Theme Park Bits: Sleeping Beauty Castle Unveiled, Tokyo DisneySea Expansion And More

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Tokyo DisneySea's expansion is announced.
  • Lightsaber prices at Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge are out of this world.
  • Disney's Animal Kingdom is getting ready for the holidays.
  • And more!
  • Whether or not you're going to be at the grand opening of Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge on May 31 at Disneyland, or you might just be stopping by over the summer, you already know that you're probably going to spring for some merch. And what better merch would there be to buy in a Star Wars-themed land than a lightsaber? Well, that's all well and good, but you are going to have to drop a pretty penny or more for that. The price for lightsabers? Oh, just 200 dollars. Yes, that includes a carrying case, but that price is still eye-popping. You almost would want it to be a real, working weapon at that amount.

    What's the import of this photo, you may ask? Of course it's the Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park, but more specifically, this is the fully redesigned and refurbished castle exterior unveiled to the public just days ago. Disney Imagineer Kim Irvine led the charge on this very colorful update to the sixty-year old castle. Any criticism of the castle has to be given a caveat — I'm only looking at the photos, not there in person. But. The colors seem a bit aggressively bright to me. Maybe in person, they're less...garish. I only hope so. For now, it seems almost blinding, those blue, sparkly spires. I'll just have to get used to them.

    Fantasy Springs at Tokyo DisneySea

    I don't often cover the international theme parks here, but there's a big expansion at Tokyo DisneySea that's just too exciting to ignore. Disney and the Oriental Land Company, which oversees the park, have broken ground on a new land dubbed Fantasy Springs. Fantasy Springs will feature characters from films like Tangled, Peter Pan and, yes, of course, Frozen. Right now, we mostly have concept art like the above to go on, but it looks awfully appealing for the biggest expansion for the park to date. Now I just have to figure out a way to go to Tokyo DisneySea once the new land opens.

    Let's head back to the States for our last two stories, both of which are about events far in the distant future of...a few months from now. First up, if you're a true Disneyphile, you no doubt know that a number of big Disneyland attractions are celebrating anniversaries this year. One of those, celebrating its half-century in August, is The Haunted Mansion. Disney's always up for a new limited-time celebration, so they've unsurprisingly announced details about "retirement unliving" for 50 years. Specifically, this after-hours event will offer guests the chance to meet some of the happy haunts, get access to Rivers of America-area attractions and get some event-themed food and drink. You know, they always are looking for a 1,000th happy haunt if you want to head over and check it out this summer.

    The Magic of the Holidays Meets the Magic of Nature in a Whole New Way This Year

    To wrap things up today, let's think about the holidays. Yes, I know, it's still just May, but at Disney's Animal Kingdom, they're already thinking about the winter months. Per the Disney Parks Blog, starting on November 8, Disney's Animal Kingdom will be all aflutter regarding the holiday season from Discovery Island all the way to Pandora – The World of Avatar. If you're a holiday traveler, you can find special musical performances, decorations, and nighttime light displays to soothe your seasonal spirit. It sounds like a lot of fun, and yet another reason to check out a still underrated overall theme park. (I'm not just counting Pandora in that.)