2016 is nearly behind us and “Wow!” what a fantastic year it’s been. There have been so many incredible changes taking place across the four theme parks, resorts and Disney Springs over the past year that we here at Disney Addicts wanted to take one last opportunity to celebrate some of our favorites. So without further ado, here’s 8 things we’re still celebrating about Walt Disney World in 2016.
1) Frozen Ever After – Epcot: Even before construction had started, Disney’s first Frozen-themed attraction had it’s work cut out for it. Primarily due to the fact that Maelstrom (which had its fare share of Disney fans) was a pretty tough act to follow. However, opening this past June it quickly managed to silence a lot of the naysayers with its playful boat-ride through Arendelle. Kids have delighted in seeing their favorite sisters spring to life, Maelstrom purists get to enjoy the same drops, twists and turns, and adults can delight in seeing new and more lifelike animatronic technology at work. And let’s not forget the catchy songs. Even though Frozen-fever may be dying out, all of these qualities have firmly cemented Frozen Ever After’s role as an Epcot must-do in the years to come.
2) Soarin’ – Epcot: This year Soarin’ went from showcasing the sweeping vistas of California to taking us on a tour of some of the World’s most notable landmarks when Soarin’ Around the World opened in June. The end result, with picturesque views of Sydney Harbor, The Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal is nothing short of breathtaking. This is certainly the only ride I’ve ever been on at Disney World where the entire room erupted with applause at the end. It’s just that good. The opening of a third theater also means guests can say good-bye to the 180 minute wait times (most days).
3) Cupcake ATM – Sprinkles Bakery- Disney Springs: It’s been a massive year for the revamped downtown Disney shopping district now re-branded as Disney Springs. However, if there’s one addition that certainly puts a smile on this gal’s face it is the deliciously wicked installation of the Cupcake ATM located in front of Sprinkles Bakery in Town Center. Guests visiting the ATM will be treated to a delectable selection of on-the-go cupcakes including flavors like Banana, Red Velvet and Salty Caramel. There are even vegan and gluten free option as well as treats for your little canine friends. The fact the the ATM is refilled each evening makes it the perfect port-of-call after enjoying the late-night Disney Springs nightlife.
4) Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular – Hollywood Studios: When it comes to nighttime entertainment at Walt Disney World, nothing really held a candle in my opinion to the effects, pyrotechnics and pageantry of Hollywood Studios’ Fantasmic! That is until Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular began wowing crowds back in June. One of the most elaborate displays in the parks history, this Star Wars themed evening event combines fireworks, special effects, and projections onto the Chinese Theater to weave an out-of-this word narrative. Tied together by music from the Film franchise, the event culminates in using fire towers to create giant lightsabers in the night sky. What’s not to love?
5) Late Nights at Animal Kingdom – Though the new nighttime activities at Animal Kingdom came in more with a whimper than a bang due to the delay of the much-anticipated evening water pageant Rivers of Light, evening at AK is still something to behold. The life-like evening projections on the Tree of Life are nothing short of awe-inspiring. The evening safaris provide a whole new vantage point from which to enjoy Kilimanjaro Safaris and Expedition Everest becomes even more thrilling with the lights out. The introduction of the Discovery Island Carnivale and Harambe Nights evening dance parties also combine to make Animal Kingdom a worthy park to spend your evening hours.
6) Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique – Disney Springs: Its the dream of most Disney-bound little princesses to have a makeover by one of the Fairy Godmothers over at Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. Though having this makeover at the Magic Kingdom’s Cinderella Castle location has always been the more sought after option, Disney Springs’ revamped boutique is certain to give the Castle a run for its money. Now housed in its own building, the new Bibbiddi Bobbidi Boutique is nothing short of luxurious. Five times the size of the original location, the new location boasts luxurious changing rooms, interactive elements and even a carriage room where the little ones can have a photo shoot in Cinderella’s famous pumpkin carriage.
7) Starbright Holiday – Disney Springs: This past Christmas Season, Disney collaborated with Intel to create a beautiful Christmas pageant, Starbright Holiday. Taking place in the night sky the entire spectacle comes to life using nothing but drones. In a new remarkable feat of modern technology, over 300 small drones collaborated to create magical holiday pictures in the night sky from doves to Christmas trees. What’s so exciting about this offering is that it provides just a taste of the way that Disney will begin to utilize this technology in the years ahead. This could add brand new and interesting elements to parades, stage shows and nighttime fireworks displays. I for one can’t wait to see what the future holds.
8. The Welcoming of New Disney Friends – For those that love Meet and Greets, Disney has introduced opportunities to meet some of Disney’s newest stars. Elena of Avalor, Disney’s first Latina Princess is now meeting guests at Princess Fairytale Hall in the Magic Kingdom. Moana is taking time away from her trip at sea to welcome guests at Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream over at Hollywood Studios. Finally, Joy and Sadness from Inside out have also joined Baymax at Epcot’s Character Spot in the heart of Future World to say “Hello”. So next time you hit the parks be sure to get your photo snapped with one of these Disney newbies.
2016 has certainly be an amazing year for Disney fans, friends and visitors and with the opening of Pandora:World of Avatar next Summer, I’m sure there’ll be no shortage of amazing reason to return in 2017.
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