"Around here, however, we don't look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things...and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths."
---Walter Elias Disney

Saturday, January 7, 2017

My Favorite New Stuff Of 2016

We were lucky to be able to experience a lot of the newest offering around Walt Disney World on our fall trip last year. We missed Disney Springs entirely, but we did hit each of the parks. Here's a run-down of what we saw.

Magic Kingdom

I think we only got to experience two really new things here, but they were both glorious. The Muppet show in Liberty Square is a must-do. It's perfectly Muppet-esque. The show is funny, the Muppets look exactly as you'd want and expect and it was carried off flawlessly. The setting is great, right in an open courtyard area, and you can sit yourself down on the wall surrounding the Liberty Tree and have a terrific view. We loved it.

We also got to try the newest table-service restaurant in the Magic Kingdom, the Jungle Navigation Company Skipper's Canteen. This place is themed perfectly to the 1920s-30s era of adventure in far-flung lands. We ate in the main dining room, which was great, but next time I'll request the Adventurers' Club room, which is even better. The menu is a bit different, but for us that's a good thing. We enjoyed pork, chicken and fish all cooked very well and presented in unique ways, especially the fish which was a whole deep fried lion fish with spines and all poking out and its little fishy face looking right at you. This place is really worth a try if you are looking for Magic Kingdom dining options. And now it even serves beer! So go ahead and give it a shot :-)

The waiting room at Skipper Canteen is even cool

Not a lot new here, especially since we decided not to even attempt the new Frozen ride. We did, however, really love the new Soarin' movie, so much so we rode it twice in a row. We also got to see Dr. Bunsen Honeydew and Beaker on their Mobile Muppet Lab. Apparently this is headed for Hollywood Studios sometime, but wherever it ends up, you need to track it down. It's a hilarious interactive show with, again, very Muppet-y looking Muppets. I just can't get over seeing these guys in the parks. Love it.

Hollywood Studios

With so much of the park closed and under construction, this one is getting a lot of shade thrown its way. We had a good day there, though. We enjoyed all the Star Wars stuff immensely, from the March of the Stormtroopers to the Chewbacca greet. They may seem like little things compared to a Star Wars Land, but they were some of my favorite things on our trip.

Animal Kingdom

This was my favorite. And none of the highly anticipated things, like Avatarland and Rivers of Light, were open. The thing is, they've begun leaving Animal Kingdom open into the evening hours, after dark, and it's the best thing ever. The nighttime safari was great! It's quiet and just different enough to be a lot of fun. Plus, we got to see the male lion roaring at the fireworks going off in another park, which was thrilling. But the entire atmosphere of Animal Kingdom at night is the real draw in my opinion. People left in the afternoon, so the place was empty. No lines for anything at all. We did Expedition Everest several times in a row with no wait. But just wandering around that place at night is great. It's the best-themed park Disney has, I think, and it becomes absolutely magic after dark. We were so very impressed.

Nomad Lounge bar
Oh, and we ate at Tiffins, which was spectacular. It's not cheap, but the food and service are some of the best I've experienced on the Disney property. Next trip I hope to spend more time in the attached Nomad Lounge, which looks across a river at the forthcoming Pandora.

I know there are some biggies planned for 2017, the opening of Pandora chief among them, but I'm wondering what else we'll see. Some of the coolest things from 206 were quietly introduced without a lot of pre-opening fanfare, like the Muppets in Liberty Square. Here's to 2017 bringing more of that!

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