**A flurry of fireflies awakens the iconic Tree of Life with colorful animation, and the songs of Disney’s new hit film “The Jungle Book” come to life on Discovery River, just two of the many new experiences as Disney’s Animal Kingdom introduces nighttime hours for the first time in the park’s 18-year history.
**“Frozen,” the top animated film of all time, comes to life for the first time in an enchanting, music-filled attraction in the Norway pavilion at Epcot.
**Princesses Tiana and Rapunzel join a rousing show on the grandest stage of all in front of Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom Park.
**An awe-inspiring new Star Wars fireworks and projection spectacular premieres at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
**Disney Springs welcomes more top shopping destinations and celebrity chef restaurants in a glittering new setting.
Across its four theme parks, multiple resort hotels and diverse shopping and dining offerings, guests will find unforgettable experiences to share with family and friends, making every moment as magical as it can be.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
For the first time in its 18-year history, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will debut new day-into-nighttime experiences that celebrate the magic of nature beginning Memorial Day Weekend.
**The park’s iconic Tree of Life will awaken each night amid a lively celebration of Discovery Island music and dance. Through stunning visuals, animal spirits appear and enchanted fireflies reveal stories of wonder as the tree morphs to showcase the magic of nature.
**Kilimanjaro Safaris transitions to a new nighttime adventure in the extended orange glow of a setting sun. For the first time, hyenas and African wild dogs join the safari trail.
**Discovery River becomes the stage for music and pageantry in a limited-engagement show inspired by Disney’s hit live-action film “The Jungle Book.” “The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic” is a live show filled with music and special effects that celebrates the new film and the classic songs, now infused with an Indian influence.
**Hungry adventurers can have lunch or dinner at the new Tiffins signature restaurant on Discovery Island Memorial Day Weekend. Guests seated in the restaurant’s travel-themed dining rooms or on the waterfront patio can sip libations and savor dishes featuring African, Asian and South American flavors.
**Across the park, guests can experience wondrous new nighttime experiences and entertainment celebrating marvels in nature and enjoy long-time favorites such as Expedition Everest, DINOSAUR, Kali River Rapids and more – in a whole new light.
Anna, Elsa and other beloved characters from the blockbuster film, “Frozen,” will give the summer season a warm hug at Epcot beginning this June. Meanwhile “Turtle Talk with Crush” makes fun waves and Soarin takes guests to new heights.
**Anna, Elsa and their Frozen friends will welcome guests aboard the new Frozen Ever After boat ride that sails into a “Frozen” world at the Norway Pavilion. Passengers on their way to Arendelle’s Winter in Summer Celebration for Queen Elsa visit the ice palace and hear beloved film tunes plus new lyrics by Oscar-winning “Let It Go” songwriters Bobby Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez.
**Also at Norway Pavilion, Anna and Elsa will greet guests in the new Royal Sommerhus, modeled after a traditional Norwegian cabin.
**In Future World, guests will celebrate the U.S. debut of the new Soarin’ Around the World attraction at The Land Pavilion June 17. Now with a third Epcot theater, plus new digital screens and projection systems, the expanded attraction takes guests on an exhilarating “flight” above spectacular global landscapes and man-made wonders.
**Guests will also find new additions at “Turtle Talk with Crush” beginning in May with characters from Disney•Pixar film “Finding Dory”. When Crush the sea turtle swims up to the “Human Tank” at Epcot, he’ll be joined by Dory and some of her new friends that guests will get to know when “Finding Dory” swims into theaters on June 17, 2016.
Classic Disney characters will join contemporary animated film stars this June in a new extravaganza on the grand Cinderella Castle stage, and Magic Kingdom guests can experience a new dining adventure.
**For the first time, Tiana of “Princess and the Frog,” and Rapunzel of “Tangled,” co-star with Anna and Elsa of “Frozen,” and a host of favorite Disney characters in the new Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire show. Performed on the grandest stage in the kingdom, the star-studded tale of friendship presents Mickey Mouse and his troupe of Merry Makers – Minnie Mouse, Donald, Daisy and Goofy – who invite 10 new friends from different animated worlds to join the celebration. This “timeless fairytale” of a show combines grand dance, fireworks and stunts with memorable music, an original song and special effects.
**Disney Parks will welcome Elena of Avalor, Disney’s first princess inspired by diverse Latin cultures. Elena of Avalor will appear at Walt Disney World Resort later this summer and at Disneyland Resort in the fall, following her television debut in a new animated series this summer on Disney Channel.
