News from D23 Expo

Big changes are in store for the Walt Disney World property and some are coming soon. If you’re a fan of present day Hollywood Studios, you might want to check out the park before your favorites disappear. The park is expecting major overhauls in the next few years.


Disney Hollywood Studios:

Star Wars Land will slowly start making its presence felt in the parks. Starting later this year, a new scene with characters from The Force Awakens will appear in Star Tours at Hollywood Studios. The Jedi Training Academy will be expanded and will feature more Star Wars Rebels characters and themes.

A Star Wars Launch Bay with interactive elements to bring fans closer to the experience should start appearing around the end of the year. Props and costumes from the new films will be featured. Opportunities to meet and greet characters along with dining and shopping experiences will all be located in the Animation Courtyard.


SW Launch Bay

Season of the Force will also bring more exclusive activities in early 2016 such as a new Star Wars themed fireworks display. No word whether this is replacing or in addition to Star Wars Weekends in May.

The Star Wars development will be the largest in Disney parks history, topping off at 14 acres of land. The space is dubbed as a “never before seen planet” complete with two major attractions. Guests will be able to pilot the Millennium Falcon in one experience and take on the villainous First Order in the other. There will be various dining, shopping and other character interactions throughout the land. Dates and locations of the expansion were not released.


Slinky Dog


Hollywood Studios will also see an 11 acre Toy Story Land. Guests will be shrunk down to “toy size” for adventure in Andy’s backyard. The area will include a Slinky Dog roller coaster (think Goofy’s Barnstormer) and a spinner ride complete with saucers, space aliens and a claw that will hover over guests. Toy Story Midway Mania is also receiving an additional track.

The big surprise… Disney’s Hollywood Studios is keeping its name for now.


Disney’s Animal Kingdom:


River of Life

Moving on to Disney’s Animal Kingdom, expect to see more nighttime activities. The nocturnal hyneas and African wild dogs will be added to the Kilimanjaro Safaris for sunset tours. The previously announced Rivers of Life nighttime show will center around the Tree of Life and utilize elements of light and water.

Pandora (aka Avatar Land) now has an expected opening date of 2017. The main attraction, Flights of Passage, will take guests on a journey (ala Soarin’) on a Banshee over the world of Avatar. A boat ride will also offer guests another viewpoint of Pandora.


Soarin’ is getting a new film called Soarin’ Around the World with new locations of famous natural and man-made sites across the globe.

Frozen fever will continue to expand in Epcot’s Norway with the new Frozen After Ever attraction. The additional Royal Sommerhaus will provide opportunities for guests to meet and greet Anna and Elsa.

Frozen Ever After


Magic Kingdom:

Skipper Restaurant

The Magic Kingdom will get a table service in Adventureland. The Jungle Cruise restaurant now deemed the Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen. It will include a crew mess hall and “a once-hidden secret meeting room of the famed Society of Explorers and Adventurers.” The restaurant is expected to open late 2015.



Plenty of changes and construction are in the future for the Walt Disney World area. With all the new plans in place, it is an exciting time to be fan of the parks.

Theresa Carlson

Theresa has been a life-long Disney fan since she first visited the Magic Kingdom in 1985 at the age of 3. According to her mother, she squealed with excitement when she saw Winnie the Pooh and Chip n' Dale for the first time. That love for Disney has not died as she grew up. She continues to be fascinated with the history of EPCOT Center and maintains the radio station, Kungaloosh Radio on TuneIn Radio.

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