Walt Disney World
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(10/14/20) TRON Construction Update (MORE...)
(10/8/20) Small World Goes Under Construction (MORE...)
(9/23/20) Resort Launches Construction (MORE...)
(9/22/20) Pathway To Grand Floriaian Looks Ready To Open (MORE...)
(9/18/20) Tron Construction Update (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Walt Disney World Railroad - NOW CLOSED through TBD
Park News - (10/8/20) According to a photo update posted to ChipandCo construction walls and visual barriers have gone up all around It’s A Small World in the Magic Kingdom. Currently the attraction is still open and this appears to be mostly a refurbishment to the outside of the attraction ahead of the 50th Anniversary celebration in 2021, but it isn’t known if we can expect any changes to the interior by next year or not.
For example, Disneyland updated the original version of the attraction back in 2008 by adding in over 30 different Disney characters into the attraction, themed in the style of the other Small World figures. In 2018 the Tokyo Disneyland version also added several Disney characters to their attraction, so while nothing has been announced by Disney yet, the general thought is that the Disney World version was likely planned to do the same thing for 2021. That said… nothing has gone as planned in 2020, and many plans for the parks have been put on hold or canceled entirely so we’ll have to wait and see if they still plan to go ahead with it or not.
(9/23/20) Construction is now taking place for the “Resort Launches” boat dock just outside the Magic Kingdom next to the Monorail station. While the dock area is currently closed and walled off for the construction, this is also the same pathway guests would take to use the new walkway that is nearly finished to get to the Grand Floridian, so some remodeling of the pathway and the addition of a new covered waiting area is necessary. You can see pictures of the work in progress posted to MouseSteps this week.
(9/22/20) MouseSteps takes us for another look at the new walkway and bridge that is connecting the Grand Floridian resort to The Magic Kingdom. From the look of things, it should open any day now.
(9/10/20) Tucked away inside a post at the Disney Parks Blog about what the parks will be doing to celebrate the Christmas holiday season this year, Walt Disney World confirmed that they made the choice to not hold the “Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party” extra ticket events at The Magic Kingdom this year. Similar to the cancellation of the Not So Scary Halloween Party event, this is sure to cause some disappointment, as attending these kind of events have become annual traditions for some families.
Instead Disney says that they will celebrate in other ways, with the expected holiday decor to be added to all four of their theme parks, along with seasonal food and beverage items and various special entertainment performances set to take place from Nov. 6 through to Dec. 30, 2020.
(8/31/20) In the wake of COVID restrictions, Walt Disney World is going to try something new this fall. For the first time that I can recall, theme park guests visiting the Magic Kingdom will be allowed to wear Halloween costumes into the park during regular park hours between Sept. 15 and Oct. 31st. There are some restrictions however, as no one older than 14 can wear a costume featuring a mask, and on top of this all guests must still wear an approved safety face mask for COVID protocols. Of course all costumes must still be family friendly and fall within Disney’s standard costume guidelines, which you can find here.
Previously, the only time adult guests were ever allowed to wear a costume into the park was during the extra ticket Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party event, which has been cancelled this year.
(8/29/20) MouseSteps took some pictures of the new walking pathway that is nearly finished that will run from the entrance of The Magic Kingdom over to the Grand Floridian. This includes a few distance shots of the new motorized bridge they’ve installed that will rotate out to allow guests to pass over the water at one point and retract back to the shore to allow for boats to pass from the Seven Seas Lagoon into the backstage area at the theme park.
(8/5/20) According to many social media reports, something interesting happened on Splash Mountain on Sunday. I didn’t realize the water was deep enough for this, but apparently just before the end of the ride there is a section where the flume gets quite deep… deep enough enough to actually submerge one of the Splash Mountain logs. This was proven on Sunday when one of the logs began to take on water and slowly begin to sink. The guests quickly jumped out to the safety of a pathway along the side of the flume before it sank completely.
(7/19/20) To clarify another announcement, when Walt Disney World notified cast members that two attractions in Animal Kingdom were closing for good, they also confirmed that Stitch’s Great Escape is also closed for good. Of course, to my knowledge Stitch has not operated since 2018 when it was officially put on ‘seasonal’ status. Over the past two years the signs were taken down long ago and just before the COVID-19 shutdown took place, Disney had already filed for demolition permits to gut the former attractions’ theater rooms. So this official announcement of Stitch’s closure puts the final nail in the coffin of an attraction that was buried two years prior.
