There have been a plethora of rumors floating around the web regarding what may be on the horizon for the four theme parks of the Walt Disney World Resort. It seems every time we reach a point in WDW history that we have no official word as to what is next, an incredible batch of rumors seem to run rampant (Those of you around in the late 1990’s probably remember rumors of Fire Mountain, Bald Mountain, and a Villains themed land for the Magic Kingdom). There is no need to fear, as Walt Disney World is probably on the verge of it’s largest theme park expansion in years, perhaps Disney is just waiting for the right moment to spring the news on the entire world (remember, the D23 Expo is just a few weeks away). To clear up some confusion, I wanted to take the time to make a post that recaps everything I have heard thus far on future plans, but keep in mind (as with any rumors) that anything listed below must be taken as a rumor until an official announcement is made by the Walt Disney Company. Let’s begin:
The Magic Kingdom
Fantasyland Refurbishment & Expansion: Since WDW News Today launched in July 2007, we have reported on rumors that a Little Mermaid dark ride attraction was coming to Fantasyland to replace Pooh’s Playful Spot and Ariel’s Grotto. It is important to keep in mind that this rumor pre-dates any formal announcement that Disney’s California Adventure would be building this long-proposed Disneyland Paris attraction. It seems likely that construction will begin soon in the Magic Kingdom, and the announcement by Disney a few months ago that they were looking for a “one-Disney” experience only bolsters the idea of this voyage “under the sea” taking place on both coasts. If this major addition takes place, it will most likely do more than add a major E-Ticket to the park in late 2011/early 2012, but will also add a large Disney Princess store and meet-and-greet area at the attraction exit (thus allowing the Princesses to leave the perhaps doomed Mickey’s Toontown Fair). This large addition may also force “Dumbo: The Flying Elephant” attraction to move to a new location. If the Little Mermaid dark ride comes to be, we can expect the remainder of the Fantasyland expansion to take place over the 4-5 years following, including: a Mad Tea Party with a new covering reminiscent of Disneyland Paris, the replacement of Snow White’s Scary Adventure with a “Beauty and the Beast” dark ride, and the addition of a Seven Dwarves Mine Train roller-coaster on the land now occupied by the old Fantasyland Skyway building. Also amid the rumored changes for Fantasyland are new facades for most Fantasyland attractions, shedding the “medieval fair” setting, and new visual effects and upgrades being added to both The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh and Peter Pan’s Flight.
A competing (perhaps more current) concept follows the floor plans below (found on the Disney Report’s Soft Opening Blog), also adding Princess and Fairy themed areas with minor attractions while removing the entire north side of Mickey’s Toontown Fair. This plan also has Snow White’s Scary Adventure saved by building the Beauty and the Beast dark ride next door to a proposed “Gaston’s” restaurant. This would terminate the castle forecourt theme with a wall leading into the “deep woods” and lands themed to Beauty and the Beast, The Little Mermaid, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Dumbo, and Winnie the Pooh. This plan also includes similar upgrades (mentioned in the first paragraph) to the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, with a new facade matching the look of the Hundred Acre Woods and a new Pooh character meet and greet area across the path. I had not seen this particular version of the plans before this week, but they are quite a bit larger than the plans I had spoken about above, making me skeptical as to how genuine this drawing actually is. We’ll just have to sit back for a little while and wait to see when and where construction walls eventually rise in Fantasyland.
Another New Tomorrowland: Rumors suggest that there are plans in the very early stages for an overall refurbishment and expansion of the Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland area. We’re still hearing that a “Wall-E” inspired Buy ‘N’ Large (BNL) takeover is in the works, with the concept being that we are entering a prequel to the film, just before Earth was covered in mounds of trash. Whatever the actual plan may be, it appears time may soon be up for Stitch’s Great Escape, Buzz Lightyear’s Space Ranger Spin, and The Laugh Floor. Why would such young attractions be removed so quickly? Well, Stitch’s Great Escape has been received as one of the worst attractions in Disney history, The Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor was always meant to be a temporary addition, and Space Ranger Spin hasn’t been as cool as it once was before high tech versions of it were cloned around the world and Toy Story Mania! opened last year. Again, Disney is in the very early stages of planning these changes, and we probably won’t see anything happen until the Fantasyland expansion is complete.
TLC for Some Classics: Just because there may be a wave of new attractions coming to the Magic Kingdom, doesn’t mean they will forget about some of the classic offerings. Since 2006, we have seen extensive refurbishments of Pirates of the Caribbean, the Haunted Mansion, the Jungle Cruise, the Hall of Presidents, the Tomorrowland Transit Authority (re-opens in late August), and Space Mountain (re-opens in November). If rumors are correct, the next attractions in line for a fixin’ should be The Enchanted Tiki Room and Walt Disney’s Carousel of Progress. In addition to these attraction fix-ups, a classic Magic Kingdom parade should also be seeing some exciting changes. Very quietly, Spectromagic has had some technological upgrades over the last few months, with most character costumes and the “finale rope” now sporting LED lighting. (these changes were quite noticeable, take a look next time you watch the parade). In addition, Mr. Smee and the Wicked Queen from Snow White are sporting completely new costumes. I would expect BIGGER changes to the parade before October 1, 2011, rolls around…
Journey Into Imagination: Since October 1, 1999, we have been waiting for something meaningful to come to the Imagination! pavilion, and it seems our wait is almost over. We now know for a fact that Walt Disney Imagineering will be taking control of the pavilion at some point over the next twelve months, what is going to happen after that takeover is still debatable. We will most likely see the Dreamfinder reunited with Figment and perhaps the usage of the same trackless ride system that will be going into the upcoming Mystic Manor attraction at Hong Kong Disneyland. There hasn’t been much leaking on this project, but I have a feeling we will know much more about this project very soon.
The Rest of Epcot: Innoventions is going to continue it’s rapid evolution through the next few years, including the already announced addition of “The Sum of All Thrills” this Fall. The Universe of Energy is rumored to be next in line for a revamp after the Imagination! pavilion, followed by the now shuttered Wonders of Life pavilion. Test Track may see changes sooner rather than later, but that will be decided by the day to day performance of General Motors and how much longer they continue to operate. Illuminations: Reflections of Earth may be nearing the end of it’s run, but don’t be sad, not many nighttime spectaculars get the opportunity to run for more than ten years.
Disney’s Hollywood Studios
Monsters Inc.: One of the worst kept secrets in Disney Park history has to be the proposed Monsters Inc. family-style coaster that will be placed next door to the wildly popular Toy Story Midway Mania! attraction on Pixar Place. As has already been discussed on other credible sites, guests would enter the offices of Monsters Inc. following the events of the first film and somehow get involved in a wild door chase after Randall through the Laugh Floor and door warehouse. The coaster and the vehicles are supposedly going to be built by Vekoma and may look a little something like the trains seen at this link. While the Disney vehicles will probably sport a Monsters Inc. style transport door on the back of each seat, the attraction’s track layout might be one of the two featured on that very same webpage page. Just try to imagine the coaster below enclosed in a building.
The coaster would also fly through dark-ride style scenes, leading to us eventually saving Boo and defeating Randall by putting him through a trash compactor (yes, the smae ending from the “Ride and Go Seek” attraction in Tokyo).
Whew! That should do it for now. I know it’s a lot to swallow, but there is a ton of these rumors flying around at the moment and I wanted to make sure everyone was well informed. While some (or most) of these rumored changes won’t actually occur, it’s always fun to speculate. Be sure to stay tuned to WDW NEws Today as we get more information on all of these exciting rumored projects.