Anyone who has visited Walt Disney World recently has likely noticed the towering walls, Dream Builders signs, and partially hidden construction equipment. Disney Imagineers have cooked up a host of new things for guests to enjoy. If you haven’t visited Walt Disney World lately, you don’t want to miss these twelve experiences that have recently opened or will debut in 2017.
1 – Pandora – The World of Avatar
Imagine being immersed in the mystical world of Pandora, where you can witness the wonder of bioluminescent rainforests and floating mountains. Consider riding a Mountain Banshee and soaring high above the jungle on the new attraction, Avatar Flight of Passage, or float through glowing rainforests on Na’vi River Journey.The grand opening for this new land inside Disney’s Animal Kingdom was May 27, 2017. We’ve had a chance to spend a lot of time in this amazing new land. Find out what we thought here: Pandora Sneak Peek: First Look Photos, Video and Impressions & Top 10 Questions Answered.
2 – New Holiday Offerings at Two Parks
Holidays Around the World will be transformed into a full fledged festival, making it now the fourth festival to run during the course of the year at Epcot. This festival will run from November 19 to December 30, 2017. That brings the holiday spirit early to Epcot as unlike Magic Kingdom, Epcot did not begin the holiday celebrations until the end of November in years past. The festival will continue to showcase the holiday traditions of the eleven World Showcase nations. Like last year, there will be Holiday Kitchens that will feature the taste of the holidays around the world. At this time there are four kitchens that we know about. These were the same as last year: the Holiday American Table, the Feast of the Three Kings, Holiday Sweets and Treats, and final the Mexico Holiday Kitchen. We expect additional kitchens to be added since the event has been upgraded to a festival.
Disney is adding more holiday spirit to the lineup at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. New this year is the addition of Sunset Seasons Greetings, a new projection show. From November 9-December 31, 2017 Sunset Boulevard will be transformed into a winter wonderland through amazing new projections. Here are all the details from Disney:
As 2017 draws to a close, and night falls on Disney’s Hollywood Studios, an unforgettable scene starts to unfold for Guests of all ages. Billboards suddenly begin to move into motion and tell a tale, courtesy of iconic characters sharing their love for the season. All the while, the Hollywood Tower Hotel—a.k.a. The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror—magically transforms, bringing to life the characters’ stories.
3 – Happily Ever After
Fans of the ever popular Wishes Nighttime Spectacular may lament the closing of their favorite fireworks program, but Disney won’t leave them disappointed. Happily Ever After is here and offers inspiring stories, lasers, lights, projections, and pyrotechnics. “Happily Ever After” is an entirely new kind of Disney storytelling; one that takes you on a journey filled with heart, humor and emotion. Guests become part of the journey themselves as they follow favorite Disney characters on an adventure to seek out their destiny, face adversity and ultimately fulfill their dreams on the road to their happily ever after. Disney has done a fantastic job with this new show. We loved it! Read all you need to know about Happily Ever After here.
4 – Miss Adventure Falls
A new adventure came to Typhoon Lagoon in mid-March of this year. Miss Adventure Falls opened as the latest family-sized raft waterslide at Walt Disney World. The story includes Captain Mary Oceaneer and her many prizes. You’ll be able to spot the captain’s treasure as you shoot down the slide and enjoy refreshing splash after splash along the way.
5 – Rivers of Light
Disney Imagineers have been working hard to provide new experiences at Animal Kingdom, which is why they created a brand new evening light show. Rivers of Light features a spectacular display of animals celebrating the vibrancy of life over the waters of Discovery Island. After the sun sets, the fifteen minute show begins with joyful song and continues with wondrous floats, dazzling lights, and animated projections upon screens of mist. The show opened in February of this year and is rapidly becoming popular.
6 – Star Wars Guided Tour
If you love Walt Disney World’s guided tours, and you’re an enthusiastic Star Wars fan, then you’ll love the latest offering at Hollywood Studios. Opening in January of this year, Star Wars Guided Tour takes guests on a seven hour adventure that includes reserved seating at two live stage shows, participation in Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple for the kids, a screening of Star Wars: Path of the Jedi, character greetings, a private tour around Star Wars Launch Bay, dinner at Backlot Express, and a personalized souvenir. Also, you’ll end the evening with Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party that serves your favorite sweets and provides reserved viewing for the evening fireworks. Please note that tours at Walt Disney World require an additional fee, but Jedi fans will certainly find this one worth the cost.
7 – Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular
The transformation of Disney’s Hollywood Studios into a wondrous theme park celebrating the Star Wars universe has raised the bar with the new light and fireworks show that debuted in the summer of 2016. Disney Imagineers pulled out all the stops with Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, which runs nightly in front of the iconic replica of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre. Expect lights, lasers, pyrotechnics, music, and space battles as you gathering in the Animation Courtyard.
8 – Soarin’ Around the World
Fans of the original Soarin’ ride will go bonkers for Soarin’ Around the World. While the original flight over California was certainly exhilarating, Disney has upgraded the experience to take its passengers across the planet to visit inspiring destinations. Debuting in the summer of 2016, this beloved show has gathered even more popularity as the months go by, so be sure make your FastPass+ selections early.
9 – Frozen Ever After
Of course, everyone still breaks out into song when they hear “Let It Go” from Frozen, which is why it comes as no surprise that Disney Imagineers crafted a new attraction to celebrate the film. In honor of the tale’s Nordic roots, Disney located Frozen Ever After in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot’s World Showcase. This family friendly boat ride opened in June of 2016, replacing the Maelstrom with snow-covered scenes of Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, and Olaf. After enjoying the attraction, visitors may visit with Anna and Elsa at their nearby Royal Sommerhus. The popularity of this attraction warrants a FastPass+ selection; otherwise, you can expect a lengthy wait.
10 – Tiffins and The Nomad Lounge
Dining at Disney’s Animal Kingdom has only gotten better with the introduction of its newest restaurant, Tiffins, which opened Memorial Day weekend in 2016, and its neighbor, The Nomad Lounge. The atmosphere of carved animals, artwork, and creative lighting enhances the mood while guests enjoy the delicious cuisine of Asian, Latin, and African flavors. Next door, The Nomad Lounge offers a varied selection of beer, wine, and cocktails to quench your thirst and appetizers to keep hunger at bay.
11 – Kilimanjaro Nighttime Safaris
Disney’s Animal Kingdom is now a full day park with extended hours in the evening. During these nighttime hours, Kiliminjaro Safaris has been running a new show featuring the nocturnal habits of their wild residents. Though darkness may present some viewing challenges, Disney installed accent lighting throughout the ride to help riders get a glimpse of the animals’ activities. It may be more difficult to snap a photo of that rhino taking a mud bath, but at least you can witness its evening routine.
12 – Disney Springs Restaurants
Over the past three years, Disney Springs has undergone major transformation, exploding with a host of new dining choices. The most recent additions include Paddlefish, a seafood restaurant aboard the iconic steamboat that once housed Fulton’s Crab House, and Planet Hollywood Observatory, a domed version of the national franchise with an astronomical theme. Restaurants that opened in 2016 include Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, Frontera Cocina, Sprinkles Cupcakes, and STK Orlando. This spring, The Edison plans to open its doors to eager guests wanting to experience its retro-technological atmosphere and enjoy its cuisine. No matter what you’re hungry for, you can likely find it at Disney Springs this year.
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