How do you choose what to do?
Disney does SO many things from year-to-year that it seems nearly impossible to narrow down what to do first. The annual events at the parks are always fun. Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival, Food and Wine Festival (now on both coasts), Holiday Festivals (now on both coasts), Star Wars Weekends, Halloween Parties, and even more. That doesn’t include the special celebrations like Disneyland Paris’ 25th anniversary and Epcot’s 35th or the now regular events by D23 like Lunch with a Legend and the official studio tours in Burbank. So where to begin?
Instead of focusing on these more regular events, I’ve decided to highlight 5 events in 2017 that are likely to be highlights specific to 2017:
Epcot International Festival of the Arts – I know I just got done saying that we wouldn’t focus on regular events and ANOTHER festival at Epcot might seem run-of-the-mill despite how incredible they are. But this is a new experiment for the events folks at Epcot. This is the first ever Festival of the Arts and it seeks to integrate the best and brightest of Disney in its celebration. And who better to represent the arts than Disney? During the six weekends it is taking place (Fri-Mon from Jan 13 to Feb 20) Disney will bring together the visual arts, the culinary arts, and the performing arts into one giant celebration. For the performing arts, they are bringing some of their biggest stars from Broadway to sing songs from the musicals they starred in like Ashley Brown who originated the role of Disney’s Mary Poppins or Josh Strickland who originated the role of Tarzan. Culinary arts according to Disney “will showcase culinary creations so delicious and intricate, guests may not know if the menus are for admiring or eating. Disney chefs will surely encourage guests it’s the latter.” And each week there will be different artistic experiences. The first weekend alone features a class in mixed media, gesture drawing, modern macrame, and floral arranging. Talk about diversity in art!
Halloween on the Disney Lot – D23 hasn’t shared much about this upcoming event taking place on October 29th but I imagine it will be similar to Light Up the Season which they have held two years in a row also on the studios campus. Not only is it a rare opportunity to come to the studios lot, but D23 always does an amazing job of creating a special event with unique gifts and opportunities. Every single one has been fun and filled with Disney magic so to experience Halloween on the Disney Lot seems like an amazing opportunity. I’m sure tickets will be limited and will sell out quickly so keep your eye open on the D23 website for the opportunity (also likely to be a Gold Member event so maybe you’ll want to become one?)
Guardians of the Galaxy Mission Breakout and Vol 2 – This is a Guardians of the Galaxy kind of year! Not only is the movie coming out which looks to be as funny, action-packed, and engaging as the first, but the reimagining of Tower of Terror into the new Guardians of the Galaxy: Mission Breakout is set to come alive in summer 2017! Work has been coming along steadily since it was announced, with scaffolding surrounding the building’s transformation. I have to admit to being skeptical about a ride redo. It’s hard to forget that a really awesome attraction based on a beloved TV show was once in its place, and also hard to imagine how it will feel as if we as guests could in any way actually be a part of Rocket’s attempt to break out his fellow crew from the Collector’s clutches. But the Imagineers have done some pretty amazing stuff in the past and so I’m excited to see where this leads. From what I have heard from a cast member this is just phase I of an eventual Marvel takeover of Hollywood Land. Whether there is truth in that will only come to light in the future, but supposedly the Monsters, Inc. attraction is next on the Marvel makeover list.
Pandora opening at Animal Kingdom – What HASN’T been said about this place? The second biggest event of 2017, this new area promises to be innovative if nothing else. Based on the movie Avatar by James Cameron, this new land in Animal Kingdom will bring the world of Pandora to life along with two new attractions as well as places to eat and shop. Amazing animatronics, floating rocks, and a landscape that is supposedly even more beautiful at night than in the day will come to life this summer. I have to admit it seemed odd to base an entire land on a one-hit wonder. Granted, it’s one of the biggest one-hit wonders in movie history, but will it have staying power? Does it really deserve a land of its own? Star Tours has been in existence since 1986 and only now, 30 years later is it getting its own land. These are the questions that came up in my head when I first heard about what was then called only “Avatar Land.” But it feels like the Imagineers came up with an idea that sparked their creativity and felt right for Animal Kingdom that could best be told through this lens. And certainly, Avatar‘s message of environmentality and preservation ring true to Disney’s ethos. So I’m excited to see what they came up with and now can’t wait for it to open.
D23 Expo – The biggest event in Disney every two years only seems to get bigger with each passing one. More people, more things to see and do, more craziness. But is it all worth it? YES! Even though the odds of getting ANYTHING truly collectible is pretty slim, there is so much Disney goodness to go around you will still get your fill and then some. Tons of great panels, sneak peeks, unique gifts (like your own Skyway car), freebies and expensive souvenirs – the D23 Expo has it all. Every facet of the company is represented from theme parks to Imagineering to Marvel to Star Wars to animation. You name it. If it’s Disney it’s there. This year I finally took the plunge and was fortunate enough to get a Sorcerer’s Level package. I can’t tell you how excited I am!
Hope you enjoyed that sneak peek of the 5 most intriguing Disney events of 2017. Be sure to stay glued to our blog as we explore, each of them and much more this year. Happy New Year, Disney Nerds! And if you see me at any of these events, come up and say “hi!”