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, is undergoing a complete transformation to become Disney Springs.
Let's take a look at 20 new rides, attractions, shops and restaurants that are either confirmed or rumored to be on their to Walt Disney World by 2017.
20. Massive new Frozen meet and greet coming to Norway
Status: Confirmed (but not yet announced)
Opening in: 2016
It looks like the Frozen boat ride isn't the only change coming to Norway at Epcot. A new meet and greet area was confirmed this past January to be in the planning phase. Interestingly, the new pavillion will be a massive 13,000 square feet, making it far larger than other meet and greet areas on property.To put that in perspective, that is bigger than the current Princess Fairytale Hall at Disney's Magic Kingdom, and runs nearly the entire length of the pavillion (including what will become the Frozen ride!) As you can see below, this huge new structure will be built in the open space between the Mexico and Norway.
We don't know if this new attraction will be a more interactive experience (like Enchanted Tales With Belle) or if it will just be a super-sized meet and greet with a huge indoor queue that won't spill out into the World Showcase. Either way, this new project looks to further solidify Disney's plan to completely Frozen-ify the Norway pavillion. Though internal documents confirm this new attraction's existence, Disney has not officially announced it yet.
Construction walls in this as-yet undeveloped area went up just a few days ago, and work is expected to begin this month.
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. 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. Toy Story Playland
Opening in: TBA
Now that the Studio Backlot Tour has been closed at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and most of the former ride structures demolished, 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, especially as Disney executives were recently seen touring this area.
17. Harambe Marketplace
Opening in: 2015
Last year, Disney 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 planters peeking out from over construction walls. A few props from this area have also been spotted recently, including a new water tower structure.