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Walt Disney World has a lot of new projects in the works. With Rivers of Light, Frozen Ever After and Soarin’ Around the World all debuting later this year, there’s certainly plenty of great things for Walt Disney World fans to be hyped up about in 2016. However, just because there are some high profile brand new attractions coming to Walt Disney World this year doesn’t mean that some of the resort’s most classic and best-loved attraction aren’t getting some much-deserved attention as well.

Somewhat surprisingly, Walt Disney World seems to have made it a priority this year to enhance existing attractions, and are making changes both big and small to ensure that you keep coming back to experience your favorite attractions again and again!

1. It’s a Small World gets plussed up with Storymaker

We’ve known about Walt Disney World's Storymaker feature for several years, but for a long time it seemed like the powers that be weren't going to pursue implementing this technology in the parks in any meaningful way. However, the resort surprised us all this week, when the screens in the goodbye finale room of It’s a Small World suddenly started displaying guests’ names in the most overt use of this technology yet.

While this doesn’t exactly change the fundamental experience of It's a Small World, being able to see your name in one of Disney’s classic attractions is certainly a fun addition and is a great way to roll out the Storymaker technology in a simple way. Though this technology has only been working intermittently during its first few days (we boarded It’s a Small World several times this week and it worked on about half of our rides), we’d imagine as the kinks get worked out on this experience, Storymaker will get worked in even more around Walt Disney World. 

Though it has taken a little longer for this technology to get off the ground at Walt Disney World than we initially had hoped, it’s implementation at It’s a Small World has us excited for future uses around the resort. When MyMagic+ and My Disney Experience first came on the scene, Disney asked us to dream of a day when Mickey could call guests by name. Hopefully we're getting closer to that. 

2. A new finale is on its way for Big Thunder Mountain

We’ve been keeping an eye on 2016’s Big Thunder Mountain refurbishment since last year, and for good reason. Like Pirates of the Caribbean in 2015, the Big Thunder Mountain refurbishment of 2016 will last several months and bring big, noticeable changes to the ride.

Though this refurbishment was originally scheduled for the first half of 2016, Disney recently shuffled their schedule to move it to the back half of the year, with the ride now going down in August, and reopening to guests in mid-November.

While we previously weren’t too sure about what changes were coming to this classic ride, several sources have confirmed that this ride is indeed getting some technical upgrades, and the “finale” of the ride is getting a complete re-do, complete with projection technology.  While Walt Disney World won’t be carbon-copying the effects from the recent refurbishment of Big Thunder Mountain at Disneyland, guests can expect very similar changes to be in place by the time the end of the fall comes around. 

Image: Disney

While Big Thunder Mountain would probably be a hit no matter what state it was in, it’s great that Disney is taking the time to give this attraction the attention it clearly deserves and is committed to improving this attraction the same way they did (well, for the most part) with Pirates of the Caribbean last year. 

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I am told the refurbishment of Big Thunder Mountain is due from August 8th throught November 18th 2016. Perfect as travelling over from the UK on the 26th November so should be completed just in time - but this is Disney we're talking about so delays are possible :-(

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