Disney has captured our imaginations for decades, allowing us to believe in magic again and to rediscover our childhood that we feared lost to the cynicism of adult life. This is why the Disney parks, in Anaheim and Orlando and even overseas, are the most popular and most visited theme parks in the entire world. They keep innovating, always bringing in new ideas and new forms of magic to excite our imaginations. So what're they doing nowadays? Here are a few things that the Disney corporation is bringing to you within the next few years.
Star Wars-themed Lands - Walt Disney World and Disneyland
Last month at the D23 Expo, Disney Company Chairman and CEO, Bob Iger, announced that both Disney World and Disneyland are expanding into a galaxy far, far away. In Orlando, the themed land will be added to Hollywood Studios while Anaheim will see the largest single-themed land expansion to the main Disneyland Park. Each location will have two signature attractions, says Iger, a ride on the Millennium Falcon being one as you are placed in the pilot's seat and taken on a secret mission. The second main attraction will be set in the Mos Eisley cantina, in the grime and dredge of alien villainy.
Both parks will introduce a wholly new planet from the films, perhaps working to link the original saga to the new film being released this winter. Iger went on to say that the entirety of the Star Wars-themed lands will be staffed by costumed staff in character as "local inhabitants" from the films. Construction is set to start in both Orlando and Anaheim in 2017 and in the meantime, you can expect Star Wars Weekends, the new Force Friday events, and coming 2016, the Season of the Force which will re-theme rides like Space Mountain into Hyperspace Mountain and a Star Tours upgrade.
Toy Story Land - Walt Disney World, Orlando
Harking back to one of Disney's top films, and the first Pixar great, Toy Story, finds Disney's Hollywood Studios in Orlando reimagined. A few overseas Disney parks already have a Toy Story Land and the Disney mothership park is finally getting its own. Find yourself traveling to infinity and beyond in a new 11-acre land set in Andy's backyard where you're the size of the toys and everything else seems oversized from building blocks, plastic buckets, game board pieces, and more.
In the new land, you will find a brand new roller coaster, riding on the back of Slinky Dog! In pure Disney magic, hop on Slinky's back and zip through the "oversized" wonderland of imagination. Also, see the little green aliens, ride in their flying saucers, and be frightened as the seemingly autonomous "Claw" moves overhead. Finally, there will also be a new 3D upgrade to the ever-popular Toy Story Mania! shootout ride, adding a third track.
The World of AVATAR - Walt Disney World, Orlando
Walt Disney World's Animal Kingdom is getting an expansion of its own, already underway. Based on the popular James Cameron film, Avatar, Avatarland will transport visitors to the alien world of Pandora, transforming the park with new nighttime experiences with longer hours and more to see and do. With a projected opening date landing next spring, the first attraction, "Rivers of Light," is sure to wow visitors with live performances, floating lanterns, water screens, and various other features to combine the magic of this alien world with the animal theme of the Disney park. Secondly, the major expansion, Avatarland, will feature floating mountains (using Disney's signature force perspective technique), bioluminescent forests, winged "Banshee" creatures, and more. The centerpiece of this magnificent expansion will be the ride, "AVATAR Flight of Passage" in which guests will fly on Banshee back over the alien world, perhaps similar to the exciting and popular Soarin' ride in Epcot and Disneyland.
Soarin' Update and Name Change - Walt Disney World and California Adventure, Anaheim
It was recently announced that the popular ride, Soarin', located in Epcot in Orlando and in California Adventure park in Anaheim, will be updated with worldwide destinations. Where the ride, up until now, had you "soaring" over California's many beautiful landscapes, the new and improved ride will take you over natural and man-made wonders around the world, leading up to the rename of "Soarin' Around the World." The ride will also be a new addition to Shanghai Disneyland, set to open this next spring.
Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters - Disney California Adventure, Anaheim
Luigi is, of course, the tire salesman from Casa Della Tires in the movie. Set in Cars Land with all of your favorite talking Disney automobiles, Luigi and his Italian cousins from his hometown of Carsoli, Italy are back to visit Radiator Springs. The main attraction within the new themed area will be Luigi's Rollickin' Roadsters where Luigi and his cousins perform traditional dances from their hometown, perhaps making for an exciting, twisting ride. The ride is set to open early next year and the jury is still out as to what exactly the ride will entail aside from all of your favorite Cars characters.
Disneyland Ride Updates:
- Peter Pan's Flight - A reimagined point of view projection and new special effects will be added to the classic dark ride.
- Matterhorn - Several new animatronics and new abominable snowman scenes will be reworked on the 1959 roller coaster. More lifelike figures will be added and their roles expanded.
- Haunted Mansion - The Hatbox Ghost that was featured in the ride over 40 years ago will be returning with state-of-the-art audio-animatronic technology.
Walt Disney World Ride Updates:
- Pirates of the Caribbean - The classic ride will be fully updated to fix safety and technical issues as well as update animatronics and audio-visual effects.
- Star Tours: The Adventure Continues - New destinations will be added to the popular ride at Disney's Hollywood Studios, adding in new alien worlds and scenes to the adventure lineup.
- Frozen Coming to Norway Pavilion at Epcot - The Maelstrom will be replaced by a ride to Arendelle and guests will also have a meet and greet opportunities with Anna and Elsa. Coming early 2016.