This week at Walt Disney World, yet another section of Disney's Hollywood Studios is closed off, a new character experience is confirmed for the Star Wars Launch Bay, plus Disney announces big expansions at two of its most popular resorts.
Outside Walt Disney World, Universal Orlando Resort raises its ticket prices, a new shop opens at Universal Studios Florida, plus LEGOLAND announces a new event to celebrate the release of The LEGO Batman Movie.
1. Disney's Hollywood Studios closes side entrance
Bad news this week for guests who liked to walk up to the gate at Disney's Hollywood Studios instead of take the tram: effective immediately the secondary sidewalk entrance that is right next to Guest Relations is now unavailable for arriving guests. All guests are now being directed to the main security screening area in-front of the turnstiles, which means if you choose to walk you'll now have to navigate around the bus loop before entering.
2. Disney files permits to construct new Skyway-style transportation option
Earlier this week WDWMagic forum users uncovered a number of permits that suggest a gondola transportation system (similar to the Skyway that used to transport guests around the Magic Kingdom, but potentially with enclosed capsules, like those that are used in New York City to transport tourists to Roosevelt Island) could be in the works for the resort. According to these permits, the plan would be for this elevated transportation system to service Epcot, Disney’s Hollywood Studios, the Caribbean Beach Resort, and Art of Animation (and neighbor Pop Century as well). You can see a (potential) route for this proposed new transportation system above, and read more about this developing story here.
3. BB-8 to begin meeting guests this spring at the Star Wars Launch Bay
Disney has announced that beginning this spring, BB-8 will begin meeting guests at the Star Wars Launch Bay. This fan favorite droid will have its own space, as Kylo Ren and Chewbacca will continue to meet guests at the Star Wars Launch Bay as well.
4. 15-story tower expansion coming to Disney's Coronado Springs Resort in 2019
Though an expansion for the Coronado Springs Resort had been rumored for some time, Disney confirmed this week that they will be adding a 15-story tower that will add 500 guest rooms, including suites and concierge level services, to the resort. In addition, this new building will include rooftop dining options with theme park and waterfront views.
Construction on this new tower, which will be located near the main entrance, is expected to kick off in the next few weeks, with the project slated to finish sometime in 2019, likely just in time for the opening of Star Wars Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios.
5. Caribbean Beach resort expansion confirmed as well
In addition to the Coronado Springs announcement, Disney also confirmed this week that the Caribbean Beach Resort would will be "reimagined" in the coming years, with new additions to the resort’s current marketplace, Centertown, including new waterfront dining and retail shopping areas being constructed in the in the near future. Interestingly, this announcement was made right after the aforementioned plans for a Skyway-style transportation system, seemingly lending some credence to this rumor.