Disney World Confirms New Soarin' Theater, Plus Midway Mania Expansion

March 5, 2015, 11:16 AM · Walt Disney World confirmed the news we told you last summer — that it would be adding a third theater to its Soarin' attraction at Epcot's Land pavilion, to add more capacity for that popular travel film.

Soarin' theater building

In addition, Disney will be using some of the space recently vacated by the closing of the Backlot Tour at Disney's Hollywood Studios to add a new track to Toy Story Midway Mania, to expand the capacity on one of Disney World's other hard-to-get-Fastpass attractions.

Both expansions are scheduled for completion in 2016. Construction work on the new Soarin' theater has begun already.

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Replies (24)

March 5, 2015 at 11:36 AM · Both moves will provide much needed relief to the excessive crowds visiting these two super popular attractions. However, adding additional headliner attractions throughout these two parks would also alleviate some of that pain....

One question: is TSMM still going to need the extra room once Star Wars Land opens and Pixar Place is expanded?

March 5, 2015 at 12:03 PM · Finally! Here's a quick fix that should have been done years ago. Better late than never, I suppose.

A big thank you to all Disney employees who fought to make this happen. Please don't stop fighting for new E-ticket attractions. You will have a lot of upset fans if Avatarland and StarWarsLand turn out to be disappointments like Seven Dwarfs Mine Ride and Little Mermaid.

March 5, 2015 at 12:44 PM · Per the Disney Parks blog, the expansions will be open by "late" 2016. Another glacial timetable from Disney, but should we really have expected anything else? By that measure, it sounds like we're looking at 2017 AT THE EARLIEST for anything new opening up at Hollywood Studios, and even then it will presumably just be the rumored Toy Story Playland-type thing.

Walt Disney World's problem is not that there's nothing in the pipeline, it's that things get built SO SLOWLY that we won't be seeing anything in that pipeline for years. Meanwhile, Universal keeps chugging along with major expansion at a rapid pace. Realistically, what will it take for Disney to see the light and start picking up the pace?

I welcome a third theater for Soarin' and a third track for Midway Mania, but there's no reason it should take 20+ months to get them operational.

March 5, 2015 at 12:36 PM · This is good news, those are two of the rides that are constantly overwhelmed by crowds. TSMM in particular is so endlessly popular that they should have built two of them.
Hopefully the Soarin' expansion also means we will get the new film, Soarin' around the World, by then.
March 5, 2015 at 1:08 PM · I find it odd that Disney would announce the Soarin' expansion, but not also announce the already widely rumored (confirmed with reports from location shooting) new movie for the ride. Disney milks these press releases for all they're worth to make it seem like their construction doesn't take forever. It's gotten so bad that their press releases are months behind what even peripheral theme park fans already know. Ultimately the question has become, why do they even bother making press releases anymore?
March 5, 2015 at 1:27 PM · Wonder if they are ever going to update the video in Soarin. It would be nice to have a flyover of the orlando parks in orlando and maybe some things on this coast.
March 5, 2015 at 1:40 PM · I imagine one of the reasons that Disney takes so long to develop their new products in Orlando is simply because they can. Sure, Universal is building newer and better things at an amazing rate, but it's not going to take too much longer before they run out of room. They've already cannablalized some old favorites to make room for newer and better - but how long can that go on for? A new King Kong land for the islands, replace the Woody Woodpecker kidzone in the Studios, ditch ET, replace Terminator 3D, and then...what? Lose the Lost Continent? Cut down the last Truffala tree in Suess landing? They may have to return the Marvel rights to Disney, just to clear some room for new product...And Spiderman is one of their top rides!
Disney has the room to put up a half-dozen entire theme parks. By the sheer virtue of real estate, they know that slow and steady can win the race - Inovation and nostalgia side-by-side. The best of the old beside the best of the new. Something Universal is (unfortunately) never going to be able to do.
March 5, 2015 at 1:50 PM · I'm happy to have these announcements to help with ride capacity. That said, I'll echo what others have said and think they're moving really slowly and still need to actually add new attractions. Disney is really running in slow motion at this point.
March 5, 2015 at 1:56 PM · Are they adding one or two theaters to this Soarin update? That ride is so popular that it could have two theaters for Fastpass plus and two for standby and it still be at least a 45 minute wait. Remember Disney, more wait equals less time inside merchandise stores and eateries. Just sayin
March 5, 2015 at 2:46 PM · I find it interesting that these two rides are so popular in WDW. In California Adventure, IMO, they are ok, but not a big deal. They are certainly nothing in comparison to Universal's heavy hitters. I think their popularity shows up the lack of attractions at DHS and Epcot. I hope Avatar isn't just another lame Soarin attraction.
March 5, 2015 at 2:57 PM · To me, this is ridiculous.

