Exciting Disney Rumors for September 2019
With the 2019 D-23 Expo in the rear-view mirror, the dust has settled on a lot of exciting Disney rumors. We’ve recently learned which ones are so certain that company executives felt comfortable saying so. However, other rumors haven’t vanished. Instead, we’ve learned that a few possible additions are in conflict for the same budgeted money. Let’s take a look at an intriguing batch of Disney rumors this month.
The Next World Showcase Pavilion
In the days leading up to D-23, Disney analysts felt so confident about the addition of a Brazil pavilion that some reported the possibility as fact. It wasn’t. Even though a D-23 Expo Epcot model showed something that looked like a new pavilion, Disney never said a word about such an addition.
Over the past year, I’ve mentioned the possibility that some World Showcase features were battling for the same money. One of them is the upcoming Mary Poppins attraction, which some Disney insiders correctly believed was in an either/or situation with a Brazil pavilion. After all, Disney’s budgetary constraints mean that they can’t build whatever they want at every park that they want.
Still, the Brazil pavilion concept isn’t dead. But it’s in a new fight. Let me explain.
An India Pavilion and Maybe More?
Since the Fox acquisition, Disney’s focused on the expanding marketplace in India. With many population experts predicting that it will soon become the most populous country in the world, Disney understandably needs to prioritize it.
India is home to more than one billion potential customers. The only similar marketplace is in China, where Disney has constructed two different theme parks. India currently doesn’t even have a pavilion at the World Showcase. You can see where I’m going with this…
Yes, Disney possibly could have delayed their announcement about Brazil in favor of a new India pavilion. I’ve actually previously reported on this, as rumors cropped up last year about this pavilion featuring a Jungle Book boat ride.
Such an attraction would feature similar technology to Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure, which just won a prestigious Golden Ticket Award for its unprecedented technology. You can easily envision how much a Jungle Book ride with such immersion could draw guests to the India pavilion.
What Happened with a Spain Pavilion?
Apparently, those plans are very much alive. In fact, we could feasibly still see both new pavilions, Brazil and India. At one point, Disney’s plan for Epcot called for two additions to the World Showcase, Brazil and Spain.
Part of the basis for this rumor was the expected release of Pixar’s Gigantic, a movie with Spanish roots. Unfortunately, Disney canceled that film, and the current presumption is that the Spain pavilion fell out of favor in the process. It’s entirely possible that Disney simply swaps out Spain for India.
Again, that decision comes down to budgetary concerns, though. If it’s one or the other, Brazil is no longer a foregone conclusion. After all, Disney’s suffered leaks in recent months about their exploratory studies into the Indian marketplace.
The company’s clearly ambitious about opportunities in this subcontinent. For that matter, we shouldn’t feel surprised if rumors of a theme park come to pass in future years. Company officials have done their due diligence about such an offering. If China’s market can support two Disney parks, it’s reasonable to expect that India could justify at least one.
Why the Situation Is in Flux
An outside factor complicates the entire situation. Robert Iger will leave his post as CEO of The Walt Disney Company in 2021, barring something unforeseen. Iger doesn’t want to extend the company’s goals too far beyond that point. Otherwise, he’d be committing his successor to projects that they may not believe in.
Should Iger choose to extend his contract yet again, he could safely expand construction plans for a few more years. Similarly, Disney could name a successor now and allow the two individuals to work together on the company’s future projects.
Until one of those two eventualities occurs, you won’t hear about many Disney projects beyond, say, 2022. Iger would behave unfairly to commit the next Disney CEO to that many developments early in their job. Instead, he’s chosen to take a more piecemeal approach to the modernization of Epcot.
The Ripple Effects of Iger’s Status
Which projects suffer the most by the current awkwardness at the top of Disney’s organizational chart? Until Iger and/or Disney decide who will lead the company in 2022, many long-term projects are in flux. Sure, Imagineers will still possess the budget to work on sure-fire updates that the parks need. It’s the more expansive collaborations that are not set in stone.
Disney had planned new resorts at the front of Epcot and near Downtown Disney in Anaheim. While politics impacted the latter issue, Disney could quickly move forward with either construction whenever they want. They’re not right now because of financial and long-term leadership concerns.
Everyone had predicted that Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge would cause a surge in traffic at Disneyland and Walt Disney World. That certainly hasn’t happened in California, and the jury’s still out in Florida. Without a clear need for more hotel inventory, both projects could get pushed until after a leadership change/Iger extension.
What Else Is in Flux?
The impact involves overseas resorts as well. Since Shanghai Disneyland opened in 2016, observers have anticipated the announcement of a second theme park. The demand is strong enough to justify such an addition. However, Disney won’t take on such an ambitious expansion while their leadership situation is in flux.
Even Epcot is somewhat impacted by the situation. While Disney’s zealously reimagining the park right now, two of its most recognizable pavilions aren’t receiving updates yet.
The Seas with Nemo & Friends and the Imagination! pavilion both need at some upgrades. Honestly, many Epcot fanatics, myself included, would argue that Journey into Imagination with Figment needs a total reboot.
At various points, analysts projected both of these pavilions to receive such renovations as part of the current Epcot upgrades. Instead, those changes have been pushed back to an undetermined future date, which kind of summarizes this month’s discussion.
The conclusion you can draw is that Disney has many, many plans on the table for its theme parks around the world. But they don’t want to stick the next CEO into a quagmire where the new person is doing everything that Iger wanted rather than helming their own projects.
Don’t worry! We’re still going to cover every Disney rumor that pops up! We just won’t be surprised if many of them hover in a kind of theme park limbo for a while.