In the Loop: News from Disneyland, Universal, SeaWorld and other theme parks

Welcome to another edition of In the Loop, the L.A. Times' theme park newsletter. I’m Funland theme park blogger Brady MacDonald and I’ll be rounding up the Times' theme park coverage as well as compiling the best industry news and trends from around the Web.

Game time

Universal drops the news that its theme parks will be adding rides based on Nintendo video games -- and then, in typical fashion, says nothing else.

When and where will the first ride open? Will the new rides be interactive? Will we see Super Mario Bros., Donkey Kong, Pokemon or Legend of Zelda attractions? So many questions, so few answers. Which left us to speculate.

Our video game reporter Todd Martens says: The possibilities are endless, ranging from “Legend of Zelda”-inspired sword-fighting demos to thrill rides based on “Mario Kart” or “Donkey Kong Country’s” mine carts.

VentureBeat weighs in with 5 Nintendo rides they’d like to see at Universal theme parks. The long shot: An interactive shoot-em-up dark ride based on the Metroid science fiction action-adventure video games.


Spoiler alert

I offer a spoiler-filled look at Disneyland’s new Forever fireworks show debuting May 22 as part of the park’s 60th anniversary celebration.

The nighttime spectacular will employ a tremendous amount of projection mapping, which marries animated imagery to the architecture of buildings to create a digital skin that morphs and moves.


Knott’s lawsuit

Hugo Martin, who covers theme parks for The Times’ Business section, has the details on a lawsuit filed in Orange County Superior Court claiming a 6-year-old girl was injured on the Timber Mountain Log Ride at Knott’s Berry Farm.

The lawsuit cites nine previous incidents from 2000 to 2014 in which it says children were hurt on the ride.


Fan festival

Disney’s biennial D23 Expo fan event rolls into the Anaheim Convention Center in August with an exhibit dedicated to 60 years of Disneyland history -- including retired animatronics, vintage employee costumes and the first ticket ever sold at the park.

Todd Martens talks to Walt Disney Archives director Becky Cline, who is curating the museum-like exhibit. I’m most excited about seeing the deconstruction of a ride that aims to show the Imagineering process.


In a separate post, Todd crosses his fingers that D23 will showcase the “Avatar”-inspired land under construction in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom and perhaps some news on a much-anticipated "Star Wars" land.

And in a semi-related note, Eater has all the details on a “Star Wars” pop-up restaurant planned for Disney’s Hollywood Studios in Florida. Chips and Sith anyone?

Animal planet

SeaWorld tries to spin a $43.6-million quarterly loss with the more upbeat news of a 5.6% jump in attendance at its beleaguered marine animal parks.

Hugo reports that SeaWorld is pushing back against continuing criticism from the “Blackfish” documentary with a campaign on television, social media and in newspapers.


In other animal-related news, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is treating a northern white rhino named Nola for a basketball-sized abscess on her right hip, according to our San Diego reporter Tony Perry.

(San Diego Zoo)

And finally

We’ll close with yet another animal story that was our most popular theme park story of the week. Times’ Orange County reporter Emily Foxhall puts it best: In a theme park inspired by the world's most famous mouse, it's the cats of Disneyland who have the run of the place.

(Yvonne Arasmith)

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