New and exciting attractions coming to the parks in 2017
by: Shelley Caran
The theme parks of Central Florida will be bursting with new attractions, events, and restaurants that will be opening in 2017!
Let's take a look at everything park goers will be able to experience in the upcoming year!
Walt Disney World
While you may think that the big news for 2017 at the Walt Disney World will be opening the long-awaited Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom, don't sleep on the new additions coming across the Resort!
Pandora: The World of Avatar – Summer 2017
In collaboration with filmmaker James Cameron and Lightstorm Entertainment, Disney is bringing to life the fantasy world of Pandora, inspired by Cameron’s epic film AVATAR, in a breathtaking new land at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Avatar Flight of Passage will send guests flying above the jungles of Pandora on a Mountain Banshee. Bioluminescent rainforests dramatically wrap around Na’vi River Journey, a family-friendly boat ride.
Hungry adventurers can recharge at Satu’li Canteen, the main dining location, or Pongu Pongu, a drink kiosk with a design as eclectic as its expat owner. Shoppers can stock up on Na’vi cultural items, toys, science kits and more at Windtraders.
“From the place making to the two extraordinary attractions that will be in the land…these promise to set new high-watermarks for the experiential magic we give our guests,” said Bob Chapek, Chairman, Disney Parks and Resorts.
Rivers of Light – 2017
This powerful theatrical production takes Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests on a magnificent emotional journey – a visual mix of water, fire, nature and light choreographed to an original musical score. Continuing the park’s transformation from a day-into-nighttime experience, the amazing after-dark show on the banks of Discovery River celebrates the majesty of nature and the connection between animals and humans in the world. With innovative and never-before-seen technology, Rivers of Light will be unlike any other production ever staged at Walt Disney World Resort.
Star Wars Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios – Spring 2017
An all-new Star Wars Guided Tour is a seven-hour immersion in all current Star Wars experiences at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Character greetings, themed dining, ride experiences, insider’s tours, dessert party and VIP viewing of Star Wars: a Galactic Spectacular are among highlights. Offered Mondays and Saturdays, it’s part of several new Star Wars additions announced in December 2016 for the park, including a new onstage sequence in the daytime experience “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away.” Star Wars-themed lands are planned for Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Resort.
Sky Dine-Around – 2017
The new experience gives guests priority boarding on the monorail for a distinctly Disney dining experience with stops for cocktails, appetizers, dinner and dessert. From a welcome cocktail at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, guests call at Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort (appetizers), Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa (entree), and back to the Contemporary for dessert, cordials and coffee. This experience will be offered Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
Epcot International Festival of the Arts – Weekends (Friday to Monday) January 13 – February 20
Epcot welcomes an all-new festival playing winter weekends and treating guests to a triple scoop of artful fun. For six colorful weekends visual, culinary, and performing arts will take center stage. Each weekend will feature taste bud-tempting and eye-dazzling creations from the Disney culinary team. Meantime, exciting new art from various media will tempt art lovers. Because the artwork will change out, it’s a new art festival every weekend. In addition, the lagoon-side stage at American Gardens Theatre will pulse with favorite showtunes performed by Broadway talent. In a collaboration with Disney Theatrical, songs from some of Disney on Broadway’s award-winning shows including The Lion King, Newsies and Aladdin will be performed.
Miss Fortune Falls – Spring 2017
Aboard this family-style raft adventure, guests will be immersed in the story of Captain Mary Oceaneer. Legend holds that this treasure hunter roamed the seven seas in search of undersea artifacts – until a rogue storm marooned her at Typhoon Lagoon. Guests gently ascend in treasure rafts, only to plunge into a whitewater adventure where they will encounter some of Mary’s deep sea booty. When it opens, it will be one of the longest attractions (2 minutes) at Disney’s Water Parks.
Disney Springs – Throughout 2017
2017 will be the year of new restaurants joining the exceptional line-up of dining, shopping, and entertainment at Disney Springs with the arrival of the following locations:
Paddlefish – Sleek and modern after a bow-to-stern transformation from the former Fulton’s Crab House, Paddlefish will serve fresh seafood, steaks and chops. Unique menu choices for seafood lovers include a build-your-own boil. A new rooftop lounge will serve up a late-night menu and shipshape views of the water and Disney Springs. Open for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch.
Planet Hollywood Observatory – Longtime Downtown Disney-goers will remember the iconic domed restaurant that drew celebrities and fans of the Hollywood scene. The reborn space will be themed to stars of a different kind: a turn-of-the-20th-Century observatory serving up amazing burgers and sandwiches created by celebrity chef Guy Fieri, and craft cocktails whose names are inspired by the planets and space travel. Movie memorabilia, video screens, contemporary music and themed merchandise complete the scene.
The Polite Pig – A sister restaurant to the Ravenous Pig, a favorite with Orlando locals, The Polite Pig will bring the same focus on genuine Florida cuisine to a broader global audience at Disney Springs. Lunch and dinner menus will feature a variety of wood-fired smoked and grilled items as well as an innovative beverage program that serves all drinks on tap, including beer, wine and cocktails.
