Plus…. Wishes Fireworks Show to be replaced this Spring, Star Wars Land announcement, and more!
Springtime is quickly approaching and there’s a ton of exciting news to report from the Vacation Kingdom of the World, so let’s dive right into the February 2017 Edition of the WDW Radio Newswire….
We begin this Edition of the Newswire at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, as we finally have an official opening date for Pandora – World of Avatar. The highly anticipated land will be open for business on Saturday, May 27, 2017. Look for “soft openings” of the land’s two attractions, Na’vi River Journey and Pandora Flight of Passage to begin taking place earlier in the month of May as well. Construction began back in January of 2014, so this will put the total time between Groundbreaking and Opening Day at just about 3 1/2 years.
In more Animal Kingdom-related news, Rivers of Light has finally made its long-awaited debut along the Discovery River. The new nighttime extravaganza officially kicked off its run on Friday, February 17, with regular performances scheduled to take place every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday throughout slower months. During busier periods, the show will move to a nightly performance schedule. The show itself is about 16 minutes in length, with pre-show festivities getting underway 15 minutes prior, totaling in about a half-hour experience. FASTPASS+ is available, and Dining Packages at Tusker House Restaurant and Tiffins are available for booking as well. The Asia seating section is reserved for FASTPASS+ Guests only, with a seating capacity of 2,300. Over on the DinoLand U.S.A. side, there’s seating for 2,700 Dining Package and walkup/standby Guests, with standing room available for another 1,000 Park-goers as well.
Time to Park-hop over to Disney’s Hollywood Studios now, where a recent announcement was made pertaining to Star Wars Land. It’s official: Star Wars Land will be opening in 2019. It may seem far, far away, but we’re only about two years from being completely immersed in the world of Star Wars!
Speaking of Star Wars, a new Meet and Greet is coming soon to the Star Wars Launch Bay. BB-8 will start making appearances on Friday, April 14, 2017, which just happens to coincide with the debut night for the Hard-Ticketed Event: Star Wars Galactic Nights. Guests can currently meet the mighty Chewbacca and encounter Kylo Ren, and both of these Meet and Greets will be continuing once BB-8 joins the mix this April.
Time to board the ferry and steam over to Magic Kingdom Park now, as there’s bittersweet news to report on Wishes. After a run of nearly 14 years, the fireworks spectacular is headed for retirement this Spring, with the swan song set to take place on Thursday, May 11, 2017. The following night, a brand-new Nighttime Fireworks Show is scheduled to debut: Happily Ever After. The show will run 18 minutes in length, several minutes longer than its predecessor. Happily Ever After will feature a soundtrack of Disney classics like Sleeping Beauty, Peter Pan, The Little Mermaid, Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, as well as modern favorites like Brave, Big Hero 6, Zootopia, Frozen, and Moana. Fans of Wishes can find solace in the fact that Happy HaloWishes and Holiday Wishes will both continue to light up the skies during every edition of Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party.
Time to hop out of the Parks and into the Resorts now, as a pair of major expansion announcements have recently been confirmed. Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort will both be undergoing extensive renovations. Coronado Springs will be adding a massive 15-story tower, which will add 500 rooms to the Resort’s already sprawling landscape. The tower will come complete with rooftop dining, providing breathtaking views of the surrounding WDW property. Over at Caribbean Beach, plans are calling for construction of seven new buildings, as well as new waterfront dining and shopping areas in Centertown. As a result of the expansion, the buildings in the Barbados section will be demolished. Work at Caribbean Beach and Coronado Springs is scheduled to begin immediately, with a completion date set for sometime in 2019.
In more Resort news, let’s head over to Disney’s BoardWalk Inn. A new Character Dining experience will soon be joining the mix, as the Royal Couples Character Breakfast is coming to Trattoria al Forno this Spring. The breakfast will feature majestic duos from classic Disney films, with the debut lineup set to feature Ariel and Eric from The Little Mermaid and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from Tangled.
In our final newsbit today, let’s venture over to Disney Springs, as the recently renovated Empress Lilly has just re-opened as Paddlefish. The space features three levels of seating, each with its own unique look and design. The mid-deck holds the bulk of the lunch and dinner seating space, with the lower deck providing water-side tables complete with picturesque floor-to-ceiling glass windows. In addition, the top deck has been equipped with an open-air bar and lounge featuring a nice mix of comfortable seating areas and stand-up tables for groups of all sizes.
Well, that’s gonna do it for the February 2017 Edition of the WDW Radio Newswire. But I’ll be back again next month with lots more news, notes, and happenings from Walt’s beloved Florida Project!
Don Myers has covered Walt Disney World news and recent/upcoming events for the WDW Radio Blog since 2011. He has loved “all things Disney” since his first family trip to WDW in 1986. As they say, the rest is history! Don was also a contributing writer for Celebrations Magazine, penning over 30 articles and 7 cover stories for the publication from 2009 to 2012.