Walt Disney World
---- THE LATEST BUZZ ----
(10/22/22) Tron Lightcycle/Run Construction Update (MORE...)
(9/15/22) You're Going To Have To Wait Until Spring 2023 For Tron
(9/6/22) New Tron Construction Update (MORE...)
(8/31/22) Tron Now Testing At Night With Lights (MORE...)
(8/27/22) "Users" Spotted Taking Test Rides On Tron Lightcycle/Run (MORE...)
Ride Rehabs - These dates are not guaranteed to be 100% accurate as refurbishments are subject to change.
Walt Disney World Railroad - NOW CLOSED through TBD
Park News - (7/23/22) Fighting in theme parks has been an issue of late, but even Walt Disney World has not been spared. Videos have leaked out from the other day showing off another brawl taking place in the Magic Kingdom in Fantasyland near the Philharmagic attraction involving a large family group who all decided to wear white mickey themed T-Shirts and bright red shorts. Unlike the fights at Knott’s that seemed to involve mostly teens, in this case the fights apparently involved mostly adult members of two different families that went on for several minutes which was caught on camera for the world to see. In the end security broke it up, which resulted in at least one man being admitted to the hospital for treatment and the ground looking like warfield scattered with abandoned crocs, face masks, bracelets, sunglasses and various other personal gear.
(6/25/22) Walt Disney World has announced the dates for the returning 2022 Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party event taking place at the Magic Kingdom park. Look for it to take place on 24 select nights between November 8th and December 22, 2022, with tickets to go on sale online starting on June 30th for guests of select Walt Disney World Resorts and on sale to the general public starting July 7th. Ticket prices will vary depending on the night you want to go, with prices starting as low as $149 and rising the closer to get to Christmas, maxing out at $199. The event takes place from 7pm to Midnight each night, but ticket holders can enter the Magic Kingdom as early as 4pm to enjoy some extra time in the park before the regular guests leave.
The notice also confirms that this will feature the return the transformed Jungle Cruise into the Jingle Cruise and “as an exclusive treat for event attendees, Space Mountain, Tomorrowland Speedway, Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor and Mad Tea Party will all receive a special holiday makeover.”
Mickey’s Very Very Christmas Party will take place on:
November 8, 10, 11, 14, 15, 17, 18, 20, 22, 27, 29
December 1, 2, 4, 6, 8 9, 11, 13, 15, 16, 18, 20, 22
Spring 2023 - TRON Lightcycle / Run - (10/20/22) MouseSteps is back with another look at the Tron Lightcycle/Run construction site this week. At long last it appears the team has begun pouring the final pathways that will connect the attraction to the necessary walkway that will run from Space Mountain back to the Storybook Circus area. Work also continues to move forward on the rebuild outside of the Tomorrowland Light & Power Co. building as part of that pathway. The missing railroad tracks have also now mostly been put back in place to connect Tomorrowland to Storybook Circus, passing through a new tunnel while going by the Tron attraction. All the while Tron continues to send a consistent stream of test-trains ahead of the Spring 2023 opening.
(9/15/22) Everyone… all at once… prepare your collective moans and groans. Despite all the progress, Disney confirmed at D23 that Tron Lightcycle/Run will not open until “Spring 2023”.
Despite it being originally announced way back in 2017…
Despite it being a clone of an attraction already built at Shanghai Disneyland in 2016…
And despite it being originally slated to open as part of the Walt Disney World 50th Anniversary celebration that started way back in Oct 2021…
So yeah… As we’ve seen time and time again over the past decade, when it comes to the opening of new attractions, Disney does as Disney wants to do. Now more than ever, all of Disney’s opening timelines are always subject to change, and that’s if they build what they announce at all.
So many projects have been announced and then just quietly vanish, never spoken of again.
The Spaceship Earth renovation for Epcot, and heck…the majority of the announced additions that were supposed to come to Epcot have gone dark… the multi-level Celebration Pavilion, the
Play Pavilion… the Mary Poppins attraction. Over at the Magic Kingdom, while we will eventually get Tron, you may remember another attraction announced around the same time that quickly and quietly was shelved… the Main Street Theater. A massive broadway style performance theater to be located down a side street on the right side of Main Street USA.
