Walt Disney World
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(11/20/18) Space Mountain Revised Exit Now Open (MORE...)
(10/20/18) Tron Construction Update (MORE...)
(9/24/18) Mickey & Minnie's Surprise Celebration (MORE...)
(9/4/18) Club 33 Exterior and Rivers of America Dammed Up (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Liberty Square Riverboat - NOW CLOSED through TDB
Park News - (11/20/18) I'm not sure when it happened, but while visiting the Magic Kingdom on Thursday, Nov. 15th, we rode Space Mountain and noticed that they had gone back to using the traditional exit pathway out of the attraction. As rumored there is now no longer any kind of moving pathway, but instead a nice freshly carpeted pathway is in place following the old exit through, down and up out of the mountain and into the gift shop. The path only changes towards the end of the journey where some switchbacks were installed to make the incline less steep than it was previously, with the exit into the gift shop now placed closer to the old arcade location rather than in the front of the gift shop.
The old scenes at the start of the exit pathway (formerly referred to as RYCA-1 once upon a time) are still in place as they were before. You can see a video showing off the last portion of the pathway posted to Twitter below.
(9/4/18) Blog Mickey has posted some new photos showing off the exterior of the new Club 33 building inside the Magic Kingdom, now unobstructed by construction walls. While you can only see the outside, it does seem to feature a second story balcony aimed perfectly for nighttime fireworks viewing.
Meanwhile the Rivers of America are currently dammed up to allow for some track replacement for the riverboat and to clean out all the accumulated sludge from the bottom of the river bed.
(8/23/18) A quick word regarding the construction taking place on the exit to Space Mountain. Earlier I had wondered what was going on, and according to a few people the former moving walkway system is simply being removed due to age. The system was so old parts would have to be custom fabricated for it, so they have opted to remove it. I'm not sure if they are going to replace it with a simple non-moving pathway or if they are installing a modern moving walkway system instead, but it sounds like it may be closed for awhile still.
And while on the subject is construction at Space Mountain... word has it that the long term plan is for Space Mountain to close down for a complete and very lengthy refurbishment, top to bottom, shortly after the new Tron coaster opens.
(7/19/18) Some new construction pictures from the Magic Kingdom were posted to OrlandoParksNews.com a few hours ago that are worth checking out. In addition to some rehab work taking place on Main Street USA, scroll down a bit further and they take a look at the new mystery structure finishing up construction to the right of the entrance to Adventureland. While nothing official has been said yet, the rumor mill claims this will be home to the new Club 33 location inside the Magic Kingdom.
Go down a bit more and it looks like the safety team has been working overtime at the Swiss Family Treehouse, installing new overhead netting over every inch of the pathway and staircases throughout the attraction.
Be sure to follow this link to the third page of the update to get a look at the current progress around Space Mountain and land-prep for the upcoming Tron Light Cycle coaster. For several weeks now the normal exit to Space Mountain has been closed up and guests have been sent out a "back door" exit onto a new pathway and set of ramps that lead up and eventually cross the railroad tracks to return to Tomorrowland. No word on exactly what is going on with the old themed exit and moving walkways of Space Mountain, but this new pathway gives the impression that the old exit may be closed for awhile.
(7/16/18) Last week I mentioned a new piece of software from the creators of Theme Park Studio called "Your World" is in development. Your World is a sort of sand box themed environment creator that allows uses to share their worlds with the online community who can actually visit your creation in a multi-player social environment.
I learned a new interesting fact that the development crew making the program are also working with a community member (@DPEarchive) who is hard at work making a virtual 1979 recreation of Tomorrowland from Walt Disney World that you will be able to visit with the software. I've included three captures of the work-in-progress creation to wet your appetite and you can learn more about Your World on their Facebook page.
(6/29/18) According to our friends at Behind the Thrills, some interesting new Halloween experiences will be added to Mickey's Not-So-Scary events at the Magic Kingdom this fall. These include a new Halloween version of Space Mountain (could this be Ghost Galaxy like at Disneyland?) as well as a special Halloween upgrade to Pirates of the Caribbean that claims new Pirates may interact with guests, which possibly sounds like live actors being added into the attraction for the night. Other additions include new lights and effects on the Mad Tea Party, a Storybook Circus dance party and more.
Unfortunately, they're still not giving in to the demand for a Nightmare Before Christmas version of the Haunted Mansion, which has proven to be extremely popular to guests in California and Japan.
(5/28/18) A new photo update from OrlandoParkNews.com takes a look at current construction projects taking place inside the Magic Kingdom. This includes work on Prince Charming's Regal Carousel, the more lush green look around the newer sections of Fantasyland as the trees and scrubs have really grown in, as well as the first signs of the huge clearing being made backstage behind Tomorrowland to make room for the new Tron coaster. They also have a look at the new building going up quickly to the right of the entrance to Adventureland, which is assumed to be for the park's new Club 33 venue.