Look at DLR: Soarin' and TSM have moderate waits because there are newer and better rides around. WDW doesn't need to add capacity to these exhausted attractions, it needs to build more headliners.

Soarin' and TSM are great. But I've ridden them countless times.

March 5, 2015 at 4:26 PM · Disney can build rather quickly if they want to... look how (relatively) quickly the work at Downtown Disney/Springs has progressed...
March 5, 2015 at 8:52 PM · Brett Blake begins a post with the words "Walt Disney World's problem?"

I Respond: Excuse me? Walt Dinsey World has a "problem?"

(LA Times - 02/04/14) ... the occupancy at Disney resort hotels also jumped 8% to 89% -- a rate that is as close to completely booked as possible, Disney officials said during an earnings report on the quarter.

Estimated 2014 patronage is 54 million and they have a problem?


March 5, 2015 at 8:56 PM · Yes!
March 5, 2015 at 8:59 PM · This is great news for Disney fans. Glad to see they are trying to alleviate wait times.
March 5, 2015 at 9:49 PM · @TH Creative

I was talking from the perspective of a frustrated Disney parks fan who wants to see them actually build new rides in Florida quicker than they currently are. Of course I'm not arguing that they have a "problem" in a financial sense. But hey, if you're satisfied with the Magic Kingdom having not received a new E-ticket in 23 years, Epcot having received nothing of substance since 2005, Hollywood Studios having received nothing new since 2008, and Animal Kingdom currently in year 9 since an addition (with AT LEAST 2 more before Avatar opens), then more power to you.

March 6, 2015 at 2:11 AM · Totally agree with the anon poster about these in CA, had my first trip west last year and thought meh - if we have time. (Much preferred getting on the unique rides).
When I saw they were both practically walk ons, I felt I HAD to do them, I never bother to wait for them in WDW.
Much needed (but obviously well known) update to these two crowd pleasers. Not the complete answer to the current wait times, but it's a start.
March 6, 2015 at 4:05 AM · We're still early into 2015 and they're saying late 2016? How long could expansions take, considering Cast Members at TSMM have already reported being shown the new construction on the third track and there have been confirmed reports of construction already occurring for the 3rd Soarin theater.

We can go on and on about Universal building more new attractions than Disney, but the real focus should be on why Disney builds a Soarin theater with the about same length of time Universal used to build all of Diagon Alley.

March 6, 2015 at 7:54 AM · Regarding the comments about Disney having acreage. What good is it? They will never fill it with more parks. People only go for week. Building more parks would not increase attendance. Universal does have room and the desire to have the best and weed out the stale attractions.
March 6, 2015 at 10:29 AM · Awesome! I love Soarin' at EPCOT!
March 6, 2015 at 11:06 AM · Disney does everything at a snail's pace... they know the masses will flock no matter what.
March 8, 2015 at 7:38 PM · Disney need not move faster. They have more WDW business it can handle.
Disney can not move faster. They're pockets are so deep that risk management means they must overengineer and overbuild.
Disney should not move faster. There's more growth in Asia than North America. Better return for the investment and less concentration of risk in CA and FL. Afterwards better payback in S America if the politics stabilizes.
Disney will not move faster. Cheap shows eat crowds with minimal cost while bringing memories to kids. Low cost meet and greets don't eat crowds but are the highlights when kids are involved.
March 10, 2015 at 10:02 AM · I wish they will finally announce Star Wars Land.
March 10, 2015 at 5:30 PM · My guess is that Disney found a tax loophole plus the screen based rides are already developed.

Universal Studios was light years ahead of Disney with all those screen based attractions.

It's what the people want, plus you won't loose your fingers on it. Arrrrgh

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