Weekly recap – Navi, Mario, Dreamland, Aussie-ness & Everything Else

It’s been a crazy past few weeks for all things theme parks. Here’s a roundup of all the goss.

Disney gets real “uncanny in the valley”

If anyone was going to make some ridiculously amazing animatronics, of course it was going to be Disney. As part of their new Na’vi River Journey ride going in at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Joe Rodhe, one of the company’s imagineers joined James Cameron on-stage at D23 to show-off what’s to come:

Yeah, that’s really, really a freakin’ animatronic. Today it’s Pandora, tomorrow it’s Westworld. Oh well, it’s been fun while it lasted, human race.

Mario plumbs his way into Universal Studios

More of an announcement and less anything tangible or juicy but none the less awesome. Universal Studios in conjunction with Nintendo have confirmed that every Universal park will have some degree of Mario loving, potentially going as far as adding new lands, over the coming years. For those of us who grew up with NES/SuperNes/Nintendo 64’s etc., this is an awesome time to relive some nostalgia and finally see some Nintendo IP make it out into the real world.

Nara Dreamland, Japan, finally begins demolition

It’s definitely sad news, although perhaps maybe more of an inevitable reality more than anything. Florian from Abandoned Kansai has been covering the sudden and very vigorous obliteration of what’s become one of the most infamous abandoned theme parks of the 21st century. For those out of the loop, here’s the condensed story – after Universal Studios Japan & Tokyo Disney Resort opened, this admittedly very poor clone of the original Disneyland had its days numbered. However, oddly it stayed standing but not operating for over a decade, with each year a new rumour circulating as to what would eventuate to the now doomed park. It’s now destined for residential use, and you can see all the amazing pictures and the full story over at Abandoned Kansai.

Photo Courtesy of Abandoned Kansai
Photo Courtesy of Abandoned Kansai


Aussie World – less bogan, more awesome.

Okay, saying less bogan immediately feels a little harsh, but let’s be honest, all things Ettomogah Pub, Victoria Bitter, Crocodile Dundee & everything in-between has started to become out of touch and part of yesteryear Australia. With that in mind, it’s really great to see a smaller, independent park like Aussie World step up to the plate with a huge new masterplan, renovation of key parts of the park and what will ultimately end up with the park tripling in size over the next few years.

I would so love to see Aussie World step into the ring with a solid major thrill ride, and hell, even some waterslides, and for now, what they’re doing is definitely a step in the right direction in my mind. Go team.

…And everything else.

Apparently Warner Bros. Movie World are getting right into building, well, for all intents and purposes, “nothing” for next year. I say nothing because while there’s a huge amount of footings being poured from Green Lantern right up to the set of lights you use to turn into Movie World, there’s still no official announcement on what’s coming for thrillseekers in 2017. Could it be the world’s biggest Top Golf fence? Time well tell i’m sure.

As you probably know, Dreamworld are re-opening this weekend, still no major rides are confirmed to re-open while the safety audit continues, however we’ll be there to suss out the vibe and to finally check out the redevelopment of Tiger Island and see how the Lego Store is going (pretty good from what i’ve heard.)

Finally, it looks as though Sea World’s pretending like their log flume ride, Viking’s Revenge, never existed, removing all traces of signage from the station along with plonking all the flumes out in the car park. If I were a betting man, i’d say that ride’s days are numbered. What with recent events in the industry are anything to go by, i’d say any ride made in-house and not by a reputable ride company will be subject to more than ever before, and in a case like this it may easier just to quit while you’re ahead.

Side note…

While we’re there, I don’t understand this trend of shelving rides suddenly without communicating to guests who might want to get one last ride. There’s a list of attractions in Australia where this has happened, going right back to Eureka Mountain Mine Ride over ten years ago now. This is totally polar-opposite practice to the industry leaders like Disney, just FYI, and it’s something i’d love to see all of our parks follow in the future.

If what’s happened with Dreamworld has taught us anything, it’s that people are far more connected to these brands than anyone realised ever before. Suddenly closing rides or keeping guests in the dark, I think at least, is counter-intuitive at best, and at worst, may make the most loyalist, or most nostalgic customers feel disenfranchised, and that’s not what our beloved theme parks are about.

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