Walt Disney World Resort
We know that DisneyQuest will be closing next year in Downtown Disney, to be replaced by a new NBA Experience restaurant and attraction. Also next year, Downtown Disney's transformation to Disney Springs will be complete. Here is what you can expect at the WDW theme parks:
Magic Kingdom: Disney has filed plans to refurbish and reopen the Adventureland Veranda restaurant, with a new name.
Epcot: "Frozen Ever After" will replace Maelstrom in the Norway pavilion next spring, and a new Frozen-themed meet and greet building will be going in between the Norway and Mexico pavilions, as well. In addition, Disney is building an additional theater for Soarin' in the Land pavilion, also to open next year.
Disney's Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Midway Mania is getting an additional track for next year and the park will be getting a new name at some point, too. The Magic of Disney Animation pavilion will be closing this month, and we are expecting additional attraction closures to clear space for Star Wars Land and a Pixar Place expansion.
Disney's Animal Kingdom: The Rivers of Light nighttime show will debut in 2017 (*possibly earlier - see comments), as will the park's new Avatar-themed land, which will include a "Soarin'"-style 3D movie as well as a boat ride.
Universal Orlando Resort
NBA City is closing next month and the NBC Sports Grill & Brew will open in the old NASCAR Sports Grill spot this fall. A fifth on-site hotel, the Loews Sapphire Falls Resort, will open next year, and the new Volcano Bay water park will follow in 2017. The Wet n' Wild water park will close after next summer. Further expansion of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter lands is expected, at some point, though we haven't seen the plans... yet.
Universal Studios Florida: The NBC Media Center will be opening in the Garden of Allah buildings any day now. A Hello Kitty store and meet and greet will be coming to the park, most likely to the space now occupied by the Lucy exhibit. In addition, Universal has filed permits that suggest it will be replacing the Twister and Disaster attractions. Leaks to us also suggest that the KidZone land and Fear Factor are not in Universal's long-term plans for the park. We also know that Fast & Furious and Nintendo-themed attractions will be coming to the park, possibly replacing Disaster and the KidZone, respectively.
Islands of Adventure: "Skull Island: Reign of Kong" will open by next summer. The Hulk coaster is getting an extensive refurbishment, starting later this year, which will include a new launch mechanism and show improvements.
The resort has bought the Carousel Inn on Harbor Boulevard, and is planning a parking garage on land east of that hotel, raising suspicion that the hotel ultimately will give way to a pedestrian connection between that garage and the parks. The resort also is promising $1 billion in capital expansion in exchange for the City of Anaheim agreeing to extend its ban on a Disney ticket tax for the next 30 years. However, Disney officials previously have promised expansions based on Star Wars and Marvel, making it likely that the resort will expand no matter what Anaheim decides. (*Update: The Anaheim City Council approved the exemption extension Tuesday night.)
As for now, though, the only expected or confirmed new projects for the parks are the reopening of Disneyland's Innoventions as a meet and greet location for Star Wars and Marvel characters, and the conversion of the old Luigi's Flying Tires ride in Disney California Adventure's Cars Land to the new Luigi's Festival of the Dance, a trackless ride with "dancing" cars.
Universal Studios Hollywood
The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be opening next spring, including a 3D version of the "Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey" ride inside Hogwarts Castle and the Flight of the Hippogriff roller coaster, which appears to be a Mack model rather than the Vekoma model found in Orlando and Japan. The park's Evolution plans call for the construction of a new hotel near the park's entrance, as well as new attractions on the sites of the current Waterworld and Special Effects Stage shows. Universal also has announced that Hello Kitty and Nintendo will be coming to the park, somewhere.
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Also if the 'NBC Sports Grill & Brew' is really worthy of some column inches it would seem reasonable to expect that 'Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar' and 'The Edison' also deserve a mention.
What I Like: the fact that they're building another theater for Soarin means that they could give us a new film, which takes us to a different place. Grant it, it could probably just be to make the lines more bearable, but hey, I can dream, can I?
The one problem I always had with Animal Kingdom was that it has no nightlife whatsoever, a shame considering how beautiful
The park would look at night. It definitely seems like they're trying to turn this around with Rivers of Light and the new nighttime version of Kilimanjaro Safaris (why wasn't that mentioned? It's not just a fan theory, is it?).
I hope to god that they'll update the pre-show for Hulk! That animation is painfully outdated.
The main reason why WDW has always been better than DLR is because they have a bigger property and as such have a lot more things to do (even though some of them will cost you your entire bank account). Now they seem to be buying up the hotels around the park, obviously expanding the property.
My concerns: with the majority of DHS being closed for an unspecified amount of time, what will this mean for Star Wars Weekends? They're always a big draw, and a good counter to Harry Potter Weekends at Universal. How do they expect to accommodate all those crowds?
Replacing Gardens of Allah with an "NBC Media Center" seems a bit more like Old Universal than New Universal. This isn't really much of a concern...just thought it was kinda weird.
Universal really seems to be drunk on Potter (too much butterbeer?). I mean, a third Harry Potter renovation! Wow! I've loved what they've done so far. And the third one would probably be great, too. But what about the big E-ticket ride? The Forbidden Journey/Escape From Gringotts of this land? What more could you possibly do with a third HP simulator, without making it seem like a ripoff if the previous two? I love Wizarding World, don't get me wrong, but Universal has to understand that at some point they can't keep relying on Potter to rake in the dough.
Why replace the NASCAR restaraunt when it's the NBA that's going to a rival resort? Just some simple logic.
Well, we'll have to see what the future has in store.
Regarding DHS rumored massive expansion, I wont believe it until I see it. Been let down by disney world too many times.
DHS has removed a Bill Cosby statue due to new revelations of his past. No good for him.
Disney should commit to 24/7 construction on all of their expansions to finish them by 2021...
What if they turn off the taps in a few years? will everything they have done be forgotten?
I also see what Dis has done to have families live in their bubble. Then intense preplanning is like a drug for moms who dream of their dis vacations months in advance - I feel bad for people who get trapped in the bubble and don't see what Universal has to offer.
A good friend recently spent a week in Orlando, and I begged her to get off her Disney bias-butt and go to US and IOA. When she came back I asked her and her 10 year old daughter: "so are you a Disney family or a Universal family?" The little girl, clutching her selfie with Pocahontas said: "Disney" and my friend looked at me and said: "Universal of course!" It's interesting.I think families that start venturing out, will plan more time at Universal properties as time goes on. It's just too awesome to ignore.
Universal hasn't even hit their stride yet, and I am looking forward to what is coming over the next few years.
I would love to have some more animatronic action - I'm sure that sounds super-old-fashiioned, but as I went through Diagon Alley, I loved the detailed immersion aspect, but it was missing rides. Of course I went into every shop, but it was just a big gift store in the end.
It would be fun to have a ride that takes you through the Weasley shop "back room" or a Shrieking Shack ride in Hogsmeade. I know we could all talk for hours about what would be fun to add, but I just agree the 3D think gets old fast.
I've been begging for a Hulk refurbishment for years. To me, that ride is just too rough; it rattles. The two times I rode it, it left me with a headache and I nearly passed out both times. And I'm a guy who has ridden everything at Six Flags Magic Mountain, so I'm not a coaster weakling.
We're definitely in the "visit both resorts" camp. And we find that taking a cab is the solution to being "trapped in the bubble."
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Looks like The Hulk might be getting LIMs, ohhh I can't wait for that