To say nothing of all the smoke and mirrors games they’ve been playing ever since they announced the conversion of Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. While I’m sure it is definitely happening, they’ve just kind of taken to playing very loose with any concrete details about virtually every new project these days involving the US parks.
If you need any more proof, if you caught any of this year’s D23, there was a whole presentation that was essentially a giant “What if?” pipe-dream. Nothing promised, just a lot of talk and blue sky dreaming… almost as if they were trying to feel out the audience to see what random idea got the most excitement and buzz.
Almost as if they’ve lost their way and the leaders are no longer sure what their audience really wants.
Now that’s something to ponder about.
As for Tron opening in 2023? Am I surprised? Nope!
Disappointed maybe,but not surprised in the least. This is a new era for opening theme park attractions. Instead of doing it the old Hollywood way of promoting rides as Summer tent-pole blockbuster not-to-miss attractions, we’re now seeing some park chains delaying the opening of their rides to open them in a time-period where it may be more profitable or more advantageous to do so. Just like how Warner Bros. has been moving all their D.C. films around, delaying some and pushing up others to allow each to open in a more beneficial time-slot, theme parks are now starting to do the same thing.
After all, we just saw Busch Gardens Tampa and SeaWorld Orlando push back the opening of their new roller coasters (Iron Gwazi & Ice Breaker) intended for 2020 to 2021 and then delay them again to really open in 2022. We saw Disney delay the opening of what was apparently a completely ready Ratatouille ride at Epcot from Spring 2021 until Fall 2021 just so they could promote it as a new attraction to lure guests in for the 50th Anniversary. Then follow this up with the opening of Guardians of the Galaxy in Summer 2022, just to get everyone to come back again a year later for that, and now we are pushing Tron back to Spring 2023 for the same reason. This isn’t the first time either… as I’m sure you’ll remember the two-phase opening of the rides in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge, along with changing timelines for Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway.
What appeared at first to be possible examples of bad planning, or construction delays, are now really shaping up to look more like strategic planning.
(9/6/22) A large number of new photos of the Tron attraction construction site at the Magic Kingdom have been posted to OrlandoParkNews.com this week. They report that the large white canopy is possibly already showing “minor signs of weathering”, but I’d also be quick to point out that it is sitting in the middle of an active construction site, surrounded by lots of construction vehicles moving dirt around the entire site, so I’d suggest that this is more a sign of dirt and dust collecting upon the canopy on a daily basis that I’d expect will vanish and wash away with the rains once the site is finished.
(8/31/22) Coaster Studios caught something wonderful on video the other night… Tron Lightcycle/Run testing after dark with essentially the full lighting package on, lighting up the entire Tron canopy as the coaster test launched the brightly blue-lit trains below. Check it out!
(8/27/22) One more piece of good Tron Lightcycle/Run news this week, based on a few posts on social media out there, actual human riders have been spotted on the Tron trains making test runs this week. Before you get too excited, these are not guests but actually Cast Members, and more specifically, they are likely either part of the maintenance team or opening crew for the new coaster. But man, that one dude is just so relaxed, taking in the experience, and just living his best life right at that moment. #Bravo!
(8/24/22) A new construction update for Tron Lightcycle/Run at the Magic Kingdom has been posted by MouseSteps. Follow the link to check it out for yourself, but it’s worth nothing that they confirmed that coaster testing was happening essentially non-stop during their visit, which is a good sign that they’re working to get each train the required number of commissioning hours well ahead of whenever Disney is planning on opening Tron to the public.
Obviously there is still a lot of outdoor work to finish around the attraction entrance, the pathways to get to it, and of course the rebuilding of the railroad tracks, so an opening isn’t going to happen overnight. We don’t even know the status of things on the inside in terms of adding all the final scenery or all the special effects programming for the attraction itself, but non-stop testing is a great sign that mechanically all is well with the coaster systems.
So for now, we’re just waiting for the call that we’re need on the Game Grid!
(8/9/22) A new Tron construction update has been posted to MouseSteps this week.
