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 19 new rides, attractions, shops and restaurants that are either confirmed or rumored to be on their to Walt Disney World by 2017.
19. New theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios
Status: Confirmed (but not announced)
Opening in: TBA
Permits were filed last month for yet another unnamed construction project at Disney’s Hollywood Studios. This newest undertaking will see the addition of what is currently being called a "flex space" theater, which will be located on the far side of Sunset Boulevard, in between the Rock n’ Roller Coaster and the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror (longtime Star Wars Weekends fans may remember this site as the home of Darth’s Mall back in 2012).
Though we don't know what will occupy this space, we do have a few theories, which you can read about here.
18. 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 attraction have been gutted, including the boat ride element. Some have suggested that this could mean that this new ride may nix the flume structure altogether, instead opting for an Omnimover-based ride system instead. Though this seems unlikely given the construction timetables, anything is possible.
17. Massive new Frozen meet and greet coming to Norway
Status: Confirmed (but not yet formally 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 pavilion 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 pavilion (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 pavilion. 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.
16. STK Restaurant
Opening in: 2015
Though it was rumored for quite some time, it was finally confirmed that STK Orlando, a 14,000 square foot, two story restaurant would be coming to Disney Springs 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.”