Wine Bar George – Orlando master sommelier George Miliotes uncorks his first Disney wine bar in a space reminiscent of a winemaker’s estate warmed by oak wood and cozy lighting. Small plates dominate the food menu but it will be the wines with a starring role: more than 100 selections both by the bottle and the glass in a range of varietals and vintages.\
New Cabins and Deluxe Villas coming to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge – 2017
A proposed new Disney Vacation Club Resort, Copper Creek Villas & Cabins at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge Resort, is scheduled to open, featuring new Resort accommodations that include plans for Deluxe Villas and unique waterfront cabins. Other enhancements coming to Disney’s Wilderness Lodge include a brand-new bar & grill, in addition to a quick-service restaurant. A sweeping re-imagination of the former Hidden Springs Pool, part of Boulder Ridge Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge, is also scheduled to open in summer 2017. Named Boulder Ridge Cove, this area will feature an expanded sun deck and zero-depth-entry pool.
Universal Orlando Resort
The Universal Orlando Resort is always thrilling guests with new experiences, and in 2017 they'll be opening an innovative water park and attraction based on the popular Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon!
Volcano Bay Water Park
Volcano Bay will span 30 fully immersive acres and feature a variety of experiences that range from daring to serene. Dozens of unique attractions will offer something for everyone, including a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, a peaceful winding river, twisting multi-rider raft rides, speeding body slides that drop from the top of the volcano into the waters below – and more. And the best part – guests won’t have to wait in long lines to enjoy any of it with the new TapuTapu wearable technology (included in admission) that is designed to make the guest experience throughout the entire park as hassle-free and fun-filled as possible that allows guests to wait in virtual lines and 'tap to play' experiences throughout the park.
You can find out more about each attraction and are of the new Volcano Bay on their website!
Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon
Your experience begins as you enter the NBC Studios for a VIP experience that includes:
A special live performance from the Ragtime Gals barbershop quartet,
Meet and interact with The Tonight Show’s beloved mascot, Hashtag the Panda,
Step into Studio 6B Club where guests play host at their own Interactive Desk where they can send Jimmy Fallon’s famous Thank You Notes to their friends and family,
Prep for their race with a ‘Jimmy Drive’ retro-style video game, and
Watch their favorite “The Tonight Show” clips.
Guests to NBC Studios will also get an up-close look at significant moments in the 62-year history of one of television’s most popular franchises, “The Tonight Show” with real props, cue cards, set pieces, and even actual suits of past and present hosts to NBC video cameras used to record the show to cue cards used in past episodes.
Then you take your seat on this all-new attraction that takes guests on a one-of-a-kind adventure speeding down The Tonight Shows's hallways and through the iconic streets and icons of New York City onboard the world's first-ever flying theater.
SeaWorld Orlando and their Aquatica Water Park will see new enhancements to familiar favorites, a new nighttime parade, new restaurant, and special event making this one of the busiest years for the parks!
SeaWorld Orlando will debut its first digitally enhanced ride experience as the legendary Kraken roller coaster is transformed into a virtual reality (VR) roller coaster experience. New technology will take riders along deep sea creatures bringing a new level of excitement to Kraken . Once it is complete, this will be the first and only VR coaster experience in Florida.
Dolphin Nursery - Summer 2017
SeaWorld Orlando’s Dolphin Nursery will get a makeover to create an interactive space that gives guests the opportunity to get up close to mother and baby dolphins in all new ways. Several large-scale acrylic windows will offer up close viewing on multiple levels to give kids a face-to-face perspective with dolphin calves, new slide out areas and lifting floor will also allow for easier access to mom and baby for the veterinary and animal care teams, and the next generation of multi-purpose digital displays will allow SeaWorld educators to share information about dolphin educational and animal care content.
Seven Seas Festival - Starting February 2017
SeaWorld Orlando already hosts some of the most popular music and food events throughout the year, and in 2017 they will expand to a total of 14 weekends in 2017 as part of the Seven Seas Festival. The festival will feature food and craft brews throughout the park that is inspired by street foods from Asia, the Caribbean, South America, and the Mediterranean.
Flamecraft Bar - Summer 2017
Continuing the park’s food and beverage focus, a new dining location adjacent to the SeaFire Grill along the waterfront area will provide a great place to pause for a drink in a casual atmosphere. The Flamecraft Bar will feature 16 seasonal craft brews and a new menu.
Electric Ocean- Summer 2017
A brand new, end-of-day spectacle event called Electric Ocean will debut in the Summer of 2017. As the sun goes down, the lights and energy go up offering guests a different kind of fun after dark. The ocean comes to life with bioluminescent lighting, original music, and pathway entertainment immersing guests in a glowing sea of wonder.
Nautilus Theatre - Summer 2017
Continuing the park’s focus on entertainment, events and shows, an entirely new experience is coming to the Nautilus Theatre. The dedicated summer show will debut Memorial Day weekend.
