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What Opened at Disney, Universal & SeaWorld in 2015

by Tad on December 21, 2015 36 Orlando

Welcome to Tad's totally awesome list of what opened at Disney World in 2015! As the keeper of all things cool (and head Frog Family videographer), I have put together a running list of all the attractions and experiences headed to the Orlando theme parks for the last few years. What opened in 2015 follows below, but you can hop to 2014 and 2013. And don't forget to check out what's coming in 2016 and beyond!

What opened at Disney and Universal in 2015!

Spring

  • A new interactive queue opened in January at Peter Pan's Flight, one of the most popular rides in all of Magic Kingdom. The queue takes guests through the Darling home as Mr. and Mrs. Darling get ready for a night out! Tinker Bell makes an appearance as does the Darlings' beloved dog, Nana.
  • A new Starbucks location, known as the Trolley Car Cafe, opened at Disney's Hollywood Studios in February along Hollywood Boulevard.
  • What Opened at Disney World in 2015 - Fireworks viewingNew FastPass+ fireworks viewing areas and extra seating opened in February at Magic Kingdom. In the day, it's a nice place to sit down, rest and let the tadpoles burn off some energy. At night, there is room to stretch out while you're waiting, although most people stand for the fireworks. We like these new viewing areas, which are both to the left and the right of the castle when you walk toward the hub from Main Street. If you have selected FP+ for Wishes, you can select either side, space permitting. The enhancements are part of construction around the hub in front of Cinderella's Castle to ease congestion.
  • What Opened at Disney World in 2015 - Aloha IsleAloha Isle and Sunshine Tree Terrace switched places in March, so look for your Dole Whip over near the Enchanted Tiki Room behind the Magic Carpets of Aladdin. There is seating near Aloha Isle and more walk-up windows, so less wait.
  • Clyde and Seamore, the popular sea lion duo, returned to the stage at SeaWorld Orlando in a brand-new show, Sea Lions High, in April.
  • What Opened at Disney World in 2015 - Polynesian BungalowsThe first phase of Disney's newest vacation club property, Disney's Polynesian Villas & Bungalows featuring very cool, on-the-water accommodations, opened April 1. While it's the most spectacular addition to the resort, it is not the only one. The famed Lava Pool reemerged from a massive refurbishment in April with a larger deck and seating area, and a new volcano, hot tub and amazing children's water play area.
  • Trader Sam's Grog Grotto, similar to very popular Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar at the Disneyland Hotel, soft opened in April at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. While us young frogs aren't allowed in, my parents say that it is both "intimate and kitschy" — two words you don't often hear together. There are some fun drinks (that cause all sorts of reactions throughout the bar!) and Polynesian-themed appetizers.
  • What Opened at Disney World in 2015 - Orlando EyeThe Orlando Eye, a 400-foot observation wheel at the new I-Drive 360 complex, opened in May. The Eye offers 360-degree views of Orlando and beyond — on clear days, all the way to the Kennedy Space Center. These air-conditioned capsules hold 15 to 20 people. We're offering tickets for this experience, plus Madam Tussaud's and the SEALIFE Aquarium, which opened along with it.
  • What Opened at Disney World in 2015 -Also at the new I-Drive 360 complex, Skeletons: A Museum of Osteology opened March 7.
  • The Landing, the first of four phases of Disney Springs, is nearing completion at Downtown Disney. When the expansion is finished, the entertainment area will be double the size of its current footprint. Disney Springs is expected to be double the size of Downtown Disney, and the entertainment and shopping area is expected to have "beautiful open-air promenades, flowing springs and waterfront charm." Full completion of Disney Springs is expected in 2016, and we've got full details on all of what's coming here.
  • The fine folks who brought us T-REX Cafe, Yak and Yeti, and Rainforest Cafe will be bringing The BOATHOUSE to the Landing at Downtown Disney. The restaurant,which had its soft opening in April, has three bars — The Captain’s Raw Bar, The Admiral’s Club Bar and The Dock Bar, which is built over the water. Additionally there is live music and romantic guided tours aboard a water taxi, with champagne toasts and chocolate-covered strawberries. For you wannabe frogs, a guided Amphicar that launches from land but takes to water will take guests on a 20-minute tour of Disney Springs' landmarks.
  • The LEGOLAND Hotel will officially open at LEGOLAND Florida in nearby Winter Haven on May 15. The hotel will offer terrifically LEGO-themed rooms as well as big bricks and bright colors throughout!
  • What Opened at Disney World in 2015 - Harambe MarketA new shopping and dining destination, Harambe Market, opened in late May in Disney's Animal Kingdom. The outdoor market is four walk-up quick-service vendors offering street-inspired dishes, a new pathway from Africa to Asia and plenty of shaded places to sit and relax. From the Disney Parks Blog: " 'Kitamu Grill' offers skewered chicken and a kabob flatbread sandwich. 'Famous Sausages' features a corn dog, inspired by a South African sausage called a boerewors, dipped in curry-infused corn batter. 'Chef Mwanga’s' serves a spice-rubbed karubi rib with green papaya-carrot slaw." A fourth window, Wanjohi Refreshments, serves alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, including six South African wines by the glass. There is also Zuri's Sweet Shop, which offers animal-inspired treats. Along with the Harambe Theater, the home for "The Festival of the Lion King" that opened in 2014, Harambe village has doubled in size.

