This week at Walt Disney World, the biggest news around the resort is of course the opening of three new attractions open across the resort. However, this week also brought a surprise soft opening to Epcot, some big character shuffles to the Magic Kingdom, plus a lengthy refurbishment to a popular hotel dining establishment.
Outside Walt Disney World, Universal continues soft openings for Islands of Adventure's newest attraction, Busch Gardens Tampa officially opens a brand new roller coaster, plus a report surfaces that indicates a seasonal favorite at Universal Studios Florida will be returning later this year.
1. New attractions open across Walt Disney World
This week, Walt Disney World opened several new attractions, including Soarin’ Around the World at Epcot, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire at the Magic Kingdom and Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. You can read what we thought of Soarin’ Around the World here and Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire here (and keep an eye out for our review of Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, which is coming soon!)
2. Royal Sommerhus soft opens ahead of June 21st official opening at Epcot
Though it isn’t scheduled to officially open until next week, Disney surprised guests earlier this week by soft opening the Royal Sommerhus character meet and greet at Epcot. This new attraction has an expansive interior queue that features furniture, toys and other items used by Anna and Elsa when they were children. Eagle-eyed Disney fans may also notice a few low key references to former attraction Maelstrom in the queue as well.
After winding around the large interior area, guests will be led to a beautifully decorated room where Anna and Elsa will meet guests in their usual attire (sorry Frozen Fever fans!) in front of bright, illuminated backdops. You can check out a few photos from inside the Royal Sommerhus below:
3. Magic Kingdom gets a princess themed character shuffle, plus a prince gets the boot
Now that Anna and Elsa have officially moved to the Royal Sommerhus, there have been a couple of character changes in response around the Magic Kingdom. Over at the Princess Fairytale Hall Cinderella and Rapunzel have separated to opposite sides of the hall, and are now joined by "visiting" Princesses Tiana and Aurora, respectively.
As a result, Tiana’s former meeting area is now vacant, and Snow White has moved into the Town Square Courtyard by City Hall, where Aurora was formerly meeting guests. Unfortunately, because of Tiana's move to the Princess Fairytale Hall, Prince Naveen (who used to meet with Tiana) has been removed from the regular Magic Kingdom character lineup (though he'll probably be back during special events like Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party).
4. Inside Shanghai Disneyland exhibit opens at Epcot's China Pavilion
As expected, the House of the Whispering Willows gallery at Epcot's China pavilion has reopened after a lengthy refurbishment, and now features an exhibit with information, models, and costumes from the newly opened Shanghai Disney Resort. It is unknown how long this exhibit will hang around for, but we'd wager it will be a year or more before this particular display moves on and makes way for the next new exhibit.
5. Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory food court closing next month for lengthy refurbishment
The Sassagoula Floatworks and Food Factory food court at Disney's Port Orleans Resort French Quarter is closing July 11 for a major refurbishment and will reopen later this fall (a specific reopening date not yet confirmed).
During the refurbishment, a temporary dining location will be made available near the lobby that will serve jambalaya, gumbo, po-boy sandwiches, beignets, other hot and cold entrees as well as grab and go items.
6. Fences added to beaches around Seven Seas Lagoon
In response to recent events at the resort, Disney has elected to close all beaches around the Seven Seas Lagoon, and has installed fences around the water, complete with signs warning guests about dangerous wildlife in the area including snakes and alligators. It is unknown right now if the beaches will reopen at any point.