The hope was that the demolition permits at least was some kind of indication that Disney may have had new plans for the space, but at this point in time where all new attraction concepts that have not started are being put on hold or cancelled entirely, I wouldn’t expect to see anything go in here until things return back something that resembles “normalcy” for a few years.
(6/18/20) According to a couple of pictures sent my way, the gold trim has begin to be applied to Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom. Enjoy!
(6/8/20) Construction work has begun once again at the Transportation and Ticket Center outside the Magic Kingdom in the tram stop areas. I’m guessing they will be rushing to finish this in time for the park to reopen in July. Our source also sent in a pic of the castle inside the Magic Kingdom where a crane is now on site again, which means the refurbishment word for the 50th anniversary has also begun once again as well.
(5/28/20) The moment Disney fans have been waiting for came today as Walt Disney World announced that they will begin a phased reopening of the resort’s theme parks starting on July 11. The plan right now is to open the Magic Kingdom and Disney’s Animal Kingdom theme parks on July 11, 2020 which will be followed by the opening of Disney Hollywood Studios and Epcot on July 15th. That last one surprised me, as I was expecting that it would take Disney a little longer to reopen Epcot than the rest of the parks, but I guess they have a plan.
As expected, there will be some major changes once the parks reopen. Reservations will be required in advance to get into the parks, temperature screenings will be in effect and face masks are mandatory at all times for guests and Cast Members. Many of the standard Disney experiences will be cut for the being as well, with the list including a stoppage for Character meet & greet encounters, parades and all big nighttime spectaculars. In general, anything that would typically draw a big crowd will be put on hold for the time being. Overall park capacity ‘will be significantly limited” as Disney welcomes guests back to the parks at this time.
They have not opened reservations yet and have actually put all new reservations and ticket sales on hold for the time being as they will be making these available first to those with existing reservations and passholders before they open things up to everyone else.
So far nothing has been mentioned about when Disney is planning to reopen their water parks. I also did not see anything mentioned about ‘park hopping’ during this era of required reservations.
(3/28/20) Theme Park Tourist has made an interesting discovery, as demolition permits were discovered to be filed just before all the virus-shutdowns to gut and demolish the theater rooms formerly used for Stitch’s Great Escape. While it seems that perhaps Disney may have had a plan in place to re-purpose these spaces, at this time it is likely more long-term plans like this may be put on hold until the Coronavirus is just a memory.
Anyone know more about what might have been planned?
(3/28/20) As expected, Disney did finally announce that their parks will remain closed until further notice. It was added that they are extending pay and benefits to Cast Members through April 18th, which falls roughly in line with Universal’s announcement timeline to extend their closure through April 19.
As these dates get closure we will have a better idea if Disney and Universal believe they might be ready to reopen around that time, or if it will have to be extended again until May.
(3/13/20) Walt Disney World announced last night that in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and “in the best interest of our Guests and Cast Members” they will be closing all of their Florida theme parks starting starting Monday, March 16th which will remain closed through to the end of the month. It is nice to see that Disney will continue to pay their Cast Members “during that closure period.”
The various Walt Disney World Resort Hotels and Disney Springs area will remain open as normal “until further notice”. The resorts staying open in Florida is where things differ from how the California resort is handling things, as the west coast resorts close on Monday. In Florida however, there are a large number of international tourists who are likely already on site who sometimes stay for 1 or even 2 weeks at a time and may not have anywhere else to go until their flight home.
(3/5/20) The string of bad-luck incidents at The Magic Kingdom continues this week as the Haunted Mansion is said to have closed down sometime late on Tuesday and has yet to reopen. Various reports on social media from riders claim that the Doombugies were not rotating to the correct position in certain scenes, which resulted in riders taking the downward section of track from the Attic to the Graveyard scene while facing forward (downhill) instead of facing backwards (uphill).
If memory serves, the rotation of the Doombuggies are controlled via mechanical means by the position of a special rail below the floor. More modern versions of the ride system (like on The Little Mermaid at the Magic Kingdom) replaced the need for this extra spin-control rail with a more modern system of programming to a built-in electrical motor. Now… I’m not a ride mechanic by any means, but assuming that the Doombuggies are still using this older system, incorrect spinning position would likely indicate a failure in the spin-control rail in this section of the ride, which would need to be fixed or replaced before they can reopen it.
