Theme Park Bits: Disney Hard-Ticket Events, A New Barn, No More French-Fry Rocks At Tomorrowland, And More

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Disney's trying to get you go to their parks any which way.
  • Disney World horses are getting a new barn.
  • Tomorrowland is getting an upgrade.
  • And more!
  • Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park

    One of the common threads of theme parks this summer is that Disneyland and Walt Disney World haven't been doing quite as well as expected in attendance. There's a lot of reasons why this might be the case, but the upshot is that Disney needs guests, and fast. And so, they're throwing a lot of ideas at the wall, starting now. Are you an Annual Passholder in Disneyland? At the end of August, you can get a private ride on Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission – Breakout! Want to visit Disney World in the afternoon only? Buy the Mid-day Magic Ticket! What about late-night hard-ticket events at the Magic Kingdom or Disney's Animal Kingdom? Well, Disney's got you covered there, too. And hey, what if you want to visit Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party more than once at Walt Disney World? Get the Party Pass for just $299. ("Just".) The point here is simple: Disney really wants people to visit. (Though they may want to start by lowering ticket prices across the board, instead of throwing specials at people.)

    Speaking of Walt Disney World, you may already be aware of the fact that there's a ranch on property that houses the horses who offer rides to guests at the parks. But the Tri-Circle D Ranch is getting an upgrade, as shown above in this concept art from Disney. This new barn, of course, means that the current structure is now closed until the update is completed. There's not a hard date set, but the new barn should be open in the spring of 2020. Considering how fragile horses can be, it's nice to see that Disney is committed to taking the best possible care of these beautiful creatures.

    You probably know them well if you've been to Disneyland within the last few years: the "French fry" rocks that serve as part of an entrance into Tomorrowland. Well, say goodbye to them, because they are finally going away, according to the Orange County Register. The rocks have been around for decades, since the era of Michael Eisner, and it's hard to see a good reason to keep them around. Tomorrowland is currently one of the most easily congested areas of the park, with crowds having to squeeze through the fairly tight walkways created by those rocks. Good riddance.

    Fans of Universal Studios Orlando will want to keep this information in their mental back pocket: the pick-up and drop-off location for visitors and team members has been shifted to a spot in their parking garages. The good news is that you won't have to pay an extra parking fee to use the updated location for pick-up and drop-off, whether you're driving there yourself or if you're an Uber or Lyft driver picking someone up or dropping them off. The bus loop at CityWalk has grown more and more popular, causing the shift – it's likely a safer, smarter move.

    Let's end today's column on a real creepy note. (Listen, I am warning you in advance.) As you may know, a figure of recognition in the theme parks in the 80s and 90s was none other than the late Michael Jackson, who lived in a palatial abode dubbed Neverland. Well, over the last weekend, an exclusive post at the blog Disney and More went up talking about a never-realized theme-park version of Neverland. (Again. I warned you.) A real company, Landmark, went about designing what could have been with Neverland, and the concept art is...y'know, intriguing enough. If you can pretend that you don't know what led to that concept art.