16 Reasons To Visit Disney World In 2016

New Years 3

With the holiday season wrapping up and the new year quickly approaching, if you’re like me, you’re beginning to plan for 2016. And of course, one of my favorite things to plan is a Walt Disney World vacation. I’m already excited for my next visit with so many fun new attractions and experiences coming soon. Here’s the scoop on what we can expect in 2016 courtesy of Disney:


2016 is shaping up to be truly unforgettable for guests at Walt Disney World Resort with the debut of new attractions and stunning shows, delectable new dining options, signature shopping locations and returning guest-favorite annual events.

Here are the top reasons to start packing your bags for a Walt Disney World vacation:

Star Wars Launch Bay1. The Galaxy Is Sweeter Than Ever Before: New Star Wars Experiences Debut

Starting January 5, Disney’s Hollywood Studios will launch its latest Star Wars-inspired experience with the addition of the “Symphony in the Stars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party.” As the enthralling fireworks show lights up the sky, guests can enjoy out-of-this-world desserts and specialty drinks in this separate ticket offering until March 19. This experience complements all of the other new ways to experience Star Wars in the park, including Star Wars Launch Bay, which takes guests into the Star Wars saga, including the newest movie adventure, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with special exhibits and peeks behind-the-scenes, special merchandise and opportunities to encounter Chewbacca and Darth Vader.

Rivers of Light2. Light Up The Night With “Rivers of Light” at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom will come alive at night with new nighttime entertainment and experiences, the most spectacular being the “Rivers of Light” show debuting this spring. With a waterway as its stage, the innovative new show will feature entertainers, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery in a performance that truly brings the animal kingdom to life at night.

Safari at Night3. Explore Kilimanjaro Safaris at Night

Starting in spring, guests will get to experience the African savanna at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in a whole new light: amid the orange glow of the setting sun. During the nighttime adventure, guests can extend their travels on the safaris into the evening.

Frozen Ever After4. Experience Frozen Ever After at Epcot

The new “Frozen”-inspired attraction will open its doors in the Norway pavilion at Epcot in spring. In it, guests will be transported to the Winter in Summer Celebration where Queen Elsa creates a special day for the kingdom. Guests also will travel to Elsa’s Ice Palace, the ice-blue world of the North Mountain, and the Bay of Arendelle.

Royal Sommerhus5. Stop By The New Frozen Character Greeting Location at Epcot

Guests can meet the royal sisters Anna and Elsa at Epcot at a new character greeting location in the Royal Sommerhus at the Norway pavilion starting in spring.

Skipper Canteen6. Experience New Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen at Magic Kingdom Park

This new, themed restaurant opens in December 2015 and gives guests the chance to experience “World Famous Jungle Cuisine” in one of several unique dining rooms, including a crew mess hall and a once-hidden secret meeting room of the famed Society of Explorers and Adventurers. The restaurant is staffed by friendly Jungle Cruise Skippers, known for their clever jokes.

Edison 27. Try New Dining Offerings at Disney Springs

Disney Springs will continue to grow in 2016, with plans to add new eateries including STK Steakhouse, The Edison, Sprinkles, Blaze Fast Fire’d Pizza, as well as two new restaurant concepts by chefs Art Smith and Rick Bayless.

Pandora8. A Shopper’s Paradise at Disney Springs

As Disney Springs nears completion with the opening of Town Center, 2016 will bring some new, must-do retail shops to Disney Springs, including Edward Beiner, Lilly Pulitzer, L’Occitane en Provence, PANDORA, Tommy Bahama, UGG, UNIQLO and Zara.

Star Wars Marathon9. Staying Fit While Having Fun With runDisney Events

The 2016 runDisney racing season kicks off January 6 – 10 with the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. This will be the first of four racing weekends held at Walt Disney World Resort in 2016, which include:

  • Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend February 18 – 21
  • Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side April 14 – 17
  • Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend November 4 – 5.

