6 Confirmed Refurbishments Coming Soon to Walt Disney World (January 2017)

Disney parks are constantly changing their refurbishment schedules, making it difficult for guests to keep up with the operating times and latest news regarding their favorite attractions, resorts, shops, and restaurants. Here are a few big, upcoming changes that are either confirmed by their respective parks or at the least very strongly rumored for the very near future.

This month’s refurbishment update includes details on two refurbishments coming to the Magic Kingdom this month, a long-term closure at Disney’s Hollywood Studios, plus a quickie re-theme that will bring a new look  to a Disney Springs favorite! Here are all the refurbishments that will impact Walt Disney World this month…

1. The Walt Disney World Railroad (Magic Kingdom)

Status: Confirmed

Dates: January 9, 2017 to March 2, 2017

Though it hasn’t been that long since the Walt Disney World Railroad’s last refurbishment (this attraction closed for refurbishment less than a year ago in April 2016) this month will bring another moderate-length refurbishment period for this attraction that has already gotten underway.

Interestingly, while the original dates for 2017’s edition of the Walt Disney World Railroad annual refurbishment were confirmed late last year, this scheduled downtime has since been extended slightly, and will now last until March 2 (instead of February 16). During this now almost 8-week closure it is expected that regular maintenance will be performed on the Walt Disney World Railroad, which will include not only a tune up for the train’s engine, but some work on the actual track around the Magic Kingdom as well and the installation of upgraded equipment (the latter of which could be responsible for the recent extension).

2. & 3. The Darkroom and Cover Story gift shops (Disney’s Hollywood Studios)

Status: Confirmed

Dates: January 9, 2017 to March 24 2017

The two gift stores on the right side of Disney’s Hollywood Studios as you enter the park (right before Starbucks) will be closing for refurbishment earlier this week. These stores are scheduled to be closed for almost three months, and are expected to reopen on March 24th. It is unknown what is changing during this refurbishment, but we’d imagine some interior remodeling is likelu going on, and these stores may return this spring with a new theme (in the same way Villains in Vogue turned into Reel Vogue last year after a quickie refurbishment). Though these shops will be closed for over two months, it will be interesting to see what changes are made during this extended refurbishment period.

4. Characters in Flight (Disney Springs)

Characters in Flight

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Dates: January 9, 2017 to January 13, 2017

The Characters in Flight balloon at Disney Springs is closing for a short refurbishment this month from January 9 through to January 13, and is scheduled to reopen to guests on January 14, 2017. It has been confirmed that this short downtime will be used to change the look of this iconic attraction to fit more in line with the overall Disney Springs style.

5. Kali River Rapids (Disney’s Animal Kingdom)

Image: Disney

Status: Confirmed

Dates: January 3, 2017 to January 29, 2017

Just as it does every year, Kali River Rapids closed earlier this month for the ride to be drained, the paint is touched up, and the vehicles are cleaned. Because of the routine nature of this refurbishment, we’re not expecting any major alterations to the ride experience, and since this attraction will be closed during what should be the chilliest weeks of the year (at least in Florida), there probably isn’t that much of a rush to reopen this attraction during this cold season.

6. The Hall of Presidents (Magic Kingdom)

Status: Confirmed

Dates: January 17, 2017 to June 29, 2017

Of course, while the majority of these refurbishments will bring small, behind the scenes improvements and upgrades to Walt Disney World attractions, one of the most extensive refurbishments of the new year will (potentially) totally reinvent a classic Magic Kingdom attraction.

As you probably already know, the United States will have a brand new president in just a few days, and in just a few days the Hall of Presidents will close for what is expected to be a massive update to this attraction And while we already know that part of this refurbishment will include the installation of a new animatronic of incoming President Donald Trump, given the long length of this refurbishment, we are assuming that massive changes will be coming to this attraction’s pre-show as well.

Image: Gage Skidmore, Flickr (license)

The last time the show was overhauled was back in 2009 after Barack Obama was elected, with new film segments, narration by Morgan Freeman, and the addition of George Washington as the third speaking president added to the attraction. And while some of these show elements could remain, the addition of a new president provides Disney with an opportunity to make substantial changes to this attraction yet again, and given the six month closure, we’d wager that the current narration as well as George Washington’s speech are going to be cut while (hopefully) something new is added.

In addition to the potential show improvements, another reason for the length of this refurbishment is to give the new president time to record his voice for the attraction. Ever since the addition of Bill Clinton in 1993, all sitting presidents have recorded their own voices for their respective Hall of Presidents audio animatronics, and it is assumed that Donald Trump will continue this tradition in 2017, recording his voiceover for this Magic Kingdom attraction sometime after his inauguration next week.

Though we only know about these few refurbishments for January, there’s no doubt that 2017 will bring even more changes to Walt Disney World, especially with the opening of Pandora – The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom potentially drawing crowds away from other attractions that could use some downtime. Are there any refurbishments on your Walt Disney World “wish list” that you would like to see the resort tackle in the new year?

Note: We keep a track of all upcoming Walt Disney World refurbishments over in our Rehab Watch section.

  • Originally published in Theme Park Tourist – By , Tuesday, January 10, 2017

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Don Korta
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