(7/26/22) MouseSteps is back with an all new Tron Lightcycle/Run construction update. One interesting item of note is that the huge canopy in front of Tron was looking a little deflated. I’m not sure if this is a normal thing or if something went wrong with part of the canopy.
(7/11/22) The Disney Parks Blog celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the original Tron film over the weekend by releasing a few new details about the storyline of the upcoming attraction. The timeline of the Tron Lightcycle/Run takes place after the events of Tron: Legacy, as Sam Flynn has decided to open ‘gateways’ into the digital realm of Tron in select locations. While the first such gateway was opened at Shanghai Disneyland first, Disney’s Magic Kingdom park in Florida will soon open the second gateway to the digital domain.
“When you enter the attraction’s queue, you’ll feel as if you’re digitized and entering the Grid for a special Lightcycle race alongside your family and friends. You’ll all join Team Blue (hence the color of the wheels in the photo above) for a high-speed launch into a competition against Team Orange. As you swoop and swerve your way around the course, your goal is to be the first to race through eight Energy Gates and secure your victory. Will your team have what it takes?”
(7/9/22) A new Tron construction update has been posted to MouseSteps this week. Much of the work focus now is on finishing up the outside pathways and ramps that lead to the attraction, along with the tunnel the railroad will take through the area. They’ve also got a video shot from the Peoplemover that includes new on-board audio, and a lights-on look inside Space Mountain.
Oh, speaking of the WDW Railroad, it is interesting that it looks like it will be enclosed inside a tunnel while passing through the Tron area when it reopens. One odd thing is that you can see small windows built into the tunnel on the attraction side, which makes me wonder what they’re planning on putting here to be worth seeing.
(6/18/22) Walt Disney Imagineering posted a new update around Tron Lightcycle/Run this week. According to the IG post, the project reached another milestone this week with “the start of show lighting testing” on the attraction’s massive canopy structure that serves as the ‘Upload Conduit to the Grid”. The canopy is described as featuring over 1,200 lighting fixtures across the curved surface.
(5/28/22) A new Tron and Walt Disney World Railroad construction update has been posted to MouseSteps this week. In addition to footage of the new Tron coaster starting to make test runs on a more regular basis, they also spotted crews starting to not only renovate some existing WDW Railroad tracks by Space Mountain, but placing the new railroad ties and rails just outside Storybook Circus. This is the first step in rebuilding the new tracks that will take the train from there and through the new Tron area before rejoining the old tracks by Space Mountain. After being closed since before the pandemic, it will be nice to see and hear the WDW Railroad making full circuit runs around the park once again, possibly by the end of the year.
(5/19/22) A new construction update from the Tron Lightcycle/Run attraction has been posted to MouseSteps this week.
(5/14/22) Disney has posted a behind-the-scenes first look at the first full-speed launch of their new Tron Lightcycle/Run train over at the Magic Kingdom! Check it out below.
(4/28/22) New Tron Lightcycle/Run construction coverage has been posted to MouseSteps this week, showing off more clips of the coaster making test runs.
(4/17/22) Good news for Tron fans, as the outside canopy is now nearly finished, Attractions Magazine caught a quick glimpse of the roller coaster train making a test run during daytime hours yesterday. Check it out below.
(4/4/22) MouseSteps is back with a new construction update from the Tron Lightcycle/Run attraction at Disney’s Magic Kingdom. In the time since their last update the white canopy has been installed across most of the roof structure in front of the attraction building. Only the rear portion of the canopy where the coaster enters and exits the main attraction building still remains to be wrapped up.
(3/20/22) BlogMickey has some great images of the pull-through test of the Tron Lightcycle/Run cars taking place this week. As previously mentioned, you will notice the large framework structure attached to the one car representing the safety envelope for the riders to make sure that the train can be moved through the layout without any part of the ride, structure or theming being able to come within striking range of the riders.
You will also notice that the car it is attached to is not your standard Lightcycle themed vehicles. For riders not wanting, or physically able, to ride on the Lightcycle style cars, the last car of select trains features a “Light Runner” style vehicle that offers more traditional sit-down seats with a traditional lap bar restraint system.
