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 2018.
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.
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 20 new rides, shops and restaurants that are either confirmed or rumored to be on their to Walt Disney World by 2017.
19. STK Restaurant
Opening in: 2015
Though it was rumored for quite some time, it was finally confirmed that STK Orlando would be coming to Disney Springs. And best of all, this new restaurant location will be opening next year. Though it probably won't open with the first phase of Disney Springs (when The BOATHOUSE and several other restaurants are projected to open), this 14,000 square foot, two story restaurant will serve its first course sometime later this year.
In a prepared statement, Jonathan Segal, CEO of The ONE Group said of the new location, “We are thrilled to join the Disney Springs family with the launch of STK Orlando,” and added “The combination of an innovative menu and high-energy atmosphere has driven the success of STK, and we believe it will be an ideal addition to Disney Springs, and will help further cement its status as a place for friends and family to gather for fine dining and entertainment.”
18. 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. WDWNT reports that current rumors suggest that this new area will include three rides. The first will be a clone of the RC Racer flat ride attraction currently found at Disneyland Paris and Hong Kong Disneyland. The second will be an attraction tentatively titled "Woody's Round-Up" which will be a version of Mater's Junkyard Jamboree themed to Toy Story featuring horse-drawn carriages. The third ride is rumored to be a trackless Toy Story-themed dancing car ride similar to the Festival of the Dance ride set to replace Luigi's Flying tires at Disney California Adventure.
Of course, these are all still in the rumor phase at the moment, but we wouldn't be surprised if an announcement of this area comes in the next few months.
17. Harambe Marketplace
Opening in: 2015
Disney recently announced a new expansion of the Africa section of Disney's Animal Kingdom, and the centerpiece of this new area will be the Harambe Marketplace quick service restaurant. Africa has long needed a quick service option, and this new restaurant will fill this need rather uniquely by allowing guests walk up to several different windows to grab different styles of food (think Springfield Food Court at nearby Universal Studios Florida). Construction on the expansion is ongoing, with this new restaurant expected to debut sometime this year.
16. Frozen-themed 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 ride. 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).
Recent photos obtained by WDWNT inside the former Maelstrom ride building show that almost all traces of the Maelstrom attraciton have been gutted, including the boat ride element. Some have suggested that this could mean that this new ride may nix the flume structure altogehter, instead opting for an Omnimover-based ride system instead. Though this seems unlikely given the construction timetables, anything is possible.
15. New Discovery Island restaurant
Opening In: 2015
In addition to the new quick service offering in Africa, Disney's Animal Kingdom will also be getting a new table service retaurant. It was confirmed late last month that this new table service restaurant will be taking over some of the massive building currently occupied by quick-service restaurant Pizzafari. However, we still don't know just how this new restaurant will fit into the current Pizzafari structure.
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
Back in November, 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.