In 2013, many new attractions contributed to our memorable moments at Walt Disney World. Here are some of the new additions at the resort this year, in no particular order. Enjoy a look back at what was new this year.
** Elements from “Frozen” movie. From a segment in the Celebrate the Magic show on Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom to the Elsa and Anna meet-and-greet at Epcot’s Norway pavilion, the hit animated feature is well represented at Walt Disney World. Fans also can find an artifact collection inspired by the movie in the Stave Church at the Norway pavilion and story boards from the film at the Art of Animation at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
** Food marketplaces at the Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival. The theme park’s Food and Wine Festival is so popular that Disney planners decided to expand the format to its other well-attended festival. It took five years for the new marketplaces to come to fruition, and they were well-received in their first year at Epcot. So well, in fact, they will be returning next year, I’m told.
** Food trucks. The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival also inspired Walt Disney World to join the food truck trend. When the festival ended, the resort launched four food trucks that are based at Downtown Disney but can travel around the property. One of the trucks offers popular dishes from the Food and Wine Festival.
** Glow With The Show mouse ear hats. A little more than a year after these fun hats debuted at Disneyland, they made their appearance at Walt Disney World. The ears on the hats light up and can be synchronized with friends and some of the big nighttime productions, such as Wishes fireworks, Fantasmic! and The Osborne Family Spectacle of Dancing Lights. Hats cost $25 apiece and will work at both Disney World and Disneyland.
** Scenes from the movie “Tangled.” Fantasyland added a section dedicated to Rapunzel’s story early this year. Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer attractions, per se — just cleverly themed bathrooms and a rest area with charging stations. There is a nice photo op by the tower, though.
** Another piece of New Fantasyland. Speaking of Disney Princesses, Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty (and their visiting guests) were given a new home at Princess Fairytale Hall in the courtyard behind Cinderella Castle at Magic Kingdom. This well-themed area is housed in what used to be Snow White’s Scary Adventures.
** For fans of “Up.” Animal Kingdom launched a self-guided program for kids based on the Disney-Pixar movie called Wilderness Explorers. The free handbook directs participants to various locations throughout the park where they can earn “badges,” much like Scouts do in real life.
** Kingdom Keepers. Fans of Ridley Pearson’s “Kingdom Keepers” series of books now have the opportunity to solve their own quests at both Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom. The self-directed scavenger hunts can be found in the 2013 and 2014 “Birnbaum Guides to Walt Disney World.” These hunts are modeled after the one Pearson developed for Disney Youth Programs.
** A Pirate’s Adventure: Treasure of the Seven Seas. This is yet another attraction that guests can do at their own pace. Located in Adventureland, the hunt for treasure includes many surprises built into the existing infrastructure of the Magic Kingdom.
** Limited Time Magic. The 2013 campaign brought a variety of special experiences to the parks. Among them were two one-day-only events at Disney’s Hollywood Studios: May the Fourth Be With You, which celebrated Star Wars, and Unleash the Villains on Friday, Sept. 13. Both celebrations offered special fireworks — Symphony in the Stars and Villiainy in the Sky.
** New watering holes. New lounges popped up throughout Walt Disney World, including the Lava Lounge at Rainforest Cafe at Downtown Disney and the Hollywood Brown Derby Lounge at Hollywood Studios.
** Rare character appearances. In addition to the Long Lost Friends that appeared during Limited Time Magic events, Disney also brought out Jack Skellington and Sally from “Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas.” The pair commanded three-hour-long lines in 2012 and were only available at meet-and-greets this year at Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party and on select Disney Cruise Line sailings aboard the Disney Dream.
** Jingle Cruise. Magic Kingdom offered its first holiday overlay at an attraction since the Country Bear Christmas Special closed in 2005. The Jungle Cruise takes on a holiday theme.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the updates and changes at Walt Disney World in 2013. Please tell us in the comments what you especially enjoyed this year.