Believe it or not, summer is over and fall is right around the corner. (Well, the first Mickey’s Not-so-scary already happened at MK… so I guess it already started!) I moved into my new apartment at school a couple of days ago, and I will be starting classes tomorrow! I know a lot of schools started classes in the past couple of weeks, too. Summer really flew by, but for us Disney fans, it was a very eventful summer. Let’s look back on the openings, announcements, and events that made up summer 2017.
Pandora: The World of Avatar
Pandora opened in May and took Walt Disney World by storm! Pandora is a land in Animal Kingdom, themed after James Cameron’s Avatar, replacing Camp Minnie-Mickey, but truly feeling light-years away. When you walk across the bridge into the Valley of Mo’ara you can no longer see the Tree of Life or Expedition Everest, you have been transported. In the day you can see all of the beautiful floating mountains and plants, but after dusk it turns into a bioluminescent forest that will blow your mind. There are 2 new attractions to Animal Kingdom with the addition of this land: Na’vi River Journey and Avatar Flight of Passage, as well as a new merchandise location, a walk-up beverage location called Pongu Pongu, and a quick-service dining location called Satu’li Canteen.
Na’vi River Journey is a slow moving boat ride with beautiful bioluminescent plants and projections. There is also a breathtaking, very realistic audio-animatronic Na’vi person. Avatar Flight of Passage is a new type of ride experience at Walt Disney World. It is a 3D simulator but you ride on a personal bike-like ride vehicle, simulated as your banshee. I have now ridden it twice (thanks to Fastpass+, otherwise I think I would STILLLL be in that several hundred-minute-long line) and I can say without a doubt that it is the greatest ride experience I have ever had. At Pongu Pongu, they offer 2 signature beverages, including the Night Blossom which is a fruit flavored frozen drink with passion fruit boba balls. And it is delicious. Satu’li Canteen is a quick-service restaurant that I would highly recommend. The bowls are very delicious and filling. Listen to WDW Radio’s LIVE restaurant review of Satu’li Canteen to hear more about the yummy goodness in store for you.
I loved my time on Pandora this summer and I can’t wait to go back.
Goodbye Wishes, Hello Happily Ever After!
In early May, we lost Wishes: A Magical Gathering of Disney Dreams, Magic Kingdom’s 14-year-old fireworks spectacular. I was crushed. Wishes has been my favorite nighttime spectacular since I first saw it and I cried every single time I saw it. My best friend, Sofia, and my boyfriend, Matt, went with me to say goodbye. And let me just say, I was a train-wreck (see picture below, LOL). So, when I came back to see Happily Ever After in July, I had high expectations.
Happily Ever After is the new evening spectacular with fireworks and castle projections. It is a very impressive production, including so many stories from movies and so many different songs. I, at first, was quite overwhelmed and needed to see it for a second time before I could really take it all in. I think the projections add a lot to the production, but if you can’t see the front of the castle, you do not get the whole show. I think that is a bummer, because with Wishes, it could be enjoyed anywhere in the Magic Kingdom. Let me know what you think. Are you happy with the change? Which do you like better?
In July, the bi-annual D23 expo took place and with it came a lot of announcements of closings and additions coming to the Disney Parks. Each announcement really deserves its own blog post, but I’ll buzz through them really quickly and tell you what I think.
- The Star Wars lands in Disneyland and WDW are being called Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and will be open in 2019! Disneyland’s will open first. The model was also revealed at expo. My reaction: I am not a huge Star Wars fan, and I’m pretty bummed that half of Hollywood Studios is closed because of this…but, I know its going to be amazing and I’m excited to experience it. (Especially after seeing how well they did with Pandora!)
- Star Wars Themed Resort is coming! It will be a fully immersive resort experience that will be a part of your full vacation. My reaction: I think it will be really cool for those who love Star Wars. I’m sure it will be crazy expensive though!
- Toy Story Land will open summer of 2018! My reaction: I’m pumped. I think it will be really fun. It seems like it will be similar to Cars Land in Disneyland and I love that land, so I’m excited!
- Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is replacing Great Movie Ride in Hollywood Studios. The Great Movie Ride closed on August 13 to make way for this new attraction, the first one to solely feature Mickey! It will be a 2 and a half-D experience, the first of its kind. My reaction: As sad as I was to say goodbye to Great Movie Ride, I’m very excited for a new ride in its spot, especially since its about Mickey and Minnie!
