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.
August's update on the changes coming to Walt Disney World includes a brand new rumor about a possible expansion of Frontierland at the Magic Kingdom. Plus we have some small updates of the status of One Man's Dream at Disney's Hollywood Studios, a few new tidbits about Disney Springs (including when Downtown Disney will officially be retired as this shopping district's official name) and some updated information about the changes coming to Disney's Hollywood Studios in the very near future.
16. Could an expansion for Frontierland be in the works?
Late last month, rumors started appearing that indicated that the Magic Kingdom could be getting another expansion. Though New Fantasyland was just completed last year with the opening of the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, inside sources are saying that a new E-ticket attraction is being planned for Frontierland and could be built next to Thunder Mountain. Though this rumor is still in a very early "Blue Sky" stage, if such a plan is actually being put together we'd imagine Disney wouldn't wait too long to confirm it, especially as work wraps up on the expanded hub at the center of the park.
15. A new Jungle Cruise 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 Cruise 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 (possibly as soon as the D23 Expo). Construction on the location for this restaurant has ramped up in recent weeks, with Tiana and Naveen evicted from their gazebo meet and greet (which is right behind where this restaurant will be) due to construction noise.
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 in line to get a major refurbishment. In July, Disney finally confirmed this development by sending out letters to guests with reservations at this hotel with information about what changes to expect both in the long-term as well as during their stay.
Among the highlights from guest letter is confirmation that this refurbishment will kick off later this year and it set to be complete by 2017. It was also revealed that the Hidden Springs leisure pool is being upgraded into a full size pool complete with a larger deck as well as a hot tub area.
However, permits filed back in May show that there are even more changes coming to this resort, including DVC bungalows on the water, similar to what has been constructed at Disney's Polynesian Resort.
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, one thing is for sure: the days of "Disney's Hollywood Studios" are numbered.
In preperation for this new identity, many of the park's attractions have been shuttered in the past 18 months, including The American Idol Experience, The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, The Studio Backlot Tour, and most recently The Magic of Disney Animation. Though we don't have official confirmation yet, attractions Voyage of the Little Mermaid and One Man's Dream are also expected to close in the very near future as this park gets ready for its total reboot. Props have already started disappearing from One Man's Dream in preparation for its removal, although no firm closing date has been announced yet.
We are expecting to learn much more about the future of Disney's Hollywood Studios at this weekend's D23 Expo 2015.