Animation-Related Park News

Here’s a rundown of some of the latest projects and developments at Walt Disney World that are related to Disney animation:

  • Walt Disney Presents will soon be replacing “Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream” at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Like its predecessor, the exhibit will continue to function as a showcase of Disney history, as well as a venue for movie previews and character meet and greets as it has in recent years. However, the attraction will also serve as a preview center for the park’s current transformation complete with models and/or artwork of it many upcoming attractions, including animation-related additions such as “Toy Story Land” and “Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railroad.”

  • Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will take Disney’s Hollywood Studios guests through the movie screen to take a zany ride in Mickey Mouse’s cartoon world. Based on Paul Rudish’s Disney Channel series of “Mickey Mouse” shorts, this dark ride will mark the first ride-through attraction staring Walt Disney’s most famous character. To make way for this new experience, “The Great Movie Ride” will close on August 13th.

  • Ratouille will inspire a new attraction for Epcot’s World Showcase set to open sometime before Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary in 2021. This 3D dark ride, which first debuted at Disneyland Paris’ Walt Disney Studios Paris theme park in 2014, will take guests on a wild ride through Guestau’s restaurant from the perspective of a rat. This Disney•Pixar attraction will the the centerpiece of a new expansion of Epcot’s France Pavilion that will be located behind the current portions of the pavilion.

  • Toy Story Land, an 11 acre expansion to Disney’s Hollywood Studios based on the iconic Disney·Pixar film series, is set to open in Summer 2018. Themed to look like Andy’s backyard from a toy’s perspective, the area will feature “Slinkey Dog Dash,” a family roller coaster, and “Alien Swirling Saucers,” a spinning ride similar to “Mater’s Junkyard Jamboree” at Disney’s Califormia Adventure themed to the little green aliens, in addition to the recently-expanded “Toy Story Midway Mania.”

  • DisneyQuest, Disney Springs’ “Indoor Interactive Theme Park,” permanently closed down on July 2nd to make way for “The NBA Experience.” Since opening in 1998, this “West Side” venue has featured many attractions and arcade games over the years incorporating Disney animated characters including “Aladdin’s Magic Carpet Ride” virtual reality attraction, “Buzz Lightyear’s Astroblaster” bumper cars, and most recently the “Fix-It Felix Jr.” arcade game inspired by “Wreck-It Ralph.”

  • Disney & Pixar Short Film Festival at Epcot’s “Imagination!” Pavilion has returned from a short refurbishment with two new Academy Award-Winning shorts in its lineup. Disney’s “Feast” and Pixar’s “Pipper” will now be shown alongside “Get A Horse” at the “Magic Eye Theater.” These new short films replace Pixar’s “La Luna” and “For The Birds,” which have played at the attraction since it opened in December 2015.

  • Cruz Ramirez, a new character from Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 3,” is now appearing at Disney’s Hollywood Studios to celebrate the film’s release. Guests can meet and get pictures with Cruz near the end of Pixar Place next to the exit to the third track of “Toy Story Midway Mania.”

  • Minnie’s Summertime Dine, part of a rotation of seasonal character meals at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, has returned for 2017. This buffet featuring Minnie Mouse and friends in their Summer fashions occurs during dinner at the “Hollywood and Vine” restaurant.

  • The Music of Pixar LIVE! A Symphony of Characters is being presented for a limited time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios this summer. This special concert held in the evenings at “Theater of the Stars” features a live orchestra performing music from the soundtracks of beloved Pixar films as well as introducing music from the upcoming “Cars 3.” Pixar characters from “Toy Story,” “Monsters Inc,” “The Incredibles,” and “Up” also be make live appearances as part of the show.

  • Cars 3 Preview has ened its run at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, leading to the film tribute to Walt Disney to return to as the finale of Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream. The “Cars 3” offering was the most recent in a series of movie previews to be shown in the attraction’s “Walt Disney Theater” including recent animated releases “The Good Dinosaur,” “Zootopia,” and “Moana.”

  • Frozen Summer Games has returned to Disney’s Blizzard Beach water park, and new for this year is the opportunity to meet Olaf and Kristoff from “Frozen.” Just like last year’s games, Blizzard Beach guests will also be able to join “Team Kristoff” or “Team Olaf” and compete a variety of winter-inspired events and activities.

  • Happily Ever After has replaced the long-running Wishes as Magic Kingdom’s newest nighttime spectacular. Through a combination of fireworks, lazars, music, and projections on the castle (including new hand-drawn animation from some veteran Disney animators Mark Henn, Eric Goldberg, and Randy Haycock), the show recounts the stories of how some of Disney’s most beloved characters perused their own happily ever after.

