There is always something new at Walt Disney World. The resort didn’t open any new mega-attractions this year, but Disney is always rolling out new things.
Since many families make an annual trip to Disney during the holidays, here’s a list of five new things to see that have opened since this spring:
1. The Main Street Electrical Parade
This classic Disney parade was brought back to the Magic Kingdom this summer after being replaced by Spectromagic in 2001. It’s the parade I grew up watching when I visited Walt Disney World as a child in the 1980s, and it has been great fun to share it with my daughter. The Main Street Electrical Parade was supposed to only come back for the summer, but it has been so popular that Walt Disney World has extended its run indefinitely. You can find it every night in the Magic Kingdom, where it winds through Frontierland, past Cinderella Castle and down Main Street U.S.A.
One note about this parade: If you attend Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party on certain nights in November and December, you will see Mickey’s Once Upon a Christmas Parade instead. Be sure to plan another night at the Magic Kingdom to see this parade, too.
2. Disney Channel Rocks
A new show just debuted at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, and if your kids are big Disney Channel fans, it will be a must-see. Disney Channel Rocks features songs from Camp Rock, Starstruck, The Cheetah Girls, High School Musical and other Disney Channel favorites.
The cast rolls down the street on a moving stage several times a day, stopping in front of the Sorcerer’s Hat to put on the show. They dance and sing medleys of songs. There’s a bit of audience participation as the kids are called out to dance with them during one number.
The whole show lasts about 20 minutes, and it’s a fun stop during the day.
This show replaced the High School Musical 3 show that used to run in the same spot. It’s similar, but with a wider variety of music.
3. New dining at EPCOT
Via Napoli is a new “casual pizzeria” in the Italy pavilion. I have never liked Walt Disney World pizza, but trust me, this stuff is different. Disney has gone to great lengths to emulate authentic pizza from Naples, Italy. You know that idea that the water in a certain area affects the pizza dough? Well, Disney tested water from a number of different sources in the United States and is trucking in water they have found that is the closest to what’s available in Naples. The pizzas come hot out of the oven and straight to your table, and it’s some of the best I’ve ever had. Honestly.
La Hacienda de San Angel is the second new restaurant at EPCOT – in the Mexico pavilion. This restaurant serves up authentic Mexican dishes with corn tortillas and salsas made on site each day. There’s no Tex Mex here. Items include tacos made with beef brisket and roast pork in mole sauce.
There’s also an extensive margarita menu at La Hacienda de San Angel, with flavors like mango fire and rose hibiscus.
4. Duffy the Disney Bear
Duffy has been a favorite character at Tokyo DisneySea for a few years now. He’s the first character created for the parks rather than created by one of Disney’s animated films.
Duffy’s back story is that Minnie Mouse sewed the stuffed bear to keep Mickey company on all his travels. Mickey is quite the world traveler, you know. Duffy has a Mickey-shaped head and Mickey-shaped pads on his bear feet. And as I’m sure you’re expecting, there are several versions of Duffy for sale around Walt Disney World. He also has different outfits you can buy. You can meet Duffy at EPCOT.
5. Rapunzel and Flynn Rider from “Tangled”
Disney’s new movie “Tangled,” opens on Nov. 24, and you can meet the main characters now in the Magic Kingdom. (You can also read my “Tangled” movie review today if you want to know what the movie is like.)
The princess Rapunzel and her love interest Flynn Rider have a new character meet-and-greet at Fairytale Garden, near Cinderella Castle.
Rapunzel and Flynn Rider come out every hour during the day at the Magic Kingdom, though this is subject to change at any time. (Hot tip: If there’s a merchandise cart or store near a Walt Disney World character greeting, the staff inside usually has a list of the exact times when the characters will be coming out. Ask them if they know the “set times” for the characters you are looking for.)
At the Tangled meet and greet, children can do a coloring activity while they wait for the princess to arrive.