The Best Disney Rumors for November 2019
Everything old is new again in the realm of Disney. Yes, a previously discredited rumor has returned with a vengeance. Also, Blizzard Beach will get a new attraction for 2020, and we know a bit more about some confirmed Disney projects.
New Monorail Trams?
I’ve covered the potential for new monorail trams so often in this piece that it’s starting to feel like Groundhog Day. The most recent discussion in July stated what I knew at the time. Walt Disney World officials authorized renovations on the existing line of trams, starting with Monorail Silver.
That update seemed quite finite. However, I’ve got a surprising new update. I’ve previously mentioned that we should know when Disney purchases a monorail fleet. Executives favor one manufacturer over the others, and you can guess what just happened.
I’m speaking of Bombardier, the world’s foremost expert in monorail train design. A staff member at Orlando Weekly has, well, taken information from a Disney message board, but the original poster deserves a ton of credit. This individual read Bombardier’s third-quarter earnings report. Friends, this update includes an unexpected surprise.
Bombardier received $104 million for “rolling stock” and $247 million for services. What’s rolling stock? It’s an industry term that means, well, vehicles that move on a railway. Yes, someone has purchased a monorail fleet for nine figures, roughly the amount that insiders had indicated Disney would pay for a new fleet.
Since Bombardier chose to keep the buyer’s name anonymous, speculation about Disney has ensued. In doing due diligence on this, I found a potential non-Disney client that has previously announced a monorail expansion. Otherwise, nobody else really fits that description.
I really want to dismiss this rumor as just another slow drip. However, Imagineering legend Bob Gurr did indicate that Disney’s getting a new fleet. So, this story seems about 50/50 as a sign of modern monorails coming to Walt Disney World. Based on past history, it’s probably a sign that I’m wishing and hoping more than anything else. But earnings reports often reveal more than corporations would like.
Speaking of Saying Too Much…
Last month, Disney announced unusually long downtime at Blizzard Beach. Annually, the company closes one of its water parks for part of the winter. Disney does this for two reasons. The obvious explanation involves a lack of demand for water parks in winter, which is true even in Florida.
The other reason involves routine maintenance. After many months of high usage rates, parks need cleaning and some equipment repairs. So, Disney closes Typhoon Lagoon during the winter while leaving Blizzard Beach open and vice versa. This year, the latter water park closed in September.
At the time, many insiders speculated that something was up. Park officials remained tightlipped on the subject, but a press release mentioned “enhancements.” Clearly, that word brings to mind the construction of new attractions, but Disney wouldn’t admit it.
Humorously, other companies seek out the very publicity that Disney deflects. For example, a company called ProSlide recently attended The International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions (IAPPA) Expo. And this manufacturer received some terrific news! It won the prestigious IAPPA Impact Award, an honor the company has earned four times since 2003.
Understandably proud of its history and industry reputation, ProSlide constructed a somewhat braggy poster of its upcoming projects. Once again, you see where this is going. Yes, Disney’s Blizzard Beach appeared on the poster as a project that the company will finish in 2019, 2020, or 2021. We can safely rule out 2019, but a 2020 release fits both timelines, ProSlide’s and Disney’s.
I believe that it’s safe to expect a new Blizzard Beach attraction when it re-opens in January or, at a minimum, a few months later. By the way, ProSlide previously developed Summit Plummet, so they’re responsible for one of Disney’s best water park attractions. This is excellent news.
The Entrance to Magic Kingdom
Have you visited Magic Kingdom lately or at least watched videos from someone who has? If so, you’re well aware of the chaotic conditions at the front of the park. No, I don’t mean the entrance or security checks. I’m referencing the spot close to the boat docks near the monorail. It’s a mess, y’all.
The explanation for the change isn’t really a mystery, but you’ll logically wonder what’s going on when you notice the construction. Disney’s currently preparing for the 50th anniversary of Walt Disney World, which will happen at the same time as the 50th anniversary of Magic Kingdom, the only park that was open in 1971.
In anticipation of this historic event, park officials are revamping the entrance procedures at Magic Kingdom. Insiders suggest that the security gates will relocate closer to the water or, at the very least, farther away from the admission points. For the sake of clarity, the admission points are where you tap your Magic Band and then get your fingerprint scanned.
The modern setup is somewhat tightly spaced. Park planners want to give everyone a bit more breathing room as the guests enter Magic Kingdom. That’s not the only significant change, though.
Disney previously confirmed that Imagineers will build a walking path from Disney’s Grand Floridian Resort & Spa to Magic Kingdom. What nobody mentioned at the time is something that seems like common sense in hindsight. To build that path, the construction team had to wreck a lot of what was already there.
The bridge expansion has started as a major demolition project. Now, it’s slightly upgraded to a place where you’ll notice some progress. Unfortunately, Disney isn’t multi-tasking to finish the bridge quickly. Rather than work on several projects at once, construction seems to be going in phases.
So, don’t expect the Grand Floridian bridge to open soon. It might not be ready until 2021, although insiders have hinted that the new Magic Kingdom entrance could be ready late next year.
Anyone who has ever engaged in a significant home renovation will appreciate the timeline. First, everything looks like a disaster area, but then it gradually shapes into what you’d expected. The Magic Kingdom section by the water is closer to the former than the latter right now.