In this edition of Theme Park Bits:
- Learn how to draw Disney characters at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
- Disneyland is giving its cast members childcare assistance.
- Guests at Universal’s Volcano Bay water park recently got a literal shock.
- And more!
As a diehard, forever booster of animation, I am especially pleased by this announcement from Disney about a new attraction of sorts at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as part of the promotion for the new Lion King remake. Starting July 11, you can head over to the Conservation Station to take part in drawing classes of wildlife creatures, inspired by how Walt Disney and his animators went straight to the source for films like Bambi. The Animation Experience, as it’s called, may be a limited-time event, so if you want to learn how to draw Simba or Pumbaa, head over there quick.
Here’s some more good news from Disneyland, and this is the kind of announcement that I would hope every major corporation would make. All of the cast members at the Anaheim resort will have access now to childcare assistance, as part of a program priced at $10 million a year. The details on how much assistance is being offered, to both full- and part-time cast members, aren’t included, but Disney making this effort is a step in the right direction for many of its cast members who might be struggling with this simple but necessary life need. Good on them.
Speaking of Disneyland, it wouldn’t be a Theme Park Bits column if I didn’t have at least one Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge update for you. Here’s a potentially unsourced one based on the experience of YouTuber Jenny Nicholson: for at least one cast member, there’s one word they just can’t say. That word? “Youngling”. Yes, it’s part of Star Wars canon, but according to that cast member who said as much to Nicholson, it’s associated with mass murder. Understandable, but as much as the prequels are garbage, that word…is part of the canon. And Darth Vader’s a meet-and-greet character elsewhere in the parks, even if he’s also a bad dude. Something to reckon with, Disney.
So, you’re a guest at Universal Orlando. You’re having a fun time. It’s the summer, and you figure there’s no better time to visit their water park, Volcano Bay. All seems well, or did for guests just a week and a half ago. Until they started feeling shocks. Literal, electric shocks. Since the initial report, Universal Orlando has followed up with OSHA and shut down some rides to review the situation to make sure it doesn’t happen again. But it’s a nasty, and genuinely unexpected, way to experience a water park (any water park).
And hey, speaking of Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, it still has not yet opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Once it does on August 29, things are going to change all around the park in terms of how FastPasses work. Right now, there are two tiers of FastPass attractions, and the harder-to-get Tier 1 attractions will have some new company. Just about every ride is going to be a Tier 1 attraction, making it so you can only get one FastPass in advance for such an attraction. Disney likely won’t have the same reservation system that the Disneyland version had, making it even more challenging to limit crowds. So, make sure you’re prepared to wait in lines that day in August.
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