WDW Heats Up for Awaken Summer 2016

The Fun Heats up this Summer at Walt Disney World

"Rivers of Light,"the majestic nighttime jewel, coming to Disney's Animal Kingdom creates an illuminating musical experience for guests. Currently in development with a premiere date to be announced soon, "Rivers of Light" will celebrate the magic of animals, humans and the natural world with a blend of performers, floating lanterns and theatrical animal imagery. (David Roark, photographer)
“Rivers of Light,” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom creates an illuminating musical experience for guests. (David Roark, photographer, courtesy WDW)



Fortunately for us, the Imagineers at Disney know kids want more Star Wars and more Frozen, and so that’s what they’re getting, just in time for summer vacations. They recently invited my family to check out what’s new, and as is typical, they impressed me as an adult fan, as well as my son who has practically grown up at Disneyworld. You know, we were laughing that to Florida kids like ours, Disneyworld is as much a part of childhood as neighborhood playgrounds are to everyone else. He doesn’t know what it’s like to grow up without a regular dose of fantasy and magic, and it still thrills me to tears to see him full of joy and happiness. And just when I thought we’d seen and done it all, I saw that look again as he watched the new Star Wars shows at Hollywood Studios. His eyes were big as he watched the pyrotechnics and marching Stormtroopers that are part of the new stage show and throughout the new fireworks show. “That was really cool!” is high praise from a ten year-old boy. And mom and dad both agreed.


Star Wars at Hollywood Studios

The Force is much stronger now at Hollywood Studios. While we enjoyed everything, the two highlights of the Star Wars experience for us were the new stage show and the fireworks. Looking around, I could see all ages enjoying these productions.


The menacing Captain Phasma leads a squad of First Order stormtroopers as they march in formation from Star Wars Launch Bay to the Center Stage area at Disney's Hollywood Studios in an intimidating demonstration of the First OrderÕs indomitable strength. (Todd Anderson, photographer)
The menacing Captain Phasma leads a squad of First Order stormtroopers at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. (Todd Anderson, photographer, courtesy WDW.)


The new live stage show Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away celebrates iconic moments from the Star Wars saga with live vignettes on a large video screen and features live appearances from popular characters such as BB-8, Kylo Ren, Chewbacca, C3PO, R2D2, Darth Vader, and Darth Maul as part of the show. During certain show times, The March of the First Order Stormtrooper Procession led by Captain Phasma adds menace to the entertainment and gets face to mask with the audience’s front row.

Cap off your day with the fantastic new nightly fireworks show called Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular. The show combines fireworks, pyrotechnics, special effects and video projections that turn the nearby Chinese Theater and other buildings into the twin suns of Tatooine, a field of battle droids, the trench of the Death Star, Starkiller Base and other Star Wars destinations. The show has a surprise: a tower of fire and spotlight beams that create massive lightsabers in the sky.

Fans of the movie series, young and old, can be immersed in all things Star Wars at the Star Wars Launch Bay, located in Animation Courtyard. We enjoyed the short video that had exclusive interviews with directors, writers and producers at Launch Bay TheaterAt the Star Wars Game Center, guests can play current and upcoming video games, including new Disney Infinity 3.0 content created exclusively for this location. Meander through the themed galleries and get up close and person with iconic ships from throughout the Star Wars saga, large-scale replicas of Star Wars props amid scenic murals, exclusive looks at replicas of props, artifacts and memorabilia from Star Wars: The Force Awakens including costumes, ship models, droids and artwork.


Make sure to visit Star Tours – The Adventures Continue to see new journeys with new characters from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. If you’ve never experienced the Dolby 3-D digital trip into space, then you’re in for a big adventure.

Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple has been reimagined with new characters and a new villain to battle from Star Wars Rebels. Younglings will be guided to the site of a secret and ancient Jedi temple where they will face villains such as Darth Vader and the Seventh Sister Inquisitor from the popular Disney XD series Star Wars Rebels, and discover if they have the makings of a true Jedi.


