I'm happy to bring you this Disney Skyliner Construction Update for November 2017. Ever since we saw…
With so many different construction projects going on in Walt Disney World right now, it’s really hard to keep up on all the latest news about them. (Believe me, there are a lot!)
That’s why we’ve created this page to keep track of all the Disney World construction updates for all the major projects currently happening. Here you will find reports on all the new attractions, lands, shows, restaurants, hotels that will be popping up in Walt Disney World over the next couple of years.
Of all the things we work on here at Ziggy Knows Disney, the construction updates might be our favorite of all. There’s something exciting about seeing these new construction projects as they go from inception and you see them in every phase until they finally open and you get to experience them for yourself!
I’m going to give you a rundown with all the latest for all the Disney World construction work being done at:
- Magic Kingdom Park
- Hollywood Studios
- Animal Kingdom
- and Outside the Theme Parks (Hotels, Disney Springs, etc)
In each of those categories, click the links to see separate construction update pages where we have numerous posts breaking down each project in more detail.
We aren’t getting into all the refurbishments on this page but will concentrate for the most part on new construction in Disney World. Instead, we talk about those in our post on Walt Disney World Refurbishments – Complete Schedule.
Also, this page is only for construction projects currently in progress or ones recently finished. To find out about more of the future and what’s coming next, read our guide about all the Disney World new rides and attractions scheduled for 2020-2022.
(UPDATED 1/10/21): We will keep this page constantly updated with the latest Disney World construction news so keep checking back for the latest, including new pages from the links!
Also, don’t forget to sign up for our FREE Weekly E-Mail Newsletter. There we bring you the latest construction updates going on in Disney World as well as vacation planning tips. You can sign up here: Join our E-Mail Newsletter
What is Disney Building? Let’s go find out…
(UPDATE): Walt Disney World Construction Progress After Reopening
You may know that because of the Disney World closure, all projects under construction had to come to a temporary stop back in March. Thankfully Disney has since restarted the majority of those projects and they are moving ahead toward completion.
Some of the projects that have started back up include new rides like the TRON and Guardians of the Galaxy roller coasters, resorts like The Disney World Swan Reserve, the EPCOT overhaul, the Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom walkway, Cinderella Castle, and new park entrances such as in the Magic Kingdom, EPCOT and the Animal Kingdom.
A few months ago, Disney CEO Bob Chapek has said that the company was cutting $700 million in construction projects in 2021. Because of this, some of the current projects in Walt Disney World are being postponed and a few even canceled.
We still don’t have an official list from Disney of the official status for each one, but as the weeks and months go by, we will be able to tell if certain projects don’t restart. One example is the Spaceship Earth refurbishment which is not going through at this time.
The TRON roller coaster in Disney’s Magic Kingdom moved forward over the Summer and Fall but is now shutting down again. Over at the Guardians of the Galaxy coaster in EPCOT, the famous Xandarian spaceship from the concept art is getting built.
And the next time you are at Disney’s Magic Kingdom, you’ll now be able to take the new walkway over to the Grand Floridian or Polynesian Resorts.
Scroll down for more detail on those projects and more. We’ll keep you informed as soon as we know more.
Read our Disney World Reopening Guide for more info on everything being impacted and what to expect moving forward.
Magic Kingdom Construction Updates
Disney’s Magic Kingdom may be the crown jewel of Walt Disney World, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t still evolving. In this past decade, most of the work has been concentrated on New Fantasyland with attractions like Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train being added.
But in the last 5 years, things have been pretty quiet until the new TRON Lightcycle roller coaster was announced at the 2017 D23 Expo. Things are moving ahead with that project since the closure, though the opening has been delayed some. The Walt Disney World Railroad is still closed for a long refurbishment because of the TRON construction and will be staying that way for all of 2021.
Cinderella Castle just finished up a refurbishment and it is now even more beautiful than ever with vivid colors that bring the iconic structure to life.
It’s going to be fun following the other enhancements and new projects Disney has in mind for the 50th Anniversary in 2021. Here are the latest updates on the current Magic Kingdom projects…
I lost my mind when this was announced at the 2017 D23 Expo. This is going to be the centerpiece of the Tomorrowland renovation and the original Shanghai Disney version, the TRON Lightcycle Power Run is the fastest Disney attraction outside the USA.
Construction continued through Summer and Fall 2020. At this point, the track has been installed, the show building exterior is up. The canopy, which will light up at night and covers the outdoor portion of the ride, is being installed. Construction has now come to a halt and won’t continue until sometime later in 2021.
