This week at Walt Disney World, Pandora - The World of Avatar opens, Disney's Hollywood Studios gets a handful of new attractions for summer, plus Disney Springs announces a new event and the Grand Floridian brings back a free dessert party for the summer.
Programming note: Though we normally devote some time to Orlando-area parks outside Lake Buena Vista, there has been so much going on at Walt Disney World over the past seven days that we decided to forgo the “beyond” this week. You’ll hear about all the news from Universal Orlando Resort, Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando in next week’s update!
1. Pandora - The World of Avatar now open
Nearly six years after it was first announced, Pandora - The World of Avatar finally officially opened at Disney's Animal Kingdom on Saturday, May 27, 2017. Predictably, opening day in this new land was quite busy, with lines to get into this new land forming at the park gate around 5:00 AM. Once the park opened for the day, lines grew, stretching all the way to the Oasis by the mid-morning. Guests also were turned away from this new land intermittently as it filled quickly to capacity.
Those who were able to get inside this land also faced multi-hour waits, with Avatar - Flight of Passage hitting five hours at one point and the Na'vi River Journey getting close to four hours. Lines to get into food and merchandise locations were also quite long as well.
Though opening day was very busy (and wait times will likely remain elevated through the summer), Disney's Animal Kingdom is offering nightly Extra Magic Hours to try and help disperse crowds and keep things manageable inside this much-anticipated new land.
2. Disney's Hollywood Studios debuts surprise new show
This week guests at Disney’s Hollywood Studios got a surprise on Friday, May 26th, when a brand new show named Disney Movie Magic debuted with no advance notice whatsoever. This new nighttime spectacular is another projection show, similar to Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, just without the fireworks. However, this new show doesn’t actually replace the nightly celebration of all things Star Wars, as it actually begins 30 minutes before that show, functioning almost like Once Upon a Time at the Magic Kingdom, warming guests up for the main evening show.
This new show has a 10- minute running time, and as you might expect given the name, showcases memorable moments from classic movies. The new show is almost like the finale scene of the Great Movie Ride, but with longer clips and a much stronger focus on Disney movies. You can read more about this new show (including its Marvel connection, and why Disney is perhaps keeping it secret) here.
3. Temporary Cars 3 meet and greet coming this summer
Fans of Pixar’s Cars films will be happy to hear that new character Cruz Ramirez from the upcoming Cars 3 movie will be appearing for meet-and-greets at Disney’s Hollywood Studios beginning sometime later this summer (presumably around the time this film comes out).
No date or location has been announced for this new experience, but we can't help but feel like this new addition seems almost like a bit of a throwback, as Disney's Hollywood Studios used to be home to a Lightning McQueen and Tow Mater character experience before the Streets of America were closed off and demolished.