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Universal’s newest attraction, SeaWorld’s epic summer, and Disney World’s 50th anniversary: Your weekly theme-park recap (May 17-23, 2021)


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Here’s what you need to know in the world of Central Florida theme-park news for the week of May 17-23, 2021.

1. Universal surprised us this week by announcing a whole new attraction that’ll be coming to its resort this year. Called DreamWorks Destination, it’ll be a “first-of-its-kind interactive character experience,” which will see various familiar faces from the Shrek, Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda, and, of course, Trolls properties posing for photos and dancing with guests. Look for it in the old show building that used to house A Day in the Park with Barney for over a quarter of a century – a location which has already seen the start of its transformation into the new experience, replete with three selfie backdrops themed to one DreamWorks franchise or another. (Indeed, it’s also seen the start of technical rehearsals, which began just yesterday.)

DreamWorks Destination’s opening sometime this spring will complement the June 10 arrival of Jurassic World VelociCoaster nicely – one massive coaster for the adults and a fun character meet-‘n-greet for the kids. It’s making 2021 a rather exciting year for Universal Orlando Resort overall.

Read more here.

2. SeaWorld Orlando is also shaping up to have a notable year, and it really picks up this summer. That’s when its award-winning nighttime event, Electric Ocean, comes roaring back – expect to find DJ-led dance parties, a Sesame Street-powered rock show, wildlife meet-‘n-greets, and Central Florida’s only full-length theme-park nighttime fireworks, among other experiences. The park will switch to extended operating hours for the seasonal shindig, which will allow all those neon lights to bathe everything in a fluorescent glow for even longer.

Electric Ocean runs from Friday, May 28 to Monday, September 6.

Find the full details here, and purchase your SeaWorld Orlando tickets here.

3. On the same day that SeaWorld let us know about its Orlando park’s exciting summer, it also did so for its Tampa location. Busch Gardens Tampa Bay will similarly throw a large party for the season, unleashing a whole host of new goodies: live music and open-air DJ block parties, additional food venues (including the second-story Giraffe Bar, which will afford some pretty beautiful views), a cirque-esque stage show, a crazy nighttime spectacular, and a cookout-inspired menu (which incorporates a “walkable” version of grilling favorites and, most intriguingly, some glow-in-the-dark cocktails).

The new summer program, along with Busch Gardens’s extended hours, begins on Friday, May 28.

Find the full details here, and secure your Busch Gardens Tampa tickets here.

4. Disney, meanwhile, is gearing up for another type of big festivity this year. Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary will arrive this fall, and to ring it in, the company will unfurl its World’s Most Magical Celebration, an event which will last for the next 18 months – and which now will also include newly designed name tags for all of the resort’s many cast members. Printed with the same kind of iridescent (or “EARidescent,” as Disney would say) colors as Mickey and Minnie’s specially designed costumes for the big party, it also brandishes holographic foil and, for the employees’ names, the very same blue as can be seen on the turrets of Cinderella Castle.

They do look spiffy, if we say so ourselves, and we’re happy to see that The World’s Most Magical Celebration’s theming will run all throughout Disney World, even down to the smallest detail. Expect to see the name tags roll out more or less when the anniversary bash itself kicks off later this year.

5. Universal’s final hotel got its reopening date! Last week, we talked about how Aventura Hotel was the only property at Universal Orlando to not be on the docket as the whole resort inches ever more closely to normal, pre-pandemic operations; well, this week, the company rectified that omission. Expect the prime-value venue to be open for business again on Wednesday, June 16, following Sapphire Falls Resort’s reopening this past week (on May 18) and Endless Summer Resort – Surfside Inn and Suites’s on May 26.

See the news here, and then see everything there is to know about Aventura here.

6. Have you ever done a date night at Universal Orlando and let Rock, Paper, Scissors dictate what you did? Orlando Informer’s owner, Taylor, did exactly that, and he filmed the fallout – er, fun activities.

Watch his latest video here.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for all the latest info. And then be sure to discuss everything with 125,000+ other Universal die-hard fans in our Orlando Informer Community on Facebook.


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About Marc N. Kleinhenz

Marc N. Kleinhenz is the former editor of Orlando Informer.