  • Stitch’s Great Escape has reopened for the busy summer season through August 19th, along with the introduction of a new Stitch meet and greet location near “Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress.” Since October 2016, the “Lilo and Stitch” inspired “Stitch’s Great Escape” has been operating on a seasonal basis, running only during peak attendance times. This has led to rumors that this Magic Kingdom attraction may not be around much longer.

  • Move It! Shake It! Dance And Play It! Street Party has seen a few alterations as the summer season begins at Magic Kingdom. Mr. Incredible and Frozone from Disney•Pixar’s “The Incredibles,” Genie from “Aladdin,” and Stitch from “Lilo and Stitch” have returned to the festvities. However, to make room for them, Phineas and Ferb have been cut, meaning that these Disney Channel characters no longer make any sort of regular appearances at Walt Disney World. Chip ‘N’ Dale have also been removed from the show, but now make meet and greet appearances in Town Square instead.

  • #IncrediblesSuperDanceParty has ended its run on Tomorrowland’s Rockettower Plaza Stage. This Magic Kingdom entertainment offering staring the characters from Disney•Pixar’s “The Incredibles” will soon be replaced by a new “Cosmic Dance Party,” but the Mr. Incredible and Frozone can still be seen in the park as part of “Move It! Shake It! Dance and Play it! Street Party,” which is presented multiple times a say in the park’s central Hub.

  • Moana, the star of the latest Walt Disney Animation Studios release, is no longer meeting guests as part of the Walt Disney: One Man’s Dream attraction. A portion of the former “The Legacy Continues” gallery had been transformed into a Polynesian paradise befitting of Disney’s newest heroine, but that space is now home to a “Guardians of the Galaxy” meet and greet Star-Lord and Baby Groot. There has been no official word on when, where, or if Moana will show up anywhere else at Walt Disney World in the near future.

  • Bon Voyage Breakfast has debuted at Disney’s Boardwalk’s “Trattoria al Forno” restaurant. This new character dining experience will include encounters with two of Disney’s most popular royal couples: Ariel and Prince Eric from “The Little Mermaid” and Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from “Tangled.”

  • Return to Sleepy Hollow, a new Halloween event coming to Disney’s Fort Wilderness Resort and Campground, is set to debut this Fall. In addition to a screening of Disney’s classic animated adaption of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” the festivities will also include a meet and greet with The Headless Horseman. With prices starting at $22 for general admision, “Return to Sleepy Hollow” will be presented at 8pm and 11pm on select nights in September and October.

  • Road to the Races, a nationwide tour promoting Disney•Pixar’s upcoming “Cars 3” kicked off at Disney Springs Marketplace on March 23-26th. Located in the former Marketplace bus loop, the event included a sneak preview of the film, photo opportunities with life-sized versions of “Cars” characters Lightning McQueen, Cruz Ramirez, and Jackson Storm, special DJ dance parties, and other activities.

  • The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival returned this past spring with a few new additions inspired by animated characters. A topiary of Cruz Ramirez, a new character that would go on to be be introduced in Disney•Pixar’s upcoming “Cars 3,” joined Lightning McQueen in the “Road to the Florida 500” play area. Meanwhile, an updated topiary of Belle from “Beauty and the Beast” made its debut this year alongside Beast at the France pavilion. Returning character topiaries also included Mickey Mouse an friends, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Anna and Elsa, The Three Caballeros, Lady and the Tramp, Simba, Tinker Bell, and many more!

  • Doc McStuffins can now be found meeting Disney’s Animal Kingdom guests at “Rafiki’s Planet Watch,” fittingly nearby the park’s veterinary care facilities. The popular “Disney Junior” character has been appearing at Disney’s Hollywood Studio for the last few years, which will continue in addition to her new digs at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. However, the Chip ‘N’ Dale meet and greet that had been previously located at “Rafiki’s Planet Watch” will no longer be offered.

  • Epcot International Festival of the Arts, the latest addition to Epcot’s festival lineup, is already scheduled to return in 2018. While the event is a celebration of all forms of art, the this year’s inaugural festival featured many offering of interest to Disney animation fans including galleries displaying the work of Disney artists including Mary Blair and Herb Ryman as well as “Animation Academy” drawing classes. More details on what to expect in 2018 will be released later this year.

  • Let the Magic Begin, which replaces the long-running Magic Kingdom Welcome Show, debuted on January 9th. While the previous iteration took place at Main Street Train Station, the ceremony is now held at the Castle Forecourt Stage. Mickey Mouse and other Disney characters will continue to play a role in this new version, but it is hosted by a Royal Herold instead of the Citizens of Main Street. The change is part of a larger alteration of Magic Kingdom’s opening procedures, which includes letting guests onto Main Street USA prior to park opening instead of confining them in the much smaller space in front of the Train Station.

