Change is constant at Walt Disney World, and for this winter's update on all of the big things happening around the resort we take a look at some of the big additions coming to the resort over the next five years, including new lands, hotels, and more as Disney continues to spend billions of dollars (according to the New York Times) on its domestic parks in the next five years.
1. Star Wars: Galaxy's Edge coming in less than a year
Work is well underway on Star Wars Land at Disney's Hollywood Studios, and Disney announced in early 2017 that Star Wars-themed lands at both Disneyland park and Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be opening in 2019. And then earlier this year it was confirmed that the east coast version of this new land would be opening in late 2019, after the west coast version at Disneyland park would be opening earlier in the year.
The first of two planned rides for this new area will be Millennium Falcon: Smuggler's Runa flight simulator ride that allows guests to “take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, on a customized secret mission”.
Interestingly, guests who experience this attraction won’t just be tagging along for a ride (like they currently do on Star Tours) but will actually be piloting the Millennium Falcon themselves! Guests will be able to turn, bank and even fire weapons in this still-unnamed simulation-style experience.
The second ride, Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, will be more of a classic dark ride that will use a motion base ride vehicle to move riders through scenes with screens (similar to what guests currently experience at The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure) on an adventure that will involve the First Order.
In addition to the two new rides, there will also be a new intergalactic cantina restaurant, a high-end "dinner club" and plenty of opportunities to interact with "in character" cast members (similar to the experiences guests have with in character team members over at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter).
2. The World Showcase gets reimagined with new rides, shows, and more that celebrate characters and IPs
Though the World Showcase was free of character-based rides until the 2016 opening of Frozen Ever After, the runaway success of this attraction has changed the course of this area of Epcot forever. In summer 2017 it was confirmed that Disney was planning on cloning one of the most popular attractions at the Disneyland Paris Resort and bringing it to Epcot: the Ratatouille: L'Aventure Totalement Toquée de Rémy ride.While Ratatouille hasn’t exactly had the cultural relevance that other Pixar films like Toy Story or Up have had in the past decade, this addition does make sense in the context of the France pavilion, and since the attraction already exists at the Disneyland Paris Resort, Disney is likely thinking they save time and money by building a copy of a pre-existing attraction here.
Construction has already gone vertical on the show building for this new attraction, and while Disney has yet to announce an official opening date, several inside sources are suggesting that Disney is targeting an early 2020 opening for this new attraction.
In addition to A new Beauty and the Beast sing-along attraction is coming to Epcot's France pavilion, and will play in the theater that is currently home to “Impressions de France” (this new show will play in addition to the French film). Over the next few years, new films are also coming to the Canada and China pavilions as well.
But perhaps the biggest change coming to the World Showcase in the near future is the end of IllumiNations: Reflection of Earth in 2019. Though a temporary show will debut next fall showcasing the history of Epcot, this park's permanent new offering (coming in 2020) will be a new character-focused show called “A Celebration of Disney Music.”
This new nighttime entertainment offering will show how Disney music inspires people around the globe, and will feature large floating set pieces, custom-built LED panels, kites with special effects, choreographed moving fountains, lights, pyrotechnics, and lasers. Confirmed Disney IPs that will be featured in this new production include Coco, Hercules, and Moana, and will likely complete Disney's transformation of the World Showcase into a new, character-focused area with more emphasis on IPs.