The Latest News From Disney Parks, Universal Studios Resorts, and More Fan-tastical Destinations

The Latest News From Disney Parks, Universal Studios Resorts, and More Fan-tastical Destinations

Lots of major theme park announcements came out of the D23 Expo, revealing that more IP is coming to Disney Parks in a big way. We’ve also got news that Japan will be re-opening its borders on October 11 for travellers, a month shy of Ghibli Park’s much-anticipated opening. And finally, we check in on more Halloween events as we head into October, with Knott’s Scary Farm and interactive play The Willows making their seasonal returns.

Here’s your guide to everything happening at theme parks, immersive experiences, and beyond.

They’ve Got a Hulk

As announced at D23 Expo 2022, Avengers Campus at Disney California Adventure will be where you can meet the Hulk for a limited time. We’re wondering where’s Jennifer (aka She-Hulk), though?

Top Villain Ernesto de la Cruz

We’re still astounded at the incredible makeup work on the Ernesto de la Cruz face character at Oogie Boogie Bash at DCA. It’s got to be a partial mask and prosthetics — look at how well he can move his mouth while performing his hit song (that he stole) from Coco.

The Mandalorian at Galaxy’s Edge

Coming this fall to Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland are the Mandalorian and Grogu.

Mando and the Baby in Action

The Disney+ series heroes were first announced at Star Wars Celebration; here’s a first look at them in action during the D23 Expo before they arrive at the park just in time for the holidays.

Avengers Campus at DCA to Get New Ride

Marvel’s Kevin Feige was on hand to announce that DCA’s Avengers Campus will also be expanding with a new attraction that promises to take recruits anywhere and “anywhen” in the Marvel Multiverse — where they’ll face an alternate King Thanos, along with pretty much any Marvel hero in the canon it seems.

D23 Expo Announcements

Other major news included that Zootopia areas are coming along at Shanghai Disneyland; the fan-favourite Hatbox Ghost will be arriving at the Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World next year; and Tokyo Disney’s Fantasy Springs will open in 2023.

There was also a Disney Parks Blue Sky presentation that announced very early plans are in motion for areas inspired by Encanto, Coco, Zootopia, Moana, and the Disney Villains at Walt Disney World.

Bounty Hunt With Magic Bands at Disneyland

Photo: Disney Parks
Photo: Disney Parks

Magic Bands will be coming to Disneyland this fall! (My phone battery and I are thankful.) Magic Bands have long been the efficient way to get around Walt Disney World and they’re finally headed to the West Coast. Not only that, but they’ll be the new ones with interactive features set to enhance park-goers’ experiences at attractions and nighttime entertainment, as well as special ARG modes like Batuu Bounty Hunters in Galaxy’s Edge.

Princess and the Frog Store

In anticipation for new ride Tiana’s Bayou coming to Disney Parks, New Orleans Square at Disneyland has opened up a new shop inspired by The Princess and the Frog filled with Tiana merch and cooking-inspired wares.

Pixar Place Hotel

Paradise Pier is on its way out — the sign is officially gone — as the Disneyland Resort Hotel begins its transformation to the Pixar Place hotel. We’re glad to finally get a fully themed hotel on the West Coast.

Scary Farm Entertainment

Knott’s Scary Farm is one of California’s longest-running Halloween haunts and original purveyors of spooky culture. Witches, goblins, vampires, and more horror lore comes to life here like in no other place — the park’s even had Elvira as a resident host with nightly performances over the years. Back for 2022, the event is returning with some new attractions like Bloodline 1842, a new interactive maze where you can hunt vampires armed with a special steampunk weapon. Also returning is the Henson Company’s Puppet Up, the raunchy improv troupe that lets you let your inner muppet out.

Themed Treats at Scary Farm

Themed treats at Knotts are their jam, made with their jams too.

The Willows Immersive Theatre

Photo: JFI Productions
Photo: JFI Productions

The cult immersive hit play The Willows makes its comeback in Los Angeles with a new remounting of the popular play. After three sold-out runs, JFI Productions has brought it back for another quickly selling out engagement of the haunted-house dinner party that invites you to meet an eerie family with secrets.

Here’s the synopsis from the release: “ This iconic LA family has opened their doors once again to friends and fans, just in time for Halloween. Tragedy has struck the Willows household, and guests are invited ‘home’ to celebrate the life of a dearly departed friend. Drinks flow and dinner is served, but the night quickly takes a bizarre turn. It seems as though sinister forces are at work inside the house — and within the family. The maid insists she saw a dark figure stalking the home — was it a prowler, a spirit, or a figment of her imagination? The family’s friendly facade begins to crumble, and, soon, guests are taken on a twisted, fully interactive thrill-ride where they aren’t just witnessing a story unfold: they’re living it.”

The Willows runs through November 13th.

Classic Monsters at Cemetery Lane

The pop-up spooky neighbourhood Cemetary Lane in Los Angeles will bring back its highly themed trick-or-treat experience in a real Victorian and haunted neighbourhood with a classic monsters twist. Find out more on their official site.

Meow Wolf Milestone

Congrats to Meow Wolf Convergence Station in Denver, Colorado, for winning some deserved acclaim in its first year officially in operation. The multiple plane experience is my favourite Meow Wolf location for its fully sci-fi exploration of the imagination of the collective’s artistry.

Beyond Fest Trick r’ Treat

Trick ‘r Treat turns 15 and is celebrating in a big way at Beyond Fest in Los Angeles. Best part? It’s a free screening with director Michael Dougherty where hopefully we’ll get some sort of sequel project announcement. Tickets go live 9/27 at noon PST here.

Catbus at Ghibli Park

Ghibli Park has released some first looks at the interactive and themed areas inspired by the beloved films of Hayao Miyazaki, like this Catbus I will sit in (manifesting this). While the first few weeks of reservations have quickly sold out, you’ve got time to plan a trip ahead as Japan’s borders officially open up to tourists on October 11.

Universal Monsters Go International

And if you want to experience Halloween in Japan too, Universal Studios in Osaka has quite the house slate with Universal Monsters, Resident Evil, Sherlock Holmes, and a Chucky maze with full on screen accurate puppets scaring throughout (shudder).

Pumpkin Lord

The Pumpkin Lord is our fave new Horror Nights Orlando Icon (though we still think he could have been named Gourd Lord. It’s right there.) Check out our Horror Nights East review here.

Universal Pictures Pop-Up Pop Culture Store

And while Horror Nights Hollywood is in full swing, a special store is on the way at Universal Studios which will feature the Universal Monsters and other horror properties as well as Amblin and the Minions for a special pop culture fashion extravaganza called UNIVRS.

Want more Gizmodo news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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