Things at the Magic Kingdom are about to get a whole lot more thrilling in time for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World.
Estimated Opening: Spring/Summer 2022
This isn’t new construction, but since the work going on is outside and visible we wanted to include it.
Both the Walt Disney World Railroad and the Tomorrowland Speedway were closed down for a good part of the year for the TRON coaster project. Now the Tomorrowland Speedway is back open, but the Walt Disney World Railroad is being re-routed and will still be closed for most/all of 2021.
In the above link you will be taken to our page with updates on this attraction.
Estimated Opening: 2022
Grand Floridian to Magic Kingdom Walkway Updates
Something Walt Disney World guests have been asking for, for decades is a walkway from the Grand Floridian and Polynesian Resorts to the Magic Kingdom, and it’s finally finished.
This includes a bridge connecting the two parts of the land and allows guests to freely walk between locations.
Construction started in Summer 2019 and finished in Fall 2020. We really enjoy the walkway and it’s a convenient way to get between the Grand Floridian and Magic Kingdom.
Estimated Opening: NOW OPEN
Cinderella Castle Refurbishment
Just like Sleeping Beauty Castle in Disneyland in 2019, Cinderella Castle in Disney’s Magic Kingdom got a royal makeover in 2020.
The castle got a new paint job with much brighter tones including royal blue on the spire roofs and a subtle rose color on the main body of the castle. It’s also is covered in gold trim, perfect for the 50th Anniversary celebration.
Work started in Winter 2020 and was delayed slightly due to the park closure. It then finished in the Summer. We like the change and think it’s a fitting look for the park’s 50th anniversary.
Estimated Opening: NOW OPEN
EPCOT Construction Updates
Walking through all the construction over the last three years in Hollywood Studios is going to seem like a walk in the park compared to what’s going down in EPCOT over the next 3 years.
EPCOT unfortunately in the past 10+ years has become a glorified, year-round food festival, far from the original vision for the park. Opinions are split on which direction the park is currently heading in, but one thing is for sure…change is coming, and it’s gonna be big!
Already the EPCOT skyline is being dominated by the huge Guardians of the Galaxy coaster which is already closed up, as well as the massive France expansion going on in World Showcase’s France Pavilion with a ride based on Ratatouille: Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure.
Disney is almost finished with construction on the new EPCOT entrance plaza which is already a much greener space with more trees, flowers and a dramatic overhaul of the fountain at the entrance.
This is just the beginning however as there are construction walls around the center of what we know as Future World but is turning into World Celebration.
The massive transformation taking place has already seen Innoventions, Club Cool, Fountains of Nations, Starbucks and MouseGear all close down for the construction. Innoventions West is being destroyed and that land will be used for future projects.
Restaurants are always a big part of EPCOT and guests are already dining in the new high-end steakhouse in Japan, Takumi-Tei and in 2020 they’ll be dining in outer Space as well. Yeah, you read that right, diners will be sent up 220 miles above the earth to dine in a futuristic space station. Construction for Space 220 is almost finished it should be opening soon.
The short-term replacement for “Illuminations: Reflections of Earth” was introduced in 2019 and is called: “EPCOT Forever“, but the long-term show “Disney Harmonious” is still under construction and should be opening in 2021.
A Play Pavilion is replacing the Wonders of Life, and there is much more still rumored for EPCOT. I’d say the next few years are going to be pretty interesting, but it will be a war zone walking through Future World that’s for sure.
Here is the latest on all of the construction projects currently going on in EPCOT:
Announced in 2017, the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster is going to be one of the longest indoor roller coasters in the world when completed and for sure one of the most exciting rides in Walt Disney World.
It’s based on the Guardians of the Galaxy characters from the Marvel Cinematic Universe and is taking over the old spot of Ellen’s Energy Adventure.
Construction is going very well and the entire track has been installed and the gigantic new show building is closed up.
Right now the majority of work is being done on the pre-show and queue area, including the Xandarian spaceship being constructed outside the entrance.
The project has been delayed slightly and we can expect it to be ready by early 2022, during the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World.
Estimated Opening: Early 2022
Remy’s Ratatouille Adventure
+ France Pavilion
This is a copy of the similarly named Ratatouille attraction in Walt Disney Studios Park in Disneyland Paris.
Guests follow Remy from the Pixar film “Ratatouille” along on this adventure through a working French kitchen in a trackless vehicle as they avoid danger at every turn.
