Channeling my inner Conan O’Brien today (remember his old In the Year 2000 sketch?) and looking into the future of Disney this year. As has been the case for the last 10 or so years, Disney is planning big things this year and there’s a lot to look forward to as we enter another year.
Park improvements, additions and subtractions, and re-imagining of old attractions are all on the horizon for the upcoming year.
So today, I want to take a look at what has us excited as we look at Disney in the Year 2017.
Avatar in Animal Kingdom
Remember the blockbuster movie that captured the minds of all and introduced us to blue people not named Smurfs? In this microwave generation where everything that happened 10 minutes ago is sooooo old, get ready for a rebirth of a franchise that probably 75% of today’s youth won’t even remember.
But once upon a time, Avatar was HUGE. I’m talking Donald Trump Yuge. It only made like $2.8 BILLION dollars.
Shortly after Avatar ran its course, Disney attached its brand to Avatar and announced a new addition to Animal Kingdom (because Avatar people are animals, right?) that would bring the world of Avatar to life.
Well, here, some six or seven years later, it’s maybe/hopefully/surely a reality. At least one portion of Avatar will open in 2017, giving Animal Kingdom its first big update since adding Expedition Everest, which opened some 11 years ago.
Avatar promises to help transform Animal Kingdom into a full-day park (other nighttime attractions/shows are being added).
Pandora – The World of Avatar, as it will officially be known, will open with two attractions. One will be a boat ride through the World of Avatar that will feature special effects from Pandora. The second ride will be a Soarin’ type ride over Pandora. Disney promises that it will basically be Soarin’ on steroids (my words, not theirs).
It took so long for Avatar to come to fruition at Animal Kingdom that it lost a lot of its original luster, but it’s still exciting to have something new. And it promises to be cutting edge, as far as special effects and set design.
Boulder Ridge Villas at Wilderness Lodge
Wilderness Lodge has always been one of my favorite resorts at Disney and now they’re going a step further in cementing that for me as they’re re-imagining their DVC villas into the Boulder Ridge Villas. The entire section formerly known as The Villas at Disney’s Wilderness Lodge will now tell a backstory of a community known as Boulder Ridge. The old quiet pool, Hidden Springs, will be re-furbished to have a sun deck and zero-entry pool. They’re actually adding a new quick-service restaurant at the Boulder Ridge Villas, which will definitely help the quick-service options at that resort (that’s probably my one knock on it, but who needs quick-service when you have Whispering Canyon, right?).
Boulder Ridge Villas will just give families another option when it comes to villas and sounds like the theme will be amazing.
Disney Springs continues to grow
Full disclosure here, I used to love Downtown Disney, but I haven’t been there in a couple of years now. Honestly, outside of going to Earl of Sandwich, it had become repetitive and I stopped having any interest in “wasting” time there.
But Disney Springs’ additions has me excited about heading back down to Downtown Disney area. All the new restaurants that have already come on board have made Disney Springs a destination, not just a distraction. In 2017, there will be more additions.
Some of the new additions include a re-imagined Planet Hollywood (with Guy Fieri influence), the old Fulton’s Crab House becoming Paddlefish and The Polite Pig, which promises wood-fired smoked and grilled items.
Keeping an eye on 2018 projects
While 2017 has its share of unique additions, the real beast will be 2018. That’s when Disney is planning on opening two huge additions in Hollywood Studios (long overdue). Star Wars Land and Pixar Place will completely transform the Studios back into one of the top theme parks in Orlando, instead of being a place a lot of people have started to skip these days. Star Wars Land will be an instant hit, and the additions to the area around Toy Story Mania will help drive some traffic toward all three major sections of Studios.
So, a lot of time in 2017 will be spent looking at those projects and hoping they don’t become like 7 Dwarves Mine Train and Avatar and keep getting pushed back further and further into the calendar.
Well, that’s all I got today. Did I miss something? What are you looking forward to in 2017?
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Have a great day and remember to always let your conscience be your guide.