(2/29/20) Another odd incident took place at The Magic Kingdom on Friday, the day after a Jungle Cruise boat sunk. According to various social media reports a set of trains on the TTA / Peoplemover collided (or maybe just bumped?) just before the end of the layout. The ride was E-Stopped and guests evacuated and walked off the ride. It was said that it reopened about 40 minutes later, so it sounds like this was not a serious issue. This event may have been overplayed a bit, as I’ve heard elsewhere that occasional bumps do happen from time to time as they approach the station, due to the speed change that takes place here. The bigger problem is that sometimes the other cars will continue to move and begin to pile up behind, causing more impacts until the power is cut to all the magnetic drive motors. No injuries were reported so far, which isn’t surprising given the slow speed of the vehicles.
(2/28/20) Oh my… would you believe that around 12:30pm on Thursday the Bomokandi Bertha, one of the boats on the Jungle Cruise at The Magic Kingdom, began taking on water during a cruise with a full load of guests and sunk. Well… sunk a couple of feet… because the river really isn’t much deeper than that, but the guests had to be evacuated into the Jungle to complete the trek on foot.
The attraction was closed long enough to evac the guests and tow the boat off the course before reopening later in the day. There are some great pics of the event posted to WDWNT and of course “the internet” community was quick to jump on this as well, with a great tweet posted below of the evac the added soundtrack from Titanic.
(2/19/20) The Disney Parks Blog has confirmed that Cinderella Castle at the Magic Kingdom will be getting a ‘Royal Makeover’ in time for the big 50th Anniversary. From the look of the concept art, the royal blue spires will be given a nice touch up and a whole lot of gold trim will be added from top to bottom to really make the castle pop visually. The new look appears to be inspired by a similar makeover given to Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland last year.
(12/19/19) Good news for Muppets fans, the recently closed “The Muppets Present... Great Moments in History” show that took place at the Magic Kingdom will return for a seasonal run from December 23 through December 31.
(9/26/19) I’m not sure how firm this is, but hearing an early rumor that Walt Disney World may be looking into ideas to spruce-up or decorate Cinderella’s Castle at the Magic Kingdom in celebration of the 50th Anniversary of WDW on Oct. 1st, 2021.
While my mind immediately soars back to the 25th Anniversary where they turned the castle into a giant crazy looking pink birthday cake, I then have to think about how Disneyland also handled their own 50th Anniversary in 2005 by adding more subtle gold accents all around the castle exterior instead. While California’s concept was definitely more tasteful and elegant than how the giant castle cake was first received at first in Florida, looking at the long-term picture, few people remember or talk about the Disneyland castle, while even today the giant pepto-pink 25th birthday cake castle in Florida has simply become a legendary part of Disney history.
With that in mind, I think I’d be down for something crazy like another cake castle, because it certainly was photo-worthy and in today’s social media world, anything so “instragram-able” as that, certainly would get the kind of attention they will want to seek.
Unfortunately, I think Disney may have been dealing with too many fashion and mommy bloggers, because there is a nasty rumor going around claiming that they may simply give the castle an oh-so-tired, “rose gold” treatment instead and leave it at that. Let us hope they reconsider, and maybe just stick to a more elegant gold trim concept like Disneyland did, rather than go hog-wild on the tacky Rose Gold fad, or do something more creative and wild like the 25th Anniversary cake concept.
(9/20/19) I’ve never gotten the chance to see this particular live performance show at the Magic Kingdom, but I’m told that “The Muppets Present… Great Moments in History” outdoor show that began in 2016 in Liberty Square will end it’s current run on September 30th.
(9/18/19) While the Tomorrowland archway over the land entrance at the Magic Kingdom was removed a bit ago, a brand new and all white, replacement arch looks to have been put up after park close on Monday night. From the look of things, more elements and lighting will be added to it soon.
(6/4/19) The Magic Kingdom will premier a brand new fireworks show this winter during the Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party hard-ticket events. The show is called Minnie’s Wonderful Christmastime Fireworks and will feature many popular holiday songs. Look for Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party to take place on select nights between Nov. 8 and Dec. 22, 2019.
2021 - TRON Lightcycle / Run - (10/14/20) A new TRON construction update has been posted to CoasterKings this week, with a lot of new structure up out in front of the main ride building for the giant canopy structure that will serve as the main entrance as well as cover the outdoor portion of the track. And it should light up really cool at night too.
