Top 5 Things to Look Forward to in 2016

Top 5 Things to Look Forward to in 2016

2015 is a distant memory now. Onward and upward into 2016. Nearly every year for the foreseeable future will bring a noteworthy addition to the Orlando theme parks. Here are some good reasons to be excited to visit in 2016.

#5 Disney Springs expands
The transformation from Downtown Disney to Disney Springs wasn't an easy or a short one but the long nightmare is soon to be over. 2015 saw great additions like The Hangar Bar, Morimoto Asia and the Ganachery. 

2016 will see the opening of the Town Center area of the expansion. It will bring with it loads of new shops like Pandora, Lilly Pulitzer, Edison, Sprinkles, Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza and many more. 2016 will be a great time to check out Disney Springs as most of the walls will be down and plenty of new storefronts will be open for business.

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First Look at Epcot's Frozen Attraction

Disney has revealed the storyline and name of the Frozen ride that is replacing Maelstrom in Epcot's Norway pavilion. 'Frozen Ever After' is a continuation of the Frozen story and not a retelling. Although some favorite moments and music from the film will be included.

You'll be transported to Arendelle's Winter in Summer Celebration where Elsa uses her magic powers to create a winter playland in the middle of summer. During the ride you'll be transported to Elsa's ice palace and then end up in the Bay of Arendelle. Sounds similar to the ending of Maelstrom. All your favorite characters will return including the Snowgies from the Frozen short. Grandpappy troll will also be there telling the story of how Anna and Kristof met.

Imagineers talked with the Wall Street Journal and confirmed that Maelstrom's track will not be changed and that the Frozen overlay will just replace the former theme. Oaken's trading post will serve as the queue. No word yet on any interactive elements but I'm sure Disney is anticipating guests spending a very long time in line. The biggest scene of the ride will be Elsa singing 'Let it Go', of course. There will be plenty of effects during this portion including simulated snow falling.

The animatronic figures that will be used in the ride are based off the same technology that is found in the dwarfs in the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train. The dwarfs look amazing and I'm sure the technology has taken another step since their implementation. 

The biggest complaint about Frozen coming to Norway is the fact that Arendelle isn't even a real place. Disney is adding new elements to further represent real Norway in its pavilion. The name of the new building being erected to house the Anna and Elsa meet and greet will be called the 'Royal Sommerhus' and will have unique Norwegian architectural features and cultural arts and crafts of Norway. 'Frozen Ever After' is set to open in 2016.

Frozen Expansion at Epcot More Than Expected

We already knew a new Frozen meet and greet would be coming to the Norway pavilion. The sisters would be moving in once the new Frozen ride was in place where Maelstrom formerly stood. But I don't think many anticipated the scale of it.

Stitch Kingdom uncovered a filing to begin work on the new structure called simply: "Frozen Meet and Greet Building." The new structure will most likely be themed around Frozen and Arendelle which will be more of a departure from Norwegian culture. The facility will reportedly be 13,000 square feet, much larger than your average meet and greet. 

Image via Stitch Kingdom

Rumors floating around attribute the large size of the building to possible show elements to the meet and greet. You could look to the Enchanted Tales with Belle meet and greet and the Thor meet in Disneyland which both have elaborate pre-show elements. The new Anna & Elsa meet could have something similar.

I think we could expect Olaf to make an appearance in the new venue. I doubt there will be enough demand for a Kristoff meet to warrant a dedicated space however. I also think the large space could anticipating for the huge queue size the sisters previous meet and greets attracted. We could also see Disney try something new here and incorporate the pager system seen in Dumbo. There could be elements of the Frozen Summer Fun play areas inside the building to distract younger visitors and give adults a chance to sit before meeting the characters.

The new Frozen ride inside the Norway pavilion is scheduled to open in 2016. This new facility will have a lot of catching up to do.