(5/12/18) The steampunk looking Dragon in Disney's Magic Kingdom parade was not having a good day yesterday, as the fire breathing beast attached to the float caught itself on fire and began to spectacularly burn itself up in the middle of the park's 3pm daytime parade. Given that it was surrounded by crowds of guests on all sides as this happened, the action was caught on camera and broadcast out to the internet in all forms as it happened. Thanksfully no one was hurt and employees were on hand to attempt to put out the fire right away with extinguishers, but as the animated dragon's head keep bobbing up and down to the action of its programming, it made their efforts a little difficult. Poor Maleficent will likely be out of the parade for some time as a result (unless they've got a spare head standing by for just this kind of thing) while they determine the best course of action to prevent this kind of malfunction from happening again.
(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.
(1/18/19) 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?
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 - Mickey & Minnie's Surprise Celebration - (9/24/18) Walt Disney World has announced a number of new and limited-time experiences coming to their parks in 2019. At the Magic Kingdom this will involve Mickey & Minnie's Surprise Celebration (a new music/dance production), along with the "Move It! Shake It! MousekeDance It! Street Party" starting Jan. 18th. Meanwhile you can also expect some secret "Limited-Time Magic" events throughout the year.
???? - Broadway Style Show Theater - On Hold or Canceled - (5/19/18) In a sort of confusing bit of the telephone game... the first reports from the InsideEars event at Disneyland Paris mentioned that a Disney official stated that a copy of the Mickey and the Magician show created for the Walt Disney Studios Paris park was coming to Walt Disney World in the near future. This statement was later backtracked on, stating that it was misunderstood to be more of a "wish" to bring it to the US, rather than a statement of fact that it was coming. Of course, there is always the thought that this may have been the show destined to go inside the previously announced Broadway style theater off Main Street in the Magic Kingdom. With the theater project said to be quietly pushed to the side, canceled, or even put on indefinite hold, without any kind of official status update from Disney itself, this simply could have been an unintentional slip of the lip. One of these days, maybe Disney will update everyone on the true status of the theater project.
Ask the rumor mill however, and they’ll say that the funds once earmarked for the theater were pulled at the last second in order to begin the much needed work to update the WDW Monorail instead.
(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 / Tomorrowland Update - (10/20/18) For those wondering how things are progressing on the Tron coaster at The Magic Kingdom, Blog Mickey has posted a quick update with some new aerial photos of the site. In short… the site is cleared and they’re still in what I like to call the “dirt pushing phase”. Mainly this is because they are re-routing the waterway that goes between the site and the park to take a new path alongside the road (with some open and underground tunnels sections) so they can fill in the current waterway for the building.
There are some great photos showing off the empty Tron plot sitting right next to Space Mountain to give you a comparison of size. Despite the round looking site, if this stays the same as Shanghai, the actual ride building there is more rectangular in shape. (See aerial photo here)
(8/15/18) A quick update on the upcoming attraction closures to make way for the new Tron attraction in 2021. According to the local news when the railroad closes this December the train will stay in the Main Street station and offer guests a unique close-up tour of the train, along with some special photo ops you wouldn’t normally get. Again, no word on how long this may be offered.
Meanwhile the Tomorrowland Speedway will close down sometime in early 2019, but is expected to be reopen once again by Summer 2019.
(8/11/18) Word is that the Walt Disney World Railroad will close for a time, starting in December, to allow for some needed construction around where the new Tron coaster is going in Tomorrowland. I'm not sure if this is just to allow for work across this area, or if some track realignment will be necessary, but the reports also claim that sometime in early 2019 the Tomorrowland Speedway will also need to be closed for a period of time for the same reason.
I’m not sure how long the Railroad itself may be closed for either... as in the past the park has been known to run the railroad in a backwards/forwards shuttle mode to allow for construction at times, and could very well opt to run from Main Street over to the Fantasyland/Storybook Circus station and then backwards back to Main Street for a period of time between now and 2021 while the Tron attraction is being built.
(6/28/18) Orlando Weekly has posted an interesting collection of rumors regarding the future of Tomorrowland. According to the report, we may see some other upgrades happen in Tomorrowland along with the addition of the new Tron coaster by 2021. Longtime readers will remember the early prediction was that the Tomorrowland Speedway was going to be removed, and likely used as the location for the Tron coaster before the official announcement placed it behind across the railroad tracks, sparing the Speedway.
The latest rumors claims that the Speedway itself may also get a Tron make-over with slick new cars being added (maybe electric?) that will feature an impressive Tron inspired on-board lighting package, and likely some new scenic props on the course. Other current Disney properties could also be used for course themeing as well such as Wreck-It-Ralph and Incredibles. (Me? As much as I love Tron, I'm still trying to figure out why they don't just give the Speedway a full "Sugar Rush" themed makeover instead to tie it into the Wreck-It-Ralph films. Who wouldn't like to see the crazy candy themed race-cars racing through the colorful world of sweets, past an erupting Diet Cola Mountain.
Back to the new Tomorrowland rumors... these claim that the Carousel of Progress may have a new upgrade being planned to replace the 1990's era finale scene in the attraction with something more up-to-date. Other possible rumors include putting a new attraction of some kind inside the former Stitch's Great Escape building, adding some kind of new update to the Peoplemover that would bring a 'story' to the attraction. One line of thought may be to give it an Incredible's theme... which was once a failed proposal to bring the closed Peoplemover in Disneyland back to life many years ago.
For now these are just rumors, but the clock is ticking to the 50th Anniversary, so any work needed to be done would have to begin within the next 6-12 months most likely.
(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.