This year is a seriously busy one for Disney, with the opening of a whole new world (see what I did there?) as well as loads of other new events and attractions. If you’re planning a visit this year, here’s a little Walt Disney World update, so you can find out what you can expect to see and experience while you’re there.
I adore Epcot. I just love to wander around World Showcase, exploring all the different countries. You’re in luck if you’re visiting between now and 29th May 2017 as you’ll be there during the 24th Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival to see all the gorgeous flower displays and incredible topiary. This year there are new Outdoor Kitchens too, so you can nibble your way around Epcot while looking at all the amazing displays (hopefully the lovely butterfly house is back too).
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park
Of course the HUGE news from Disney’s Animal Kingdom is the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar on 27th May. I absolutely cannot wait to visit the bioluminescent rainforests and lush floating mountains and climb aboard my very own Banshee! This breathtaking new world will feature two main attractions: Avatar Flight of Passage (the one where you get to board your own Mountain Banshee and soar above Pandora), and the Na’vi River Journey, which is a boat ride that will take you through the rainforests.
Food-wise, the main dining place is the Satu’li Canteen, and there’s a very quirky sounding drinks kiosk called Pongu Pongu. There’ll no doubt be some incredible merch to buy at Windtraders too.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park’s is just gorgeous at night now – the whole place is a riot of music and colour and fun. Rivers of Light (top) is now up and running (I saw a preview and it’s utterly magical), and make sure you’re there to see the Tree of Life awaken (it’s also quite difficult to photograph, sorry!).
Magic Kingdom Park
I’m sure you’ve heard the news by now, but if you’ve missed it, Ant and Dec have shared the exciting news that Saturday Night Takeaway is coming to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, courtesy of Virgin Holidays. The very popular family entertainment show, was named Best Entertainment Programme at the 2017 National Television Awards, while Ant and Dec walked away with the Best Presenters award for the sixteenth year in a row.
On Saturday 8th April 2017, Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway will be broadcast live from Magic Kingdom, with co-hosts and special guests flying over to Orlando with Virgin Holidays. Throughout the series, Ant & Dec will be giving away 50 prize packages where the winner and up to three guests each will win a holiday to Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where they will be part of the audience of the live broadcast of Saturday Night Takeaway at Magic Kingdom!
The other big news from the Magic Kingdom is a brand new, nightly show: Happily Ever After. Starting 12th May, the fabulous new show will incorporate state of the art light displays, lasers and projections (more than any Magic Kingdom show ever before), with Cinderella Castle incorporated in the show itself and featuring characters, stories and music from more than 25 different Disney tales, from classics like Aladdin and The Little Mermaid, and brand new features like Moana and Zootopia. I can’t wait to see it.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
At Hollywood Studios (which I think is the nicest park for theming – I love the retro feel), there are a whole host of new Star Wars themed additions, including great new displays of memorabilia inside Star Wars Launch Bay and you’ll find the new AWR Troopers from Rogue One in the daytime stage show Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away. There’s also the breathtaking new Galactic Spectacular night time show with music and characters from the Star Wars Saga performed alongside incredible laser, projection and pyrotechnic effects.
Disney Springs is ACE and definitely near the top of my list of must do experiences at Walt Disney World (check out my guide to Disney Springs here). There are loads of amazing shops, restaurants, bars, a cinema, bowling… it’s a fab place to hang out. More and more exciting restaurants and bars are opening all the time, including the brand new Paddlefish and Planet Hollywood Observatory, both open now. Paddlefish serves great, fresh seafood, steaks and chops for lunch, dinner and there’s also a very popular Sunday brunch, plus there’s an amazing new rooftop lounge with fantastic views of the water and Disney Springs. The brand new restaurant at Planet Hollywood Observatory, serves burgers and sandwiches created by celebrity Chef Guy Fieri, and craft cocktails with names inspired by the planets and space travel. A very lovely Orlando friend of mine, David, recently visited the outdoor Stargazers Bar and reported back that it was really nice – with an industrial feel, high top tables, open seating, and covered too, which is a bonus.
Book by 29thMarch 2017 to benefit from the spectacular FREE nights offer! Price based on two adults and two children (age 3-12) travelling and sharing a standard room and includes Disney’s 7-Day Ultimate Ticket for all, transfer to and from Orlando International Airport, 1 FREE hotel night as well as all applicable taxes and fuel surcharges which are subject to change. Price is based on a departure of 30 May 2017 from London Gatwick. Walt Disney Travel Company is a member of ABTA and is ATOL protected. Prices are correct at the time of print. Prices shown are guide prices and may change at any time, price will be confirmed at time of booking. Please visit the website for current pricing, full terms and conditions and to book: www.disneyholidays.co.uk or call 0800 16 90 730.