Walt Disney World Resort is constantly in change. Imagineers are always working on new attractions, hotels, and experiences to bring to the parks. This is no truer than in the last few years with the addition of lands like Toy Story and Pandora the World of Avatar. It’s not going to slow down anytime soon though as Cast Members are still hard at work expanding and improving to prepare for the 50th anniversary in 2021. Let’s take a look at what’s still in store for the ever-changing resort in the near future.
Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge
Disney dropped some galactic sized news in 2015 when it announced that two Star Wars themed lands would be coming to Disneyland and Walt Disney World. These new highly-immersive areas would let guests step into a galaxy far, far away and live the adventures they’ve enjoyed on screens for decades. Here you can build your own lightsaber or droid, pilot the Millenium Falcon or grab a drink with a wretched hive of scum and villainy at the cantina. The level of detail and immersion in these new lands is unparalleled and not to be missed. Disneyland’s area opened to high-praise from fans this past summer and Walt Disney World will be getting their own at Disney’s Hollywood Studios on August 29, 2019. There is also a Star Wars immersive experience hotel currently under construction that will eventually connect with the land. While Galaxy’s Edge will open in Walt Disney World without the anticipated Rise of the Resistance ride, it was recently announced that it will open later on December 5, 2019.
It was announced in 2017 that Walt Disney World’s second park, Epcot would be getting a massive multi-year overhaul to revamp and update its layout. Among these changes will be a redesigned entrance plaza, new play area, expansions to World Showcase pavilions, dedicated festival booths and more. The redesign is to be completed in phases with the first phase already underway. The “Leave a Legacy” monoliths that have sat inside the park gates for almost two decades have already started to be removed. Many Future World locations like MouseGear and Fountain View are about to be demolished as well. It’s not been officially announced how long the entire redesign will take, but will definitely be a long process.
One of the planned changes coming to Epcot is the ending of the popular Illuminations nighttime show. The current iteration of the show has been around since 1999 and is being retired to make way for a revamped lagoon based spectacular in 2020. Until then, a new interim show, Epcot Forever, will take place nightly at Seven Seas Lagoon. Epcot Forever will celebrate the history and imagination of the park with fireworks, lasers and acrobatic kites set to music from Epcot attractions past and present. The new show will debut on October 1, 2019.
Epcot’s Space Themed Restaurant
Disney confirmed earlier this year that as part of their Epcot reimagining, a new space-themed restaurant would be coming to Future World. While we don’t have a name for the new upscale eatery, we do know a few details. The new eatery will be themed around a space station sitting high above the earth’s atmosphere. The menu will feature internationally inspired cuisine and state-of-the-art digital screens that will give guests the feeling as if they are floating in space. Concept art promises an amazing experience with otherworldly views of space. An exact opening date has not been announced but it has been confirmed for opening later in 2019.
Guardians of the Galaxy Rollercoaster
After the massive success of Disney California Adventure’s Tower of Terror redesign to the Marvel characters, the Guardians of the Galaxy, it was announced that the team would also be getting a new attraction at Epcot. The new rollercoaster is currently being constructed in the former location of Ellen’s Energy Adventure. Not many details have been released for the ride, but we do know that will use a new and innovative ride system mixing show elements with a fast-paced coaster. The ride is slated for release by 2021, in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary.
France Pavilion Expansion and Ratatouille Ride
Also announced with the new Guardians ride was the expansion of the France pavilion in World Showcase at Epcot and a Ratatouille ride addition. The new attraction will be similar to Ratatouille: The Adventure that has been in The Walt Disney Studios park in Paris since 2014. Guests will shrink down to the size of a rat and embark on a harrowing kitchen adventure with the culinary-obsessed rodent. No further details have been released but is scheduled to open in time for the 50th anniversary as well.
Roundup Rodeo BBQ
Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has proven to be a big success for the park. Guests have been flocking to the recreation of Andy’s backyard to enjoy a whirl on the family coaster Slinky Dog Dash and spin with the Aliens in their swirling saucers. It was recently announced that the land would be expanding with the addition of a full-service BBQ restaurant. The immersive new restaurant is themed as if Andy has set up a new play area complete with game pieces and toys. No opening date or timeframe has been announced yet.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
The dynamic duo of Disney is finally getting their own ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios! Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway will be coming to the Chinese Theater (the former home to The Great Movie Ride) in Spring 2019. This new attraction will use innovative technology to transport guests into the 2D world of the popular Mickey short films series that started in 2013.
All of these new additions to the parks means an increase in attendance. To handle the influx of guests, Walt Disney World announced the addition of the Disney Skyliner. This gondola transportation system (similar to those used at ski resorts) will connect Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach Resort and the new Riviera Resort to Hollywood Studios and Epcot. The gondolas will feature favorite Disney characters and it was just announced that it will begin operation on September 29.
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Walt Disney World will be adding its 15th Disney Vacation Club resort this winter with the opening of Disney’s Riviera Resort. This new hotel will be inspired by the grandeur of Europe and feature studios and multi-bedroom villas and will offer Disney Skyliner access to Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Construction on the hotel is currently wrapping up with a scheduled opening date of December 16th.
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