TIME movies

Star Wars Theme Parks Are Coming to Disney World and Disneyland

May the roller coaster's centripetal force be with you

Disney announced Saturday that it plans to create two Star Wars theme parks, in Florida’s Disney World and California’s Disneyland.

Each park will be 14 acres and will be populated with actors playing aliens, droids and other creatures from the Star Wars universe. Disney head Bob Iger assured fans that there would be both a Millennium Falcon ride and a Creature Cantina recreation.

“These new lands at Disneyland and Walt Disney World will transport guests to a whole new Star Wars planet, including an epic Star Wars adventure that puts you in the middle of a climactic battle between the First Order and the Resistance,” Iger said.

This isn’t the first time Disney has capitalized on Star Wars in its theme parks. Even before Disney acquired Lucasfilm in 2012, the company partnered with the studio to create Star Tours, a Star Wars-themed virtual reality ride that has been a mainstay at the Disney parks since it debuted at Disneyland in 1987. Star Tours even got a makeover in 2010 and 2011 to include more locales and adventures.

But now, capitalizing on the excitement surrounding the upcoming Star Wars films—the first of which will be directed by J.J. Abrams and premieres in December—the universe will get its own separate park.


Roller Coaster Strikes and Kills Visitor at Ohio Theme Park

The patron reportedly entered a "restricted, fenced" area of the park

A roller coaster struck and killed a patron at an Ohio theme park died on Thursday, park officials said. The patron reportedly entered a “restricted, fenced area” of the Raptor roller coaster at the Cedar Point Theme Park at about 5 p.m. local time. The guest was soon after struck by the coaster and later died.

Several details about the incident, including the gender and age of the patron, have not yet been released. Cedar Point tweeted that their “thoughts and prayers” are with the patrons family. Local investigators are currently investigating the incident, according to a statement published by Fox8 News in Cleveland.

Cedar Point, located in Sandusky, Ohio, bills itself as the “roller coaster capital of the world.”

TIME Theme Parks

Here’s What It’s Like To Ride A 2,000-foot-long Slip-n-slide

At 1,975 feet long, the water slide at Action Park in Vernon, N.J. is the world’s longest. Though, water slide is a generous term–think more like the ultimate slip-and-slide.

The attraction, which was featured on Travel Channel’s “Xtreme Waterpark,” was originally built in New Zealand by the show’s host Jimi Hunt before it was disassembled and shipped over to the U.S. It was officially sanctioned as the world’s longest by the Guinness World Records in July.

Action Park is home more than 30 rides, including another record setter, a ride called the “ZeroG”–the world’s tallest and only double-looping drop box waterslide.

Take a look at what it’s like to zoom your way down the slip-and-slide of your wildest childhood dreams.

TIME Companies

Seaworld’s Profits Drop 84% After Blackfish Documentary

sea world sign
Matt Stroshane—Getty Images The sign at the entrance to SeaWorld on Feb. 24, 2010 in Orlando, Fla.

The company acknowledged ongoing "brand challenges" are at least partially to blame

Consumers are still turning their backs on SeaWorld. The embattled marine life theme park company reported steep drops in profits and attendance and on Thursday, marking more loss in the wake of the damning documentary Blackfish.

SeaWorld Entertainment has faced an 84% drop in net second-quarter income, from $37.4 million in 2014 to $5.8 million in 2015, in the second quarter. Revenue fell from $405.1 million to $391.6 million, a drop of 3%, in the second quarter of 2015 when compared to 2014.

The park saw 100,000 fewer visitors than it did at the same time in 2014, a decrease of 2%.

SeaWorld Entertainment blamed the fall in attendance on spring break tourism due to the timing of Easter, record wet weather in Texas, and what the company referred to as “brand challenges” in California. Visitors are still flocking to the SeaWorld location in Florida, on the other hand, which has been able to offset some of the lessened demand in other locations.

“We realize we have much work ahead of us to recover more of our attendance base, increase revenue and improve our performance as returning to historical performance levels will take time and investment,” SeaWorld President and CEO Joel Manby said in a statement.

The company has been struggling to maintain consumer interest in SeaWorld in the wake of Blackfish, which offered a grim look at life in captivity for Orca whales, and has launched a series of campaigns discounts to keep visitors interested.


TIME Disney

Here’s Why Disney Is Removing This Statue From a Theme Park

Cosby has been accused of sexual assault

Disney is removing a statue of Bill Cosby from a theme park in Florida after the Associated Press forced the release of a 2005 testimony from the embattled comedian in which he admits to obtaining a drug to give to women with the intent of having sex with them.

The bronze statue has been on display in Disney’s Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences Hall of Fame Plaza in its Hollywood Studio theme park in Florida. On Tuesday night Disney said it planned to remove the statue after the park closes.

Dozens of women have accused Cosby of sexual assault in recent months. In the past year, an online petition was started to remove Cosby’s bust from the theme park, garnering nearly 300 signatures.

“In light of recent circumstances it is prudent that the bust of actor Bill Cosby be removed from Disney’s Florida theme park,” the Change.org petition reads. “The Disney name is synonymous with family-friendly entertainment and with Mr. Cosby in the media daily facing accusations of sexual assault with the number of victims ever-climbing, it is inappropriate for Disney Parks to have a replica of Mr. Cosby’s likeness on display.”

The 77-year-old comedian and actor has seen his shows and live appearances on networks — and services such as Netflix — postponed or canceled due to the allegations.

Bill Cosby bust
Tony Winton—APA bust of actor and comedian Bill Cosby at Hollywood Studios theme park in Orlando, Fla.

