Walt Disney World is known as the happiest place on earth for a reason. At its four parks you'll find dozens of great attractions, some based on popular Disney-owned properties, some inspired by history and science, and others that are entirely unique to the parks. For years, Disney has done a little building here and there. The past couple of years though, Disney has been picking up the pace building-wise. After finishing their Disney princess inspired expansion in the Magic Kingdom back in 2014, the "Imagineers" (Disney's team of theme park engineers) set out designing new expansions for Disney's other 3 parks. These include the integration of 4 million/billion dollar properties that we all love.
Avatar Land (Expected in 2017)
Disney's Animal Kingdom hasn't necessarily been its most popular park since it opened back in the late '90s. This is partly due to the fact that it tends to close around 6 or 7 o'clock in the evening. Disney is putting an end to that.
Starting in April 2016, Animal Kingdom will role out new night-time activities including a water and light show and a night-time version of its popular safari ride. However, this is all build-up to a major film-inspired expansion. You'll be able to step into the world of James Cameron's Avatar starting sometime in 2017. This section of the park will feature rides on the movie's banshee creatures as well as a boat ride through Avatar's beautiful locals. At night the plants and paths will illuminate the darkness as they do in the movie. I can't wait to check this expansion out after it's completion next year!
Star Wars Land (Expected to arrive between 2019 and 2020)
Disney's Hollywood Studios has always featured rides inspired by properties that didn't quite fit into the Magic Kingdom. Lately though, it's been gutted for more space. Disney is planning two new expansions for the park based on two of its most popular and profitable franchises. The first is a Star Wars inspired land that will feature new attractions, shops, and restaurants as well as an interactive Star Wars world to explore. The new attractions include a ride that allows you to fly the Millinium Falcon while the other puts you in the center of a battle between the Resistance and the First Order. This will undoubtedly make Hollywood Studios one of Disney's most popular parks.
Toy Story Land (Expected ....?)
Disney and Pixar pretty much own the children's movie market. Back in the '90s, Pixar enamoured us with a story about your toys and how something like moving home can be extremely traumatic for them. Toy Story is not only popular among kids seeing it for the first time, but it also tends to draw us 'old' people who've been seeing Pixar films since we were in diapers. Now Disney's Hollywood Studios is planning an expansion that will 'shrink you to the size of a toy' and allow you to pal around with Andy's collection of toys. The little green aliens will take you on a flying saucer ride, then you can head over and ride the family-friendly Slinky-Dog roller-coaster. This type of expansion is perfect for Disney as it will draw the children of today as well as the children of the '90s.
Frozen (Expected May 1st 2016)
Many Disney World fans (including myself) weren't thrilled to hear that the famous Epcot World Showcase would be the home of Frozen in Disney's parks. However, after thought and consideration, I'm very excited for this expansion. Why? Because Epcot is Disney's most 'grown up' park. It's based on learning, world culture, science, and innovation. Still, there's always children there who aren't particularly happy to be in the learning park when the Magic Kingdom is just up the road.
This new Frozen themed water ride and character meet and greet area should draw all of the kiddos to the Norway section of the world showcase, leaving rides like Soarin' and other World Showcase countries less crowded. Plus, it would hurt to ride Frozen Even After just once. I promise not to sing along. (I lied. That's a promise I can't and won't keep.)
Disney World is famous all over the globe for allowing guests to step into the Disney properties they love. In the next few years, Disney will be adding more and more such properties to draw us in. Franchises like Star Wars and Avatar will no doubt further solidify Disney's top position in the theme park world.
Which Disney property needs a presence in the parks? Tell us in the comments section!