Walt Disney World
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(3/21/18) Pirates Reopens With New Scene (MORE...)
(2/24/18) The Incredibles Are Coming To Tomorrowland (MORE...)
(2/22/18) Be Our Guest Adding Enhanced Dining Experience This July (MORE...)
(2/2/18) Did The New Theater Just Get Canceled? (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Liberty Square Riverboat - NOW CLOSED through June 28
Park News - (2/24/18) Disney has confirmed that The Incredibles characters are coming to Tomorrowland as part of a new "SUPER" dance party show on the Rocket Tower Stage. The show will feature Mr. Incredible, Elastigirl, Frozone and Edna Mode.
(2/22/18) Disney has announced that an "Enhanced Dining Experience" will be coming to the Be Our Guest restaurant starting this Summer. The new menu will feature a variety of new French inspired dishes served as a three-course dinner. Look for the new dinner "feast" to become available starting July 27th and follow the link to see what kind of new dishes are being cooked up.
(1/24/18) According to a posted by Theme Park Insider, the famous "Talking Mickey" meet 'n greets on Main Street will soon be a think of the past. They claim that the interactive Talking Mickey will be replaced with the generic silent Mickey costume character that entertained guests for decades before the new interactive version was released upon the world.
If true... this is kind of sad, as the Talking Mickey was really a piece of what I like to think of as being a big part of the next generation of theme park experience, where that kind of technology could be expanded upon to include countless other characters and other interactive venues. I'm just disappointed that it could all come to an end simply for budget reasons.
(1/18/19) CoasterAddict reports that a large construction wall has gone up to the right of the pathway entrance to Adventureland from the hub. While nothing has been confirmed yet, the believe is that this could be where the first Club 33 at Walt Disney World would be located. Disney confirmed to the Orlando Sentinel back in April 2017 that four Club 33 locations would be coming to WDW in the future, one for each of the four main theme parks. Since then, no further progress has been seen for any of these projects, but could this be the first?
(12/29/17) According to the latest rumors, while Stitch's Great Escape is indeed leaving forever after January 6th, there is nothing on deck to replace it as of yet. While some of the space could be (and likely will be) repurposed as a temporary character meet & greet space starting in 2018, I'm told we shouldn't expect to see or hear about anything serious planned to take over the location until 2021 or later, when the big 50th Anniversary is underway.
That said... who wouldn’t be interested in seeing the return of Alien Encounter... but done as originally envisioned featuring the classic “Alien” itself from the Fox film franchise? With the purchase of Fox underway, the inclusion of the Alien into Disney would now fit in Tomorrowland, though I suspect that Disney is no longer interested in pushing the limits of “theme park horror” attraction concepts inside the Magic Kingdom.
(12/15/17) Sources tell us that this holiday season (Dec. 23 - Jan 6) will be your last chance to experience Stitch’s Great Escape. The attraction which has been sitting in a Seasonal Status limbo for the past couple years will now close forever once this final run is done. Does this mean that maybe Disney is ready to put something else in that space? Possibly… but nothing is for sure yet. Stay tuned…
(11/10/17) While the former Stitch's Great Escape attraction has currently been turned into a character meet & greet space, I'm told that Stitch's Great Escape will reopen once again during the peak jam-packed tourist Christmas holiday season, between Dec. 23 and Jan. 6. After that, I'm told it will close again, and probably return to being used for a character space once again while Disney tried to work out what to do with it.
(11/9/17) For those wanting one last chance to see the existing ‘Auction’ scene on the Pirates of the Caribbean attraction before it gets changed forever, you've got until February 25th. After that Pirates closes for a lengthy rehab from Feb 26 through Mar. 18 where the scene will be updated.
(11/1/17) According to a reader who visited the Magic Kingdom over the weekend, the former Stitch's Great Escape attraction is now home to a Stitch themed character meet & greet area, with the sign out front being changed to say Stitch's Character Encounter. So I guess for now, Disney has no active plans to replace the attraction with something new yet, and the rumored Wreck It Ralph attraction has probably been scrapped... if it was real at all. So stay tuned... a valuable location like that can't stay empty forever.
