Theme park year in review 2021: what opened (and what didn’t) in Disney and Universal parks!


It’s the end of another year – and a year like no other. A year ago today, we stepped out of 2020 – a year defined by closures, cancellations and cost cuts that included Disney’s vow to cut $ 900 million in capital projects from its Parks division, experience and products in the future. We lived through a year when construction stalled, projects slowed down, tourism stopped, operating rules were rewritten and we had no idea what the future might hold for Disney and Universal parks. ..

Now, at the start of 2022 and looking back on the ups and downs of 2021, there’s no doubt that across the industry we’ve just been through 365 days of “catching up” … which made their debut. in 2021 were originally planned for 2020, and similarly, many attractions planned for 2021 will instead open in 2022! So today let’s look back at 2021 with a time capsule review of the major attractions of the year … and the rides that completely missed their scheduled openings in 2021

What opened in 2021

1. Super Nintendo World (Japan)

Image: Universal

Site: Universal Studios Japan
Open: March 2021

It’s hard to believe that theme parks have been an active battleground in “IP wars” for over a decade (dating back, of course, to the 2010 opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter). Cars, Avatar, The simpsons, Harry potter, The Avengers, and Star wars maybe let the fans ask, “What’s left?” Was there really any unclaimed intellectual property still there? (The answer: sure! In fact, we made a list …) Universal’s partnership with Nintendo is the move that few people saw coming, and rightly so, the first project was the Super Nintendo World. by Universal Studios Japan.

Scheduled to open in time for the 2020 Summer Olympics in Tokyo, Super Nintendo World has been delayed until 2021 … but of course, so have the Olympics. Ultimately, the field opened up at a time when Japan’s borders were closed to foreigners and the park’s capacity was severely limited. But that hasn’t stopped images of the new hit area from quickly spreading around the world. A multi-level living mushroom kingdom, picked directly from super mario bros., Super Nintendo World is perhaps the coolest “immersive country” to date. (Yes, the image above is a photo, not concept art!)

Image: Universal

The Japanese version has two rides. Yoshi’s Adventure is a sort of outdoor dark ride, with a chain of slow Yoshis weaving through the bright, kinetic surroundings and bustling scenes. The headliner is Mario Kart: Koopa’s Challenge, an interactive dark ride that uses augmented reality (AR) glasses to add chaos and gameplay to awe-inspiring physical and projection-based sets and animatronics. While this isn’t the TEST TRACK-style high-speed racing some were hoping for, it’s still a big draw … and we’re headed for the United States. But we will discuss it in the following pages …

2. The Secret Life of Pets: Off Leash

Photo by Hamilton Pytluk / Universal Studios Hollywood

Site: Universal Studios Hollywood
Open: April 2021

Scheduled to open March 27, 2020, let’s just say Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash … well … does not have. It’s crazy to imagine that this family dark ride (based on the animated film series Illumination The Secret Life of Pets) was literally ready for guests when Universal Studios Hollywood closed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. When the park opened over a year later, the first guests finally boarded.

Photo by Hamilton Pytluk / Universal Studios Hollywood

Secret Life of Pets: Off the Leash is a dark and sensational adventure, using the same continuous chain of slow Omnimover-style vehicles as Yoshi’s Adventure. Fans had long hinted that after the disappointing double of Race Through New York and Fast & Furious: Supercharged, Universal got the memo and gave up on-screen rides and simulators for a while. Yoshi’s Adventure, Mario Kart, then Secret Life of Pets proved it.

After a spectacular line-up at New York City apartments (which in and of itself has more audio-animatronics than Pandora, Avengers Campus, and Galaxy’s Edge combined), guests climb aboard and “become” wanderers who find themselves losing the city. Animatronics, built-in scenes, and adorable effects make the ride a surprisingly wonderful addition that Universal Creative should be very proud of.

3. Snow White’s enchanted wish

Image: Disney

Site: Disneyland park
Open: April 2021

With six ultra-classic dark rides, Disneyland’s Fantasyland is a Disney park history fan’s paradise. Dating back to the park’s opening in 1955, Snow White’s chilling adventures have shaken a generation of visitors with her wicked cackle queen, dark dungeons, and haggard old witch. Even when the ride was rebuilt in 1983 (as part of a nationwide overhaul), the Snow White attraction ended not with a “Happily Ever After,” but with apparently guests. witnesses the death of the witch just before crushing them under a rock.

In November 2019, Disney announcement that Snow White’s Scary Adventures would close for a renovation during the New Years 2020. But as part of an influx of new effects, lighting, sounds, and details, the ride would also shift its focus from the dark and gray wicked witch to more times. cheerful and colorful story of Snow White. The ride closed on January 7, 2020. The multi-month redesign was probably well underway when Disneyland closed in March.

Image: Disney

In December 2020, Imagineers returned to work and followed by the ride’s new name – Snow White’s Enchanted Wish – even though Disney’s California Parks hadn’t been given the green light to reopen and didn’t know when they would.

Ultimately, Snow White’s Enchanted Wish was ready when Disneyland finally reopened almost fourteen months after it closed on April 27, 2021. We reviewed the updated ride shortly after it opened, and although it was easy to roll your eyes at the thought of downplaying the ‘fear’ of a classic, the truth is that Snow White’s Enchanted Wish is a wonderful new evolution of Snow White’s dark ride (and yes, it still includes moments. scary!)

But the big names of 2021 mostly landed from the summer onwards … Keep reading as we explore the three “headliners” of Disney and Universal’s 2021 roster …


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