What’s opening and what isn’t. What is postponed, what is canceled. Rundown of Disney World projects post coronavirus shutdown.
Disney World shut down in mid-March due to coronavirus. Every Walt Disney World theme park shut down around the world. When it reopened, it did so to an entirely new set of challenges and a tighter operating budget.
Disney had a whole host of changes coming down the pipeline at the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020. In fact, the stage had been set for the biggest renovation in the history of Walt Disney World at EPCOT. So, now that the most magical place on earth has reopened are things still on track? Well, not exactly.
Magic Kingdom’s 50th anniversary is set for 2021 and a whole slew of new projects and memorable events were in the works to celebrate this massive milestone. 2020 was the year to set the stage for some massive overhauls all throughout the four major theme parks. And then coronavirus came along.
It is estimated that Disney lost between $26 and $30 million a day being closed. In addition, films were postponed, and now that Disney World has reopened, they are operating at much less capacity and are not yet in a position to recoup their massive losses.
Even though Disney World has reopened in part to guests, both Disneyland California theme parks remained shutdown. Honk Kong Disneyland has shut its gates again, Disney Cruise Line has yet to set sail again and other major parts of the massive company’s budget are still not operational and may not be for some time.
During the most recent Disney investor call in May, Disney identified $900 million in reduced capital expenditures for this fiscal year.
With costs increased, revenue dramatically decreased and no true end to any of this in sight, what Disney originally thought it was doing in 2020 or 2021 and what it will really be able to do live in two separate worlds. While the park remains tight-lipped on most official plans (trust us, we asked), here are the new projects and attractions that we know are still happening in Disney World. Plus, we include a few that may have been “indefinitely postponed” as part of that $900 million in fiscal year savings.
Opened Just in Time
A major attraction that had been in the works for several years opened just a couple of weeks before Walt Disney World shut down. Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway was the first ever headlining attraction for the famous couple at any Disney theme park. The attraction opened on March 4, just weeks before the park shut down.
For all the details on Mickey and Minnie’s Runaway Railway check out our blog post. The Most Underrated Attraction Coming to Walt Disney World.
Galactic Starcruiser a go
Disney CEO Bob Chapek has been a big fan of the Star Wars themed hotel that has been under construction for several years. Rumors are swirling that the project is still somewhat on schedule and could open in 2021. Disney has not released any official statement on this project but it is too far into the construction process to abandon and is one of the most highly anticipated projects Disney has in their pipeline.
In addition, A new permit was filed for the unique hotel. The permit is filed for “Project H: Installation of Show Set Elements.” There are no specific details regarding what is covered on the permit but the project is incredibly immersive and highly technical.
Prior to COVID-19, Disney announced that the immersive Star Wars-themed hotel, called the Galactic Starcruiser, would begin accepting reservations in 2020 for two-night experiences to likely begin in 2021.
Because the experience is so personalized and intimate, we think Disney will be able to move forward with plans for opening the resort sooner rather than later.
The opening timeline has absolutely been impacted by COVID-19, and the original experiences within the hotel may have to change due to social distancing but this project is a go.
Tron Lightcycle is one of the attractions guests can’t wait to get in line for at Walt Disney World. This new attraction is located in Tomorrowland at Magic Kingdom.
Similar to Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind, we are unsure how the timeline for opening has been impacted by coronavirus but we expect construction crews have experienced at least a couple of months lost. Tron Lightcycle is set to debut in time for Walt Disney World’s 50th anniversary in 2021. The attraction is based on TRON Lightcycle Power Run at Shanghai Disneyland. This coaster-style attraction allows riders to board a train of two-wheeled Lightcycles for a thrilling race through the digital frontier.
Both of these high profile attractions are still a go and we expect Disney to prioritize their construction to open for the 50th Anniversary.
Splash Mountain Retheme
Last but certainly not least the retheming of Splash Mountain. We have several blog posts highlighting this particular project. We don’t believe that Disney had the intention of revealing the retheme this soon although we do believe it has been in the works for some time.
Disney Parks Blog released sneak peak information that Disney has been working on “plussing” or re-theming Splash Mountain at Both Disneyland and Walt Disney World for over a year. The attraction has long been themed to the controversial Disney classic, “Song of the South”.
Although speculation of a re-theme have been ongoing for years. The announcement is sudden. It is the thought of For The Love of The Mouse that this comes on the heels of social outcry for change regarding systemic racism and discrimination in the United States.
This re-theme, from a cost perspective is curious due to the hemorrhaging of funds within the company.
For all the details regarding the retheming of Splash Mountain check out our comprehensive blog post. Splash Mountain to be Rethemed.
There are other projects that are likely to get the ax at Disney theme parks around the world. The reality is that Disney lost an insane amount of money and quite frankly they are continuing to lose a lot of money every day.
Delayed in France
Ratatouille over in Epcot’s World Showcase was incredibly close to opening and had been slated for a summer 2020 grand opening. Coronavirus shut down construction on the project and the project has been delayed. In addition, grand openings tend to bring large crowds and that is something Disney is working hard to avoid.
