There are plenty of new rides, shows and restaurants due to open at Walt Disney World by 2017. Here is November’s update on the latest confirmed and rumored additions to the resort.
Walt Disney World has been accused of lagging behind Universal Orlando when it comes to spending on new additions in recent years. However, there are now a number of major projects underway at the resort, most of which are due to be completed by 2017.
The two biggest areas of focus are Disney's Animal Kingdom and the area formerly known as Downtown Disney. Animal Kingdom will see its opening hours extended, as well as the addition of the Pandora - The World of Avatar expansion. Downtown Disney, meanwhile, will undergo a complete transformation to become Disney Springs, in an effort to make it more competitive with Universal's CityWalk.
Some elements of these projects have been confirmed, and indeed some are due to open imminently. Others, however, remain simply rumors - and Disney itself has probably not fully decided on the final line-up of shops and restaurants.
Let's take a look at 17 new rides, shops and restaurants that are either confirmed or rumored to be on their to Walt Disney World by 2017.
17. STK Restaurant
Opening in: TBA
Back in April, Scott Joseph reported that STK was close to sealing a deal with Disney to add one of its restaurants to the Disney Springs line-up. We've heard nothing since, but we haven't heard the rumored scotched either.
STK is a modern steakhouse chain with locations in New York, Las Vegas and Miami. It has also expanded abroad, opening a restaurant in London. The chain describes its highly-stylized restaurants as "artfullly blending two concepts into one - the modern steakhouse and a chic lounge. The restaurant’s signature DNA includes plaster cast horns, curvilinear black platform seats and a palette of black gloss and cream. A large central lounge area is furnished with creamy leather banquettes and textured crocodile tiles, and is surrounded by an elevated dining room for more formal dining." This new area still has yet to be officially announced.
16. Pixar Playland
Opening in: TBA
Now that the Studio Backlot Tour has been closed at Disney's Hollywood Studios, rumors have been flying about what might replace it. Though both Cars Land and a Monsters Inc roller coaster have been touted as potential replacements, by far the strongest rumor about what will become of this new space is a Pixar-themed playland aimed at young children (similar to what can already be found at Walt Disney Studios, Paris as well as Hong Kong Disneyland).
This new area would feature several themed play structures with characters from the Toy Story films as well as rethemed flat rides. No announcement has been made yet regarding this project's existence, but it's possible that we could hear something before 2014 is over.
15. Frozen-themed boat ride
Opening in: Early 2016
Maelstrom, in Epcot's Norway Pavilion, saw its last voyage on October 5, 2014, and construction on this new Frozen-themed attraction has already begun in the space formerly occupied by the boat road. A black scrim currently covers the area where the boats used to peek out over the falls, and a video has surfaced online that shows the Maelstrom boats being carried away on a truck.
Though we don’t know what form this new ride will take exactly, Tom Staggs, Chairman of Walt Disney Parks and Resorts seem to indicate that the ride will follow the plotline of the film and feature several musical moments (expecting to be humming the tune of "Let it Go" for the rest of the day after riding).
14. Flamingo Crossings Hotels
Opening in: Early 2016
Disney has been quietly developing a new shopping and entertainment complex tentatively named Flamingo Crossings. The first two tenants for this new area will be TownePlace Suites, Marriott's extended-stay brand, and SpringHill Suites. These two new hotels are scheduled to open in early 2016 and will have 500 suites between them. Both will be located on a 450 acre lot and will be constructed on Flamingo Crossings Way, right outside Disney World's western gate. You can read more about the Flamingo Crossings project here.
13. Morimoto Asia Restaurant
Opening in: Spring 2015
Late last month, Disney made the rumored Morimoto Asia restaurant official. As the name suggests, this restaurant will be opened by Chef Masaharu Morimoto (of Iron Chef fame), and will feature “pan-Asian” food. The dining room will feature a collection of unique exhibition kitchens that showcase traditional Asian food preparation, featuring dishes like freshly-carved Peking duck and dim sum. Best of all, this restarant is on the “fast track” and will open with phase one of Disney Springs in Spring 2015. You can read more about this new restaurant here.
12. Avatar "flying ride"
Opening in: 2017
The headline ride in Pandora - The World of Avatar will be a major, "E-Ticket" attraction that will offer a simulated experience of flying over Pandora on a banshee creature. It has been compared to Soarin' at Epcot, but it is likely that the Avatar ride will actually be considerably more technologically advanced - supporting enhanced, more realistic movements and 3-D video on a wrap-around screen.
The plans show four separate theaters, spread across four floors. The show itself will be projected onto an enormous, IMAX-style curved screen, just as it is in the Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Florida. Riders will board vehicles that rise to one of three show levels in front of the screen, also in a similar style to the Universal attraction.
While some construction on the land that will house this new attraction has begun, no work has been done on the actual show building as of yet.
11. Trader Sam's Grog Grotto
Opening in: 2015
Trader Sam's Enchanted Tiki Bar opened several years ago at the Disneyland Hotel, and is inspired by the Jungle Cruise and Enchanted Tiki Room attractions. It also incorporates elements of the Adventurer's Club, one of the most popular nightclubs in Walt Disney World's now-defunct Pleasure Island area. It has proven to be very popular, serving up tropically-themed appetizers, desserts and cocktails.
Little surprise, then, that Disney fans are salivating at the prospect of a version of the bar coming to the revamped Disney's Polynesian Village Resort. Trader Sam's Grog Grotto will feature a themed lounge area, and will serve up handcrafted tiki cocktails in souvenir mugs alongside Polynesian-style small plates. Construction at the Polynesian Village Resort is ongoing, and work on the area where this bar will be held has already begun.