- Guardians of the Galaxy ride to replace Ellen’s Energy Adventure in Epcot’s Future World. Ellen’s Energy Adventure also closed on August 13. My reaction: I think it will be great! There’s not a set date for when it will be open, but it will be a nice addition once it does.
- Ratatouille attraction in the France Pavilion in Epcot! This ride will be similar to the one at Disneyland Paris. My reaction: I AM SO HAPPY. I loved this ride at Disneyland Paris! I hope it’s as good. I think it will be great to have another ride in World Showcase.
- TRON ride from Shanghai Disneyland is coming to Magic Kingdom! It will NOT be replacing Tommorowland Speedway, like expected, but will be put next to Space Mountain. My reaction: I am VERY excited. Tomorrowland has needed an update and I think this will lead towards that.
- Minnie Van transportation at Walt Disney World. A new form of transportation has come to WDW in the form of vans that are painted and run by Lyft. It is a base rate of $20 per ride to anywhere on the resort. My reaction: Because WDW transportation can take forever, I completely understand. And they’re super cute.
- Gondola Transportation at WDW! Its going to be called the Disney Skyliner, with gondolas themed to different characters and connecting Art of Animation, Pop Century and Caribbean Beach with Hollywood Studios and International Gateway at Epcot. They have already started working on it off of Osceola Parkway. My reaction: Uh…what? I see the benefit of connecting those resorts with Hollywood Studios and Epcot and I’m glad its happening. But…I do not get the point of Gondolas. Like really?? I don’t know, I guess I’m not sold yet.
- Disney Riviera Resort will be the next DVC resort. From my understanding, this is part of Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort, which is neat because there isn’t a DVC section of any moderate resort yet. My reaction: I’m sure it will be nice! Its going to be connected to the Disney Skyliner, which will be a nice touch.
- Another new cruise ship is coming! The Disney Cruise Line will now have 3 ships under construction coming in 2021, 2022, and 2023. My reaction: This is awesome! I can’t wait to see them. I’ve only been on one Disney cruise and I’m ready for another. I hope to try out the new ships! I’m excited to hear the names.
- Paradise Pier is becoming Pixar Pier at Disney’s California Adventure next year. My reaction: I think it will be good because right now that area isn’t very themed. I don’t think it will make a huge difference.
- Disney’s California Adventure is also creating an immersive super hero universe area including Spider-man and the Avengers. My reaction: I think it will be good but there’s not much information out there.
Wow that was a lot of info, and that was just from Parks and Resorts! I wish I could have gone to expo, but maybe the next one! The Disney Parks Blog did a fantastic job, as expected, reporting on these announcements. Check them out! What D23 expo announcement makes you the most excited? Did you go to expo?
Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout
At the end of May, Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission Breakout opened in the building that once housed Tower of Terror out in California at Disney California Adventure. It uses the same ride system as Tower of Terror but with different theming and story. I’ve heard its wonderful. I can’t wait to ride it the next time I’m out in Disneyland!
Cars 3 and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Disney had 2 big movie openings this summer, both being very successful! For Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, the box office produced $862.8 million and a huge fan response. I haven’t gotten the chance to see it yet, if you have… tell me about it!
I did get the chance to see Cars 3, however, and I loved it. I think the new characters of Cruz Ramirez and Jackson Storm were wonderful, and I’m hopeful to see them in the park. The storyline was different from the previous movies and different than I was expecting, but I liked it a lot. If you haven’t gotten the chance to see it, find a way! It was very good.
Mission Space’s New Mission
On August 13, Mission Space opened a new kid-friendly mission on the green version of the attraction. I have not had had the chance to ride it yet, but touringplans.com describes the new version: “In 2017, the Green version was redone to give it a totally separate mission from the intense Orange side. Now guests fly around the Earth’s orbit seeing sights from space such as the Hawaiian Islands, the Italian peninsula, and the Northern Lights. The journey ends by landing at Florida’s own Kennedy Space Center. Luckily it’s a short walk out of the building and back to Orlando.” Check out a POV video of the attraction from Behind the Thrills.
It has definitely been an eventful summer for Disney fans. I was not able to do as much Disney as I had wished because I was in London for the summer, studying abroad. But, when I got home I was able to see so many of the new things and I’m really excited about the direction that Disney is moving towards.
Since school is back in session, it really is Part-Time Pixie Dust for me right now. I can’t go to the parks whenever I want. I have to live vicariously through bloggers and instagrammers. If you are one of those people or have something to share,comment or email me and I’d love to feature you on Friends of PTPD or on a future blog post.