Though construction at Walt Disney World has always moved at its own pace, it has become painfully obvious in recent years how long Walt Disney World projects can take when compared with those under construction at nearby Universal Orlando Resort. 

While small delays and construction timetable changes are a natural part of the construction process, these three particular projects have seen the most adjustementto their original opening dates, falling victim to the rapidly changing landscape at Walt Disney World. As the resort prepares to deal with the complete gutting and rebuilding of Disney’s Hollywood Studios as well as an influx of guests in 2016 thanks to Frozen Ever After, priorities and construction timetables have shifted considerably, resulting in some severe schedule changes.. 

1. Pandora: The World of Avatar

Official opening target date: Early 2017

Park: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Status: Delayed

It’s hard to believe, but it has been nearly four years since the Avatar project was announced for Disney’s Animal Kingdom. While there was no projected opening date when Pandora: The World of Avatar was first unveiled back in 2011, the past four years have seen quite a few stops and starts on the way to bringing this new land from fantasy intto reality. Though ground was finally broken in 2014, construction on this new themed land has been slow.

While Disney’s official projected opening target remains early 2017, most insiders agree that there is simply no way that this new themed area will be ready to receive guests by this deadline. We don’t know what Disney’s internal timetables look like, but it seems likely that the project is at least six months behind schedule, with some insiders even suggesting that Avatar is as much as eight or nine months behind. 

Though sources disagree on exactly how far behind this project is, either a late 2017 or even early 2018 opening seems much more likely than the early 2017 official opening date that is currently projected. 

2. Rivers of Light

Official opening target date: Early 2017

Park: Disney’s Animal Kingdom

Status: Accelerated

Though Rivers of Light was originally slated to debut alongside Pandora: The World of Avatar, sources have said that work on this project has accelerated to help offset the aforementioned delays for the Pandora project. Progress on this new nighttime show has been humming along, with construction visibly continuing around the Tree of Life. Beyond the work being done on show structures, lighting and sound tests for this project have been also taking place in the past few weeks, suggesting that development on this show is quite far along. 

While we wouldn’t imagine that this show could debut in 2015, it looks like Rivers of Light could open several months early in 2016. Ultimately, it might be better for Rivers of Light to open before Pandora, as it will create a “phased” opening for the new attractions at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, with the nighttime Kilimanjaro Safaris going first (debuting either late this year or in early 2016, according to most sources), Rivers of Light opening next and then Pandora going last.

This type of phased opening will help spread out crowds over the course of the next two years and will keep the park from getting overcrowded too quickly due to too many new attractions opening in a very short amount of time.



I was hearing that at first, Avatar was behind schedule, but now it's back on track, or close to that. It's not six months behind. They've just started to put up one of the mountains (the one on the left in the concept art I believed),

I was hearing that at first, Avatar was behind schedule, but now it's back on track, or close to that. It's not six months behind. They've just started to put up one of the mountains (the one on the left in the concept art I believed),

We have a 5-year old daughter do anything with Frozen is what we love! We just were at WDW last month and loved the Frozen stuff at Hollywood Studios! We purchased the Premium Frozen Package and had an absolute blast! I'm trying to find a cheap flight in August so we can do it again!!

I read so many articles here comparing the growth, popularity of Disney vs. Universal and I consistently see that Universal does it more quickly. From all that I can gather, though, Disney has never stopped being a leader in doing things with complete thoroughness. While I don't love some of their choices (Avatar was not great enough for them to build a huge area for), Disney continues to be 100% immersive.

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