By Georgina Cruz
For AL DIA TODAY
Magic overflows in the skies over Walt Disney World in Orlando this summer and in the months ahead –something that will definitely have visitors looking up frequently during their trip to this mecca of imagination and fun.
Here are some new attractions –some already open and others on the horizon:
Already in the testing stage are the gondolas of the new Skyliner, a transportation system that floats in the air like gigantic bubbles that are funicular cabins for 10 guests each. This fun transportation system, that is like a theme park attraction in itself, is equipped with the latest technology and connects the parks of Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Epcot to four Disney World hotels: Disney’s Art of Animation Resort (value category), Disney’s Pop Century Resort (value), Disney’s Caribbean Beach Resort (moderate), and the 15th Disney Vacation Club property at Walt Disney World: Disney’s Riviera Resort (deluxe, inspired in the French Riviera, with villa-type accommodations with kitchens or kitchenettes as well as other comforts of home, and slated to open in mid-December).
And naturally, as the Skyliner is in Disney World, it is not just like any commonplace funicular. Select gondolas have the beloved Disney characters incorporated on to their exterior designs to give the impression that a Disney friend is traveling along with the park guests. Some gondolas have designs themed to Disney movies and attractions, including the new Star Wars Land scheduled to open at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on Aug. 29.
Naturally, this new transportation system not only offers another way to get from one place to another at Disney World (along with Disney’s system of monorails, boats, buses and “Minnie Vans” –all free, except the latter which is available at a cost) but the Disney Skyliner will also offer excellent bird’s eye views of Disney World from the sky. One spectacular one is the view of the Tower of Terror that will have visitors snapping pictures right and left as their gondolas approach Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
And speaking of Disney’s Hollywood Studios, on Aug. 29 the park will send visitors to a Galaxy far, far away at the new “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge”, a whole new “land” or section of the park that Bob Iger, Disney CEO calls the largest ever single themed land expansion at Disney Parks. In this section, visitors will travel to Batuu, a far-away planet settled by adventurers and scoundrels. As they visit, guests can stop at Oga’s Cantina to sip a beverage (“intergalactic” cocktails like the “Jedi Mind Trick Cocktail” along with other “out of this world” beverages), and discover exotic artefacts at Dok-Ondar’s Den of Antiquities, among other experiences of the blockbuster Star Wars series. A big highlight is the innovating attraction “Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run.” Here visitors can take the controls of the iconic spaceship from Star Wars, the Millennium Falcon, as the spaceship launches into space on a smuggling mission. Visitors may take one of three roles in the ride on the Millennium Falcon: pilot, gunner or flight engineer, to be able to enjoy the attraction in multiple ways.
A second attraction in Star Wars Land, “Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance,” will open later this year. This attraction will place visitors in the middle of the action during a big battle between the First Order and the Resistance. The new Star Wars Land and its attractions will be subject to capacity.
Another reason to look up at Disney World. Well, the “Wonderful World of Animation” is a new 12-minute show which has already debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. A tribute to the art of animation, it presents a journey of more than 90 years of unforgettable moments of animated films from Disney and Pixar on the front of the park’s Chinese Theater. Beloved scenes from “Beauty and the Beast,” “Coco,” “Sleeping Beauty” and other popular movies are projected on the theater’s facade, and of course, Mickey Mouse, whoWalt Disney himself reminded us not to forget that “it was all started by a mouse,” is there too –opening and closing the show which also features fireworks. It is presented every evening at 9:05 p.m. in the park.
And this is not all the magic in the skies over Disney World. IllumiNations: Reflections of Earth, a lasers-fireworks-and-fountains show that has been entertaining guests at Epcot for 20 years will bow out on Sept. 30 and a new limited-time show Epcot Forever, begins on Oct. 1. This new show will be a celebration of the past, present and future of Epcot and it will have a magical soundtrack, fireworks, lasers and special effects including a kites choreography sequence with songs celebrating the park.
IF YOU GO – For additional information, visit www.disneyworld.com.