Walt Disney World is one of the world’s most popular destinations, with millions of visitors pouring in every year. There are many areas of the massive resort that have generated devotion from guests who come from around the world, as well as those local to the Florida area. Disney’s Animal Kingdom is gorgeously themed throughout the park, maybe better than most other theme parks in Orlando, unsurprising given that it was the last park that Disney opened in Florida. The Polynesian Resort also has a passionate fanbase, with it becoming a favorite among many guests staying on Disney property. Both Animal Kingdom and the Polynesian are evolving – take a peek at the major changes after the break!
It was previously announced that the highest-grossing film of all-time, Avatar, would have a major presence at Disney’s Animal Kingdom park in the coming years. The World of Pandora (its unofficial name for now) is scheduled to open in 2017 with a new attraction, and gorgeous daytime as well as nighttime views – if you have seen the film, you know what Disney is trying to achieve (concept art above). The complexity of the new land will surely require technological advances and quite a bit of money. Given the importance of both, as well as authenticity, to Disney, the 3-year wait begins to make sense.
Rivers of Light is a new nighttime show that Disney is billing as “unlike anything ever seen in Disney Parks.” Take one look at the image above and you get a general idea of how the show will work. It will be positioned over Discovery River, which naturally provides many views with its large size and great positioning in the center of the park. It seems that it will be inspired by World of Color, the popular show at the Disneyland Resort’s Disney California Adventure park, but it appears to tie into the story of its Animal Kingdom locale. Disney abides by storytelling in its attractions and experiences, and it looks like Rivers of Light will be no different.
The Disney Parks Blog describes it below:
“Rivers of Light” promises to be an innovative show unlike anything ever seen in Disney Parks, combining live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery. The show will magically come to life on the broad, natural stage of the Discovery River, between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest, delighting our guests and truly capping off a full day of adventures at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.
Across the resort, closer to Magic Kingdom park, is Disney’s Polynesian Resort, which is currently undergoing massive changes. New buildings, which will be home to Disney Vacation Club members, have been in development for some time, but construction on a revamped lobby for the main building of the resort is on the way. In concept art (seen above), the new lobby will be more subtle but will maintain its tropical (and tiki) theme.
Speaking of tikis, the resort is also adding a new dining option – Trader Sam’s Grog Grotto, which will be a sister to the Disneyland Hotel’s Trader Sam’s, will feature a heavy tiki theme, finally allowing those on the east coast to relish what west coast Disney fans have been able to for years. Fans have been asking for a Florida outlet of the location for quite a long time, and Disney has listened.
The Polynesian was one of three properties that was open on opening day of Walt Disney World in 1971, the other two being Magic Kingdom and the Contemporary Resort. The tropical resort was originally called Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort, a name that Disney will be returning to soon. Although it is more long winded, the addition to the name is a welcome change harkening back to the opening of the beautiful resort.
Disney is in the difficult position of attempting to balance the fond memories and sheer joy people have from revisiting resort icons that never change with revitalizing the resort to update it for future generations. These changes to Animal Kingdom and the Polynesian, although they may be tough to swallow, seem to respect their respective property’s design and story. I cannot wait to see the updates when they are completed!