Hi there! Welcome to our weekly roundup of the most interesting theme park news around the Walt Disney World Resort, the Universal Orlando Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and other theme parks.
Here are this week’s theme park highlights:
- For three years, preparations have been taken to make Disney's Animal Kingdom a full-day destination, and the efforts to help its animals adjust were a major consideration. Animals' proximity to attractions and certain species' specific needs were factored in. The expanded evening hours begin today with the sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris, Expedition Everest, Kali River Rapids and Tree of Life "Awakenings." You can check out the new hours on our Crowd Calendar.
- Table-service restaurant Tiffins opens today at Disney's Animal Kingdom. The gorgeous restaurant described by an imagineer as “a gallery you can dine in with artwork that is a direct result of travels to Africa, Asia and South America,” brings together tastes from the destinations that inspired the creation of this theme park. Reservations are now available for lunch and dinner.
- The new Star Wars fireworks show will debut June 17 at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and we can't begin to tell you how excited we are to see this projection mapping marvel at Disney World! There are still questions as to whether it will be shown nightly, but we'll be covering all the details—plus tips!—as soon as we know them.
- You have just a short time to catch the classic Soarin' at Epcot and Disney California Adventure before it changes over to Soarin' Around the World on June 17. Enjoy the classic now until June 15 on the West Coast. At Epcot, classic Soarin' will be back May 27 through June 16!
- The new live, limited-engagement Jungle Book show taking place over the water on Discovery River is set to begin May 28. "The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic" will include live music and performances with massive curtains of water bringing to life imagery from the live-action film.
- Mickey's Royal Friendship Faire, the new Cinderella Castle stage show at Magic Kingdom, will make its debut June 17. Mickey and his Merry Makers will get a little help from friends such as Rapunzel, Tiana, Elsa and Anna.
- The Themed Entertainment Association's estimation of 2015 theme park attendance is out, and Disney World, Universal Orlando and SeaWorld Orlando all saw gains. Spurred no doubt by the continued success of Diagon Alley, Universal Studios Florida saw a whopping 16 percent increase in attendance over the prior year.
- The Disney Cruise Line will be returning to New York, California and Texas in the fall of 2017 along with its Florida home ports. The destinations will include Canada, the Bahamas, Baha and the Caribbean.
- In more hoppy shopping news, Lilly Pulitzer and the Trophy Room (ultra cool sneakers) are the two latest retailers to open their doors at the Town Center in Disney Springs.
That’s it for the theme park news this week. Have a great weekend!
If you’re thinking about a trip to Disney World, make sure to check out the other news, tips and information we post to the blog throughout the week. If you’re ready to plan your trip, we recommend you start with our Orlando Planning Guide.