(9/18/20) CoasterKings is back with a new report from The Magic Kingdom where they checked in on the Tron construction site where there was a lot of activity going on. Looks like they are trying to speed things up, which is a good sign.
(9/10/20) A fresh look at the construction over at the Tron site has been posted by Coaster Kings this week. Follow the link to check it out.
(9/4/20) A new Tron construction update was posted by MouseSteps this week. You can see a lot more of the support structure for the massive canopy that will cover the entrance plaza to the attraction has risen into place.
(8/30/20) A new photo posted by Orlando Experience shows that framework for the large canopy over the front of the Tron attraction at the Magic Kingdom is now going up.
(8/27/20) MouseSteps has posted a new construction update from the Magic Kingdom, this one focused on the work at the Tron attraction site. Based on the photos, it looks as if some of the framework for the massive Tron-brella is being put together. What I’m calling the “Tron-brella” is a light-up roof structure that will sit over the plaza in front of the ride, and over the outdoor portion of the coaster track that should closely resemble the one built first at Shanghai Disneyland.
(8/15/20) Orlando Experience has posted a new video this week showing off the construction progress on the Tron coaster at Disney’s Magic Kingdom as of August 2020. As you can see, the current pace of visible progress seems to have slowed down compared to how things were going before the shutdown in the Spring. This has many wondering if the coaster will be able to be finished and ready to open in 2021 or not for the 50th Anniversary celebration. While the coaster itself is up, along with the show-building, there is still the matter of the huge Tron-brella structure that will sit over the front of the ride building and cover the outdoor portion of the track that has yet to appear. This and the installation of all the theming elements that need to go inside the queue and show building will take some time, so this will be one to keep an eye on.
(3/28/20) A quick video showing off the state of the Tron attraction at the Magic Kingdom was taken just before the shelter-in-place went into effect in the area can be seen below. Work crews, before construction was halted appeared to be putting up the wall panels to enclose the massive building's framework.
(3/2/20) BlogMickey has posted some real fantastic aerial photos of the TRON coaster construction site, showing off how it all fits together into the Tomorrowland landscape with the equally massive Space Mountain structure sitting right next door. Make the jump and take a quick look!
(2/15/20) A Screamscape source sent in some new pictures showing off the outside progress on the Tron attraction going up in Tomorrowland. As you can see they see to be busy putting up the walls to enclose the attraction building now, but there are also plenty of footers placed outside that should be used to hold up the shaped and light-up roof structure that will cover the outdoor portion of the ride and attraction entrance pathway.
Based on the look of things, I wouldn't count on seeing the railroad run through here anytime soon, as they still have a lot of work to do before they can build the new railroad tracks through here.
(12/18/19) According to the Disney Parks Blog, the Magic Kingdom has set up a pair of TRON Lightcycles for guests to climb onto and take their pictures with in the Magic Kingdom as a preview for the upcoming new TRON Lightcycle / Run coaster attraction opening in 2021.
(11/27/19) Earlier this month Disney’s construction crews installed the final piece of track onto the Tron Lightcycle / Run attraction. You can watch the video of it being set in place below.
(11/22/19) Thanks to one of our readers for sending in great new photos of the Tron coaster under construction at The Magic Kingdom at Walt Disney World. These are fantastic images from a new point of view we haven’t seen before and gets up close to the outdoor portion of the track that was installed recently.
(10/30/19) A new Tron construction photo update can be found over at MouseSteps this week, and the big surprise is that a ton of outdoor track for the coaster has now been installed. At this rate, I’d expect the layout to be complete by sometime next week of all goes well.
(10/24/19) A large batch of new photos of the Tron Lightcycle Run coaster under construction have been posted to Midway Mayhem’s Instagram. The launch track is now installed and the large supports are being set into place for the outdoor portion of the coaster.
(10/9/19) A great aerial photo showing off the entire Tron Lightcycle coaster construction site can be seen here. The main indoor track is complete, and you can spot the brake run and switch into the left/right loading station tracks. From here you can spy the footers in place for the rest of the station and turn into the launch track and big outdoor turn in place. From here you can also see why the Railroad is still not running, and obviously wont be back up anytime soon. Maybe sometime in mid to late 2020 perhaps.
