Theme Park Bits: Meet BB-8 At Disney World, New Look At 'Avatar' Land, And The Refurbished 'Autopia'

In this edition of Theme Park Bits:

  • Tokyo Disneyland begins construction of three major new rides and lands.
  • Universal Studios installs new equipment for their Harry Potter nighttime shows.
  • A look at Disneyland's Autopia refurbishment.
  • A series of photos offer a new look at Pandora: The World of Avatar.
  • You can now meet BB-8 at Walt Disney World.
  • As announced last year, new attractions based on Beauty and the Beast, Minnie Mouse, and Big Hero 6 are coming to Tokyo Disneyland and construction is officially underway. The biggest of the bunch is the new Beauty and the Beast area, which will feature Belle's house, the Beast's castle, Gaston's pub, and a major new attraction that doesn't have a public name just yet.

    Last year, it was announced that Universal Studios' Wizarding World of Harry Potter would debut a new nighttime show that would utilize projection mapping to transform the already magical environment into something a little more spectacular. As you can see from the image above, the elements are currently being moved into place at Universal Studios Hollywood in the form of new projectors and lighting equipment.

    Disneyland's Autopia recent underwent refurbishments that added a new theme to the aging attraction: ASIMO (Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility) the robot and its robot bird friend named Bird. Naturally, these new characters come courtesy of corporate sponsor Honda, who were surely aware that this ride needed some kind of update to keep it relevant in 2017 (especially since it's supposedly on the chopping block for future development). If you want to check out the changes without actually riding Autopia, the video above will get you sorted.

    Logan Miller took to Twitter to share photos showing off props and vehicles from Walt Disney World's Pandora: The World of Avatar. The mech suit should be familiar to anyone who saw the 2009 movie, but the boat appears to be the ride vehicle for the Na'vi River Journey, one of the two rides set to open with the land next month at the Animal Kingdom park in Orlando.

    If you want more photos, Miller also shared a look at the land's bioluminescent plant-life (which is expected to keep visitors in the area until late at night), a close-up of an aging human sign (the land is "set" decades after the events of the film series), and the base of a floating mountain (a technical marvel that still looks awfully impressive).

    A new BB-8 meet-and-greet has opened at the Star Wars Launch Bay in Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World. An animatronic version of the adorable droid is now stationed near the cantina, ready to say hello to any visitors who wander in. While mobility is limited, he's a talkative fellow, as you can see in the video above.

    Let's end this post with a classic case of "good news, bad news." The good news: Disney California Adventure's Toy Story Midway Mania has finally added Fastpass, allowing guests to acquire a return time that will allow them to skip the bulk of the wait. The bad news: standby lines are now much, much larger.