Walt Disney World
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(7/29/17) Stitch's Great Escape Update (MORE...)
(7/20/17) Tron and New Theater Confirmed
(7/14/17) Another Amazing New Project Now Rumored (MORE...)
(7/13/17) New Tron Coaster Location Rumor (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - The following information is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate.
Hall of Presidents - NOW CLOSED through Late 2017
Liberty Square Riverboat - NOW CLOSED through Aug 10
Splash Mountain - Aug 28 through Nov. 16
Park News - (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.
(5/14/17) The Magic Kingdom premiered their new Happily Ever After fireworks spectacular live on YouTube on Friday night and you can catch the entire performance for yourself down below to enjoy at your leisure, without having to stand shoulder to shoulder in a crowd. The new castle projections look truly amazing, mixed with Disney's well renowned bar-setting fireworks expertise. Check it out below!
2018 - Pirates Of The Caribbean Update - Confirmed -
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.
(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!”
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!
???? - Wreck-It-Ralph Attraction - On Hold/Canceled - (7/29/17) Many have been wondering what was going on with Stitch's Great Escape and those rumors about a Wreck-It-Ralph attraction coming to take over the space. D23 and SD ComicCon have come and gone and we've heard not a new peep about this rumor in quite some time which makes me think that it may have been pushed to the side in favor of the other new attractions coming to the Magic Kingdom: the new theater and of course the Tron Lightcycle Power Run coaster.
For now Stitch's Great Escape continues to be run as a seasonal attraction, open for the busy summer season now through August 19th and then it will close down again. From there, we will have to wait and see if they choose to reopen it again for the busy Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons, or if they choose to simply just let Stitch ride off into the sunset until they can come up with a new idea for the space.
Thinking back however, I do kind of miss the cold creepy atmosphere and dark humor of the old Alien Encounter. I also miss Skippy and S.I.R., for some reason I think I loved the pre-show with Skippy and S.I.R. more than the Alien Encounter attraction itself, but I don't think we'll see that come back for the 50th.
So for now we're just waiting in limbo for Disney to decide what to do with the space.
(7/11/17) One thing I’m hoping we’ll hear more about at the D23 Expo is what’s going on with the new Wreck It Ralph movie… and hopefully how it will tie into an all new attraction concept set to replace Stitch Encounter sometime in 2018. For now everything has been very hush-hush, with everyone focused on rumors for attractions coming along further in the future. Strange how this one, which is supposed to open next year has been flying under the radar… unless it was quietly shut down. Anyone know for sure?
(9/27/16) An interesting rumor has surfaced over at ThemeParkTourist this week, claiming that the future of the Stitch's Great Escape attraction may be to transform into a Wreck-It-Ralph attraction. According to the rumor the existing attraction could soon close entirely and be updated with some kind of VR hardware and headgear to transport guests into the world of Wreck-It-Ralph where they can take part in a Sugar Rush style racing adventure. While I havn't heard anything else myself on this rumor, the timing would make sense as Wreck-It-Ralph 2 is expected to hit theaters in March 2018.
2019 - Broadway Style Show Theater - Confirmed - (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 -
(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.