As the summer of 2017 has worn on, guests have been waiting patiently for the reopening of the Rivers of America in Frontierland. The good news is that Big Thunder Trail has just opened up behind Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, but that's the extent of the news thus far. I've already made my guess as to when we can actually expect them to reopen now, but we have an early look into what we can expect the new layout to be and it answers a lot of questions guests have had during construction.
- SMALLER RIVERS - As many guessed when construction began, the Rivers of America have been shortened more considerably than I had expected. Before, a ride on the Mark Twain would take around 20 minutes but now it seems like it will be more like 15 minutes or less.
- WATERFALLS - When the Rivers of America first opened with the park in 1955, it featured two different waterfalls, but those have been missing from the Rivers' banks for over 20 years. Partially due to an effort to block views to and from Star Wars Land, Imagineers have re-introduced dramatic waterfalls mainly along the Disneyland Railroad route.
- GREATER CELEBRATION OF AMERICA - The Rivers of America have always been called such because they were meant to celebrate the Mississippi, the Columbia, the Missouri and the Rio Grande. The call for more dramatic structures to block views allowed Imagineers to make a greater distinction between areas of the Rivers so guests could more easily recognize the different parts of the country. Guests will now notice distinct regions as they travel and you can see in the illustration different types of rock work to distinguish the Columbian gorges from the sandstone archways near the Rio Grande.
- NEW RAILROAD PATH - Normally, Imagineers try to keep the path of the Disneyland Railroad straight and build other things around it, only tweaking the track where 100% necessary. For Star Wars Land it appears they decided to completely deviate from a straight path and created an awkwardly-designed left-hand curve that now hugs Big Thunder Trail. The Railroad now marks a distinct border between the new Star Wars-themed land and the rest of Disneyland Park.
- STAR WARS LAND ENTRANCES - As was expected, the main entrances into Star Wars Land are off of Big Thunder Trail. At least one path is clearly visible which goes underneath the Disneyland Railroad between two sandstone arches. Another has been suggested by some fans, but is not evident in this illustration.
If current rumours hold true, we can expect most of the Rivers of America (with the exception of Fantasmic!) and the Disneyland Railroad to open as soon as the end of July. Disney has made it very clear that everything will be open by the end of this summer, but time is beginning to run out so announcements should follow very soon.