5 Significant Changes Coming to Walt Disney World


Christy Caby

Sometimes change can be a little unsettling, but typically at Walt Disney World it means that new and innovative lands and attractions are on the way.  In this case, all of these changes are exciting and will mean and lot of great new experiences at Walt Disney World for guests to enjoy.  Here are 5 significant changes coming to Walt Disney World:


  1. Pandora: World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Summer 2017

This has been a much anticipated new expansion at Disney’s Animal Kingdom.  This new land was announced in 2011, and began construction in 2013.  There have been various setbacks and delays, but Disney has announced that they expect the land to finally open in the summer of 2017.  The land will be completely themed after Pandora from Avatar, including beautiful mountains and bioluminescent plants.  The land includes two new attractions as well.  Na’Vi River Journey is a family-friendly river ride through the bioluminescent rainforest.  In Avatar Flight of Passage, guests get to ride on a Banshee over all of Pandora.   The views and immersive nature of the land are expected to breathtaking and we can’t wait to finally see it!

  1. Rivers of Light at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – TBD 2017

Rivers of Light has been a much anticipated nighttime show at Animal Kingdom that will bring the park to life at night with water, drones, lights and floats using all of the newest technology.  This show was set to open in 2016, but the date was pushed out a couple times due to technical difficulties.  After the last push a new date was never set, just a statement that it was coming in 2017.  We know that this will be a seated show since the seating has already been built and was used with the summer Jungle Book evening show.  Cast Member previews have been occurring, so we expect an announcement soon on when this one might officially open!

  1. Star Wars Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – TBD

14 acres of land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios has been planned to create an immersive Star Wars experience for guests.  This new area has been said to add new ride experiences. One will include characters from Force Awakens and newer films that takes guests through a First Order and Resistance battle.  The second is planned to be a ride where guests actually fly the Millennium Falcon.  There will also be two new dining locations with one being a cantina and the other would be a higher-end dinner club type of restaurant.  The open air market will feature various merchants that will all be in costume and character.  Every bit of the land is to be themed to perfectly fit in with the Star Wars universe to create the most immersive Star Wars experience yet.  There is construction occurring in backstage areas, but the project is too new for there to be any sneak peeks.  There are no confirmed projected dates for opening, but we expect this one to take a while!

  1. Toy Story Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios – TBD

Big changes are definitely on the horizon at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, as another 11-acre themed land is in the works at the same time as Star Wars Land.  This other land is currently known at Toy Story Land.  It is expected to be an immersive experience that “shrinks” you down to toy size so that you can play with all your favorite toys in Andy’s backyard.  There are two new attractions planned for this area as well.  The first is a Slinky Dog roller coaster that is totally family-friendly.  There will also be an alien saucers attraction with spinning saucers themed after the loveable aliens from the movies; you just have to beware of the claw!  We are expecting that there will likely at least be a quick service restaurant added to this location, especially with Pizza Planet now re-themed as a Muppet’s restaurant.  There is also no communicated date for this one and we also expect to be waiting on this one for a bit!


  1. New Name for Disney’s Hollywood Studios – TBD

With all of the changes that have been going on at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, it was also announced that a new name and changes to the theming is expected for the park.  The park has experienced name changes before.  This one seems necessary to keep up with the park’s shift from shows and behind the scenes studios experiences to themed lands and attractions that need a cohesive theme to bring them together.  Attractions like Art of Animation, the backlot tour and the Lights, Motors, Action stunt car show have already closed.  More closures are expected as new attractions open.  We don’t have a date when the name will change or what the new name will be, but we expect this will likely occur as the front of the park is re-imagined.  Part of the plans for the various expansions also includes moving the entrance to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, so when that construction begins we will hopefully get more information about the name change.


About Christy Caby

I am a diehard Disney fanatic! I fell in love with all things Disney from an early age and that only increased once I first visited Walt Disney World! It led me to complete a yearlong Disney College Program working at merchandise locations within Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Disney-MGM Studios at that time) and I worked for Disney Parks & Resorts Technology in Project/Program Management. Now I get to write about Disney and help others plan their magical vacations! Disney holds a special place in the hearts of my entire family as my husband proposed there, we honeymooned there, took trips while pregnant with each of my boys and have visited with them many, many times from 8 weeks old through now. One of my favorite memories from each trip is always the look on my kids’ faces the first time they see the castle. I’d love to help you plan your magical vacation! Request a free quote at or look for me on Facebook at Have a magical day!