(3/13/22) Some good news from the Tron Lightcycle/Run crew, as a new video from Disney Parks now confirms that they will begin the needed push/pull test of slowly and manually moving a train through the entire layout which also ensures all the clearance window issues have been properly build as designed. After that they will begin testing the launch system after hours in small stages, working up to full speed. This is followed by weighted tests of the launch system, with the train loaded with weighted dummies to simulate being fully loaded with riders. Beyond that, once everything is fully checked out and run for a few thousand cycles, then the chance to be the first riders will be given to the ride team.
With testing of the actual ride system to begin, we’ll hopefully begin to get a better feel for how far away the opening may be as things progress.
(2/27/22) A video construction update showing off the progress of the Tron Lightcycle/Run coaster at Disney’s Magic Kingdom park over the past couple years can be found below. While the attraction is finally making some progress towards finishing up, we still can not say with any certainty when it will be ready to open. As we saw with the new Ratatouille attraction at Epcot, there is a big difference between when DIsney has a ride that is “ready to open” vs when they will actually open it, as Ratatouille was reportedly ready to open by Spring 2021, but Walt Disney World held off the grand opening until Oct 1st to be part of the 50th Anniversary. Tron on the other hand was also announced along with the new Guardians of the Galaxy coaster at Epcot to be for the 50th Anniversary, and while Tron could be ready to open before the end of the 2022, Disney may hold it back until the following year in an effort to keep their current high attendance levels intact by rolling out the new attractions in phases rather than all at once.
(2/13/22) An all new Tron construction update has been posted by MouseSteps this week, and as you can see the large solid canopy cover pieces are finally being installed to the framework in front of the ride. So at last the outside of the attraction’s structure is getting close to having a finished look to it, though there is still a lot of work left to do around the entry plaza, as well as reinstall the tracks for the railroad to pass through.
(12/27/21) A new Tron construction update has been posted to MouseSteps this week that is worth checking out. This includes photos and a video fly-by of the construction site shot on the PeopleMover this week. As usual, the front entry plaza is still a mess of active construction for the time being, but hopefully they’ll be able to pick up the pace and get things moving towards completion. In the meantime, we do have to wonder just how things are shaping up INSIDE the show building itself.
If the rumors from last year were true, they were putting a hold on the inside work when they sealed up the building, with the intention of finishing it all up this year. But for now we have no way to know if the interior of the ride has been mostly completed, or if it is still just sitting there waiting. If I had to guess, recent evidence seems to suggest that work is currently taking place, as some photos surfaced on social media showing off some set-pieces for the interior of the ride being shipped to the park on trucks. These appear to be light-up video-game style gateway/portals that the coaster train will pass through as it moves through the show-building giving your team points vs the red team’s Lightcycles.
(12/15/21) A new Tron Lightcycle / Run construction update can be found at MouseSteps this week.
(11/28/21) Several new pictures showing off the construction progress taking place to the front of the Tron Lightcycle/Run attraction can be found at WDWNT this week. In addition to ongoing work on the canopy that sits over the entire front of the attraction, workers can be seen working around the various pathways around the attraction leading up to the second level entrance area, and you can now clearly see the pathway the Railroad will take when it runs through the attraction area again in the future.
(11/2/21) MouseSteps has posted a new construction update from Tron Lightcycle / Run this week.
(10/21/21) MouseSteps has posted a new construction update from The Magic Kingdom showing off the latest progress on the Tron: Lightcycle / Run attraction. The big news is that a blue fabric mesh liner is being attached to the inside of the canopy framework in front of the attraction. Based on photos of the Shanghai version, if this looks the same, a white more solid looking outer layer will then be attached on top of the canopy framework.
(8/29/21) In the latest Tron construction update posted by MouseSteps we can see that the park’s new coaster is now undergoing clearance testing with a small test vehicle being slowly moved. If you haven’t seen this kind of thing before, the point is build up the vehicle with structure meant to simulate the furthest reach of the rider’s limbs as well as the vehicle itself and slowly move it around the entire track to ensure there is no chance that a rider’s arms or legs could come into collision with any part of the ride structure.
