I was in Florida 3 weeks ago, having a wonderful time at Walt Disney World with my parents. Orlando is one of my favourite places to visit and I’ve been fortunate enough to go back to the theme parks multiple times throughout my childhood. After touring the USA for 8 days in June of this year, we decided to stay in Orlando for 10 days at the end of the trip. One of the things I noticed on this recent trip was the fact that lots had changed since my previous visit in 2014. Changes mean new experiences and I thought I’d talk about them in today’s post, along with some classic Disney must-dos that I got to experience for the first time this year. From the World of Avatar to Star Wars at Hollywood Studios, there are lots of exciting and new attractions in Orlando now! I’m glad that Disney have started to update the parks and introduce new experiences for guests.
1. Pandora – The World of Avatar.
2. The Happily Ever Fireworks.
3. Star Wars at Hollywood Studios.
Hollywood Studios is gradually converting itself into a celebration of the Star Wars Saga. You can meet some of the characters from the movies at the Star Wars Launch Bay, there’s the iconic ride Star Tours and there’s even themed fireworks in the evening. I met BB-8 and we watched the fireworks, but we didn’t go on Star Tours this trip. Over the next couple of years there will be even more Star Wars attractions and it all looks incredibly exciting!
4. Disney Springs.
Disney Springs was totally new to us this trip. The last time we visited it was still Downtown Disney and oh my, has it changed! The new shopping area is so pretty, clean and well kept; shopping there must be an absolute delight! It’s a shame that the GBP to USD exchange rate is so poor at the moment.
5. Sprinkles Cupcake ATM at Disney Springs.
6. Dinner at Be Our Guest.
7. Soarin’ around the world at Epcot.
Soarin’ is one of the most popular attractions at Epcot and it used to be a paragliding simulator, that took you on a tour of California. Since my last trip, they’ve renovated the ride into a world tour and I must say, the new ride is even better than the original! You get to fly over the Eiffel Tower, the Matterhorn and Neuschwanstein Castle to name a few, which is way more adventurous than the old version!
8. Frozen ride at Epcot.
The Frozen Ever After attraction was created after the outstanding success of the movie. To make way for the new ride, Maelstrom (a World Showcase classic) was closed and Disney used the Maelstrom infrastructure as a foundation for the new ride. I got to ride Frozen Ever After whilst we were in Florida and although it did feel like a more glamorous version of Maelstrom with the Frozen characters thrown in, I did really enjoy the ride.
9. Nighttime at Animal Kingdom park.
Animal Kingdom is now open much later in the evening than it was when I was younger. This change in opening times has meant that Animal Kingdom now has an evening atmosphere and we got to experience it for the first time this trip. Pandora turns into an exhibition of amazing light effects, the Rivers of Light nighttime show brings the Asia section of the park to life with brilliant light-up floats on water and the Tree of Life awakenings illuminate the park’s signature attraction. Although the Africa area of the park doesn’t have a specific nighttime attraction, the streets of Africa come alive with music and dancing in the evening.
Creating nighttime experiences at Animal Kingdom has made the park so much more exciting. TOP TIP: If you wander around Pandora just before and after sunset in the evening, you’ll get to see the area’s mesmerising transition from day to night and see all of the flowers light up – just like they do in the Avatar movie!
10. Breakfast with the Princesses at Epcot.
This is not a new experience at Walt Disney World as it’s been around for a while, but it was our first time dining in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot. We had breakfast with the Princesses at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall and it was a lovely experience. I got to meet most of the Princesses, including my childhood favourite Snow White, and there were lots of yummy Norwegian-themed breakfast offerings. This was probably my favourite breakfast at Walt Disney World, as it was a buffet filled with lots of continental options such as fruit and pastries.