Frozen around the parks

Opening in summer 2016 is Frozen Ever After, a journey to explore the kingdom of Arendelle. Located in the Norway Pavilion at Epcot, this family-friendly adventure picks up after the events of the film and celebrates a “Summer Snow Day.” Guests on the magical boat ride will travel through the frozen willow forest to Elsa’s ice palace. After disembarking, pay a visit to the regal sisters in the Royal Sommerhus, an authentic-looking Norwegian cabin that serves as their summer home and the permanent meet-and-greet location for Anna and Elsa.

Olaf is spending part of his summer at Hollywood Studios, ready to give warm hugs to all his new friends at his character greeting spot. He is spending the other part of his summer with his pal Kristoff at Blizzard Beach. Seems their Winter Games Committee has invited Kristoff and Olaf to lead teams of guests in a fun day of “Frozen” activities.

Through August 21, 2016, guests of all ages visiting Blizzard Beach may choose to join Team Kristoff or Team Olaf to participate in a variety of winter-themed activities throughout each day, including Ice Pail Relays, Snowball Toss, Ski Pole Limbo and  Slide Races. Olaf and Kristoff will take part in the daily opening and closing ceremonies and will be appearing on the Observation Deck near Summit Plummet. The Frozen Games are an all-day event at Blizzard Beach, beginning shortly after the park opens. Guests can sign up at the park entrance, and all activities are included with regular park admission.



Animal Kingdom Dazzles More than Ever at Night

Nightfall is bringing more mystery and majesty to Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Starting Memorial Day Weekend, the theme park that used to close at 5 p.m. will have regular night hours, offering guests a variety of rich new experiences under the stars.

The iconic Tree of Life comes alive with lights and sounds as Disney Magic transforms it into The Tree of Life Awakens. Animal spirits are brought to life by magical fireflies that reveal colorful stories of wonder and enchantment. High-tech projections of nature scenes take on a magical quality as they appear to dramatically emanate from within the Tree of Life. The park’s animals can be also be seen in a new and interesting light. Experience Kilimanjaro Safaris after Dark where each evening, the popular ride is artfully bathed with special lighting that allows guests to explore and examine the nighttime behavior of the wildlife.

Celebrate at the Discovery Island Carnivale, a nightly experience with lively music, jubilant dance, vibrant costumes, stilt walkers and tasty culinary creations — winding from one end of the island to the other.

When the sun sets, party animals can gather in the Village of Harambe for the new Harambe Wildlife Parti to experience dancing to the lively rhythms of African music, entertainers, local street musicians, exotic foods and libations, and a vibrant marketplace.

Most attractions will remain open at nightfall, creating new experiences like never before. Imagine twisting through the Kali River Rapids at night. Or the added thrill of a night time ride on Expedition Everest, the colorful midway games at Chester & Hester’s Dino-Rama in DinoLand U.S.A., the zany Triceratop Spin and Primeval Whirl.


 “Rivers of Light”

The majestic jewel in their new nighttime crown is the spectacular Rivers of Light. This illuminating musical experience will celebrate the magic of animals, humans and the natural world with a blend of performers, floating lanterns and theatrical animal imagery. On Discovery River, the ceremony begins with the arrival of a pair of mystical hosts who come to the river bearing gifts of light. They set out from the shore on elaborate lantern vessels, engaging in a dramatic dance of water and light to summon the animal spirits. With these storytellers as guides, the wonders of Rivers of Light unfold, building to a magnificent finale with bursts of light as animal images soar to the heavens– signifying the ancient belief that when animals passed from one world to another they danced in the sky and became beautiful rivers of light.



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Written by Pamela Settle, owner of Light Shine Media Group and publisher of GoodLiving® Magazine. All Rights Reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced without permission.

GoodLiving Magazine® is printed six times a year for families in Pinellas County, Florida, home to municipalities including Clearwater, Tarpon Springs, Dunedin, Largo and St. Petersburg. The densest county in Florida, population is near 1 Million people. Past issues are available for viewing digitally on the website.

As an advocate for children and families, Pamela Settle serves as the local committee chairperson for The Children’s Movement of Florida, a non-partisan advocacy organization that works on behalf of the well being of children throughout the State of Florida.

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