(10/30/17) Screamscape has been told that the Jingle Cruise will return to the Magic Kingdom starting November 2nd. The Christmas holiday themed version of the Jungle Cruise was thought to have been sunk after Disneyland announced last month that they would not be bringing it back this year, but apparently it will live on in Florida for at least one more year at least... maybe longer.
Thus far the Magic Kingdom has previously resisted the idea of creating limited-time holiday overlay versions of park attractions, something that has long been an annual staple of how things are done in the California parks. In Disneyland Space Mountain now seems to undergo two different transformations throughout the year (Star Wars Hyperspace Mountain and Ghost Galaxy for the Halloween season), Haunted Mansion is transformed from mid September through to the end of the year with a special Nightmare Before Christmas overlay, and "it's a small world" has a special Christmas holiday edition that runs from just before Thanksgiving through the Christmas season. This year they also added a special Halloween version (Monsters After Dark) to the new Guardians of the Galalxy - Mission: Breakout! as well that has been another huge hit for Disney's California resort. It would be kind of nice to see Walt Disney World begin to embrace the concept as well I think, especially as I can't count how many guests I've talked to who have been begging for the Nightmare Before Christmas to come to Florida's Haunted Mansion as it does each year in California and Japan.
(9/14/17) Is Disney looking into maybe having another parade later in the day at the Magic Kingdom? Perhaps, according to a guest survey being given out at the moment about the current Festival of Fantasy parade, they are wanting to know if guests would be interesting in having a second run of that parade take place sometime between 4pm and sunset instead of just the one parade at 3pm.
For years they kind of had that need covered by having one of the various night parades (Spectromagic or the Main Street Electrical Parade) add some extra live entertainment to the park streets. Now I wonder if they may be wondering about bringing back a night parade as well.
Late 2017 - Hall of Presidents Renovation - (12/19/17) Disney will open the all new version of Hall of Presidents at the Magic Kingdom on Tuesday morning (Dec. 19th) featuring a talking President Trump figure. You can catch a video shot during a preview performance on Monday down below.
(6/28/17) The Disney Parks Blog has confirmed that that the President Trump figure being added to the Hall of Presidents will indeed having a speaking role and that they have scheduled to have a recording session with him for this purpose. They are also pushing back the date to reopen the attraction however to "Late 2017", likely to allow time for the recording session. Other improvements being made to the attraction will be the debut of a brand new show, a complete theater upgrade, new sound system, new lighting and an HD projection system. A "multi-screen viewing experience" used in prior versions of the attraction will also return to help tell the new story. They also posted a picture showing off the new figure on stage in the midst of programming that you can see if you follow the link.
(5/22/17) With the initial closure period for the Hall of Presidents set to end after June 29th, Disney is apparently finding itself in a bit of a pickle as the politically sensitive debate over how they should handle the addition of President Trump has been hitting mainstream media once again. There is an active petition out there asking for Disney to make the Trump figure silent in the new attraction, rather than be given a speaking role.
Historically there is precedence for this, as in the original version of the attraction only the Washington and Lincoln figures would speak and the rest remained silent. It wasn't until the addition of President Clinton that the show was revised to allow for a brief speech from the current president of the time. This opens the door for Disney to either return the show to classic form, leave it in the current format, or perhaps even revise it again into some new unknown format.
While Disney has not confirmed what direction they will take with the show, and they could even delay the premier even longer if need be, I did see a comment that while they had opened a dialog with the White House back in January to try and set up a recording session, the White House has not gotten back with them with any open time period to do it.
This essentially gives Disney the perfect exit out of the turbulent political waters by making the choice for them with the perfect excuse that they were unable to schedule time with the President for a recording session in the time required to allow for the motion programming of the animatronic. Either way, we should know more in about a month at the latest unless Disney officially pushes back the reopening.
2018 - Pirates Of The Caribbean Update - (3/21/18) Pirates of the Caribbean has reopened from the long rehab, and you can see a video of the full ride here (shot by Attractions Magazine) but if you just want to see what happened to the old auction scene, look below and you can see the new version of the scene where the pirates chant, "We wants the rum!" instead of "We wants the Redhead!".
