Last updated: 01:30 PM ET, Fri March 04 2016

Summer Awakens at Walt Disney World Resort

Destination & Tourism | Carson Poplin | March 04, 2016

Summer Awakens at Walt Disney World Resort

Photo courtesy of Walt Disney World

Walt Disney World Resort announced Wednesday at an event in New York City that it will debut new experiences across all four Walt Disney World Theme Parks in an event called Awaken Summer. Disney panelists involved in the various projects being announced spoke on each new attraction, debuting this spring and summer.

Awaken Summer will start off with a new live stage show at Disney’s Hollywood Studios launching on April 4. “Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away” is an all-new stage show where guests can experience iconic moments from the saga and meet characters such as BB-8, Chewbacca, Darth Maul, Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. The show joins other new additions such as the new “Star Wars: Summon the Force”, a live entertainment experience coming in April and “Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular”, a nightly fireworks and projection show set to premiere this summer.

READ MORE: How To Celebrate 'Star Wars' at Disney Parks

Starting on Earth Day, April 22, Disney’s Animal Kingdom will feature a nighttime show called Rivers of Light that will combine live performances, floating lanterns, and other visual imagery that will mark a new day-into-nighttime experience.

PHOTO: Panelists introduce the slate of events and attractions that will make up Summer Awakens. (Photo by Carson Poplin)

Even the popular Kilimanjaro Safaris will make the transition into sunset with special lighting that now allows guests to experience the attraction well into the night.

“This has just not been technically possible until now. [...] It’s a huge technical job. It means bringing new and different animals to the savannah. We’re bringing South African spotted dogs, we’re bringing hyenas to the environment. It’s also a whole new method of managing the herds. But the end result is a spectacular sense that you are on the savannah with this long lingering sunset that lingers into the evening,” said Joe Rohde, senior vice president of Walt Disney Imagineering.

Epcot will also benefit from changes, especially the Norway Pavilion, which will welcome Queen Elsa and Princess Anna from “Frozen” with a “Frozen Ever After” boat ride and a new Royal Sommerhus. Other additions include “Turtle Talk with Crush” with characters from the upcoming movie “Finding Dory” and the “Soarin’ Around the World” attraction in Future World that simulates flying above global landscapes and man-made wonders.

READ MORE: Epcot's Norway Pavilion Getting 'Frozen'

This summer, Disney Springs will add its fourth neighborhood to the already existing The Landing, Marketplace and West Side. Town Center will add more shops and restaurants featuring celebrity chefs like Masaharu Morimoto and Wolfgang Puck.

Starting in June in the Magic Kingdom, modern Disney characters will join Classic Disney favorites in a new show, “Mickey’s Royal Friendship Fare”, on the improved Cinderella Castle stage built to accommodate more viewers. Tiana of “Princess and the Frog” and Rapunzel of “Tangled” co-star with Mickey, Minnie, Donald Daisy and Goofy in a show celebrating friendship.

For more information about Walt Disney Resort and how to get your tickets for the 2016 season, visit and 


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