Com­ing Soon: Changes at WDW


WDW Magazine - - Contents - BY KIM­BERLY MASIMORE

Change can be scary. I re­mem­ber when I heard that Dis­ney was clos­ing the An­i­ma­tion Academy, which was part of The Magic of Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion at Dis­ney’s Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios. Two years be­fore it closed, we vis­ited and fell in love. We skipped it the fol­low­ing trip be­cause the wait was long and we wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence other things. I knew we’d re­turn to Walt Dis­ney World next year so I wasn’t wor­ried… but it closed be­fore our visit.

I was dev­as­tated. I re­ally wanted to ex­pe­ri­ence it again. It was fun, in­ter­ac­tive, and fit the them­ing of Dis­ney’s Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios. I felt that we lost a piece of Walt with it. When the Launch Bay area re­placed An­i­ma­tion Academy, I thought about boy­cotting. How dare Star Wars re­place my beloved Magic of Dis­ney An­i­ma­tion! But I must ad­mit, Launch Bay is beau­ti­ful and well done, and in­stead of boy­cotting, I em­braced the new.

While change can be scary, there is some­thing truly ex­hil­a­rat­ing about the an­tic­i­pa­tion of what the Dis­ney Imag­i­neers will dream up next. In a few short years, Walt Dis­ney World is go­ing to be adding two new lands, as well as up­grad­ing two ho­tels, and it will be an in­cred­i­bly amaz­ing time to visit.

Let’s see what’s hap­pen­ing “just around the river bend…”


The for­mer Streets of New York are cur­rently a con­struc­tion zone as Dis­ney Imag­i­neers work on con­vert­ing the area into 14-acres of “A Galaxy Far, Far Away.” With an ex­pected open­ing in 2019, this will be the largest land ex­pan­sion ever at Walt Dis­ney World.

Blast off to an all-new planet on the edge of the Un­known Re­gions as you are com­pletely im­mersed in a world like no other when Star Wars comes to life. The back­story places a se­cluded vil­lage in the mid­dle of nowhere as a home to strange char­ac­ters, smug­glers, traders, and ad­ven­tur­ers. If you want to avoid the First Or­der, this will be the right place.

The main at­trac­tion will be a Mil­len­nium Fal­con flight sim­u­la­tor, where guests will be able to con­trol their ex­pe­ri­ence. Who hasn’t dreamed of fly­ing this mag­nif­i­cent ves­sel? It’s bound to be an un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ence.

The sec­ond at­trac­tion an­nounced is vague in its de­scrip­tion. It will fea­ture an ad­ven­ture that places guests in the mid­dle of an epic bat­tle. That’s it. That’s all that has been re­leased.

Per­haps ad­di­tional light will be shed at this year’s D23 Expo.

You can bet that there will be a cantina of some sort and plenty of Star Wars char­ac­ter in­ter­ac­tions. Stormtroop­ers and Re­sis­tance Fight­ers will also be part of this unique ex­pe­ri­ence. The land will truly come to life and take on a whole new feel when the sun goes down.


Toy Story Land, which will cover 11 acres, is go­ing to be an in­cred­i­ble ad­di­tion to Dis­ney’s Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios. There is so much that can be done to al­low Guests to feel as if they’re a toy in Andy’s back­yard. A few de­tails have been re­leased about the at­trac­tions that you will be able to ex­pe­ri­ence in the new land.


Blue walls, with Toy Story Land dé­cor, went up in May in the Pixar Place area at Dis­ney’s Hol­ly­wood Stu­dios. The walls in­di­cate a pos­si­ble en­trance into the new Toy Story Land. The en­trance area ap­pears to be lo­cated be­tween Toy Story Mid­way Ma­nia! and Walt Dis­ney–one Man’s Dream. The en­trance to Toy Story Mid­way Ma­nia! will likely be moved to the other side of the build­ing so that it can be ac­cessed in­side Toy Story Land. This means that the cur­rent Buzz and Woody meet-and-greet will be re­lo­cated, mak­ing Pixar Place bare. Ru­mors in­di­cate that it might be con­verted into a back­stage area, but noth­ing has been of­fi­cially an­nounced.


One at­trac­tion that is cur­rently un­der con­struc­tion for Toy Story Land is Slinky Dog Dash, a fam­ily roller coaster. The back­story has the at­trac­tion built from the track in Andy’s Mega Coaster Play Kit, and the ride ve­hi­cle is mod­eled af­ter Slinky Dog. The con­cept video used to pro­mote Toy Story Land shows Slinky Dog Dash as quite a long coaster with mild turns and hills.

An­other at­trac­tion com­ing to the land will be Alien Swirling Saucers. The con­cept art in­di­cates that this might be a com­bi­na­tion tea-cup/whip type of ride with ro­tat­ing cars, orig­i­nal mu­sic, and “The Claw” from Pizza Planet.

While I can—with high prob­a­bil­ity—pre­dict that there will be some type of food ser­vice avail­able, along with shops and prob­a­bly games, there re­ally hasn’t been a lot of in­for­ma­tion di­rectly from Dis­ney on what the land will con­tain.

More in­for­ma­tion is forth­com­ing, in­clud­ing an open­ing date, when the D23 Expo meets

July 14th through the 16th in Ana­heim. Pre­vi­ous in­for­ma­tion has Toy Story Land open­ing late 2018/early 2019, but it will be great to fi­nally have an ac­tual date! I prom­ise to com­plete a fol­low-up for the WDW Mag­a­zine Blog as soon as the new in­for­ma­tion has been an­nounced.

Here’s a first look at Toy Story Land from a 2016 Dis­ney Parks Blog.


Dis­ney’s Coron­ado Springs Re­sort is un­der­go­ing an ex­pan­sion that will take ap­prox­i­mately two years. A lake­side tower is be­ing built, which will add 500 rooms, bring­ing the room to­tal for the re­sort to 2,417. The tower will fea­ture suites and concierge level ser­vices, along with rooftop din­ing, which will al­low for spec­tac­u­lar fire­works views. The Re­sort area will also un­dergo changes to en­hance the land­scape with gar­dens and an is­land oa­sis.

Dis­ney’s Caribbean Beach is also part of a two-year ren­o­va­tion to add wa­ter­side din­ing and ex­pand the cur­rent mar­ketplace (Cen­ter­town) to in­clude ad­di­tional shop­ping.


This fall, Bob Chapek an­nounced ma­jor changes com­ing to Ep­cot. In true Dis­ney fash­ion, the trans­for­ma­tion that is to take place wasn’t spe­cific, but is re­ported by Mr. Chapek to “be more Dis­ney… Time­less, rel­e­vant, and fam­ily friendly… And it will stay true to our orig­i­nal vi­sion.”

We will likely have to wait un­til Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land open to see any sig­nif­i­cant changes, but it’s nice to dream about a great big beau­ti­ful to­mor­row.


These amaz­ing changes might not be by co­in­ci­dence. On Oc­to­ber 1, 2021, Magic King­dom will turn 50-years old. This “golden an­niver­sary” will be the per­fect time to cel­e­brate all the won­der and joy of the Walt Dis­ney World Re­sort.

The magic of Walt Dis­ney World keeps us all com­ing back; but the hope of some­thing new and en­chant­ing only adds to the ex­cite­ment. What will they dream up next?

Photo by Stephanie Shuster

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