Book Your Disney Vacation10. Save On A Magical Stay at Walt Disney World Resort Hotels

Guests visiting early in 2016 can take advantage of a special Disney resort hotels offer for stays most nights January 2 – April 13 and save up to 25 percent on rooms at select Disney resort hotels. Click here to view all of the latest deals and for information on booking.

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival11. Enjoy Walt Disney World’s Springtime Events

Epcot will be in full bloom this spring when the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, with its colorful topiaries and dozens of Outdoor Kitchens, returns for 90 days starting March 2 through May 15, the longest the festival has ever run. And, more fun grows at Disney Springs with Raglan Road’s St. Patrick’s Day Festival March 17.

Soarin 212. Soarin’ Around The World at Epcot

Guests onboard the popular Soarin’ attraction will journey to far-flung lands and fly above some of the world’s most unique natural landscapes and man-made wonders when the new Soarin’ Around the World makes its debut at Epcot in 2016.

Tiffins 113. Dine at Tiffin’s at Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The parks’ newest eatery will open its doors this spring to offer a menu inspired by the places the Imagineers traveled to when developing Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Open for both lunch and dinner, Tiffin’s will celebrate the art of traveling and include waterfront views from both indoor and outdoor seating areas. “Tiffin” is an Indian English word meaning midday meal or type of container used to carry food while traveling.

Wide World of Sports 114. Celebrate The Invictus Games at ESPN Wide World of Sports

The Invictus Games will come to the United States for the first time ever in 2016. The games celebrate our wounded servicemen and women from around the world competing in a variety of sports events at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex May 8 – 12.

Club Villain 115. Experience Club Villain at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Grown-up guests can party with the Disney Villains in a soiree led by Dr. Facilier from Disney’s “The Princess and the Frog” at the new Club Villain at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The fun starts January 16 and is a separate ticket event. Tickets to Club Villain can be purchased for $99 per person, tax and gratuity included. Reservations can be made online by clicking here or by calling 407-939-3463.

Hallowishes 216. Share An Unforgettable Fall & Holiday Season

A new year means the return of festive fall events, including The Epcot International Food & Wine Festival, Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party, Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party, and more.


Be sure to follow Disney World Enthusiast throughout 2016 for all of the latest Disney World news, tips, deals, and more!

501 WaysHeading to Disney World in 2016?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Will you be visiting in 2016? What are you most looking forward to?
Please leave a comment!

Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side

Star Wars Marathon 2

Feel the Dark Side of The Force in Disney World!

After you a Star Wars fan, runner, or both? If so, you’ll be happy to hear that runDisney is adding another thrilling event to the schedule: Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side. After the exciting kick off Star Wars Half Marathon in Disneyland this year, Disney World is now getting in on the action. These races will be held April 14 – 17, 2016 and registration begins promptly at noon Eastern on Tuesday, September 22. Here’s everything you need to know about the Star Wars Half Marathon courtesy of runDisney:


It is a weekend of galactic fun and fantastic runs during the Inaugural Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side – at the Walt Disney World Resort. You’ll be running on Darth Vader’s turf with the Emperor’s white uniformed storm troopers cheering you on your way. Darth Vader, the Galactic Empire Sith Lord, has a weekend of powerful surprises in store including spectacular runs, special events, entertainment, and much, much more!

Feel the power of the force with runs for Star Wars fans of every age including the Star Wars Half Marathon, Star Wars 10K, Star Wars 5K, and the runDisney Kids Races. Challenge yourself to the ultimate test with the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge combining the Star Wars 10K and Half Marathon. It’s all part of the first-ever Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side, April 14 – 17, 2016.

Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side

Sunday, April 17, 2016 5:00am
Start: Epcot
Finish: ESPN Wide World of Sports
Fee: $199

The Power of Darth Vader Meets the Magic of Disney!

Star Wars’ most legendary villain, Darth Vader, the Galactic Empire’s Sith Lord, reigns over the first-ever Star Wars Half Marathon – Dark Side at the Walt Disney World Resort. Feel the force on this 13.1 mile thrilling adventure.

Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side – Highlights

  • Timed Half Marathon race
  • 13.1-mile course through the Walt Disney WorldResort
  • Entertainment on-course
  • Family Reunion Area with live entertainment
  • Event Weekend Transportation from the Event Host Resorts

Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side – Race Participants Receive

  • Champion Short-Sleeved Tech Shirt in Women’s or Men’s Cut
  • Half Marathon Finisher Medal
  • Official Digital Event Guide
  • iGiftBag
  • Personalized bib
  • On-course and post-race refreshments
  • ChronoTrack B-tag timed race with live runner tracking signup for friends and family
  • Personalized results website

Star Wars Marathon 4Star Wars Dark Side Challenge

Saturday, April 16 and Sunday, April 17, 2016 5:30am
Start/Finish: Walt Disney World Resort
Fee: $330

The Ultimate Darth Vader Challenge!

Darth Vader throws down a challenge of galactic proportions in the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge. Put the force to work for you in this ultimate test of your strength and endurance that combines the Star Wars 10K on Saturday with the Star Wars Half Marathon on Sunday. Choose your alliance – run for the light or run for the dark – then get set for an amazing 2-day, 19.3 mile-run. Runners who finish both races are awarded the Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Finisher Medal in addition to the Half Marathon and 10K Finisher Medals.

Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Highlights

  • Two courses through the Walt Disney World Resort totaling 19.3 miles
  • Entertainment on-course
  • Family Reunion Area with live entertainment and characters
  • Event Weekend Transportation from the Event Host Resorts

Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Participants Receive

  • Champion Short-Sleeved Tech Shirt in Women’s or Men’s Cut for the Half Marathon, 10K and Star Wars Dark Side Challenge
  • Special Star Wars Dark Side Challenge Finisher Medal, along with Star Wars Half Marathon and Star Wars 10K Finisher Medals for completing the Half Marathon and 10K
  • Official Event Guide
  • iGiftBag
  • Personalized bib
  • On-course and post-race refreshments
  • ChronoTrack B-tag timed races, with live runner tracking signup for friends and family
  • Personalized Half Marathon results website

Star Wars 10K

Saturday, April 16, 2016 5:30am
Start: Epcot
Finish: ESPN Wide World of Sports
Fee: $110

May the Force be With You!

The Star Wars 10K is packed with 6.2 miles of running excitement. The thrills begin at Epcot where you’ll wind your way through Future World and World Showcase, then on to Disney’s Hollywood Studios running passed Star Tours and down Hollywood Blvd and on to the ESPN Wide World of Sports for an exciting Star Wars 10K finisher celebration.

Star Wars 10K Race Highlights

  • Timed 10K race
  • 10K course through the Walt Disney World Resort
  • Entertainment on-course
  • Event Weekend Transportation from the Event Host Resorts

Star Wars 10K Race Participants Receive:

  • Champion Short-Sleeved Tech Shirt in Women’s or Men’s Cut
  • 10K Finisher medal
  • Official Event Guide
  • iGiftBag
  • Personalized bib
  • On-course and post-race refreshments
  • ChronoTrack B-tag timed race with live runner tracking signup for friends and family

Star Wars MarathonStar Wars 5K

Friday, April 15, 2016 6:00am
Start/Finish: Epcot
Fee: $75

Galactic runs and family fun!

Now the entire family can thrill to the excitement of a Star Wars 5K run under the watchful eyes of Darth Vader and his storm troopers! Star War fans (age 5 or older) are invited to take part in all the racing fun on a thrilling course winding through World Showcase and then Future World and on to the finish.

Star Wars 5K Highlights

  • 5K course through Epcot
  • Entertainment on-course
  • Event Weekend Transportation from the Event Host Resorts

Star Wars 5K Participants Receive

  • 5K Unisex T-shirt
  • 5K Finisher medallion
  • Official Event Guide
  • iGiftBag
  • Personalized bib
  • On-course and post-race refreshments

runDisney Kids Races

Saturday, April 16, 2016
Start/Finish: ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex
Fees: $15 dashes, $30 one mile run

A galaxy of fun for the youngest runners!

