In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has a stylish new store.
  • Disneyland’s new restaurant may offer clues to the park’s future.
  • Margaritaville is more than just a song and a restaurant, starting early next year.
  • Watch an aerial view of the Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge area at Disneyland.
  • And more!

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains the best part of either of the continental Universal Studios theme parks, and the Orlando version has just gotten a little more interesting. They’ve opened up a brand-new store called Globus Mundi, which may or may not translate to “Overpriced souvenirs”. (I kid, I kid.) Globus Mundi, unlike the always swamped Ollivander’s, doesn’t seem to sport a lot of wands for sale, but the design of the new store looks intriguing and full of complexities you might not expect to see in what amounts to a gift shop. By focusing on travel gear, it allows Globus Mundi to have a slightly different identity from the rest of the park, which sounds like a smart idea to me.

Disneyland’s newest restaurant, the Tropical Hideaway, just had its soft opening. And as Disney theme-park buff Matthew Gottula noted on Twitter, it’s possible that if you explore some of the details of this new locale, you’ll find clues to upcoming attractions at the Disneyland Resort. You see, the oars on display at the Tropical Hideaway mostly pay homage to Disney’s past, but if you dig enough, you might find a hint or two to the company’s future. Far be it from me to stop you from investigating, but I do sometimes wonder if Imagineers get a little too caught up in crafting stories and details for non-attractions for their own good. But hey, if you find a clue or two to, say, the Millennium Falcon ride at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, more power to you.

So you’re traveling to Orlando. You’ve got the family in tow, and you’re looking for some exciting memories to make for a few days or maybe even a week. Where are you headed? Disney? No way. Universal? They’re so last year! How about…Margaritaville Resort Orlando? If you’re thinking, “…Like the song?”, my friend, the answer is “Of course like the song!” Yes, for some reason, the Jimmy Buffett song has not only inspired a restaurant chain, but now an Orlando resort that opens on January 15, 2019. Margaritaville is close to Walt Disney World, and offers its own pool, spa, and water park. Just imagine how many cheeseburgers in paradise you could eat if you stayed here for a week.

As you no doubt know if you’re reading this column, we’re still more than a few months away from the unveiling of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland Park. But that hasn’t stopped some intrepid aviators from flying over the park to get an aerial view of the still-very-much-in-construction land for anyone who cares to watch. It’s only a minute long, but a decent enough tease. My only issue is that, just as visible construction can be jarring to see while you’re walking into the bubble of Disneyland, hearing and seeing planes fly over you in Frontierland or Fantasyland can be just as weird. Good to get this view, but I feel bad for those guests who were sucked out of the fantasy on their vacation when these folks flew above them.

If you’re a true Disney parks buff, you already know about Celebration, Florida, the master-planned community that Disney helped build years ago. They’ve since shifted mostly away from Celebration, having opened up a small housing community called Golden Oak inside the Walt Disney World Resort itself. (Don’t get too excited, ’cause those Golden Oaks houses are puh-ricey.) But last week, it was revealed that Disney purchased a 965-acre section of land that had been earmarked as a rival to Celebration. Having said that, it’s heavily speculated that Disney won’t be developing or building on this land, instead using it for conservation purposes. If I have the choice of more houses, or a spot of environmental conservation, I’ll go with the latter, so let’s hope the speculation is right.

The holiday season is full of Christmas cheer, of course, but let’s not forget that Christmas isn’t the only holiday. (Yeah, yeah, I know, “War on Christmas,” blah, blah, blah. Christmas is doing just fine. Don’t worry.) Over at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, you can experience a little bit of the Hindu festival of lights when you watch a holiday-themed edition of the UP! A Great Bird Adventure live show. In fact, it’s a Diwali-themed edition of this replacement for the dearly missed Flights of Wonder. Kudos to Animal Kingdom for embracing more than just Christmas (even if I still miss Flights of Wonder, dammit).

Disneyland and Walt Disney World aren’t the only Disney theme parks getting bigger in the years to come. Just recently, more details were revealed about the 2020 expansion throughout Tokyo Disneyland. Some of the attractions bring to life beloved characters and films you might be able to find in the other Disney parks, such as Beauty and the Beast. And then there are things like “the Happy Ride with Baymax”, inspired by Big Hero 6 and gifted with the greatest title for a theme-park attraction ever. How much better would the rides at Disneyland be if they were more straightforward? The Pirate Ride with Jack. The Log Ride with Racial Stereotypes. (OK, that one’s less bouncy.) Anyway, the details of this expansion only make the Tokyo Disneyland Resort seem like the place to be come 2020.

Cool Posts From Around the Web: