This Week in Theme Park News: Jungle Cruise Updates, Halloween at Disney and Universal, and More

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This Week in Theme Park News: Jungle Cruise Updates, Halloween at Disney and Universal, and More

Did you hear that The Jungle Cruise got a facelift? Or that Leatherface and the Bride of Frankenstein are coming out of retirement to stalk guests at Universal?

Well, if you didn’t, that might be partly my fault. I haven’t written about Disneyland’s latest updates to one of its opening day rides, or the latest haunted houses coming to Universal’s Halloween Horror Nights. I’ve been writing about theme parks here at Paste for the better part of a decade now, but don’t always have the time to write a post for every noteworthy piece of news. It’s well past time for me to start cranking these tidbits out in a weekly column, so here it is: Paste’s first weekly recap of major news from the world of theme and amusement parks, with everything collected together here in one easy location. Strap in and let’s get this train a-movin’.

First up: the spooky stuff. Yeah, we’re not even halfway through summer yet, but anybody who’s ever been to a Disney park knows you’ve got to plan these things well in advance. Both Disneyland and Universal revealed some of their Halloween plans over the past couple of weeks, and we’ll start with the more family-friendly of these holiday offerings.

The highlight of Disneyland Resort’s Halloween will be the return of Oogie Boogie Bash to Disney California Adventure, two years after its debut in 2019. The special ticketed event starts on Sept. 9 and will run on 25 select nights through Oct. 31. Expect to see some of your favorite Disney characters in their Halloween costumes, as well as a special parade and live show focusing on Disney’s lineup of fearsome villains. You’ll be able to collect candy and other treats throughout the park, which will be done up with special lighting, music and décor to fit the Halloween theme. And the Redwood Creek Challenge Trail is getting a spooky makeover as the home of Villains Grove, where certain Disney villains will come to life through multisensory light and sound displays. Don’t worry, though: it won’t get all that scary. Tickets are now on sale, and are moving briskly, so if you’re interested, you might want to move fast. Tickets start at $114 per person, and will get you access to the park starting at 3 p.m. The party officially starts at 6 p.m., and runs to 11. Disneyland was closed for most of 2020, and didn’t get to celebrate Halloween, so expect some pent-up energy going into this one. Meanwhile, over in Florida, the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World is home to The Disney After Hours Boo Bash, a three-hour event that promises short lines for 20 top attractions and that runs on select nights between Aug. 10 and Oct. 31; you can find tickets here.

If you want something really scary for Halloween, you should hit up either Universal Orlando Resort or Universal Studios Hollywood. Both resorts will be holding the annual Halloween Horror Nights spectacular, and over the last week Universal has announced a few haunted houses, including one based on a popular Netflix show. The Haunting of Hill House will be turned into one of Universal’s frightening mazes in both Orlando and Hollywood, with scenes based on moments and locations from Mike Flanagan’s series. Also announced are a house based on The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and a Universal Monsters-themed house called The Bride of Frankenstein Lives. In Orlando all three houses will join the previously announced Beetlejuice house as part of the Florida park’s 30th anniversary Halloween Horror Nights celebration. Universal likes to stagger these announcements out in the weeks leading up to the event, so expect more specifics on both the California and Florida versions of Halloween Horror Nights throughout the rest of July and August. We know more about the Florida event right now; it runs on select nights from Sept. 3 through Oct. 31, and tickets and other packages are already on sale. West coasters should keep an eye out for when the Hollywood tickets go on sale; California’s version of Halloween Horror Nights will run from Sept. 9 through Oct. 31.

Speaking of California: the original Jungle Cruise at Disneyland reopened on Friday, and brought some big changes with it. Disney announced early this year that they’d be updating some of the scenes from this attraction, which originally opened in 1955 alongside the park itself. The new additions thread a more fleshed-out story throughout the ride, with references to the Society of Explorers and Adventurers linking it to other attractions at Disney parks throughout the world. They also replace some of the more dated and problematic aspects of The Jungle Cruise, while preserving the attraction’s comic spirit and 1930s charm. You can catch some of the updates in this Disney Parks video; if you can’t make it out to California but want to see what the fuss is about, the same updates are gradually being unveiled at the Disney World version of the ride, too. I haven’t had a chance to hit up Disneyland since it reopened after the pandemic, but based on what I’ve seen from Disney’s concept art and videos, these updates are a welcome change to the Jungle Cruise.

Obviously there’s more to this beat than just Disney and Universal or Florida and California. Up in New York’s Hudson Valley the latest Legoland completed its staggered opening earlier this month. 60 miles from New York City, Legoland New York Resort is the third standalone Legoland park in America, and boasts seven different lands with their own unique themes. Here’s the lineup: it’s got your Brick Street, your Bricktopia, one of those Lego Ninjago Worlds the kids go nuts for, Lego Castle, Lego City, MINILAND, and, finally, the last to open, Lego Pirates. Each land has its own unique rides and attractions, from Lego Castle’s family coaster The Dragon to Lego Pirates’ water cannon shootoff Splash Battle. The highlight might be Lego Factory Adventure Ride, a new dark ride exclusive to Legoland New York, which turns the process of making Legos into an interactive adventure. If you’re in the northeast and looking for some blocky fun, you can find tickets here. And in a few weeks the Legoland Hotel opens, letting you immerse yourself into the world of Lego even more. Just try not to step on any of those Legos while you’re there, okay?

So, hey, this seems like a good time to wrap this up. If there’s something I missed from the last couple of weeks—or if you work with a theme or amusement park and want to keep me and our readers updated on your latest news—feel free to reach out to me via email; or on Twitter. And if you’re headed to any amusement parks this week, stay safe and have fun!

Senior editor Garrett Martin writes about videogames, comedy, travel, theme parks, wrestling, and anything else that gets in his way. He’s also on Twitter @grmartin.

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