The Biggest Changes Made At Walt Disney World In The Last Ten Years

Disney Castle Rainbow

For some guests, a Walt Disney World vacation is a once-in-a-decade trip. In the last decade, Walt Disney World has seen a massive amount of change. If it has been a few years since your last visit you might be shocked to discover all of the new rides, resorts, restaurants, and attractions that have been added. So, what has changed in the last ten years at Walt Disney World?

Magic Kingdom

If your last visit to Walt Disney World was before December of 2012, then you had just missed the biggest expansion to Magic Kingdom ever created. New Fantasyland was added to Magic Kingdom on December 6th, 2012. This expansion added 26 acres to Fantasyland in Magic Kingdom, and brought the addition of two new rides: Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid (a classic dark ride through Ariel’s journey), and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train (a gentle yet exciting roller coaster themed to Snow White). This expansion also contained a new meet and greet area for Ariel, Rapunzel’s Tower and themed bathrooms, and Princess Fairytale Hall for meeting your favorite princesses. A replica of Belle’s castle was also added with a themed restaurant entitled “Be Our Guest”. Gaston’s Tavern was also included as a causal, quick-service style restaurant for drinks and treats.

Concept Art for New Fantasyland 2012
Concept Art for New Fantasyland 2012 Photo by Disney

Hollywood Studios

If you haven’t visited Hollywood Studios in the last decade, you might return to find it unrecognizable. The giant Mickey’s Sorcerer Hat has been removed and now the iconic Chinese Theatre acts as the park’s icon. The Great Movie Ride that once resided in the Chinese Theatre has been replaced with a new dark ride: Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway.

Two massive new lands have opened in Hollywood Studios: Toy Story Land and Galaxy’s Edge. Toy Story Land shrinks you down to the size of a toy and allows you to adventure with Woody, Buzz, and the rest of the gang. Toy Story Mania resides in this location, as well as two new rides: Slinky Dog Dash (an action-packed roller coaster) and Alien Swirling Saucers (a gentle spinning ride). There is also a new food stand called Woody’s Lunchbox where you can partake in nostalgic food like homemade pop-tarts and grilled cheese sandwiches.

Toy Story Land
Toy Story Land Photo by Disney

Galaxy’s Edge is a massive new land that transports you to the fictional planet of Batuu. Enjoy a high-speed and action-packed ride with Rise of the Resistance, and become a pilot on the Millennium Falcon with Smuggler’s Run. Build a lightsaber at Savi’s Workshop or build a droid at Droid Depot. Have a drink at Oga’s Cantina, or have a meal at Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo. Galaxy’s Edge is an immersive experience that won’t disappoint.

Disney's Galaxy Edge
Galaxy’s Edge Photo by Disney

Animal Kingdom

Disney’s Animal Kingdom has also seen great change in the last decade with the addition of Pandora- World of Avatar. Become immersed in the alien life of the Na’vi and explore the beautiful floating mountains in this land filled with the wonder of nature. Hop aboard a banshee when you ride Avatar Flight of Passage, an incredible 3-D ride experience. Board a boat and take a slow-moving journey throughout the rainforest with Na’vi River Journey. There is also a new quick-service restaurant here entitled Satu’il Canteen, that will immerse you in the fictional culture of the Na’vi.

Pandora World of Avatar
Floating Rocks in Pandora


A big change seen in EPCOT has been the closure of the beloved Maelstrom ride, and the addition of Frozen Ever After in its place. There is also a new Frozen meet and greet where you can meet Anna and Elsa.

Frozen Ever After
Frozen Ever After Photo by Disney

The most exciting change to EPCOT has been the addition of a new roller coaster “Cosmic Rewind” themed after Guardians of the Galaxy. With this new addition comes a closure however, this coaster took the place of the Universe of Energy attraction.

EPCOT is currently undergoing renovations as it is the next park to undergo big change. Much of it will be under construction if you plan on visiting within the next year. Many exciting plans are in the works for EPCOT including a Moana themed area.

Disney Springs

You might not be familiar with Disney Springs if you haven’t visited Disney World in the last ten years. Downtown Disney has been transformed into Disney Springs. The liveliness of Downtown Disney has been toned down to fit more of a low-key, small-town vibe with Disney Springs. A stunning water feature mimicking a natural spring has been added, as well as some new stores such as the Coca-Cola Store, Marketplace Co-Op, Gideon’s, and more.

Disney Springs in Orlando, FL
Downtown Disney is now Disney Springs.

Other New Additions

If you haven’t been to Walt Disney World in the last decade, you might also be surprised to find out that much of the day-t0-day park planning is now done via the My Disney Experience app. Be sure to download this app before your next trip to look at ride wait times, make dining reservations, schedule lighting lane passes, and more. Magic Bands are also a relatively new addition to Walt Disney World. A magic band will contain your park tickets, room key, credit card payment info, and any sort of reservation or lightning lane ticket.

Disney Genie Services
Disney Genie Services will be accessed through the My Disney Experience app (Photo: Disney).

Overall, a lot has changed in the last ten years at Walt Disney World. However, don’t feel overwhelmed by all of this new information! Cast members are always there to answer any questions you have and to make your vacation memorable. If you haven’t visited the parks in a while, enjoy all of the new attractions and experiences.

Has it been a while since your last Disney World trip? We’d love to hear about your last trip in the comments below.

Featured Photo by Disney

Written by

Megan Woodard

Contributing Writer

Megan was born into a Disney family. Her first trip to Disney World was when she was only 18 months old. Now as an adult, Megan loves to share the magic of Disney with her two toddlers. Keeping up with Disney news and Disney World knowledge is a fun hobby for Megan. Disney World is her favorite place to be and continuously brings back her childhood joy.

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