Not only is an attraction coming to France, but a huge expansion with a big square, shops, a crepe restaurant, and a new Beauty and the Beast Sing-Along!
Construction for both projects is almost complete with most of the new plaza now complete on the outside which can be visibly seen from the Disney Skyliner. It was supposed to open in Summer 2020, but it is now opening October 1, 2021.
Estimated Opening: October 1, 2021
A replacement for the Illuminations: Reflections of Earth fireworks show has been in the works for some time and we are now getting its successor…or should I say, successors.
Two new nighttime shows were developed for EPCOT. The first show, “EPCOT Forever” debuted in 2019.
The second one, a Celebration of Disney Music is called “Disney Harmonious” and is going to be the permanent one. This will be the biggest, most spectacular nighttime spectacular ever in a theme park.
The framework is currently under construction right now in Epcot with new barges under construction in the middle of World Showcase Lagoon. They will be permanent and used in a new daytime show as well.
Disney Harmonious was supposed to debut in 2020, but 2021 is more likely.
Estimated Opening: 2021
This is definitely one of the coolest projects in Walt Disney World and is going to give guests the opportunity to see what it’s like to eat in outer space!
This new Table Service restaurant will be attached to the current Mission: SPACE attraction building and near Test Track in Future World.
The restaurant is going to have a huge spherical shaped dining room with giant projection windows on it, simulating what it would be like to dine in space.
Right now construction is almost finished, but the opening has been plagued by constant delays, and we still don’t know when it’s opening.
This promises to be a can’t miss dining opportunity for guests visiting EPCOT and we’ll keep you up to date with the latest progress on the build.
Estimated Opening: Winter/Spring 2021
EPCOT Entrance Remodel
This is a huge project for EPCOT which includes a total renovation of the park’s entrance.
It’s immediately apparent that the new entrance looks much different than the old one. The Leave a Legacy monuments have been removed and Disney is focusing on a much lusher and green space, much like the Project Gemini previously planned.
Construction is almost finished on the EPCOT entrance with the West and East sides basically finished. The fountain in the middle of the plaza is also completed. It has 3 new acrylic pylons as a callback to the original fountain.
The entrance is open with only a few finishing touches left to complete and will be done in plenty of time for the 50th Anniversary of Walt Disney World.
Estimated Opening: NOW OPEN
EPCOT Future World/World Celebration Construction
Future World was amazing when it opened up and throughout the 80’s, but it’s severely outdated now and the time has come to move into the future.
Disney has recently closed many Future World staples such as: Innoventions, Club Cool, Fountain of Nations, Starbucks, Electric Umbrella, Character Spot and more…
Much of the Innoventions West building has been destroyed and it is currently blocked off by construction walls to guests. This will be the future home of the Festival Center (if it still gets built) and the Moana attraction (more later).
We’ll keep an eye out for you about what’s coming in their place.
Estimated Opening: 2022 or 2023
This all-new interactive experience is being built on the old Innoventions West site and will be the first Moana-themed attraction in a Disney theme park.
Guests will interact with magical living water in the future home of World Nature.
Right now the land is being cleared and leveled down in preparation for the attraction.
We won’t start to see anything of interest until the rest of the Innoventions demolition is complete, thought it should be soon.
Estimated Opening: 2022
We know very little about the new Play Pavilion which was recently announced to take over the old Wonders of Life Pavilion in Future World.
Not much visible work has been done outside yet (besides the roof and some cosmetic work) and it’ll be hard to track the progress as most work will be done on the inside of the building.
We did recently find out that a Monorail Mark X attraction is going to be part of the Play! Pavilion, along with other digital experiences.
However, we’ll keep you updated with the construction as soon as we have more.
Estimated Opening: 2022
Anytime you tell me I can eat some good barbecue, I’m in! That’s what the Regal Eagle Smokehouse lets you do and it is now open in the American Adventure pavilion in EPCOT.
Work is now complete and you can try any of the amazing smoked meat platters. We think the North Carolina chopped smoked pork butt, brisket and ribs are all great for a quick service restaurant. Make this a must-try on a trip through World Showcase.
Estimated Opening: NOW OPEN
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Hollywood Studios Construction Updates
This is a big year for Hollywood Studios as it’s trying to manage all of the recent projects that have opened up in recent years. Things have been moving in a very different way from the “behind the scenes at the movies” philosophy when the park opened to an experience that puts you right “in” the movies.
