Theme Park Bits: Soarin' Over California Sticking Around, Epcot's New BBQ Restaurant, And More

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Soarin' Over California is sticking around through the summer at Disney California Adventure.
  • Epcot's getting a new barbecue restaurant.
  • Disney's Hawaii resort is letting you get close to tropical fish.
  • And more!
  • With Disneyland Park now a Star Wars-centric area, Disney California Adventure has been trying to pick up the slack in terms of other marquee attractions. One of the updates this summer has been to bring back an old favorite: Soarin' Over California, replacing previous denizen Soarin' Over the World. Well, the California-centric version of this flying IMAX ride is so popular that Disney's announced it will be staying through the end of August. Nothing against Soarin' Over The World, but the California version, leaving aside the fact that it's located in a park themed to...California, is much more charming, laid-back, and a welcome return. Hopefully, it sticks around past this summer.

    The American Adventure at Epcot

    If you're a fan of World Showcacse, you know that one of its strengths is its food offerings all around the massive lagoon in one half of Epcot. One of the 11 pavilions is, of course, themed to the U.S. of A., with the American Adventure show and the Liberty Inn restaurant. Well, that location is going away and being replaced, right quick, with a barbecue restaurant called Regal Eagle Smokehouse: Craft Drafts & Barbecue. Opening July 8, Regal Eagle Smokehouse will offer all things barbecue, down to having a massive outdoor smoker. Save some room in your stomach for the eats here – sounds like it'll be worth it.

    But speaking of Galaxy's Edge at Disneyland Park, let's talk a little bit about how you'll need to prepare if you're visiting the park throughout the rest of the summer. The reservation period has passed, which means it could be a free-for-all. The Disney Parks Blog has helpfully offered some tips about how you can successfully experience the still-in-development land in Disneyland Park. So far, early reports suggest that the Millennium Falcon ride has experience pretty mild lines – 35-45 minutes or so – but being cautious and prepared is the best way to travel, especially as the July 4 holiday looms.

    Pixar Pals Parking Structure

    Disneyland's introduction of a new Star Wars land means more people in the parks, and that means more people need more places to park before they get into the park. One of the new parking lots, titled Pixar Pals, is just about ready to be unveiled – in fact, it's opening this Saturday, June 30, and photos like the one above suggest it'll be designed pretty snazzily. The theming is more detailed than you might expect for...well, a parking lot, but it'll at least offer more than just a functional need for Disneyland guests.

    Rainbow Reef at Aulani

    The Disney resorts extend beyond the continental 48 states in the U.S., of course, but it encompasses a lot more than theme parks around the world. There's also the Aulani Resort in Hawaii, which now offers two new programs that allow its guests to get even closer to the tropical fish that live in the beaches that crest Aulani. Underwater Explorers gives you a chance to do some scuba-style exploration without being scuba-certified, and there's also the Rainbow Reef Fish Feeding Experience, which is...well, a fish-feeding experience. But considering the location and the sea life, these programs would be hard to pass up if you're in Aulani's Rainbow Reef.

    Burrata con Panna from Topolino's Terrace – Flavors of the Riviera at Disney's Riviera Resort

    Let's head to Orlando for our final story of the column, and over to Walt Disney World. Specifically, let's talk about a restaurant that hasn't opened, at a hotel that also hasn't opened. The hotel is the Riviera Resort, and the restaurant is Topolino's Terrace. If you're in the mood for regional dishes from Italy and the French Riviera, good news: this new restaurant has such meals to offer and reservations are now available. The promised dishes, like the quiche Gruyere with house-made pancetta, sour cream waffles, gnocchi with duck confit, seafood bouillabaisse, and more, all sound quite delectable, so if you're in Orlando this winter – starting December 16 – save your spot at Topolino's Terrace now.