We’re rounding the corner of September, which means it’s the spooky season — only, unlike the typical eight-week stretch spent housing mini Kit Kats and Starburst duos, there’s no candy bonanza light at the end of the tunnel due to the coronavirus pandemic. We’re highlighting the ways you can get your theme park (and theme park-like) fix this autumn, as well as looking toward the future with a slept-on attraction it’s time to get amped for.
All that, plus plenty of news, in this week’s Theme Park News roundup:
HOW TO HALLOWEEN WHEN THERE’S NO HALLOWEEN
With most theme park Halloween events canceled for this fall, there are still some ways to get thrills, both at daytime celebrations with the family and nighttime frights that channel the terror of haunted houses in inventive new ways.
Although Walt Disney World’s ticketed Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party has been scrapped, Disney found a way to still bring family-friendly holiday spooks to the Magic Kingdom. The park will not only be decorated for the season, which fans feared might not happen, but guests can wear costumes to the park during the day — a first, considering you needed party admission to do so before.
Characters will join in the fun, but even more enticing is that Magic Kingdom will sell themed food all day long, making each and every day between Sept. 15 and Oct. 31 a free-flowing Halloween bonanza. (As always, Park Pass reservations are required for entry to Magic Kingdom.)
SeaWorld Orlando’s Halloween Spooktacular will offer trick-or-treating and character meet-and-greets amid significantly limited capacity and required reservations, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will offer a similar event, as LEGOLAND Florida will offer Brick or Treat with character experiences and contactless trick-or-treating along with social distancing protocols and capacity limitations.
And while Halloween Horror Nights may be scrapped at Universal parks on both coasts as well as the iconic Knott’s Scary Farm — a sentence that still bums us out to type — there are safe ways out there to get your serious spooks this fall.
Six Flags is amending its Fright Fest into a new HallowFest event at parks nationwide. Reservations and masks are required, while scare actors and guests will be at least six feet apart — symbolic of the parks’ “monstrous amount of protocols to keep you safe and healthy.” Indoor haunts, including mazes, houses, and shows, will not be running, as outdoor scare zones and haunted trails will provide those bone-chilling spooks with a nod to current times.
And perhaps the greatest sign of the times is the emergence of drive-thru haunted houses. Scream n’ Stream, located in Central Florida, sees an abandoned drive-in theater become a nightmare with props, fog, live performers, and a custom soundtrack for a completely contactless, mile-long Halloween experience. As a nod to the struggles local employees face with nearby theme park events being canceled, a portion of proceeds will also go toward the Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida.
On the West Coast, Stranger Things: The Drive-Into Experience aims to do something similar, allowing fans of the show to drive through Hawkins, Starcourt Mall, and perhaps even the Upside Down, all without leaving Downtown Los Angeles. Promising special effects and transportative sets in the hourlong distanced experience, visitors are beyond interested; dates are filling up quickly and already booking up well into January 2021.
It may not be Halloween as we know it this year, but it’s nothing if not innovative.
LEGOLAND IS BRINGING THE HEAT
Though its opening had to be pushed a year to 2021, LEGOLAND New York’s new attraction reveal kinda blew us away. We knew the brand-new LEGO Factory Adventure Ride would be a doozy, given that it uses facial mapping technology to turn you into a LEGO Minifigure (!), but this digital ride-through makes it clear how downright cool LEGOLAND’s latest will be.
The indoor dark ride will see passengers interacting with Professor Brick, their so-called “tour guide,” utilizing motion tracking and action movements at interactive spots, elevating it from an attraction to a full-fledged experience. And the ride vehicles are trackless, just like Rise of the Resistance, bringing the technology to LEGOLAND for the very first time.
It may take an extra year for LEGOLAND New York to open in the Hudson Valley, but clearly, the wait will be worth it.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
It juuuust started going viral, so you may have seen it already, but this is truly how I feel after being in my house for a thousand months on end and a reminder of how badly I wanna get my butt into the seat of Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure when it eventually opens at Epcot.
LINKS! LINKS! LINKS!
– Tokyo is getting a Harry Potter Studio Tour — but to do so, Japan’s 94-year-old Toshimaen park will be demolished.
– A LEGO Diagon Alley set?! Being released during a never-ending quarantine?! There goes my money.
– Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort will be undergoing a closure and Moana-themed refurbishments until it reopens summer 2021. Disney Vacation Club rooms will remain open.
– There’s some major news out of Swan & Dolphin this week, with an updated version of its annual food festival and confirmation of their forthcoming 14-story luxe tower switching its name to The Walt Disney World Swan Reserve.
– There’s a new lightsaber coming to Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.