This week at Walt Disney World, Permits are filed for a major new project, some changes are announced for Disney Springs, plus Disney's Animal Kingdom gets some adorable new additions!

Outside Walt Disney World, we have a trio of updates from Universal Orlando Resort, including testing for a new digital FastPass-style system, the announcement of a new guest for A Celebration of Harry Potter, plus the release of a unique video related to the upcoming Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon attraction. 

1. Permits filed for expansion at Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort

Last year, eagle-eyed guests spied height balloons at Disney's Caribbean Beach resort, implying that Disney was planning a construction project for this resort sometime soon. And while it has not been formally announced, Disney has filed permits this week that will see the addition of 7 new buildings, including one large multi-level building that will occupy land where the Barbados village of the resort currently sites, which could indicate that this part of the resort will be demolished soon to make way for the expansion. 

Work on this new expansion project is planned to begin in 2017, with completion tentatively set for 2019. A number of Disney Vacation Club villas will likely be a part of this new expansion, but we'll have to wait for official confirmation from Disney before we know for sure.

2. The Characters in Flight balloon gets a redesign (and removes the characters)

Image: John Frost, Flickr (license)

After a brief refurbishment earlier this month, the Characters in Flight balloon at Disney Springs debuted a new look that is designed to fit more in line with the overall Disney Springs style. And interestingly, it looks like that style is one that is actually devoid of Disney characters!

Though Characters in Flight has gone through a number of different looks over the years, it has always featured larger than life characters. However, as you can see above, guests around Disney Springs will no longer be able to see these characters "flying" up ahead when this attraction ascends to the sky. 

While some may lament the removal of Disney characters from this attraction, Disney Springs seems to be targeting a more general (and not specifically Disney) look with its newest projects, and this is likely an extension of that. 

3. Baby otters debut on Discovery Island at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Image: Disney 

On Wednesday, January 18, three Asian small-clawed otter pups entered their habitat near the Tree of Life for the very first time. The pups have been growing and bonding with their parents in backstage areas at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park for a few months, and now they can be seen scurrying around on land and swimming under water. Be sure to keep in mind that the otters are being introduced to their new habitat slowly, so they may not always be visible to Guests visiting the park.


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