2021 was yet another complicated year in the theme park industry. From safety protocols coming and going, to new ride openings now and on the horizon, visiting your favorite parks still looks a bit different this year.
Here’s a look back at our Top 10 theme park news stories of 2021:
Editor’s Note: Many of our most popular articles this year were written in past years, but unless noted, these stories represent the top 10 that were posted in 2021.
10.What are the height requirements at Walt Disney World?
2021 was the year that theme park fans really returned to their favorite places in droves, and with that comes the need for vacation planning tips! One of our most popular articles in that genre was an overview of the various height requirements for attractions at Walt Disney World Resort.
9. Disney shows off ‘real’ Star Wars lightsaber in virtual Disney Parks presentation
As a final ‘mic drop’ for the “A Special Look Inside Disney Parks” virtual event in 2021, hosted by Josh D’Amaro, Chairman of Disney Parks, Experiences and Products, attendees got to see something that appeared almost too good to be true: a real, working lightsaber, straight out of a galaxy far, far away.
8. New coaster and more coming to Cedar Fair parks across North America in 2022
Looking ahead to 2022, Cedar Fair shared a number of new roller coasters opening at its parks in the coming year, including Tumbili at Kings Dominion.
7. Crossroads shopping center near Disney World to be closed by August
After years of work and negotiations, the State of Florida reached a $198 million agreement to acquire Crossroads of Lake Buena Vista, a retail complex just outside Walt Disney World Resort.
6. All-new Harry Potter: The Exhibition is coming in 2022
A brand-new Wizarding World experience, titled Harry Potter: The Exhibition, was announced for 2022. This new offering will tour around the world with 10,000 to 20,000 square feet of immersion set in the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchises.
5. ‘Disney Look’ updated to allow cast member tattoos, gender inclusive self-expression
In a landmark announcement, Disney shared that their “Disney Look” appearance guidelines would be amended to allow for greater gender expression, as well as allowing cast members’ tattoos to be visible in daily operations.
4. Seven things you need to know when planning your Universal Orlando trip this fall
The need for vacation planning tips continues with this article, listing seven things to keep in mind when planning a trip to Universal Orlando Resort in the fall — arguably the park’s most popular and busy time of year.
3. Jungle Cruise’s Trader Sam is gone — for now; Disney still says no plans to update Trader Sam’s
2021 brought massive changes to the world-famous Jungle Cruise at Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom and Disneyland parks. Most notably was the removal of Trader Sam, who was once an iconic part of the attraction, in order to further flesh out the ride’s storyline and phase out its less-than-culturally-sensitive aspects.
2. McDonald’s Happy Meals feature Disney Princess and ‘Star Wars’ toys
Sure, it may not exactly be “theme park news,” but this new Disney toy release at McDonald’s brought us all some temporary joy in a year when we definitely needed it.
1. Nintendo-themed toys now available at Burger King
And closing out our top stories of 2021 is another fun fast food toy update, this time for Burger King with a series of Nintendo Switch-inspired toys. Safe to say theme park fans had Super Nintendo World on the brain?
Was one of your top stories represented in this list? Let us know what your biggest piece of theme park news for 2021 was in the comments below!
2022 will surely bring just as much exciting news from the theme parks, so be sure to stay tuned to our website, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube channel for all the latest updates, videos, breaking news and more.