Five Hopes for Walt Disney World in 2016

Sixteen is my lucky number, so I’m hoping that some fantastic things are on their way for this next year. In a previous blog, I noted the top 5 things that surprised me and delighted me in 2015. Let me share with you the 5 things I hope to see happen in 2016 for Walt Disney World. I wasn’t going to do this, since so many other lists have already gone out. But most are simply a list of what is to come. Some of this reflects what is already been promoted. But some of this is insight to what has yet to be announced. And some of it is part hope and dream. See if any of these five things make you excited for what lies ahead.

1. Frozen Unthawed. I have seldom seen so much controversy over a Disney attraction. I’ll be glad when it Frozen opens in Norway at Epcot. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were so popular that guests are lined up past Mexico trying to get in on certain days. And I promise that half of them will be people who shared skepticism for this new attraction. I learned earlier that the attraction could have opened up earlier. But I heard Iger wanted a better animatronic for Elsa, and with the thought of adding an additional meet ‘n’ greet attraction, it was decided to postpone re-opening the attraction until this Spring. So much is riding on this, I’ll be surprised if it isn’t a hit when it opens.

Norway in a quiet moment. That won't last for long. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Norway in a quiet moment. That won’t last for long. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

For those who don’t like the addition of Disney stories and attractions around World Showcase, I think back to when the old America on Parade dolls were walking around because Disney characters seemed inappropriate to Epcot. Nowadays no one argues about the presence of Aladdin in Morocco or Mary Poppins in the UK. I say add a Pinocchio dark ride to Italy and a Remy attraction to France. I’m open to anything new coming to Epcot–it’s a great park–but it could use much, much more.

2. Disney Animal Kingdom at Night. Much has been announced about the new nighttime offerings at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. The centerpiece of this is the new Rivers of Light show. Kilimanjaro Safari and other attractions will be open later. New restaurants are opening including Tiffins, which will overlook the river facing the new Pandora attraction. It all sounds great, but the best part is the night. There is simply not enough indoor space to make this park attractive midday in the heat of summer. But in the cool of the evening–this park is going to be fantastic. There are exciting things ahead for Disney’s Animal Kingdom.

This picture for some reason reminds me a little of the Tapestry of Nations procession during the Epcot Millennium celebration. Not in terms of the entertainment offering, but the sense of things happening all around the park as dusk settles.
This picture for some reason reminds me a little of the Tapestry of Nations procession during the Epcot Millennium celebration. Not in terms of the entertainment offering, but the sense of things happening all around the park as dusk settles.

3. Disney’s Hollywood Studios During the Day. A previous blog I wrote overviewed some of the things that I understand are coming to this park that haven’t yet been announced. The long and short is that when the back of the lot closes toward late Spring, there’s going to be a big need for more offerings in the rest of the park. I can’t believe that Sunset Showcase, a beautiful black box theater, was built to simply host DJ parties at night. I’m sure there must be something more coming. And it’s my understanding that a roof will go over the audience at the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater, the home of Fantasmic!, and a big piece of geography that could soak up a lot of crowds. Long and short, look for new happenings at the Studio that will hold the crowds until the big attractions are constructed in the years ahead.

Imagine what kind of show might happen during the day here in this amphitheater? Maybe something Star Wars related? That's pure conjecture, but what is understood is that something is coming during the day. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Imagine what kind of show might happen during the day here in this amphitheater? Maybe something Star Wars related? That’s pure conjecture, but what is understood is that something is coming during the day. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

4. The Magic of MyMagic+. I’ve written more about this forthcoming feature coming to the parks than perhaps anything else. If you’re not familiar with this initiative, you can get a sense about it here, here and here. I thought that it would make its premiere finally at the beginning of 2015, but with the focus on Shanghai Disneyland, this project’s launch has been repeatedly postponed. I’m still not sure when it’s going to finally roll out, but I saw the monitors being tested at the end of it’s a small world, and I saw some new FX being tested at the end of The Haunted Mansion in the Hitchhiking Ghosts section. I’m fairly sure it will come this year. Hopefully sooner than later.

One of many props placed over the last couple of years to be part of the My Magic program. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
One of many props placed over the last couple of years to be part of the MyMagic+ program. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

5. The Diamond Horseshoe. I deliberated using my fifth wish for all of the dining and entertainment coming to Disney Springs. But I’d rather save this slot to a restaurant that I would like to enjoy more than any creation that could be crafted at Disney Springs. The Diamond Horseshoe is a fantastic venue. It’s perfect for entertainment more worthy than a player piano. The real problem has been the kitchen facilities, a set of facilities shared in part with the Liberty Tree Tavern, and what was a shuttered Adventureland Veranda for many years.

Imagine the demand to see a show and do a meal at the Diamond Horseshoe. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.
Imagine the demand to see a show and do a meal at the Diamond Horseshoe. Photo by J. Jeff Kober.

But then, surprise! The old Veranda came to life as the Jungle Skipper Canteen. Who would have guessed! Such a tremendous, imaginative gift to the Magic Kingdom. So who says some imagination couldn’t come back to The Diamond Horseshoe. I don’t mean some F&B overflow during peak seasons. I mean a fun restaurant with some great entertainment. Maybe that’s why hamburgers left Pecos Bill’s. Wouldn’t gourmet burgers, signature shakes and a great show be perfect for the Diamond Horseshoe?

So those are the 5 things I would welcome in 2016. Some of them I would be very surprised, but very delighted, to see happen. What would you like to see?

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