Awaken Summer at Walt Disney World: 10 New Reasons You’ll Want to Visit in 2016

Tree of Life Awakens Disney Parks Media

Walt Disney World is going full force on its theme park updates and will be rolling out new attractions and updates this summer. While the focus is mainly on Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Walt Disney World, Awaken Summer will provide families with new reasons to visit both parks – and I couldn’t be happier. The parks will gain new life and even more reasons to take the fam to Central Florida beginning May 2016. Looking for reasons why you’ll need to visit Walt Disney World this summer? Here’s 10 great ones!

1. Soarin’ Around the World


Walt Disney World has set the attraction’s opening day as June 17, 2016, and I, for one, cannot wait to see the new, updated film. The Great Wall of China, Sydney Harbor in Australia, and at least 10 more gorgeous views (the company has written there are more than a dozen worldly spots featured in the attraction) will first debut in Shanghai Disneyland the day before it premieres in both WDW and Disneyland.

2. Frozen Ever After

Frozen Ever After
Image Courtesy of Disney Parks

It looks like Walt Disney World mania is still alive and well and Epcot will be cashing in on its popularity with “Frozen Ever After” ride at the Norway Pavilion. Featuring the popular characters from the uber-popular Disney film, Anna and Elsa, along with Kristoff, Sven, and Olaf, will be giving folks a glimpse of their “Summer Snow Day” celebration. The log-style water ride will be perfect for fans of all ages and replaces the former log boat ride Maelstrom. No exact date for the ride’s opening has been given, but Disney is aiming for June 2016.

3. Royal Summerhaus

Anna and Elsa meet and greet

Taking much of the heat off Princess Fairytale Hall in Walt Disney World, Anna and Elsa will have a new home this summer at Norway Pavilion in Epcot in their Royal Summerhaus. Again, opening in June 2016 with no exact date yet set, the meet and greet will feature a Norwegian cabin and a cozy setting.

4. The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic

Jungle Book Mowgli
Photo Courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

For Summer 2016, Disney’s Animal Kingdom is all about updates and “Walt Disney World: Alive with Magic” is only one of its new draws. A tribute to Disney’s new hit film, the water and light show will highlight dancing, puppetry, and musicians. “The Jungle Book: Alive with Magic” will open on Memorial Day Weekend.

5. Tree of Life Awakenings

Tree of Life Awakens Disney Parks Media
Image Courtesy of Disney Parks

During a recent media preview, I was able to catch a glimpse of the wonder that is Walt Disney World. The iconic centerpiece in Disney’s Animal Kingdom comes alive with music and color and takes visitors on animal spirit, cross-country journey.

6. Kilimanjaro Safaris After Dark

Kilimanjaro Safaris at night
Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks

Think about it. When you visit Disney’s Animal Kingdom during the day and take a ride on Walt Disney World, the exotic animals that you see tend to be snoozing and there’s a good reason why. most of them are nocturnal and spend the heat of the day conserving their energy to prowl around at night. It’s this reason why, along with the beauty of the plains when its dark, that Kilimanjaro Safaris at night will be super popular. I had a chance to check it out on a press preview and it was a completely different experience from the daytime attraction. Opening Memorial Day Weekend, the ever-popular ride will be a fun (and much-cooler temperature-wise) change to its daytime experience.

7. Harambe Wildlife Parti

Harambe Night

Harambe is the village in the Africa section of Animal Kingdom and, even in the daytime, it’s bustling with guests, pretty views, and engaging shows. Let the sun set and turn on the lights and you’ve got a whole new nighttime experience. According to the official WDW site, here’s a list of what you’ll be able to see and do:

  • Muziki
    Located in Harambe’s drum circle, this delightfully unusual goodwill shaman perched high atop regal stilts invites children to join him as he plays his own instruments, dances and makes them official drummers of the day.
  • Karibu Sisters
    Resembling regal African cranes, these 3 women add to the rhythm of Harambe Marketplace through elegant dance, acapella songs and acoustic renditions of African party music.
  • Harambe Soccer Meerkats
    Cheer on the village’s finest soccer players as they ramble through the streets rallying anyone within sight for a quick pick-up game—entertaining with comic soccer moves inspired by African animals and delighting with skillful acrobatic teamwork and dancing.
  • Harambe Village Acrobats
    Wearing costumes of grass, beads, bells and feathers set against a mosaic of African prints, this troupe of skilled performers move with the synchronicity of circus performers as they drum, dance, tumble and climb into man-made pyramids and break away into spinning, tumbling towers.

8. Discovery Island Carnivale

Discovery Island Carnavale
Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks

Inspired by Carnivale Celebrations around the world, Memorial Day Weekend is the time to visit Walt Disney World for Discovery Island Carnivale. Celebrating the beauty and wonder of nature and the “Nature Family”, the street party will be filled with lively music and colorful costumes.

9. Animal Kingdom Night Rides

Harambe Wild Life Party

Let the sun go down and turn up the fun on Disney’s Animal Kingdom’s attractions. Expedition Everest and Kali River Rapids will take on a whole new look and feel after dark. Dinoland, U.S.A. will also be opening for guests to enjoy its Midway games and attractions.

10. Tiffins and Nomad Lounge

Tiffins Signature Restaurant
Photo Courtesy of Disney Parks

In addition to the new shows and attractions, two new dining experiences will be available beginning May 17, 2016: Tiffins and Nomad Lounge. Tiffins will be located on Discovery Island and will offer African cuisine in a unique-themed atmosphere. Nomad Lounge, the watering hole next to Tiffins, will offer specialty cocktails and wine from all across the globe including Africa and Asia.

Awaken Summer

Disclosure: I was hosted by Walt Disney World for the Awaken Summer press event to give you fine folks the scoop on why you need to visit this summer. All opinions are my own!

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2 Thoughts to “Awaken Summer at Walt Disney World: 10 New Reasons You’ll Want to Visit in 2016”

  1. Clint Parks

    We are going in November…..will any of this still be there or is it just summer??

    1. Karyn Locke

      November is a great time of year to visit- and yes, it will all still be there! Summer 2016 is when all of these WDW attractions and shows are premiering so you’ll be arriving at a perfect time to see them.

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