It has been 2 years since our last holiday to Walt Disney World. Which may not sound like a major deal. When we packed out case to come home I knew it would be a while before I returned. However in the world of Orlando Based theme parks a lot can happen in 2 years. And since that trip so many new additions are ready to be explored.
Here I’ll run down the 10 most exciting new things to find at Walt Disney World this Summer!
10 new things to find at Walt Disney World this Summer
Starting is reverse order a little trip out to the newest expansion at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is my all time favourite theme park in Orlando. For me it pulls together the atmosphere and environment that I crave about this type of holiday. Theme park holidays don’t necessarily need to be all about roller coasters and being sun upside down. Slowing down and smelling the roses is also an important part.
10. Avatar Flight of Passage – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
After what feels like 7 years in the making, earlier this year the bridge was opened to Pandora: The World of Avatar. A major expansion based upon the Avatar film franchise, that has split a Disney community. It was only recently that the initial haters started to warm to the project. After all was Avatar that good a film?
Flight of Passage sees guests move through a mountain trail and up into a bioluminescent forest and the Pandora Conservation Initiative buildings. Here you will discover that the the research team have been tracking the movement of Banshees. Guests are invited to experience flying on the back of a Banshee through an Avatar via a special link chair. Calling this a 3D simulation style ride is underplaying the set up and technology here.
It has been reported that the queue for this attraction is designed to hold up to 6 hours of queuing guests, which may also reflect how popular this will be. As ridiculous as this may sound I personally have seen 5 hour wait times in the summer.
Avatar Flight of Passage photo courtesy of Dis After Dark
9. Avatar Na’vi River Journey – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
The Na’vi River Journey is the second offering from the new Pandora: World of Avatar expansion. While the Flight of passage focuses on the technology and research of the Conservation initiative. The River Journey looks back to nature and listening to the environment. Imagine taking a boat ride through a bioluminescent forest on Pandora. The attraction is as subtle as it is in your face!
Guests board boards and set sail down a river, that is totally enclosed in flora and fauna. The neon colours from the plants and creatures is mesmerizing. With so much to see through the journey you will probably miss some of the subtly amazing details. While most people in know are waiting to see the Na’vi Shaman later on in the attraction. I personally will be looking out for the small creatures bounding in the canopy of huge leaves.
Na’vi River Journey photo courtesy of Dis After Dark
8. Rivers of Light – Disney’s Animal Kingdom
We were there for the construction of the seating area and enjoyed the masses of green fencing to hide the construction. Eventually Rivers of Light is now entertaining guests with a 15 minute night time spectacular. Giving a reason to stay into the night time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Now that there is a night time Safari through Kilimanjaro Safaris and Pandora: The World of Avatar comes alive at night. It will be very easy to fill a couple of days at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
— Ziggy Knows Disney (@disneyziggy) June 30, 201
If Disney’s Animal kingdom is my favourite park, why have I put these in the lowest positions in the chart? One of the reasons is that Walt Disney World for me offers some of the best food I’ve ever eaten.
7. Planet Hollywood Observatory
Planet Hollywood at Disney Springs has had an overhaul. The long established restaurant that once looked over Pleasure Island has now found itself dressed up with fit in with it’s new surroundings. The once open air entrance queue is now under cover, with displays of super hero characters dotted around.
Obviously if you are heading here your after the food and drinks. One thing that stands out as a outsider looking in the restaurant is the huge domed projection screens around the interior of the restaurants roof.
— bryony (@bryonycdc) June 10, 2017
6. The Polite Pig – Disney Springs
The Polite Pig at Disney Springs will be a casual dining and drinking experience. So don’t go in here expecting china dinner service with table clothes. This is order at the counter fast service food. Don;t let that put you off though. The modern barbecue style food will showcase Pork, Slamon and Chicken with a southern twist. Drinks on tap will be a cocktail selection, but more importantly is their craft beer offering and bourbon bar with more than 50 different options to choose from.
Tables are set out with kitchen roll in the middle. Instantly you know this food is tasty enough to spread from your taste bud to your shirt. With a range of speciality BBQ sauces to choose from things may get a little saucy down you chin too.
