The Walt Disney World Resort in Florida is an ever-growing, ever-evolving group of theme parks. To remain the vacation destination of choice for millions of visitors year after year, Disney World continually adds to its line-up of attractions, improves its current attractions and offers Guests the latest in ride technology and second-to-none world-class entertainment. Later this year, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge will open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and there are new attractions currently under construction at EPCOT and Magic Kingdom. But because Disney’s Imagineers are tops when it comes to creating the most magical Guest experience possible, attractions at the parks don’t have to be brand-new to hold their luster. Here are 10 “newish” attractions that you’ve got to experience for the first time—and then again and again.
10. Frozen Ever After – EPCOT
In June 2016, the Norwegian vessels in the Frozen Ever After attraction in the Norway pavilion at EPCOT departed on their maiden voyages. Frozen replaced the Maelstrom ride of days gone by. Wait times in the stand-by queue exceeded two hours, and the attraction was an instant hit with Guests. The ride takes Guests on a tour of Arendelle. Princess Anna and Queen Elsa are there, as are Sven, Olaf, Kristoff and even the Snowgies. Some of Disney’s latest audio-animatronic technology is used in the attraction. Because of this technology, the beloved Disney characters of Arendelle appear more lifelike and exhibit very fluid movements. To this day, if you want to experience Frozen Ever After, you’ll still have to make your FastPass+ reservations in advance of your trip, and even then, you won’t necessarily have your pick of times. Yes, it’s that popular!
9. Mission: SPACE 2.0 – EPCOT
In August 2017, after a planned refurbishment and reboot, EPCOT’s Mission: SPACE re-opened to Guests, this time offering them a more distinct choice between the green and orange missions. Post-refurb, the newly-revamped missions offered some welcomed changes to Guests. The new spin on the green mission (an orbit around Earth) includes a lower height requirement of only 40 inches—allowing younger members of the family to enjoy the experience. The green mission is the less intense of the two missions, as before. The re-imagined orange mission remains the more intense of the two and simulates a lift-off to Mars with new graphics. If you haven’t experienced Mission: SPACE with its new perks, be sure to do so on your next visit to EPCOT.
8. Seven Dwarfs Mine Train – Magic Kingdom
The Seven Dwarfs Mine Train in Fantasyland at Magic Kingdom is the oldest of the “newish” attractions on our list, but don’t let that fool you. This attraction is as popular now as it was when it opened in May 2014 as one of the central parts of the New Fantasyland expansion. During peak seasons at Magic Kingdom, you better have a FastPass+ time to enjoy the ride; otherwise, you could spend close to two hours or more in the stand-by queue (which isn’t terrible since it’s one of the more interactive queues in the park.) Keep in mind that FastPass+ times for 7D go quickly, and if you aren’t one of the lucky ones who gets to make your selections 60 days in advance, you might just be at the mercy of the crowds!
7. Up! A Great Bird Adventure Show – Animal Kingdom
In celebration of the 20th anniversary of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the Caravan Theater in the Anandapur Village welcomed a new show in place of the popular “Flights of Wonder” show. The new Up! A Great Bird Adventure show features Dug the Dog and Russell from Disney/PIXAR’s Up, as well as some of the most amazing and exotic birds in the world. Don’t miss this experience the next time you’re in the parks.
6. Navi River Journey – Animal Kingdom
Na’vi River Journey is one of two attractions at Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Guests are invited to board a reed boat and float leisurely down the Na’vi River in search of the Shaman of Songs. The flora and fauna of the Na’vi rainforest is stunning and looks entirely realistic. As your boat floats along the river, you can see animals on the horizon, and even a Na’vi warrior off in the distance. The Shaman of Songs animatronic robot at the end of the ride is—to this date—the most advanced of any animatronic robot at Disney World. She sits with her legs crossed, but she is an impressive 10 feet tall, and her movements as she sings are so fluid and lifelike, you’ll just know she’s a living, breathing creature!
5. Toy Story Mania – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
You’re right. Toy Story Mania isn’t new. It first opened at Hollywood Studios in May 2008. But it remains one of the most popular Disney World attractions of all time, and it has undergone some upgrades of its own. The 4D interactive carnival games feature characters from Disney/PIXAR’s Toy Story franchise. The games are played with a pull-string “trigger” that interacts with the game screens but doesn’t actually shoot any projectiles. Because of the attraction’s popularity, Disney added a third track at Toy Story Mania in May 2016 to increase the number of Guests that could enjoy the experience at one time. And for the first time in June 2018, Guests accessed the attraction through its new entrance in Toy Story Land. Toy Story Mania never gets old!
4. The Muppets Present “Great Moments in American History” – Magic Kingdom
On October 2, 2016, Guests experienced The Muppets Present “Great Moments in American History” for the first time. Guests visiting Liberty Square can see the show from the streets, as most of the show takes place at the Heritage House adjacent to the Hall of Presidents attraction. Colonial-era history is the subject of the show, but don’t count on passing a history exam after seeing the show. Historical accuracy isn’t the strong suit of most of the Muppets, despite Kermit’s efforts to keep everyone on track. Don’t miss this silly show that’s presented several times throughout the day at Liberty Square. Check Magic Kingdom’s Times Guide for more information.
3. Avatar: Flight of Passage – Animal Kingdom
In May 2017, this amazing attraction began allowing Guests the opportunity to become Na’vi warriors and test their skill at handling a mountain banshee. It is a rite of passage for the Na’vi, and Guests at Disney World have been thrilled to accept the challenge for almost two years now. Often, when an attraction at Disney World is close to two years old, Guests begin to see a rise in the availability of FastPass+ times for the attraction. But this hasn’t been the case so far for Flight of Passage. It remains as popular today as it was on its opening day—and for good reason! Thanks to the magic of state-of-the-art simulation technology, Guests can climb on the banshee’s back and soar through the skies above Pandora. The flight affords the Na’vi warrior spectacular views of the flora and fauna of Pandora, and the warriors who maintain control of their banshees prove their abilities to themselves and to the people of Pandora. If you still haven’t had the chance to experience Flight of Passage, be sure to do so on your next visit to Animal Kingdom.
2. Alien Swirling Saucers – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Let’s head back to Toy Story Land where you’ll find the new entrance to Toy Story Mania as mentioned above, but also an incredibly fun new attractions called Alien Swirling Saucers. While the star of Hollywood Studios’ Toy Story Land is the Slinky Dog Dash Coaster (see below), Alien Swirling Saucers shouldn’t be forgotten! Your toddlers will especially love this one. The little green Aliens from Toy Story take over this attraction with smooth spins and turns making for a fun attraction that we dare you not to smile on.
1. Slinky Dog Dash – Disney’s Hollywood Studios
June 2018 was an epic month for Disney’s Hollywood Studios with the opening of the now very popular, Toy Story Land. The star of the show here is the Slinky Dog Dash attraction. Slinky Dog Dash is a fun, family coaster with surprising dips and turns! Have a blast with the breeze in your hair… just don’t forget to look around at all the awesome sights you’ll see across Andy’s toy-filled backyard. Finally, pull in for a stop to hear the sweet audio-animatronic Wheezy the Penguin singing for all the Slinky Dog Dash guests to enjoy. If all of Disney’s new incoming attractions continue down this path of greatness, we are sure to have even more excitement in the near future!