Just going through my camera while relaxing at the Territory Lounge…
Disney recently issued a press release entitled A Breathtaking New Land of Fantasy Highlights A New Year Full of Magical Additions, Openings at Walt Disney World Resort in which it listed the various “additions” that are coming to Disney World in 2017. Here are some of the highlights and my thoughts:
Pandora – The World of Avatar – A transformational experience unlike any other, Pandora – The World of Avatar, opens in summer 2017. In collaboration with filmmaker James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, Disney is bringing to life the fantasy world of Pandora, inspired by Cameron’s epic film AVATAR, in a breathtaking new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Avatar Flight of Passage will send guests flying above the jungles of Pandora on a Mountain Banshee. Bioluminescent rainforests dramatically wrap around Na’vi River Journey, a family-friendly boat ride. Hungry adventurers can recharge at Satu’li Canteen, the main dining location, or Pongu Pongu, a drink kiosk with a design as eclectic as its expat owner. Shoppers can stock up on Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits and more at Windtraders.
None of this will come as a surprise to readers of the site, but it’s nice to have everything summarized so neatly. A Soarin’-like adventure and a BOATRIDE are fantastic anchors to this land. Also, it will give a preview of the new immersive theming that (I believe) will also be present in Star Wars land. (By immersive theming, I mean a little less pushing of the overall Disney brand in the land, with cast members acting more like you are really on Pandora.
More Additions to Disney Springs in 2017
Paddlefish – Sleek and modern after a bow-to-stern transformation from the former Fulton’s Crab House, Paddlefish will serve fresh seafood, steaks and chops. Unique menu choices for seafood lovers include a build-your-own boil. A new rooftop lounge will serve up a late-night menu and shipshape views of the water and Disney Springs. Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.
The standard of quality at Disney Springs ended up making Fulton’s obsolete. With the BOATHOUE already offerring a combination of seafood and steak, it’ll be interesting ot see what Paddlefish does to set itself apart.
The Polite Pig – A sister restaurant to the Ravenous Pig, a favorite with Orlando locals, The Polite Pig will bring the same focus on genuine Florida cuisine to a broader global audience at Disney Springs. Lunch and dinner menus will feature a variety of wood-fired smoked and grilled items as well as an innovative beverage program that serves all drinks on tap, including beer, wine and cocktails.
Though I’m not particularly excited about the Guy Fieri menu at the newly revamped Planet Hollywood Observatory, the Polite Pig seems like it might be a nice option. (Of course, I have never to the Ravenous Pig, so what do I know?)
Rivers of Light – Coming in 2017, this powerful theatrical production takes Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests on a magnificent emotional journey – a visual mix of water, fire, nature and light choreographed to an original musical score. Continuing the park’s transformation from a day-into-nighttime experience, the amazing after-dark show on the banks of Discovery River celebrates the majesty of nature and the connection between animals and humans in the world. (emphasis added)
“Coming in 2017.” Sigh. That said, I still wouldn’t be surprised if there’s at least a trial or two during the holiday season (though, I’m not holding my breath.) Of course, if no one is at Animal Kingdom later in the evening but Elyssa & me over Christmas, I’m fine with it.
New Cabins and Deluxe Villas coming to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – In 2017, a proposed new Disney Vacation Club Resort, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, is scheduled to open, featuring new Resort accommodations that include plans for Deluxe Villas and unique waterfront cabins. Other enhancements coming to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge include a brand-new bar & grill, in addition to a quick-service restaurant. A sweeping re-imagination of the former Hidden Springs Pool, part of Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, is also scheduled to open in summer 2017. Named Boulder Ridge Cove, this area will feature an expanded sun deck and zero-depth-entry pool.
If Elyssa and I were to buy DVC, this would be where we do it. We love Wilderness Lodge, and the information on these Deluxe Villas makes them seem like they’re going to be top notch. I am looking forward to seeing an actual demo.
Of course, there are a a bunch more announcements in the actual press release, but these were the ones I am most interested in. Regardless, 2017 seems like it could be a big year.
UPDATE: Disney has now pulled the Rivers of Light dining packages page.
Earlier today, a page for dining packages associated with Rivers of Light went active on Disney’s website. As you can see from this screenshot, there is a date of May 1st listed in the “Know Before You Go” section of the site:
Originally, Rivers of Light was supposed to debut on April 22, 2016. I think it’s probably more likely that Disney posted this page that was created to go live when Rivers of Light was supposed to debut earlier this year, and has not yet updated it with the information for when the show is actually going to debut. In other words, I don’t think this listing of “May 1”–without any year–confirms anything. I think it’s more likely the page just got put up prematurely and that the availability date hasn’t been updated yet. (The fact that Tiffins–which is widely suspected to be a package option, but did not open until May 27, 2016–isn’t listed in the “Know Before You Go” section also seems to be in line with this.)
On a related note, I did call Disney Dining to try to make a reservation for the Rivers of Light dining packages and the Cast Member (after talking to her supervisor) said that the option is still listed as “coming soon” in her system and that they have no information about when the option will actually be available.
