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The 9 Big Updates From Walt Disney World (And Beyond) This Week (February 8-14)

This week at Walt Disney World, new permits show what an upcoming attraction could look like, a popular event at Disney’s Hollywood Studios gets a huge upcharge, plus Epcot’s Future World confirms plans to begin closing some attractions early.

Outside Walt Disney World, Universal launches a new viral marketing campaign, Busch Gardens confirms new details for an upcoming event plus SeaWorld releases some of its freshwater residents back into the wild!

1. Permits show route of attraction of Na’Vi River Journey attraction

Image: South Flordia Water Management District

As work continues at Disney’s Animal Kingdom on Pandora: The World of Avatar, some recently filed plans with the South Florida Water Management District have surfaced and appear to show the ride layout for the Na'vi River Journey attraction. Based on the images in the permit, this river ride would appear to be quite lengthly, with the straight section of blue likely being the load/unload area, (the offshoot to the far right seems like the perfect spot for a maintenance bay). The structure of the blue ride area seems to confirm the rumor that this will be an entirely indoor ride (like Pirates of the Caribbean), instead of an indoor/outdoor hybrid (like the Jungle Cruise).  Though no opening date has been officially set, this ride is expected to open with the rest of Pandora: The World of Avatar next year.

2. Rivers of Light gets new concept art

Image: Disney

Meanwhile, turning towards the more immediate future of Disney’s Animal Kingdom, Disney has released another piece of concept art for the Rivers of Light show, which is largely expected to debut in April. The highlight of this new concept art is the multiple animal-shaped barges and projections on sailboats that appear around the lagoon. The lotus-shaped fountain that appeared in the previous concept art is also featured again in this new image.

3. Club Villain gets extension and price hike 

Club Villain has proved to be quite the smashing success at the Sunset Showcase theater (unlike Club Disney) and while this dinner show was originally supposed to only run through February, Disney has gone ahead and extended the run of this popular upcharge experience through March.

However, this good news comes with a bit of a caveat: guests who book this event for new dates in March will have to pay more. Though this was already a pricy experience at $99 per person, the exact same event will now cost guests $129 each to attend. Though we’d be a little more understanding if there were some changes being made to justify the upcharge, the $30 price increase will not include any additional extras.

4. Epcot’s Future World sees reduced hours 

It was announced this week that several attractions and shops at Epcot will be operating reduced hours beginning today and lasting until further notice. Here’s a run-down of all the changes:

  • Disney Pixar Short Film Festival: will now close at 7pm instead of its previous 9pm close
  • Journey into Imagination: Will now close at 7PM instead of its previous 9PM close.
  • Agent P's World Showcase Adventure: Will now close at 6pm, from its previous 8:15pm close
  • The Living with the Land: Now closes at 7PM daily, instead of at 9pm. 

5. Disney TAG shop announced

The Marketplace Co-Op at Disney Springs will soon be switching out the Zoey and Pickles youth clothing shop for a new shop focused on Disney Travel-Accessories and Gear. Known as TAG, you can check out a few of the products that will be available at this new shop above. 

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Erin Ryder is not a fictional character. She is a producer and on air talent for several exploration shows including Destination Truth with Josh Gates. I am pretty excited to see her on her own even if it's for short promo materials!

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