Here's what is coming and going at Walt Disney World

March 19, 2019, 1:17 PM · The Walt Disney World Resort today dropped news items about each of its four theme parks, including a debut, a return, a change, and a removal.

The Debut: At Epcot, a new movie is coming to The Land pavilion. Awesome Planet "showcases the spectacular beauty, diversity and dynamic story of our Earth," according to Disney's press release. There's no opening date yet, though the description of the new attraction suggests that it will be going into the old Circle of Life theater.

With spectacular nature photography, immersive in-theater effects, and space sequences created by none other than Industrial Light & Magic (which provided the cinematic foundation for the Star Wars franchise), "Awesome Planet" will stir Epcot guests and deliver an environmental message that will resonate far beyond its final scenes.

The Return: At Disney's Animal Kingdom, Rafiki's Planet Watch will return this summer. The interactive land, reached via the Wildlife Express Train, features the Affection Section animal meet-and-greet (which old-school guests might call "a petting zoo.") Rafiki's Planet Watch closed last year amid rumors that it might become the future home of a Zootopia-themed land. Disney is giving the land a thematic boost, however it will be to add more elements from The Lion King themed implied by the Rafiki name.

The Change: At Disney's Hollywood Studios, Disney is renaming the sections of the parking lot after Disney characters. The studios lot has functioned as Disney's version of an escape room for the past few years, as fans struggled to navigate the perpetual construction zone. But with the parking lot's new entrance now open and the Disney Skyliner station nearing completion, the end of the parking lot's transformation is in sight. So why not ditch the generic industry names (Film, Music, Television) in favor of Disney character names that guests are far more likely to remember, anyway?

The Removal: At Magic Kingdom, Disney soon will be tearing out the "Walk Around the World" bricks that guests paid to have adorned with their names years ago. Disney World recently announced that it would relocate the "Leave a Legacy" monuments from Epcot's entrance, but these personalized bricks around the park's entrance aren't moving anywhere but to the garbage bin. If you or your family bought one of the bricks, Disney is pointing out that the fine print of the purchase agreement obligated Disney to display the bricks only through 2011, so it's legally allowed to tear them out now. But if you want to keep the memory of giving Disney your money alive... you can give Disney even more money. The resort will sell you a souvenir replica of your brick for $10 (plus tax and shipping). You will have to verify your ownership of the brick at Guest Relations at either the Magic Kingdom or Disney Springs, then place your order at Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. or Disney Springs' Marketplace Co-Op by August 31.

And if you didn't buy one of these bricks, you can either pat yourself on the back for not participating... or pay $29.99 plus tax and shipping to get your own personalized replica of a brick that never existed. Disney will take your order at Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. and Marketplace Co-Op now and later this spring at

Replies (6)

March 19, 2019 at 1:37 PM

In regards to Rafiki's Planet, does this mean it is staying in the same place using the train for access and basically just getting a face lift? Sorry if this posted multiple times, my computer hiccuped. :)

March 19, 2019 at 2:34 PM

Yep. Same stuff, same place. Minor facelift.

March 19, 2019 at 5:18 PM

Distracts from the bigger Disney corporate news today- the Mouse takeover of 20th Century Fox, which means New Fox Corp born today and Disney has expanded their empire- though Darth Iger is setting tomorrow as their official takeocer day. Wonder if anyone has informed The Simpsons and The X-Men that they have Disney Traditions tomorrow despite their decades of seniority at Fox- D'Oh! Princess Anastasia likely will fail her Disney background check and I worry for the trainer who gets assigned Jean Grey. Waylon Smithers and Marge's sister Patti are overjoyed though.

March 19, 2019 at 5:20 PM

I'm sure the inspiration for Rafiki's Planet Watch semi upgrade is the new "live action" Lion King hitting theaters this summer. Looks like it will debut just in time.

March 20, 2019 at 12:18 PM

Awww, my family has one of those "Walk the World" bricks around (true, we can never actually find it but still....)

And Jay is right, they're keeping Rafiki because of the new Lion King movie coming. Which makes it ironic they're dumping "Circle of Life" for a new movie.

So pretty sure the deals mean no Simpsons or Transformers rides at WDW yet still intriguing how they can play with some stuff in the future.

March 22, 2019 at 6:53 AM

Hollywood Studios confirmed change .... I was parked in Buzz last night, and the lots I walked thru were Mickey, Minnie and Jesse.

Also, it was interesting to see some of the sweatliner gondolas were minus their covers. Nice bright yellows and greens !!

They are also building what looks like some sort of covered staging area close to the entrance. Maybe for the Star Wars hoards in August ?

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