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2017 brought a whole new land to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, many new experiences to Disney Springs and magic to all those that visited. Here is a look back at what was new in 2017 at Walt Disney World.
Happily Ever After (photo by Rikki Niblett)
In Magic Kingdom, 2017 said good-bye to the beloved “Wishes” while welcoming in with excitement and joy “Happily Ever After”. The new evening show combined fireworks, storytelling and projections into a nighttime experience that has quickly become a fan favorite. This musical journey brings favorite stories to life through projections on Cinderella Castle. Viewers leave feeling a happiness only Disney can bring.
Magic Kingdom also saw a change in the Welcome Show. Moving from the train station to the Castle Forecourt Stage, guests are now able to stroll down Main Street before official park opening. This has allowed crowds to move past the turnstiles at the front of the park and down towards the castle. More guests are able to see the Royal Herald welcome them with some favorite characters and then declare the magic ready to begin for the day.
In Disney’s Hollywood Studios, guests were able to experience the new “The Music of Pixar Live”. This concert with a live orchestra brought to life the music of favorite Disney Pixar movies such as Up, Monsters Inc., Toy Story, and Cars 3.
Walking paths in Pandora (photo by Rikki Niblett)
Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom saw the biggest change in 2017 with the opening of Pandora- The World of Avatar. After years of waiting and much anticipation, the newest land since New Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom opening in May of 2017. Guests are able to walk through the Valley of Mo’ara with floating mountains and bioluminescent rainforests, guests are quickly transformed to the world of Pandora. Two rides can be found in this new land.
Flight of Passage (photo by Rikki Niblett)
Avatar Flight of Passage is where guests can experience the riding of a Banshee. Riders fly through Pandora as they dip and soar along with your Banshee.
Na’vi River Journey (photo by Liliane Opsomer)
Na’vi River Journey is the other ride that can be found in Pandora. This family ride is where you can experience the amazing bioluminescent rainforest of Pandora as you float down the river. Both of these rides are met with great excitement by guests and continue to be favorites.
Satu’li Canteen (photo by Rikki Niblett)
Also new in Pandora are two eating options. Satu’li Canteen and Pongu Pongu are ways for guests to experience the food and flavor of Pandora. Pongu Pongu is a drink stand where guest can quench their thirst with a variety of Pandoran drinks. Satu’li Canteen has quickly become a favorite of those visiting Animal Kingdom. Here guest can order fresh grains, vegetables and proteins in a variety of different bowls with unique flavors.
Disney Springs continues to see many changes as more stores, entertainment and restaurants open. During the 2017 year, The Polite Pig, Paddlefish and Planet Hollywood all opened. The Polite Pig brings Florida cuisine to Disney Springs. Opened for lunch and supper, wood-fired smoked and grilled items are experienced. Paddlefish is back after a transformation. This new seafood focused menu comes to life in a modern restaurant. Planet Hollywood also went through a change now called Planet Hollywood Observatory and offering creations by celebrity chef Guy Fieri. Along with these restaurants are numerous shopping locations that opened in Disney Springs offering shoppers unique retail options.
At Typhoon Lagoon, Miss Adventure Falls opened bringing a family-style raft to the water park. Based on the legend of Captain Mary Oceaneer that roamed the seven seas looking for undersea artifacts, this ride takes riders through a whitewater adventure to find these deep sea finds.
Throughout the Walt Disney World resorts, new lodging and dining experience came in 2017. One of the major openings was at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge as Cooper Creek Villas and Cabins. This Disney Vacation Club Resort opened around 180 accommodations including studios, villas and grand villas. New lodgings transform guests to the Pacific Northwest. Along with the new accommodations, Wilderness Lodge also got a new bar and grill as well as a new quick-service restaurant and an updated pool area. Disney’s Wilderness Lodge become even more of a destination for those visiting Walt Disney World.
As always 2017 was a magical year in Walt Disney World. 2017 brought new food, new entertainment, new rides and even a whole new world to guests. Let’s hope that 2018 will bring as many magical experiences.
What was your favorite thing that debuted in 2017 at Walt Disney World? Share it and why in the comments.
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