Updating the Magic: Walt Disney World Construction


Alissa Dannehl, Staff writer

In 1993, my grandparents became a part of the Disney Vacation Club which is the Disney Company’s timeshare program. Every single year since 1993, my family has gone to Walt Disney World as our family vacation. We have been going since before Bob Iger became CEO, before Hollywood Studios changed its name from MGM Studios, and before Animal Kingdom opened. We’ve been around the Disney community for two and a half decades, and we’ve seen the park go through major changes. From closings and openings to new characters and restaurants, yet the biggest changes have been made for the 50 anniversary of the park.

Before his death, Walt Disney said that his theme parks “will continue to grow as long as there is imagination in the world,” and a couple of years ago, the Walt Disney Company announced that they plan on implementing 50 new changes for the 50 year anniversary of Walt Disney World. After the anniversary, the parks will be the busiest they ever have been, and during the construction, the parks will be the least busy they will ever be. If you and your family have no desire to experience the new things Disney will offer, and prefer fewer crowds, you should visit before 2021. Disney engineers have challenged themselves with creating new lands, rides, shows, restaurants and resorts by Oct. 1, 2021.

In 1998, Walt Disney World debuted a new park called Animal Kingdom, and inside the new park was five different lands: Africa, Asia, Dinoland U.S.A, Discovery Island, and Camp Minnie-Mickey. The latter land, a place to meet Mickey and his friends, closed indefinitely in 2014 to make way for a land based on one of the highest grossing films of all time, Avatar. Three years later, Pandora – The World of Avatar opened to the public debuting two rides and a restaurant. The land has been the most popular thing in Walt Disney World since it opened over a year ago; therefore, if your family couldn’t care less about the world of Avatar, you should avoid this new land because it is the most crowded area of the park. Unfortunately for Animal Kingdom, the other change in the park is not as popular. On the last day of 2017, the bird show, “Flights of Wonder” closed to make way for a new bird show themed to the movie Up. The show opened with less birds and more of a script than the original show, and a couple months after its first showing, the new show was rewritten to accommodate the complaints of the script. The show is now mainly about conservation and less about birds, so if you are looking for a show with lots of birds, save yourself an eight-hour drive and watch the one at the Atlanta Zoo. The new land and show are the only two changes that Disney has planned for Animal Kingdom as part of the fifty changes, so this park will most likely be the least crowded.

In 1989, MGM Studios opened to give guests a more in-depth look at the inside of Hollywood. The park would later change its name to Disney’s Hollywood Studios which is what it is now known as. Opening earlier this year, a new land themed around Toy Story opened debuting two new rides and a restaurant. The rides have had long waits since the opening but will most likely die down after the opening of the new, highly-anticipated land themed around the Star Wars franchise. This land will also debut two new rides and a restaurant towards the end of 2019. After Star Wars land opens, this park will most likely be the busiest park. Hollywood Studios will have seen the most and biggest changes of all of the parks for the 50 anniversary.

Imagineers set themselves a tall challenge that will hopefully be beneficial in the long run. Walt Disney World is experiencing a lull in attendance because most people are waiting for the new changes to be finished before visiting. The best time to visit the parks, with low crowds, would be from now until 2021 excluding summers, but beware of all of the construction that could ruin the Disney magic for some people.