‘What’s New’ and ‘What’s Next’

Filed in: Walt Disney World Resort, What's New, What's Next

Exciting Attractions & Experiences Crisscross Walt Disney World Resort

“What’s New”

Magic Kingdom

New Interactive Queue at Peter Pan’s Flight (Jan. 2015) – Inside the new interactive queue at Peter Pan’s Flight, Magic Kingdom guests are immersed in the storyline of ‘Peter Pan’ as they await their journey to Neverland. Accompanied by the mischief-causing Tinker Bell, guests can enter the home of the Darling family and tour the children’s nursery as the room comes to life. The new, air-conditioned queue joins other entertaining “first scenes” such as at Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Haunted Mansion.

New Fantasyland Completed (May 2014) – The largest expansion project in Magic Kingdom history features attractions and experiences in an area that doubles the size of Fantasyland. Among the novelties, guests are able to fly high with The Great Goofini or with Dumbo, the Flying Elephant. The grand opening took place Dec. 6, 2012 for Under the Sea ~ Journey of the Little Mermaid, Enchanted Tales with Belle, Be Our Guest Restaurant, Gaston’s Tavern and Ariel’s Grotto followed by Princess Fairytale Hall, which opened Sept. 2013. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, which takes guests on a musical ride into the mine “where a million diamonds shine,” completed the New Fantasyland expansion when it opened in May 2014.

Festival of Fantasy Parade (March 2014) – Magic Kingdom’s daily Disney Festival of Fantasy Parade brings the magical stories of New Fantasyland to Main Street, U.S.A. through fantastic and innovative parade floats, vibrant costumes and an original soundtrack that features beloved songs from favorite Disney films, plus a new parade theme song. A Steampunk-inspired Dragon as the wicked Maleficent stretches 53 feet in length and 26 feet tall with a prickly spinning wheel dead center of the float. With fiery eyes and glowing effects the spectacular dragon was built on an articulating chassis allowing the float to bend and flex as it moves along the parade route – a first for Disney parades. Ariel and friends grace a larger-than-life music box showcasing a colorful musical party “Under the Sea” while Scottish dancers and a float shaped like an enormous bagpipe announce the arrival of Merida. Other floats celebrate Disney Princesses; Peter Pan and Wendy soar above a pirate galleon; Rapunzel and Flynn Rider appear on a longship in search of another “Best Day Ever.”


Nighttime Experiences (April 2014) – While enjoying the nightly fireworks spectacular, guests can sample decadent desserts from around the world paired with the perfect international sparkling wines in an intimate and exclusive environment during the IllumiNations Sparkling Dessert Party. After IllumiNations, guests can sample, sip and stay awhile longer with the Epcot After Hours Wind Down. Award-winning Epcot chefs and sommeliers pair a beverage flight with cultural cuisine; guests can choose from four locations. For reservations to both of these experiences, guests can visit www.DisneyWorld.com/Dining

Spice Road Table (Jan. 2014) – Inspired by the outdoor cafes along the Mediterranean, Spice Road Table in Epcot World Showcase features a variety of Moroccan small plates and specialty drinks. With seating for 120 guests on the outdoor terrace and seating for 60 inside, the waterfront eatery showcases light fixtures, tile work, tapestries and art representing Morocco’s indigenous Berber tribes and is perfect for “IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth” viewing or relaxing with a selection of Moroccan flavors and cocktails.

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Starbucks Coffee — Trolley Car Café (Feb. 2015) –Themed to a classic trolley car station from early 20th century Hollywood, The Trolley Car Café at Disney’s Hollywood Studios serves Starbucks coffee and espresso beverages, Starbucks La Boulange™ pastry items and popular Disney baked goods. Trolley Car Cafe is the third in-park location serving Starbucks products at Walt Disney World Resort, with a location inside Magic Kingdom at Main Street Bakery and another at Epcot at Foundation View.

Meet Hiro and Baymax from “Big Hero 6” (Nov. 2014) – Disney’s new animated feature “Big Hero 6” hits theaters in 3D in November, and soon after, the lovable characters from the film hit the scene at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Guests can step inside the lab from the San Fransokyo Institute of Technology, and after the tour, meet Hiro Hamada and his huggable buddy Baymax in Hiro’s garage workshop.

