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Though Walt Disney World may have been accused of standing still in the face of growing competition from Universal Orlando Resort, 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 15 of the biggest updates that are in store for Walt Disney World as of June 2015.

15. A new Jungle Crusie restaurant comes to the Magic Kingdom

Back in February, permits were filed to convert the Liberty Tree Tavern restaurant kitchen into a facility that would support not one but two restaurants. Many hoped that this was a signal indicating the return of the classic Magic Kingdom opening day restaurant, Adventureland Veranda (which had been turned into a Fairies meet and greet in recent years). 

However, new information has surfaced that indicates that this former restaurant space is being converted into a brand new restaurant experience themed around the nearby Jungle Cruise attraction. Reportedly named "Skipper's Cantina", this highly-themed new dining establishment will be "run" by Jungle Crusie skippers who are picking up extra shifts. 

Though this location has not been formally announced by Walt Disney World, we are expecting to hear details about this new dining experience soon as the refurbishment of the Liberty Tree Taven kitchen is expected to wrap up in the next few months, with work on the actual restaurant interior ongoing. 

14. Wilderness Lodge gets a massive facelift and expansion

With the completion of the expansion of the Polynesian Village Resort in 2015, it looks like Disney's Wilderness Lodge is the next hotel to get a major refurbishmentLast month several permits were filed that show several DVC-only bungalows being added  to the hotel's beach area (similar to what we've already seen at Disney's Polynesian Village Resort) as well as new restaurants and a big pool refurbishment in the works.

Although permits for all these changes have been filed, we are still waiting on a formal announcement detailing all these changes officially. 

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, the days of "Disney's Hollywood Studios" are 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 next month).

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 sometime in 2015, 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. 

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Comments

I don't understand all this stuff that was not originally Disney, like Avatar. Why don't they have some kind of attractions with some of their lesser appreciated, but still great movies, like TREASURE PLANET OR JOHN CARTER. Or maybe some of their other movies, like 101 DALMATIONS, LADY AND THE TRAMP, THE ARISTOCATS or TARZAN? This is what I don't get, that some of the classic Disney movies are not even represented at the parks. My daughters had a great idea for the House of Mouse cartoon. They said that Disney World should have a restaurant themed like the cartoon. But, they keep coming up with stuff that does not even pertain the actual Disney movies or cartoons. I love Disney World, but there are some attractions that I don't even bother with.

Well-it looks like Hollywood Studios is going to become " Pixarwood Studios". I'm now referring people to Universal Studios Florida and Sea World instead of Disney World. Disney World USED to be unique and exciting,until Iger took over. Now it's just about Pixar,Star Wars, Pixar, Frozen,Pixar, thrill rides,and Pixar Pixar Pixar Pixar Pixar Pixar Pixar. Next thing you know,Pixar will take over Magic Kingdom,Animal Kingdom and EPCOT. We'll see things like " Up: The Ride"..."Wall-E's Mission Space", "Incredibles: The Ride", "Lightning McQueen's Test Track", "Dug & Russell's Small World", "Flik's Bug-amanjaro Safaris", Remy Rat's France area,etc.

None of these changes are too great for all the money they are spending which will be passed onto us. Star Wars permanently???? Avatar??? Let's invest in the true Disney type expansions with the classics . The prices have skyrocketed over the last few years . We used to go every year for 20 years but have not been able to afford it for the last 5 years. There is no place as wonderful as Disney but I wish they would keep it a family friendly park based around Disney not new companies they squire!

Most of the changes look great to me except for Toy Story Playland. It's description reminds me of Dino-Rama at Animal Kingdom, which features a few small, carnival style attractions tied together with a unified theme. I don't go to WDW to experience outdoor carnival rides. Immersive experiences should be the focus. There are more than enough cheap carnival ride clones at WDW already. I really hope they implement something better than that Playland in the huge space that used to be the Backstage Studio Tour. That park badly needs significant upgrades almost everywhere.

Glad for all the changes for Disney ,put with changes comes increase in prices to cover those changes ,they have out-priced themselves as the average family is finding it difficult to go to Disney land as a family of 4 was over $460 US basis admission then the treats and lunch & supper ,everything is far to pricey there and had more fun at the Hotspot do not care if Walt was buried or cremated he was a great man ,

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