Theme Park Insider

Disney CEO reveals opening dates for Avatar, Star Wars lands

February 7, 2017, 3:01 PM · In a quarterly earnings conference call this afternoon, Walt Disney Company CEO Bob Iger revealed the opening dates for the company's upcoming theme park lands based on Avatar and Star Wars.

Disney already had announced that Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom would open by this summer, with buzz from inside the company over the past two weeks suggesting a big media event the last week in May. The blockout of Florida resident tickets for Animal Kingdom during the end of May and beginning of June also fueled speculation that Avatar would open then.

Today, Iger announced that the Avatar land would open officially on May 27. No word yet on potential soft openings before that. But if you were planning a Walt Disney World vacation for Memorial Day weekend or later this year, Pandora will be awaiting you.

As for Star Wars, fans have been speculating since Disney announced the project at D23 in August 2015 when those lands would debut. Disney has started construction at Disneyland and Disney's Hollywood Studios on these twin lands, with the Disneyland project seemingly ahead of the Florida one. But that site had a lot more contextual work to do in creating "buffers" to adjacent lands in the park. The Florida installation will stand more by itself at one end of the Hollywood Studios park, instead of being sandwiched between Frontierland/Critter Country and Fantasyland, as it will be in California.

Iger today said that the Star Wars lands will open sometime in 2019. beating Theme Park Insider readers' collective guesses of a 2020 opening for the two lands.

Update: Disney has launched a new website and Twitter feed to promote the Avatar land opening: visitpandora.com.

Is this our first notice of something going terribly wrong?

Replies (22)

February 7, 2017 at 3:10 PM · I was one day off. ;o)
February 7, 2017 at 3:15 PM · I was off one day, too.

Wait....

February 7, 2017 at 3:29 PM · Wonder if its late 2019. Could always be pushed to 2020.
February 7, 2017 at 3:30 PM · They say 2019 for Star Wars land to keep everyone in the hype but you can bet BIG that it'll get pushed back into 2020. Just wait, they know what they're doing.
February 7, 2017 at 3:35 PM · Looking at January 2018 for a visit to Pandora since both the lines and the kinks should be mitigated by then....

Question: In 2018 will we see Everest get that extensive refurb to fix the downtrodden Yeti?

February 7, 2017 at 4:29 PM · Let's just write the construction sign now, "The Yeti's gone to visit Pandora. See you next year!"
February 7, 2017 at 4:33 PM · I'm glad I decided to move my Florida trip to September/October 2017, as I would have missed Pandora by about three weeks otherwise. Hopefully the crowds are manageable by that time (I expect them to decline much more rapidly than Cars Land did). As for Star Wars, my hunch is that Disneyland's version will be ready for the premiere of Episode IX in May 2019, with DHS's land opening about six months later.
February 7, 2017 at 5:20 PM · Orlando is gonna be NUTS this summer!
February 7, 2017 at 5:26 PM · Will hopefully be able to catch this on our honeymoon by one day!
February 7, 2017 at 6:17 PM · Any which way, it seems like Disney is making more aggressive strides in its park developments. There was a time when it seemed that something as big as Star Wars Land would take a decade to complete, as opposed to the relatively short period between announcement and opening.
They first started talking about Avatar Land in 2011, and six years later its finally opening. Heck, even the Fantasyland refurb in Magic Kingdom took five years. For Star Wars, they broke ground last April, and they hope to have it going by 2019. That's impressive for Disney.
Of course, Universal still gets the prize for most impressive expansion: Diagon Alley announced in December 2011, and opened by July 2014 - Just, wow.
Still, it looks like competition is a good thing. The more they compete, the more I enjoy...and all the faster now.
February 7, 2017 at 7:31 PM ·
February 7, 2017 at 8:49 PM · This is great news. Star Wars, two years from now? Incredible.

Pandora is opening just two days after Volcano Bay. Trying to steal its thunder?

February 7, 2017 at 9:11 PM · Apparently, for Rogue one, they developed a technology to have the cockpit of the x wing fighters be a screen so the actors could react to the space battle as it was happening

This sounds too cool and too specific to be anything but something they're using for Star Wars Land. Imagine, climbing into the cockpit, and the glass on the windows is a screen showing spaaaaaaaaac

February 7, 2017 at 10:09 PM · Any mention of when Toy Story Land is slated to open?
February 8, 2017 at 5:27 AM · Going to miss it by one day, leaving Orlando on the 27th. Come on soft opening. I have a season pass this year so maybe they will have something for pass holders. Also hope Rivers of Light will be open by then.
February 8, 2017 at 8:37 AM · Am I the only one that's a little surprised *this* is how they decided to announce the opening date?
February 8, 2017 at 8:42 AM · As Terry B said, no mention of Toy Story Land. I'm very excited about these new developments. I just want to see Hollywood Studios (or whatever they call it in the future) become a full day park again. Next on the to-do list: revitalize Epcot.
February 8, 2017 at 9:06 AM · Agree. Epcot has to be next.
February 8, 2017 at 9:07 AM · I agree....Epcot has to be next. Can't wait to see what they do!
February 8, 2017 at 1:55 PM · I, for one, am scared for what they will do with EPCOT. It is my oasis. I love the world showcase and hate that Frozen was put in. If anything, I wish they would add more countries and shows like the China film and such. See, the lines for the attractions have gotten out of control, and I know I am a broken record (I hate FP+ and think it is ruining the parks), I love how I can meander around EPCOT at my leisure, pop in and out of shops, have a beer or two, and take it easy. Sure, they need to update the pavilions and really could expand future world extensively. Just leave world showcase alone unless you are adding countries without taking anything away.
February 8, 2017 at 2:26 PM · Does anyone have any ideas of what the name change for Hollywood Studios will be? I hope it's Disney's (or Disney) Hollywoodland. The park is becoming a more contemporary version of the Magic Kingdom. Star Wars and Toy Story are movie franchises that began in the late 20th century, while the Magic Kingdom mainly features on attractions based on stories from the 19th century or before. And despite the fact that the Magic Kingdom is more or less the same park as Disneyland, Star Wars still works at Disneyland because it's located in it's own corner of the park and will be isolated from everything else.
February 8, 2017 at 9:20 PM · 2020 looks like a good time to visit now.

Going in 2019 to visit star wars and hopefully toy story is not a good idea because that they will probably need to still to work out the bugs and kinks even after a soft opening.

Remember WWHOP at USO had an 8hr wait on opening day and I assume them same thing will happen when AVATAR opens this summer.

Wait for the crowd levels to stabilize and be more predictable first.

Now I wonder what will Universal do for 2019 and beyond?

Obviously they cannot steal away the spotlight away from Disney I don't think they will let them completely dominate the theme park headlines in 2019.

hmm, I predict an announcements for the new hotel(s) where Wet N wild once was soon or they will accelerate plans to open a Secret Life of Pets attractions at both USH and USO.

Not enough time to bring Nintendoland stateside, though

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