Now that the parks have reopened and Florida in general is operating pretty normally, construction has resumed on this project. No opening date or timetime has been announced by Disney at this time.
Regal Eagle Smokehouse Opened Just in Time
Also in Epcot, over in the America pavilion, Regal Eagle Smokehouse opened on February 9. The quick service location opened up about a month before the parks shutdown and has reopened with Epcot. We were actually not huge fans of the BBQ joint but are happy it was able to open on time.
Lost in Space
Space 2020 is a restaurant in Epcot that has been under construction for what seems like an eternity. It was finally scheduled to open in “early 2020.” Well, early 2020 came and went. The shutdown came and went and here we are in August with no Space 2020. The restaurant was reportedly near completion prior to the shutdown. With limited dining open, even if the project is complete, Disney is likely waiting to open this new experience when they can lift some of the strict restrictions.
Check out our post on the Space 2020 Restaurant. Blast off to Space 2020 Restaurant.
One of the attractions currently being constructed is the Moana Journey of Water attraction which was announced at D23 in Anaheim in August 2019. As a part of World Nature, which will take guests on an adventure through the wonderful natural world, Moana Journey of Water will transport guests to a playful and interactive water exhibit.
This project was under construction prior to the coronavirus shutdown and although it has most certainly been delayed, we expect this project to move forward.
Let’s Not go Fly a Kite
Disney announced the first ever Mary Poppins themed attraction coming to the United Kingdom pavilion in Epcot at D23 in August 2019. In mid-July when Epcot reopened, guests noticed that all traces of the Mary Poppins attraction had been removed from the Epcot experience.
Following speculation by a number of Disney fans, Disney released this statement, “As with most businesses during this period, we are further evaluating long-term project plans. The decision was made to postpone development of the Mary Poppins-inspired attraction and Spaceship Earth at this time.”
Check out our full blog post on what was planned for the Mary Poppins Themed Project. New Mary Poppins Attraction Coming to Epcot.
Like a Grand and Miraculous Spaceship
One major focus of the Epcot overhaul was the refurbishment of the iconic attraction Spaceship Earth. The attraction was set to close in May and would include a major overhaul of much of the attraction that was said to last over two years. Disney has removed it from the construction plans for the time being and we don’t expect it to return for several years.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind
Construction crews have returned to work on this highly anticipated new attraction. Taking the place of Ellen’s Energy Adventure at Epcot, this Marvel attraction has been under construction for some time. Solar panels were recently installed on the building.
The attraction is slated to open in 2021 and we have not heard anything from Disney that the coronavirus setbacks have detoured the timeline. We expect that Disney lost at least a couple of months in terms of construction progress.
Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind will be located in the new World Discovery area of Epcot, which will showcase science, technology, and intergalactic adventure. Other attractions in this section of the park will include the Play Pavilion, Mission Space, and Test Track.
This is a controversial attraction for Epcot purists who think it detracts from the original design and intention of the park. The building is quite large and has been painted what is called, “blend-in-blue”. Many are upset that the sheer size of the coaster building detracts from the iconic center of Epcot, Spaceship Earth.
Epcot Overhaul Plans to Get an Overhaul
We already discussed the Mary Poppins themed attraction that has been taken off the table for the time being. Spaceship Earth’s extensive reimagining has also been removed. Those are only a few of the things planned for Epcot during the parks extensive overhaul.
There were upcoming new pavilions, a new entrance, water features, a Moana-themed offering and more. Due to coronavirus, the time closed, the money lost, the size of this massive project will most certainly continued to be scaled back. Which is quite unfortunate because Disney had some out-of-this-world imagineering in place to bring this park back to glory.
For full details on what was originally planned for Epcot, check out this post! The Epcot Overhaul: What we Learned From D23.
Reflections Resort in Question
The spectacular 900-room Disney Vacation Club resort, Reflections, was announced in 2018 and is to be built on what once was River Country, Disney’s original waterpark. Construction was in very early stages prior to the coronavirus shutdown.
With multiple Disney World resorts still closed and due to the impacts of the virus, sales of the most recently opened DVC resort, the Riviera Resort have slowed, we see this project being put on the backburner. We don’t see this project being canceled but the timeline is likely to be significantly pushed back.
Check out our comprehensive blog post highlighting the new Reflections Resort. Concept Art For Guest Rooms at Reflections.
Disney Cruise Line
In 2019 as part of the D23 convention Bob Chapek announced the name of one of the new Disney cruise ships joining the fleet.
One of these exciting announcements involved the Disney Cruise Line. There are currently four ships in the Disney fleet with three more under construction. Chapek announced that one of the brand new ships coming to this luxury, family cruise line is going to be the Disney Wish!
The Disney Wish will join the fleet in January 2022 when it first sets sail to make magical new memories for guests.
There are three new ships scheduled to join the Disney Cruise Line fleet. We don’t know the fate of the other two. With cruising currently on hold, we’re not sure when or if all three ships will still eventually join the Disney family.
These are some of the major high-profile projects that either just opened, are about to open, are possibly on the cutting room floor and more. Stay tuned for more information as it becomes available right here at For the Love of the Mouse.