Haven’t been to Orlando’s Disney parks for a few years? You’ll be surprised when you see all the new and wonderful things in store for you to discover! The past couple years have seen some pretty sweet updates, and there are more to come in the future. Here’s some necessary info on new rides and shows– plus a few words about the updated Disney parks app.
Recent Disney Additions
Both 2016 and 2017 have seen many awesome additions to the Disney parks repertoire, and you won’t want to miss any of them! Here are a few to look out for:
If you didn’t catch the Animal Kingdom’s Kilimanjaro safari during the day, no worries—you can go on one in the evening now! Since 2016, the Animal Kingdom Park has been offering sunset and after-dark safari adventures for the bravest of guests.
Your safari begins with a journey deep into the heart of the Harambe Wildlife Reserve. As the evening awakens, you’ll soon find yourself within one of the most secluded and breathtaking private viewing areas the Savanna has to offer. Listen along as your guide tells tales of the unique residents who inhabit the reserve, and don’t hesitate to ask questions as he or she shares insightful information about the wildlife and the special care they’re provided at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park.
While savoring the Savanna scenery, you’re invited to indulge in a sampling of African-inspired tapas too, paired with a selection of regional beer and wine offerings.
Frozen Character Greeting Area
When you visit Epcot, you can go to the park’s special Frozen greeting area for a look at movie-based scenery and a chance to meet the characters. Meet the pair of sisters at their new Royal Sommerhus. Photos with Anna, anyone?
Meeting Elsa and Anna at Disney World is an absolute delight, and the dream of almost every little princess who visits. When you visit Epcot, you can go to the park’s special Frozen greeting area nestled in the countryside of the Norway Pavilion in Epcot, for a look at movie-based scenery and a chance to meet the characters. This setup is much like their former location in the Princess Fairytale Hall at the Magic Kingdom.
Meet the pair of sisters at their new Royal Sommerhus. Aim to visit Norway during non-peak hours or early on a non-EMH day for your best chance. Photos with Anna, anyone? Pose for a photo and share a warm embrace before setting off on your merry way!
Frozen Ever After
Ever wonder what Else did with her ice powers after the happy ending of the movie “Frozen?” Well, now you can find out. Epcot is home to a new Frozen attraction, which will whisk you from hot summer days to a chilly, magical winterscape, courtesy of Elsa herself.
On this ride, the adventure begins on the docks of Arendelle, as seen in the classic animated film. Then you’ll travel to the icy blue world of the North Mountain, where Queen Elsa’s enchanting ice palace awaits. Finally, hang on tight as you glide back down into the Bay of Arendelle in style complete with many of your favorite Frozen tunes!
Happily Ever After Nighttime Spectacular
Even the most classic Walt Disney World park is getting upgraded in 2017. This new Magic Kingdom event will be held in the evening. This 18-minute show features more lasers, lights and projections than any other fireworks spectacular in the history of Magic Kingdom park! It uses projection mapping, fireworks, and Disney stories to create a show in the sky above the Cinderella Castle!
And thanks to the inclusion of state-of-the-art projection mapping technology, more Disney characters than ever before will be featured in the show, including moments from “Moana,” “Brave,” “Big Hero 6,” “Zootopia,” “The Princess & The Frog,” “Aladdin” and many others. This is an incredible display of both old-fashioned Disney charm and modern technology. Come experience the magic of these beloved movies firsthand—and be inspired to find your own happily ever after. Be sure to check the Times Guide at Magic Kingdom park for the schedule and showtimes.
Miss Adventure Falls
Board a treasure raft and hit the high seas for family fun during the longest ride in the history of the Disney water parks. Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon has a new family ride that you and the kids are sure to love! Miss Adventure Falls is a two-minute adventure through a white-water raft ride. From your 4-person raft, feel a rush of excitement with family and friends as an aquatic conveyor belt chutes you into action. Sail through explorer Captain Mary Oceaneer’s shipwreck in this splash filled adventure. You may even spot some treasure along the way.
Pandora—the World of Avatar
You can find this brand-new area at Disney’s Animal Kingdom! There will be two attractions in Pandora. The first is a ride down a Na’Vi sacred river through a bioluminescent forest. The second is a flight over Pandora—via Banshee, of course.
Deep in the heart of the Valley of Mo’ara, discover Avatar Flight of Passage—an all-new expedition that lets interstellar explorers like you climb atop a mountain banshee for a breathtaking, first-person flight over the moon’s incredible landscape. You can also hike amid floating mountains, glowing fauna and flora, a native drum circle and many other wonders at Pandora – The World of Avatar. For a more peaceful excursion, drift down a mysterious river as you search for the Na’vi Shaman of songs.
Rivers of Light
This brand-new 2017 Animal Kingdom attraction is an evening show. As sunlight fades and the stars begin their twinkle, remember that we are all bound together by earth and spirit—past, present and future. This is the first of its kind in Animal Kingdom! Rivers of Light will feature water displays, sound, and lighting to celebrate the beauty of nature.
