Disney World’s Blizzard Beach water park reopened this week with new features from the film “Frozen,” but that’s not the only news to make a splash at the Florida theme parks in recent months.
From brand new attractions to revamped returning favorites, Disney’s Orlando-area collection of parks recently unveiled a slew of updates during its ongoing 50th anniversary celebration, which kicked off in October of 2021 and runs through the end of March.
Here are five of them.
Disney World’s ski resort-themed water park reopened Sunday after being closed for nearly a year of renovations.
While snow and ice have always been part of the theme here, now, “for the first time in forever,” Blizzard Beach will boast elements from Disney’s hit 2013 animated film, “Frozen.”
Look for the additions at Tike’s Peak, the section of the park geared towards little kids. Guests will spot sisters Anna and Elsa atop an igloo castle, and snowman Olaf hanging out in the wading pool.
The park, which has heated water for cooler months, still has plenty of fun options for older guests, with attractions modeled after ski jumps, bobsleds and toboggans. They include Summit Plummet, which Disney calls “one of the tallest, fastest freefall body slides around,” and incorporates a vertical drop and a dark tunnel.
Those visiting through Dec. 31 can also experience holiday-themed treats and other festive elements like faux snowfall and a tropical Santa.
Closed since the COVID-19 pandemic shut Disney parks down in 2020, “Fantasmic!” finally returned to Hollywood Studios earlier this month. And the 29-minute nighttime spectacular boasts a new sequence that pulls from Disney films like “Moana,” “Mulan,” “Aladdin,” “Pocahontas” and “Frozen 2.”
“Fantasmic!” is presented in the Hollywood Hills Amphitheater and is set in Mickey Mouse’s imagination as he battles against Disney villains like Maleficent.
Expect live performers, special effects, pyrotechnic explosions, animation and dancing water set to Disney tunes.
“In bringing ‘Fantasmic!’ back, we have a brand-new scene that we’re calling our Disney Heroes scene,” Matthew Hamel, show director for Disney Live Entertainment, said in a statement. “We get to see some new characters introduced to ‘Fantasmic!,’ and we get to show their stories in a new, unique way utilizing a combination of projections, lasers and new lighting.”
Disney World has a wide range of resorts, from affordable to extravagant, and the Grand Floridian sits at the highest end of that list. What’s more, the resort’s Victoria & Albert’s restaurant is the most highly regarded in all of Disney World, and reopened in late July after staying closed during the early part of the phased post-pandemic reopening of Disney World.
The redesigned space is inspired by Queen Victoria’s Jubilee celebration and boasts crystal chandeliers, murals, and wall coverings with nods to an English garden. The eatery has scored the AAA Five Diamond Award every year since 2000 and the Forbes Travel Guide Five Star Award since 2018, and is the only restaurant is all of Florida to earn both.
There are three different dining options available, with the prix-fixe menus starting at $295 per person, with add-on wine pairings beginning at $150 per person. The upscale experience features American cuisine, made with ingredients from around world. Dishes include Heirloom Tomatoes with gazpacho and 100-year balsamico; Carrot Tikka Masala with cilantro and puri bread; and Wagyu A-5 Miyazaki.
Unlike most other areas of Disney World, the ritzy restaurant does expect semi-formal/formal attire and only welcomes guests ages 10 and up. Reservations are required.
The restaurant isn’t the only part of the Grand Floridian to get an upgrade as contemporary elements have been woven into the hotel’s Victorian vibe in recent years. The Enchanted Rose, a lounge inspired by “Beauty and the Beast,” opened in 2019. And Cítricos restaurant, which offers Florida cuisine with a Mediterranean influence, was revamped in 2021 with a subtle “Mary Poppins Returns” theme.
The hotel also recently added 200 new resort studios, and other rooms and general areas have been enhanced.
When Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind opened at EPCOT in May, it was a big deal for lots of reasons. The ride is not just the first roller coaster at EPCOT, but the first reverse launch for any Disney roller coaster, the first Disney World attraction based on the “Guardians of the Galaxy” film franchise, and the longest fully enclosed coaster in any Disney park.
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Characters like Rocket, Groot, Drax, Gamora and Star-Lord are part of the journey, and the immersive experience begins on the line before guests even board the intense thrill ride.
Pop music from the ‘70s and ‘80s, picked to match the mood and movement of ride, play during the experience. One of six songs, including “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” and “I Ran,” will randomly play for riders.
Also keep an eye out for Glenn Close, who makes an appearance in the 200,000 square foot attraction as her “Guardians of the Galaxy” character Nova Prime Irani Rael. And to make the ride as authentic as possible, its creators were on the set of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3″ to film with the Marvel superhero flick’s Guardian actors.
The France Pavilion at EPCOT got a big upgrade that was officially unveiled when Disney World began its 50th anniversary celebration in October of last year.
That included the addition of the ride Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure, inspired by the 2007 animated Disney and Pixar’s film, “Ratatouille,” which was about a cooking-obsessed rat named Remy. The family-friendly attraction shrinks guests down to the size of a rat by putting them in rodent-shaped trackless vehicles and rushing them through Gusteau’s restaurant, decked with oversized sausage links, cans of food and more.
Riders are given 3D glasses for the “rat’s-eye view” adventure that also makes use of sounds and smells. “From falling through a skylight to scurrying through Gusteau’s kitchen to hiding out in the restaurant’s pantry, guests feel as if they’re right alongside Chef Remy,” Disney World states. “At times they may dodge a mop, avoid being trampled by giant feet or marvel at massive pieces of food all around them.”
The expansion of the France pavilion more than doubled its size, and also includes La Crêperie de Paris, a new French eatery that offers both table- and quick-service. Savory galettes, sweet dessert crepes, and hard ciders from the Brittany region of France are on the menu.