**Next door to the legendary Jungle Cruise, guests can enjoy the bold flavors of “World Famous Jungle Cuisine” served by the wisecracking crew of the new Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen. It’s the first Disney full-service restaurant themed after a specific park attraction.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
In the galactic wake of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, new Star-Wars-themed experiences shift into light speed.
**The next generation of Star Wars-themed fireworks shows, “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular,” will premiere this June with new themed fireworks, lasers, special effects and video projections of iconic characters and scenes from the complete saga, all set to the unforgettable score of the film series.
**The live stage show “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” debuted April 4, celebrating moments from the Star Wars saga with live vignettes featuring popular characters such as BB-8, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and Darth Maul.
**First Order Stormtroopers led by Captain Phasma march in formation from Star Wars Launch Bay to the park’s Center Stage, adding menace to the entertainment. Star Wars Launch Bay showcases large-scale artifacts and encounters with characters including Kylo Ren. The re-imagined Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple experience also features new characters. And at Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, guests buckle up for an enhanced high-speed journey with new Star Wars: The Force Awakens characters and a visit to Jakku.
Disney Springs and Water Parks Make a Splash
Inspired by Florida’s waterfront towns and natural beauty, Disney Springs is a charming district filled with unique retailers and restaurants from award-winning chefs. Throughout the summer, new stores and restaurants will open as Disney Springs more than doubles the number of retail, dining and other venues for guests
**As Disney Springs continues to expand and diversify its dining, shopping and entertainment, more exciting high-profile tenants are coming onboard, including Anthropologie, Under Armour, kate spade new york, Sephora and Lucky Brand, among others. Other new shops opening in 2016 include Zara, Tommy Bahama, Lilly Pulitzer, UNIQLO and PANDORA.
**More than 30 new tenants will be coming to Disney Springs this summer, including retail shops and dining venues.
**Home to world-class dining, Disney Springs is shaping up to be a culinary dream. With its chic style and Pan-Asian flavors, Morimoto Asia offers just a taste of what’s to come as more new eateries are gearing up to open in the coming year, including Tablas Frontera by Chef Rick Bayless; Homecoming – Florida Kitchen and Shine Bar by Chef Art Smith; STK Orlando, a modern steakhouse with the ambience of a sleek lounge; Sprinkles, the world’s first cupcake bakery; Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza, a modern-day “pizza joint” with artisanal pies; and the reimagined, Planet Hollywood Observatory with new outdoor terrace and live entertainment.
**Celebrity Chef Rick Bayless and Chef Art Smith join master Chef Masaharu Morimoto in a growing collection of James Beard Award winning chefs at Disney Springs.
**At Cirque du Soleil’s “La Nouba,” the new B-Boys hip-hop, breakdancing threesome showcase a rare mix of rhythm, strength and “how-did-they-do-that?” moves. As part of the show’s ongoing evolution, the masterful Aerial Bamboo act joins recent additions of madcap clowns and a breathtaking rolla bolla juggling act.
Meanwhile, Disney water parks will ramp up with playful spirits and summer fun faster than Olaf can beg for warm hugs.
**At Disney’s Blizzard Beach Water Park, Olaf from Disney’s animated hit “Frozen,” will be living his “In Summer” dream as he and Kristoff host The “Frozen” Games of friendly, fun competitions.
**Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon Water Park castaways can splash down on a sandy summer beach with a cold ale and savory snack after a wild slide on Crush ‘n’ Gusher water coaster.
Disney guests will have a magical summer experience wherever they play, dine, relax or celebrate at Walt Disney World theme parks, entertainment venues and resort hotels. For more information about Walt Disney World Resort, visit www.disneyworld.com and www.disneyparksblog.com.
The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen (Dec. 2015) — This new restaurant in Adventureland features a menu full of Asian, South American and African cuisine inspired by the flavors of the rivers found on the nearby Jungle Cruise attraction. The table service restaurant is staffed by the wise-cracking crew of the Jungle Cruise and is open for lunch and dinner.
Bijutsu-kan Gallery at Japan Pavilion (Oct. 2015) – A new exhibit, Bijutsu-kan Gallery, in the Japan Pavilion that celebrates the country’s culture of cute. “Kawaii: Japan’s Cute Culture” explores how it’s become a way of life in modern Japan.
COLORTOPIA presented by Glidden (Nov. 2015) – Guests can learn about the perception of color through hands-on experiences in one of three zones at the COLORTOPIA presented by Glidden exhibit at Innoventions East at Epcot. It includes interactive games, such as Color Mix ‘n’ Match and Spinning Spectrums for guests to mix and create bold new colors.
