'Toy Story' land coming to Disney World, update on 'Avatar' land

Themed-land details announced for Hollywood Studios, Animal Kingdom

By Ken Pilcher - Producer

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. - A new 11-acre "Toy Story" land has been announced for Disney's Hollywood Studios, along with an update on how Disney's Animal Kingdom will invite guests into the world of "Avatar."

[MORE: What Disney's plans mean for Central Florida]

Disney CEO Bob Iger said on Saturday that the new "Star Wars" area will be the largest single-themed land ever, to include a cantina restaurant from the movie and 2 major rides, one of which will put you in the cockpit of the Millenium Falcon.

In "Toy Story" land, park guests will be able to become part of Andy's backyard, including two new Disney Parks attractions and an expanded favorite, park officials said.

A family-friendly roller coaster will take guests on a toy-filled adventure throughout the new land on the back of Slinky Dog. Officials said the green aliens from the movie will take guests around for a spin in their very own flying saucers.

Finally, guests will be able to glide into the "Toy Story" Midway Games Play Set and take aim at 3-D objects in a variety of games, with an expansion that adds an additional track to the attraction, officials said.

Rosen College professor Dr. Duncan Dickson said Hollywood Studios was due for a makeover.

"You have to stay relevant, you have to stay fresh," said Dickson. "You have to give that person the reason to come back. There's something new, something I haven't seen, not the same old thing."

Dickson estimates Star Wars and Toy Story expansions will generate at least 1000 jobs for Central Florida.

"Construction jobs, creative jobs," said Dickson. "And then the operators. You're increasing the staff at Hollywood Studios and Pandora that whole land there." 

Disney officials also announced new information on how Animal Kingdom guests will be able to journey into the world of Pandora at a new "Avatar"-themed land. The park will transform after dark with new nighttime entertainment experiences, offering guests longer days than before.

In a ride called "Flight of Passage," guests will also be able to soar on a Banshee over a vast alien world.

Newly announced is a family-friendly boat through a bioluminescent forest. Disney promises the land itself will be an attraction in itself that will make you feel like you have really traveled to another world.

Expected to open next spring, "Rivers of Light" will be an innovative show that combines live music, floating lanterns, water screens and swirling animal imagery, park officials said.

Sunset Kilimanjaro Safaris will be extended for a new nighttime adventure next spring, where guests will travel through the African savanna amid the extended orange glow of the setting sun and discover two species new to the attraction -- African wild dogs and hyenas, officials said.

 Dr. Dickson added that the expansions will bring more cars, hotels, and people to Central Florida. There is no public transportation from Orlando International Airport to Disney World.

 "Orlando is the top destination in the world for leisure and business and by adding these attractions we maintain that," said Dr. Dickson. "Sunrail has done nothing for the tourist community. Going from Deland to Downtown Orlando does nothing for the tourist community."

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