While ongoing downsizing of entertainment in the parks unfortunately continues, occasional new (or returning) options do thankfully emerge.
Today, I’d like to take a look at a few new, recent and upcoming offerings at both the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts that I’m excited about in 2017!
- THREE beloved experiences are returning to Disneyland Park this year. First, the Main Street Electrical Parade has been brought back from the Magic Kingdom at the Walt Disney World Resort where it has dazzled for the past several years. It will be running at Disneyland from January 20-June 18, 2017. (It is expected that Paint the Night parade will then return for the summer months.) I’m excited to see this classic parade back on Disneyland’s Main Street for the first time in decades and am planning an upcoming feature to spotlight it!
- Second, perhaps Disneyland Park’s best fireworks show ever – Remember Dreams Come True, the 50th Anniversary spectacular – is returning with weekend performances beginning February 3rd. I always felt this was a far superior representation of the park’s history than Disneyland Forever, which was introduced (and ended) for the 60th anniversary celebration.
- And finally, after having been closed while the Rivers of America were re-routed for the new Star Wars Land, Fantasmic! will once again brighten the Rivers with its magic and music later this year! While I’m thrilled for this wonderful atmospheric show’s return, rumor has it that it is being significantly revised, losing the extremely popular Peter Pan and Hook sequence in favor of a Pirates of the Caribbean scene. We’ll see how this changes the show, but since the original was pretty close to perfect (except maybe the silly Pinocchio bit), it’s going to have to work extra hard to impress!
Disney California Adventure
- The Lunar New Year Celebration returns for 2017, running January 20-February 5 and bringing its regular appearances by Mulan and Mushu, along with character Meet & Greets and a parade. This year, a new World of Color pre-show, called “Hurry Home”, has been added during this time as well.
- Given that the prices of the recent iterations of Food & Wine Festivals at DCA have not tempted me to try the food there, the return of another one announced for March 10-April 16 isn’t what has me interested – it’s the hope for more entertainment along with it! However, each month that a Festival is taking up the walkways, is another month without the Pixar Play Parade (which may or may not return).
- And while I’m worried about the thematic impact that the new Guardians of the Galaxy overlay of Tower of Terror will have on DCA, maybe it will bring new entertainment possibilities, too, even if that’s just more Marvel character Meet & Greets?
Walt Disney World Resort
- The Magic Kingdom recently made three pretty big entertainment changes all at Cinderella Castle – first, they closed the daytime stage show in front of the castle, Dream Along with Mickey, and opened a new one called Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire. This show then went through some adjustments with the characters as well as having a seasonal variation created for the holidays. I wouldn’t be surprised if seasonal changes to this show continue!
- Next, they replaced the Cinderella Castle lights show, Celebrate the Magic, with a new one based on Tokyo Disneyland’s Once Upon a Time castle projection show.
- And just this month, the Magic Kingdom Welcome Show at the park entrance ceased, in part due to the several-month refurbishment happening on the Walt Disney World Railroad. Instead, a new welcome moment happens five minutes before the official opening of the park in front of Cinderella Castle. This new welcome greeting has fewer character appearances, and of course, no train arrival. While I would hope for the return of the absolutely delightful original show, I wouldn’t be surprised if this was a permanent change.
- Continuing to redefine itself as the “festival park”, along with the annual Flower & Garden and Food & Wine Festivals, this year EPCOT has added another to its roster: The EPCOT International Festival of the Arts. Running from January 13-February 20, this experience celebrates the visual, auditory and gustatory arts. While I’m very happy that this year’s event includes galleries dedicated to such Disney Legends as Herb Ryman and Mary Blair, I’m even more elated by the Disney on Broadway Concert Series that accompanies it! These duo-cast shows feature actual Broadway performers from Disney productions. Here is the performance schedule if you’re lucky enough to attend these free shows included with park admission (Note: all shows take place at the America Gardens Theatre with show times at 5:30pm, 6:45pm and 8pm):
January 13-16 and 20-23 – Ashley Brown & Josh Strickland perform songs from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Frozen, Mary Poppins, Tarzan and The Little Mermaid.
January 27-30 and February 3-6 – Kerry Butler & Kevin Massey perform songs from Disney’s Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, Newsies and Tarzan.
February 10-13 and 17-20 – Kissy Simmons & Alton Fitzgerald White perform songs from Disney’s Aida, Aladdin, The Lion King and The Little Mermaid.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
- Disney’s Hollywood Studios is the place for all things Star Wars. Between the new Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away show and the character March of the First Order and the Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular fireworks display, this is where Star Wars fans can get their fix!
- For those willing to part with a little extra cash for a reserved view plus munchies, there is Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party currently scheduled through the end of March (but may be extended). As well, there is a new one night only event happening April 14, 2017 (the same week as the off-site annual Star Wars Celebration) – Star Wars Galactic Nights! Basically, this is all the former Star Wars Weekend experiences rolled into one (now extra hard-ticket fee) night. There will be appearances by stars of the franchise, special character Meet & Greets, as well as all of the regular Star Wars happenings from the park – just with smaller crowds since it’s a paid event.
- And we are all hoping that the much-delayed Rivers of Light nighttime show will finally premiere in Animal Kingdom this year!
- It is also still unknown if the new Avatar-themed land, Pandora, will include any entertainment, but the theming is sure to be extraordinary and worth a look when that opens in the coming months!
These are just a few of the recent, new and upcoming entertainment options at the Disneyland and Walt Disney World Resorts happening this year. More are sure to be announced and I’m hoping to have the chance to see and spotlight many of them!
What shows are you most excited to see at the Disneyland Resort or Walt Disney World Resort in 2017? What show will you miss the most that recently closed?
Update 2/12/17: And in a sudden flurry of park announcements this past week, the public has now been given opening dates for Rivers of Light (February 17) and Pandora (May 27) at Animal Kingdom. It was also announced that the Magic Kingdom fireworks show, Wishes, will be closing on May 11. On May 12, the new Happily Ever After Nighttime Spectacular will debut.