Theme Park Bits: Zootopia Land, Jurassic World's Roller-Coaster Layout And More

In this week's edition:

  • Zootopia is expanding to Shanghai Disneyland.
  • The Jurassic World roller-coaster track layout may have been revealed.
  • The Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run attraction might have a single-rider line.
  • Disney's Riviera Resort is open for reservations.
  • And more!
  • The biggest news this week in the world of theme parks is that one of Disney's recent animated hits is going to get its own section in one of the company's parks. Can you believe that it's been nearly three years since Zootopia? The socially conscious riff on buddy-detective comedies was a billion-dollar hit, propelled as much by how well it did in the United States as how it did in China. Add to that the fact that one of the film's many charms was its depiction of separate parts of a larger world and how animals lived in different ecosystems right next to each other, and it's not surprising that Zootopia is coming to Shanghai Disneyland, with entertainment, meet-and-greets, food, and a new "state-of-the-art" attraction. (Maybe designed after the above-ground gondolas from the film?) Zootopia was a great film with some incredibly detailed layouts and backgrounds – I'm curious to see how this all turns out, but it's a logical step forward.

    Let's say you're the kind of person who likes to plan out their trips in advance. Let's also say that you're the kind of person who's planning to visit Walt Disney World this December for the holiday season. (I envy you.) You may be interested to know that one of the World's newest resort hotels, Disney's Riviera Resort, is now accepting reservations for December 2019. Disney's Riviera Resort – and yes, that is the full title – is said to "immerse guests in the grandeur" of the European Riviera. Though I do think Disney would do well to add another Moderate resort (i.e., a not-outlandishly-expensive resort) in Orlando, one thing the Imagineers do phenomenally well is build out genuinely brilliant and atmospherically designed hotels at the World. So if you've got cash to burn – this will be a Disney Vacation Club resort, so you better be a big spender – you should set some aflame by going to the Riviera.

    We're only a few months away from Disney unveiling Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim. This week, it was confirmed that one of the E-ticket attractions in the land, Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Run, in which you'll get to pilot Han Solo's famous vessel (I hear it did the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs), will have a single-rider line. It shouldn't come as a surprise to learn this, because if there's any guarantee about the new area, it's that it will be swamped with guests. A single-rider line is a value-add to a lot of popular Disney attractions, even though (or primarily because) most people don't take advantage of it. As noted in the article, the single-rider line may not end up being used at all, but trust me, if it's available on opening day, take advantage of it.

    When you think of the Disney theme parks, you shouldn't just think of the parks themselves, but also...the ships! The Disney Cruise ships, that is. Yes, the Disney Cruise Line is also fair game for Theme Park Bits. (They say it's a theme park experience on the sea! I haven't been on one of the cruises yet, so I can only imagine.) The latest news suggests that the three new ships being added to the fleet of Disney Cruise Line's ships are being touted as "Triton Class". On one hand, "Triton" is of course a fitting aquatic reference to King Triton from The Little Mermaid. But considering that the other ships are called the Disney Dream, the Disney Magic, etc., a Disney Triton...doesn't quite have the same ring to it. But it would at least change up the game a bit for Disney.

    What you're looking at above is the apparent track layout for an upcoming attraction to Universal's Islands of Adventures theme park in Orlando. Just as the old Jurassic Park water ride has been closed to herald in a new water ride themed to (ugh) Jurassic World, Islands of Adventure is going to be welcoming in a new roller-coaster attraction themed to the new films. It's slated to open in 2021 (tied to the release of...a third...Jurassic World, which, uh...sigh), and if the rumored layout in the above image is close to correct, it's at least going to be a remarkably long attraction. The fact that the layout suggests you'll be taken on a ride over the island itself is pretty impressive. But we'll see how things turn out over the next few years — it might change drastically.

    José Andrés is plenty busy when it comes to Disney. You may remember a recent entry in the Theme Park Bits column about his upcoming Disney Springs restaurant, Jaleo. Well, he's back at his old tricks again, because Andrés has announced that he's opening another restaurant there, Pepe. This new restaurant will be the first of its kind, a brick-and-mortar edition of a popular food truck the restaurateur and chef had created. Pepe, from the description, is going to have some mouth-wateringly tasty food, meant to evoke the experience of eating in the chef's native country of Spain. Some of the main dishes will be hot and cold sandwiches, plus there will also be bikinis. (It's a type of food. I promise.) When Pepe opens, it'll be another exciting addition to the Disney Springs slate of eateries.

    Let's head out to Universal Studios Japan, where they've kicked off the 5th anniversary celebration of Cool Japan, through August 25. You may well ask, "What is Cool Japan?", and I'm glad you did. Cool Japan is an event that brings to life some of Japan's most recognizable entertainment brands, by appearing in different Universal attractions. Since this year is the longest Cool Japan celebration yet, it's being broken down into Spring and Summer Terms, focusing on everything from Godzilla to Sailor Moon to Detective Conan. (On an unrelated note, Conan O'Brien really ought to branch out into crime dramas.) From the description here, some of the current attractions get seasonal overlays with the themed entertainment, which might make for a fun twist on the expected rides. If you're in Japan, you've got through all of August to celebrate.

    One of the most drastic changes coming to the Walt Disney World Resort this year isn't coming in the form of a new hotel, or a Star Wars-themed area. No, one of the big changes will be above you. Look up! Well, not now, unless you're walking near Epcot's International Gateway. That's where Disney's Imagineers have begun testing the Disney Skyliner, an extensive new gondola system that will transport guests to and from Epcot, Disney's Hollywood Studios, and four of the Disney resorts (including the all-new and aforementioned Disney's Riviera Resort). Things are still under construction – there's a reason the vehicle in the article linked above is placed under tarps – but even the fact that the Disney Skyliner is this close to completion is very exciting. The parks are going to be transformed by this simple yet innovative new system.