Just in time for summer 2017, the Walt Disney World Resort, SeaWorld Orlando and Universal Orlando Resort introduced new experiences that are sure to become new favorites for guests.
A Dreamy Day at Disney
On May 27, fans of James Cameron’s “Avatar” finally had the opportunity to travel to the world of Pandora when Disney’s Animal Kingdom opened the much-anticipated Pandora – The World of Avatar. In the largest addition in the history of Animal Kingdom, the story is set a generation after the conflict between the Na’vi and humans, and the world is at peace. Guests are welcomed as eco-tourists to explore the landscape, complete with floating mountains and bioluminescence, and completely immerse themselves in the world of the Na’vi.
Wait times may be long as guests explore Pandora for the first time, but the rides are worth the wait. Na’vi River Journey offers a family friendly experience as you float past glowing plants and witness a musical Na’vi ceremony in a bioluminescent rainforest. This adventure offers a needed reprieve from the sweltering sun. Not for the faint of heart, Avatar Flight of Passage links you to an avatar so you can experience a true Na’vi rite of passage: a flight through Pandora on a winged mountain banshee. The 3D multisensory experience fully immerses you in the world of Pandora. You can even feel the banshee breathing beneath you.
While you’re there, eat like a Na’vi at Satu’li Canteen. With a menu inspired by Pandora’s healthful bounty, items include customizable bowls with whole grains, fresh vegetables and hearty proteins as well as steamed pods (bao buns) with cheeseburger or vegetable curry filling. Over at Pongu Pongu (meaning party party), try the bioluminescent Mo’ara Margarita or the bright green Hawkes’ Grog Ale.
Also in May, the Wishes fireworks show at Disney’s Magic Kingdom had its final curtain call and was replaced with Happily Ever After. Part fireworks, part projection show, the 18-minute display features moments from classic Disney films like “The Little Mermaid” and modern blockbusters like “Moana.”
Summer at SeaWorld
SeaWorld Orlando will be celebrating summer by hosting Electric Ocean through Aug. 5. At this end-of-day spectacle, the lights and energy go up as the sun goes down. After-dark festivities include thrilling roller coasters, animal encounters, live music and pathway entertainment. Two celebrated shows returned for the celebration: Sea Lion Tonite and Shamu’s Celebration: Light Up the Night.
SeaWorld also introduced the revamped Kraken® Virtual Reality Roller Coaster in June. The first digitally enhanced ride experience of its kind, the legendary Kraken roller coaster features new technology that transforms the thrill ride into the only VR coaster experience in Florida. However, those who are not fans of virtual reality can still ride without the headset. During this deep-sea mission, expect to encounter sea creatures inspired by extinct and legendary animals of the past, including the Kraken.
A brand new live performance is taking place at the Nautilus Theater two to four times a day through Sept. 4. Pop is performed by world-renowned bubble legend Fan Yang and takes inspiration from bubbles found in the sea, such as bubbles created naturally in the ocean, bubbles left behind by swimming penguins and bubbles created by dolphins and whales. Each performance is enhanced with state-of-the-art lighting, sound and lasers, and two audience members will be put into a life-sized bubble during each performance.
Splash Away at Volcano Bay
On May 25, Universal Orlando Resort opened its third theme park, Universal’s Volcano Bay, with a variety of immersive experiences. This one-of-a-kind water theme park includes a multi-directional wave pool with sandy beaches, a winding river, a variety of multi-rider raft rides and body slides that drop from the top of the volcano.
As the story goes, Volcano Bay is a tropical paradise that was formed by myth and discovered by legend. The Waturi islanders discovered it with the help of a mystical fish who was destined to guide them to a new home. As you arrive at Volcano Bay, you will be welcomed with a spirit of friendship as a member of the Waturi family. As you explore, you’ll find a blend of Polynesian cultures and architecture from the South Pacific that were inspired by the Waturi’s travels.
While you’re there, you won’t have to worry about waiting in lines or carrying around personal items, including cash and credit cards. A TapuTapu wearable, which is included with admission, allows you to virtually wait in line while you experience other areas of the park. It will alert you when it’s time to ride. With the wearable, you can also make purchases in the park, and it gives you access to photos and lockers. The TapuTapu wearable also triggers special effects like shooting water cannons at guests in the Kopiko Wai Winding River and illuminating images in the volcano’s hidden caves.
Adventure Calls at Gatorland
Central Florida’s oldest theme park will soon present the largest expansion since it opened in 1949. Gator Joe’s Adventure Outpost and Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure – complete with 12-foot-tall, open-air vehicles – are slated to open in early fall 2017 at Gatorland, the Alligator Capital of the World.
“Our new adventure ride is a natural extension of all our adventure activities throughout the park and a continuation of our exciting entertainment experiences,” Gatorland President & CEO Mark McHugh says. “The Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure will let guests experience Florida’s natural beauty as they venture through several different ecosystems. They will go over hills, through mud puddles, creep through a real alligator graveyard, and splash through a pond full of hundreds of alligators, of course.”
The new Gator Joe’s Adventure Outpost will be located in front of the Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure. It will serve as the park’s home base for reserving and purchasing all separately ticketed park adventures, including the Stompin’ Gator Off-Road Adventure, Screamin’ Gator Zip Line, Adventure Hour, Gator Night Shine and Trainer For The Day.