Walt Disney’s vision for his parks was that they never be finished, but continue to change and evolve through the years. Disney Imagineers seem to have firmly grasped that concept as it seems the Walt Disney World Resort is constantly going through some change or refurbishment every time you visit the parks. Following the addition of New Fantasyland, the reimagining of interactive line queues, and the growing competition at Universal Studios with the expanded Harry Potter areas, these next few years will bring even more changes for park guests. Here are just a few things fans can expect to see developing from 2015-2018.
5. Rivers of Light Show
Disney’s Animal Kingdom will be looking to become a full-day park once current construction projects are completed. One of them is the addition of a new evening show called Rivers of Light, which will be featured on Discovery River right in between Discovery Island and the Expedition Everest attraction. This light show will feature a new soundtrack, floating lights, and images projected on water screens, similar to those used in Fantasmic over at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This show, however, will embrace the spirit of Animal Kingdom and will show images of many of the animals found in the park. Rivers of Light is expected to open in 2016.
4. Disney Springs- New restaurants
The shopping and entertainment area known as Downtown Disney is already undergoing major changes as it grows into the new Disney Springs. With several additions already in place such as Splitsville and the Co-Op, new finished projects are set to open in 2015 that include two new restaurants. The first is The BOATHOUSE which is located on The Landing, formerly known as Pleasure Island, right on the water. The restaurant offers live music and a varied menu including steak, seafood, and a raw bar. Water taxis are also be available for guided tours around Disney Springs, lasting approximately 20 minutes, with champagne and strawberries on board.
The second restaurant to open in 2015 is Morimoto Asia. With Japanese Chef Masaharu Morimoto from TV’s Iron Chef America at the helm, guests can sample a pan-Asian menu including dishes like Peking duck. The two-story restaurant will also be located on The Landing and will offer waterside seating and a cocktail lounge. This is set to open in the Summer of 2015.
3. Reimagining of Disney’s Hollywood Studios
With the Sorcerer’s hat gone at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and the closure of several attractions including the Backlot Tour, the movie-themed park is gearing up to head in a different direction. While not much information about the possible construction projects has been officially released, it has already been leaked that the park will be getting a new name, Disney’s Hollywood Adventure. Speculation around new construction and reuse of the closed attraction space centers on possibilities of Star Wars Land and Pixar Place. Allegedly, plans were in place to create Star Wars Land, but may have been scrapped to create a bigger space for the new area. The Star Tours attraction would remain where it is. Pixar Place may possibly feature more family friendly attractions, but no details have been announced. If these new areas were to become a reality, they would likely not be open until 2018 or later.
2. New Frozen Attraction in Epcot
Norway’s attraction in Epcot, Maelstrom, closed in late 2014 to make room for a new Frozen-inspired attraction. With construction underway, the ride will open in early 2016 with a new meet and greet area for characters Anna and Elsa. The ride will take park guests to the fictional town of Arendelle, which was inspired by Norway, and through some of the familiar scenes and musical numbers from the film. Once the space opens, Anna and Elsa will move from their current location in the Magic Kingdom to their more permanent place in Epcot.
1. Avatar Land
Ground has been broken and construction started for the new Avatar Land that will be added to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, being another component that will help make the park an all-day experience. (Currently it closes at 5pm.) With an estimated opening date of early 2017, new attractions and special effects will immerse guests in the fictional land of Pandora, featured in the Avatar film. Concept art shows possible attractions may include a boat ride through Pandora and a Soarin’ type of ride that will allow guests to fly on the back of a banshee like the characters do in the movie. With two years of production, planning and innovation already having taken place, this expansion is one of the most highly anticipated additions to the Walt Disney World Resort.
No matter when you choose to visit Disney World, you’ll have something new to look forward to as more ideas and more innovations are introduced to the parks each year. Disney will always have new things in store for its guests and will continue to keep pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
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