The Disney Parks Blog exploded this morning with news about what’s coming this summer to Disney World. There is so much information that it seemed appropriate for a very special EMERGENCY EDITION of the Rope Drop [dot] Net News Nuggets!
First, we learned that near the end of May (i.e., Memorial Day Weekend), we’ll be getting:
- New Nighttime Entertainment at the Animal Kingdom. – As expected, Rivers of Light is not ready yet, but Disney is going to be showing a temporary Jungle Book show as a place holder. There was a preview of this entertainment last night, so you can see The DIS’ Tree of Light nighttime projection and Rivers of Light preview videos, or Inside the Magic’s Rivers of Light preview video, if you’re interested. Personally, I’m most excited for Kilimanjaro Safari’s “After Dark”, and WDW Magic, and Inside the Magic already have preview videos up.
- Tiffins – Grr. I was hoping this one open 1 weekend in advance so I could go. Maybe they’ll be doing a “soft open” that week.
- Finding Dory Characters at Turtle Talk with Crush – I’m once again surprised at how quickly Disney was able to integrate new characters into the park. This is even before the movie comes out.
- A third track on Toy Story Midway Mania – I know this doesn’t sound exciting, but adding 50% more capacity to one of the most popular attractions at a theme park that needs attractions for people to ride on during construction is important.
A couple weeks later, in June, we’ll be getting:
- Frozen Ever After – Say what you want about Frozen, but this is going to draw people to Epcot in a way that hasn’t happened for months (years?).
- Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. – The previous Magic Kingdom stage show had been around for so long that I can’t even really remember watching it. I’m interested to see what they do with this one.
- Soarin’ Around the World – Speaking of things to draw people to Epcot. Going into The Land pavilion the past few months has been eerie. I’m looking forward to Soarin’ re-opening, and I have high hopes that the new video is going to be great.
Disney also announced that new princess Elena of Avalor will debut at the Magic Kingdom in August and posted another rundown of the new Disney Springs elements opening this summer.
Lastly, Disney shared some more details about the upcoming Toy Story Land at The Studios. Personally, I’m less concerned with the attractions coming to this land, and more interested into how intricate the theming is. I really hope I feel like I have been “shrunk[en] to the size of a toy” while I’m there."
Disney also released some concept video of the Slinky Dog Dash coaster, and that seems like an excellent way to end this post:
In a kind of diabolical move, Disney made a few announcements regarding its upcoming summer entertainment while most Disney writers are over at Epcot covering the start of the Flower & Garden festival.
The biggest announcement is that the new Rivers of Light show at Animal Kingdom will debut on April 22, 2016. (There was no mention of how many shows per night they’ll be doing, however.) Elyssa and I were recently discussing whether or not Rivers of Light would open in April, and it looks like Disney is going to get it in just under the gun. Disney provided a preview video of the show, but I find that shows involving water projection (e.g., Fantasmic!) don’t really translate to video. At this point, the best “hype” for Rivers of Light comes from the concept art that has been around for a while.
For those who want more information about Rivers of Light, Disney is going to do a live chat on Tuesday, March 8 at 1:15pm, which will include answering questions left in the comments section of this page on the Disney Parks Blog. If you want to get your question answered, I’d suggest getting it in early (and maybe asking it again during the actual March 8 call.)
The press release for the summer entertainment includes a bunch of things that we have already heard off, including:
- Nighttime safaris at the Animal Kingdom;
- The opening of the “Frozenstrom” BOATRIDE at Epcot (not the real name, obviously); and
- A bunch of new Star Wars-themed entertainment coming to the Studios.
Unfortunately, the only things that have a definitive start date listed are the above mentioned Rivers of Light show and the “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” stage show (which will debut on April 4 at The Studios.) It will be interesting to see when some of the other offerings mentioned in the press release roll out. Similarly, rumors are that the Zootopia character will be joining the Move it! Shake It! Dance It! & Play It! Parade, but no date has been announced for that, either.
(Also, let’s just pretend that the summer entertainment press release didn’t include a section on the Skipper Canteen (which opened before Christmas last year.))
Here are Rope Drop [dot] Net HQ we’re still recovering from the price increase that happened this weekend. Of course, even 8-10% ticket price increases can’t stop us from publishing the next edition of the News Nuggets!
- All-New ‘Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire’ Stage Show Coming This Summer to the Magic Kingdom – Putting Anna, Elsa, Rapunzel, Flynn and Tiana in a show in front of the castle seems like a no-brainer. I wonder if this is the start of a trend that will see more and more entertainment being updated (Illuminations, anyone?)
- Frozen Ever After and Royal Sommerhus now to open in Summer – This, obviously, could just be a typo, but would anyone be surprised if it took a few more months to get this ready to open?
- Symphony in the Stars Fireworks to Continue through at least April. – This leads into the next nugget, which happens in April:
- New Star Wars Entertainment coming to The Studios this Summer – With the new “Star Wars Stage Show”, the march of Captain Phasma, and the new “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” firework show, it sounds like this Disney is going “all in” with Star Wars at The Studios this summer.
