The Latest Theme Park Update for Universal and Disney

The Latest Theme Park Update for Universal and Disney

Favorite theme parks offer new experiences, new tours and new shops By: Samantha Davis-Friedman
<p>“Star Wars” fans have a new option at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. // © 2017 Disney</p><p>Feature image (above): Something special is coming to...

“Star Wars” fans have a new option at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. // © 2017 Disney

Feature image (above): Something special is coming to Universal Orlando this Christmas. // © 2017 Universal Orlando Resort

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Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter 
This holiday season, visitors will enjoy a new Christmas experience in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.

“The holiday spirit is alive and well in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,” said Michael Aiello, director of creative development for entertainment at Universal Orlando Resort. 

Along with uniquely themed decorations on storefronts in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley, there will be live entertainment and holiday food taken straight from the stories. Then, as night falls on the Wizarding World, Hogwarts Castle will be magically transformed through high-tech projection mapping and special effects to bring memorable Christmas moments from the “Harry Potter” series to life. 

Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will run daily from Nov. 18, 2017, to Jan. 6, 2018.

The Force Is Strong in Orlando 
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has introduced the Star Wars Guided Tour. The first-ever themed tour is a seven-hour immersion into the park’s “Star Wars” experiences.

The tour includes priority boarding for Star Tours - The Adventures Continue, which will see new scenes from “Star Wars: Episode VIII” added later in 2017. 

Guests also get an in-depth tour of Star Wars Launch Bay and encounters with the villainous Kylo Ren and the most famous co-pilot in the galaxy: Chewbacca. In Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, kids ages 4 to 12 can train in the way of The Force, battling a villain from “Star Wars Rebels,” a popular Disney XD series. 

The tour concludes at the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party with reserved viewing for a fireworks show, which presents memorable moments from “Star Wars” films with state-of-the-art projection, lasers and pyrotechnics. 

Tours are offered on Mondays and Saturdays throughout 2017 and cost $129 per person.

New Venues at Universal CityWalk  
Universal CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood is already a hot spot for dining and entertainment, but it has turned up the heat with Universal Cinema, Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville and Voodoo Doughnut.

The newly upgraded Universal Cinema, an AMC Theater — including a seven-story IMAX theater — raises the movie-going bar with power-reclining seats, Dolby Atmos multidimensional sound and Christie RGB Laser projection. 

“As ‘The Entertainment Capital of Los Angeles,’ we’ve entertained guests for generations,” said Karen Irwin, president and COO of Universal Studios Hollywood. “So it’s only fitting that we create the ultimate movie-going experience.”

The multimillion-dollar theater renovation also added an upscale bar and self-service concession stands offering smoothies, coffee drinks, gourmet popcorn and more.

Meanwhile, it’s a perpetual beach party at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville. The menu includes Key West quesadillas and, of course, the iconic cheeseburger in paradise. Plus, since it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere, there are 13 signature margaritas. 

In addition, Portland, Ore.-based Voodoo Doughnut’s unconventional lineup includes offerings such as Bacon Maple and Grape Ape — proving good things come in pink boxes.

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