Embrace the magic of nature during a nighttime scene awash with captivating special effects, music and animal folklore. This magnetic display culminates in a triumphant blend of song, light, color and earthly elements—a grand finale so divine that you can’t help but feel a sense of peace and oneness with nature.
Star Wars Guided Tour
Love Star Wars? Don’t miss this! The Star Wars tour is an intense tour through Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Blast off on a jet-packed adventure featuring all the Star Wars action. There are so many exciting Star Wars experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Launch off on this R2D-tour to discover it all in just one day. It lasts a whopping seven hours and takes you through awesome behind-the-scenes adventures. In addition to attractions such as Star Tours, Jedi Training and Star Wars Launch Bay, participants will have interactions with characters such as Kylo Ren and Chewbacca. As a plus, you also get VIP seating on Star Wars rides.
Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party
If you haven’t been to Disney’s Hollywood Studios in the last couple of years, you may want to plan a trip pretty soon! In 2016, Disney introduced yet another fun evening event, this time one geared toward Star Wars fanatics.
Enjoy an out-of-this-world selection of desserts and specialty drinks—including alcoholic beverage options. The “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party” event features fireworks, incredible desserts, specialty drinks, and more. Of course, you’ll be sure to have a visit from your favorite Star Wars characters! To remember the very unique evening for a long time (in a galaxy not so far, far away), you’ll receive a souvenir Star Wars novelty. Advance reservations are highly recommended.
Updates to the My Disney App
If you’ve used the My Disney App in the past, you know that this is an awesome way to plan your Disney vacation, navigate the park, and find the shortest lines for rides. Since March of 2017, it has become even better! Now, the app opens with a map of your Disney park, so you can find your way from place to place much easier. If you’re staying at Disney resort, you’ll be able to use the “My Resort Dashboard,” which gives you everything you need to know about your room (including directions). Best of all, the new version of the app also highlights the most recent park additions, so you can find all the attractions listed above and more!
Coming Disney Additions
As if the last two years haven’t been exciting enough at the Disney parks, the 2018 will also bring some cool new attractions and shows! Check out these amazing upcoming updates. You’ll want to book a 2018 Disney vacation when you see what’s in store for next year!
Toy Story Land
Did you ever wonder what it would be like to be the same size as your toys? Now, when you visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios, you can experience this childhood dream! This new area will transport you to Andy’s backyard, where you’ll enjoy brand-new rides like Slinky Dog Dash and Alien Swirling Saucers.
Slinky Dog Dash will be a family coaster attraction where you’ll zip, dodge and dash around many turns and drops that Andy has created to really make Slinky and his coils stretch to his limits. Alien Swirling Saucers will also be a new attraction at Toy Story Land. It’s designed as a toy play set that Andy got from Pizza Planet, inspired by the first “Toy Story” film. Aliens are flying around in their toy flying saucers and trying to capture your rocket toy vehicle with “The Claw.”
Main Street Theater
A new venue for world-class entertainment is coming to Main Street, U.S.A. at Magic Kingdom Park in Florida. Step back into Walt Disney’s life when you visit this new theater in Magic Kingdom’s Main Street. The theater will be modeled after Willis Theatre in Kansas City, the very place that Walk Disney frequented when he lived in the Kansas City area. The 1920’s-style theater will host awesome shows ranging from impressive modern masterpieces to classic Disney shows. Shows like “Frozen Live” could have a home at Walt Disney World when this theater debuts. The new theater will be located behind the existing main street buildings on the Tomorrowland side of the park.
A brand new transportation system is coming to the Walt Disney World Resort to add even more magic to your future vacation experiences. The one thing none of us love about Disney World is all the walking. Getting around the parks is just exhausting!
However, Disney is tackling this problem with the Disney Skyliner, an overhead transportation system that will take you over the top of all the crowds! The system consists of 3 separate lines that all converge at the Caribbean Beach Resort ‘hub’. Guests will be able to change cabins there and continue onto their destination. It will connect Disney’s Art of Animation, Pop Century, and Caribbean Beach, plus other points of interest in Orlando’s Disney empire.
Each cabin is capable of holding 8 adults, which means the potential capacity per hour is around 5,000 people, which should be more than sufficient for all but the extreme peak times. The system is designed to move slow enough to allow access even without stopping the system.
Tron Lightcycle Power Run
If you’re familiar with international Disney resorts, “Tron” might sound familiar to you. This roller coaster is the most popular ride in Shanghai Disneyland, famous for its high-energy vibe and exciting experience. Guess what? It’s coming to Magic Kingdom Park in Orlando!
Are you excited? Me, too! However, we still have some time to wait—this attraction is planned for the Walt Disney World 50th anniversary celebration in 2021. The new Tron attraction will sit in an entirely new area right next to the Space Mountain attraction at Magic Kingdom Park, replacing the Tomorrowland Speedway attraction which opened in 1971 as the Grand Prix Raceway. The Speedway will likely close sometime in 2018 to make way for this construction.
As you can see, we live in a very exciting time for Disney fans! Walt Disney World is adding many awesome rides, shows, and attractions for you to enjoy this year and next. Be sure to check out all the cool new additions on your next Disney vacation!