Top Ten Reasons to Visit Walt Disney World RIGHT NOW! Winter 2017 Edition

(Photo credit: Disney)

The holidays are past, and the Christmas decorations have been stored until next season. That makes this a great time of year to visit Walt Disney World. Drop everything, and book a spur of the moment trip. Here are ten things that might convince you to do just that.

10. Rivers of Light?

Disney’s Animal Kingdom

The much anticipated nighttime show at Disney’s Animal Kingdom was supposed to debut last spring, but that didn’t happen. A temporary show was created to entertain the summer crowds, but nothing much has officially been said since. Rivers of Light is still listed on the Walt Disney World Website as “Coming Soon”. There were rumors before the holidays of after hours rehearsals and testing. Many people think that there will be little notice before soft openings of Rivers of Light. If you head to Florida right now, you might catch one of them. Then again, maybe not.

9. Weather

If you’re sick of the snow and cold, an impromptu trip to Walt Disney World might be the cure. Winter weather in Central Florida is all over the place, but chances are it’s better than what you’re experiencing at home. Make sure you check the forecast before you leave, don’t assume that you’ll be able to wear shorts and flip flops the entire time you’re on vacation. Make sure that you also pack your bathing suit, the Walt Disney World Resort pools are heated.

8. Crowds

While there is never a season anymore with no crowds whatsoever, at this time of year they are relatively light. Because the crowds are down you might be able to find a deal on your Walt Disney World Resort hotel room. With Pandora – The World of Avatar set to open this coming summer at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, the summer crowds could be heavier than normal. Avoid the rush and visit now.

7. Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend

If you missed the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend, there’s still time to come out and cheer runners on. As this is written there are also still spots available for kids to run. The Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend events are for women, but anyone can offer encouragement. Disney Princess Half Marathon Weekend is held February 23 through 26, so you have a little bit of time to plan.

6. Planet Hollywood Observatory

Disney Springs

There has been a lot of buzz about Planet Hollywood Observatory. Part of the new menu has been created by celebrity chef Guy Fieri, and it is going to be incredible. The restaurant’s new theme will make you want to gaze at the stars. The official opening date has not yet been released, but Planet Hollywood Observatory has been hiring new staff members, so it won’t be long. The Walt Disney World website has for opening information “Coming Early 2017”.

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5. Disney After Hours

Magic Kingdom

Ever dream of seeing an almost empty Magic Kingdom? With Disney After Hours, you can do just that! Held on select nights January 20 through March 9, you and a small number of guests will experience three extra hours of magic. Over 25 rides, attractions, and character greetings will be open, all with short waits. Ice cream, popcorn, and bottled beverages are included in the price. Disney After Hours costs $119 per person, $89 if you’re an Annual Passholder or Disney Vacation Club Member.

4. Star Wars Guided Tour

Disney’s Hollywood Studios

If you love Star Wars, you’ll want to visit Disney’s Hollywood Studios immediately! With Star Tours – The Adventures Continue, Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away, Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular, and more, there is plenty to see and do. If you want to totally immerse yourself in the saga, consider signing up for the new Star Wars Guided Tour. The seven hour tour includes reserved viewing for Star Wars: A Galaxy Far, Far Away and March of the First Order, a guided tour through Launch Bay (including the character greetings), a trip on a Starspeeder 1000 with Star Tours, a Star Wars themed dinner at Backlot Express, and more. Younglings ages 4 through 12 will take part in Jedi Training: Trials of the Temple. The tour ends on a sweet note with Star Wars: A Galactic Spectacular Dessert Party. Star Wars Guided Tour costs $121.12 per person. Call 407-939-7529 for more information.

3. Highway in the Sky Dine Around

Magic Kingdom Resort Area

If you can’t decide which monorail restaurant to try, Walt Disney World has come up with a solution. Highway in the Sky Dine Around starts at The Wave… of American Flavors at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. From there you’ll take the monorail to Disney’s Polynesian Village Resort for drinks and appetizers. The next stop is Citricos at Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa for the main course. After that’s done, you’ll take the monorail back to Disney’s Contemporary Resort for desserts and cordials on a private patio. You’ll watch Wishes over Cinderella Castle, for a magical ending to a magnificent evening. Highway in the Sky Dine Around is held on select nights, and is currently on the calendar only through March. If you want to check it out, you’d better hurry.

2. Welcome Show

Magic Kingdom

This reason to head to Walt Disney World right now is bittersweet. The Magic Kingdom Welcome Show that guests have known and loved for years has come to an end. Watching Mickey and his friends from the Main Street, U.S.A. Train Station is a thing of the past. The good news is that Mickey and his friends will still be there to welcome everyone to the Magic Kingdom. Starting on January 9, the new welcome show will be held on the stage at Cinderella Castle instead. The other good news is that Main Street, U.S.A. will now open earlier than the rest of the park. You can browse the shops and grab a cup of coffee before the rope drops for the rest of the park.

1. Epcot International Festival of the Arts


The two annual festivals at Epcot are both popular and fun. They feature food, special guests, live entertainment, and a lot more. A new festival is coming to Epcot for 2017. Epcot International Festival of the Arts will be held Fridays through Mondays, running January 13 through February 20. There will be photo ops, guest artists, workshops, galleries, and much more. The highlight will be the Disney on Broadway Concert Series. You’ll watch performances by stars from The Lion King, Aladdin, and other favorites. A dining package is available, call 407-WDW-DINE (407-939-3463) to make a reservation. Call right now, you don’t want to miss the first year of this new festival.

About PaulaK

I grew up in Western Massachusetts. When I was nine my family went to Disneyland and I was hooked. I grew up, attended New England College in Henniker, NH and eventually moved to Virginia. I worked as a disc jockey, married and became a full time mom when our daughter was born. Fast forward several years. In 2010 we moved to Central Florida and my Disney obsession grew. I now work as a freelance writer and spend my spare time in the parks. Under the name Paula Brown I penned the novels Dream Wanderers and The Coffee Cruiser. I also am a co-author of Dining at Walt Disney World: The Definitive Guide. I'm obsessed with Star Wars, so this is a good time to live in Central Florida. I've been a vegetarian for well over a decade, a choice that my daughter eventually made as well. While my husband still hasn't joined us fully he has given up most meats except for seafood. I was relieved to find that vegetarian dining is not difficult at Walt Disney World.