‘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 Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire stage show (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.

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.


Frozen Ever After (June 2016) — This family-friendly adventure in the Norway Pavilion picks up after the events in the blockbuster hit “Frozen” and celebrates a “Summer Snow Day.” A stone archway entrance greets guests to the kingdom of Arendelle. Queen Elsa, Princess Anna, Kristoff, Olaf, trolls and Marshmallow join them on their boat journey through the frozen willow forest, past Troll Valley and up to the North Mountain to Elsa’s ice palace.

Royal Sommerhus (June 2016) — Guests can meet the regal sisters in the cozy Royal Sommerhus in the Norway Pavilion. Inspired by a cabin in the countryside of Norway, Princess Anna and Queen Elsa have opened their summer home for visitors.

Soarin’ Around the World (June 2016) – Guests can experience the wonders of the world on the groundbreaking Soarin’ Around the World, which takes guests to iconic places such as The Great Wall of China and the Sydney Harbor. As the next generation of the popular Soarin’ attractions, Soarin’ Around the World is an exhilarating aerial adventure that immerses guests in a multi-sensory experience, complete with stunning sights, spectacular sounds and even subtle scents.

Dory Joins Turtle Talk with Crush at Epcot (May 2016) — Guests will find new additions at “Turtle Talk with Crush” with characters from Disney•Pixar’s “Finding Dory.” When Crush the sea turtle swims up to the “Human Tank” at Epcot, he’s now joined by Dory and some of her new friends.

Meet Joy and Sadness from “Inside Out” at Epcot (April 2016) — Guests can 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, guests will journey through Riley’s long-term memory, catching a glimpse of her Islands of Personality before joining Joy and Sadness at the console.


Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Star Wars experiences (2016) – 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 “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular,”  a dazzling Star Wars-themed fireworks, laser and special effects show set to memorable Star Wars music from throughout the saga.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Tiffins (May 2016) — Hungry adventurers can have lunch or dinner at Tiffins, the newest signature restaurant at Walt Disney World Resort. 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.

New Nighttime Experiences (May 2016) — 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. They include:

  • The park’s iconic Tree of Life awakens 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 — The popular Kilimanjaro Safaris attraction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme park is extended for a new nighttime adventure. Guests 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.
  • 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.

Disney Springs

Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza (August 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.

Frontera Cocina (June 2016) — Chef Rick Bayless, a six-time James Beard Foundation winner, is bringing Frontera Cocina, his table-service Mexican restaurant concept, to Disney Springs. Frontera Cocina will showcase the gourmet Mexican cuisine that has made Chef Bayless a culinary legend.

STK  (June 2016) – 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.


New retail and dining locations now open include Apex by Sunglass Hut, The Art of Shaving, Chapel Hats, Dockside Margaritas, Edward Beiner, The Ganachery, Erin McKenna Bakery NYC, Erwin Pearl, Havaianas, Lilly Pulitzer, L’Occitane en Provence, PANDORA, Sanuk, Sound Lion, Tea Traders Café, Sprinkles and Vivoli Gelateria, UGG, UNIQLO and Zara.


Flying Fish at Disney’s BoardWalk — (July 2016) At this all-new vision of the classic location guests already know and love, the mouthwatering seafood and stylish ambience evoke the spirit of a classic Atlantic boardwalk—with ever-so-subtle touches of carnival art, vintage games and décor reminiscent of the legendary “Flying Turns” roller coaster.

AbracadaBar at Disney’s BoardWalk — (July 2016) A new, magician-themed lounge serving signature cocktails and other assorted alcoholic beverages. The decor harkens back to the golden age of magic and immerses guests in a sophisticated social club-atmosphere.

“What’s Next”


“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. Upcoming new dining locations include:

  • The Edison (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.

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. There’s also 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.

“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).