Hello Nuggeteers and MiceChatters! Another week in the books, and another week of great theme park news stories. The haunt season has come to a close and the smaller, regional theme parks have moved to the off season. As we venture into the winter, we are still left with a lot of questions about the future of Star Wars in Disney parks, the scale of Diagon Alley at Universal, and more.

9 News Nuggets You Need to Know:

Story 1: The bad news from Disneyland Paris continues to come in. This week we dive into the 2013 fiscal year report and learn that attendance at DLP continues to slide. Hotel occupancy has fallen to a little over 79% and the parks continue to struggle to draw guests. DLP COO, Joe Schott, has promised to increase maintenance and development spending to $606 million over the next five years. And while the average spending per hotel room is up, it is clear that Disneyland Paris is not out of the woods yet. Hopefully, the new Ratatouille ride, opening next year, will help move the needle. But as many WDW fans can tell you, it takes more than just 1 ride to turn the ship around and get it headed in the right direction.

Story 2: Disneyland held a media event and invited social media stars to come out and show their “Disney Side”. I am not sure how I feel about the whole “Disney Side” campaign, but one thing that seemed to capture everyone’s attention from this event was the arrival of internet meme sensation “Grumpy Cat”. The felines who’s face is stuck in a perpetual state of grumpy, got a face to face meeting with Grumpy the dwarf and pictures with the caption, “Happiest Place on Earth… Just Got Grumpier”. It’s cute, I guess, but I just haven’t fallen head over heels for this promotion. Then again, maybe it’s me who is being too grumpy.

Story 3: Once again, Eric Davis supplies us with some of the juiciest tidbits and news from Universal Orlando. In his recent article Eric shares the news that Universal head Steve Burke hopes to have Diagon Alley open “spring” of next year! If all goes according to plan, Universal will unleash Potter after their Mardi Gras celebration and the opening of the new Cabana Bay hotel. So in only six months, you could be walking through Gringots Bank! How exciting is that?!

Story 4: News this week that Knott’s Berry Farms is welcoming veterans to the park with a special deal. Now through January 5, 2014 retired and active military personnel will receive free park admission during its Military Tribute program. Knott’s is even allowing veterans to bring a guest free of charge. Families of attending veterans can purchase up to six discount tickets for only $27.

Story 5: Here is a good look at the holiday decorations at Disneyland this year; including some of the new Frozen additions. What a great job at getting the park in the right mood for the season (insert rant about the lack of WDW holiday decorations here). I know that everyone who has seen the film is going nuts over Frozen, but from what i have seen from the trailers, I am not getting my hopes up. Let’s hope Disney can prove me wrong….again.


Story 6:  MiceChat has been feverishly reporting on all of the new developments that may be coming to Disneyland’s Tomorowland in the form of an overhauled Star Wars land. Now, we have what may be an unofficial. official announcement from Disney CEO Bob Iger. In a recent interview with Bloomberg TV, Iger says, “there is a fair amount of development going on at Disney Imagineering right now to expand the Star Wars presence in Disneyland and Walt Disney World.” An official announcement is expected from Disney at any moment (I would make the announcement on New Years Eve on television in front of 10 million ABC viewers). So now that Iger has all but confirmed Tomorrow Star Wars land and Star Wars for Hollywood Studios, the new question becomes, how long. How long will we have to wait to finally ride that Speeder Bike coaster Tony Baxter has been teasing for almost a decade?

Story 7: I am so sorry, but the Jingle Cruise looks forced, cheap, and desperate. I will not be rushing to the turnstiles to ride this “overlay.”

Story 8: Uh oh. More problems for the newly refurbished Disney Magic. The ship was experiencing short outages in some areas of it’s air conditioning system. Last week, the ship had to make a U turn and head back to the port of Miami to pick up critical supplies. Some gusts on board reported seeing crates and pallets marked “coolant” being loaded onto the ship.  After 90 minutes in port in Miami, the cruise was sent back out to sea.

Story 9: The news of a Hunger Games theme park just wont die. Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer says he is open to the idea of a theme park based of the hugely successful film and book franchise. He even went said, “We are excited about those opportunities and are pursuing them,”. The question is; how could you pull such a thing off? Many people are floating the idea of a Hunger Games stunt show, but a full out theme park where teenagers run around hunting and killing each other is probably not going to happen. What theme park operator  would you like to see get the theme park license and what could they do with it?

Enjoy Episode 54 of the Wakefield Report Podcast and please venture over to iTunes and leave us a review.

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Chris Wakefield lives in South Florida and spends most of his free time traveling across the country looking for the best thrills that theme parks have to offer. Growing up in the Midwest,Chris is used to the high and fast coasters offered up at parks like Cedar Point and Kings Island, and moving to Florida four years ago was a bit of theme park culture shock. With twice a month visits to Orlando, Chris works hard to keep his finger on the pulse of the ever expanding theme park community in Central Florida. Outside of the Orlando parks, Chris also visits California twice a year and isnt above going to a good haunt or two! Chris created the Wakefield Report website in the fall of 2011 to bring theme park and themed entertainment fans closer to the latest news, and opinions in the community. Each week, the Wakefield Report Podcast goes on the air to provide an unbiased, open, and honest look at the latest in Disney and theme park news. You can reach Chris at: [email protected]