Happy New Year! We were able to close out 2016 with some changes at the parks. The Magic Kingdom morning show has been relocated and alcohol is now being served at several restaurants. More Star Wars experiences have been added to Disney’s Hollywood Studios. And Animal Kingdom is finally inching closer towards an opening for Rivers of Light. Here’s to hoping that 2017 is full of even more magic!
Starting January 9th, your mornings at the Magic Kingdom will begin with a twist. Instead of the opening show, which took place in front of the park at the train station, guests will now be able to enter Main Street U.S.A. prior to the official opening of the park. At park opening, there will be a welcome show presented on the Castle Forecourt Stage. In their announcement, Disney was unclear if this was permanent or temporary; however, the Walt Disney World Railroad is undergoing refurbishments until mid-february. This could explain the reason for the move.
Disney After Hours will be coming back to the Magic Kingdom in 2017 for a limited time. This extra-ticketed event allows the guests who purchase the ticket to stay at the Magic Kingdom after it closes to the regular public and enjoy many attractions without a long wait. The number of tickets available for Disney After Hours is limited. The current scheduled dates that will be available for this event are January 20th and 27th, February 2nd, 9th, and 16th, and March 2nd and 9th.
Extra Magic Hours, which is offered to all guests staying at a Walt Disney World Resort hotel, will no longer offer Enchanted Tales with Belle. This is a widely popular attraction during regular operating hours. With its removal, you will definitely want to reserve a Fastpass+ if this is on your “must-do” list.
Alcohol options have now been added to a variety of restaurants at the Magic Kingdom. Now you can purchase wine or beer with your meal at Cinderella’s Royal Table, Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen, Liberty Tree Tavern, and Tony’s Town Square. Walt originally kept alcohol out of Disneyland and it remained out of the Magic Kingdom since the park opened in 1971 until Be Our Guest opened in 2012.
On December 5th, Spaceship Earth was transformed into a giant Death Star! Now, before you get too excited, or angry, this was for one day only to celebrate the opening of the latest Star Wars film Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Special projections transformed Spaceship Earth temporarily into the Death Star and it was broadcast live via the Disney Parks Blog.
The 2017 Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival will feature new topiaries and more! A new topiary at the entrance to Epcot will feature Mickey, Minnie, Daisy and Pluto. Figment will even join the fun in his own topiary. There will also be two new Outdoor Kitchens to temp your palate. If you are interested in attending, the Festival runs from March 1st until May 29th.
Help Canada celebrate its 150th birthday! Stop by the Canada Pavilion at Epcot to receive a special commemorative button until July 1st or while supplies last.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Star Wars additions were recently announced. Star Tours- The Adventures Continue at Disney’s Hollywood Studios is getting a little shake-up. Guests will now have random tours (like it used to be).
AWR Troopers have been added to the daytime show “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away.” Props from the new film can now be seen at Star Wars Launch Bay. A lot of Rogue One merchandise is also arrived to the Disney Parks last month including a limited edition Magicband 2!
For really big Star Wars fans, Disney has put together a very special experience for your enjoyment. You can now take a seven-hour guided tour given by a Star Wars expert. The tour, which features special experiences, a meal, and a fireworks dessert party costs $129 per person and is only available on Monday and Saturday. Its an out-of-this-world experience!
The ABC Commissary at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has introduced a new dinner menu. Some of the savory items include Chimichurri Steak, Barbecued Chicken and Ribs, and a Lemon Pepper Salmon. The new dinner menu comes with delivery service! After you order you will receive a pager. Just take a seat and when your meal is ready it will be brought to your table.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Rivers of Light, the new evening water show coming to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, started Cast Member previews last month. The technologically complex show was originally scheduled to open last spring. No word yet on an official opening date. You are going to hear a lot of reviews about this preview from “amazing” to “horrible”. However, don’t listen to any of them, Cast Member previews are for working out the kinks. They are never perfect and never the final product. Are you excited for this to finally open?
A new exhibit featuring lion-tailed macaque monkeys has opened on the Maharajah Jungle Trek in Asia at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The Jungle Trek is a beautiful walk-through exhibit that features monkeys, bats, colorful birds, and tigers among other animals native to Asia.
Next time you are at Disney Springs, you may want to stop by the new Photopass Studio. You can choose from a standard backdrop or a virtual background to bring the Disney magic to life. You don’t need reservations and you can link your photos to your My Disney Experience account as well as Memory Maker.
Two new deals became available from Disney at the end of December. First there’s a discount to save you up to 25% for most stays from February 20th until June 10th. The second deal gives you one quick service meal per person per night for most nights from May 30th until August 24th. There are a few terms and exclusions that apply but deals like these don’t last long.
Disney has added yet another way to make your trip unforgettable. With the all-new Highway in the Sky Dine Around Progressive Dinner, you will use the monorail to explore something special at three Magic Kingdom Area Deluxe Resorts. Your journey of five courses begins at Disney’s Contemporary Resort for an appetizer and cocktail followed by the same (with a Polynesian twist) at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort. Your next stop will be the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for a mouth-watering meal at Citricos followed by a champagne gathering. Your delicious evening ends back at the Contemporary where you will feel like a VIP as you enjoy Wishes and desserts from a private patio. The price is $150 per person on select evenings and you may not use the Disney Dining Plan. If you are looking for something unique for a special occasion, you might want to give this a try!
Walt Disney World rolled out an upgrade on their bus transportation system. For an additional fee, you can upgrade to Express Transportation. This will allow guests to pick up a special bus in the backstage area and use it to park hop. Currently the cost is $15 per person per day or multiple days for $24. Unfortunately Annual Passholders will not be able to buy the multiple day service.
On Sunday December 25th the “Disney Parks’ Magical Christmas Celebration” aired on ABC. This marked 33 spectacular years of this event that features music, celebrities, and your favorite Disney parks. With a theme about family togetherness, the two-hour special featured performances in front of Cinderella Castle as well as acts from Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disneyland.
Beginning December 21st, Annual Pass holders were given a special designated line to enter through for all four Walt Disney World theme parks. There aren’t a lot of details about this new entry system, including whether or not it is just for the holiday season or if it will be made permanent.
A special Holiday Pin Series Gift Card came to the Disney parks last month. The gift cards are preloaded with $75 and feature one of four special mitten-shaped trading pins. The pins that feature Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, and Pluto can only be purchased as part of the gift card.
In between issues, be sure to visit our Facebook page for the latest updates and events. Changes are happening all the time at Walt Disney World and we want you to be the first to know what’s going on. Our page is full of all kinds of amazing stuff! Don’t forget to invite your friends to join us online. The more the merrier!