(7/1/17) Change… it is at the very heart of the entire theme park industry. Very little, if anything, stays the same forever, and while some changes are seen as welcome and others ripe to cause controversy, I’m usually ok with the majority of them. Beyond being a lifelong fan of the industry, I’m also proud to say that I spent almost two decades of my life quietly working inside of it as well before bowing out, so I like to think that the duality of it grants me a bit of perspective most of the time. I like new things… change can be fun… change is often for the better.
Once in a long while however… change hurts. Sometimes it feels like a hot knife it trying to sliced away a small piece of my soul. Often this is caused by the sad news that a ride or attraction that I really enjoyed was being retired for one reason or another. A few examples:
The Peoplemover no longer whisks riders through Tomorrowland at Disneyland
The Big Bad Wolf no longer howls through the woods of Busch Gardens Williamsburg
Dreamfinder and Figment no longer take you on a tour of your Imagination at Epcot.
No more trips to see glimpses of the future aboard Horizons at Epcot.
While the demise of all of these attractions made me sad, it was the closure of the Horizons dark ride at Epcot that I think hurt most. I just connected with it on some kind of personal level, likely because at a young age I was fascinated with technology and the idea of space travel. Hell, I even wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up.
Looking back, the untimely demise of many classic Epcot dark rides has been a sore spot for a good number of Disney fans out there: Horizons, World of Motion and we can’t forget the original Journey Into Imagination ride. The removal of the original Imagination ride itself has probably caused more fan-rage by itself than the other two combined. Not just because of the attachment to the Figment and Dreamfinder characters, but because unlike the other two, the Imagination ride still exists! It was just changed and reopened… hated… and then changed and reopened a third time, and still, those who remember the original loathe the current version. In fact, every time they ride it, the memories of the original flood back into the brain and you can’t help but step off the ride and shake your head a little bit, trying to fathom why they felt they had to change something that was so good and well loved in the first place.
You know the old saying… “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”
This brings me to the sad news unveiled the other day… Disney is going to be making some more changes to the Pirates of the Caribbean attractions in California and Florida in 2018, following the opening of the updated version in Paris on July 24. The biggest changes coming to Paris will involve the addition of many new animatronic characters and updates scenes involving characters from the Pirates film series.
None of this comes as a surprise to those who have visited the US parks over the past, as those characters were added in back in 2006 I believe and were mostly seen as a popular addition as they were added in a way that really didn’t change the attraction too much from the original intent. This is unlike a small batch of PC movement (Politically Correct) inspired changes made way back around 1997 where the scene that featured pirates chasing women around in circles was altered to the current form, with the women now chasing the pirates who are trying to run away with stolen treasure. As I recall, there was much whining and moaning over that at the time. It was seen as just another reason why the whole “PC” push was being taken too far along with other odd changes at Disneyland at the time, such as the Jungle Cruise skippers being instructed to no longer shoot at the hippos. In the end, I think it has been mostly forgotten about by the general public, and remains just as a memory to us Disney park fans.|
I’m not so sure the new announced change coming in 2018 will be forgotten as easily however, as it will change what is hands-down the single most iconic scene in the entire Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, and the history of dark rides in general. The famous “Auction” scene is going to go under the knife… and the drunken cries of ‘We wants the Redhead!” will be forever silenced. According to the news from Disney the popular Redhead animatronic figure will be transformed to now be a female pirate with a large rifle in one hand, a bottle of rum in the other, commanding the troops to oversee a line of villagers being instructed to “Surrender Yer Loot”, written across the banner in the background.
I’m both mad and sad about this… of course I grew up in Southern California where my birthday request every year was to go to Disneyland. My first ride of the day, every visit as a kid and a tradition that held up 75% of the time even into my adult years, was to start off the day with a ride on Pirates of the Caribbean. Drama aside, I can’t help but be a little upset as a happy piece of my childhood years are being taken away… and I just don’t understand why.
If it ain’t broke… don’t fix it!