(8/2/21) A new Tron construction update has been posted by MouseSteps this week. It’s nice to see the extensive canopy that covers the outside of the attraction really starting to take shape. Just on the opposite side of the canopy from Space Mountain a new structure is also rising with a series of red/brown steel I-beams. While this structure isn’t shown on the concept art, I’ve got a hunch that it could possibly be an elevator to take handicappder riders to the upper platform where the ride’s entrance will be located. The concept artwork at first only appears to show a pair of large staircases leading from the ground level up to the platform, but to the left in the background you can make out what seems to be a structure for an elevator as well. Just a guess, but this seems very possible.
(1/28/21) A new set of photos from the Tron construction site have been posted to MouseSteps this week. As you can see, the canopy structure is growing once again, this time it is reaching out towards the main attraction building.
As previously reported, the entrance into the attraction building for riders as well as the coaster track has been sealed up, which only seems to reinforce the rumor that Tron will not open in 2021 as originally expected. If the rest of the rumors hold true, once the canopy and the rest of the outdoor construction is complete, we should see the visible work on the attraction come to a halt, with the inside work rumored to not begin again until at least October 2021.
(1/11/21) A new collection of Tron Lightcycle/Run construction photos have been posted to MouseSteps this week. This includes a good look at the massive canopy structure that will dominate the front view of the attraction, which can also be seen from various locations throughout the park. After dark, it should be quite a sight to see, as it will light up in spectacular fashion as well.
The back half of the canopy has yet to go up however, but one thing many have noticed is that the entrance hole where the coaster track is to re-enter the building has now been sealed up around the track. Just below it you can also see where the workers have begun the process of sealing up the actual walkway entrance for the riders to get into the attraction building queue with another temporary wall.
So why seal the entry paths into the attraction building? Well going back to the rumors making the rounds not long ago, as part of a budget cutting measure work on Tron was expected to grind to a halt as soon as all the outdoor construction was complete, and with the attraction building and track now in place, the last outdoor steps to finish would be the canopy and then whatever work needs to be done to get the Railroad track back in place. Sealing up the building almost seems to bring the claims that all interior work on the attraction would be paused until late 2021, likely not starting until the start of Disney’s next fiscal year which is typically the first week of October.
(12/13/20) Today we’re going to see the latest construction update for the Tron Lightcycle/Run coaster at the Magic Kingdom. MouseSteps has posted some new pictures of the attraction taken from both inside and outside of the park, so you can see how the rising techno-canopy going up in front of the main attraction building is changing the skyline of the park.
It does create an odd new look to the park when seen from outside the gates, especially in some images taken from the Wedding Pavilion area where the canopy is seen poking up over the buildings of Main Street USA. This is just the front section of the canopy still, as the section that will cover the rear-half of the outdoor coaster tracks as they return and re-enter the attraction building at the tallest point has not yet been assembled.
(10/26/20) I’m not sure how valid this rumor is, so please take this one with a grain of salt for now and as a warning if you’ve been planning a visit to Walt Disney World for the later half of 2021, hoping that the new Tron or Guardians of the Galaxy coasters would be open.
According to the rumor the construction crews working on Tron Lightcycle/ Run (Magic Kingdom) and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind (Epcot) will continue their work only until all the major structural and outdoor construction aspects are finished. At that point, they say that construction may come grinding to a halt with Disney leaving the interior work and theming of the rides unfinished. The plan would be to put all the rest of the construction work on hold until October 2021, the start of Disney’s next fiscal year, where it would start up again with the goal of finishing up the attractions in time for late Spring or Summer 2022 instead.
Again… this is just a rumor right now, but one that definitely sounds like something that could be Wall Street driven as a cost-cutting measure meant to stop the financial bleeding by being able to cut various contracted team members working on these projects right now with the goal of hiring those they need back in a year’s time by essentially pushing the pause button on the spending needed to finish these two major attractions for almost a year.
Can anyone else with insider knowledge confirm or deny this rumor?
(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.
(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.
(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?