Star Wars experiences (Dec. 2015) – The Star Wars themed entertainment at Disney’s Hollywood Studios includes Star Wars Launch Bay, a central locale for fans to celebrate all things Star Wars, new scenes from Star Wars: The Force Awakens in Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, a reimagined Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple, where younglings can train with lightsabers and fight Darth Vader, Seventh Sister Inquisitor from the popular Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels, and other characters from the Dark Side, and “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular,” a dazzling Star Wars-themed fireworks show set to memorable Star Wars music from throughout the saga.
Harambe Market (June 2015) – Harambe Market, a bustling marketplace alive with the aromas and flavors of African street foods, adds an exciting new dimension to the expanded Harambe Village experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. Built around a Colonial-era train depot design complete with a 1960s water tower, Harambe Market invites guests to sample true flavors of Africa. Four themed shops offer fresh meals, snacks and beverages similar to those found in an African street market. Kitamu Grill features skewered chicken and a kebab flatbread sandwich. Famous Sausages showcases a corndog made with a South African boerewors sausage dipped in curry-infused corn batter. Chef Mwanga’s serves a spice-rubbed Karubi Rib paired with green papaya-carrotslaw. Wanjohi Refreshments (wanjohi means “brewer” in Swahili) quenches thirsts with craft draft beers, South African wines, delicious mixed drinks and non alcoholic tangerine lemonade or fountain beverages, including Sparberry soda from Zimbabwe. Zuri’s Sweets Shop, a new merchandise location at Harambe Market, offers an assortment of wild new treats and eats with 80 exclusive food items inspired by the sights, sounds and flavors of Africa.
Starbucks Coffee at Creature Comforts (June 2015) – Themed with a colorful African design, the new Starbucks in Disney’s Animal Kingdom can be found in the Discovery Island area of the park. The menu includes regular Starbucks coffee and espresso beverages and pastries, with a portion of each Starbucks Flat White Latte purchase benefitting conservation projects to help preserve the cotton-top tamarin in Colombia.
The BOATHOUSE (April 2015) an upscale, waterfront dining experience with nautical-themed rooms, private dining rooms and bars. Guests will enjoy a gourmet menu, as well as live-music and guided water rides through the waters surrounding Disney Springs.
Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar (Sept. 2015)An aviation-themed lounge, Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar at The Landing at Disney Springs is tucked between Paradiso 37 and The BOATHOUSE restaurant, this new venue features unique cocktails and small plates.
Morimoto Asia (Sept. 2015) A one-of-a-kind dining experience from Chef Masaharu Morimoto, this Japanese master chef’s first pan-Asian restaurant provides flavors from across Asia with unique exhibition kitchens showcasing the continent’s traditions.
New retail and dining locations now open include Apex by Sunglass Hut, The Art of Shaving, Chapel Hats, Dockside Margaritas, The Ganachery, Erin McKenna Bakery NYC, Erwin Pearl, Havaianas, Sanuk, Sound Lion, Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s and Vivoli Gelateria.
Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (April 2015) — A sweeping renovation at the iconic Disney’s Polynesian Resort includes refurbished guestrooms, an all-new childcare area rebranded as Lilo’s Playhouse for children ages 3-12, a completely renovated Nanea Volcano feature pool area, a new children’s water play area, and an enlarged deck to accommodate poolside seating. The Great Ceremonial House lobby area is completely renovated with bright open areas, plus the new Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, a highly themed lounge area with handcrafted tiki cocktails and Polynesian-themed “small plates.” An enhanced Captain Cooke’s quick service restaurant, all-new Polynesian Pool Bar & Grill, and a Pineapple Lanai kiosk featuring the world-famous Dole Whip round out the new dining options.
New Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire stage show Coming to Magic Kingdom Park (June 2016) — For the first time, modern Disney characters Tiana of “Princess and the Frog,” and Rapunzel of “Tangled,” co-star with Anna and Elsa of “Frozen,” and a host of classic characters in the new Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. Performed on the grandest stage in the kingdom, the star-studded tale of friendship presents Mickey Mouse and his troupe of Merry Makers — Minnie Mouse, Donald, Daisy and Goofy – who invite 10 new friends from different animated worlds to join the celebration. This “timeless fairytale” of a show combines grand dance, fireworks and stunts with memorable music, an original song and special effects.
