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For theme park titans Disney and Universal, 2020 brought more than just extended park closures. The COVID-19 pandemic also made it necessary to reimagine every aspect of the theme park experience, from creating socially distanced character interactions to implementing new systems to manage attendance, capacity and health and safety protocols.
But with a new year comes new hope — and hope is something theme parks know a lot about.
“In the world we find ourselves in today, optimism, innovation and courage will ultimately win the day,” said Josh D’Amaro, chairman for Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. “With the emboldened spirit that comes from the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, with the hope and optimism that our brand captures even in the toughest of times … why not dream as big as possible?”
When Walt Disney World Resort and Universal Orlando Resort reopened last summer, the Florida parks were able to deliver a theme park vacation experience that, while modified, has satisfied most guests. Disneyland Resort and Universal Studios Hollywood, on the other hand, are still awaiting the green light to resume operations, but that hasn’t stopped the California parks from preparing for guests’ safe return.
With the emboldened spirit that comes from the challenges of the COVID-19 crisis, with the hope and optimism that our brand captures even in the toughest of times … why not dream as big as possible?
Developments at DisneyDisneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif., spent 2020 preparing new attractions and experiences, including a reimagining of its iconic Snow White ride and completing the all-new Avengers Campus.
“While Disneyland has been closed, Walt Disney Imagineering has been putting the finishing touches on [the park’s only ride-through princess attraction], which will be ready to welcome guests when we reopen,” wrote Michael Ramirez, public relations director for Disneyland Resort, on the Disney Parks Blog. “While you may recognize some familiar elements, you’ll be surprised to discover enhanced story details and all-new scenes.”
The new version of the classic ride — now called Snow White’s Enchanted Wish — has been given a cheerier makeover, “finally giving Snow White the happily ever after she deserves,” according to John Gritz, principal concept designer at Walt Disney Imagineering.
The much-anticipated Avengers Campus (originally scheduled to open at Disney California Adventure Park last summer) will provide opportunities for clients to team up with the Avengers, including the resort’s newest ride — Web Slingers: A Spider-Man Adventure — where guests are recruited to help Peter Parker/Spider-Man (actor Tom Holland) contain an army of Spider-Bots.
“This past year has presented extraordinary challenges, but that hasn’t curtailed in any way our ability to move forward with a spirit of optimism,” said Ken Potrock, president of Disneyland Resort.
In other good news, 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World, and as part of the milestone celebration, Epcot will debut two new attractions: Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, and Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, the first Disney ride in Orlando to feature the Avengers, will be an indoor storytelling roller coaster with a first-of-its-kind Omnicoaster ride system, which features groundbreaking vehicles that rotate 360 degrees to focus guests’ attention on specific scenes or elements.
The eagerly awaited trackless dark ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, D’Amaro notes, is also slated to open this year. The family-friendly attraction — the U.S. version of the popular Disneyland Paris ride — will shrink clients to “rat size” for a 3D race through a Parisian kitchen.
“There’s so much magic in a Disney vacation, and that magic is more important than ever right now,” said Jodi Bainter, director of travel agency sales for The Walt Disney Company. “Travel advisors are key to informing clients about the Disney experience … and we work hard to help advisors make clients’ Disney dreams come true.”
Updates From UniversalUniversal Studios Hollywood closed just as its newest ride, The Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash, was about to open. The technologically advanced attraction will transform clients into stray puppies who, on their journey through New York, will meet characters from The Secret Life of Pets movies, voiced by the original cast.
“While this has been an unprecedented time for our destination … we’re looking forward to the day when our guests can visit and experience our amazing rides, including the all-new Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash and Jurassic World – The Ride, which will feature some incredible new dinosaur additions,” said Audrey Eig, vice president of publicity and public relations for Universal Studios Hollywood.
Despite the challenges of 2020, Universal Orlando debuted The Bourne Stuntacular immersive stunt show — which combines live performers, groundbreaking technology, extreme stunts and impressive practical effects — and also opened its eighth on-site hotel, the 2,050-room Endless Summer Resort – Dockside Inn and Suites.
When this is all over, we’re all going to need to scream a bit. So, luckily, we’re building a roller coaster.
The resort’s biggest news for 2021 is the Jurassic World VelociCoaster, which is opening at Islands of Adventure this summer. The world’s first coaster based on the blockbuster Jurassic World franchise will reach speeds of 70 miles per hour, soar 155 feet in the air and have two launches and four inversions — plus, of course, a lineup of dinosaurs.
“When this is all over, we’re all going to need to scream a bit,” said Shelby Honea, show producer of the VelociCoaster. “So, luckily, we’re building a roller coaster.”
The DetailsDisney Parksdisneyparks.disney.go.com
Universal Parks & Resortswww.universalparks.com