There’s fun for runners of every age during the Star Wars Half Marathon – The Dark Side. Children 13 and under are invited to participate in the runDisney Kids Races taking place at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Track & Field Complex on Saturday, April 16, 2016. Encourage your youngsters to join the fun and sign up for any of the Kids’ Dashes or the One Mile Run. There’s even a Diaper Dash for crawlers! Every child who participates goes home with their own Finisher Medal. Parents are welcome to run with their child; parents participating with their child must sign a separate event waiver. Space is limited.

runDisney Kids Races Age Groups

  • 12 months and under – Diaper Dash for crawlers
  • 1-3 years old – 100m dash
  • 4-6 years old – 200m dash
  • 7-8 years old – 400m dash

runDisney Kids Races Participants Receive

  • runDisney Kids Races T-shirt
  • Kids Race Finisher medallion
  • Personalized race bib
  • Post-race refreshments

Registration is available now for Disney World and Disneyland Annual Passholders as well as DVC members. Registration opens to the general public at noon Eastern on Tuesday, September 22. Remember the runDisney events generally sell out within hours sometimes minutes of opening. Be sure to sign up as soon as the window opens if you are interested. Please click here to register or for more information; may the force be with you!

501 WaysHeading to Disney World soon?

If you are planning a vacation to Disney World, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save time and money:

Have you done a runDisney race before?
Will you joining the Dark Side? Please leave a comment!

runDisney Discounted Hotel Rooms And Admission Tickets

runDisneyHurry! Don’t Miss Out On These Incredible Discounts!

If you are planning to run in one of Disney World’s upcoming races, check out these amazing deals on hotel rooms and discounted admission tickets that Jennifer has right now. These rates are exclusive and cannot be booked through Disney. If you are interested, be sure to fill out Jennifer’s form below so that you can be one of the first in line to get your price quote. Remember her services are absolutely FREE and she guarantees the best package price on Disney World vacations. Here are the special runDisney rates:

  • Wine And DineFor the Disney Dine & Wine Half Marathon Weekend November 6 – 7, 2015, discounted rooms are available at Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Boardwalk Inn starting as low as $88.40 per night (plus tax).

 

  • WDW MarathonFor the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend January 6 – 12, 2016, discounted rooms are available at Pop Century, Port Orleans Riverside, and Beach Club starting as low as $82.50 per night (plus tax).

 

  • Princess HalfFor the Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend February 17 – 23, 2016, discounted rooms are available at Pop Century, Caribbean Beach, and Beach Club starting as low as $130.50 per night (plus tax).

 

  • Disney World TicketTheme park admissions tickets can also be added to your hotel room reservation during all three race weekends at a 10% discount!

 

By booking with Jennifer you’ll receive all sorts of amazing benefits like:

  • Discount Watching – As soon as discounts are released, Jennifer will update your reservations, so you get the best deal available. She does this even if your vacation is paid in full!
  • Restaurant Recommendations and Reservations – Jennifer can make restaurant recommendations for you, and then she’ll wake up at the crack of dawn and make all of your dining reservations too. No work for you and no phone calls to make. You just sit back and relax. This service is valued at $69, but is free for Disney World Enthusiast readers that book with Jennifer!
  • Personalized Travel Itinerary – Jennifer will help you plan your days at Disney World so that you can avoid the crowds, ride the attractions best for your family, and even hit the restaurants you will love. On average, Destinations in Florida guests save four hours in lines at Disney theme parks, and you know that saying about how time is money. This service is valued at $149, but is free to Disney World Enthusiast readers that book their package with Jennifer!
  • MousePerks – Valued at $299, but free to you if you book with Jennifer; MousePerks are Magic in your Inbox! Do you want insider information from Disney Cast Members? Do you want fun Disney activities for the kids to get them ready? How about a few exclusive discounts? Every week Jennifer will email you a MousePerk to get you excited about your Disney vacation!
  • 501 WaysGifts For The Kids – Jennifer mails clients free fun gifts for the kids when she mails your final travel documents. Kids love the special items like pencils, stickers, and autograph books!
  • Gift For You – For a limited time, clients that book a Walt Disney World vacation package valued at $2,000 or more with Jennifer, will receive a free copy of my new book 501 Ways To Make The Most Of Your Walt Disney World Vacation“!