2019 - Broadway Style Show Theater - Confirmed - (2/2/18) I’m not sure how solid this rumor is, but according to a few posts like this one, the announced broadway style theater project that was to be built off Main Street USA may have been canceled or perhaps just put on hold. Site prep and clearing had already begun late last year there, so it would be a bit odd to cancel just as actual construction was to begin on the site, unless it was determined there was something wrong with the site itself. Anyone know more?
(10/25/17) According to OrlandoParkNews construction will begin on the new theater off Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom starting sometime in November. They've also posted some pictures of the rehab work taking place on Main Street, Adventureland as well as on Splash Mountain that you can see here.
(7/20/17) Remember that rumored new Broadway style theater I said was on the way to the Magic Kingdom? Yep... it was confirmed... only they moved the location from the previously rumored site in Frontierland to a much more appropriate site that will serve as an expansion to Main Street USA. The look of the theater is inspired by the "Willis Wood theater" from Kansas City in the 1920's, where Walt Disney lived.
No official word yet on when it will be ready to open.
(7/11/17) Screamscape sources tell us that an interesting new project was put into development for the Magic Kingdom, that would add a large scale Broadway style show theater into the park, specifically it would go somewhere into Frontierland. I’m not exactly sure where in Frontierland they were planning on dropping in a large venue like that, but you can count on it probably changing the face of Frontierland as you know it. If it were to go into a backstage area, possibly behind Big Thunder for example, there would have to be some infrastructure changes made to make way for it, especially since the maintenance shed for the Big Thunder Mountain trains sits hidden back there. I suppose it could also be installed back where the Parade floats are staged and stored as well, but again… they would have to find somewhere else to move them that would allow for the parade route to still be used.
No matter where they put it, in park or backstage, you can count on the first signs of construction being the construction of some new replacement facilities for some of the existing infrastructure that will have to be removed to make way. If the timeline holds true and we see this thing built and ready to open by 2019… I’d say that construction would have to begin sometime within the next 6-9 months.
2021?? - Tron Light Cycle Coaster - Confirmed -
(11/23/17) Looks like Disney is ready to begin moving forward with the Tron and new Broadway style performance theater at The Magic Kingdom as new permits have been filed online mainly detailing how the land will be used and modified in terms of water drainage for both projects along the eastern perimeter of the park, though you can see where the new attraction structures will be placed and their basic shape.
You can download a PDF showing off the latest info here. With the first plans now on the books, I’d expect to see initial site clearing start sometime in the next 3-4 months.
(7/20/17) Fans of TRON, your day has come, because Disney confirmed at the D23 Expo that a copy of the Tron Lightcycle Power Run coaster attraction will indeed be coming to the Magic Kingdom in time for the 50th Anniversary of WDW in 2021. The Speedway will survive however, as Tron will be placed just to the left of Space Mountain, with the main attraction building residing on the other side of the railroad tracks, just like Space Mountain.
I've got a feeling we'll see some renovations take place on the Tomorrowland Speedway, along with a reconfiguration of the track layout, in order to accommodate the new Tron coaster. Now... can we talk about putting a third Tron film onto the production slate as well?
(7/13/17) A new rumor floated my way about a possible new location for the Tron coaster. According to the latest buzz, Disney may have backed off in the idea of closing down the Tomorrowland Speedway for the coaster. Instead rumor has it they may remove the Cast Member parking lot located in the empty lot between Carousel of Progress and the exit of Buzz Lightyear, which was the former home to the Galaxy Palace Theater many years ago. The theater was removed back in 2009 I believe and replaced with a CM parking lot for upper management types but it could revert back to use for the park and serve as a nice hidden backstage location for the large show building required for the Tron coaster, and leave the outdoor portion of the ride free to buzz out into the plaza between CoP and the Peoplemover station.
Speaking of which… I’m hearing now that the roof over the coaster’s outdoor section was not budget cut after all, as the ride would need it to avoid shutdowns during every rain storm.
(7/12/17) Let the budget cutting begin... because while the Tron coaster project hasn't even been confirmed for Walt Disney World yet, the latest rumors suggest that the WDW bean counters have already got ahold of it and figured the quickest way to cut the budget on the project was to remove the huge light-up canopy/roof structure that covers the entrance and outdoor portion of the ride.
