What an exciting weekend for Disney news! While I wasn’t one of the lucky ones who got the news first hand at the D23 Expo, I had a great time following along from home. So, what’s in store for the future? Let’s look at the upcoming treats in my best guess of chronological order!
Later this year, the Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen restaurant is scheduled to open in Adventureland at the Magic Kingdom. This new dining option will be staffed by Jungle Cruise Skippers and will offer several distinct dining rooms, including the “once-hidden secret meeting room of the famed Society of Explorers and Adventurers.” Disney fans are hoping this heralds the return of the much missed Adventurers Club!
In both Disneyland and Hollywood Studios, you’ll be able to visit the Star Wars Launch Bay to get a look behind the scenes of the new Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens movie. It will also include character meets, merchandise and refreshments. Star Tours will also be getting a new storyline inspired by the new movie (on both coasts). And the Jedi Training Academy will be refreshed adding characters from the animated Star Wars Rebels.
Early 2016 brings us the Season of the Force seasonal event (maybe replacing or expanding Star Wars Weekends?) on both coasts. Disneyland’s Tomorrowland will have a Star Wars theme and a Star Wars overlay of Space Mountain into Hyperspace Mountain, taking you through an X-Wing space fight. Disney’s Hollywood Studios will get a new Star Wars themed fireworks show on weekend nights!
2016 also will be the year that we get to see Soarin’ Around the World on both coasts. Instead of just sharing the beauty of California, Soarin’ Around the World will take guests through the beauty of both the natural and man-made world. I’m really excited about this one!
Spring 2016 expands Animal Kingdom’s offerings beyond sunset with two new offerings. Rivers of Light will be a nighttime show, celebrating life itself. According to the Disney Parks Blog, it will include “live performers, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery”. I’m imagining something like Illuminations with curtains of fog, water, fire and light, on the Discovery River between Discovery Island and Expedition Everest, but without fireworks (to protect the animals).
Kilimanjaro Safaris will also be adding on a nighttime adventure called “Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris” where the savanna will be lit with a lingering sunset glow into the night and guests will discover two new species, African wild dogs and hyenas.
I loved that Animal Kingdom will be using magical fireflies as the cohesive theme to represent the transformation from the fast pace of daytime in the park to the more gentle and calm pace of nighttime.
During both the Wine & Dine Half Marathon and the (now defunct) Expedition Everest Challenge, I’ve had the treat of being inside Animal Kingdom after dark and it truly is a completely different experience. Riding down the Kali River Rapids (during the after-party) in the dark is distinctly spooky! And riding Expedition Everest in the dark feels even more authentic and somehow much faster! The park’s existing lighting is colorful and enchanting. I can’t wait to explore after dark again, especially with the new attractions. Animal Kingdom’s construction will be coming to fruition soon with the opening of Pandora – The World of AVATAR. This new land will immerse you in the other-worldly beauty of Pandora. On AVATAR Flight of Passage, you’ll truly feel like you are taking your first flight on your own thrilling right of passage on a Banshee over the alien landscape. There will also be a more relaxing boat ride for those who want a more mellow adventure, gliding through the bioluminescent rainforest.
The world itself will become bioluminescent at night, which will allow all guests to be immersed in Pandora – The World of AVATAR.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is a big winner with a transformation from the park being a behind the scenes experience into a more immersive actually being a part of the story experience. One exciting change will be the addition of Toy Story Land, inspired by the success of Cars Land at Disneyland. Toy Story Land will include an expansion of the existing Toy Story Midway Mania! with a third track so more guests can enjoy the ride; an alien saucers ride where little green aliens will spin you around (maybe like the tea cups?); and a new coaster! The new “family-friendly” coaster built by Andy with his mega-coaster play kit will let you ride on Slinky Dog and according to the concept art, will mostly be an outdoor ride.
I love that Disney is inspired by their success with Cars Land because they did an outstanding job there. If Toy Story Land recreates Andy’s backyard (you’ll be shrunk to the size of a toy!) the same way that Cars Land recreated the movie, this expansion will be well worth waiting for!
Star Wars themed lands (14 acres each!) will be added to both Disneyland and Disney’s Hollywood Studios. According to the Disney Parks Blog, Star Wars Land will take us “to a never-before-seen planet, a remote trading port and one of the last stops before wild space where Star Wars characters and their stories come to life.”
There will be two E-ticket rides in this new land, one of which will allow you to take the controls of the Millennium Falcon.
The other was described as “an epic Star Wars adventure that puts guests in the middle of a climactic battle.” I’m not sure what that means, but I’m hoping for another coaster! And of course, I hope that this announcement is setting the stage for an East Coast runDisney Star Wars race series (a night-time race with a Dark Side theme) and even a special Coast 2 Coast medal. A girl can wish, right?!?
So, which addition are you looking forward to the most?
If you want to be the first to hear the most up-to date Disney Parks news, make sure to visit the Disney Parks Blog!