Walt Disney World’s Awaken Summer Guide and Review

Every year, Disney run’s some kind of summer promotion. For the past two years, it’s been ‘Frozen Summer Fun’, which, I think we can all take a moment and do a praise dance that that’s over. Not that I didn’t enjoy ‘Frozen Summer Fun’, but I think if I heard one more full version of ‘Let It Go’ from an overly made-up Elsa, I would have thrown a Mickey-bar at someone. This summer, the promotion is ‘Awaken Summer’, which pretty much references the new attractions that are ‘awakening’ at all four parks. David and I just got back from Disney, and we were impressed with the new offerings at all four parks, and enjoyed this promotion much more than ‘Frozen Summer Fun’, especially since it offered something new to do at each park. Today, we’re breaking down what you can expect at each park for this summer’s promotion.

The Animal Kingdom:
The Animal Kingdom probably has the most new things going on. Open late for the first time since the park opened in 1998, these nighttime hours give guests a chance to experience old attractions with new eyes. We are big believers that the parks really come alive at night, and The Animal Kingdom is no exception. The park also has gotten its first signature dining restaurant with the opening of Tiffins, and we think Tiffins sets a new standard for theme park dining. As far as nighttime entertainment goes, The Animal Kingdom has an interim show, The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic, while it waits for Rivers of Light to be complete. The real star of nights at The Animal Kingdom, is the icon of the park, the Tree of Life, which now glows, and comes alive with color and projections throughout the night.

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New at The Magic Kingdom is Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, which is the Castle stage show that replaced Dream Along With Mickey. The show features Mickey, Minnie, Donald, and Goofy inviting their friends from all over to celebrate friendship with them? The plot gets a little murky at points. The cast includes Tiana, Rapunzel, and of course, Elsa. It also features the only place you can see Mickey and Minnie’s new and (not) improved faces. We aren’t huge fans of their new, botoxed looks, but we’re hoping they will grow on us. We guess after all these years, the Mouse was due for a little plastic surgery. The show is good, and your child will probably love it. We enjoyed it a lot, but we think we would enjoy it more when it wasn’t so hot outside.

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Epcot is awakening two new attractions (and crazy long wait times, to boot). Frozen Ever After is finally open, and you can now Soar around the World, not just California. We are raving fans of both of these attractions. We think they were incredibly well done, and fantastic additions to Epcot, that will stand the test of time. Put them both at the top of your ‘must-do’ list for your summer list.
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Hollywood Studios awakened Star Wars to be part of this promotion, with a new fireworks show. The new show involves projections on The Chinese Theater, as well as clips playing from all the movies, and fireworks. We thought the fireworks were good, but after seeing The Disneyland Forever fireworks in Disneyland, and how they utilized the buildings for projections, as well as the Castle, I think that our expectations were too high. We still enjoyed the show, but it wasn’t everything we thought it would be.

20160625-LJP_618120160625-LJP_6221All in all, we were incredibly pleased with everything that was debuted for The Awaken Summer event, even if it was just for the fact that there was so many new things to see, ride, and experience. For a passholder especially, even if all the new things weren’t my favorite (and a lot of them were!), it was really encouraging to see Disney debuting so many new things. This summer promotion has me really excited for the future of the parks, and the direction that Disney is going.