Coming Soon: Changes at WDW
CHANGES AT WDW
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…”
STAR WARS LAND
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
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.
OTHER CONFIRMED CHANGES
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.
CHANGE CAN BE GOOD
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?