Disney mega fans gathered in Anaheim, California from July 14-16 for the D23 Expo. This bi-annual convention typically brings lots of announcements of upcoming Disney projects. This year, audiences got almost more news than they could handle about what’s coming to Walt Disney World.
The next two to three years mark a number of milestones for the resort. And, Disney made it clear it has plenty of magic planned to celebrate. From new park attractions to transportation systems, here are 14 of the most exciting updates coming to Walt Disney World soon!
Walt Disney World Theme Parks
When you think of Walt Disney World, the first thing that probably comes to mind is the theme parks. With four parks to choose from, everyone can find something fun and exciting to do on vacation. Disney announced some big changes coming to the iconic parks.
Walt Disney World’s first—and probably most famous—park will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2021. Park Imagineers have a number of new experiences for guests to enjoy in the coming years.
“Tron” Roller Coaster
The biggest announcement was a new “Tron” cycle roller coaster coming to Tomorrowland. This coaster has its roots in Shanghai Disneyland and its popularity will carry it overseas to Florida. Riders will climb on board futuristic cycles for a wild ride through a “Tron”-inspired universe. The new ride is planned to open in 2021, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the park.
New Main Street U.S.A. Live Theater
Modeled after the 1920s Kansas City Willis Theater, this new entertainment venue will host “world-class entertainment” at the Magic Kingdom, according to Walt Disney Parks & Resorts Chairman Bob Chapek.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
This entertainment-themed park will kick off a new era with two new lands and the arrival of an attraction featuring Mickey Mouse.
“Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge”
The new “Star Wars”-themed land was not a new announcement. But, fans got more details they’ve been clamoring for since the expansion was first announced.
First, the new land will be known as “Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.” D23 displayed a 50-ft.-wide scale model of the expansion, which intends to immerse guests into the world of movie series. Check out this flyover video of the massive model.
Guests will enjoy plenty of meet and greets with favorite characters and have a blast at two new attractions. First, riders can pilot the famous Millennium Falcon. Then, would-be fighters get the chance to battle their way out of a Star Destroyer. Sounds out of this world!
“Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge” has a scheduled opening for sometime in 2019.
Toy Story Land
Can’t get enough of Woody, Buzz and all the toys from the classic Pixar film series? Officials announced a target opening date of the summer of 2018. In Toy Story Land, visitors can ride a Slinky Dog Dash and Aliens Swirling Saucers.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway
It might be hard to believe, but Mickey Mouse has not had his own ride at Walt Disney World. Crazy, right? Well, at D23, we found out the mouse will finally get his own top-level attraction.
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway brings guests into an animated world using new technology.
“This is one of the boldest… most impossible things I’ve ever worked on in almost 40 years of being an Imagineer,” said Imagineer Kevin Rafferty at D23. “And you know what? That’s what I love about it. Well, that, and Mickey. This is not going to be a small attraction, it’s going to be game-changing.”
The ride will replace The Great Movie Ride at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. The classic movie attraction is scheduled to close on Aug. 13, 2017.
No opening date for Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway has been announced, yet.
Epcot clearly got the most love from the Disney executives this time around. The nearly 35-year-old theme park has the most upgrades coming its way:
New “Guardians of the Galaxy” Attraction
Epcot will get a new, top-tier attraction in its Future World section. Based on the movie series “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the only details we got about this new ride are that it is expected to open before 2021.
To make room for “Guardians of the Galaxy,” the Universe of Energy attraction “Ellen’s Energy Adventure” will close Aug. 13, 2017.
Updated Mission: SPACE Experiences
Epcot guests visiting this summer can experience two new movies at the Mission: SPACE attraction.
Over on the Green Mission side, visitors can “blast off for an orbital adventure around planet Earth.” This film targets guests looking for a less intense experience. Meanwhile, over on the Orange Mission side, travelers will get an updated voyage to Mars that promises lots of thrills and excitement.
Speaking of space, Epcot’s Future World will have a new table service restaurant! Located right next to Mission: SPACE, the restaurant invites guests to dine among the stars above the Earth. The new location will be managed by Patina Restaurant Group. An opening date should be announced soon.
New “Ratatouille” Attraction
Meanwhile, over in the France pavilion in Epcot’s World Showcase, Remy from “Ratatouille” will get his own attraction! This “4-D” attraction will mirror the same one found over in Disneyland Paris. Riders will shrink down to mouse-size and have an adventure in a Parisian restaurant.
The France pavilion will also get an expansion to house the new attraction. Both should open sometime in 2021.
New Film for China Pavilion
Also in the World Showcase, visitors will enjoy a brand new film in the China pavilion. With new subject matter and a state-of-the-art digital camera system, this new film should help guests feel even closer to the host country.
Walt Disney World Resorts
The theme parks aren’t the only places getting spruced up for the resort’s 50th anniversary! Two new hotels will open on Walt Disney World property.
“Star Wars-Themed” Resort
If the new “Star Wars” expansion isn’t enough for you, then consider staying in Disney’s first experience-based hotel. This resort will immerse guests in a multi-day adventure set in the “Star Wars” universe. In other words, you won’t just be a guest. You’ll have a role to play in the resort’s storyline. Disney plans to announce a grand opening at a later date.
Disney’s Riviera Resort
Located near Epcot, this new hotel will welcome members of the Disney Vacation Club (vacation ownership program) with lavish grounds and never-before-seen experiences. Disney hopes to open this 15th DVC resort by the fall of 2019.
“We’re thrilled to announce plans for a new Disney Vacation Club property called Disney Riviera Resort coming to Walt Disney World Resort,” Chapek said. “Our Vacation Club Members are among our most loyal fans, and we think that they will love what we have planned, especially the rooftop restaurant that will offer unbelievable views of nighttime spectaculars at both Epcot and Hollywood Studios.”
Walt Disney World Transportation
With so much going on around Walt Disney World, getting around can be a challenge. Disney Parks officials plan to tackle growing crowds with two new modes of transportation.
Want a bird’s-eye view of Walt Disney World? Then you’ll want to ride the new Disney Skyliner. This sky gondola system will connect Epcot and Disney’s Hollywood Studios to four resorts: Disney’s Art of Animation, Disney’s Pop Century, Disney’s Caribbean Beach and the new Disney Riviera Resorts.
Minnie Van Service
Last, but not least, Walt Disney World will launch its own ride-share service. They call it Minnie Van Service (get it? Minnie Mouse?) and the service provides door-to-door transportation for guests.
According to Disney bloggers Chip & Co., the Minnie Van Service works like this:
- Riders will use the Lyft app to request a ride while on Walt Disney World property.
- Riders can pay directly through the app
- A Walt Disney World Cast Member (employee) can pick up up to seven passengers. This includes up to two car seats at no extra cost.
- The service costs $20 per one-way trip per party.
- Minnie Vans will run from 6:30 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
Many current Disney vacationers use ride-sharing apps to go between resorts for dinner reservations. Or, they may opt to use it to get to the park and avoid waiting for a bus.
And, you can’t miss these vehicles—which really aren’t vans, by the way. The decked-out shuttles are actually Chevy Traverses.
Right now, the Minnie Van Service is in testing mode. It should be open to the general public within the next few weeks.
So, if you haven’t made your way down to Walt Disney World, yet, then you might want to start planning a vacation! Or, if you’re like me, you already can’t wait for your next trip!