Walt Disney World is always evolving! There is always something being added or refurbished, so I thought I would make a list of MY top 5 favorite recent additions.
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Mine Coaster-
A brand new addition to the New Fantasyland, this roller coaster is a family-friendly upgrade to the former classic Disney dark ride, Snow White’s Scary Adventures. This new homage to Walt Disney’s first full-length animated film has been wildly popular since it opened in spring of last year. So popular, in fact, that the best way to make sure you and your family experience this ride is to reserve your fast passes at or around the 60 day window for resort guests. If you are not able to secure your fast passes, you will easily be waiting for an hour or more with some maximum wait times being much more than that. If you do not happen to have a fast pass to ride, you might not be aware that the Disney Imagineers have done an amazing job with the interactive, mostly-shaded queue. It is a pleasant wait, and with all of the activity surrounding you, the time will seem like it passes by more quickly. Your kids are sure to love the water features, games and special effects that you will experience in the queue. Once on the ride, which is a mine-train style ride that takes place on a typical Dwarf work day, you will rock, twist and turn toward and up through their mine cave, sing a well-known Dwarf song along with your other mine-car travelers, visit amazing state-art-of-the art animatronics of all seven dwarfs, all as you move upward to the top of the hill and down the Disney mini-mountain and back home safely to the Dwarf cottage. Whew, quite a ride!! The coaster provides mild thrills for the more experienced thrill-seekers, but your kids will be laughing and smiling the entire time. Oh, and keep your eyes open for that mean, ol’ witch as she tries to crash the happy party at the end!!
4. Moving Dole Whip, and Aloha Isle to a less congested area-
On a hot Disney day, what better snack option is there than the world famous Dole Whip? Haven’t heard of it? Well, you must try it! This is a “pineapple-y” frozen soft serve that used to cause a frenzy and traffic jam amongst theme park visitors just inside the entrance to Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom. This area was already a highly congested area, and recently some very keen people at Disney felt that due to the popularity of this cool treat, a better area to serve Dole Whip would be at the location formerly occupied by the Sunshine Tree Terrace. Don’t fret! The Sunshine Tree Terrace has not gone anywhere. Aloha Isle and Sunshine Tree Terrace simply switched locations, and Aloha Isle, although in a different location, is still the home for Dole Whip in the Magic Kingdom. The new Aloha Isle location offers a larger waiting area and counter space for additional service. There are also several tables where you and your family can sit down adjacent to the serving area to enjoy your Dole Whip or other soft serve treat in a quieter area of the park. Take my advice and definitely save one of your snack options from the dining plan for this delicious treat and discover for yourself why it is “world-famous”! My suggestion for the best way to enjoy this treat? Enjoy Walt Disney’s classic Enchanted Tiki Room and let the “birds that sing words” get you in the tropical frame of mind beforehand. Exit the attraction and you will find Aloha Isle at the Sunshine Terrace just outside the Enchanted Tiki Room. Grab your Dole Whip, and let it take you to an island far away.
- Splitsville- see their menu here
This recently opened, unique restaurant experience has taken up residency on Downtown Disney’s Westside. This a huge, two-story restaurant that is a restaurant, sports bar and bowling alley combo. The atmosphere is lively and fun. Overhead you will hear a wide range of popular music that helps maintain the vibe. You may dine and bowl, dine only or bowl only. There are 30 bowling lanes, 5 bars and even billiard tables. You could easily go to Splitsville for entertainment only, but there is a large menu that should appeal to most. The menu is comprised of fan and family-friendly food, for sure. You will even find your favorite sporting events on the TVs easily viewable from your seat in the restaurant. Although I did not bowl this time, I thoroughly enjoyed my dining and social experience at Splitsville. I like lively places and seeing people have a good time together, so this was right up my “alley.”
2. Art of Animation Resort and Suites-
Imagine seeing this resort for the first time through the eyes of a child! Larger than life representations of all of their childhood animated heroes, and probably some of yours, too!! Nemo, Lightning McQueen, Simba and Ariel are all here, along with all of their friends (and enemies, too)! The Art of Animation resort takes the value resort concept of the All-Star resorts and Pop Century a step further and does an excellent job of seamlessly placing you in the worlds of some of Disney and Disney-Pixar’s biggest hits. For example, in the Nemo pool area, you will be swimming in a “big blue world” with Nemo at home in his reef and surrounded by an oceanic theme your kids are sure to love. In fact, this is the largest resort pool in all of Walt Disney World! Did you know the pool features underwater speakers?? How cool is that?? For those that prefer to hear their music while sunbathing, overhead you will hear fun, family-friendly beach-style music. If the adults need quick refreshment, the ‘Drop Off’ is just a short walk away from the pool. Your family could easily make a whole day of it just hanging out by the pool so make sure to work in an “off-day” from the theme parks to take full advantage of the amenities. I really loved the atmosphere here in this pool area, and I would love to bring my son back to spend a day. Also, if you walk around the resort look for Squirt from ‘Finding Nemo’ and you will have found one of the play areas for the little ones. There are slides in the Nemo area, caves for the kids to explore in the Lion King area, huge props like the Dinglehopper recreated from the Little Mermaid and life-sized versions of Radiator Springs from Cars. There is so much to explore at this resort and everything is pristine, new and beautiful to look at. It is a HUGE resort so be prepared to walk a bit. One of the other things I love about Art of Animation are the quick-service and snack options. You will discover these for yourself if you head up to the Landscape of Flavors in the main hall whenever you hear that rumbly in your tumbly. There are a wide variety of counter service and snack options to choose from and a very comfortable and spacious dining area. If you have a larger family, then the Art of Animation resort may be the perfect place for you. You have the option of choosing between a Cars, Nemo or Lion King family suite that will sleep 6. There are two bathrooms, two televisions, kitchen table that turns in to a pull-down bed from the wall, a pull-out sleeper couch and kitchenette. Have a smaller party? Art of Animation can accommodate you as well in a Little Mermaid themed standard room.
- Festival of Fantasy Parade-Grab your seat early for this one!! That’s only if you want the best seat in the house of Mouse! In my opinion, there’s nothing like watching this parade curbside on Main Street, looking downward as Cinderella’s castle is perfectly framed behind beautifully detailed parade floats capturing decade’s worth of Disney magic. All of your old and new favorites are here, and you can’t help but feel that intangible Disney magic fill your heart as you experience this amazing, musical spectacle. This parade replaces the long-running Celebrate a Dream Come True parade and is the first major parade update at the Magic Kingdom since 2001. To be honest, there is really not a bad place to witness this parade that even includes an amazing float inspired by the fire-breathing dragon from Sleeping Beauty. I saw the parade for the first time sitting on the steps in Frontierland and I would have to say it made one of my best-ever Disney memories, and that’s from someone that has been going to the parks for over 30 years! But, when I recently saw it for the second time, this time on Main Street, it topped even that first experience. Have a cold drink and snack in your bag (that you brought from home) and make your way to Main Street to grab your preferred spot 30-45 minutes early. And remember, the 3 o’clock parade starts at 3’oclock! Make sure you add this huge piece of Disney magic to your next vacation experience!! You will not forget it.
I hope you have enjoyed my top 5 list of recent additions! Contact me for assistance in planning your next vacation at no cost!! firstname.lastname@example.org