— WDW Today (@WDWToday) July 1, 2017
5. Miss Adventure Falls – Typhoon Lagoon
From out of nowhere a new water slide arrives at Typhoon Lagoon. Typhoon Lagoon is already the best water park at Disney for choice of slides. By adding an extra family style raft ride, the choice is vastly improved.
A family raft ride will allow usually 4 people on at a time, which is brilliant with young children who aren’t strong swimmers yet. This attraction also has two key points that could be over looked. Firstly the beginning for the slide is us a conveyor belt. That to me says that your not dragging an inflatable up flights of stairs before hand. The second piece is the animatronic parrot on the lift hill. I don’t believe I’ve seen animatronics at a water park yet!
— Cassi Clay (@DisneyGirl28) June 25, 2017
4. Happily Ever After Nighttime Spectacular – Magic Kingdom
Since my last Disney adventure “Wishes” has been retired. Although I will be sad to miss that “Star Light, Star Bright” song, I felt it was time for an update. Usually what ever follows a much loved show is never as good as the last one. No matter how much money gets thrown at a sequel, fans of the original will always moan.
This updated night time show is simply amazing. What seems to be the improved technology used over at Disneyland Paris’s show has been super-sized here. I don;t like putting spoilers out for people who want to be surprised, but what was going to be a photograph, I felt that I needed to share this 4K video of Happily Ever After by The DIS. Amazing!
The depth and clarity of the castle projections stand this miles ahead of previous versions. Generally people say that videos don’t do the real life viewing justice. Well I hope that is also true as you will be blown away.
Happily Ever After Nighttime show courtesy of Dis After Dark
3. Pongu Pongu Lounge – Pandora: World of Avatar
We’re entering into my top 3 now, which means it is time to bring it back to food and drink. As part of the Pandora experience Disney and James Cameron and work on food and beverage options. With the idea that the food should be tasty, but as authentic to the environment as possible. After all we are on a different planet, that is very similar to our own.
The Pongu Pongu Lounge is a Bar that serve alcoholic cocktails and beers with a Pandorian Flare.
Check out these cocktails.
Pongu Pongu Menu courtesy of Dis After Dark
2. The Satu’li Canteen – Pandora: World of Avatar
You can tell where the latest big update has been this year. And I would full embrace it. After you’ve gobbled down your out of this world cocktail. My next stop would be to try out the native dining options. Theme Parks and food unless you’ve experienced it other wise makes you think burger and chips. Which if you skim the surface you will find lots of burgers and chips. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find these unique dining options.
The Satu’li Canteen is a converted mess room once used by the RDA. You know the mining crew that were digging for unobtanium!
Again this is a casual dining option. So you will place your order at the counter and have the full meal in front of you in one go (probably still on a tray). This restaurant is also trying out a pre ordering option via the My Disney Experience app.
Satu’Li Canteen Menu courtesy of Dis After Dark
Finally the number one slot
1. The Cheshire Cat Tail from Cheshire Cafe – Magic Kingdom
Sometimes its the little things that can be a fun pick me up. This Danish pastry snakc drizzled with 2 colours of icing is a new treat available at the Magic Kingdom. Sure it is full of sugar, but I bet it tastes sooooo good.
Make sure to eat the Cheshire Cat Tail! pic.twitter.com/9OY9uQyFLx
— Tharin White (@TharinWhite) June 22, 2017
Some of our best moments at Walt Disney World involve taking the park at a much slower pace. Rarely are we racing for the next attraction. In fact our favourite part of the day is first thing in teh park before the crowds hit and enjoying a coffee and a cinnamon roll on a side street off Main Street USA. While everyone thinks your missing out on the attractions you can start to appreciate the park more from a different angle.
We’re still chewing over our next Disney plans as we speak!
Planning a Disney Vacation with podcasts
As an ex Disney podcaster I can’t emphasise how much information is available on podcasts. I still listed to some Disney podcast, but also other topics. The Disney / Theme Park niche is a very popular subject to podcast about, so instead of listing them all I’ll point out one family of them.
Dis After Dark , Universal After Dark , Pop After Dark and S.T.R.I.K.E. The Marvel Cinematic Podcast With A British Twist.
With so many to choose from maybe I’ll work through a top ten in the future.