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What’s Next for Walt Disney World?

In my walk through the Magic Kingdom yesterday it’s clear from all the walls and construction that Disney is always working on improving their show. But most of what I saw yesterday are just fixes to get ready for the summer crowds. What is Walt Disney World planning for the next few years? Quite a bit actually. Does any of this add up to real competition for Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure.

What’s Next

“Main Street Electrical Parade” (summer 2010) – With floats and characters appearing for the first time at Walt Disney World Resort, Disney’s “Main Street Electrical Parade” returns to Magic Kingdom with its joyous sights and sounds. Direct from Disneyland and marking its first engagement in Florida since 2001, the cherished parade will be led by Tinker Bell waving from the basket of a magical balloon aboard a new float. Pinocchio and Snow White also join the parade aboard bright new floats. Premieres in early June.

New Dining Experiences for Epcot (fall 2010) –Culinary expansions are under way at the Italy pavilion and Mexico pavilion. In Italy, an authentic Neapolitan pizzeria plans to open in time for the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival. Operated by Patina Restaurant Group, the same restaurateurs who run the pavilion’s Tutto Italia restaurant, the 300-seat pizzeria is inspired by Naples 45, another Patina Restaurant Group pizzeria in New York City. The casual pizzeria will feature wood-burning ovens – and use water from a source that most resembles the water in Naples, Italy, home of some of the world’s best pizza dough. The 14,000-square-foot space will include indoor and outdoor dining. At Mexico, the popular Cantina de San Angel restaurant is expanding, and will feature 400 seats with al fresco seating for lunch. The restaurant will feature south-of-the border creations from the culinary team at San Angel Inn LLC, who have run both the outside eatery and the pavilion’s San Angel Inn for more than 25 years.

Luxury Pet Resort (2010) – This one-of-a-kind facility will provide pet hospitality services that will include boarding, grooming and doggy day camp, and amenities such as luxury suites with television and raised bedding. Pet activities will feature nature walks and playgroups, and pampering services will range from ice cream treats to bedtime stories. The facility will be operated by Best Friends Pet Care.

Perfecting Paradise – A Magical Makeover for Castaway Cay (summer 2010) – Castaway Cay, Disney’s private island paradise in the tropical waters of the Bahamas, is getting an extra dose of pixie dust. Enhancements include an expanded family beach, a floating water platform featuring two twisting water slides, two fresh-water play areas for guests to cool off, a new teen retreat and 20 new private rental cabanas offering the ultimate in beachside luxury. The additional island amenities are scheduled to be complete by summer 2010, in time for special five-night cruises aboard the Disney Wonder with two stops at Castaway Cay, and the Disney Dream cruise ship which starts sailing in early 2011.

New Sailings for Disney Magic and Disney Wonder (2010-2011) – In 2010, the Disney Magic will sail to Europe for an unprecedented five-month season of Northern European and Mediterranean cruises. Book-ending the summer season of 12-night Northern European Capitals cruises, the Disney Magic will once again return to the Mediterranean for 10- and 11-night cruises, with three new ports of call. In addition to popular ports in Italy, France and Spain, the Disney Magic will visit Tunis, in Northern Africa, the island nation of Malta, and Corsica, an island oasis off the southern coast of France. In the summer of 2010, the Disney Wonder will sail four- and five-night cruises to Nassau, Key West and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay. In the summer of 2011, the Disney Wonder will sail for the first time to Alaska, with seven-night cruises calling on Tracy Arm, Skagway, Juneau and Ketchikan.

Star Tours Attraction (2011) – A new 3-D version of the tremendously popular Star Tours attraction will debut at Disney’s Hollywood Studios in 2011. Based on the iconic Lucasfilm “Star Wars” films, the attraction will include immersive new elements that will take guests to many familiar places in the “Star Wars” galaxy.

Disney Cruise Line Expanding Its Fleet (2011, 2012)– The Walt Disney Company is expanding its successful cruise vacation business by adding two new ships, Disney Dream and Disney Fantasy, to set sail in 2011 and 2012, respectively. Two decks taller than the existing Disney Magic and Disney Wonder, the new 1,250-passenger liners will more than double the passenger capacity for Disney Cruise Line. Now under construction, the Disney Dream will offer new innovations, magical children’s spaces, family entertainment and immersive experiences for which Disney Cruise Line is renowned. The Disney Dream will sail three-, four- and five-night itineraries to the Bahamas and Disney’s private island, Castaway Cay.

Bowling Center at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex (2012) – A new 100-lane bowling center at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex is scheduled to open in 2012 and is anticipated to be one of the largest bowling facilities in the United States. The United States Bowling Congress will stage 13 events there, with tournaments beginning in 2013.

Magic Kingdom Fantasyland Expansion(2013) – The largest expansion in the history of Magic Kingdom will vastly increase the size of Fantasyland. Guests will be able to:

  • Visit a Disney princess in her castle, cottage or chateau to share a dance with Cinderella at Dreams Come True with Cinderella; celebrate Sleeping Beauty’s 16th birthday with the Good Fairies during a Birthday Surprise for Sleeping Beauty; or join Belle in an enchanting storytelling performance during Enchanted Tales with Belle.
  • Dine at Be Our Guest Restaurant, one of three enchanted rooms inside the Beast’s castle. Just outside the castle in Belle’s Village will be Gaston’s Tavern, another themed dining option.
  • Fly with Dumbo high above brand new circus grounds, twice the size of the existing attraction. Dumbo’s Flying Circus will include a stylized tent where guests can enjoy midway games and other interactive family fun.
  • Join Ariel on her newest adventure, Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid, a ride-through attraction with melodies from the animated feature.

Shopping, Dining and Lodging District (phased construction across 8-10 years) – Announced as part of a Walt Disney World expansion is a 450-acre mixed-use tourist commercial district just outside Disney’s western gateway (Western Way at Western Beltway). Early plans include 4,000-5,000 value-priced lodging units and a pedestrian-friendly dining/retail village.

Four Seasons to Anchor New Disney Luxury Resort (TBD) – Also announced as part of the Walt Disney World expansion for the next decade: a 900-acre luxury resort anchored by the prestigious Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. The development, along the northeast border of the property, will include a luxury hotel, 18-hole championship golf course, single- and multi-family vacation homes and fractional ownership vacation homes.

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