TIME Disney

Here’s Why Disney Just Banned This Vacation Photo Essential


The company cited safety as the main concern

Disney is the latest company to ban selfie-sticks due to safety concerns, the company said in an announcement Friday.

The popular travel item will be banned from Disney theme parks in Orlando starting Tuesday, and also in Disney water parks, the Associated Press reported.

“We strive to provide a great experience for the entire family, and unfortunately selfie-sticks have become a growing safety concern for both our guests and cast,” Disney World spokeswoman Kim Prunty told the Orlando Sentinel.

According to the publication, guests will have the option of checking the items near park entrances to pick them up later in the day.

This has been an ongoing issue at Disney:

Several incidents preceded the change, but officials have been discussing the rules for some time, Disney said. This week at Disney California Adventure park, a roller coaster was halted after a passenger pulled out a selfie-stick. The ride was closed for an hour.

Apple banned the item from its Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this year.


Vin Diesel Dedicates Fast & Furious Ride to Paul Walker

"This one’s for you Pablo"

Even as the Fast & Furious franchise surges on—with a theme park ride at Universal Studios Hollywood and an eighth installment set for 2017—star Vin Diesel continues to pump the breaks to honor his friend Paul Walker, who died in a car crash in late 2013.

At its opening in Los Angeles on Wednesday, Diesel dedicated the new Fast & Furious — Supercharged 3D car ride to his co-star. “This one’s for you Pablo,” the actor said, invoking the nickname he has often used for Walker.

Michelle Rodriguez, Tyrese Gibson and Jason Statham, who all starred in the Furious 7, joined Diesel in welcoming fans.

MONEY Odd Spending

Disney World Is Now Selling ‘Poo’ in Giraffe, Hippo Flavors

girl with licking chocolate off her face
Getty Images

$3.99 a pop—or is it $3.99 a poop?

People will buy pretty much anything. Nowhere is this truism more on display than Walt Disney World, a.k.a. the “Most Magical Place on Earth,” a.k.a. home of the $100+ one-day admission fee.

The latest magic trick being pulled by the world’s most famous theme park destination is convincing guests that they want to buy and eat animal “poo.” At Zuri’s Sweet Shop, appropriately located in Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, customers get to choose among four flavors: elephant, hippo, giraffe, and tamarin. In more ways than one: No B.S.!

As the Orlando Sentinel reported, they’re of course not actual steaming piles of manure but chocolate, brownie, and fudge creations. An order of “giraffe” indeed looks like scat—a pile of mushy dark brown balls—but it’s made of chocolate fudge and caramel. “Hippo” consists of chocolate fudge, caramel brownie, peanut butter, and oats.

The gimmick and instant conversation piece is called “Match the Species,” and customers are encouraged to make a game of guessing which faux dung belongs to which kind of animal. “The animal handlers of Disney’s Animal Kingdom worked in conjunction with pastry chefs so that they perfected the look of the animal poop exactly,” the Kim and Carrie blog explained, after sampling Giraffe soon after the items made their debut in mid-June.

The sweet shop doesn’t list the items explicitly as poop or dung. But on customer receipts, your order will be spelled out as, say, “Poo, Giraffe.” Each order costs $3.99. After grabbing a bite, it’s probably appropriate to hit the souvenir shop, where you’ll find lots more crap to buy.

TIME Disney

This Union Is Attacking Disney’s Weirdest Policy

YE AUNG THU—AFP/Getty Images

No scab Mickeys are needed yet

Working at a Disney Park may be magical, but apparently the “cast members” — as these Disney employees are called — aren’t allowed to tell anyone what loveable character they play — at least for now.

The union that represents Disney Park employees is challenging the rule, which doesn’t allow workers to say which character they play in any online or print media — this is likely a bigger issue today given the proliferation of social media.

A representative for the Teamsters, the union representing the workers, thinks this is extreme, telling the Orlando Sentinel that the person playing Tigger doesn’t “work for the CIA.”

Dalton told the newspaper that the Teamsters filed a grievance with Disney’s labor relations department last week. The union will also file an unfair labor practice charge with the National Labor Relations Board, she added.

More: Check out Disney on the new Fortune 500 list

More than 1,200 Disney workers greet guests or appear in parades in various guises, including dressed as “fur characters,” such as Winnie the Pooh, or in outfits that cover the performers completely, and “face characters” such as Snow White or Cinderella, Dalton told the paper.

TIME Tourism

SeaWorld Is Struggling to Keep People Visiting

Premiere Of Sea World San Diego's "Turtle: The Incredible Journey"
Jerod Harris—Getty Images A general view of the atmosphere at the premiere of Sea World San Diego's "Turtle: The Incredible Journey" on June 21, 2011 in San Diego, California.

While Universal is riding that Harry Potter high

In the theme park wars, 2014 was a clear victory for Universal and a drag for SeaWorld, with Disney coming up somewhere in between.

Let’s be clear: Disney World is still the biggest dog in the fight, attracting 70.9% of all theme park visits in 2014 — but that’s down from 73.3% in 2013, reports the Orlando Sentinel.

Disney’s market share was bitten into by Universal, which had a 22.6% share in 2014 compared with 19.3% in 2013, largely driven by the opening of the second outpost of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios. Plus, plenty of people who came to experience the world of the Boy Wizard also bought tickets to Universal’s other park, Islands of Adventure, where the first Harry Potter area is still operating. There’s a “Hogwart’s Express” train connected the two parks, which can only be ridden if visitors have tickets to both parks.

SeaWorld, meanwhile, had market share of just 6.5%, down from 7.4%. The aquatic-themed park had its own problems to deal with, as negative publicity regarding its treatment of animals may still be hurting it at the gates.

The Orlando theme park market in general had a good year, with total visits increasing 6% to 72.6 million.

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