Disney's Imagineering teams have multiple projects on the go at any one time. Let's take a look at 10 new lands that are either confirmed or rumored as being on their way to the company's theme parks.
It’s unlikely that all 10 of these lands will see the light of day - not just because of the impact of overspending on Walt Disney World's MyMagic+ implementation, but also because changing priorities and budgets always result in the cancellation of some Disney projects.
The development status of these lands varies dramatically. Some exist only on paper, while others are starting active construction. Disney, of course, doesn't always make public what it plans to install at its parks. But we've done our best to provide an update on the status of each land below.
10. Star Wars Land at Disneyland Paris
Even before Disney acquired LucasFilm in 2012 for $4 billion in 2012, there were persistent rumors that a Star Wars-themed land would be on its way to Disneyland Paris. This would be a mini-land within the existing Discoveryland, and its headline ride would be Star Tours: The Adventures Continue (the impoverished Disneyland Paris is the only Disney park still to host the original, 1980s version of Star Tours). Captain EO would reportedly be converted into a version of the Jedi Training Academy at Disney's Hollywood Studios. The Buzz Lightyear's Pizza Planet restaurant, meanwhile, would become a recreation of the legendary Mos Eisley Cantina, complete with the unusual band playing in the background.
Status: Disney and More reports that Star Tours: The Adventures Continue could open as soon as 2017, in time for Disneyland Paris’ 25th anniversary. This is more likely to be feasible now that Disney has agreed to inject a significant amount of new capital into the resort, as well as converting much of its debt into equity. With a number of other urgent refurbishment projects on the cards ahead of the anniversary, though, we’ll have to see if this one pans out.
9. Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom
Well into construction at Disney’s Animal Kingdom is a new land themed around James Cameron’s Avatar. Anchored by an impressive-looking "floating mountain" centerpiece that will rival the park's existing Tree of Life icon in terms of scale, it will replicate the dense, alien forests of the planet Pandora seen in the movie.
We can expect two main attractions in Pandora when it opens - the first will replicate a flight over the massive and mystifying terrain of the planet, no doubt encountering flying creatures and hovering landscapes. The second will be a boat ride through Pandora's forests.
Status: Camp Minnie-Mickey is now closed and its replacement is set to open in 2017.
8. Marvel Super Hero Land at Hong Kong Disneyland
Disney acquired Marvel in a $4 billion deal in September 2009, but has made limited use of its comic book characters at its US parks. At Walt Disney World, its hands are tied by a pre-existing licensing deal that Marvel has with the Universal Orlando Resort, which sees its characters appear in the Marvel Super Hero Island area of Islands of Adventure.
There are no such constraints at Hong Kong Disneyland, which will host the company's first Marvel-themed land. It will be headlined by the Iron Man Experience, a new ride based on the trilogy starring Robert Downey Jr. This will see guests take to the street and skies above Hong Kong to join in a battle with Iron Man himself.
Status: The Iron Man Experience has been officially announced by Disney, and is expected to open in late 2016.
7. Star Wars Land at Disneyland
Rumors of a Star Wars land for Disney’s original theme park have been circulating for years. Initially, they focused on a Star Wars makeover for Tomorrowland, incorporating a Millennium Falcon walkthrough and a speeder bike ride through an Ewok village. But the originator of those rumors, Micechat, now claims that the park could instead receive a separate Star Wars Land, housed on the current site of the Big Thunder Ranch and Mickey’s Toontown.
Status: Bob Iger has strongly hinted that Star Wars in on its way to Disneyland. Speaking to Bloomberg in November 2013, Iger said: "There is a fair amount of development going on at Disney Imagineering right now to expand the Star Wars presence in Disneyland and Walt Disney World and eventually in other Disney theme parks around the world." This is some way short of a nailed-on confirmation of a Star Wars Land, although that hasn't stopped other websites from reporting it as such.
6. Marvel Super Hero Land at Walt Disney Studios, Paris
Like Hong Kong Disneyland, Disneyland Paris doesn’t suffer from the same restrictions on its use of Marvel characters as Walt Disney World. Already, Walt Disney Studios is home to a Spider-Man meet-and-greet (a bizarre sight for those used to seeing Spidey in Universal’s Islands of Adventure). And, if rumors covered in detail on the always-excellent Disney and More are to be believed, Disney’s financial rescue of Disneyland Paris will help fund a complete transformation of the second gate’s Backlot area to become a Marvel Super Hero Land.
According to the rumors, Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster will be left in place, but its nonsensical storyline will be replaced by one based on Spider-Man, with riders racing through an above the streets of New York. Two new rides, including another coaster, and a meet-and-greet are also said to be in the pipeline.
Status: This is one step nearer to reality now that Disneyland Paris looks set to be on a surer financial footing. Disney is well aware of the problems at the resort’s smaller park and a Marvel land is seen as just one part of the long-term solution.