Summer

  • Turner Classic Movies helped re-imagineer an update and new finale for The Great Movie Ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios in June. There is also a classic movie-themed scene that guests can have their photo taken in.
  • What Opened at Disney World in 2015 - Starbucks at Disney's Animal KingdomA fourth and final Starbucks opened in June at Disney's Animal Kingdom in the former location of Creature Comforts.

Fall

  • What Opened at Disney World in 2015 - Morimoto AsiaFamed Chef Masaharu Morimoto opened his first pan-Asian dining experience this fall at Disney Springs. Guests can dine on everything from dim sum to made-to-order sushi and Thai, Vietnamese, Indonesian and Malay dishes. Check out our review here.
  • Another big fall opening at Disney Springs was Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar. Themed around Indiana Jones' fearless pilot, the bar features all sorts of interesting memorabilia from his adventures.
  • With its first "neighborhood" complete, Downtown Disney was officially renamed Disney Springs in late September.
  • What Opened at Disney World in 2015 - Jungle Skipper Canteen at Magic KingdomA Jungle Cruise-themed restaurant opened in Adventureland at Magic Kingdom in December. The Jungle Navigation Co. Ltd. Skipper Canteen features unique dining rooms, including the once-secret Society of Explorers and Adventurers. Expect plenty of entertainment from the cast, who received their training as Jungle Cruise skippers.

Winter

  • Construction on the hub at Magic Kingdom was completed in late fall/early winterDisney redesigned the entire hub area between Main Street U.S.A and Cinderella's Castle, adding more pathways, seating and landscaping. The end result is more room for guests and better views of the fireworks.
  • Star Tours — The Adventure Continues at Disney's Hollywood Studios was updated in December with a new adventure inspired by "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." For the first few months of 2016, guests will be guaranteed to experience this new adventure, and then the experiences will return to being random.
  • What Opened at Disney World in 2015 - Star Wars Land Rendering for Disney World and DisneylandAlso in Star Wars news, The Jedi Training Academy was reimagined in early December as Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. Younglings can now visit the secret site of the ancient Jedi Temple, where they will face Darth Vader along with "Star Wars Rebels" villain Seventh Sister. Star Wars Launch Bay, a new meet-and-greet, food and merchandise location, opened along with "Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular." The new nightly fireworks show pairs Star Wars classics and new tunes from The Force Awakens. 

It was a busy for the Orlando theme parks, but the next two years will be even more exciting. If you're planning an upcoming trip, don't forget to check out what's coming in 2016 and beyond. Let us know what you are most excited to experience!

Stay cool!

Keep hopping, Tad!
View Comments
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Oct 25, 2017 at 4:55 p.m. Patti Says...

I will need a power scooter @ Disney..we are staying 1 week at animal kingdom. can we access the monorail and the attractions with the power scooter// recommendations??

Reply
Oct 25, 2017 at 12:03 p.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Patti,

EVCs may access the Monorial. Most queues are EVC accessible, though the driver will need to transfer out of the ECV to experience the ride.

Stay cool!

Tad

Reply
May 10, 2016 at midnight Brad Says...

Legoland is in Winter Haven not Winter Park

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May 29, 2016 at 8:36 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Brad,

Thanks for the catch!

Stay cool!

Tad

Reply
May 7, 2016 at 6:44 p.m. dion baker Says...

I can not wait to comeback to florida/orlando went for 6th time in 2012 with my beautiful girl friend and carnt wait to take her back should be sometime in 2018/19 carnt wait

Reply
Jan 29, 2016 at 8:19 p.m. tina Says...

were coming may 2016 to celebrate 25 years married :)

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Feb 8, 2016 at 11:39 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Tina,

What an awesome way to celebrate!

