What’s New in 2017

WDW Magazine - - Content - BY KIMBERLY MASIMORE

“Here in Florida, we have some­thing spe­cial we never en­joyed at Dis­ney­land… the bless­ing of size. There’s enough land here to hold all the ideas and plans we can pos­si­bly imag­ine.” ~ Walt Disney

One of my fa­vorite things about each new year is the an­tic­i­pa­tion of the lat­est at­trac­tion, show, or ex­pe­ri­ence that will be com­ing to the Walt Disney World Resort. While I cher­ish the fa­mil­iar­ity of the clas­sics, there’s some­thing ex­cit­ing about get­ting to see Walt’s dream con­tinue with Imag­i­neers bring­ing new ideas to life.

Here’s a lit­tle peek into 2017.

Let’s wel­come some new at­trac­tions!

Rivers of Light is com­ing to Animal King­dom. Def­i­nitely. Fi­nally. Okay, I am re­ally hop­ing it’s true! Ev­ery­one orig­i­nally ex­pected for the ar­rival of Rivers of Light to take place in the spring of 2016, but un­for­tu­nately that didn’t hap­pen. In­stead, the Jun­gle Book: Alive with Magic was quickly put to­gether to ap­pease guests who were plan­ning on see­ing Rivers of Light. There were some tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties that pre­vented the orig­i­nal de­but. Let’s hope it lives up to the hype!

With the an­tic­i­pated ar­rival of Rivers of Light, Animal King­dom started stay­ing open later with new ex­pe­ri­ences such as Kil­i­man­jaro Sa­faris at night, The Tree of Life awak­en­ings, and a va­ri­ety of mu­si­cal acts. Re­gard­less of what Rivers of Light brings, you should def­i­nitely check out Animal King­dom af­ter dark!

Although an ex­act date hasn’t been re­leased, Pan­dora – The World of AVATAR is sched­uled to open at Animal King­dom in the spring of 2017. Pan­dora will come to life through float­ing moun­tains and glow­ing rain­forests. The main at­trac­tion in Pan­dora, which is also open­ing in 2017, is AVATAR: Flight of Pas­sage. In this E-ticket at­trac­tion, guests will fly over Pan­dora on a Ban­shee!

The Edi­son res­tau­rant is ex­pected to open in Disney Springs in 2017. The res­tau­rant and bar will be set in a 1920s-era power plant, and will fea­ture live mu­si­cal acts and Amer­i­can cui­sine.

Miss For­tune Falls is sched­uled to open at Disney’s Typhoon La­goon in late spring of 2017. This fam­ily raft ride is go­ing to be the long­est at a Disney wa­ter park. On Oc­to­ber 3rd, the Shark Reef closed to make room for the new at­trac­tion.

Shall we say good­bye?

It seems that Stitch’s Great Es­cape may be on the chop­ping block. On Oc­to­ber 2nd, the at­trac­tion went to sea­sonal op­er­a­tion. It only seems a mat­ter of time be­fore it is re­placed en­tirely. (Ru­mor has it that a Wreck It Ralph-themed at­trac­tion com­ing in its place, but its pure spec­u­la­tion at this point.)

What’s in our wish­ful fu­ture?

We plan to keep an eye on a re­place­ment for the Main Street Elec­tri­cal Pa­rade. The night­time spec­tac­u­lar ended its run on Oc­to­ber 9th and was sent back home to Dis­ney­land. There has been spec­u­la­tion that Walt Disney World would re­ceive a sim­i­lar pa­rade to Dis­ney­land’s Paint the Night, how­ever Disney has not made any of­fi­cial an­nounce­ments.

With con­struc­tion un­der­way for the new Star Wars-themed land and with Star Wars Week­ends gone, we hope that there will be more Star Wars-themed en­ter­tain­ment and ex­pe­ri­ences added to Disney’s Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios to hold us over un­til the ex­pan­sion is com­plete. Wouldn’t a char­ac­ter dining ex­pe­ri­ence just hit the spot?

Spec­u­la­tion has the Os­borne Spec­ta­cle of Danc­ing Lights pos­si­bly re­lo­cat­ing to Disney

Springs for the 2017 Hol­i­day. Since there has been no con­fir­ma­tion at this point, this could be gen­er­ated by fans that deeply miss this amaz­ing light dis­play. I, for one, would love to see this ac­tu­ally hap­pen.

We’ve got our eye on you!

With Pan­dora open­ing in 2017, hope­fully the Na’vi River Jour­ney boat ride through the bi­o­lu­mi­nes­cent forests will not be far be­hind. We ex­pect that it may open with the open­ing of Pan­dora, but Disney hasn’t an­nounced a date of­fi­cially.

While no date has been set for Toy Story Land or the Star Wars-themed land, it most likely will not be in 2017. (Pa­tience will be our virtue on this one.) Star Wars Land is go­ing to be 14-acres, mak­ing it the largest “land” at Walt Disney World, and will fea­ture a Mil­len­nium Fal­con at­trac­tion. Toy Story Land will be slightly smaller at 11-acres, and be themed around Andy’s back­yard, from a toy’s per­spec­tive, of course. We will be cov­er­ing the progress and con­struc­tion on these new­est lands at Disney’s Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios and keep you posted!

Fans have been wor­ried in the past, but with the ex­pan­sion of the new Toy Story Land, it’s prob­a­bly only a mat­ter of time be­fore One Man’s Dream is evicted, along with the Voy­age of The Lit­tle Mer­maid stage show at Disney’s Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios. Since this is only a the­ory at this point, we have our ears to the ground.

Ellen’s En­ergy Ad­ven­ture at the Uni­verse of En­ergy is ru­mored to be clos­ing. While this has been cir­cu­lat­ing since the sum­mer, there has been no sub­stan­ti­a­tion by Disney. A Guardians of the Galaxy at­trac­tion is ru­mored to be the re­place­ment. While it seems likely that Ellen’s could be given the ax, the Marvel con­tract that Uni­ver­sal has might pre­vent Guardians from be­ing the re­place­ment.

An­nual Events To Look For­ward To:

Although they aren’t new, we will keep you up-to-date on any changes and ad­di­tions to these an­nual events!

Jan­uary: Walt Disney World Marathon Week­end

Fe­bru­ary: Disney’s Princess Half Marathon Week­end

Fe­bru­ary/march: At­lanta Braves Spring Train­ing at Disney’s Wide World of Sports

March-may: Ep­cot In­ter­na­tional Flower & Gar­den Fes­ti­val

Septem­ber: Night of Joy

Septem­ber/oc­to­ber: Mickey’s Not-so-scary Hal­loween Party

Septem­ber- Novem­ber: Ep­cot In­ter­na­tional Food & Wine Fes­ti­val

Novem­ber: Disney Wine and Dine Half Marathon Week­end

Novem­ber – Jan­uary: Hol­i­days at Walt Disney World

As you may have no­ticed with 2016, new at­trac­tions, restau­rants, and ex­pe­ri­ences pop up all the time at Walt Disney World. I’m sure this only scratches the sur­face of what we can ex­pect in 2017. I’m def­i­nitely ex­cited to see what else may be in store for our “great, big, beau­ti­ful to­mor­row!”

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