WDWorld Traveler News: Walt Disney World Summer Openings

Disney Springs
Disney Springs: New stores, new shops, new fake pond!

Way back in February I updated everyone on the big openings and closures coming to Walt Disney World in the spring and summer. Low and behold, it’s Memorial Day weekend and these long awaited changes are actually taking place. If you are planning a vacation for this summer or are a Florida local thinking about heading to the parks to check out the new stuff, here is what is coming and when you can expect it.

Earlier this week, the 3rd track opened on Hollywood Studios’ Toy Story Mania. This move should greatly lower wait times and increase Fastpass+ availability for that ride. And in fact, reports from people inside the park this week are saying just that. Disney also opened their online reservations for FP+ for the new Frozen Ever After attraction at Epcot and the new signature dining experience at Animal Kingdom known as Tiffins (along with special dining packages that allow for dinner and reserved seats for Animal Kingdom night time entertainment.) Also earlier this month the majority of new offerings at Disney Springs opened up, in particular the Town Center section. This includes Alex and Ani, Pandora, Kate Spade, Sephora, UGG, Vera Bradley, Amorette’s Patisserie, Sprinkles cupcakes, and counter service locations dedicated entirely to sausage and poutine that I am very excited to try out.

For Memorial Day weekend, Animal Kingdom’s new nighttime offerings begin. This includes the temporary Jungle Book: Alive nighttime show on the Discovery River, the Wildlife Parti and Discovery Island Carnival after-dark shows and parties, and the Tree of Life awakening projection show on the park’s iconic centerpiece.

Also this weekend, Epcot has reopened Soarin. The headline attraction had been closed for refurbishment in advance of the debut of a new film, Soarin Around The World, which was originally developed for and opened at Shanghai Disneyland. For this weekend, the ORIGINAL Soarin film will be playing at Epcot. So if you are looking to give that classic one last whirl, this is your chance. The NEW film will begin on or around June 17.

Also on June 17, two big shows open around the resort. At Hollywood Studios, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks show begins. This is likely to only be around for the summer (though it’s Star Wars so you never know) so see it while you can. More permanently, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire will open and replace Dream Along With Mickey as Magic Kingdom’s castle forecourt show. The show features characters from Frozen, Tangled, and Princess and the Frog along with Donald, Goofy, and the gang.

The final big opening scheduled comes on June 21 when Frozen Ever After finally opens in Epcot’s Norway pavilion. Also opening on the 21st will be a new Elsa and Anna meet-and-greet in Norway, permanently displacing them from their former home in Magic Kingdom. Until June 21, don’t count on taking your little princess to meet either Frozen girl anywhere at Walt Disney World.

There are a few short additional notes on some closings unrelated to new rides or construction: Dinosaur at Animal Kingdom will close for refurbishment 7/25-9/29, Big Thunder Mountain at Magic Kingdom will shut down 8/8-11-19, and because more closures are just what the doctor ordered for Hollywood Studios, One Man’s Dream and Voyage of the Little Mermaid will have short summer refurbs 7/16-27 and 7/24-27 respectively.

You may be wondering about the new Animal Kingdom nighttime show Rivers of Light. Originally targeting for 4th of July or sooner, Rivers of Light is being delayed until at least the early fall. Technical and production difficulties caused the delay. The success of the new live action Jungle Book film pushed Disney to develop a quickie show based around it to play in Rivers of Light’s place for the summer. So that what that’s all about.

Any questions, drop me an e-mail. Happy planning and enjoy all the new offerings this summer at Walt Disney World!