Plus…Nighttime Entertainment on the horizon at Animal Kingdom, Newsbits on Downtown Disney, and more!
by Don Myers
Things had been pretty quiet on the WDW newsfront the past few weeks, but the recent D23 Expo in Japan provided us with a major update on the upcoming AVATAR land project! So let’s get to it. Time for the latest edition of the WDW Radio Newswire…..
We begin this edition of the WDW Radio Newswire at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, as some major details have recently been announced pertaining to the upcoming AVATAR land project. Last week Japan played host to the latest D23 Expo. At the Expo, a photograph of the project model and three pieces of concept art were released. They provided us with our first real glimpse into the world this project will be creating at Animal Kingdom. The first piece of concept art shows a family making their way down a walking trail, the floating mountains of Pandora clearly visible in the background. The second piece depicts a boat ride through the bioluminescent-lit jungles of Pandora. The third piece of concept art is perhaps the most amazing of all, as it shows Guests soaring high above the ground on Banshees! AVATAR land is on track to open in 2017 in the space currently occupied by that of Camp Minnie-Mickey, and thanks to the concept art we now have a visual idea as to some of the attractions we can expect to see when the world of AVATAR comes to life in 2017!
Also announced at the Expo was news that nighttime entertainment will also be coming soon to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The park has never been open very late and loud noise could potentially disturb the animals, so as a result nighttime entertainment has never really been a part of Animal Kingdom. But AVATAR land will come alive after dark so once the project is completed the park will no doubt be open later than it has been in years past. This will bring about the opportunity for a series of spectacular nighttime entertainment experiences, including live music and performers on Discovery Island, an illuminated Tree of Life, and a vibrant new nightly show which will meander its way down the Discovery River. The show has yet to be named, but we do know it will feature a series of water screens and floating lanterns! Kilimanjaro Safaris will even be getting in on the nighttime fun, as an after dark version of the popular attraction is also going to be in the mix. No official word yet on when we can expect to see the debut of Animal Kingdom’s new nightlife, but I for one hope we don’t have to wait until the opening of AVATAR land in 2017!
Time to park-hop over to Hollywood Studios now, as there’s some news to report on the refurbishment front. The Studio Backlot Tour will be closing down on Sunday January 5th, with a re-opening date scheduled for Sunday March 2nd. Extensive downtime has become commonplace for the Backlot Tour in recent years, but this near two-month closure is a bit lengthier than the refurbs the attraction has experienced in years past.
Our final stop today takes us over to Downtown Disney. Let’s begin on the West Side, where it was recently announced Fit2Run will be opening up a new store this Fall. The chain operates several stores in the state of Florida, and this new location at Downtown Disney will come equipped with its own indoor test track. Fit2Run will be housed near the Splitsville bowling complex, right next to Curl by Sammy Duvall.
For more news out of Downtown Disney, we now head over to the Wetzel’s Pretzels and Haagen-Daz Ice Cream shop. Last week the location closed down permanently to make way for a new Starbucks location. Scheduled to open this Spring, the Starbucks will be the third of its kind to open up on WDW property, joining the Main Street Bakery at Magic Kingdom and Fountain View at Epcot. If you happen to be a fan of Haagen-Daz ice cream and/or Wetzel’s Pretzels fear not; a kiosk will be set up this December near the Disney Quest complex featuring all your favorite Wetzel’s Pretzels and Haagen-Daz treats!
Well, that’s gonna do it for today’s update. But before we call it a wrap, let’s take a look at the results of our previous poll. The question was:
What is your favorite Character greeting spot in Magic Kingdom?
. Town Square Theater (Mickey Mouse)
. Main Street Flag Pole (Marie & Pluto)
. Pete’s Silly Sideshow (Donald, Goofy, Minnie, & Daisy)
. Princess Fairytale Hall (Cinderella, Rapunzel, Snow White, Aurora, Jasmine, Tiana, & Mulan)
. Ariel’s Grotto (Ariel)
. Agrabah Bazaar (Aladdin & Jasmine)
. Enchanted Tales With Belle (Belle)
. Frontierland Courtyard (Woody & Jessie)
. Out of this World friends in Tomorrowland (Buzz & Stitch)
And the winner is…..
Princess Fairytale Hall with 21% of the votes! Second place honors went to the Town Square Theater meet and greet with Mickey Mouse, as the big cheese brought in 17% of the total vote. Once again a big thank you to everyone that took the time to vote! Now on to this week’s question:
Don Myers covers news and recent events in Walt Disney World. He has been enamored with the World of Disney since his first trip to WDW in 1986. As they say, the rest is history! Don also has been a contributing writer for Celebrations magazine since 2009.