This week, after years of waiting, "Star Wars" fans finally got what they wanted to hear: Star Wars Land is coming to Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World.
But it won’t be the only new feature at the Orlando, Fla., entertainment complex. Each of Disney World’s four Florida theme parks will be getting something new.
Check out some of the cool coming attractions, and get ready to put on your mouse ears.
1. Toy Story Land
Toy Story Land, at Hollywood Studios, will “shrink” families to toy size, making them feel like they're part of the play in Andy’s backyard. Guests can ride in Slinky Dog trains on a family roller coaster and in a flying saucer spinner ride underneath “The Claw.” The always popular Toy Story Midway Mania! interactive shooting game will expand to accommodate more riders, too. No date has been given for Toy Story Land’s opening, but visitors can expect lots of construction in the coming months and years.
2. Pandora – The World of AVATAR
Disney’s been working with James Cameron since 2011 to bring AVATAR to life at Animal Kingdom. Scheduled to open in 2017, the attraction will include lush jungles, floating mountains, blue-skinned Na'vi aliens and two signature attractions. AVATAR Flight of Passage, a thrill ride, will allow guests to soar on dragon-like Banshee creatures over the world of Pandora. The second attraction, for guests of all ages, will be a gentle boat ride through Pandora’s bioluminescent rainforests.
3. Rivers of Light and Kilimanjaro Safaris
Animal Kingdom has always closed much earlier than Disney World’s three other theme parks, even on the busiest days of the year. But soon two evening and nighttime experiences will let families extend their day there. Rivers of Light, scheduled to open early next year, will be Animal Kingdom’s first nighttime show. Performers, floating lanterns, water screens and light effects will bring animals to life on the river at the base of the Tree of Life. Also, Kilimanjaro Safaris will continue operating into the evening hours beginning in the spring and add two nocturnal species: African wild dogs and hyenas.
4. Frozen Ever After
Epcot’s Norway pavilion will take guests on a boat ride through the mythical land of Arendelle, the setting for the film “Frozen.” Families will visit Queen Elsa’s Ice Palace and pass animatronic versions of characters from the film. The Norway area will also have a new location for the very popular Princess Anna and Queen Elsa meet-and-greet.
5. Soarin’ Around the World
One of Epcot’s most popular Future World attractions will get an update next year. Soarin’ Around the World swaps out the film from the original 2005 Soarin’ – a 3-D attraction focused on California. The new Soarin’ Around the World will take families on a “hang gliding” tour above landscapes and icons such as Monument Valley in Utah and Arizona, an African savanna and the Great Wall of China.
6. Jungle Navigation Co., Ltd. Skipper Canteen
Magic Kingdom completed its largest expansion ever last year, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be getting anything new. The Skipper Canteen, an Adventureland restaurant, will have a “Jungle Cuisine” theme based on the park’s Jungle Cruise attraction. Expect plenty of puns and sight gags when the eatery opens late this year.
Dave Parfitt is a Rochester, N.Y.-based travel writer. He is the founder of Adventures by Daddy, a digital database offering family-friendly travel advice from a father’s point of view.