Theme Park Bits: Anakin at Galaxy's Edge, Harry Potter Holiday Makeover, and More – /Film

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • An old friend visits Galaxy’s Edge.
  • The hybrid food names at Galaxy’s Edge have made their way to Disneyland.
  • Universal Studios Japan is getting a holiday makeover.
  • And more!

No, your eyes do not deceive you. The photo above really is of Hayden Christensen, standing in the Millennium Falcon that you can find at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge at the Disneyland Resort. You’ve probably seen, from time to time, that Disney will out that such-and-such famous person has visited the parks. But Anakin Skywalker visiting for the first time – especially considering that some folks (this writer included) don’t hold a lot of love for the prequels – is kind of remarkable to see. Whatever else is true, it’s nice to see Christensen returning to a facsimile of the scene of the crime, even building a lightsaber with his daughter.

If you’re traveling to the Walt Disney World Resort for the Thanksgiving holiday, make sure you stop by Disney’s Animal Kingdom. While you’re there, you can ride Primeval Whirl, which will be open for a very, very limited time indeed. When I say “limited”, I mean that it’ll be open for just one week. From November 24 to December 1, you can check out this Dinoland, U.S.A. kiddie roller-coaster, designed to help handle some of the holiday crowds. Afterwards…well, it might reopen for the week between Christmas and New Year’s, but you never know.

Speaking of the holidays and Walt Disney World, if you love everything Christmas, you’ll be pleased to know that one of the most beloved attractions in the history of the parks has once again received a holiday overlay. I’m talking about the Jingle Cruise, the holiday-themed version of Jungle Cruise. It’s open now, and will run through January at Walt Disney World. I’ve only ever been on the Disneyland version in years past (Anaheim’s not getting it this year), and it’s just as dependent on who your skipper is in terms of how good the experience will be. If you get a great, enthusiastic, funny skipper, you’re in luck. If not…well, the boat ride is still fun.

Heading back over to Disneyland and Galaxy’s Edge, you might notice that the menus over in the new Star Wars-themed land look a little different. Yes, it’s true: both U.S. Galaxy’s Edge areas now have more descriptive versions of their food items. You no longer have to puzzle over what some of the food being sold there is – just read the title and its description to know all that you’d ever need to. Some may be frustrated at a lack of immersion, but speaking from experience, it can be awful frustrating to just wait in line for food when you want to get to the next thing at the parks. Making it easier, if only somewhat, is a good thing.

Let’s head over to another part of the world, and another theme-park brand entirely. Universal Studios Japan, starting this Friday, November 8, will be getting itself a holiday-themed overlay in its version of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Hogwarts Magical Night – Winter Magic is a projection-mapping nighttime show on the castle, and the entire area itself will get plenty of holiday-friendly decor and design, such as a magical Christmas tree, the Holiday Frog Choir, and more. It sounds like a great way to celebrate the season.

But let’s close things out back in the States, and back in Walt Disney World. November 8 marks the beginning of another holiday-themed event at the park: specifically, the Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks show. That day is the same as when Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party starts at the Magic Kingdom, with this fireworks show as the icing on the cake. There’s going to be plenty of holiday music coupled with the bright and colorful fireworks displays. Reading about this just makes me envy the WDW crowd – at least you get a holiday party, unlike Disneyland.

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