BY HANA MEDINA
YOUR NEXT THEME park vacation is about
to get a lot more exciting—and efficient—
with the new attractions and technologies
being implemented at Walt Disney World
Resort, Disneyland Resort and Universal
Orlando Resort this spring and summer.
And Costco Travel can’t wait to help you get
there at a great value.
“A theme park vacation is one of those
milestone trips that every family looks
for ward to in life,” says Costco Travel Buyer
Sarah Gaudet. “We select theme park and
hotel partners that we believe can best pro-
vide those magical memories that our mem-
bers are seeking.” She adds that the new
technologies “really enhance the theme
park experience, allowing guests to spend
more time making fun memories.”
Here are a few of the exciting changes
coming to the parks this year.
Universal Orlando Resort
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy
Fallon, a new ;D simulator that opened
April ; at Universal Studios Florida, is a
wild event that challenges riders to race
Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon through
New York City. After entering a building
that resembles ;; Rockefeller Plaza in
Manhattan, riders rocket through the
streets—and skies—of New York City,
encountering colorful characters, famous
landmarks and more. Interactive elements,
such as a hydraulic floor, olfactory features,
temperature changes and splashing water,
add up to a lifelike experience.
On May ;;, the resort will open its
brand-new water park, Universal’s Volcano
Bay. The park features everything for the
thrill-seeker, from daring waterslides, like
the Ko’okiri Body Plunge and the Kala & Tai
Nui Serpentine Body Slide, to the park’s
main attraction: Krakatau Aqua Coaster,
where four-person canoes slide upward
through the mists and into dark twists and
turns within the volcano before emerging
with a plunge through a shimmering water-
fall. Volcano Bay offers ;; attractions, but
also caters to guests looking for a little relax-
ation, with a sandy beach, a lazy river and
a multidirectional wave pool.
Volcano Bay’s waterproof Tapu Tapu
bracelet transforms the queue experience.
You receive a bracelet upon entry, and it
holds your place in a virtual line. Simply
scan your bracelet at the entrance of an
attraction, and your bracelet will receive a
time to come back. This allows you to enjoy
other amenities instead of spending your
time in line. The bracelet will also
count down and alert you, so there’s
no need to watch the clock.
Tapu Tapu also unlocks tap-to-
play experiences throughout the
park. Tapping your bracelet on an
indicated area allows you to access
special effects, such as shooting
water cannons at guests snaking
down the lazy river and illuminating
images in the volcano’s hidden caves.
Walt Disney World & Disneyland
Perhaps one of the biggest openings of the year is Pandora—The
World of Avatar, based on the Oscar-winning movie Avatar. Pandora
opens on May ;; at Disney’s Animal
Kingdom Theme Park.
Guests will be immersed in a
world where they can explore
Pandora atop a banshee in the thrilling Avatar Flight of Passage ride,
hike among gravity-defying mountains in the Valley of Mo’ara or boat
through a bioluminescent rain forest on the Na’vi River Journey.
Getting through the parks is easier as well, with the updated MagicBand;,
which offers more customized options and
accessories than before.
The wearable device serves as your park
admission, FastPass;, PhotoPass, and even
as your payment method and room key if
you’re staying at a Walt Disney World Hotel.
MagicBands are a convenient way to reduce
time spent digging for various tickets, and
they help reduce the number of items you
bring into the park.
After reserving your FastPass, simply
hold your MagicBand up to a touch point
(which looks like an outline of Mickey
Mouse) and you’re done. Touch points
throughout the park also unlock personalized special surprises.
Meanwhile, in California, Guardians of
the Galaxy—Mission: BREAKOUT! is a new
attraction opening May ;; at Disney
California Adventure park at Disneyland
Resort. Riders accompany Rocket Raccoon
in his attempt to rescue the Guardians from
the Collector’s Fortress. This heart-pound-ing ride has guests rise and fall on a gantry
lift. Multiple ride profiles round out the
experience, set to the movie’s soundtrack.
No matter which park you embark upon,
you are sure to find exhilarating changes to
suit your family’s adventure. C
What’s happening at Disney and Universal
Left and below: Daring waterslides are
among the 18 attractions at Universal
Studio Orlando’s Volcano Bay. Bottom:
The Na’vi River Journey at Walt Disney
World’s Pandora—The World of Avatar.
For information about theme park packages and other vacations, click “Travel”
on Costco.com or call Costco Travel at