Walt Disney World 2016 -50 Days To 50 Years Walt Disney World Countdown
Walt Disney World 2016 in our 50 Days To 50 Years Walt Disney World Countdown saw us saying goodbye to one of the most iconic Walt Disney World shows to ever grace the parks and definitely was a year of transition as it became more and
more apparent that change was definitely in the air throughout the Walt Disney World Resort. Magic Kindom celebrated its 45th anniversary, The “Star Wars Land” project was still shrouded in mystery and Disney Springs was being transformed right before our eyes. Two beloved sisters brought Norway to life over at Epcot and we were invited to get up close and personal with some of our favorite characters from Star Wars over at the new Launch Bay located at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Let’s take a closer look at just what helped to make Walt Disney World 2016 such a magical time in our 50 Days To To 50 Years Walt Disney World Countdown.
Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights
On January 6, 2016, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights danced for the very last time at Disney’s Hollywood Studios bringing to a close one of the most beloved shows of all time. More than a show, and certainly more than a light display, the Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights was an experience and no picture or video could ever even come close to what it was like to stand in the middle of the Streets of America as the lights danced all around you.
As evening would descend, this amazing display sprung to life. The buildings of the “New York City Strets” came alive each night as a lucky guest would help Santa Goofy turn on the switch that would bring the twinkling light sculptures to life, while a host of angels flew overhead. One of the memories that will remain as one of my all-time top Walt Disney World experiences was the night I was selected to assist Santa Goofy with this honor. Visitors were invited to stroll through the lights at their own pace. For over 20 years, compromised of over 5 million lights, this was a must-see.
To enhance the experience, Florida “snow” fluttered down while Christmas tunes filled the air. In its later years, the lights were all converted to energy-efficient LED lights. The final songs the lights danced to were “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” and “Mickey Mouse Club Alma Mater”.
While the Osborne Lights are no longer featured at Walt Disney World, they do continue to bring magic to thousands each year doing more good for the world. Following the end of their run at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, Disney donated a vast majority of the lights to the Give Kids the World Village charity complex. They continue to light up the night sky and dance each at the ”Night of a Million Lights” event, and are used to raise money for the village to continue its mission of hosting wishes and their guests.
Sometimes it’s good to be bad and in January at Walt Disney 2016, a new kind of dinner club was introduced as Club Villain made its debut. Thanks to Club Villain, grown-up guests could party the night away with the Disney Villains in a
soiree led by Dr. Facilier at the new Club Villain at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Kicking off on January 16 of that year at the Sunset Showcase, a new venue tucked into the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster courtyard. although admission to this exclusive club came with a hefty price tag, it was worth every penny. The ticketed event included a New Orleans-inspired dinner, as well as drinks-yes- alcoholic drinks were included in the price. While not technically an adults-only event, the lack of child pricing and inclusion of alcohol indicated that Disney was strongly discouraging children. In addition to visits by popular
villains including Maleficent (Sleeping Beauty), the Queen of Hearts (Alice in Wonderland), the Evil Queen (Snow White), and Cruella De Vil (101 Dalmatians), a DJ spun some of the latest and greatest in deliciously evil tunes.
A Galaxy Far, Far Away
Although very little was known during the Walt Disney World 2016 year about the “Star Wars Themed Land” which would later come to be known as Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge, a wide variety of Star Wars-themed experiences were making their way into the landscape of Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Star Wars Launch Bay introduced new character interactions and I
will be the first to admit that to this day, no creature gives a better hug than Chewbacca. A live stage show “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on April 4 featuring live vignettes with BB-8, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and Darth Maul. Summer kicked off in grand style when “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular” lit
up the night skies featuring a Star Wars-themed fireworks show using lasers, video projections, and other special effects including characters and scenes from the complete saga. Later in the year saw the introduction of “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular” to help set the stage for the galaxy far, far away to the planet of Batuu in the years to follow. The Force was most definitely strong at Walt Disney World 2016
The Invictus Games
Walt Disney World 2016 saw firsthand what real heroes looked like when Prince Harry’s Invictus Games were held at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex May 8-12. Making their first-ever United States debut, this inspirational event celebrated our wounded servicemen and women from around the world competing in a variety of sports. The Invictus Games are the only international adaptive sporting event for injured active duty and veteran service members. Started in 2014 by Prince Harry, the Invictus Games use the power of sport to inspire recovery, support
rehabilitation and generate a wider understanding and respect for wounded, ill or injured servicemen and women who are transitioning into civilian life.
Frozen Ever After
Walt Disney World 2016 gave us a new journey to Arendelle with the opening of Frozen Ever After located in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot replacing the iconic Maelstrom attraction much to the dismay of many fans of the beloved ride. Frozen Ever After was an adventure for the entire family that immersed guests into the world of Frozen. The new attraction, which opened June 21, 2016, invited guests to climb aboard the boat and let the lapping waters take you on a voyage through a frozen willow forest.
This song-filled journey featured a slow-moving boat ride with backward and forward plunges down short waterfalls and of course, offered the opportunity to possibly get wet as you journeyed to Arendelle to relive some of your favorite moments and music from the film. To this day, it still remains one of the most popular attractions at Epcot.
