16 New Attractions, Shops and Restaurants Coming to Walt Disney World by 2021 (Fall 2016 Edition)

16 New Attractions, Shops and Restaurants Coming to Walt Disney World by 2021 (Fall 2016 Edition)

We all know there is a lot of construction and updates coming to the Walt Disney World Resort Parks, especially at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and Disney’s Animal Kingdom. Here’s a great look at whats to be expected over the next 5 years as most of these projects are completed as reported by Theme Park Tourist….

Though attendance hasn’t exactly been through the roof, it has been a busy summer for Walt Disney World, with over half a dozen new attractions and restaurants opening at the resort. However, even though guests can now experience Frozen Ever After, Soarin’ Around the World, Mickey’s Royal Friendship Faire, and more, Disney has a lot more in the pipeline for guests to look forward to in the near future, including a new restaurant at Disney’s Hollywood Studios and a show at the Magic Kingdom that have been confirmed to be coming this fall! However, let’s kick things off with an interesting new rumor that surfaced last month…

16. Untitled Guardians of the Galaxy Future World ride

Image: Disney

Status: Rumored

Opening in: 2018?

Rumors surfaced earlier this year that hinted that Disney executives were reportedly considering a plan to gut the current Universe of Energy building in Future World (currently home to the truly dated Ellen’s Energy Adventure) and replace the insides with a new attraction featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy. While Disney has yet to officially confirm anything yet in regards to this project, it looks like this rumored new attraction has moved one step closer to becoming a reality. WDWMagic reports that height balloons (which are commonly used to test sight lines throughout the park while plans for new attractions are being drawn up and finalized) were seen yesterday at Epcot flying over various spots on and around the Universe of Energy building.

The presence of these height balloons strengthens the theory that this rumored new addition will involve making substantial changes to the Universe of Energy building, and won’t involve simply repurposing the existing attraction structure (like other recent attraction changes at Epcot like Frozen Ever After, The Seas With Nemo and Friends, etc.) We don’t know if the entire building is going to be simply modified or completely bulldozed, but it looks like Disney is at least looking into the possibility of doing some major construction in this space to make room for this new attraction.

Of course, it is important to remember that nothing about this new attraction has been confirmed by Disney yet and it is technically still not too late for Disney to change their minds on this project (Disney has cancelled plenty of projects at the last minute, after all). However, with height balloon testing now happening inside the park, it looks like things are moving in a very positive direction for this still-unconfirmed new attraction. While we might be months (or perhaps even longer) away from an official announcement confirming a Guardians of the Galaxy ride for Epcot, we would be surprised if a closing date for Ellen’s Energy Adventure isn’t announced in the very near future as the park gets ready to move on this project.

15. The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: October 2016

Disney confirmed this summer that a new show entitled The Muppets Present…Great Moments in American History will be debuting this fall at the Magic Kingdom’s Liberty Square area. This new show will feature favorite muppet characters acting out interactive stories, and will feature an original song written just for the new show. You can learn more about this new show in-depth here.

14. Rivers of Light 

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: Fall (?) 2016

Rivers of Light is a new nighttime show that will be hosted around and above the Discovery River and will feature live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery all centered around an illuminated Tree of Life. This new show was originally supposed to debut this past Memorial Day weekend, but technical issues forced Disney to delay this show. Though Disney quickly debuted Jungle Book: Alive With Magic earlier this year, this show looks like it will be closing in just a few weeks, potentially making way for Rivers of Light to finally debut later this year.

You can learn more about this new show in the video below:

13. The Polite Pig

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: 2017

Local Orlando chefs James and Julie Petrakis, who are well known as the chef-owners of local eateries The Ravenous Pig and Cask & Larder, have announced that they will open new restaurant The Polite Pig at Disney Springs next year. This new “fast-casual” restaurant will serve both lunch and dinner, and have indoor seating for 200 guests.

The menu will include a variety of “from the smoker” entrees priced between $15 and $20 with selections like Ribeye, a Whole Chicken, and Baby Back Ribs. For those feeling a little bit less adventurous, a variety of sandwiches priced between $9 and $14 will also be available, and will include a Ribeye Melt, Blackened Mahi, Fried Chicken, and a Salmon BLT. This new restaurant is expected to open in Spring 2017 in the Town Center area of Disney Springs, near Amorette’s Patisserie.

12. PizzeRizzo

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: Late 2016

Though we’ve known about it for some time, Disney finally confirmed last month that the former Pizza Planet quick service dining location is being turned into a new Muppets-themed restaurant in order to fit in with the newly-created Muppets Courtyard land at this park. And as expected, this new dining location is being themed to everyone’s favorite rat—Rizzo!

As you might imagine (considering the name) PizzeRizzo will basically have the same cuisine as the former Pizza Planet restaurant, with personal pan pizzas headlining the menu at this reimagined eatery. Though the food will essentially be the same, the dining room will be getting an overhaul, with many fun Muppets additions throughout the venue (which you can read about here). Though construction is still underway on this new (ish) dining location, Disney has confirmed that this PizzeRizzo should be open sometime later this fall.

11. The Planet Hollywood Observatory

Image: Planet Hollywood

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: 2016

Planet Hollywood is currently transitioning into a “turn-of-the-20th-century observatory” in order to jive with the new Disney Springs theme, complete with a Planet Hollywood water tower (replacing the current sign).

“Disney is turning it into a turn-of-the-century Central Florida mining town, and the observatory was a feature at the time,” said Planet Hollywood International founder and chairman Robert Earl. “We’ve gone back to that look for Planet Hollywood.”

In addition to the changes to the building, the name of this establishment will change to Planet Hollywood Observatory and a new menu will be introduced.

