2017, like almost every other year at Walt Disney World, has been a time of massive changes. As we approach the Holidays and with it the end of the year, we here at Disney Addicts find ourselves reminiscing on all that has happened in 2017. The year has seen new eateries, closed attractions, amazing resort renovations and so much more. Here’s a quick recap of 17 of the most newsworthy happenings and noteworthy additions in 2017:
1. Happily Ever After Fireworks – Magic Kingdom – Back in May, Disney fans bid a tearful adieu to the Wishes fireworks at Magic Kingdom. This daily nighttime fireworks offering was replaced by Happily Ever After. The new evening show quickly won over guests with it’s emotive soundtrack, dazzling pyrotechnics as well as amazing projections on Cinderella Castle that take guests through a storyline that introduces key scenes and characters from many of your favorite Disney films including Aladdin, Frozen, The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Moana, Zootopia and so much more. If you didn’t have a chance to see it this year, definitely make it part of your 2018 visit.
2. Dogs Allowed! – Walt Disney World Resorts – In a move that surprised a lot of Disney regulars, Walt Disney World announced in October that dogs would be allowed to stay with their owners at select onsite resorts. These properties include: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort, Disney’s Yacht Club Resort, The Cabins at Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground and Disney’s Port Orleans Riverside. At each of these properties, a select amount of rooms are available to book for guests who want to bring along their canine companions. There is an additional charge for four-legged friends as well as a hefty amount of terms and conditions. To find out more, check out this article.
3. Good-bye Great Movie Ride and Ellen’s Energy Adventure – Hollywood Studios & Epcot – Sometimes it’s out with the old to make way for the new and there was definitely a bit of that at Walt Disney World this year. In July guests said their good-byes to Ellen’s Energy Adventure in Epcot’s Future World which closed its doors for good to make way for an upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy attraction. Hot on its heels was the closure of the iconic Great Movie Ride which is housed in the Chinese Theatre at Hollywood Studios. This attraction will be cleared out to make way for the first attraction that will feature Mickey and the Gang dubbed Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway. Disney has not released official word as of yet regarding opening dates for either of these attractions but we promise to keep you posted.
4. New Character Dining Introduced at Trattoria Al Forno – Disney’s Boardwalk Inn – Disney visitors just can’t get enough of character dining and Disney delivered adding a new breakfast experience into the mix. Dubbed the Bon Voyage Breakfast which is held at Trattoria al Forno on Disney’s Boardwalk, this new offering gives guests a chance to rub shoulders with Rapunzel, Flynn Rider, Ariel and Prince Eric while enjoying fresh fruit, a frying pan of delicious pastries and an amazing array of entrees featuring classic breakfast favorites.
5. Hall of Presidents Re-Opened after Lengthy Closure – Magic Kingdom – If there’s one attraction that has courted alot of controversy in 2017, it was the extended closure of The Hall of Presidents at Liberty Square in the Magic Kingdom. The attraction has been closed for the better part of a year which Disney has said was due to ongoing technical problems due to the reprogramming of the attraction to make way for our current President. Disney surprised visitors by opening the attraction again this week. With the addition of Donald Trump, Hall of Presidents is sure to be a talking point well into 2018.
6. Room Renovations – Pop Century and Coronado Springs Resort – 2017 has also marked a big year for changes at Walt Disney World’s Resort properties. This year, two different resorts had fun upgrades done to their guest rooms. The first is Disney’s Pop Century Resort. Upgrades to this Value Resort include hard floors throughout, new bathroom layouts and fixtures as well as the introduction of a queen bed with a dining room table that also folds out into a bed to accommodate four guests. Over at Coronado Springs, the guest rooms have been re-imagined and will now include hard flooring, Keurig coffee makers and amenities designed to appeal to business travellers including more desk space, a beverage station and more.
7. The Introduction of Mobile Ordering – Theme Parks – In the late Spring, Disney World introduced a pretty nifty bit of technology. Mobile Ordering allows guests to order their quick service meals while you’re strolling through the park or waiting in line for some of your favorite attractions. Using the My Disney Experience App, clients can view the menus of select Quick Service eateries online and purchase items using a credit card. When you are ready to eat you simply push a button and your food will be waiting for you at a designated pick-up window. You can find out more about mobile ordering here.
8. Rivers of Light – Animal Kingdom – Marred by technical difficulties in 2016, the opening of Disney World’s newest nighttime spectacular was pushed back to Early 2017 where it is now up and running. This evening show at Animal Kingdom combines live performance, floating set pieces a whimsical musical score, fountains and water projections in a mystical celebration of animals and nature. Performances take place on Discovery River. Animal Kingdom also currently offers Rivers of Light Dining Packages which include a meal and a ticket to watch the evening Rivers of Light performance from a VIP viewing area.
9. Minnie Vans – Across Walt Disney World Resort – Heading out for dining reservations before the buses start to run? Had a late night at Disney Springs? Disney started offering a new service this year for all those instances when a resort bus, boat or monorail just won’t cut it. The new Minnie Van Service being offered by Disney is a new personal point-to-point ride service designed to whisk guests around in its colorful polka-dotted fleet. Minnie Vans are available to book through Lyft, a ride-sharing service bookable through a phone app. The Minnie Van Service is automatically unlocked when you open the Lyft app anywhere on Disney Property. However, if you have any questions or need a hand getting started ask Bell Services.