(9/10/19) A new construction photo report from the Magic Kingdom shows off the status of the Tron Lightcycle Run coaster this week where the building framework is now quickly surrounding the coaster, while a huge dirt pile is being built up in front of it all for some reason.
(9/6/19) A new construction video showing off the progress on the Tron Lightcycle coaster being built at Magic Kingdom can be seen below.
(7/12/19) Some fantastic aerial footage of the Tron coaster under construction was posted by a local news station. You can see the track for the double sided loading station has been installed, and while the launch track is not in place yet, you can see the footers in place for the outdoor portion of the ride following the launch, before the LightCycles venture back into the attraction show building.
(6/21/19) Some great new photos of the Tron coaster under construction at the Magic Kingdom were posted to MouseSteps this week. From the look of things most of the “indoor” action part of the ride’s layout is now in place. Based on the layout drawing we have, the tallest section you see would be the first ‘red arrow’ the ride encounters where is at the point where the outdoor portion of the ride rises up and enters the building. The rest of the tangled mess matches up to this layout, ending with the final red arrow (aka: brake run) as the coaster will head towards the return passage back to the load/unload station.
And really… that’s all there is to the ride, other than the high speed out and back it will perform outside the main show building just after the launch. If you are thinking that this ride appears to be very short compared to the new Hagrid’s coaster that just opened at Universal, then you would be right. Assuming this is a clone of the Shanghai ride, then the overall track length is said to be 3,169 ft, compared to the new Universal ride which is almost 2,000 feet longer.
(6/4/19) Just the other day we saw a giant batch of black steel supports up on the Tron coaster site at the Magic Kingdom, but you wont believe what it looks like now. Seriously… the site is jam packed full of supports and huge sections of complete track. It’s hard to believe just how fast this coaster is rising now. Check out the video below from Midway Mayhem along with a look at a new odd bit of construction taking place in front of the Magic Kingdom near the bus stops.
(5/22/19) Good news for Tomorrowland fans, as the Tomorrowland Speedway is now open once again. A good assortment of photos of the reopened attraction have been posted to MouseSteps this week.
Then be sure to check out their new collection of Tron coaster construction photos as well.
(5/6/19) A few pictures showing off a collection of the first large black coaster supports now installed for the Tron coaster at the Magic Kingdom can be seen at WDWNT this week. If we assume that the layout here is the same as the one in Shanghai Disneyland, then I’ve also got a graphic showing off the basic layout of the coaster for you as well.
(4/27/19) MouseSteps drops into the Magic Kingdom this week to check out the construction on the new Tron coaster and the impact to the nearby Tomorrowland Speedway attraction.
(4/24/19) Disney & More has posted a great update with a number of new photos of the Tron construction site in Tomorrowland. Still not a lot of vertical construction to see as they are still working on all the groundwork and foundation for the new attraction.
(3/19/19) We can look forward to seeing the steel of the Tron coaster at the Magic Kingdom soon begin to rise. According to a posting at the Disney Parks Blog, Cast Members were invited to sign their names on one of the first steel supports for the ride that has arrived on property.
(1/11/19) New photos posted to WDWNT show that a big section of the Tomorrowland Speedway has now been torn out to make way for construction on the new Tron Lightcycle coaster project. Don’t worry, the Speedway will return eventually… though personally I think they should have taken the opportunity to totally vamp the Speedway into a Sugar Rush themed race ride from the Wreck It Ralph films. The two attractions would have fit in nicely next to each other I think.
(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?
2021/2022/2023 - The Princess and The Frog - Confirmed - (7/12/20) Various survey’s Disney has been sending out over the past week are asking guests how they feel about a number of different older attractions. Based on past rumors and whispers over the years, the majority of these attractions being discussed have long been rumored to be on the list of potential attractions for retirement due to age, low guest satisfaction numbers, or if they simply just can’t handle modern throughput requirements. A couple of interesting items reported to being on the surveys include Tom Sawyer’s Island and The Country Bear Jamboree, both of which exist in Frontierland.
As mentioned in a previous post about the announced conversion of Splash Mountain into a Princess and the Frog themed attraction, one rumored idea being thrown around and discussed by many is the possible conversion of Frontierland into another New Orleans Square land, not unlike the one at Disneyland which sits right next to their own Splash Mountain.
