Though Walt Disney World may have been accused of standing still in the face of growing competition from Universal Orlando, in reality nothing could be further from the truth as there are some big changes coming to the resort over the next few years.
Disney has chosen to invest its money in a different way than Universal, which has focused on building major new attractions (such as the Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley) and more hotels (like the under-construction Lowe’s Sapphire Falls). But the company is spending money on Walt Disney World - a lot of it. Over the coming years, the results of this spending should start to become more visible to guests.
There are many changes coming to Walt Disney World, but some will have a bigger impact than others. Here's a look at 14 of the biggest updates that are in store for Walt Disney World as of May 2015.
13. The last days of Disney's Hollywood Studios
Last February, the remnants of the Sorcerer's Hat at Disney's Hollywood Studios came down. However, we learned recently that in addition to the removal of the former park icon, this park will be getting a whole new identity soon. Though we don't know what the new name of this park will be or when it will take effect, it looks like the days of "Disney's Hollywood Studios" may be numbered as Disney continues to iron out details of this park's total reboot.
12. Star Wars Land is finally on the way
Star Wars Land has long been rumored for Disney’s Hollywood Studios, but it seems as though Disney is finally ready to move forward with the project. On a recent earnings report call with investors, Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that Disney is "developing designs for a far greater Star Wars presence in the parks," and added that, “When we grow Star Wars' presence, which we will do significantly, you will see better bets being made that will pay off for us than were made in the past." Iger stopped short of saying exactly what form this new expansion would take, but he did say that an announcement would be made in 2015 (likely at the D23 expo).
Plans for Star Wars Land were of course first teased at the D23 Expo back in 2013. At the time, it was believed that Disney was planning to include an indoor, more-fully-fleshed-out, audio-animatronic-equipped Jedi Training Academy, a Mos Eisley Cantina-themed restaurant, and possibly a larger, E-Ticket attraction to be added in a second phase.
However, there have been a number of delays, caused by a renewed focus on creating an experience that incorporates upcoming Star Wars movies as well as a desire to compete with nearby Diagon Alley.
Because of this, work on Star Wars Land will likely not begin until late 2015 (or perhaps early 2016) and guests probably won't be traveling to a galaxy far away until 2018 or 2019. Still, an announcement has been confirmed to be coming this year (probably at the D23 Expo), and hopefully we'll know more concrete information very soon.
11. A new theater for Disney's Hollywood Studios
In a linked developments have been filed for a brand new theater at Disney's Hollywood Studios to be constructed on Sunset Boulevard, next to the Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. Though we don't know what this new "flex space" theater will be used for, odds are that the construction of this new space is related to the imminent destruction of the Premiere Theater near the Streets of America and the possible destruction of the Superstar TV Theater (now known as the Hyperion Theater) around Echo Lake as a possible casualty as plans for Star Wars Land become final.