My Disney Top 5 - Walt Disney World Construction Projects I Can't Wait to See Completed

by Chris Barry, contributing writer
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One thing that was incredibly obvious on my last Walt Disney World trip this past summer was the construction going on everywhere you looked. It was impossible to miss. Walt Disney famously said about his first magic kingdom, Disneyland, that it, "...will never be completed. It will continue to grow as long as there is imagination left in the world." It's one of the most popular quotes from a man who has entire websites dedicated to the things that he said in his life. It demonstrates just how much of a visionary the man was.

Change and growth are essential components to success, and places like Disneyland and the more massive Walt Disney World follow Walt's credo to this day. Take the Magic Kingdom, for example. There are some things that seem to never change and perhaps need updating—the Swiss Family Treehouse, the Country Bear Jamboree, or that final scene in the Carousel of Progress—but it would be hard to argue that the Magic Kingdom hasn't changed even in the past 15 years or so. Think about defunct Magic Kingdom attractions like Snow White's Scary Adventures, The Timekeeper, ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter, or nighttime shows like Wishes and Spectromagic. How about Toontown—an entire land? Consider additions like New Fantasyland and Storybook Circus. How about the reconfiguration of the hub area? A lot has stayed the same, but a lot has definitely changed.

As Disney fans, and more specifically Walt Disney World fans, we tend to vociferously resist change to certain areas of our beloved parks and resorts, while simultaneously rallying against any stagnation that the Walt Disney Company dares to show in other areas. As fans, we tend to not only want our cake and eat it too, but we also want it to have cool sparkling candles, a tasty fountain of fudge inside, it has to be Mickey shaped, and we want it served to us by talking characters from obscure favorite Disney films while riding the latest form of incredible ride vehicle. And, oh yeah, we want it free.

Writing for a website like MousePlanet, I'd like to think that I walk a fine line between encouraging the company to continue following Walt's visions of the parks being ever changing bastions of creativity and staunchly challenging them to keep their mitts off of my endearing favorites. Personally, I've been heartbroken by losing things like the Magic Kingdom rose garden, the aforementioned Spectromagic—the greatest Disney parade ever—and the Magic Kingdom welcome ceremony formerly held in front of the Walt Disney World Railroad Main Street Station. These are all things that I'd take back in a hot second but I know are gone forever.

My daughter was adamant about The Great Movie Ride being a huge loss at Hollywood Studios. Quite honestly, I could take it or leave it and I'm looking forward to its replacement that is being touted as a "game changer" when it comes to Disney attractions. I'm distraught about Artist Point being closed in favor of another character dining experience. Others, who maybe never had the means to splurge on one of Walt Disney World's finest restaurants are probably looking forward to the change. It's a fluid thing. What one fan loves, another is ready and willing to lose.

That all being said traveling around the Walt Disney World Resort this past summer, I was pretty encouraged by just how much is going on, much of it, no doubt, in preparation for the upcoming 50th anniversary in 2021. There's a whole lot to look forward to beyond those omnipresent construction walls. Let's count down what I'm most looking forward to with my top 5 Walt Disney World construction projects that I can't wait to see completed.

The one big caveat I'm throwing out there first is, and please pay attention to this important detail: I'm NOT including Star War's: Galaxy's Edge in this countdown. There's nothing I'm looking forward to as much as Galaxy's Edge. Period. It's not even fair to include it on this list because aspects of it would take over each slot. There's enough other stuff going on to list, so Star Wars is out on this particular list.

5 – Ratatouille

There are many that are decrying the Walt Disney Company's apparent intellectual property takeover of Epcot. While it's true that Finding Nemo, The Three Caballeros, and Frozen have already taken over much beloved attractions in Epcot and the Guardians of the Galaxy overthrow of Ellen and Bill Nye is well under way, I can honestly say that so far, I don't have many complaints. I think that there's plenty of room in Epcot for attractions like Spaceship Earth, Soarin' and Test Track which are Disney character-free and the new slate of character-based fare. I think they've done a good job with Frozen, Nemo, and Donald Duck and his bird friends. I don't think they take away from the Epcot experience at all.


Walking along the International Gateway into Epcot, you can clearly see the Ratatouille building going up behind the France pavilion. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

The addition of Remy and his pals to the France pavilion has me excited for two reasons. One, I'm a huge fan of the film. In my humble opinion, it's one of Pixar's best storytelling achievements. The second and perhaps more important reason is that it's an addition to the France pavilion. They're not closing something to build it. It represents the growth of a World Showcase pavilion, and I'm all for that. It was kind of exciting to watch the construction progress each day this summer as we walked over to Epcot from the Yacht Club. I'm anticipating this to be a welcome addition to the lineup of World Showcase.

4 – The Disney Skyliner

Something else that was obviously in the throes of construction this past summer was the new Disney Skyliner. As I mentioned above, we walked over from the Yacht Club to Epcot's International Gateway entrance almost every day this past summer. While the construction walls were a bit unsightly, the new mode of Disney transportation being developed is certainly intriguing.


