As we reported last week, Disney Quest will close in 2016. It will be replaced with The NBA Experience, which will feature tons of interactive elements, and a new restaurant. It will also be a huge piece of the all new Disney Springs transformation, and the latest in major overhauls happening at Walt Disney World. In fact, much of Walt Disney World will change within the next few years, as the entire resort will strive to keep up with the ever growing, family vacation, and stiff competition from other parks like Universal Orlando.
Disney is undergoing some huge changes at most of it’s parks, as well as many of the surrounding hotels, and even the Downtown Disney district. This means a ton of closures, rehabs and tear downs. Disney is about to change things at the park in a big way, with a huge focus on getting guests to stay even longer, and spend more.
So what is happening? We’ll take a run down of each area, and go over the different rumors happening.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
So what exactly is happening at Hollywood Studios? How about a complete and total renaissance. The park is going to get an upgrade that goes anywhere from $1 billion to $3 billion, depending on who you ask. The time frame for the completion of the park is said to be around ten years, but we’ve heard a much tighter schedule.
Here’s what’s closed, and what is rumored to be closing:
- Captain Jack Sparrow-Closed
- Backlot Tour-Closed
- American Film Institute-Closed
- American Idol Experience-Closed (temporarily Frozen sing along)
- Disney Magic of Animation-Closing July 12th
- One Man’s Dream-Rumored Closing later this year
- Indiana Jones Stunt Show-Rumored Closing next year
- Lights Motor Action Stunt Show-Rumored Closing
- MuppetVision 3D-Rumored Closing
Disney’s Hollywood Studios has pretty much been reduced to less than a half day park, and it’s only going to get worse. So what is Disney planning? The park will undergo a huge rebranding, taking away the Hollywood Studios moniker, and getting an all new name. The new park will take several years to redo, but the biggest thing won’t be the name change but the complete change in theme. It will go from a Hollywood Studio, where you see the animation and production process to a Hollywood Adventure, bringing guests on an adventure through the movies where you live it. Think a mix between Universal Studios Florida, and Disney’s California Adventure.
What will be coming to the new Disney Hollywood Adventure? We’ll most likely find out when the D23 Expo hits next month but here are some of the major rumors.
- Star Wars Land-This new land will be anchored by Star Tours, and will feature new dining and shopping experiences. There will also be at least one new attraction, with a possibility of a few others. This is the big one, and will see the majority of the money and build time. It is expected to take up much of the area that is currently occupied by The American Idol theater, and possibly Muppetvision.
- Indiana Jones-The stunt show will leave, only to be replaced with a ride, and a few new smaller attractions. This rumor has actually been around for a long time, and while it could still happen, it’s highly unlikely we’ll see it anytime soon.
- Pixar Land-This new area will be anchored by Toy Story Midway Mania, which will undergo an expansion. The new area will feature more attractions, much like what can already be found in Paris, and could also include a version of Carsland, an attraction based on Monsters Inc, the Incredibles, or Finding Nemo. There’s even rumor that a massive Ratatouille ride could happen, similar to what’s already in Paris
A few weeks ago, Iger himself, along with several other members of the board were onsite touring the area, and going through what is set to happen. The project has apparently gone from the planning stage to the construction stage, so expect to see a lot of movement happening after D23.
Animal Kingdom is undergoing one of the largest expansions to date. It has closed down several smaller areas, in preparation for Avatar Land. The new land went from being largely panned, as it was just going to include a ride and a gift shop, to a very immersive new experience. Apparently fans can thank Harry Potter and Universal for that. The new area will feature not only a state of the art new attraction, but a walkthrough area full of light up plants and walkways from the film, as well as an all new boat ride, and a night time show, similar to World of Color at Disney’s California Adventure. All of this is expected to take over in 2017.
Epcot is kind of the bastard child of Walt Disney World. It started out as an amazing place of the future, where guests could travel to places all over the world, without leaving Central Florida. Over the years, it’s kind of been forgotten, but all that is going to change.
- Frozen will take over Norway, and the Maelstrom beginning in 2016. The new area is controversial, because it overtakes World Showcase, and replaces it with Disney synergy.
- New nighttime show will replace the award winning, but long running reflections. No word on when, or what, but it’s expected to be a mix of what reflections is now, and World of Color. Guests could possibly see the removal of the boats that cross the lagoon because of it
- Imagination pavilion has been in long need of an overhaul. The aged 3D theater, the impossibly outdated attraction that has nothing to do with Imagination, and the empty space that used to be the center of Imagination. It’s all going to get a revamp very soon, but with what? The smart money says it will be infused with Inside Out, but that’s not likely
- Inside Out could be coming to Innoventions West as a huge new experience dealing with the mind. Think Wonders of Life, only updated and no Body Wars or pregnancy. Instead it could deal with emotions and imagination
- A new country rumor has been around for several years, but it’s finally gaining steam. What will it be though? Brazil is the big probability, with a huge new attraction and steakhouse
- A World Showcase overhaul is also rumored, with many of the existing countries getting a facelift, new attractions and new restaurants.
The 50th anniversary will be coming up before you know it, and to celebrate, there’s rumor that the Magic Kingdom will overhaul one of their most iconic areas-Tomorrowland. It’s been talked about for years, but the big rumor is that Tomorrowland could see a new attraction, an overhaul and some love to older attractions. Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor (MILF) could be on the chopping block, as could Tomorroland Speedway. Magic Kingdom pretty much doubled the size of Fantasyland with the huge New Fantasyland expansion. While the area for a Tomorrowland area would not expand, the attraction line up could.
As many know, Downtown Disney is transforming into Disney Springs. The huge transformation has already seen a shift from many of the old restaurants and shops to tins of new eateries and experiences. Starbucks has a massive new presence, along with the huge bowling alley, Splittsville, and several new restaurants such as The Boathouse. There are several huge new restaurants still one the horizon, with Miyamato’s, The Edison, and an Indiana Jones themed bar.
Of course, there’s also the closure of Disney Quest, the indoor video game based theme park. It was the flagship attraction in what was hoped to be a huge chain of attractions. After the lukewarm response to Orlando’s DisneyQuest, and the closure of the Chicago DisneyQuest, the plug was pulled on the chain. DisneyQuest has received very little updates over the years, and the attractions and games are all fairly dated.
The all new NBA Experience will replace the attraction, and will not only feature a new restaurant, but also tons of new interactive experiences. Whether or not it will be a hit with families remains to be seen, but NBA City at neighboring Universal Orlando wasn’t exactly a huge destination. Still, despite the crying out from Disney fans, the NBA is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world.
Disney recently finished up work on the Polynesian Village Resort, which it added all new Disney Vacation Club Villas and Studio Suites. It also redid the pool, and several restaurant options, including the all new Trader Sams. The next hotel to get that treatment will be the Wilderness Lodge.
This is only the beginning. Several of the other Disney Resorts will allegedly get huge upgrades, with the focus being on keeping families in the resorts longer, and adding on to their vacation. It’s actually always been the goal of Disney, but now they seem to be wanting to change the resort experience completely. We’ll see if the resorts end up pricing themselves out of most budgets with these new rooms and changes. The brand new Bungalows at the Polynesian are upwards of $2000 dollars a night, leaving many guests searching for cheaper rooms.
Disney is currently in the middle of a huge transition period. One theme park is pretty much going to be gutted, while the Downtown Disney area is nothing but construction walls. Resorts will see a huge change as well. While this time isn’t exactly fun, it’s going to be very interesting to see what exactly ends up being just a rumor, and what ends up actually coming to fruition. One thing is for certain, Disney is looking to squash the competition with big name attractions, and huge new options.