Theme Park Bits: New Galaxy's Edge Details, A Harry Potter Nighttime Show, And More

In this edition:

  • Disney has unveiled a lot of exciting new details about Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge.
  • Are they going to charge guests to buy a FastPass for the new rides in Disneyland?
  • Universal is introducing a nighttime light-projection Harry Potter show.
  • And more!
  • Hey, have you heard of this Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge thing? You know, the new land being built in both Disneyland and Walt Disney World, dedicated to one of the most successful film franchises of all time? While there are still a lot of unknowns, such as a hard-and-fast opening date (the Disneyland version will open sometime this summer), a lot of journalists got a first look at the new land last week and are revealing all. (I am sure friend-of-the-column Bob Iger inadvertently sent my invite in the spam folder. I forgive you, Bob.)

    Anyway, there's plenty of details both in this article at Slashfilm, as well as the official write-up at the Disney Parks Blog. The invited journalists got to learn more about the two major attractions in Galaxy's Edge, and the one point I wanted to call out here is that, apparently, Rise of the Resistance is the longest attraction Disney has ever developed. So, here's my question: does that only include current attractions? Because the recently closed Universe of Energy pavilion at Epcot had an attraction that lasted nearly 45 minutes. Could Rise of the Resistance be...that long? If only current attractions are considered, the Disneyland version of Pirates of the Caribbean is 16 minutes long. So...still kind of long!Rise of the Resistance concept art galaxys edge

    Probably the biggest consideration, at least for the Disneyland version of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge, is crowd control. If Rise of the Resistance, for example, is super-long, and one of the gift shops will let select guests build out a personalized lightsaber for up to 20 do you make sure the new land doesn't get overcrowded? Another wrinkle: Disney may charge people to buy FastPasses specifically for the new attractions. This is in the rumor phase, but not surprising. The MaxPass service at Disneyland is a paid way to ensure you don't have to walk to an attraction's FastPass booth – and since it also includes unlimited park photos, at $15 a day, it's worth it. So why not charge even more? That doesn't begin to solve the crowd problem, though. As much as I want to experience Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland, I may wait for...I dunno, a year?

    If we can, let's move away from Star Wars for a second, and over to Epcot. All of Walt Disney World is, in one way or another, going through a bit of a refurbishment in advance of the resort's 50th anniversary in 2021. For Epcot, the latest spruce-up is at the front, as the park's entrance is nearly updated. The entrance gates and bag-check areas are being plussed to improve crowd flow, add shading to the largely open-air area, and expand the walkways. Epcot's entryway has always been a little too congested, so this is the kind of change that's likely to be an immediate upgrade.

    If you're a fan of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter over at Universal Studios Orlando, get excited. They've just announced an all-new light-projection "experience" (so, y'know, a show) called Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle. As the title and poster art above suggest, this experience is a bit darker than you might think. Everyone from Dementors to trolls to Lord Voldemort himself show up, with the latter's "chilling visage" apparently on the castle itself. What better way is there to experience Ralph Fiennes than via light show? Seriously, this sounds pretty interesting, and a nice way to utilize the castle's striking exterior at night.

    One more update, back at Walt Disney World, for this week: they've unveiled an all new drink and cup themed to the old-school mascot the Orange Bird. The aptly titled Orange Cream Slushy can be enjoyed in an Orange Bird Sipper, and from the description, there's only one problem: it's non-alcoholic. But the offering is available during Epcot's International Flower and Garden Festival, so if you're there, this is the kind of souvenir you'll want to get.