Late 2024 - Tiana’s Bayou Adventure - (8/18/22) Disney may be planning something big for the Magic Kingdom. File this in the rumor bin until we hear otherwise, but some early whispering is going on that seems to indicate a possible redevelopment of the backside of Tom Sawyer’s Island is being discussed. This wouldn’t be the first time it was proposed to remove the back portion of the island and essentially fill it all in to create room for a new land that would bridge the gap between Big Thunder Mountain and the Haunted Mansion. To a lesser extent, Disneyland reworked the back-half of their own TSI to re-route the railroad closer to the water and to make room for their own Star Wars: Galactic Edge land.
Despite the fact that Disney has confirmed their plans to go ahead and retheme Splash Mountain into Tiana’s Bayou Adventure by late 2024, they have yet to address how this New Orleans themed adventure is going to fit right in the middle of Frontierland. In Disneyland, the project is a perfect match, as their Splash Mountain is right next to the Haunted Mansion and the rest of that park’s New Orleans Square land. In the Magic Kingdom, things are a bit more complicated.
So it does make me wonder if they might not be considering reworking the nearby back-half of Tom Sawyer’s Island to become some kind of new New Orleans themed area to help tie it all together. I know Big Thunder Mountain is still going to be right in the way of it all, but it would possibly help things along to create a mini New Orleans Square type zone near Splash… and if the river has to go, maybe it’s time to dry-dock the Liberty Bell Riverboat along the shore nearby, where they could turn it into some kind of restaurant with Creole cooking, or if the using the paddlewheeler proves impractical, they could always make a real world version of the Tiana’s Place restaurant.
Again, this is all based on a very quiet rumor right now, but given that the D23 Expo will be taking place very soon (Sept. 9,10,11, 2022) that would be the best place to give an early announcement for this kind of project.
(7/22/22) Disney has finally come forward with more details about the planned transformation of the current Splash Mountain attractions in Disneyland and Florida’s Magic Kingdom parks into what they are now calling Tiana’s Bayou Adventure. The plan is to convert and open both new attractions in late 2024.
The announcements actually came from Disney reps attending the “ESSENCE Fest” in New Orleans this week, which you can see more of at the Disney Parks Blog post. As far as the attraction itself goes, they say it will serve as “a love letter to New Orleans” and be full of the music and culture of the city.
“Tiana’s Bayou Adventure will take guests on a musical adventure inspired by the beloved story and characters from the fan-favorite film. Picking up where the film left off, guests will join Princess Tiana, Naveen and jazz-loving alligator Louis on an adventure through the bayou as they prepare to host a one-of-a-kind Mardi Gras celebration where everyone is welcome. Along the way, guests will encounter familiar faces, make new friends and travel through the bayou to original music inspired by songs from the film as they are brought into the next chapter of Tiana’s story.”
I didn’t see any mention of when they planned to actually close the existing Splash Mountain rides however to begin the conversion, but I’m guessing they’re probably going to give these projects an 18-24 month timetable, so to make that late 2024 opening means each Splash Mountain will likely have to close sometime between December 2022 to May 2023. So get your last rides in while you can.
(8/25/21) Another piece of concept art and a round-table discussion by Disney Imagineers about the plans to transform Splash Mountain into a new ride themed to The Princess and the Frog has been released. According to the talk, Tiana will invite guests to go along on an adventure with her in the bayou, so the new experience will be one where the guests are included in the action, instead of just watching the action unfold in front of them.
(8/9/21) Curious… and sort of unusual for Disney, but a large section of scaffolding has been set up on the left side of Splash Mountain, as seen in the tweet below. As seen in the photo, Splash Mountain is also still open to guests while this is taking place. In old Disney-speak, once might call this an example of “bad show”, but others fear that perhaps the time to begin the transformation of Splash Mountain into the new Princess and The Frog edition of the ride may be coming soon.
No timeline was ever given by Disney to perform this work, but with the 50th Anniversary celebration getting ready to start, I do find it hard to believe that they would close Splash Mountain during the celebration to perform this work instead of waiting until afterwards. Anyone know more about what’s going on here? Simply some kind of needed maintenance or something else entirely?
(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...)