Theme Park Bits: Universal Studios on New Year's Eve, The Disney Skyliner, Mickey's 2019 Celebration, and More – /Film

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • The Disney Skyliner at Walt Disney World has an opening date.
  • Knott’s Berry Farm has announced a new rushing-rapids attraction.
  • Walt Disney World will introduce automated cameras at some meet-and-greet locations next year.
  • Shanghai is now home to two major theme parks, with a rival to Disney opening recently.
  • Captain Marvel is headed to Disney California Adventure.
  • Disney’s revealed more details about the upcoming Mickey Mouse attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
  • And more!

Hearkening back to the old days when the Disney theme parks would carry its guests to and from different lands via the Skyway, the Disney Skyliner is going to connect two of the parks of the Walt Disney World Resort with a handful of the resort hotels. As recently confirmed, starting in the fall of 2019, the Disney Skyliner will send you between parks like Epcot and some nearby hotels, such as Disney’s Pop Century. Even if you’re not staying at one of the connecting resorts, who would want to turn down a ride on a gondola in the sky?

Next summer, Knott’s Berry Farm’s currently existing water-rapids attraction will undergo a pretty extensive renovation to turn into Calico River Rapids. Though the word “calico” may not suggest a terribly exciting attraction, don’t let it fool you. The new animatronics, overlay, and more effects sound like a decent competitor to Grizzly River Run over at Disney California Adventure. Though you have to hope KBF has licked the whole “Yeti” problem that Disney’s struggled with in Florida with Expedition Everest.

Here’s a problem you might have run into on your last trip to Disneyland or Walt Disney World: you get PhotoPass, but the official photographer doesn’t take enough photos to give you options from which to choose for your big meet-and-greet with characters like Mickey. (Yes, this is a frivolous type of “problem,” but a week after my last Disneyland trip, I’ll tell you: I wish I’d had more PhotoPass photos from which to select!) Good news, everyone! Starting early next year, Disney will have automated cameras at some meet-and-greet locations at Walt Disney World. Real, human photographers aren’t going the way of the dodo yet, but this may be the way of the future for your photographic Disney memories.

Believe it or don’t, but we are almost at the end of another year. (Somehow.) You can ring in the new year in style at Universal Studios Hollywood with their EVE event. (See? They’re not even saying “New Year’s Eve”. Just EVE. So stylish!) After you go nuts all day with tons of wild attractions, you can dance the night and year away at a few different venues throughout the park. I can only imagine how insane the party atmosphere would be at a theme park on New Year’s Eve, but better there than a nightclub, at least for this secretly old man.

Disney is no longer the only theme park in town, at least when that town is Shanghai. (It’s safe to call Shanghai a “town”, right?) Haichang Ocean Park, a 73-acre water park, recently opened there after a five-year development on the location, costing nearly $800 million. There are roller coasters, the purportedly longest rapids ride in the world, a dolphin performance, and “a 360-degree penguin super bowl”. I could explain what that means, but some phrases are just too wonderful to describe any further.

During the Destination D event a couple weeks ago, yes, there were plenty of details about Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge. But let’s talk about the new Mickey Mouse attraction, Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Taking the place of the departed-but-not-forgotten The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, this new attraction will spotlight the version of Mickey Mouse featured in the wonderful Disney XD shorts. What’s more, the attraction will utilize hand-built sound effects (yes, hand-built), one of many ways in which the attraction will no doubt pay homage to the character’s rich history. I genuinely cannot wait for this attraction. Bring it on, Disney.

We’re only a few months away from the release of the next film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Captain Marvel. If you’re excited for the new film, you could head on over to Disney California Adventure and meet Captain Marvel herself in the flesh. Make sure to ask her lots of questions about the next Avengers film, and why she’s showing up now despite apparently being absent for nearly 30 years since turning into a superhero! I’m sure she’d love answering questions like that.

Speaking of Mickey Mouse, even though he already celebrated his 90th birthday, the Disney theme parks haven’t stopped the celebration just yet. They’ll spend most of the first half of 2019 with Mickey & Minnie’s Surprise Celebration, with a new song for their daytime parade, special meet-and-greets and more. A pedantic person might point out that it can’t be much of a surprise celebration if they’re publicizing it, but I would never do that myself.

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