While I had previously mentioned this was an idea I had myself in the last update, I do have to correct that to say that it was an idea had by many individuals and not just myself, so I was not trying to take credit for the idea. So let us just say that this is something being discussed in many circles, as well as some very important ones. These new surveys only back up the rumors that Disney may be seriously ready to renovate the entire land into something else, leaving just Big Thunder and the Railroad station as the possible last pieces of Frontierland to remain.
It is also interesting to consider just what the Magic Kingdom could possibly do if the back-half of the river and Tom Sawyer’s Island were removed entirely and the property used to create a new Frontierland expansion, or perhaps even an entirely new land to explore. After all, in our current world where COVID concerns are primary in everyone’s mind, a high-touch environment like Tom Sawyer’s Island may have outlived its purpose.
(6/29/20) While no timeline was given for the announced transformation of Splash Mountain into a new Princess and The Frog themed attraction, I’ve been giving some thought as to how the experience seems to be a perfect fit for Disneyland, but couldn’t be more wrong for The Magic Kingdom. At least, it just seems wrong given the current theme of the area in front of Splash Mountain, where it will be inside the middle of Frontierland.
This all changes however if you stop for a moment to wonder if this may just be a part of a larger overhaul that could see the old original part of Frontierland transformed to become a New Orleans Square style land, not unlike the one at Disneyland. Some of this is my own thoughts, mixed with conversations with others, but if you would retheme Frontierland from the pathway starting just past the Diamond Horseshoe all the way down to the Peco Bill’s restaurant to have a New Orleans theme, it would then fit right in with the waterfront, complete with the Liberty Belle paddlewheel boat passing by… ending with the revised Princess and the Frog themed version of Splash Mountain. Unfortunately this would shrink Frontierland down just the railroad station, Tom Sawyer’s Island and anchored by Big Thunder Mountain, but it would still work on it’s own in much the same way that Critter Country at Disneyland worked as a small land anchored by Splash Mountain and the Country Bears (with the later eventually turned into a Winnie the Pooh dark ride).
The one downside to this concept of mine would be the loss of the Country Bears show from The Magic Kingdom, but to be honest I think the park has been looking for an excuse to retire that old attraction for ages and this might be it. Again… just something to think about… and nothing rumored… yet.
(6/27/20) I’m not quite sure where to begin with this post, but Disney dropped a bombshell of an announcement this week that I was not really expecting. Disney announced that they are planning to retheme the Splash Mountain attractions at Disneyland and The Magic Kingdom parks to The Princess and The Frog animated film.
I’ll let that sink in for a moment… Brer Rabbit and the whole Zippey-Do-Da-Gang are being removed, and the ride will be rethemed around the world of Princess Tiana and friends. According to the Disney Parks Blog this new story will begin just after ‘the final kiss’ from the film where riders will “join Princess Tiana and Louis on a musical adventure - featuring some of the powerful music from the film - as they prepare for their first-ever Mardi Gras performance.”
As someone who grew up and was a huge Disney park fan throughout my early years, this kind of shocked me. I’m not the biggest fan of changing some of the Disney attractions, just for the sake of change. The older the attraction is, the more of an attachment I think I might have had to it from my childhood. Case in point, I wasn’t a fan of the idea of changing the classic auction scene in Pirates to the current version where “Redd” is now a pirate.
I do not hate the new scene, as it is well done, but like any major change, I think it just takes some getting used to the idea and seeing the new version in the end to appreciate it. After all, like many of you, I grew up for decades chanting ‘We wants the red head’, which is now only part of the Disney history books.
I was a teenager when Splash Mountain was first built… in fact I had no idea it was even going to be a thing at all until visiting Disneyland during my Grad Nite event in 1988. I could see the huge steel structure rising into the night sky, surrounded by construction walls promoting the new ride to open in 1989. While I was already a fan of Disney parks, it was this moment that made me interested in the process of how Disney designed and built massive new attractions like these. My curiosity was sparked that night, which obviously had an effect on me for years to come.
So understand me when I say that upon first seeing the announcement this week, I probably dropped an F-bomb in disbelief. It didn’t help that a few weeks ago some news outlets were reporting that there was an online petition of activists asking Disney to do this very thing, but according to Disney this is actually a project that the Imagineers “have been working on since last year”.