Disney’s Animal Kingdom Comes Alive At Night
The savanna came alive after dark during Walt Disney World 2016 with the introduction of The Kilimanjaro Safaris After Sunset in which Kilimanjaro Safaris expanded their operating hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, allowing guests to travel through the African savanna amid the orange glow of the setting sun. Until you have experienced the sights and sounds of a safari as the sun goes down, you haven’t really experienced the true magic of all it has to offer. This was nature as it should be experienced in all its glory.
In addition to a new way to surround yourself with the wonders of Africa, a new culinary dining experience opened along with the nighttime hours at Disney’s Animal Kingdom when Tiffins restaurant near Pizzafari on Discovery Island first opened its doors to guests. This signature restaurant offered a diverse menu, inspired by the creation of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and waterfront views from both indoor and outdoor seating.
Disney Springs Was Growing And Transforming
Walt Disney World 2016 saw some of the biggest changes to Disney Springs as it continued to transform into a destination all its own.
Wrapped in Florida-inspired, made-for-strolling promenades, arcing footbridges, flowing streams, and waterfront charm, Disney Springs treats Walt Disney World Resort guests to an exciting blend of shopping, dining, and entertainment with a Disney touch. By day or night, guests found a vibrant scene at Disney Springs, whether shopping for world-class brands, enjoying high-quality entertainment, having that special dining experience, pleasure boating on Village Lake, or hopping a balloon skyward for spectacular views of Walt Disney World and beyond.
Now guests were able to enjoy the benefits of a dramatically transformed exciting new waterfront district for world-class shopping, unique dining, and high-quality entertainment featuring more than 150 establishments across its four neighborhoods.
Some of the most unique and recognizable names in retail such as UNIQLO, Vince Camuto, Anthropologie, Zara, Lilly Pulitzer, Columbia Sportswear, LACOSTE, Under Armour, kate spade new york, Sephora and Oakley now called Town Center home. Among new dining choices awaiting Town Center guests were restaurants developed by James Beard award-winning chefs. Frontera Cocina served up gourmet Mexican cuisine and creative cocktails from the menu envisioned by celebrity chef Rick Bayless, a six-time James Beard Foundation winner. Chef Art Smith, two-time winner of the James Beard Award brought a unique taste of gourmet southern cuisine and Florida agriculture to the heart of Disney Springs with Homecoming Florida Kitchen and Southern Shine.
From new acts at Cirque du Soleil to iconic restaurants to colorful food trucks to bowling with a stylized twist at Splitsville, West Side offered something for everyone. Characters In Flight gave guests the opportunity to lift off in a tethered balloon offering up magical eye-popping, 360-degree views.
Two new slot-smart parking decks where green lights indicate available spaces make parking convenient to the entire Disney Springs scene – and the best part was it was all free!
Happy 45th Anniversary Walt Disney World
On October 1, 2016, Walt Disney World’s Magic Kingdom celebrated its 45th anniversary, and guests were invited to join in the fun and be a part of the festivities on the big day with commemorative events and merchandise throughout the park. To start the day a special Magic Kingdom 45th anniversary presentation was held on Cinderella Forecourt Stage, with music, speeches, and Disney characters marking the occasion.
To sweeten the celebration, a limited supply of Magic Kingdom 45th anniversary “I Was There” t-shirts and trading pins were available for purchase at Main Street U.S.A.’s Emporium on October 1, and special anniversary treats that were sold at Main Street Bakery and Gaston’s Tavern in Fantasyland. And now just 5 short years later, at the end of this week, we will be coming up on the golden 50th anniversary as the World’s Most Magical Celebration. It’s hard to believe that the 18-month celebration begins in just a few days with the festivities commencing on Saturday, October 1.
New Nighttime Spectaculars and Fun
Walt Disney World 2016 ushered in a new era of nighttime spectaculars including “Once Upon A Time” a brand new projection show that opened at Magic Kingdom on Nov. 4. at Disney’s Magic Kingdom and featured the beloved “Beauty and the Beast” characters Mrs. Potts and Chip as they traveled through the most adventurous scenes from Disney classics such as “Cinderella,” “Peter Pan,” Alice in Wonderland” and “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh.”
Cinderella Castle served as the backdrop for the new show, which used projection mapping technology that brought the stories to life and all set to a magical score that stayed with you long after the experience ended each night. On Nov. 14, a brand new holiday show debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. “Jingle Bell, Jingle BAM!” a frolicking original story that transported guests to the North Pole, where two-spirited elves were in search of Santa Claus himself.
The show featured scenes from “Mickey’s Christmas Carol,” “Beauty and the Beast,” “Pluto’s Christmas Tree,” “Bambi” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”
The World’s Most Magical Celebration Is Almost Here
If one word could be used for Walt Disney World 2016 it would have to be “Change” seeing transformation and a magic that was quickly evolving faster than ever before. Walt Disney had said “You can design and create, and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality” and it was easy to see the dreams coming alive right before our very eyes. Come back tomorrow as our 50 Days To 50 Years Walt Disney World Countdown Continues as we journey to Walt Disney World 2017 and we travel to a whole new world as Pandora-The World of Avatar opens.