Earlier this week, Disney confirmed that attendance has slowed down at its US parks, at least during the opening months of 2016. However, the resort recently confirmed that it is forging ahead with some exciting new plans in anticipation of much higher crowds in the coming years, as the resort opens new expansions including Pandora: The World of Avatar, Toy Story Land, and eventually Star Wars Land, that will hopefully draw much bigger crowds in years to come.
Though getting to experience these new lands is certainly a big priority for guests, the newest projects that Disney is embarking on actually have nothing to do with new attractions, and everything to do with resort infrastructure, and making sure that guests are able to move around from the theme parks to their hotel to all points beyond as easily and efficiently as possible.
1. New transportation in and out of the Magic Kingdom
Earlier this week Disney filled permits with the South Florida Water Management District to redevelop World Drive. For those unfamiliar, World Drive is a major artery of Walt Disney World's transportation and is the road that brings guests past Disney's Hollywood Studios and the BoardWalk Resort, right up to the Magic Kingdom's Transportation and Ticket Center, before continuing past the Contemporary Resort and then tapering around far side of Fantasyland.
According to the recently filed permits, Walt Disney World will be adding a flyover ramp which will route traffic directly from World Drive so that guests heading for the resort-area hotels can bypass the Magic Kingdom parking plaza altogether. In the opposite direction, another newly-constructed flyover ramp will allow traffic heading from the Contemporary Resort side of World Drive to continue on World Drive beyond the Magic Kingdom parking plaza, directly en route to the BoardWalk Resort and Disney's Hollywood Studios.
In addition, Disney will be widening World Drive as well on both sides of the street, transforming the two-lane sections into three lanes and the three lane sections into four lanes. It has also been heavily rumored (though not explicitly confirmed by the recently-filed permits) that the parking toll booths at the front of the Magic Kingdom will also be replaced during this extensive roadwork.
Of course, the idea here is to remove pressure on World drive, which can seriously jam up during both the Magic Kingdom’s opening and closing, even during slower guest times. And during the holidays, guests that elect to leave the Magic Kingdom after Wishes (and while nearby Disney’s Hollywood Studios is also closing) are often unfortunately treated to a stationary view of the car in front of them for an hour or more while guests rush out of the theme parks.
Work on this massive new construction undertaking is projected to begin later this year, but considering the scale, it may be 2018 before all the construction on this road is finished. Then again, traffic improvements at Disney Springs only took a few months to complete, so perhaps we might be able to enjoy an easier trip to and from the Magic Kingdom in the near future. And though this seems like a big change, something even more dramatic is in the works at the Magic Kingdom’s next-door neighbor…