My friend Mike is what I’d call a true Disneyland expert! He’s been there many times and plumbed the park for all kinds of fun experiences. He’s written many posts on this blog over the past year (see my Disney page for all of them), and he’s back at it today with a new post for you! So, Disney fans, here’s Mike:
If you’re like most families, winter has got you thinking about your next family vacation. The challenge is often when and where you should go. Disney would like to help you with both of those questions by offering all sorts of new things to thrill your family over the next year. Let’s take a look at the top things coming in 2017 that might be reason enough to travel to a Disney destination.
Disneyland Park is having a year of returns, which might be a great time to schedule a trip. To start with, during the late winter and spring, crowds will be treated to the return of the classic nighttime parade, The Main Street Electrical Parade.
The parade began in 1972 but stopped running in Disneyland in the mid-90s. Many people have never seen this first-of-its-kind parade. Watch for the Main Street Electrical Parade from mid-January to mid-June. Just as that winds down, the Rivers of America are to be fully operational again, which will bring the return of Fantasmic! Disneyland’s nighttime spectacular that tells the story of evil invading Mickey’s Dreams acted out live on Tom Sawyer’s Island. Rumor has it the show will get a few updates and upgrades from its nearly two year hiatus. Disneyland at night is already the best with World Of Color and fireworks, but adding these two shows will really up their game for 2017.
I keep hearing rumors of a few Avatar sequels someday. By in large, nobody seems to be waiting on baited breath for those speculated movies to come. So when Disney announced they were opening an Avatar themed land, many responded with a resounding “Huh?”. However, the time has come and early pictures and videos are beginning to make even the most ambivalent skeptic feel a fair amount of awe and wonder.
Opening this summer in Walt Disney World’s Animal Kingdom, Pandora – The World Of Avatar, looks amazing. Surely, the folks who brought us the incredible Carsland are putting their best foot forward recreating this bioluminescent jungle for guests to fully be immersed in. And if an entire new land wasn’t enough to consider seeing one of Disney’s most beautiful theme parks, the Animal Kingdom is also planning to open the long delayed nighttime show, Rivers of Light. This show has been delayed for over a year, which makes me think, whatever they have planned will need to blow us away to justify the many delays. 2017 might be the year to finally check out Walt Disney World with the family.
Marvel & Star Wars
Dr. Strange, Civil War and Rogue 1 were huge hits in 2016 and Disney is making sure you have plenty of opportunity to enjoy more of your favorite characters from the movies of Star Wars and Marvel. As they prepare for another 3 more Marvel movies in 2017 (Spiderman: Homecoming, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and Thor: Ragnarok) and Star Wars Episode 8 you might wonder where in the parks can you get your fix as well. First and foremost, Hollywood Studios in Florida is your Star Wars central. From Star Tours, to a nightly Star Wars fireworks display, they’ve added a few more things to try in 2017.
You can now take the private all day Star Wars themed tour of Hollywood Studios, chalked with all the Star Wars fandom fun they can throw at you. If that wasn’t enough, they have recently announced, Star Wars: Galactic Nights, an oddly named one night only special hard ticketed event filled with Star Wars celebrities, scavenger hunts and special food and drink inspired by the space saga.
On Disney Cruise Line, Star Wars Days at Sea will continue this year as well. Hugely popular sailings with plenty of cosplay, character meet and greets and extra Star Wars fun.
But new to 2017 will be fall Marvel Days at Sea. Now you can meet the likes of Captain America, Spider-Man and many more while traveling with Disney Cruise Line. This might be the perfect time to sail and possibly see Thor: Ragnarok (I hope the next movie is Thor: Fraggle Rock btw), while dressed as Black Panther (he was awesome in Civil War).
But Marvel has a big entry into Disney that isn’t a blockbuster movie. The first ever Marvel-themed attraction is opening this summer in Disney California Adventure, Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout. Taking over the now closed Tower of Terror, this will be the first thrill ride in what is rumored to be a Marvel-themed area of the park. With the Marvel movies continuing to be smash hits, it is little wonder that a Marvel themed land will be soon upon in the near future.