Meet Joy and Sadness from “Inside Out” at Epcot (April 2016) — Guests will be able to visit Headquarters to meet Joy and Sadness, two of the Emotions who help guide Riley through life in the Disney•Pixar film “Inside Out” at the expanded Epcot Character Spot. On the way to Headquarters, you’ll journey through Riley’s long-term memory, catching a glimpse of her Islands of Personality before joining Joy and Sadness at the console.
Dory Joins Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot (May 2016) — Guests will find new additions at “Turtle Talk with Crush” beginning in early-May with characters from Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory.” When Crush the sea turtle swims up to the “Human Tank” at Epcot, he’ll be joined by Dory and some of her new friends.
Soarin’ Around the World (Summer 2016) – Guests onboard the popular Soarin’ attraction will journey to far-flung lands and fly above some of the world’s most unique natural landscapes and man-made wonders when the new Soarin’ Around the World makes its debut at Epcot.
Frozen attraction coming to Epcot (Summer 2016) — Lovable sisters Princess Anna and Queen Elsa from the Oscar-winning animated blockbuster hit “Frozen” are taking guests on a new journey to Arendelle. The new attraction, which is coming to the Norway pavilion at Epcot, will immerse guests in many of their favorite moments and music from the film. A royal greeting location where guests can meet Anna and Elsa is also in the works.
Kilimanjaro Safaris (2016) — The popular Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park will be extended for a new nighttime adventure. Guests will travel through the African savanna amid the magically extended orange glow of the setting sun and discover two species new to the attraction: African wild dogs and hyenas.
“Rivers of Light” (2016) — “Rivers of Light” is an innovative experience unlike anything ever seen in a Disney park, combining live performances, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. “Rivers of Light” will magically come to life on the natural stage of Discovery River, delighting guests and truly capping off a full day of adventures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park.
Pandora — The World of AVATAR (2017) —Disney in collaboration with filmmaker James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment is bringing to life the mythical world of Pandora, inspired by Cameron’s AVATAR, at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. The awe-inspiring land of floating mountains, bioluminescent rainforests and soaring Banshees will give guests a transformational experience they will never forget.
AVATAR Flight of Passage (2017) – This E-ticket attraction, the centerpiece of Pandora at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park, will allow guests to soar on a Banshee over a vast alien world. The spectacular flying experience will give guests a birds-eye view of the beauty and grandeur of the world of Pandora on an aerial rite of passage.
Toy Story Land coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios — The reimagining of Disney’s Hollywood Studios will take guests to infinity and beyond, allowing them to step into the worlds of their favorite films, starting with Toy Story Land. This new 11-acre land will transport guests into the adventurous outdoors of Andy’s backyard. Guests can experience two new attractions, including a family-friendly roller coaster on the back of Slinky Dog and an aliens saucer attraction. Toy Story Mania! will add a third track to the existing popular attraction.
Star Wars Themed-Land arriving at Disney’s Hollywood Studios — Star Wars-themed land is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, where Star Wars characters and their stories will come to life. Highlights feature two signature attractions, including the ability to take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, on a customized secret mission, and an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle.
Disney Springs (2016) — A unique destination that will treat guests to significantly more shopping, dining and entertainment amid beautiful open-air promenades, meandering springs and waterfront charm is currently underway. Disney Springs will feature an eclectic and contemporary mix from Disney and other noteworthy brands in a setting inspired by Florida’s waterfront towns and natural beauty. New retail shops coming to Disney Springs include Edward Beiner, Lilly Pulitzer, L’Occitane en Provence, PANDORA, Tommy Bahama, UGG, UNIQLO and Zara. Upcoming new dining locations include:
Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (January) — This annual event features a 26.2-mile adventure race through all four Disney theme parks – Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom and a half marathon. Also included in the weekend is Goofy’s Race and a Half Challenge, which combines Saturday’s half marathon and Sunday’s full marathon for 39.3 miles of fun, a two-day health expo and a 5K.
Atlanta Braves Spring Training (February-March) — The Atlanta Braves return to Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex for spring training.
Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Weekend (February) — The predominantly women’s half marathon brings women of all ages together to celebrate all the qualities a princess possesses. The weekend features a two-day health and fitness expo geared towards women, a family fun run 5k and kids’ races. New in 2013 are the Disney Enchanted 10K and Glass Slipper Challenge, where participants run the 10K and half marathon over the course of 2 days.
Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival (March-May) — Future World and World Showcase are blooming with more than 30 million colorful blossoms, interactive garden activities for kids and workshops with national gardening experts during this annual spring festival at Epcot. While exploring the themed gardens, guests can taste sweets and savories from about a dozen food-and-beverage marketplaces surrounding the World Showcase Lagoon.
