In this week’s Theme Park Rangers Radar, we see a lot of activity amongst wax figures at Madame Tussauds Orlando, where Shawn Mendes is on a break, and with assorted animals running in circles at Icon Park. Meanwhile, signs point toward a locked-up attraction at Universal CityWalk.
Radar is a weekly roundup of news and nuggets from Central Florida’s theme parks and attractions. It’s published at OrlandoSentinel.com on Wednesdays.
There are some new faces inside Madame Tussauds Orlando, the celebrity-driven wax museum attraction on International Drive, and most of them are known as singers.
An exception is the figure for Dwayne Johnson, whose resume leans more toward acting, producing and wrestling. At Tussauds, he looks to be in action-figure mode, climbing up the side of a building.
In reality, his feet are firmly on the floor and visitors can pose hunched over behind him then turn the image sideways to continue the illusion. Although there are instructions posted for this, I saw people do more of a tug-o-war look with the figure. It’s OK. You be you.
In an odd neighborhood turn, Johnson appears in a cube next door to E.T. in the Icon Park attraction. Oh, for a “Night at the Museum” sort of moment with these two.
Folks were posing more traditionally in the Tussaud music room with the Ariana Grande figure, which is decked out in pink down to her platform thigh-high boots. Across the room is Bad Bunny’s new figure in an all-block look with pinkies pointed upward. The rapper also has an unexpected Tussauds neighbor: Michael Jackson.
The lineup can be fluid at Madame Tussauds, with figures having touch-ups or moving between attractions in multiple cities. On my visit, I didn’t get to see Maluma because his figure’s costuming was being repaired.
Another singer on display is Shawn Mendes, whose figure is literally lying down on the job. It’s flat on its back on a bed and barefoot as a Mendes video plays on the back wall, creating the world’s most unusual headboard.
Nah, that’s not really the concept as the positioning is meant to reference Mendes’ “In My Blood” video. It all feels like a “let’s hold hands” moment (“It’s like the walls are caving in / sometimes I feel like giving up / no medicine is strong enough” the song goes) and take a picture. But the current policy at Tussauds is “no touching, please,” established as a pandemic precaution.
Side note: The Will Smith figure isn’t in the A-list room anymore, but I’m told it’s been out of there since last fall, well before the most recent Academy Awards, which saw the actor win an Oscar but also be barred from future ceremonies.
Also new at Icon Park is Carousel on the Promenade. The merry-go-round is at the end of the faux-grassy courtyard in the shadow of the Wheel at Icon Park.
Officials recently shared a few facts about the ride, including that the lead horse is called the fairy horse, and you’ll know it by the fairy carving on the side. But the most sought-after steed-of-sorts is the bright-blue sea dragon with a curved tail. There are also images of sea turtles decorating its saddle.
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It’s a standout, but there are also zebras, rabbits, reindeer and big-maned horses to consider.
A placard near the carousel lays out rules, some expected, some more rare. Included are a prohibition of chewing gum on board and a weight limit of 170 pounds on the animals. Also, you shouldn’t ride with high blood pressure, which is a worry I don’t usually associate with merry-go-rounds.
Rides are $5 per rider, but that can be knocked down to $2 with any ticket purchase for the Wheel.
Universal Orlando has put the sign up for Universal’s Great Movie Escape at the entrance of the space that was the Groove at Universal CityWalk.
It’s a deviation from Universal’s usual logo look, using two art deco-ish fonts. It’s flanked by two decorative unlocked locks with a flowing pattern that might make you think “escape this way,” backed by a unfurled fan design. It’s all very old-school theatrical, presented in reds, golds and blues.
Great Movie Escape, featuring environments themed to “Jurassic World’ and “Back to the Future,” is scheduled to debut this fall. Ticket information has not yet been revealed.
What’s on your radar? Email me at [email protected]