I’m still surprised… but not entirely. Splash Mountain always had a rather interesting choice of IP in using the characters and theme from the film, The Song of the South. This is the one film that Disney has chosen to lock away in their vaults forever, with no plans to ever release it again, not even on Disney+. The 1946 film is a mix of live action and animated segments set in the old South following the end of the American Cival War and the abolishment of slavery. The film became criticized over the years since then due to the depiction of the Southern African-American characters and their animated counterparts as being potentially racist or offensive.
Despite this, the IP was tapped as the theme to build not just one, but three Splash Mountain attractions at Disney parks across the world. The original Splash Mountain opened in Summer 1989 in California followed by another in Walt Disney World in 1992 and a third at Tokyo Disneyland, also in 1992. There is no reference to the film at all, and the ride seeks to tell its story through the various animated characters from the film mixed with some new friends, that were actually retired Animatronic figures from Disneyland’s America Sings attraction. It is safe to say that the attraction has been a smash hit for Disney parks ever since, and as the ride system itself is staying, it will continue to do so, even with a new theme. The attraction was designed to carry riders through the various scenes accompanied by a fantastic musical soundtrack, so I can easily see how it can be rethemed and ‘plussed’ by Imagineering in this endeavor. If you take a look at the concept art you can see the classic look of Splash Mountain will be altered to look more green and lush, especially at the top of the drop where the old tree stump will now become Mama Odie’s House, featuring a full tree holding the broken boat high in the branches above where the logs emerge and take their plunge.
As a concept, I can easily see how many aspects of the current Splash Mountain layout and scenes can be changed to The Princess and The Frog. The report that this all takes place after the “last kiss” does make me hope that they can somehow include the return of Dr. Facilier (aka: The Shadow Man) as I’d love to see the scenes in the belly of Splash Mountain’s from the mid-drop up to the approach to the big drop be given over to create a scene with the voodoo man and the forces from “the other side”. Of course we all know the ending scene of Splash Mountain with the River Boat will probably be kept and updated to be a Mardi Gras celebration with Tiana and Louis, which is only fitting.
So with all this in mind, I can see how the overall ride experience may actually be improved here by going forward with a new theme. I know how tempting it is to say you wont like it just because it isn’t the ride you grew up with, but look at just how many people seem to enjoy the Guardians of the Galaxy version of the former Twilight Zone attraction at Disney California Adventure now. Many say that the Guardians version was a dramatic improvement over California’s Twilight Zone version, so we really will just need to wait and see what happens.
My only final thoughts here have more to do with the overall theming of the lands and such involved. Clearly changing Splash Mountain to now have a New Orleans theme in Disneyland is a no brainer, as the modified look of the new attraction will fit right like a glove positioned next to The Haunted Mansion there, creating an extension of the existing New Orleans Square theming, and leaving Pooh at the solitary inhabitant of Critter Country. In Walt Disney World however, the change is going to be a bit more disturbing to the current theming of that park where Splash Mountain is set smack in the middle of Frontierland, positioned between Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and the Frontierland buildings that are home to The Country Bears attraction and the Pecos Bill Tall Tale Inn & Cafe. I don’t have a solution or answer to this particular issue, so I’m curious to see how WDI will address it.
It is also interesting to note that, for now at least, Splash Mountain will live on in Japan, as there has been no plans posted to update or change the version at Tokyo DIsneyland at this time. At this point in time, Disney has given no time-table as to when we may expect to see this transformation process begin at either park, but hopefully there will be time to have a few more final rides on Splash Mountain before the old version is gone for good. (Now if maybe Disneyland can work in a plan to modify their trough system to use the same double-wide boats that WDW uses, that would be great as well...)
???? - New Tomorrowland Attraction - Rumor - (10/1/19) Ever since Stitch’s Great Escape was fast-tracked for retirement there have been several rumors claiming that Imagineering was working on possible replacement ideas. The rumor that got the most traction was for a rumored attraction concept that might have used VR gear to bring the world and characters of the Wreck-It Ralph to virtual life. While people still pine for this concept to this day, it was not to be… though I was sent an interesting new message today claiming that another new concept for the empty space may now be in development.
With that in mind, we have to ask if anyone out there has heard any new rumors about what could take over this space. As for Wreck-It Ralph… I still believe that Disney has already missed their best opportunity by failing to transform the Tomorrowland Speedway into a Sugar Rush themed race-course.
???? - 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.