Disney is one of the most successful brands in the world and with each blockbuster hit, the parks and resorts continue to grow and upgrade. This year is no different! Here are what is on Disney’s plate for 2017.
1. Disney’s Animal Kingdom
- Pandora: The World of Avatar is opening this summer! This magical land is inspired by the famous James Cameron movie “Avatar.” This land with transport guest into the world of Pandora, which is full of bioluminescent plants and centered by the impressive floating mountains. This area will feature 2 main attractions, one of which is river ride where guest will travel down the Na’vi River and experience the bioluminescent forest. This attraction’s finale has an “unforgettable encounter” with a Na’vi Shaman. The other attraction is the “Avatar Flight of Passage,” which will send guests soaring over Pandora on a flying Banshee (those dragon looking things from the movie).
- Rivers of Light is scheduled to open sometime in 2017, as well. This is going to be Animal Kingdom’s first nighttime show that celebrates the beauty of all living things and features water, sound, dramatic lighting, and special effect. It sounds like an animal version of Fantasmic.
- Epcot International Festival of the Arts is a new festival that will run from Jan. 13- Feb. 20. This new festival will celebrate visual, performing, and culinary arts from Disney artists and celebrity chefs. You can also enjoy performers singing hits from Disney’s Broadway shows like The Lion King, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and more.
- Choza Tequila is supposed to begin early this year also. It features authentic outdoor taqueria offering hand-crafted margaritas and classic Mexican cuisine will open outside of the Mexican Pavilion in World Showcase.
3. Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Star Wars Guided Tour is beginning Jan 2. This VIP guided tour allows guest to experience anything and everything Star Wars. You get special seating for Jedi Training and priority boarding on Star Tours.
4. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge
- If you have been to the Wilderness Lodge recently, you have probably noticed some things that need to be updated. Well, that renovation is coming soon! The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge are now the Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge… that’s quite the name. The former quiet pool, Hidden Springs, is getting reimagined to tell the backstory of Boulder Ridge. Basically, what happened to Downtown Disney and Disney Springs, is what’s happening here. The Boulder Ridge Cove pool area will feature an expanded sun deck and zero-depth-entry pool. The new Geyser Point bar and Grill and new quick-service restaurant will give guest more dining options.
5. ESPN Wide World of Sports
- A new cheerleading and dance venue will debut mid-2017. This one of a kind venue will accommodate 8,000 fans and has the ability to be configured for events like volleyball, basketball, and concerts.
6. Disney Springs
- The massive overhaul of Downtown Disney is not over yet! There are a ton more dining, drinking, and entertainment venues that will be added this year. The biggest one is the re-opening of Planet Hollywood. Now called the Planet Hollywood Observatory is opening very soon. This restaurant was completely reimagined with new decor and new menu items. Celebrity chef Guy Fieri lends his culinary flair to the menu’s burgers and sandwiches. This place was super outdated the last time I was in it and I am really excited to see it reopen especially since you will get an awesome view of it from the new Coca-Cola building next door.
- Paddlefish, formally known as Fulton’s Crab House, is set to open around the same time as Planet Hollywood. This restaurant floats back with an upscale modern-yacht interior design. On the menu, there will be returning Fulton’s favorites along with new items, such as table-side guacamole with Maine Lobster and a “build-your-own” lobster boil.
- The Polite Pig is scheduled to open this spring. Local owners and James Beard award nominees James and Julie Petrakis bring wood-fired smoked and grilled items along with innovative beverages and craft beer to the Town Center are of Disney Springs. The Polit Pig will be a sister restaurant to The ravenous Pig in Winter Park.
- The Edison is also planned to open this spring and it resembles a 1920’s electric company power plant…. that’s quite the theme. The Edison will feature food, cocktails, live entertainment, cabaret, and music. It will also feature distinct area, with the Lab Performance room where entertainment such as palm reads, DJs, and contortionists. This will be the sister to the one that’s in LA.
7. Star Wars Land
The release date for this project is unknown but I was too excited about it to simply ignore it. This is a 14-acre area that will make Star Wars Land the biggest world in Disney World. It will transport guests to a never-before-seen planet, with two new attractions. One based around a secret mission aboard the Millennium Falcon and another that will place guests into the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance.
- Star Tours will also get an upgrade. A new adventure will be added to the existing ride, whichalready has 50 different outcomes and the ability to visit 5 separate planets. The new adventure will feature characters and locales from the upcoming “Star Wars: The Force Awakens.”
- Jedi Training Academy will be reimagined to include new characters and a new villain from Disney XD’s “Star Wars Rebels.”
- The Star Wars Launch Bay is an area that will include meet-and-greats with new and favorite Star Wars characters, a themed store and special food offerings. Guests will also get the chance to see sneak peeks behind the scenes of the new film and special exhibits. There will be two separate locations – One will be at Hollywood Studios in the Animation Courtyard and the other will be in the
Magic Kingdom in Tommorowland where is will share space with the reimagined Super Hero HQ. In these spaces, guest will be able to meet and interact with Captain America, Thor, and the returning Iron Man.