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Newsletter: Shanghai Disneyland draws thousands daily and it isn’t even open yet

Welcome to another edition of In the Loop, the Los Angeles Times’ theme park newsletter. I’m Funland theme park blogger Brady MacDonald, and this week, we examine what the DreamWorks deal means for Universal parks, welcome the first Latina princess to Disney parks, take a test drive on the new Autopia cars, chow down at Mrs. Knott’s chicken dinner restaurant and visit Shanghai Disneyland before it opens.

Comcast-DreamWorks

The Comcast-DreamWorks deal gives Universal Studios theme parks more firepower to compete with bigger rival Walt Disney Co.

Plus, here’s how the deal came together so fast and what it means for Universal Studios theme parks.

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By buying Glendale-based DreamWorks Animation, run by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg for more than two decades, Comcast will get access to the maker of the “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda” movies.
By buying Glendale-based DreamWorks Animation, run by Hollywood mogul Jeffrey Katzenberg for more than two decades, Comcast will get access to the maker of the “Shrek” and “Kung Fu Panda” movies.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Disney parks

Here’s what the recent release of concept art reveals about the new Star Wars Lands planned for Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

Concept art of "Star Wars" land.

Concept art of “Star Wars” land.

(Disney)

Tokyo Disneyland is planning a Beauty and the Beast-based expansion that includes a trackless dark ride, a Gaston’s Tavern restaurant and a 1,500-seat theater.

Princesa Elena, Disney’s first Latina princess, will make her theme park debut this summer during meet-and-greet appearances at Disney’s California Adventure and Florida’s Magic Kingdom.

Princess Elena from "Elena of Avalor," a Disney Channel animated series premiering this summer.
(Disney Channel)

Autoweek takes a test drive on the new Honda-powered Autopia cars at Disneyland.

More than a month before it opens, Shanghai Disneyland is drawing thousands of curious people daily who want to take selfies outside the park.

SeaWorld

Animal rights groups continue to press SeaWorld to release 29 orcas to seaside sanctuaries and end breeding programs for all other captive animals.

Killer whale Tilikum watches as SeaWorld Orlando trainers take a break at the theme park’s Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Fla., in March 2011.
Killer whale Tilikum watches as SeaWorld Orlando trainers take a break at the theme park’s Shamu Stadium in Orlando, Fla., in March 2011.
(Phelan M. Ebenhack / AP)

Legoland

The first-of-its-kind Ninjago interactive dark ride at Legoland California lets riders use karate-chop hand gestures to shoot fireballs at ninja warriors.

Visitors use hand gestures on the Ninjago dark ride at Legoland California.

Visitors use hand gestures on the Ninjago dark ride at Legoland California.

(Legoland)

Universal Studios

Movie studio-based theme parks that once showed visitors the behind-the-scenes magic of movies and TV shows are now taking visitors inside the scenes so they can experience the stories for themselves, the Orange County Register reports.

Knott’s Berry Farm

MiceChat offers a photo tour of the newly remodeled Mrs. Knott’s chicken dinner restaurant at Knott’s Berry Farm.

Las Vegas

Las Vegas Weekly examines the gambling mecca’s spotty theme park history and the prospects for the Mars World casino project, which is expected to include a space walk simulator.

And finally

Take a ride on the 240-foot-tall helter skelter-style tunnel slide set to open this summer in London.

Still need more theme park news? Check out the Los Angeles Times Funland theme park blog on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and Instagram. Also feel free to email me with any feedback on the newsletter.

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