Base and other Star Wars destinations. And the show, which will feature music from throughout the film franchise, will be punctuated with a tower of fire and spotlight beams, creating a massive lightsaber in the sky.


    Although the movie Waterworld remains a strange and disappointing footnote in studio blockbuster history, Universal Studios Hollywood's theme park attraction has been a popular staple for over twenty years now. Waterworld: A Live Sea War Spectacular opened in 1995 and has effectively out-lived the movie that inspired it, continuing to draw crowds to this day. It looks like Universal has no interest in changing that, as they are reportedly planning to temporarily close the stunt show in January 2017 for a refurbishment, which encompass routine maintenance and the construction of a new ride queue. At this rate, people will still be lining up for this show long after the movie has been completely forgotten.

    alive with magic

    With the long-gestating Rivers of Light show seemingly delayed to work out a variety of technical kinks, Disney has officially moved forward with an alternative aimed to keep guests in the Animal Kingdom park after the animals go to sleep. The Jungle Book: Alive With Magic feels like a no-brainer – the film is an enormous international hit and the animal-themed park could really use a boost right now. Anyway, the nighttime show is being billed as a limited engagement and will begin showing May 28, 2016. Here's how it's described:

    In "The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic," the excitement and fun of Disney's hit live-action adventure "The Jungle Book" roars to life with live music and performance, dazzling special effects and production numbers inspired by Indian cultural traditions. As night falls, we'll gather on the shores of the Discovery River for a vibrant Indian celebration, as dozens of colorful performers take to the water and surround the audience in song and visual artistry.

    In addition, massive curtains of water glow to life above the river's surface, illuminated with imagery from the blockbuster film as Bagheera and other favorite characters from "The Jungle Book" take us on a journey through the jungle, following Mowgli's exciting, perilous and sometimes hilarious wild encounters.

    Although Disney is always chasing the next big thing, few modern attractions capture the imagination quite like The Haunted Mansion, with every iteration of the famous dark ride around the globe attracting armies of fans devoted to uncovering every little secret and detail. The documentary Foolish Mortals will examine the relationship between this beloved ride and its legion of followers, but only if it reaches its goal on Kickstarter. Here's how it's being described:

    Monster Movie Media and Octacle are producing a documentary about fans of the iconic Disney attraction, The Haunted Mansion. The film will be produced by Ryan Grulich and directed by the host of the "Creepy Kingdom" podcast, James H. Carter II.

    The film plans to answer the question: what is it that about a creepy dark ride in the middle of the happiest place on earth that draws so many different types of people to it? The crew will be traveling all over the country to talk with hardcore Haunted Mansion fans to discuss how this attraction has impacted their lives.

    Already scheduled to appear in the film is Imagineer Terri Hardin, artist Nora See, special effects creator Robert Kurtzman, artist Topher Adam, and 'Skin Wars' contestant Dutch Bihary.