If you looked back on what Disney’s Hollywood Studios was only 4 years ago, you would be shocked to see what it’s become today. It just recently opened the most anticipated theme park land in history, and that’s just one of the main additions to the park.
Two years ago we got Toy Story Land, and of course last year everything changed when Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge opened up. This giant 14-acre land is already changing the way guests visit theme parks.
Besides Galaxy’s Edge there are other construction projects around the Studios like the newly opened Lightning McQueen’s Racing Academy which is a revolutionary show/experience based on the Cars franchise, as well as Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway, a new innovative dark ride based on Mickey and Minnie. This takes the place of The Great Movie Ride inside the Chinese Theater.
Plus Hollywood Studios has undergone lots of transportation enhancements like the Disney Skyliner and upgrades to the Parking lot. Here are the updates currently going on…
Though the construction for Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge is complete, we felt it was necessary at least to acknowledge what an impact it’s made on the Studios.
You don’t need an introduction to Galaxy’s Edge and everyone knows this is the most ambitious project Disney Imagineering has ever taken on.
We followed the construction updates on Galaxy’s Edge for almost 3 years now and have seen it rise up from literally piles of dirt, to a thriving alien spaceport.
In the above link you’ll find useful info on all the attractions (Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run and Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance) as well as the shops, restaurants and more!
Estimated Opening: NOW OPEN
Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway is an ambitious new dark ride taking the place of The Great Movie Ride in the iconic Chinese Theater.
It features trackless vehicles and an incredible new technology to render the environments Imagineers are calling: 2 1/2 D.
We had a blast on opening day and in the days following and while we miss The Great Movie Ride, this is an acceptable replacement that fans are going to love for a long time.
Opening: NOW OPEN
With only one dining location currently in Toy Story Land, it was clear another choice was needed. Meet the Roundup Rodeo BBQ.
Join Woody and the gang in this new sit-down restaurant themed to Toy Story.
Construction was on schedule before the closure and the building has been closed up while work is proceeding on the interior.
It was scheduled for a 2020 opening, but 2021 is now more realistic.
Estimated Opening: 2021
Animal Kingdom Construction Updates
After one of the busiest times in its short history, not too much is going on right now in Disney’s Animal Kingdom a far as new construction projects. Pandora: The World of Avatar opened up in 2017 and has been a massive success with guests so far, with lines for its top attraction Flight of Passage still hitting the 3-hour mark on a regular basis.
As far as new projects, the biggest one has been the upgrade to the Animal Kingdom entrance. This includes a new tram drop-off point which will be covered from the elements. This area also improves guest flow with a faster security checkpoint.
Disney also recently finished construction on its 4th and final Disney World location of Club 33. This is Disney’s private dining club and unfortunately, without a membership, or without being a guest of a member, you cannot go. It’s a shame because it looks like a fantastic place from the outside of the building!
Besides that, there are no other live construction sites and no major projects in the works for new attractions at this time, though there are many rumors. We could be finding out more in the upcoming months, but we’ll let you know.
Construction Updates Outside the Disney Theme Parks (Hotels, Disney Springs, etc)
Even though there are many construction projects and new attractions going on inside the Disney World theme parks, probably just as much work has been going on outside the theme parks recently. We’re going to share with you what’s going up and coming in the near future.
First of all, you all know about the newest transportation system in Walt Disney World, the Disney Skyliner. This is now open and has totally changed the way people get around property.
There are also many hotel projects going up that have just been completed like Disney’s Riviera Resort or the Gran Destino Tower over at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort.
Plus there are even more new hotels currently being built like a new luxury boutique hotel near the Swan and Dolphin, The Disney World Swan Reserve; and oh yeah….a Star Wars-themed hotel near Hollywood Studios and attached to Galaxy’s Edge. We aren’t as sure about the new DVC resort on Bay Lake, Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge and it looks like that project has been shelved.
Then beyond the hotel construction there are always new things going into Disney Springs. We’ve had a never-ending line of new restaurant openings over the past 4 years, and this year is no different with new openings like City Works Eatery & Pour House. I’m hungry already!
Transportation Construction Updates
The Disney Skyliner has been one of the most fun construction projects in Walt Disney World because, it’s been really all over Walt Disney World! This is now open, and is an awesome transportation system that we love to ride around in. In fact, it’s our favorite method of transportation in Walt Disney World.
