As we approach the summer, we also approach one of the most popular times to go to Disney World. Lots of people will be coming starting Memorial Day weekend, and the good news is that there will be some exciting new things to experience! The biggest thing is Pandora: the World of Avatar, the new land opening in Animal Kingdom. Last week I was lucky enough to attend an informational event held by Disney for travel agents about what’s coming up this summer. While it mostly focused on Pandora, there are other things happening and I want to share what you can expect!
Pandora: The World of Avatar
It’s been a long time in the making, but Pandora will finally be opening officially on May 27, 2017. We saw some video clips and while we didn’t get to see much detail aside from some of the concept art, one of the things that it seems they are really taking to heart is making it an immersive experience. It’s not just visiting “the place from Avatar,” it’s going on an expedition with ACE (Alpha Centuri Expeditions).
There will be two attractions here: Avatar Flight of Passage and the Na’vi River Journey. The description for Flight of Passage is “Soar on the back of a mountain banshee during a thrilling ride above this vast moon.” The River Journey will be a slow moving boat ride that looks like it will be stunning. You can make fastpasses for these rides if your fastpass window is open, but you are limited to 1 of the 2 new rides (you can’t get a fastpass for both). There is also a walkthrough area called the Valley of Mo’ara.
There will be one quick service restaurant in the area called Satu’li Canteen. It sounds like this restaurant will also experiment with being able to order your food ahead of time from the app. For a bar, we have Pongu Pongu, which means “Party party.” It sounds like they will have a number of fun cocktails including a “bioluminescent frozen cocktail,” as well as “indigenous beers.”
There will be a store called Windtraders which features “merchandise and souvenirs celebrating the flora, fauna and culture of Pandora.” There will also be a face painting area.
Special extra magic hours will be available for Pandora during the opening months for Disney resort guests. In addition to the usual extra magic hours, Pandora will be open from every night from 11pm-1am between May 27th and July 4th.
Lots of new restaurants have opened to try, or they will be opening soon. The new ones that have opened recently, within the past year or so, include Amorette’s Patisserie (a bakery), Sprinkles (cupcakes), B.B. Wolf (sausages and hot dogs), The Daily Poutine (deluxe french fries), Blaze Fast Fired Pizza, the BOATHOUSE, Paddlefish (seafood), D-Luxe Burger, Chef Art Smith’s Homecomin’, Coca-Cola Rooftop bar, Frontera Cucina (Mexican), Jock Lindsey’s Hangar Bar, Morimoto Asia, STK Orlando, and Vivoli il Gelato. Soon to come, hopefully in 2017, are Wine Bar George, The Edison, and the Polite Pig.
Cirque du Soleil: La Nouba will have its last show in December 31st, 2017. No word yet on what will be replacing it.
Miss Adventure Falls, the newest ride at Typhoon Lagoon, just recently opened. It’s the longest water park ride at Disney and features the only audioanimatronics in a Disney water park attraction! It’s a 4 person raft ride that looks like a ton of fun.
A meet and greet with BB-8 will be coming soon – no word on an exact date.
On May 26th, the music of Pixar Live will debut for a limited time. It will be shown 3 times nightly following the regular daytime performances of Beauty and the Beast in the Theater of the Stars. There will be a live orchestra performing music from Toy Story, Cars, and others. Pixar characters will be making appearances as well.
A new fireworks show will open on May 12th, called Happily Ever After. Wishes will see its last show on May 11th. It will feature “contemporary versions of popular Disney songs” from various films, including Aladdin, Moana, Frozen, and many others. It will be 18 minutes long and feature lasers, projections, and fireworks.
There is also currently a pre-show called Once upon a Time, in which Mrs. Potts tells Chip her favorite “Once upon a Time” stories. It is 14 minutes long and uses projections to re-tell some of your favorite Disney classics on the castle.
What are you most looking forward to checking out the next time you go to Disney?