Frozen Entertainment  (July 2014) – Royal Sisters Queen Elsa and Princess Anna, along with rugged mountain man Kristoff from “Frozen,” join the Royal Historians of Arendelle for a hilarious and interactive retelling of the “Frozen” story in “For the First Time in Forever – a ‘Frozen’ Sing-Along Celebration.” The 30-minute show is presented multiple times daily inside Premiere Theater, inviting guests to sing along to the chart-topping soundtrack.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

New Character Dining at Disney’s Animal Kingdom (March 2015) — Beginning March 8, 2015, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck and their friends will welcome guests for a fun-filled character dinner at Tusker House Restaurant at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park. “Donald’s Safari Dinner” will offer guests the opportunity to meet some of their favorite characters, including Donald and Daisy* while enjoying a delicious selection of all-you-care-to-enjoy spit-roasted carved meats, unique salads, creative vegetarian offerings, hearty stews, and delicious desserts – all with an African touch. Guests can make reservations by calling 407-WDW-DINE (3463) or by visiting Guest Relations at any of the Disney theme parks or a Guest Services/Concierge desk at any Walt Disney World Resort hotel.

“Festival of the Lion King” moves into Harambe Theatre (June 2014) – The popular, high-energy Festival of the Lion King is open in its all-new home, Harambe Theatre. The theatre is featured in the Africa section of Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Festival of the Lion King was inspired by Disney’s animated film classic, “The Lion King,” which recently celebrated its 20 year release anniversary.

Macaw Show (May 2014) – In a kaleidoscope of colors, flocks of macaws fly over and around Discovery Island at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in this new animal experience. “Winged Encounters – The Kingdom Takes Flight,” debuted this summer and was created – in collaboration with Disney Creative Entertainment – by the team that inspires and delights guests at the Flights of Wonder show. Up to six types of macaw can be seen in flight over the park daily.

Downtown Disney

MarketPlace Co-Op (June 2014) – A new merchandise location, the Marketplace Co-Op, is open at Downtown Disney Marketplace. The shop features six boutiques that showcase new and innovative merchandise and will serve as a testing space for new Disney retail concepts, shops and products.


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, 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.

Trattoria al Forno (Dec. 2014) – Guests can enjoy classic Italian cuisine at Trattoria al Forno, the newest restaurant at Disney’s BoardWalk. Open daily for breakfast and dinner beginning Dec. 18, guests can choose from mouthwatering handcrafted mozzarella, fresh cavatelli pasta and pizzas baked in wood-burning ovens. Trattoria al Forno will be open 7:30-11 a.m. for breakfast and 5-10 p.m. for dinner. For reservations, guests can call 407-WDW-DINE or visit Disneyworld.com/Dine.

Lilo’s Playhouse (Nov. 2014) – At Lilo’s Playhouse at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, children ages 3-12 can enjoy activities while the grown-up head out for fun on their own. The whimsical children’s activity center brings Lilo’s favorite classic Disney Little Gold Books tales such as Pinocchio, Lady and the Tramp and Alice in Wonderland to life. While parents enjoy a night out, youngsters can delve into dress up, crafts, storytelling and other fun faves in themed areas alongside children’s activity coordinators. Guests may call 407-939-3463 to make reservations.

“What’s Next”

Frozen attraction coming to Epcot (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.

Disney Springs (2016) – The multi-year transformation of Downtown Disney into Disney Springs, 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.

Opening Spring 2015 as one of the new venues in The Landing, Schussler Creative’s latest project, The BOATHOUSE will be an upscale, waterfront dining experience featuring spectacular floating artwork: dream boats from the 30s, 40s and 50s. Guests will enjoy a gourmet menu featuring steaks, chops, fresh seafood and a raw bar.

Opening summer 2015 at The Landing, in the heart of Disney Springs, Morimoto Asia is the Japanese chef, Chef Masharu Morimoto’s first pan-Asian dining experience. Morimoto Asia’s culinary elements will provide flavors from across Asia, while exhibition kitchens will showcase the continent’s traditions.

“Rivers of Light” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – An innovative show with live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery called “Rivers of Light” will light up the night at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The show will come to life on the stage of the Discovery River, between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest.

AVATAR (2017) – Walt Disney Imagineering 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 become real for Disney guests to see, hear and touch. 

Annual Events

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.

Star Wars Weekends (May-June) – For several weekends each summer, Disney’s Hollywood Studios turns into a giant Star Wars fan-fest with up-close meet-and-greets for guests with their favorite characters and actors from the film series as well as interactive games, parades, music and fun for the whole family.

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.

The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights (November-January) – This holiday light display on the Disney’s Hollywood Studios backlot features millions of sparkling holiday bulbs designed by Arkansas businessman and philanthropist Jennings Osborne as a gift to his daughter and the guests of Walt Disney World Resort.

Holiday Splendor (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.

“Vacation Innovations”

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’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).