Orlando, Florida is home to a lot of great attractions, most notably Walt Disney World and Universal Studios. These two incredibly popular resorts are the homes to six amazing theme parks that welcome millions of vacationers every year. They’re use of theming around popular franchises set them apart from any other theme parks in the world. Right now though, these parks are in a bit of a lull, with several fan-favorite attractions being closed.
Obviously an entertainment juggernaut like Disney is still going to draw crowds. That creates more of a problem though with so many closed attractions. Disney World’s flagship park, The Magic Kingdom, is perhaps the only one in good shape right now, and even there some popular attractions will be periodically closed for routine refurbishments.
Animal Kingdom, a park with few attractions to begin with, has its popular water ride temporarily closed and, even in Florida, it isn’t drawing much of a crowd in the winter anyway.
Epcot has been hit pretty hard recently, permanently closing both Maelstrom and Captain EO in the past couple of years. Those are the easy ones for fans to overlook though. The hard part is that perennial people eater Soarin’ is currently undergoing a massive remodel that will see it closed until this summer.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios is probably in the worst shape of them all. While this park has a handful of very popular attractions, it has very little else to draw people away, creating very long lines for said attractions. The park has recently seen the popular Studio Backlot Tour close permanently, along with other small attractions and character meet and greets. Several stores and restaurants will also be closing within the next few months, as well as the Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids Movie Set Adventure.
Park goers looking for redemption at Universal Orlando will find very little. Universal Studios recently closed Twister, Disaster!, and the Beetlejuice Graveyard Revue. While these all seem like minor attractions, the combination of them all being close at the same time and all three of them being in the same section of the park, separated only by Revenge of the Mummy, gives the park an empty feeling. The popular attractions like Transformers and Diagon Alley get mobbed by crowds of people because there is simply no where else for them to go.
And if you hop aboard the Hogwarts Express and make your way over to Islands of Adventure, things don’t get much better. Arguably the best roller coaster in Orlando, The Incredible Hulk Coaster, has been closed for some time as it undergoes a complete overhaul that has seen a completely new track brought in. Throw in the fact that the park has three water rides, that are rendered completely useless in the winter, and you don’t have much to do over at Islands either.
But fear not theme park fans. The night is darkest just before the dawn. There is a reason that these parks are so bare right now. Or should I say, many reasons. Epcot will see Soarin’ double in size by this summer, as well as a brand new Frozen attraction opening in the place of Maelstrom.
Animal Kingdom is getting the long awaited Avatar land sometime in the near future. The incredible floating rock construction already has park goers in awe of this new section of the park. A new night time show, Rivers of Light, will also be added to the park, with an anticipated debut this spring.
Hollywood Studios will be undergoing the biggest transformation. While it is all going to take quite some time, this park could go from worst to first in terms of Disney park popularity. Everything that is closing in the near future is doing so in order to make room for two massive new themed areas. The first, is Toy Story land, which will bring the Pixar favorite to fans in a much bigger way than the park already did. A Slinky dog family coaster and alien spinning saucers are set to be the main attractions in this kid friendly new section.
The main attraction at DHS though is the highly anticipated Star Wars Land. Fans will step into a galaxy far, far away and really experience everything that the film franchise has to offer. The main attractions will include an opportunity to pilot the Millennium Falcon and another that will put guests in the middle of a battle between the First Order and the Resistance. Fans will also get to grab a drink at the famous cantina.
Universal Orlando isn’t going to let Disney have all of the fun. Universal Studios is set to open two exciting new attractions in the near future. Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon will be replacing Twister. The big one though, is the attraction based on the immensely popular Fast and Furious franchise that will be replacing Disaster and Beetlejuice.
Islands of Adventure will be reopening the Incredible Hulk soon as well as opening the innovative new attraction, Skull Island: Reign of Kong. The massive show building for the new ride has created quite a bit of hype and has fans counting down the days until it opens this summer.
The biggest upcoming addition to Universal won’t be at one of their existing parks though. That’s because the biggest addition is a park! That may not be official yet, but it seems to be the obvious answer to the question: what is Universal doing with all the land they just purchased? Universal just acquired 450 acres of new land and now they need something to fill it. A third park could be added within the next several years, bringing all kinds of exciting new attractions. It could even be the home to the inevitable Nintendo attractions set to be added to Universal.
Right now the theme parks in Orlando are in pretty rough shape, but it’s all with good reason. There are a lot of exciting things coming!