Visit Kylo Ren and check out DHS construction with Best Week Ever! (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)
Ed – Sorry to break in right at the start, but I would like to announce that this will be Seth’s last Best Week Ever for the time being. While Seth is focusing his considerable talent on other things, we will have some new Best Week Ever authors. Look for the first new Best Week Ever later today…that’s right, double Best Week Ever week! Now, on to Seth’s wonderful week.
It’s been a little while since Best Week Ever took a look at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so I stopped by the park several times in recent days for an update on this in-transition attraction. Construction walls may be rising on a daily basis, but that doesn’t seem to be stopping the crowds from coming! We’ll look at some of the changes around DHS, culminating in an encounter with the newest patricidal Star Wars star, Kylo Ren.
First, let’s take a look around Disney’s Hollywood Studios during the first week of February. This is a typically moderate time of year according to our Crowd Calendar, but I encountered some long lines around DHS, especially on February 8th:
Indulge your sweet tooth in this Best Week Ever update of Early Park Admission at Universal Orlando (photos/video by Seth Kubersky)
I hope you set your alarm clocks this morning, because this Best Week Ever is up and at ’em before daybreak to enjoy one of my favorite theme park perks. Early entry to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is usually restricted to Universal Orlando Resorthotel guests, but throughout January annual passholders were allowed to join to early morning crowds on weekdays. At the same time, Universal has made some tweaks to the way this popular option operates, so this past week I awoke ahead of the sun to bring you the Universal Orlando Early Park Admission update.
First, the big news about Universal Orlando Early Park Admission is that it is currently offered at Universal Studios Florida only. For most of 2015, Early Park Admission was offered only at Islands of Adventure during off-peak times, and at both parks during peak holiday periods. Early in 2016, Universal returned off-peak Early Park Admission to Universal Studios Florida only. While communications from Universal have been inconsistent about the future EPA calendar, we currently expect Early Park Admission to remain at Universal Studios Florida only until the Easter/Spring Break peak season.
Here are some other Universal Orlando Early Park Admission updates:
When Islands of Adventure opens for Early Park Admission, the Hogwarts Express usually begins operating 30 minutes before Universal Studios Florida officially opens. However, when Universal Studios Florida open early, the first Hogwarts Express train depart only a few minutes before IOA’s opening hour.
Got all that? Great! Now, let’s take a morning stroll around the parks.
Experience favorite Disney attractions in UltraHD with our new 4K ride through POV videos!
If you are a fan of the theme park news and reviews we share here on the TouringPlans.com blog, I hope you also frequent our TouringPlans YouTube channel, where we post a steady stream of clips from the Disney and Universal resorts. In case you weren’t familiar with our YouTube channel, now is a perfect time to check it out, because we’ve recently begun uploading new 4K ride through POV videos from Disneyland and Walt Disney World.
These new attraction videos have been recorded on iPhone 6S and 6S+ devices at 3840x2160p 30fps, and uploaded to YouTube at full resolution. If you have a 4K (or UltraHD) television with the proper streaming app or device, or a sufficiently powerful computer with a 4K monitor, you can appreciate the extreme detail of the clips’ native resolution.
Even if you don’t have a 4K device, these new clips should look better than ever however you watch them. On Retina iPad and MacBook displays, the 1440p resolution option looks noticeable better than standard HD, and even the 1080p version should look super-sharp thanks to intelligent down-sampling.
Here’s some of the 4K ride through POV videos we’ve posted so far, starting with a few of our favorite Disneyland dark rides:
Celebrate Star Wars at Disneyland with new Season of the Force videos and photos.
With the latest Star Wars movie breaking the all-time domestic box office record less than a month of its release, it’s pretty clear that the Force is wide awake all over America, but nowhere has the film’s impact been more evident than inside the Disney parks. I’ve already covered the newly added Star Wars attractions at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida, and recently I had the chance to fly west and compare Orlando’s offerings to their Anaheim analogues. While in California, I captured this gallery of Season of the Force videos and photo gallery to give our Disneyland-deprived readers a taste of the Happiest Place on Earth’s take on a galaxy far, far away…
Season of the Force Crowds
The first thing to know about Season of the Force is that the crowds are strong with this one! Even though the days of my Disneyland visit were predicted to have moderate attendance, Tomorrowland was packed from open to close, only becoming busier as the afternoon and evening continued. If you want to experience all the popular attractions that are part of Disneyland’s Season of the Force, get there at rope drop or be prepared to wait in line!
In my professional opinion, one of Disneyland’s greatest assets is its deep bench of minor attractions that can be enjoyed by all ages, to balance out the heavy-hitting E-Ticket rides. Accordingly, ever since I began working on the Unofficial Guide to Disneyland, I’ve been advocating for Big Thunder Ranch‘s goats as the park’s greatest under-the-radar treasure. This year, I’ll have the sad duty of deleting all references to the Ranch from the next edition of the Unofficial Guide, as the petting zoo (along with the adjacent barbecue restaurant) ended operations for good at 4 p.m. on Sunday, January 10, 2016. Of course, I had to be there for Big Thunder Ranch’s closing day — along with every annual passholder in California, apparently — to witness the end of an era.
I was wise enough to get my final scritchings in with Big Thunder Ranch’s whiskered stars on Saturday, since I knew the competition to get “last petting” bragging rights would be intense among goat groupies. Even on Saturday, the Ranch was busier than I’d ever seen before that weekend.
Say bye bye to BJ with our Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue closing day video. (Photos/video by Seth Kubersky)
The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights may have been the most beloved attraction to close so far in 2016, but it wan’t the only Orlando fan favorite to fold this week. Over at Universal Studios Florida, audiences applauded the Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue closing day cast as the boorish bio-exorcist and his monstrous bandmates went back into their tombs for the last time.
The closing day for Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Revue — also known in its latest incarnation as Beetlejuice’s Graveyard Mash-Up — came on January 5, 2016, which was extended several weeks from the orginally announced ending date by “popular demand.”
For the final day, a special evening performance was added exclusively for annual passholders. Some super-fans lined up before dawn to secure wristbands for the final show, but there were still hundreds available from USF’s Studio Audience Center in mid-afternoon.