Walt Disney World has had a crazy 2016, not only with the opening of new rides, restaurants and shops all around the resort, but also the closing of the Main Street Electrical Parade, lackluster summer attendance, and the surprise appearance of Hurricane Matthew.

However, even though we’re heading into the home stretch of this insane year, there are a lot more things that we are expecting to happen at Walt Disney World over the course of the next 11 weeks, including new attraction openings, as well as some major milestones we feel like we have been waiting forever for! 

1. The Rivers of Light nighttime spectacular finally opens at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Rivers of Light

Image: Disney 

Just last month we reported that Disney's Animal Kingdom park operations had taken over putting the finishing touches on Rivers of Light, which suggested that whatever technical issues that were responsible for the delay in the opening of this attraction had finally been solved. And in another good sign for fans impatiently waiting for this show to open, in the weeks since this exciting development was revealed, extensive float, lighting and sound tests have been going on both after hours and during regular park operation in preparation for this attraction's opening.

As you might expect, Disney is still being a little bit cautious when it comes to announcing a firm opening date for this new show (especially considering their last-minute delay back in spring 2016), but now that we know that this show is basically fully operational, there's no way that Disney will until 2017 to debut this show, especially since next year will see the opening of Pandora: The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom, and Rivers of Light definitely needs to be open by then. 

Image: Disney

We should know more about Rivers of Light's opening very soon, as it looks like wait is finally almost over for this much-anticipated show, which is one of the most ambitious nighttime spectaculars ever created for a Disney park, anywhere. Insiders are suggesting that plans for VIP showings as well as soft openings are coming together right now, and some very lucky guests may be among the first to see this new show in the next few weeks as Disney gets this show ready for a technical rehearsal period said to kick off in the near future.

2. Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land break ground at Disney’s Hollywood Studios

Though it seems like we've been waiting all year for this development, it looks like Disney is finally ready to break ground on the two big long-term projects happening at Disney's Hollywood Studios: Star Wars Land and Toy Story Land. Over the past few weeks, demolition on the various walled off areas of Disney’s Hollywood Studios has really ramped up (you can see some pictures here), with the most noticeable changes being that of the former Streets of America area, as well as the facades that used to hide the Studio Backlot Tour, are now almost completely gone.

With the land finally cleared to make way for both of these projects, an official groundbreaking is expected to happen in the next few weeks. We don't know if Disney will have another extensive ceremony (like they did for Pandora: The World of Avatar, which featured some truly massive shovels), with the D23: Destination D event around the corner, we wouldn't be surprised if something official takes place in the next few weeks. 


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