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Disney Awaken Summer Announcements

Rivers of Lights [© Disney. All rights reserved]
Rivers of Lights [© Disney. All rights reserved]

In April 2016, Disney held a three day media event, “Awaken Summer”, to release further details about all the new attractions coming to Walt Disney World over the coming months.

Magic Kingdom

In June, the new live stage show “Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire” opens on the Cinderella Castle Forecourt Stage. The stage show brings together amazing costumes, singing, dancing and special effects.

As well as Mickey and Minnie, Donald and Daisy plus Goofy, it will feature Tiana, Louis and Naveen from “The Princess and the Frog,” Rapunzel and Flynn from “Tangled” and Olaf, Anna and Elsa from “Frozen”.

In August a new Disney princess character, the 16 year old Elena of Avalor is set to debut to coincide with the launch of a new animated TV series of the same name on the Disney Channel. Elena is the first Latin-American inspired Disney princess.


In early May, some new characters will start to appear in “Turtle Talk With Crush” at the Living Seas based on the upcoming sequel, Finding Dory which follows on from the original animated Finding Nemo film.

As well as Dory you will also spot Bailey the beluga whale, Destiny the whale shark, Hank the “septopus” (a seven-legged octopus), Squirt (Crush’s son) plus Nemo and his father Marlin.

On June 17 the revamped “Soarin’ Around the World” re-opens with an additional third theatre and a revamped interactive queue area.

As the name suggests there are over a dozen scenes from around the world including the Great Wall of China, the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Matterhorn in Switzerland, the pyramids in Egypt and Sydney Harbour in Australia. Like before the attraction immerses guests in a multi-sensory experience with smells, sights and sounds.

Also in June, the Frozen Ever After attraction opens in the Norway Pavilion with a boat trip through the kingdom of Arendelle and a meet and greet with Anna and Else.

Read more about the Frozen Ever After attraction.

Animal Kingdom

Disney has released more details about the nighttime attractions at Animal Kingdom, starting Memorial Day (Monday, May 30) weekend.

Firstly, the park will be lit at night including the Expedition Everest ride and there will be a new multi-coloured projection show “The Tree of Life Awakens” on the Tree of Life. Throughout the evening, magical fireflies awaken the animal spirits on the tree with a series of random tableaus.

There are two new street parties. At Discovery Island there is the Discovery Island Carnivale and at Harambe Village the Harambe Wildlife Parti with stilt walkers, acrobats, dancers and musicians. There are also special exotic food and drinks available.

The “Jungle Book: Alive With Magic” show will run for a limited time only. The show will combine music and special effects. Disney recently released a new live-action Jungle Book film based on the 1967 animated original.

A new table service restaurant located in the Discovery Island area is also set to open. Called Tiffins, it will open for both lunch and dinner and its menu is inspired by world travels.

The new nighttime Kilimanjaro Safari After Dark will now include African wild dogs and hyenas whilst bathed in a sunset glow.

Several of the main attractions will remain open including Kilimanjaro Safari, Kali River Rapids, Expedition Everest and Chest & Hester’s Dino-Rama.

The upcoming 25 minute musical “Rivers of Light Nighttime Experience” is due to be performed two or three times per night.

A new viewing amphitheatre is located in the Expedition Everest Himalayan Village overlooking the Discovery River. The lights, fountains and water screens show incorporates a lantern festival, story tellers and shadow puppetry and celebrate the connections between animals and nature.

Originally scheduled to open on April 22, Animal Kingdom’s anniversary, no new date has been announced yet.

Not to be forgotten, Pandora: World of Avatar, first announced in 2011, is set to open some time in 2017.

Hollywood Studios

Disney has officially broken ground for Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land.

Read more about Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land.

In April a new live stage show “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far Far Away” opened on the Center Stage outside the Chinese Theatre featuring iconic scenes from the films featuring Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, Darth Maul and BB–8.

At the Star Wars Launch Bay in the Animation Courtyard you can see concept artwork and memorabilia, play video games and buy a host of Star Wars merchandise including replica uniforms, vinyl records and D-Tech. You can also see Kylo Ren or Chewbacca in a meet-and-great encounter.

Also keep an eye out for Captain Phasma as she leads a procession of First Order StormTroopers from the Launch Bay to the Center Stage by the Chinese Theatre, every hour on the hour.

In June, a new 12 minute fireworks show called “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” will open with special effects including laser and video projections onto the Chinese Theatre, set to the score of the original films.