(7/11/17) Remember awhile back there was a rumor going around claiming that a copy of the Tron Lightcycle themed roller coaster from Shanghai Disneyland was going come to Tomorrowland and replace the Tomorrowland Speedway? While it was looked into, at the time, my sources indicated that it just was not going to happen. Just from the available space… it really was going to take a giant shoehorn to make it fit, as the space available from removing the Speedway alone is just not big enough for more than the indoor portion of the ride, but there is that huge outdoor section of the ride with the giant roof covering to deal with. That all didn’t stop the Disney fans from talking and talking about how much much they really wanted the Tron coaster in Tomorrowland however.
Well… if the latest rumors are true, “for the first time in forever” Disney management may have decided to give the fans what they really wanted. According to the scuttlebut being posted over at WDWNT, they announcement confirming that the Tron coaster is coming could happen as early as this Saturday at the D23 Expo. We’ll have to wait and see just how this all works out, but if true you can expect to see the Tomorrowland Speedway shut down sometime in 2018 so they can begin working on it, hopefully in time to open it by 2021, just in time for the start of Walt Disney World’s big 50th Birthday celebration. Then again, I’ve also heard this may not open until 2023… so we’ll have to wait and see if they’ve opted to bump it up the timeline or not.
I am curious to see how they can place it in the space available if they do clone the existing attraction in Shanghai. Me? I’d love a slightly longer coaster experience, or one with two truely dueling tracks… but the chances of that happened are slim to none at this point. I did create a few layout maps showing off some possible placement ideas of how they could place the existing attraction over the current Tomorrowland layout. I kind of like the first idea the best, where it gives them the option of incorporating the nearby TTA/PeopleMover so it could potentially travel INSIDE the Tron coaster attraction giving riders a very cool new view on the action inside before moving on to go inside Space Mountain. This layout would also allow the outdoor portion of the Tron coaster to fly up and over the entrance plaza of Space Mountain as well… though to incorporate all of this here, the exit building of Space Mountain may have to be altered a bit to make this all fit, along with allowing enough clearance for the Peoplemover to still pass in and out of Space Mountain while passing by Tron in each direction. The end result would create a very cool looking plaza area with a lot of dynamic movement though, with Tron, Peoplemover cars buzzing by each other and Space Mountain looming nearby.
2021 - 50th Anniversary Celebration / Park Expansion - Rumor - (10/26/16) According to Screamscape sources Walt Disney World may be planning some special treats for the Magic Kingdom when the park celebrates the big 50th Anniversary starting in Oct. 2021. From what I’m told, to help celebrate the 50th, each of the park’s major attractions will be given "a little extra magic" to make the park experience better than ever for the big celebration. Take that for what you will... though it kind of reminds me a little of what they did for Walt’s 100th Birthday celebration, where each park got a magical present in the form of a new attraction from another Disney park elsewhere in the world.
???? - Haunted Mansion Hotel - Rumored Proposal - (7/14/17) While nothing has been officially set in stone regarding the building of a Star Wars themed hotel in Walt Disney World outside the Studios park, a brief conversation about it resulted in another fascinating bit of information. Towards the end of my article about the Star Wars Hotel I recalled a bit of information about how Disney had previously pitched another resort concept years before that would have been themed to the Haunted Mansion. If you haven't read that story yet, you might want to go read it first and come back.
A little birdie has told me that Disney uncovered and went over those old Haunted Mansion Hotel plans while they were working on the Star Wars Hotel proposal and if the Star Wars Hotel gets approved and turns out to be a big hit, Disney is now eyeballing some land behind the Haunted Mansion itself where they could actually build an on-site hotel in the future. While there isn't a ton of room back there right now, they were apparently inspired by the reshaping of the Rivers of America project at Disneyland that helped reclaim some land for their Star Wars Land by shortening the river. If they opt to go ahead with a Haunted themed hotel experience, they will likely do the same thing to the Magic Kingdom at some point in the future in order to increase the amount of land available for park use.