Just Around The River Bend
Is 2017 the year to take the family to see Europe? Adventures by Disney sure is making it tempting. With a river cruise sailing down the Danube visiting Germany, Hungary, Slovokia and Austria for 8 days and 7 nights. Traditionally, river cruising aims for adults wanting to see Europe but with Adventures by Disney, they have designed the included private tours to be immersive for the whole family.
So as you’re visiting places such as Mondsee Abbey or Mirabell Gardens in Austria while singing your favorite song from Sound of Music (as those places were made famous by the movie) or seeing Vienna and learning to make apple strudel as a family, there will be plenty of opportunity to share precious moments everyone can enjoy. These cruises are already rated the best family river cruises, quite the honor this early on and adds to Adventures by Disney’s already stellar reputation.
EPCOT turns 35
The world’s best theme park turns 35 years old in 2017. Yes, EPCOT (Experimental Project City of Tomorrow) will have plenty to for fans to celebrate with. Starting right now, you can visit the new Festival of Arts event, filled with Broadway caliber performances, specialty food kiosks and …. well art! It runs until Feb 20th and early reports are glowing.
But if you can’t make it down in the next month, don’t worry too much, EPCOT has you covered. In the spring, it will be time for Flower & Garden, with new Disney inspired topiaries, gardening expos for those wanting to up their game, and specialty food kiosks.
Then, after the summer, it will be the longest Food & Wine festival ever! Cooking demos from celebrity chefs, food kiosks (surprise) bringing in food and wine and beer from around the world. And if I were a betting man, I bet some extra surprises will be in store for those there on Oct 1st as they commemorate the actual opening day of EPCOT.
RUN! You Clever Boy!
RunDisney has plenty for you to do in 2017. As this is posted, the Star Wars Half Marathon – Light Side in Disneyland has just concluded. That still leaves us with the Princess Half Marathon in February, the Star Wars Half Marathon – Dark Side in April, the Tinker Bell Half Marathon in May, the Disneyland Half Marathon in August/September, followed naturally by the Disneyland Paris Half Marathon also in September, of course we can’t forget the Wine and Dine Half Marathon in November, which we all know naturally begets the Marvel Super Hero Half Marathon at the end of November.
I know what you’re thinking, “Hey RunDisney, why are you short changing us? Nothing in the summer?!?!” Well you are in luck with virtual running shorts. These are a series of 5ks you can do at home and earn Disney medals. I know, phew, almost a full two months without a Disney race to compete in. What’s new about RunDisney in 2017? The medals are always new…. ugh, and I plan to sign up for my first race sometime in 2017. So you should too! We can do this. How’s that for a New Year’s resolution.
Last but not Leased
For many theme parks are just one of the fun parts of a Disney vacation. And where you stay and what you eat while you’re there is a pretty fun decision to make. Over at the Wilderness Lodge, the Disney Vacation Club is about adding new accommodations and amenities for those staying in their time-share property. Newly renamed, Boulder Ridge Villas, a property you are able to buy into, it is also available for guests who would like to stay and rent a room like a traditional resort stay. With a new pool area and bar and grill continuing the theme of Pacific Northwest in the mining era, these rooms will continue to be favorites by those visiting Walt Disney World.
And while you’re staying at this new property, you might as well continue enjoying new dining opportunities at what should be the completed Disney Springs. The last phase is predicted to be finishing this year which will include the opening of Paddlefish, Planet Hollywood Observatory and the super exciting Edison. The Edison is a 1920’s industrial Gothic themed lounge that is rumored to have cabaret inspired performances. This and other eating and shopping opportunities will be available for those at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World in 2017.
What are you most excited to see in 2017? What plans do you have for your family?
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Mike Rinehart is an independent travel agent affiliated with MEI & Mouse Fan Travel. Follow him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/MikesTravelThoughts/ Or request your free no obligation quote on your next Disneyland, Disney World, Aulani, Disney Cruise (and any other cruise line) vacation by emailing him at [email protected]. Mention “The Coupon Project” and receive a free gift with your completed booking.