  • Club Disney, a “relaxation station” that includes a dance party with Chip ‘N’ Dale, briefly reopened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios during Christmas week. Located in the “Rock ‘N’ Roller Coaster” Courtyard’s “Sunset Showcase,” this marks the first time this offering has reopened following its move to “seasonal” status only a few weeks after its December 2015 debut.

  • Princess Elena of Avalor has officially begun meeting with Magic Kingdom guests at Princess Fairytale Hall. The star of the new Disney Channel series “Elena of Avalor” is appearing alongside Cinderella on one side of the hall while Rapunzel and Tiana will continue to meet on the other. Additionally, Disney also announced that the “Princess Elena Royal Welcome” show, currently being held multiple times a day at the Castle Forecourt Stage, is scheduled to finish its run before the end of the year.

  • Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!, a new nighttime holiday show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, is currently being presented nightly in addition to the park’s normal “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” through the end of  the Christmas season. Hosted by Wayne and Lanny, the Christmas elves from Disney’s “Prep and Landing” TV specials, the show uses fireworks, projections, and special effects to spotlight classic Holiday moments in Disney films including “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas,” “Bambi,” “Pluto’s Christmas Tree,” and many more.

  • Once Upon A Time, a new projection show on Cinderella Castle, recently debuted at Magic Kingdom. Replacing “Celebrate the Magic,” the nighttime show is hosted by Mrs. Potts from “Beauty and the Beast,” who is telling bedtime stories to her son Chip. Among the classic Disney stories brought to life on the side of the castle over the course of the show are “Cinderella,” “Peter Pan,” “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh,” and “Frozen.”

  • Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire recently debuted a new finale celebrating the holiday season including the addition a variety of classic Christmas carols to the soundtrack. This will be the second seasonal overlay for the new show, following the fall themed one that debuted in September. The show, which replaced the long-running “Dream Along with Mickey” on the Magic Kingdom’s “Castle Forcourt Stage” this past summer, features Mickey Mouse and friends playing hosts to the stars of some of Disney’s recent Princess films including “The Princess  and Frog,” “Tangled,” and “Frozen.”

  • Main Street Electrical Parade had it final performance at Magic Kingdom on October 9th, 2016. The classic nighttime parade, which recreates memorable moments from classic Disney films with “thousands of sparkling lights and electro-syntho-magnetic musical sounds,” is scheduled return to its original home of Disneyland in California in Spring 2017. No announcements have been made for any sort of replacement offering for the beloved parade at the Magic Kingdom.

  • A Royal Princess Reception has ended its month-long run at the “World of Disney” store. This limited-time experience, which began on October 1st, gave Disney Springs guests the rare opportunity to meet one of the Disney Princesses outside the theme parks.

  • Club Villain returned to Disney’s Hollywood Studios this Fall just in time for Halloween. Located at the new “Sunset Showcase” next door to the “Rock N Roller Coaster Staring Aerosmith,” this upcharge special event hosted by the villainous Dr. Facile from “The Princess and the Frog” includes a live stage show, New Orleans-inspired cuisine, specialty drinks, appearances by other villainous characters, and a dance party. “Club Villain” is currently scheduled to take place on select nights (typically Fridays and/or Saturdays) through at least January 2017 at a cost of $129 per guest on top of regular park admission.

  • Princess Elena Royal Welcome, a new entertainment offering at Magic Kingdom, is currently being presented multiple times a day on the Castle Forecourt Stage. The first Disney Princess inspired by Latin cultures, Princess Elena is the star of the new Disney Channel television series “Elena of Avalor.” The brief ceremony is scheduled to continue only through the end of fall 2016.

  • Frozen Ever After is now open at Epcot’s Norway pavilion, replacing the “Maelstrom” attraction. Featuring state-of-the-art animatronic versions of the “Frozen” characters and many of the film’s popular songs including “Let it Go” (some of which include altered lyrics written by their original composers, Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez), the attraction takes guests on a boat cruise to Elsa’s ice palace. Meanwhile, Royal Sommerhus, an elaborate new meet and greet location for Queen Elsa and Princess Anna, has also debuted in a new area between the existing Norway and Mexico pavilions.

  • Princess Fairytale Hall has changed its lineup of princesses to meet as a result of Anna and Elsa from “Frozen” moving to their exclusive new location at Epcot’s “Royal Sommerhus.” Currently, this Magic Kingdom location features Cinderella and Princess Aurora on one side and Rapunzel and Princess Tiana on the other.

  • Toy Story Midway Mania has expanded to include a third track, increasing the capacity for this popular attraction. The addition, which also includes a second load/unload area, has been build in the former “Soundstage 1” adjacent to the original “Toy Story Midway Mania” tracks on Pixar Place. Additionally, a new audience participation entertainment offering called Green Army Men Boot Camp is presented several times a day near the third’s tack’s exit at the end of Pixar Place.

