Biggest November 2018 Disney Rumors to Excite You
A recent New York Times headline summarized the hectic expansion plans at various Disney theme parks. It declared: “Disney Is Spending More on Theme Parks Than It Did on Pixar, Marvel and Lucasfilm Combined.”
Let me do the math for you. The Walt Disney Company spent $7.4 billion on Pixar, $4 billion on Marvel, and $4.05 billion on Lucasfilm, a grand total of $15.45 billion. Presuming that this headline is correct, Disney will spend AT LEAST $15.5 billion to improve their six theme parks in coming years. This news is tantalizing to those of us who love all things Disney. Something that’s already spectacular will only get better soon! Here are a few of the most intriguing 2018 Disney rumors floating around this month.
Monsters, Inc. Land?
One of the most beloved Pixar franchises is Monsters, Inc. Mike and Sully’s adventures have been the basis of two films, a pair of theme park rides, and a comedy show at Magic Kingdom. Disney has integrated the characters at Pixar Pier, too. Hold this thought for a moment.
When Disney’s Hollywood Studios opens Star Wars Land next year, they’ll have an odd park imbalance. With all the new stuff on the west side of the park including Toy Story Land, the traffic won’t flow optimally. Sure, Twilight Zone Tower of Terror and Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith remain wonderful, but they’ll pale in comparison to Slinky Dog Dash and Millennium Falcon: Smuggler’s Run. So, most guests will turn left instead of right on Hollywood Boulevard.
Park officials are aware of this, and they’re contemplating several potential moves. Last month, we discussed a possible Indiana Jones Land. A similar idea is on the table with Monsters, Inc. In this scenario, Disney would replace Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster with a Monsters-themed attraction. An educated guess is that it would be the long-rumored roller coaster mimicking the door chase in the first movie. Disney could feasibly repurpose the standing coaster space from the Aerosmith ride into a Monsters, Inc. attraction. But would Disney do this? Our friend Jack from DSNY Newscast discussed the possibility over a year ago.
The answer depends on who you believe. In the same New York Times article I linked above, the author originally indicated that Disney planned to do exactly this. After a firm denial from The Walt Disney Company, however, the article was edited. Ordinarily, I would view this turn of events as a rumor killer, but…
A few people with sources inside the company maintain that Monstropolis is still a possibility at Hollywood Studios. The new focus of this park is the idea of “ride the movies.” Both Indiana Jones and Monsters, Inc. fit the bill perfectly. Also, there would be some symmetry with a Pixar land on the east and west sides of the park.
Disney would also have their choice of two existing Monsters-themed rides to duplicate as the second attraction at Monstropolis. So, there’s a lot that makes sense here. And that’s true even if Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster isn’t replaced. Disney could just as easily build Monstropolis elsewhere in the park. All they really need is to create more demand on the east side of the park. They have plenty of space to do it without removing anything.
The underlying point about the Indiana Jones and Monsters, Inc. rumors is that more change is coming to Hollywood Studios. Disney executives have become aggressive in attacked all perceived weaknesses in their Parks & Resorts division. Since Hollywood Studios is the least trafficked of the four gates at Walt Disney World, it’s an understandable target for improvement, even with Star Wars Land and Mickey & Minnie’s Runaway Railway coming soon.
The Future of Disney Travel
Recently, I linked a remarkable story about how Disney almost added something unprecedented to their transportation lineup at Walt Disney World. They commissioned a series of autonomous vehicles from a pair of robotic startups.
The deal fell apart due to something entirely beyond Disney’s control. The two startups wound up suing each other, claiming corporate theft and the like. What’s important is that Disney committed to the idea. They were happy to buy 100 of these new vehicles, ones that could drive themselves.
Disney knows the truth. The future of transportation is automated…and fast. While Disney theme parks will always share a strong association with monorails, as we’ll discuss in the next section, park logistics have changed dramatically since the 1950s/1970s. Park planners must think about the future, and the Disney Skyliner is only a part of the solution.
Several potential scenarios are in play at the moment, each of which would radically alter the way that you arrive at Walt Disney World. One of them is an old rumor that recently gained new life. Virgin Trains USA, previously called Brightline, builds high-speed railroads in popular commuter areas.
Earlier in 2018, Virgin Trains USA opened a passenger service from West Palm Beach to Fort Lauderdale and Miami. For roughly $10-$15 per person, guests can travel across the various stops.
Orlando is long-rumored to become a location on the high-speed rail service. TC Palm just reported that an Orlando/Tampa Bay expansion is in the offing. For a few dollars, Floridians can easily and cheaply catch a train to Walt Disney World.
In the short time, this news has limited benefits, at least to those of us who don’t live in Florida. Over time, however, Virgin Trains USA plans to expand to other regions, allowing for seamless connection of the high-speed rail. Quick train rides to Disney could become a thing.
Disney is also carefully watching a different Richard Branson project. The minority owner of Virgin Trains USA is also a major investor in Virgin Hyperloop One. If you’ve somehow missed all the news, here’s a quick video summary of what Hyperloop is and can do. Since Elon Musk first discussed this project a few years ago, technology geeks like me have anticipated the day when a functional version of the Hyperloop would come online.
While that day has yet to arrive, virtually every major proposal involving Hyperloop includes a path to Walt Disney World and Disneyland. Specifically, a project has been discussed between Orlando officials and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies. This route from Orlando to Tampa could take as little as 20 minutes! Once Hyperloop infrastructure is in place across the country, you could be only an hour or two away from a Disney theme park, no matter where you live! Hyperloop feasibly goes in excess of 700 miles per hour!
Disney park officials must plan for all of these contingencies as the plot the short- and long-term futures of their theme parks. Just imagine what would happen if/when Hyperloop becomes popular. A large percentage of the population will want to spend their weekends in Las Vegas, New York City, and Disneyland/Walt Disney World. Someone has to plot the park traffic congestions patterns for that!
Oh, and Disney is still investigating self-automated vehicles, too. The day of the driverless ride to a park is not that far away.