Disney Skyliner Gondola Construction
The Disney Skyliner is the newest form of transportation in Walt Disney World, and the future.
Similar in style to the Magic Kingdom Skyway, it connects Epcot, Hollywood Studios, Pop Century, Art of Animation, Caribbean Beach and the Disney Riviera Resort.
It’s been impossible to miss the Disney Skyliner construction in Disney World over the past year+, towers have been rising up all over property.
The Skyliner is now open and we love it!
Opening: NOW OPEN
Disney World Hotel Construction Updates
Two of these projects have already been completed (Gran Destino Tower and Disney Riviera Resort), 2 are in full construction mode right now, and 1 is potentially canceled. It’s going to be interesting to follow what happens…
Work is starting to take off for the Star Wars Hotel after last year saw the entire structure for the building rise from its foundation. Now it’s completely sealed off and work is focused on the interior.
Just like Galaxy’s Edge, this ground-breaking new hotel is Disney’s most ambitious one yet and will have guests sleeping onboard a starship while taking part in interactive missions.
Site work is ongoing and more construction has been done recently adding trees to block guests’ view of the building as they arrive.
The opening has likely been delayed, and a 2022 is probably most likely at this point.
Estimated Opening: 2022
Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort has just got a big upgrade last year by opening its new luxury tower the Gran Destino Tower.
The Gran Destino Tower is 15 stories and has 545 new guest rooms and 50 suites, aimed at the high-end and corporate guests. There will also be 2 new restaurants on property.
The Gran Destino Tower opened in July 2019 and we absolutely love it! It’s been used to house many of the NBA teams while in the bubble for the playoffs.
We think it’s a great addition to the Walt Disney World hotels and perhaps the best moderate hotel.
Opening: NOW OPEN
Disney’s Riviera Resort is the newest Disney Vacation Club resort since opening up last year.
It has 300 family-friendly vacation homes with: tower and deluxe studios, one-bedroom and two-bedroom villas, and grand villas.
The Riviera Resort has a Signature Dining Restaurant, Quick Service, a Cafe, and a Bar, not to mention the stunning views.
We love staying here and highly recommend it as one of the best resort experiences in Disney World.
Opening: NOW OPEN
This new DVC resort was being built on the old River Country site along Bay Lake and near the Fort Wilderness Campground.
With a name that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and concept art that looks a bit like a Marriott draped in the middle of the woods, the verdict is still out on Reflections: A Disney Lakeside Lodge.
While construction was making incredible progress before the park closures, it now looks like Reflections has been canceled. Concrete has been taken out and the site covered over.
It looks like if we ever see this get built it won’t be until years down the line.
Estimated Opening: Maybe Canceled?
The Disney World Swan Reserve Hotel is going to appeal to the luxury crowd as this 349-room hotel comes to Disney World in the next years.
Built over by the Swan and Dolphin Hotels, The Cove Hotel will have high-tech suites and a rooftop restaurant perfect for the fireworks.
The Cove structure has already reached its peak height, rising high above the surrounding area. Some work is left on the outside, but from now on the majority will be concentrated on the interior of the building.
This technically isn’t a Disney-owned hotel, so construction is moving forward.
Estimated Opening: July 2021
Disney Springs Construction Updates:
Most of the projects in the Marketplace, The Landing and The Town Center are finished now, but Disney is now turning their attention to the West Side with new shows, restaurants, and experiences happening there!
City Works Eatery & Pour House is a new sports bar/restaurant is now open, while its neighbor, the NBA Experience just opened in 2019. With more people coming to Disney Springs than ever before, work is also being done on a new parking garage across the street. And we still have the new Cirque du Soleil show coming at some point.
Disney Springs Construction Updates
In Disney Springs there has been a little bit of construction still going on including newly opened restaurants like:
Everglazed Donuts focuses on freshly made donuts from scratch with wild flavors like Peanut Butter Explosion, Oreo Supreme, and Maple Double Bacon.
Gideon’s Bakehouse brings the famous Orlando-based bakery to Disney World, and with it its GIANT and equally delicious cookies!
Other newer projects of note include City Works Eatery & Pour House, Jaleo, and the new refurbishment to The World of Disney store.
That wraps up our Walt Disney World construction updates page. Keep checking back the individual links to each update page on a regular basis as we’ll be updating things as soon as we can!
I want to know what you think about the different construction projects in Disney World…
- Which new attraction are you most looking forward to?
- Which park will be the best when all the current work is finished?
Let us know in the comments section below!
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