Home » 4 Exciting Walt Disney World Refurbishments We Can’t Wait For (November 2014)

    4 Exciting Walt Disney World Refurbishments We Can’t Wait For (November 2014)

    Haunted Mansion

    With Disney World’s constantly changing refurbishment schedule, it’s difficult for guests to keep up with the latest news on their favorite attractions, resorts, shops, and restaurants. Here are four big, upcoming changes that are confirmed or rumored to be hitting Disney World in the near future.

    Magic Kingdom: Haunted Mansion refurbishment

    The Haunted Mansion attraction is getting a big of an overhaul. Here’s what we know so far and expect to see with the project.

    Haunted Mansion

    What we know:

    • Disney confirmed that the Haunted Mansion ride will shut down from December 1 to December 19, 2014
    • The Yankee Trader gift shop shut down earlier this year and reopened as a Haunted Mansion-themed shop on October 6, 2014.
    • The name of the shop is “Memento Mori,” which means “Remember Death.”

    What we’ve heard:

    The biggest change that’s expect at the Haunted Mansion is nothing more than a rumor at this point, though there are several facts that support the rumor. Many guests are expecting Disney to add a photo opportunity to the end of the ride. Guests who have experienced this attraction before will remember the sequence at the end where various hitchhiking ghosts hop onto the doom buggy and swap the riders’ faces in the mirror.

    Hitchhiking Ghosts

    The rumor is that this will become a photo spot, a video spot, or both. Disney’s been adding video spots to several rides, but only guests with Magic Bands linked to a Memory Maker account will have access to the video. It’s expected that all guests will have access to a ride photo for a fee, if such a thing comes to fruition.

    It’s a likely rumor for a few reasons. There’s obviously some reason the ride will shut down for over two weeks, and a scheduled maintenance seems unlikely for such a long time period. Also, Disney’s been touting the Magic Bands and Memory Maker for a while now. Since they’re expanding the photo and video options on other rides, it makes sense that they’d add it to one of their most popular attractions too.

    Epcot: Soarin’ expansion

    While Disney hasn’t confirmed anything yet, rumors have swirled for years about a possible Soarin’ expansion. It seems that confirmation of these plans can be expected in the upcoming months.

    Soarin' Ride View

    What we know:

    • A permit was issued for a project called “Project 87.” The permit states that it’s to “add facility to existing attraction.” It expires in September of 2016, which is a reasonable amount of time for a large attraction overhaul.
    • The current Soarin’ ride holds 87 people, which would explain the name on the permit.
    • The contractor on the permit is listed as PCL; Disney has worked with PCL on many attractions in the past.
    • The area behind the current Soarin’ attraction appears to be a construction zone. Trailers in the area have been packaged up and will likely be removed soon. Concrete in the area has been busted up for removal, as well.
    • New video footage was shot in spring of 2014 at Disneyland, though there’s no word yet on whether this footage will be used at the Disney World attraction or not.
    Soarin' Entrance

    What we’ve heard:

    The rumor is that Disney is adding a third theater to the current Soarin’ attraction. With the high demand for this ride, it makes perfect sense to add another theater for additional capacity.

    Anticipated Soarin' Expansion

    Guests are also speculating that the current film may be replaced when the expansion opens. Many riders have noticed that the current film is a bit outdated and looks quite worn. It may very well be time for a new video. If a new video is added, it’s assumed that it will be a much higher quality HD format.

    Of course, Disney hasn’t released any official statement on this information, but it’s looking like the Soarin’ expansion is definitely in the works. The rumor is that the new video will be called “Soarin’ Over the World” or “Soarin’ Around the World” and will feature scenes from Disneyland, Disney World, and various countries around the world. The current video is focused entirely on California, so the new concept will be a bit of a departure from the old one.

    Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Midway Mania expansion

    Though Toy Story Midway Mania is in desperate need of some extra space, Disney hasn’t released any official word on a possible expansion. That doesn’t keep the rumors from churning, however.

    Toy Story Midway Mania

    What we know:

    • Toy Story is arguably the most popular ride at Walt Disney World, and wait times regularly exceed two hours or more. Of all the rides at Disney World, most guests would agree that this one is the most in need of additional space.
    • Disney recently performed a test on the Toy Story Midway Mania queue. For a time, they only allowed guests with FP+ reservations on the ride. The standby queue was completely shut down (or used for FP+ only), so guests without a reservation were simply out of luck.
    • Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post, which was located at Soundstage 1, near Toy Story Midway Mania, was removed on September 28, 2014. It’s now located on the Streets of America. So far, Disney hasn’t released any information on what may occupy the empty Soundstage 1 spot.

    Anticipated Toy Story Midway Mania Expansion

    • A permit was issued titled “Project 3-DHS Soundstage 1 Renovation.” It expires in September 2016; that’s plenty of time for a large project, such as a renovation, to take place.
    • The contractor on the permit is listed as Whiting-Turner; this company has worked with Disney on other attractions in the past.
    • The Studios Backlot Tour, which is also located near Toy Story Midway Mania, was officially closed on September 27, 2014.

    What we’ve heard:

    The most popular conjecture about this project is that it’s an expansion of the current Toy Story Midway Mania ride and will include an additional track.

    This theory is supported by the removal of the Studios Backlot Tour and relocation of Wandering Oaken’s Trading Post–and also by the permit, of course. The name “Project 3” makes sense if a third track is added to the current ride.

    Of course, this is all just a rumor at this point. Another idea that’s been passed around for a while is a possible Cars Land addition at Hollywood Studios. With the current information, however, the Toy Story Midway Mania addition seems much more likely, though only time will tell, since Disney’s keeping mum on the subject.

    Animal Kingdom: Africa expansion

    The area from Africa to Asia in Animal Kingdom is quite congested. Disney worked to fix this problem with the addition of the Harambe Theatre—but they may not be done yet.

    Harambe Marketplace Concept Image

    What we know:

    • There’s been a construction area hidden from view in the works for over a year now.
    • The Harambe Theatre has already been finished and opened in June of 2014. It showcases the Festival of the Lion King show; both the standby and FP+ queue lines are almost completely covered areas.
    • The new Harambe Theatre area has significantly lessened the crowds in Africa.
    • Disney released concept art on November 20, 2014 that seems to show an additional Harambe project.

    What we’ve heard:

    The general consensus is that the new area will feature a Harambe Marketplace. It’s expected to have a new quick service restaurant that will feature walk-up windows and African cuisine. New merchandise locations are expected as well. The whole area, along with the Harambe Theatre, is expected to double the original size of Africa.

    Anticipated Harambe Marketplace Area

    Perhaps the most exciting news is that a new walkway will run from Africa to Asia. This should greatly help the congestion problem that currently plagues that spot. Of course, Disney hasn’t released official word yet, but the concept art looks quite promising.