Aquatica Pass Member Pavilion – Spring 2017
As part of SeaWorld’s ongoing commitment to their Annual Pass Members, the Aquatica Pass Member Pavilion will open just in time for spring break. The exclusive pavilion will feature concierge service, complimentary sunscreen, a private entrance to Banana Beach, private animal encounters and additional offers.
LEGOLAND Florida Resort
LEGOLAND Florida will be opening new worlds, a brand new resort making it the only LEGOLAND Park in the world with a second hotel, and a bevy of new special events you won't want to miss in 2017!
LEGO NINJAGO World – Spring 2017
The newest immersive area of LEGOLAND Florida inspired by the popular LEGO building sets and television show “LEGO NINJAGO: Masters of Spinjitzu” on January 12, 2017. will be filled with hands-on outdoor activities, LEGO building experiences, and the centerpiece LEGO NINJAGO The Ride which is an innovative attraction that combines 3D computer animation with 4D effects and groundbreaking technology.
LEGOLAND Beach Retreat Resort - Summer 2017
LEGOLAND Florida will open their second resort, LEGOLAND Beach Retreat, on April 7th inviting families to stay in a village-style vacation resort with 83 beach-themed bungalows each with whimsical LEGO décor inside and out themed to popular LEGO Minifigures. The resort has a focus on outdoor play, and the bungalows are grouped into 'coves' that feature outdoor play areas that are within the view of the bungalows’ shaded patios, where mom and dad can relax while kids play.
LEGOLAND Florida Special Events
LEGOLAND Florida is known for hosting special events throughout the year that are filled with special characters and activities which are included in regular park admission, and in 2017 they're adding two new events and expanding the dates of existing favorites!
The LEGO Batman™ Movie Days – March 4-5 & 11-12: New for 2017 Super hero. Crime-fighter. Master Builder. LEGO Batman™ is all of those and so much more. Come meet Gotham City’s Caped Crusader during this celebration of the Warner Bros. feature film, which will include photo ops with the scene-stealing star, a themed scavenger hunt and LEGO Batman™-inspired LEGO build activities.
KIDZ BOP Weekend – April 28-30: New for 2017 The No. 1 music brand for kids will deliver three days of high-energy fun during this inaugural event exclusive to LEGOLAND Florida Resort. Guests can enjoy the KIDZ Bop Kids live in concert at The KIDZ Bop Theater as part of their 2017 tour, including songs from the forthcoming “KIDZ BOP 34” album and their version of the LEGO NINJAGO theme song, “The Weekend Whip.”
LEGO Star Wars™ Days – May 6-7 & 13-14: Visit a galaxy far, far away during this Lucasfilm authorized event, which features some of the most famous scenes from the Star Wars saga made out of 1.5 million LEGO bricks in the LEGO Star Wars MINILAND Model Display. Activities will include appearances by costumed Star Wars fans, LEGO building activities inspired by Star Wars characters, settings and stories, and a Star Wars™-themed costume parade for kids. It’s the only LEGO Star Wars theme park event in Florida!
LEGOLAND Knight Lights – Select dates in July, including Tuesday, July 4: When the sun goes down, the fun goes up during LEGOLAND Florida's signature summertime event! The Good Knight offers extended park hours, uniquely LEGO light displays, opportunities to build alongside our Master Model Builders, and meet-and-greet opportunities with one of the heroes of LEGO NEXO KNIGHTS! Plus, enjoy a spectacular themed fireworks show over Lake Eloise to end the night, with a special patriotic show planned for the Fourth of July.
Firefighter Fridays – October 6, 13, 20 and 27: The National Fire Protection Association returns the annual kickoff of to NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week and a month-long celebration of real-life heroes. The event includes fun, educational activities that teach kids the importance of fire safety with opportunities to meet firefighters who keep our communities safe.
Brick or Treat – Select dates in October: The park's annual, all-day Halloween event promises lots of spooky, kooky, fun for the entire family that includes larger-than-life LEGO models, a costume parade, multiple LEGO build activities, trick-or-treating (with lots of candy!), exclusive LEGO character meet-and-greets, a Halloween-themed fireworks show, and much more!
Christmas Bricktacular – Select dates in December: The LEGOLAND Florida Resort is filled with festive fun to celebrate the season with fun touches like a giant Christmas tree made of thousands of LEGO and DUPLO bricks, holiday-themed scavenger hunts, LEGO building activities, meet-and-greets with LEGO Santa and LEGO Toy Soldier, sparkling lights, beautiful decorations, and even the occasional snow flurry! At the end of each Christmas Bricktacular, you can end your night with the not-so-silent-night fireworks spectacular choreographed to classic holiday music.
Kids’ New Year’s Eve – Sunday, December 31 only: Ring in the New Year with a one-night-only party built for kids, featuring an exclusive dance party, park-wide LEGO building activities, special entertainment, and an awesome fireworks show that kicks off the 'kid-friendly' countdown to a giant LEGO “brick drop” before midnight!
With so much happening in 2017, we look forward to brining you the latest coverage and insider information on icFlorida!