‘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.

Magic Kingdom Central Plaza Expansion (May 2015) — The Magic Kingdom Central Plaza expansion in front of Cinderella Castle is now complete, with lush new gardens and spacious walkways for all guests to enjoy. This beautiful expansion includes colorful flower displays with added fireworks viewing areas for FastPass+ viewing of “Wishes Nighttime Spectacular.”

Epcot

20th Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (Sept. 2015) – The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival is celebrating its 20th anniversary from Sept. 25-Nov. 16. The 2015 festival, presented by Chase, will welcome celebrity chefs, debut new marketplace tastes from around the world and celebrate guests’ favorite dining traditions. As part of the celebration, Chef Remy of the Disney animated film “Ratatouille” will invite guests to join a new culinary scavenger hunt. Additional new elements for the celebration include new marketplace menus and four new Eat to the Beat concert performances, including Tiffany, Everclear, Maxi Priest and Chaka Khan.

New Epcot Entertainment (May 2015) — Epcot guests can enjoy new entertainment acts throughout Epcot, such as The Canadian Lumberjacks, the Paul McKenna Band in United Kingdom, the choreographed flag-throwing team of Sbandieratori Di Sansepolcro in Italy, and the multi-generational Berber music and dance troupe from Marrakesh in Morocco. The beloved a cappella group Voices of Liberty also moves outdoors twice per week to perform a modern twist on American classics at the American Gardens. Wednesday through Sunday, a new five-member, contemporary a cappella group called “American Music Machine” brings a vibrant musical energy to the stage. The group performs a diverse range of contemporary and classic American pop hits, all presented in a unique style with custom arrangements by Tim Davis, best known for his work on “Glee.”

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.

Meet Doc McStuffins from Disney Junior and Hiro and Baymax from “Big Hero 6” (May 2015) – Meet the lovable characters from Disney’s animated feature “Big Hero 6” 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. They can be found in The Magic of Animation building. Doc McStuffins is also excited to meet guests in her new playhouse clinic at Animation Court adjacent to “Disney Junior – Live on Stage!”

“Frozen” Summer Fun (June 2015) —There’s “Frozen” fun for everyone this summer with an assortment of Frozen events every day at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The popular interactive stage show, “For the First Time in Forever: A Frozen Sing-Along Celebration,” is now in the Hyperion theater (formerly Superstar Television Theater). The Royal Historians of Arendelle host this fun and comedic retelling of the unique story of their kingdom, filled with delightful, sing-along moments from “Frozen,” plus all-new in-theater effects and special appearances by Anna, Elsa and Kristoff. Outside of the theater, there is a new merchandise location filled with all-things “Frozen”. The fun continues with Olaf’s Summer Cool Down, where Olaf keeps things cool several times each day by sharing his snow flurry and signature song, “In Summer.” Guests can also see their favorite snowman and his friends in the “Frozen Royal Welcome” parade twice each day, complete with skaters, skiers and a magical new float for Queen Elsa. Once the sun goes does, DJ Chill and a few favorite Disney Characters take to the stage to host the “Coolest Summer Ever” Dance Party, followed by a grand finale at the Event Stage with our favorite “Frozen” characters and an awe-inspiring “Frozen” fireworks display set to the music of the film.

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.

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.

Downtown Disney

New Retail and Dining Locations The largest expansion in Downtown Disney history continues with the opening of several new dining and shopping locations in 2015. The BOATHOUSE, 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. Additional new retail and dining locations now open include Tea Traders Café by Joffrey’s, Apex by Sunglass Hut, The Art of Shaving, Chapel Hats, Dockside Margaritas, Erin McKenna Bakery NYC, Erwin Pearl, Havaianas, Sanuk, Sound Lion, and Vivoli Gelateria. 

Resorts

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.

“What’s Next”

 

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. Other Star Wars experiences include a reimagined Jedi Training Academy, a new seasonal event Season of the Force, a never-before-seen Star Tours – The Adventure Continues experience, and the Star Wars Launch Bay, an interactive experience where guests can explore the upcoming film, Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Soarin’ Around the World (2016) – Guests on board 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 (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.

Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris (Spring 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” (Spring 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.

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. New retail shops coming to Downtown Disney include Edward Beiner, Lilly Pulitzer, L’Occitane en Provence, PANDORA, Tommy Bahama, UGG, UNIQLO and Zara. Upcoming new dining locations include:

  • Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar (Fall 2015) – An aviation-themed lounge featuring unique cocktails and delectable “small plates.”
  • Morimoto Asia (Fall 2015) – This Authentic pan-Asian restaurant is the first to be opened by Chef Masaharu of Iron Chef America.
  • STK (Fall 2015) – A modern steakhouse mixed with the ambiance of a sleek lounge and emphasizing a social and fun environment. The vibrant, lively scene will offer guests fine dining, signature cocktails, and a DJ playing eclectic music nightly.
  • The Edison (June 2016) – A lavish “Industrial Gothic”-style restaurant, bar and nighttime destination that will feature exceptional classic American food, artisanal craft cocktails and unparalleled live entertainment.
  • Sprinkles (2016)  The world’s first cupcake bakery, as named by Food Network and others, serves up handcrafted cupcakes, slow churned ice cream and homemade cookies. Their innovative Cupcake ATM satisfies sweet-toothed epicureans 24/7.
  • Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza (2016)  Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza is a modern day “pizza joint” known for its custom-built artisanal pizzas, freshly made salads, blood orange lemonade and s’more pies.

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 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).

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