Theme Park Bits: Soarin' Over California Returns Again, Tokyo DisneySea Expansion Delayed, And More

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Get ready to soar over California again.
  • The ride vehicles for a Big Hero 6 attraction have been revealed.
  • And more!
  • One of the most consistent pleasures of Disney California Adventure since it opened in 2001 is the Soarin' attraction, in which you essentially fly into an IMAX movie of nature photography. (It's a very reductive way of describing the attraction, but not entirely inaccurate.) If you're a Soarin' stalwart, you may be pleased to learn that the original version of the attraction, Soarin' Over California, will be back again for a limited time during DCA's Food & Wine Festival, from February 28 to April 21. The lengthy amount of time that the original ride will be available for might almost suggest that Disney should stick with the original permanently. But I won't get my hopes up too much just yet.

    Our next two stories bring us to the Disney theme parks in Japan. In Tokyo Disneyland, they're preparing for the arrival of a number of new attractions, mostly themed to Beauty and the Beast. But there's a more recent Disney animated film getting the attraction treatment: Big Hero 6. The Disney/Marvel hybrid will get its own ride in Tomorrowland, the Happy Ride with Baymax. The ride vehicles for this buoyant little attraction are now available to see via concept art. As the art implies, this won't be a high-octane thrill ride, but something in the manner of Alien Swirling Saucers over at Disney's Hollywood Studios. Maybe not the ride you might expect based on the action-packed film, but it clearly fits the character of Baymax to a T.

    Sticking around Tokyo for our next story, which is a bit disappointing if you had time on your calendar blocked out for a visit in 2022. That's when Tokyo DisneySea's latest expansion, in a new land called Fantasy Springs, was set to open, tying into the park's 20th anniversary. Instead, the Oriental Land Company (which operates Tokyo DisneySea and Tokyo Disneyland) has announced that the expansion has been delayed by a year. This will allow the new land to open the same year as Tokyo Disneyland celebrates its 40th anniversary, and will hopefully allow for a more successful construction than if it had been a rush job.

    For our next story, we're taking to the high seas, and I hope you brought your appetite. If you've ever been on a Disney Cruise Line ship, you know that the dining experience is as key to making your trip a memorable one as any other aspect. If you've never taken a Disney Cruise, you might be skeptical, but we can now pretty comfortably presume that the food on these ships is pretty damn good. Why do I say that? Well, one of the curating chefs for the adult-exclusive restaurant Remy (yes, named after the hero in Ratatouille) has beenĀ named one of the ten best chefs in the world. Chef Arnaud Lallement also has a restaurant of his own in Reims, France, but he's worked with Disney on maintaining its high-class onboard establishment. Clearly, he knows a thing or two about cooking.

    Closing out today's column, we'll head over to Orlando and Walt Disney World. Soarin' Over California isn't the only fan favorite returning for a limited time in February (though, please note, that the Soarin' in Epcot is still the worldwide version). Over in the Magic Kingdom at Liberty Square, The Muppets Present...Great Moments in American History is returning for a very limited time indeed in February. Specifically, Presidents' Day Weekend, from February 15-17. It's a shame that this attraction, which has been championed by fans since its inception, won't have a longer return. Count yourself lucky if you're in Liberty Square over the holiday.