The Biggest Disney Rumors for October, 2018
You may be thinking about Halloween costumes and prepping for the upcoming holiday season, but Disney has more on its mind. CEO Robert Iger has opened up the pocket book for the company’s parks and resorts. Yes, expansion is in the air at all the places you love. Here are the latest and biggest Disney rumors about what’s coming next.
Indiana Jones and the Star Wars Problem
What’s the Star Wars Problem? When the new themed land opens at Disney’s Hollywood Studios next fall, the park will become top-heavy. Even after the Toy Story Land expansion a few months ago, it’s still a place with few rides. Park officials don’t want everyone staying at Star Wars Land all day due to the traffic flow issues caused by such a situation. So, the popularity of Star Wars will cause a balance problem at Hollywood Studios.
You may wonder why this issue isn’t as pressing at Disneyland. The explanation is simple. That park has more than 60 attractions before the introduction of Star Wars Land. While the new themed land will pull traffic away from other sections, the situation isn’t as pronounced. Hollywood Studios, on the other hand, only has a few rides left (yes, I need to update these rankings in the wake of Toy Story Land). When Star Wars Land opens, the difference in demand between the new themed land and the rest of the park is dramatic.
Corporate executives at The Walt Disney Company are working behind the scenes to address the problem even though it’s still a year away. And the solution they’re supporting internally involves Indiana Jones. In a previous monthly rumors article, we discussed the possibility of DinoLand U.S.A. converting to an Indiana Jones themed land.
Apparently, the idea is still on the table, but it has changed parks. In fact, it’s changed parks twice! For a time, park planners considered adding an Indiana Jones ride at a new pavilion at Epcot. Whether we get the India Pavilion or not, it won’t feature Indy, though…well, assuming that the plans don’t change again.
Instead, Indiana Jones looks to find his new home at Hollywood Studios, a fitting locale. In recent years, the park has moved away from its previous emphasis on shows. The new (unofficial) mission statement at this park is to “ride the movies,” and Indiana Jones would fit perfectly with the premise. Plus, the appeal of the Indiana Jones brand is strong enough to draw at least some attention away from Star Wars Land.
Several different proposals are on the table for an Indiana Jones themed land. Budget decisions will determine whether it’s a mini-land with a single attraction or a larger expansion. My expectation is that Disney will follow the model of Toy Story Land, with an E ticket attraction and a second, more modest ride.
With Toy Story Land, Slinky Dog Dash is a wonderful family roller coaster, while Alien Swirling Saucers has taken a social media beating for being silly fun. While critics fail to appreciate the difficulties in constructing simultaneous E ticket attractions, Imagineers are well aware of the constraints. The model they’ve chosen in recent years has worked quite well.
Pandora – The World of Avatar has the same expansion style. Avatar Flight of Passage is the E ticket attraction with the longest line at Walt Disney World right now. Na’Vi River Journey is a technologically stunning secondary attraction; its appeal isn’t as strong as the other Pandora ride, though.
Park planners seemed satisfied with this type of expansion. They build one ride that will grab headlines and a second one that will satisfy thousands of customers each day. It’s an efficient strategy that would work well with an Indiana Jones themed land, too.
The question is whether Disney wants to commit to an entire park section for the character. They may prefer a single ride instead akin to how the Muppets have carved out a small niche at Hollywood Studios. This move wouldn’t solve the traffic imbalance as completely, but it’s also cheaper and quicker to do.
The Indiana Jones ride(s) have a lot of possibilities. At one point, Disney contemplated an attraction that employs the same underlying technology as Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure at Shanghai Disneyland. That ride features unprecedented mobility, as the boat can go backward and sideways.
Disney still plans to import the ride technology at American theme parks, just with a different ride. In last month’s rumors and earlier in this article, we discussed the India Pavilion and a potential anchor attraction based on The Jungle Book. Yes, the two conversations dovetail as Indiana Jones reportedly won’t get the ride technology or the India Pavilion presence due to The Jungle Book.
The remarkable aspect of Disney’s decision-making is that they don’t have a bad option available. A Jungle Book attraction would be amazing, particularly with the boat movements from Battle for the Sunken Treasure. An Indiana Jones ride would work equally well. I think we all agree that an entire themed land built around the thrilling adventures of Indy is even better, though.
Spaceship Earth out of Fuel?
The other massive rumor this month is that Spaceship Earth may take an extended break. Several rumor sites like WDW Theme Parks are reporting variations of the same story. With Siemens no longer sponsoring the attraction, Epcot officials are finally free to perform some much-needed maintenance on the most famous building at the park.
MickeyBlog News readers know about the leak it had repaired in September. That post triggered a social media firestorm as long-time Disney fans shared stories about parts of the ride that are currently in need of repair.
Disney is well aware of these concerns and wants to address them. In the process, they may shut down Spaceship Earth for a couple of years to plus it. Possible changes include a modified track path, new boarding and exit stations, improved audio-animatronics and sets on the first part of the ride, and wholesale changes during the modern sections.
The prevailing belief right now is that Spaceship Earth will close at some point in 2020. To make all of the necessary updates, it could remain out of operation until 2022! At this point, it would re-open as a much different version of the ride you’ve known for many years now.
The rumor is plausible to the point that some sort of extended maintenance seems likely. While the two-year shutdown strains credulity, Spaceship Earth is a massive facility. The pavilion is 109,375 square feet while the exterior is 150,000 square feet. Overhauling the interior would take a lot of time. Still, the current rumored downtime of 30 months actually exceeds the amount of time needed to build Spaceship Earth in the first place. The full project took 26 months. So, I buy parts of the rumor but not the entirety of it.