10. The Edison

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: TBC

This new dining and bar location at Disney springs will be based upon the original nightclub in Los Angeles, and will feature a steampunk theme. Construction has already begun on this location, but no opening date has been announced.

9. Avatar: Flight of Passage

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: 2017

The headline ride in Pandora: The World of Avatar, confirmed to be named Avatar – Flight of Passage, will be a major, “E-Ticket” attraction that will offer a simulated experience of flying over Pandora on a banshee creature. It has been compared to Soarin’ at Epcot, but it is likely that the Avatar ride will actually be considerably more technologically advanced – supporting enhanced, more realistic movements and 3-D video on a wrap-around screen.

The plans show four separate theaters, spread across four floors. The show itself will be projected onto an enormous, IMAX-style curved screen, just as it is in the Simpsons Ride at Universal Studios Florida. Riders will board vehicles that rise to one of three show levels in front of the screen, also in a similar style to the Universal attraction.

Construction on the ride building is well underway, with the massive structure peaking out from the treeline that separates this new area from the parking lot. During an interview with Variety, Bob Iger said that he had ridden a prototype of this ride, and it “It felt so real, so lifelike. There’s never been anything like it.”

8. Avatar “mess hall” restaurant  

Image: FOX

Status: Confirmed (kind of)

Opening in: 2017

Though Disney still has not officially confirmed the existence of this quick service dining location inside Pandora: The World of Avatar, this new restaurant location was visible in a model that Disney had on display for last year’s D23 Expo. In addition, during the Parks and Resorts panel, special “in universe” food options were discussed, but not specified. Though we don’t know what it will be called, we feel confident saying this rumored restaurant will indeed exist in Pandora: The World of Avatar

7. Na’Vi River Journey

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: 2017

This attraction will offer a C-Ticket family ride experience that will take guests via canoes through a mysterious, sacred river hidden within Pandora’s bioluminescent rainforest. While on this attraction guests will encounter exotic glowing plants and amazing creatures before a finale sequence that will feature a Na’vi shaman, who has a deep connection to the life force of Pandora and sends positive energy out into the forest through her music.

Image: South Florida Water Management District

Recently, permits filed with the South Florida Water Management District appear to show the ride layout for this attraction. Based on the images in the permit, this river ride would seem to be quite lengthly, with the straight section of blue likely being the load/unload area, (the offshoot to the far right seems like the perfect spot for a maintenance bay). The structure of the blue ride area seems to confirm the rumor that this will be an entirely indoor ride (like Pirates of the Caribbean), instead of an indoor/outdoor hybrid (like the Jungle Cruise).  Though no opening date has been officially set, this ride is expected to open with the rest of Pandora: The World of Avatar next year.

6. Slinky Dog roller coaster 

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: TBA

A brand new roller coaster is coming to Disney’s Hollywood Studios that will form the backbone of the all-new Toy Story Land. Described as a family-friendly roller coaster (so expect low speeds and small height restrictions), the Slinky Dog Roller Coaster will see guests boarding vehicles shaped like Slinky Dog and then zooming around a winding track, passing through tunnels and other landmarks around Toy Story Land.

Work on this attraction (as well as the broader Toy Story Land) is expected to kick off any day now, as walls are up around the former Streets of America, which suggests a true groundbreaking could happen soon.

5. Alien Swirling Saucers

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: TBA

The second confirmed new attraction for Toy Story Land is a spinning flat ride named Alien Swirling Saucers (don’t try and abbreviate that), that is inspired specifically by the first Toy Story film and will be designed to look like a play set found in Andy’s room.

During the Alien Swirling Saucers ride experience, guests will be able to board rocket shaped toy vehicles while aliens fly around in toy flying saucers wielding “The Claw”, which will dangle menacingly above. Once things get going, riders will rotate quickly around toy planets and satellites, all while special “Space Jazz” music (which was developed just for this new ride) plays whimsically in the background.

4. Millennium Falcon ride

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: TBA

The first confirmed ride for the forthcoming Star Wars Land at Disney’s Hollywood Studios will be a flight simulator ride that allows guests to “take the controls of one of the most recognizable ships in the galaxy, the Millennium Falcon, on a customized secret mission”.

 Image: Disney

During a recent Disneyland special on ABC, it was revealed that guests who experience this attraction won’t just be tagging along for a ride (like they currently do on Star Tours) but will actually be piloting the Millennium Falcon themselves! Guests will be able to turn, bank and even fire weapons in this still-unnamed simulation-style experience.

3. Star Wars Cantina restaurant

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: TBA

One development that was rumored for the original Star Wars Land that ended up making the cut for the reimagined version of this band new land is the iconic Star Wars Cantina. The Cantina will no longer be located on Mos Eisley (Star Wars Land will be its own, unique in-universe planet), but this dining location will have several familiar entertainment options and will feature the (in)famous Blue Milk drink. Perhaps Disney is hoping Blue Milk will become the new Butterbeer?

2. Star Wars “dinner club” restaurant

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: TBA

In addition to the cantina, it has been confirmed recently that Star Wars Land will feature a “dinner club” style restaurant (featured in the art above) that will likely be either a traditional sit-down restaurant or perhaps even an in-park dinner show, similar to Club Villain at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

1. The First Order battle attraction

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Opening in: TBA

While the Millennium Falcon ride will use new technology to deliver a thrilling experience the likes of which hasn’t been seen before at a Disney park, the new First Order ride will be a more traditional dark ride experience, with concept art appearing to show a motion base ride vehicle moving through a scene with screens (similar to what guests currently experience at The Amazing Adventures of Spider-Man at Islands of Adventure).

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