To learn more about Jennifer and Destinations in Florida including recognitions, licensing, experience, Better Business Bureau record, testimonials and more, please click here. By the way, they are impressive!

Would you like to receive a no-obligation quote? Please fill out this form and Jennifer will having pricing details for you soon!

Please join our Facebook group to join in the fun of your Next Disney Vacation. Ask questions, get answers, voice your opinions, and share the magic! 🙂

Next Disney Vacation

Helpful Information For Your May 2015 Disney World Vacation

Epcot International Flower And Garden Festival

So you are planning a vacation to Disney World in May 2015? May is a wonderful time of year to visit Walt Disney World. The temperatures are warm, the flowers are blooming and the crowds are light.

Weather

The weather in Disney World during May is beautiful. The average high is about 89 degrees, the average low is about 65 degrees and the average rainfall is only about 3.1 inches. By traveling in May, you are getting your vacation in just before the rainy season begins. But don’t forget to pack your poncho just in case!

Crowds

The crowds throughout the month of May are nice and moderate. You can anticipate crowds to begin to pick up Memorial Day weekend and beyond.

May 1 – May 2 – Average Crowd Level 5.5 out of 10
May 3 – May 9 – Average Crowd Level 4.9 out of 10
May 10 – May 16 – Average Crowd Level 4.6 out of 10
May 17 – May 23 – Average Crowd Level 5.0 out of 10
May 24 – May 31 – Average Crowd Level 6.0 out of 10

Park Hours

Magic Kingdom ClockWith bigger crowds comes longer hours at the Parks. As the month goes on and the crowds increase, all of the Parks will close later.

  • Magic Kingdom: Open most days from 9am – 11pm or 12am (plus Extra Magic Hours)
  • Epcot: Open from 9am – 9pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)
  • Hollywood Studios: Open most days from 9am – 8:30pm or 10:00pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)
  • Animal Kingdom: Open most days from 9am – 6pm or 7pm (plus Extra Magic Hours)

For specific hours on each day during May, please click this link. Remember that park hours are subject to change and are often adjusted two weeks prior.

Events

Expedition EverestOn May 1 and 2, Disney World is hosting the runDisney event – Expedition Everest Challenge for the final time. This 5K race is held at night at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and includes an obstacle course and scavenger hunt. Sorry to say if you haven’t already registered, this race is sold out. However, there are currently tickets still available for the after party – please check this link for the most up-to-date availability. Because this run and after party are held at night (from 10pm – 2:30am), they should not have a big impact on daytime touring.

Epcot International Flower And Garden FestivalA terrific part about visiting Disney World in May is the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival. This year the event will run from March 4 – May 17 and features over 100 topiaries, interesting gardening demonstrations, beautiful flowers, weekend music concerts and several outdoor kitchens serving delicious foods and beverages. For more information about the Epcot International Flower & Garden Festival, please check out this article.

Star Wars WeekendsAlso beginning on May 15 and running weekends through June 14 at Disney’s Hollywood Studios are Star Wars Weekends. This event is huge with fans of the franchise and includes dining experiences, themed treats, special shows, parades, presentations, autograph sessions, and chances to meet the characters and celebrities. For more information and to watch a hilarious video featuring a Star Wars Darth Vader cupcake destroying a bakery, please check out this article.

Coolest Summer EverMemorial Day weekend is the traditional start of family vacation time, and Walt Disney World Resort will launch into the season full force. The Magic Kingdom will be open 24 hours to guests from 6am to 6am, Friday May 22 to Saturday, May 23. Guests will be invited to come in costume to show their Disney Side while a selection of favorite attractions, entertainment, special event merchandise, plus food and beverage are on tap all night long to celebrate the start of the “Coolest Summer Ever” at Walt Disney World Resort. The around-the-clock celebration features Disney character greetings, dance parties and surprises into the wee hours of the night.