10. Opening of Copper Creek Villas and Cabins – Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort – This Summer marked the opening of Copper Creek Villas and Cabins, the newest DVC rentals at Walt Disney World Resort. This exciting expansion included a range of room options: Deluxe, Studios, 1-bedroom, 2 bedroom and 3-bedroom villas. In addition, 26 luxurious waterfront Cascade Cabins were built. Each incredible cabin features 2-bedrooms, has 2 bathrooms a plush living room and dining room space and a screened wraparound porch with private hot tub. The expansion also included the Geyser Point Bar & Grill which has already won a firm following by offering an eclectic range of food and drink options with beautiful views of Bay Lake. Guests can also take a dip in the newly imagined Boulder Ridge Cove Pool themed after the mining history of the Pacific Northwest and featuring a zero-depth entry pool, whirlpool spa and rustic cabanas.
11.New ‘Let the Magic Begin’ Show – Magic Kingdom – In a move that upset a lot of Disney purists, in January Disney re-vamped the opening show at Magic Kingdom which traditionally took place at the train station right before rope drop. Instead, the new morning show dubbed “Let the Magic Begin” was moved to the Castle Forecourt Stage. This now means that visitors arriving early (from 8:00 am onwards) are now able to enter the park, stroll down Main Street and gather at the Castle Hub in anticipation of the official park opening. Though the pathways to individual lands remain closed, it does give early morning visitors more room to spread out. In the new show, a Royal Herald welcomes guests to Magic Kingdom Park and is joined by Mickey Mouse and a cast of characters. However, we here at Disney Addicts miss the original version with the steam trains and the Family of the Day.
12. Pandora: The World of Avatar – Animal Kingdom – Over Memorial Day weekend 2017, Disney welcomed it’s newest land- Pandora: The World of Avatar fashioned after James Cameron’s Pandora film franchise. This expanded area of Animal Kingdom quickly won over critics with its lush floating islands, bioluminescent environment and amazing rides including the hugely popular Flight of Passage. On this attraction, guests climb on the backs of their own banshee and explore the incredibly detailed land of Pandora just like a native Na’vi. Pandora also offers the Na’vi River Journey, a gentle boat ride through a bioluminescent rain forest and Satu’Li Canteen an out-of-this world eatery with space-aged dishes that look almost too beautiful to eat. Pandora will continue to be a massive draw into 2018 and definitely should be experienced.
13. Baseline Taphouse and Grand Avenue – Disney’s Hollywood Studios – This Fall, Disney started a project designed to re-purpose the Grand Avenue are of Hollywood Studios to capture the spirit of present-day downtown Los Angeles with vintage office buildings and warehouses representing the different vibrant districts in LA. Though this sadly meant the closure of the Writers Stop, Disney did introduce a new hotspot, the Base Line Tap House. Designed to evoke the corner pub feel, this new watering hole specializes in beer and wines from California. Craft ales, lagers and cider are the stars of the show. The venue also offers small bites including a Bavarian pretzel with mustard and beer-cheese fondu, as well as a charcuterie board featuring California cheeses. The large outdoor patio is the perfect place to rest those weary feet and people watch.
14. New Disney Springs Eateries – Disney Springs – There have been so many new Disney Springs developments in 2017 that its been hard to keep up. However, if there’s one thing that we’ve enjoyed most about this ever-expanding downtown shopping district it’s the amazing array of eateries. This year Walt Disney World introduced three more into the mix. Paddlefish opened up in the former location of the Fulton Crab House and offers an amazing array of seafood specialities. The Polite Pig is one of our new favorites. Found in the Town Centre area of Disney Springs, it offers an amazing array of BBQ favorites including pulled pork sandwiches, smoked chicken and ribs. Planet Hollywood also re-opened as Planet Hollywood Observatory and introduced a new burger and sandwich menu created by celebrity food personality Guy Fieri.
15. Miss Adventure Falls – Disney’s Typhoon Lagoon- This Spring Typhoon Lagoon got a brand new family water raft ride dubbed Miss Adventure Falls. Coming in at 2 1/2 minutes, this ride is one of the longest you’ll find at Disney’s water parks. The raft ride features lots of props and animatronic touches that tell the story of Captain Mary Oceaneer, a treasure-hunter whose treasure was swept ashore during a rogue typhoon. Guests will enjoy all of the wild twists and turns. You’ll find this must-do attraction near the Crush ‘n’Gusher.
16. Epcot Introduces New Festival of the Arts – Epcot – Last year visitors to Epcot in January and February were introduced to Epcot’s newest festival offering, the Epcot International Festival of the Arts. This Festival was designed by Disney to be a celebration of the visual, performing and culinary arts. The event showcased the talent as many of Disney’s animators and visual artists. The Broadway Concert series brought leading culinary talent to the American Pavilion and guests flocked to the festival food booths where you could in indulge in edible works of art. The festival also featured an impressive array to workshops and seminars where visitors could learn everything from floral arranging to how to sketch like a Disney animator. The festival will be back for it’s second season in Early 2018.
17) 2018 and Beyond in the News – In all honesty, the biggest stories of the year where not about all of exciting developments on our list but rather all of the amazing changes that will be taking place at Walt Disney World in the years ahead. These include a completely remodeled Caribbean Beach Resort, the introduction of the new Skyliner Gondola Service, a Guardians of the Galaxy Atrraction ride at Epcot, a Ratatouille Ride at Epcot, the opening of Toy Story Land in Summer of 2018, the opening of a Star Wars Land and hotel in 2019, Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway opening at Hollywood Studios and a new space-themed restaurant coming to Epcot’s Future World.
I think you’ll agree that its been an event-filled 2017 and that 2018 is shaping up to be even better. Readers are encouraged to keep following along with Disney Addicts and Chip and Co. for the latest in Walt Disney World news and announcements.
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