Tad

Reply
Nov 17, 2015 at 10:42 a.m. Bryony Says...

Roll on September 27th 2016! I'm so excited I just love this place so much. Go every year and there's always something different each time we visit. Will be a great year next year as my boyfriend will be spending his 30th over there and my mum and dad will be spending their silver wedding anniversary over there too. Couldn't be in a better place at a better time!

Reply
Sep 16, 2015 at 1:25 a.m. Ruth Says...

I'm super excited to see what's new and coming to Disney - I have been enthralled with everything the parks have to offer since I was 16. I have spent numerous summers there with my kids, and I hope to share the same experience with my grandson.

Reply
Aug 22, 2015 at 8:13 p.m. Mary Says...

I am excited about the new additions. Disney please bring back the Adventurers Club and Improv in Downtown Disney. It is a sea of restaurants with outdoor entertainment the bowling alley, Disney Quest and Cirque de Soleil but we all miss the the improv and Adventurer's Club entertainment. Don't forget about your DVC members. Give us a break on the park hoppers with no expiration. The annual pass does not work for most of us. Please pay attention.

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Jul 31, 2015 at 3:50 p.m. Theresa Says...

How if the visitor assistance new program working out at Disney and Universal? I hear there is a lot of complaining from visitors going on that need this service.

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Aug 7, 2015 at 11:17 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Theresa,

This is a good question, and maybe others here will share their experiences using them. You can also check out this post for more feedback from readers and details about Disney's DAS.

The Disability Access Services Card at Disney is providing guests who cannot wait in a conventional queue (due to a disability) with return times; this essentially allows the guests to go do something else for a while and come back to that return time at an attraction to experience it, without just standing and waiting in the line. It gives them time to grab a snack, rest, play a game, shop, experience another attraction with FastPass+, etc., so the guests is not having to sit in a long line for one attraction. Disney made the system to make it more difficult for those who abuse the system and use it just to skip the lines without a legitimate reason. Some guests think it works great, others do not.

Universal’s Attractions Assistance Pass (AAP) is similar to the DAS – it’s made to accommodate those who cannot wait in regular queue environments. You obtain the AAP at the Guest Services of either Islands of Adventure or Universal Studios (whichever you visit first), or Universal Studios Hollywood. The card allows you to receive a return attraction if the wait time is longer than 30 minutes; if it’s less, then you’ll be escorted through an alternate queue. Universal also has the Guest Accessistance Pass (GAP) for those who disabilities are not properly accommodated by the AAP. It’s like the old Disney system – it allows you immediate entry to any attraction that offer Universal Express, despite the wait time. These are handed out on a strictly limited basis. People seem to have the same issues with the AAP as they do with DAS – trying to fill in the time they have between return times.

It’s all about planning; have a plan for between return times because they’re inevitable. Use FastPass+ between each return time when at Disney. It takes planning, but it can be useful. Plan the day so that between return times, you’re either experiencing another attraction, eating a snack, playing a game, doing some shopping or some other activity.

Stay cool!

Tad

Reply
Jul 27, 2015 at 7:18 p.m. Shelly Byers Says...

My Family & I Are Going To Walt Disney World In 3/27/2016. The Last Time Was 2011. I Have Three Kids The Ages Are 13,11,7, Can You Help Me.

Reply
Aug 5, 2015 at 10:09 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Shelly,

Yes! What do you need help with?

Tad

Reply
Jul 24, 2015 at 2:45 p.m. Kaitlyn Says...

My family and I our heading to Disney world next month. We went last year as well .

Reply
Jun 9, 2015 at 3:13 p.m. sue Says...

We have decided to give disneyworld a break for a couple of years so that when we go back there will be lots of new things to see and do. We are returning in 2017....OMG that seems so far away right now!!

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Jun 30, 2015 at 8:03 p.m. Rick Says...

That's funny, my family's doing that, too!

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Jul 30, 2015 at 1:28 p.m. Tod Says...

That is so funny Rick

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Jun 3, 2015 at 5:01 p.m. MrSandman Says...

It will be worth watching, to see when Disney World gets up to date with the times of the other leading parks and does a "Paint The Night" all-LED upgrade to the night parade, along with the lighting and Fireworks show enhancements that go along with it!

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Jun 4, 2015 at 9:49 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Yes! Paint the Night at Magic Kingdom would be epic.

Stay cool!

Tad

Reply
May 7, 2015 at 7:04 p.m. BC Says...