Night of Joy (September) — Top contemporary Christian music performers headline this annual celebration throughout Magic Kingdom. The long-running series has played to a combined audience in excess of a million.
Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (September-October) — A family-friendly fright-fest in Magic Kingdom featuring a children’s parade, trick-or-treating throughout the park, face painting, and more.
Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (September-November) — Savor fine wines and delectable cuisine during the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival featuring live entertainment, guest chefs, culinary demonstrations, seminars and winemaker dinners.
Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Weekend (November) — The ultimate “Runners’ Night Out” features a half marathon at night. After finishing, runners and their guests can celebrate their accomplishment at an exclusive after hours party inside the Epcot International Food and Wine Festival. The weekend also includes kids’ races, a family fun run 5K and a health and fitness expo.
Holidays at Walt Disney World Resort (November-January) — Walt Disney World Resort is all aglitter during the holiday season with dazzling lights, spirited song and even snow flurries. Here’s what’s in store: Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party at Magic Kingdom; Candlelight Processional at Epcot; plus caroling, tree lighting ceremonies and visits by Santa.
MyMagic+ — With one tap of a MagicBand, Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests can enter their Disney Resort guestroom, access FastPass+ experiences and attractions, use as a payment method for food and merchandise, enter Disney theme parks and water parks, and connect to Disney’s PhotoPass. With the free My Disney Experience mobile application, park maps and information about attractions, show times, dining, FastPass+ and more are easier than ever to explore and access. MagicBands and My Disney Experience are part of MyMagic+, which has the ability connect nearly all aspects of the guest vacation experience at Walt Disney World Resort.
FastPass+ — Thanks to the the technological advances of MyMagic+, all guests can reserve access to favorite FastPass+ attractions and entertainment experiences before leaving home — or in the parks — giving them more time to explore and enjoy Walt Disney World. This can be accomplished via My Disney Experience.com or at FastPass+ kiosks located in Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. Using the My Disney Experience online site, Walt Disney World Resort hotel guests may make FastPass+ selections up to 60 days in advance of their visit, for each day they have a park ticket. Disney Passholders and Day guests (those not staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel) are able to make FastPass+ selections 30 days in advance of their trip once tickets are purchased.
Contactless Payment — As part of the ongoing efforts to improve the guest experience, a new form of electronic payment is now being accepted at many Disney-operated merchandise, quick-service food and beverage, outdoor vending, spa and recreation, as well as ticket sales locations throughout Walt Disney World Resort using stationary touch-to-pay devices (stations also used for payments made with MagicBands). Known as contactless payment, this new form of electronic payment is most commonly associated with mobile apps including Apple Pay, Google Wallet or Softcard, as well as Near Field Communication-enabled (NFC) credit cards. Purchases using contactless payment are made by holding a mobile device or NFC-enabled credit card near the touch point (Mickey head) on stationary touch-to-pay devices.
Disney Vacation Account — Disney Vacation Account provides easy to use online tools to help participants estimate the cost of their Disney vacation based on current prices (prices are subject to change) and manage a savings plan that is right for them and their budget. As excitement builds toward the Big Day, participants save at their own pace toward the goal of their dream Disney trip, making contributions using their debit, credit or Disney gift card. There are no fees to create or maintain an account. Disney Vacation Account contributions may be used to pay for pre-arrival vacation packages, cruise fare and hotel reservations at Disney-owned and operated resorts, including Disneyland Resort in California, Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, Disney Cruise Line, Adventures by Disney, and Aulani, a Disney Resort & Spa in Hawai’i.
Disney’s Magical Express — The innovative service offers airport shuttle, luggage delivery and airline check-in for Disney hotel guests. Guests of 24 Disney owned-and-operated hotels at Walt Disney World Resort using Disney’s Magical Express service can check their bags at their hometown airport, bypass baggage claim at Orlando International Airport (MCO) and board state-of-the-art motor coaches to the Vacation Kingdom, where their bags “magically” appear in their room upon check-in. The complimentary service is designed to give Disney hotel guests the stress-free vacation they want. With the service, a family of four can save more than $80 (based on round-trip taxi transportation, plus tip, between MCO and Walt Disney World Resort).
Jul 31, 2017 0We put on our themed entertainment goggles and plunged into...
Jun 12, 2017 0Ultimately, for a park to be successful, it must analyze...
Apr 17, 2017 0“Working in the industry can be dysfunctional at times,...
Jan 27, 2017 0Welcome back to the Five Spot, where we ask industry...
Dec 27, 2016 0InPark's Joe Kleiman tried out the latest incarnation of...