  • Two New Character Greeting Locations recently opened at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.  Olaf from “Frozen” can be found at “Character Spotlight” near Echo Lake, marking the first time Walt Disney World guests can meet the Summer-loving snowman. Nearby on Commissary Lane, “Mickey and Minnie in Red Carpet Dreams” features opportunities to meet  Sorcerer Mickey on the set of “Fantasia” and Minnie Mouse on the set of a lavish Hollywood musical. As a result of Minnie moving, Pluto has taken her place at the “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” location outside “Playhouse Disney- Live on Stage!”

  • Turtle Talk with Crush has introduced some new sequences featuring characters from the upcoming Pixar sequel, “Finding Dory”. In addition to Crush and Dory, guest may now encounter new friends including Destiny the whale shark, Baily the beluga whale, and Hank the “septopus” as part of this popular interactive show in Epcot’s “The Seas with Nemo and Friends” pavilion.

  • Toy Story Pizza Planet, a quick service restaurant located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, closed has closed and been replaced by the Muppet themed “PizzeRizzo,” which is fitting given its proximity to “Muppet·Vision 3D.” The move is likely connected to consolidating all of the park’s “Toy Story” offering in the upcoming “Toy Story Land” that will be build behind “Toy Story Midway Mania” on the other side of the park.

  • The Earffel Tower, the original icon of Disney-MGM Studios, has been removed from the park. The 130 foot tall water tower may not have held any water, but its giant Mickey Mouse ears made it one of the most recognizable structures at Walt Disney World. The The area where the landmark once stood will be used as part of Disney’s Hollywood Studios’ upcoming “Toy Story Land” expansion.

  • Epcot Character Spot has expanded again with a new area that will take guests to Headquarters to meet Joy and Sadness from Disney·Pixar’s “Inside Out.” This addition follows the recent introduction of Baymax from “Big Hero 6” to the complex late last year. Like Baymax, Joy and Sadness will be found across the Innoventions West breezeway from the original Epcot Character Spot, where guests can continue to meet Mickey, Minnie and Goofy.

  • Streets of America at Disney’s Hollywood Studios permanently closed on April 2nd due to the upcoming construction of new lands based on “Star Wars” and “Toy Story.” Among the venues discontinued were Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, which has featured a scene starring Lightning McQueen and Mater since the release Disney·Pixar’s “Cars 2” in 2011, and the “Monster Inc.” meet and greet featuring Mike and Sulley

  • Zootopia, the latest release from Walt Disney Animation Studios, was promoted in multiple ways across Walt Disney World. The film’s stars, Judy Hopps and Nick Wilde, are now appearing as part of the “Move it! Shake It! Dance and Play It! Street Party” at Magic Kingdom. Meanwhile at Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s Conservation Station, an exhibit highlighted the research conducted by the filmmakers in order to bring the animal stars of “Zootopia” to life, including some research conducted at Disney’s Animal Kingdom itself. This exhibit has since been replaced by a meet and greet location with Disney Junior’s Doc McStuffins.

  • Gran Fiesta Tour Staring The Three Caballeros  has received a exciting new update with roots in a past Walt Disney World attraction. The boat ride, located in Epcot’s Mexico pavilion, now features Audio-Animatronic figures of Donald Duck, Jose Carioca, and Panchito as part of its finale. The figures originally appeared in The Mickey Mouse Review, an Magic Kingdom opening day attraction located in the theater where Mickey’s Philharmagic plays today.

  • Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple has replaced Jedi Training Academy at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This new show features an appearance by The Seventh Sister, a new characters from the Disney XD animated series “Star Wars Rebels,” fighting alongside Darth Vader.

  • Garden Grill Restaurant at Epcot updated its character meal schedule this past November. The restaurant, Located in “The Land” pavilion, is now presenting “Chip ‘N’ Dale’s Harvest Feast” at breakfast and lunch in addition to the previously available  dinner.

  • The Magic of Disney Animation at Disney’s Hollywood Studio permanently closed on July 12th. The site of the former “Magic of Disney Animation” has since become the home of the “Star Wars Launch Bay” exhibit. “The Magic of Disney Animation,” which started out as a tour of Walt Disney Feature Animation’s Florida Studio, had most recently been home to shows and exhibits including the “Animation Academy” drawing class and meet-and-greets with new and classic Disney characters.  As a result of the closure, Sorcerer Mickey Mouse  and Minnie Mouse are now greeting at the recently-opened “Mickey and Minnie in Red Carpet Dreams” location on Commissary Lane.

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