Thinking of staying at the Polynesian dec 2015 DVC having trouble picking a building/room location request. wonder which will be the most conveiant ( we do purchase the refillable mugs LOL) plus have a decent view,, I now have heard the monorail may be closed in december?

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Aug 10, 2015 at 10 a.m. Dean Henson Says...

If you contact the hotel a few weeks before you arrive you can request the room you want, we have stayed at the floridian on a number occasions and found this advice very helpful

Reply
May 11, 2015 at 8:11 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Bc,

The best DVC rooms would be in the Moorea and Tokelau. The better views would be from Moorea facing the water (theme park or lagoon view, rooms 15-38), but Tokelau is a bit closer to the lobby. We just saw the new deluxe studios on our last trip, and they really are awesome. The monorail is expected to be under refurbishment, but there is also the boat launch to Magic Kingdom that is quite convenient.

Stay cool!

Tad

Reply
May 11, 2015 at 8:10 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Bc,

The best DVC rooms would be in the Moorea and Tokelau. The better views would be from Moorea facing the water (theme park or lagoon view, rooms 15-38), but Tokelau is a bit closer to the lobby. We just saw the new deluxe studios on our last trip, and they really are awesome.

Stay cool!

Tad

Reply
May 6, 2015 at 10:57 p.m. Michael Says...

Roll on September, 19 days of fun

Reply
May 4, 2015 at 1:21 a.m. paula garcia tamayo Says...

viajo del 17 al 29 de mayo con mi hijo de 13 años. El tiene espectro autista y no soporta largas colas de espera. Cuento con diagnostico. Lei hace poco que hubieron problemas con fast pass por malos usos. La verdad estoy preocupada de que como se comporte mi hijo y que lo que sea un vije de fantasia se vuelva un viaje de terror. Que me recomienda?

Reply
May 11, 2015 at 8:13 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hola,

Si él está en el espectro del autismo, que es un buen candidato para la tarjeta de servicios de acceso Discapacidad. Usted no tiene que proporcionar diagnóstico oficial del médico a Disney, pero siendo lo más detallada posible con los Miembros del Elenco les ayudará a asistirle.

La tarjeta DAS está diseñado para aquellos que tienen discapacidades cognitivas que les impiden de pie en un entorno de colas estándar. La tarjeta DAS le permitirá programar los tiempos de experimentar atracciones de esa manera usted no está de pie en la línea de un largo período de tiempo; podrás programar un tiempo para dar un paseo, ir a hacer una actividad (tomar un aperitivo, un juego, ver un espectáculo, etc.) y luego volver por su tiempo programado.

Ir a los huéspedes relaciones tan pronto como se llega a los parques. Hay un Miembro del Elenco te ayudará a que registrarse para una tarjeta DAS si sienten que califica para ello.

Diviértete!

Tad

Reply
Mar 23, 2015 at 11:54 p.m. ron Says...

Be there the first full week of May. My wife and I will be celebrating our first wedding Anniversary.

Reply
Mar 24, 2015 at 9:28 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Congratulations! What a great way to celebrate!

Leap

Reply
Jan 19, 2015 at 3:16 p.m. Mary Says...

My 15 yr. old daughter and I are coming to disneyworld the beginning of March. We want to visit magic kingdom, Epcot and universal studios. We have 3 full days. What is the best way for the 2 of us to buy are tickets a navigate the parks?

Reply
Mar 4, 2016 at 6:11 p.m. itz3l Says...

its rly fun 11/10 reccommend ;0)

Reply
Apr 29, 2015 at 3:40 p.m. John Says...

Hi

We have been to Orlando many times and I think you would be advised to purchase a multi park ticket We always use American attractions they are very reasonable and have many options

Have a great time and say hi to Mickey for us

Reply
Jan 20, 2015 at 11:43 a.m. FrogBlog Says...

Hi Mary,

I would recommend you purchase two day Magic Your Way tickets for Magic Kingdom and Epcot, and then a one day Park-to-Park ticket for Universal Orlando. You definitely want to you experience some of Universal Studios Florida and Universal's Islands of Adventure.

Check out our touring plans for each of those parks, so you can experience as much as possible during your trip!

Stay cool,

Tad

Reply
Jan 16, 2015 at 2:35 a.m. Charmaine Belman Says...

looking to come to Disney in Florida next year 2016. It will be my kids first time!! Looking forward to it.

Reply
Jan 15, 2015 at 1:42 a.m. Dot Rhodes Says...

WOW...sounds awesome.

Reply
Nov 16, 2015 at 12:45 p.m. MARIA HELOISA BOSSELJON COSTA Says...

futureland must vanish

Reply
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