A Skyliner tower appears over Disney's Caribbean Beach Resort. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

I'm all for a nice peaceful aerial view as I commute around the resort. My hope is that if it's a success, they might expand it to other locales around property. We tend to stay at the Yacht Club these days, so it's my guess that the Skyliner will be omnipresent in my future ; they are building a station right in between the neighboring Beach Club and the aforementioned International Gateway. I am a little bit concerned what this will do to the Gateway entrance, which currently stands as the simplest way to enter any Disney park, but I'm hoping for the best.

3 – Mickey and Minnie's Runaway Railway

I know this is a sore spot for many of you out there, my own daughter included. It's been said by some that The Great Movie Ride was indeed the soul of this park. After all, it celebrated the history of movies, the very basis for the park's existence. Here's where I diverge from the pack. I always enjoyed my time on The Great Movie Ride, but I was alright with it going away. As long as they replace it with something truly special.


Concept Art for Mickey & Minnie's Runaway Railway. ©Disney

The phrase "game changer" isn't thrown around that lightly, and yet, that's exactly how the Imagineers have very vaguely described this new ride. I have faith in them as a creative entity. So, while it was sad to walk by the Chinese Theater and see it essentially shuttered for the time being, I have a sense of curious anticipation for what is to come.

2 – Guardians of the Galaxy

Continuing in that sore spot vein is the replacement of Ellen's Energy Adventure with a new massive indoor roller coaster themed to the Guardians of the Galaxy. Sorry to disappoint the faithful out there, but Ellen was ready to go. Sure, it was a cool concept to have the whole theater separate into ride vehicles. The trip to the past with classic Disney animatronics and the Big Bang moment was pretty exhilarating, but I personally felt that the whole thing was past its prime and we barely experienced it over the last few years of its existence.


The enormous structure for the new Guardians of the Galaxy attraction looms over Epcot's Future World. Photo by Alan S. Dalinka.

I'm a huge, huge fan of the Guardians. I love the comics, the films, the characters, even the animated series, so I'm good with them having a mega attraction all to themselves. I will admit that the whole "Peter Quill visited Epcot when he was a kid" explanation for why they belong in Future World seems a little forced. I'm hoping that the legendary storytellers at Disney will make me appreciate this fit. I'm also banking on the whole experience blowing me away as a Disney fan and as a Guardians fan. My expectations are high for this one.

1 – Tron

Nothing made me happier than to hear that Disney was finally bringing something based on Tron to Walt Disney World. I was even more happy to see that work has already begun. The original film reminds me of my childhood. I was the perfect age to be excited by Tron when it was released. I graduated eighth grade in 1982, the year Tron was released. During those years, things like Atari and the omnipresent classic arcade games were a very big deal to my friends and I, and Tron seemed to represent the first time that world really burst onto the silver screen.

I still think the lightcycle scenes hold up to this day as very cool looking effects. You can't imagine just how jealous I was when I saw the awesome Tron Lightcycle Power Run ride that arrived in Shanghai Disneyland. And now, it's only a matter of time before I'm finally boarding my own lightcycle. I've literally been waiting for this since I was 14.


The TRON coaster concept art shows the new attraction cozying up to the Tomorrowland Speedway and the Walt Disney World Railroad. ©Disney

Once again, I'm thrilled that this was another addition to Walt Disney World. Nothing is being shuttered or retired to open up Tron. They're carving a spot for it in Tomorrowland in the Magic Kingdom, and I'm beside myself excited for this one. If you haven't checked out a ride-through video of the Shanghai version, look for it on YouTube and you'll see what I mean.

Construction walls are a familiar sight to those of us that travel to Walt Disney World often enough. I can't imagine a trip where I didn't actually see something being built or, at the very least, something being worked on. Sometimes they come down, and you don't notice a thing. It was a repair or straight out replacement. Other times they come down piece by piece and something truly amazing is revealed. When Pandora was being built, you could see the floating islands appearing from a distance, but you couldn't see anything else emerging from behind the walls. It was a grand reveal once it was opened to the public.

As far as these 5, You can't miss the new Guardians attraction progress. the building is enormous and to me, it's exciting to see it go up. The same will be said as Tron develops into the behemoth that it will more than likely be. What's going on inside the Chinese Theater is going to be a lot more of a surprise I imagine. Over in World Showcase, you can see Ratatouille going up from the walkway into the International Gateway as you simultaneously walk by the new Skyliner station. So, the anticipation is there. And I said I wouldn't mention it but don't even get me started on the views over the walls into Galaxy's Edge as you hit that peak on the new Slinky Dog Dash coaster. I have to admit, I really do enjoy these moments of anticipation.

Some may see the construction walls as an inconvenience and sometimes even an eyesore. I tend to view them as the fulfillment of one of Walt's biggest promises; that these places we love will never truly be finished and will always be in a constant state of creative and imaginative change. That's how the boss wanted it and I'm always glad to see that somethings, especially change, never change.

That's my list of what's being built right now at Walt Disney World, and what excites me the most behind the construction walls. As always, I'd like to hear what you have to say. Click on the link below, let me hear your thoughts and I'll see you next time with another Disney Top 5.