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Fireworks, runDisney, Parades, and Holidays Set to Return: Your weekly theme-park recap (June 28-July 4, 2021)


Here’s the Orlando theme park news you need to know for the week of June 28.

1. “Happily Ever After,” after all

The long-awaited return of lights and fireworks shows is beginning to become reality. On Thursday, July 1, crowds gathered in anticipation at Magic Kingdom and EPCOT to watch the skies illuminate for the first time in over a year. Spotty forecasts didn’t impact crowds, as people were just happy for the shows to return. Magic Kingdom returned the “Happily Ever After” fireworks show, while EPCOT returned the “EPCOT Forever” nighttime spectacular. You can find our article covering this update here.

The Happily Ever After fireworks show returned to Walt Disney World Magic Kingdom

2. runDisney returns and Coco is added to Mickey’s PhilharMagic

Two big announcements came out of Walt Disney World this week. The first was confirmation that in-person runDisney races would return this fall. The first in-person event in over a year will be the Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon weekend, themed “Wickedly Delicious.” Perhaps in an effort to make up for lost distance, a 5k race was added to the weekend as well. General registration begins July 13 at 10 AM EST, and you can find a complete list of races and registration windows here. Another exciting addition this fall is the installment of a Coco scene to Mickey’s PhilharMagic. In keeping with the suite of 50th anniversary celebrations, “Un Poco Loco” will be integrated into a new scene for Mickey’s PhilharMagic, a favorite among Disney die-hards and newcomers alike.

3. Sunny days on Sesame Street!

SeaWorld announced that their Sesame Street Party Parade will be returning on July 10. This comes as great news for those of us with little ones who have missed seeing characters like Big Bird, Elmo, and Cookie Monster get the party going through song and dance. The parade will return for weekend performances.

Want to join in on the fun? Purchase your SeaWorld Orlando tickets here.

Sesame Street at SeaWorld Orlando
Sesame Street Party Parada at SeaWorld Orlando

4. Nighttime Lights returns to Hogwarts

Universal’s Islands of Adventure returned their light show on July 1 as well, as Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle stunned and entranced audiences in its multiple showings on Thursday night. This impressive show utilizes light and projection technology to make magic reality in Hogsmeade, and has been sorely missed during the pandemic. You can catch up on all of the dazzling details here.

5. Christmas in July!

The countdown is on – in just a couple short months, the holidays will return to Universal Studios Florida. Universal announced their holiday season will officially take place between November 13 and January 2, although they have yet to release specific content or event information. Hopefully we will have those updates for you in a weekly roundup soon! In the meantime, check out our holiday guide page here to see what Universal Orlando has done in the past to spread Christmas and holiday cheer.

Diagon Alley during Universal Orlando’s holiday season.

6. Team USA at USF

As a last little announcement, Universal revealed that they are bringing in and showcasing a set of Olympic Rings ahead of the games (which start on July 23). The rings will be put in front of the Universal Studios entrance for a very short window. Be sure to visit on July 16 or 17 to get the chance to take photos with these iconic items. And don’t forget, NBC Sports Grill & Brew in CityWalk will undoubtedly provide thorough and ample coverage of the games – with flatbreads and beers nearby!

That’s it for this week’s news. See you at the parks!

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“Happily Ever After” Returns to Walt Disney World

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About Aryn Bordelon

Aryn Bordelon grew up eating rice and kimchi in the Panhandle and was indoctrinated with a love of Florida theme parks from a young age. A long-time follower of OI, she has spent years attending the parks in a variety of ways, from repeatedly attending Halloween Horror Nights to racing (and placing) at Universal Running events alongside her husband, Ian.