Refurbishments

Periodically throughout the year, Disney closes attractions for refurbishments and enhancements. Here are the scheduled closures during May (subject to change without notice):

Magic Kingdom

  • Jungle Cruise: April 13 – May 8, 2015

Epcot

  • Maelstrom and Spirit of Norway Film: Ongoing – Reopening in 2016 Reimagined as a New Frozen Attraction

Hollywood Studios

  • No refurbishments currently scheduled

Animal Kingdom

  • Creature Comforts: Reopening June 2015 as the New Starbucks Location
  • Flame Tree BBQ: January 5 – June 3, 2015
  • TriceraTop Spin: May 11 – May 23, 2015

Water Parks

  • No refurbishments currently scheduled

Downtown Disney

  • Downtown Disney is undergoing a major transformation to become the reimagined Disney Springs. Construction will be finished in phases with the final completion date set for Fall 2016.

Resort Hotels

  • Art of Animation: Finding Nemo Schoolyard Wet Play Area May 26 – June 29, 2015
  • Beach Club Resort: Ongoing Guest Room Refurbishments To Be Completed In 2015
  • Polynesian Resort: Ongoing Polynesian East Pool Refurbishment To Be Completed In 2016
  • Walt Disney World Swan: Ongoing Guest Room Refurbishments To Be Completed In 2016

Planning Tips

Disney's Animal Kingdom Tree of LifeIf you are traveling to Disney World in May 2015, your planning is probably well under way at this point. Here’s a checklist to make sure you are on track:

  • Make sure you have created your My Disney Experience account. If you haven’t, click here to sign up now.
  • If you haven’t already made your dining reservations, be sure to make them now by clicking here.
  • If you are staying onsite, be sure to customize your Magicband on your My Disney Experience account by picking the color and adding your name.
  • Now is a great time to research what attractions you and your family would like to see at the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Hollywood Studios and Animal Kingdom. Because Walt Disney World is so large, it is very difficult to see everything during one trip, so be sure to get everyone’s top priorities. This is also a great time to begin looking at menus for counter service restaurants so that you have an idea of which locations serve foods that your entire family will enjoy. Need help with your research? Check out my book “A Tale of Two Resorts” which includes descriptions and tips for every attraction and helpful dining information for every restaurant from snack stand to table service including specifics about atmosphere, cuisine type, dress code and even menu selections including the kid’s meals that are offered. Click here for more information including an excerpt.
  • Whether you are staying onsite or off-property, now is the time to purchase your admission tickets and link them to your My Disney Experience account.
  • 501 WaysOnce your tickets are linked and at exactly 60 days out (midnight EST time) if you are staying onsite or 30 days out for all other guests, login to your My Disney Experience account and book your Fastpass+ reservations.
  • If you are staying onsite, be sure to check in online at 60 days out from your arrival date.
  • Double check your flight times and if you will be using Disney’s Magical Express for your airport transportation make your reservation now by clicking here.
  • Now is also a great time to start creating a packing list so that you don’t forget anything.
  • Need more help planning? Please check out my new book 501 Ways to Make the Most of Your Walt Disney World Vacation, ask a question in the comments section, or take a look at the Planning section here.

Special Offers

If you haven’t already made your May 2015 reservations, be sure to check out these valuable resources to help you save money:

Join The Fun

Next Disney VacationDisney Vacation Planner Jennifer Hardy and I have teamed up to create a new Facebook Group called Next Disney Vacation! It is the perfect place to talk about your next Disney vacation, ask your questions, get them answered, and share the magic. Everyday you’ll find posts, photos, trivia, tips, and more that we find all throughout the Disney Universe. If your counting the days until your next Disney vacation, we would love to have you join in the fun! Please click here to be a part of our group!

Have a magical vacation!