- Disney Moves Magic Kingdom’s May 24th Morning Extra Magic Hour to May 27th – I link to this not because of the actual content of the news, but for Josh’s analysis as to what it could mean for 24-hour day. Even though Elyssa and I wouldn’t be able to make 24-hour day this year, I’ll be bummed if we’ve seen the last one.
- New Concept Art Released for Star Wars Land – The special itself was a little bit of a letdown, but the “concept art” sure looks pretty. (Are we still thinking 2018 before this is done? 2020?)
- WDW News Today explains how It thinks the “eternal sunset” will occur in Kilimanjaro Safaris. – A nice little rumor / insight from WDW News Today about how Disney might be planning to achieve its “eternal sunset” effect.
- Kylon Ren joins Jedi Training at The Studios – I’m surprised with how quickly they’ve integrated Kylo Ren into the various Star Wars attractions at The Studios. I’m probably equally surprised that they haven’t done something to allow photos with BB-8, yet.
- Toy Story Midway Mania Closed March 15 to Prepare for Third Track. – The third track is rumored to open in summer 2016. It should help a lot with the capacity issues for this attraction. Also, re-book you Fastpass+ for March 15 so you can do what you want instead of the backup Disney gives you (I might just plan to go to another park that day).
Phew. That was a lot of News Nuggets. Let’s take a quick break to relax in the early morning glow of World Showcase:
Now, back to the News Nuggets!
- DFB Rumor about Star Wars Ice Cream coming to the Boardwalk – The DFB has to connect a lot of dots to get there, but it’s a nice little rumor. Of course, nothing is stopping Disney from just branding any ice cream as “Kylo Ren Tracks” on its own.
- Rumors of Rivers of Light Dining Packages Possibly Coming to Tusker House – Some more rumor scooping by DFB. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if this happened.
- A light test of Rivers of Light at Animal Kingdom? – Speaking of Rivers of Light, this picture seems to be a test of the lighting effects they will be using during Rivers of Light at the Animal Kingdom. I wonder how close they are to really having that show ready.
- The Land of Avatar Rises at the Animal Kingdom. – Da Mouse is always great with these types of photo essays. If you’re interested in the Avatarland..err..”Pandora” construction, then you should give this a look.
- A few menu items for Tiffins at Animal Kingdom Revealed. – The pork ribs sound pretty amazing.
- Disney Springs Water Taxi hours to be reduced – This seems consistent with rumors of budget cutbacks at Disney World, but it’s tough for me to get too upset about the water taxis not running after midnight.
- No more Turkey Legs at the Animal Kingdom – Elyssa and I aren’t big turkey leg people, so this doesn’t really impact us too much. That said, it’s always a little weird when something iconic is removed from one of the parks.
- All-New Character Meet featuring Olaf and Mickey & Minnie Coming Soon to The Studios. – Putting Olaf in The Studios while Anna & Elsa are in Epcot is pretty brutal for families that want to make sure they get to all the Frozen meet-and-greets. I imagine the line for Olaf is going to be quite long for some time.
- The next Phase of the Disney Springs Expansion Announced. – Wow. This is a ton of stuff. I definitely am looking forward to trying out the burger place, and I am hoping Fulton’s really steps up its game. I understand people are “upset” that stores “they have in their local mall” are showing up at Disney Springs, but it doesn’t really bother me.
- Two big new features coming soon to MyMagic+ – I hope WDW Magic is right on this one. Being able to make the 4th (5th, 6th, etc…) Fastpass+ reservation from my phone instead of at a kiosk would be a really nice change.
- All-You-Care-To-Enjoy Dining Coming to The Diamond Horseshoe in Magic Kingdom Park – All-you-care-to-enjoy BBQ with a nice apple dessert sounds like it might be okay.
- Same Day Reservations at the Skipper Canteen Extended. – Personally, I’m glad that Skipper Canteen exists and allows me to get a reservation in the Magic Kingdom almost any day. That said, I have to wonder how long it will be before it starts using a more traditional ADR system.
- Orlando bids for 2017 & 2018 Wrestlemanias. – Okay, this isn’t really Disney news, but I am about 99% sure I’d go to Wrestlemania weekend if it took place in Orlando.
- Dates Announced for 2016 Epcot International Food & Wine Festival – Much like Flower & Garden, this year’s Food & Wine festival is going to be longer than before, running from September 14 through November 24. That’s a start about 2 weeks earlier than normal.
We’ll finish things up with a couple of “events” from Disney World. First, they recently had a DVC 25th Anniversary “party” at the Magic Kingdom. It featured, among other things, a rare appearance by the Haunted Mansion’s tightrope girl and a special fireworks show. Here are the videos of that show from DVC News, Inside the Magic, and The DIS:
Also, Flower & Garden festival starts tomorrow. There’s a nice primer to the festival at TouringPlans and Denise at Mouse Steps has put together a really nice preview. If you’re still looking to get more hyped for the festival, I’ll leave you with this video from The DIS:
Thanks for reading!
While I was working on an upcoming (double sized!) News Nuggets post, Josh of easyWDW’s Twitter tipped me off to Disney’s release of new information about its upcoming Rivers of Light show. The preview video looks pretty awesome, so I figured I’d share it now: