Disney Rumors for March 2020 — What’s Disney Doing during the Downtime?
With Disney parks closed, you might have expected the rumor mill to shut down for a while. Au contraire! One longstanding secret project is almost ready to come into the light. There’s a fly in the ointment, though. I’ll explain why in this month’s batch of Disney Rumors.
About Disney Right Now
Before I discuss this month’s big rumor, let’s talk about the current situation and how it impacts Disney. The reality here is that our favorite company is in the same spot as everybody else.
Park executives have known for a while about how bad this situation could become. Shanghai Disneyland and Hong Kong Disneyland officials have reported on the spread of Coronavirus since the start of the year. Still, no one at Disney could have anticipated the slow American response to the matter.
We are definitely in worst-case scenario territory thus far. Thankfully, most people are starting to take the matter seriously. Unfortunately, previous recklessness has caused unexpected problems for businesses like Disney.
With California and Floridian governmental rulings in place, Disney officials have stopped construction on all major theme park projects. Initially, executives had hoped to use part of the downtime to advance on some projects.
Something that most people don’t realize is how the presence of park visitors interrupts construction. Disney must enforce different safety standards during the day while the parks are open. Had construction continued while Walt Disney World and Disneyland were ostensibly closed, Imagineers could have made a great deal of progress.
For example, the changes at Cinderella Castle could have neared completion. Similarly, parts of the Tron roller coaster might have gotten far ahead of schedule.
Instead, everything is closed, and that situation leads to ripple effects. For example, Disney might not have Avengers Campus ready by July 18th. Similarly, the Ratatouille ride at EPCOT may suffer delays. Both of these are speculation. I simply want you to understand how much is now in flux due to this pandemic.
Disney’s Gonna Wreck It
A while ago, a site with a shaky track record engaged in a dust-up with park officials. This site indicated that Stitch’s Great Escape! would never return. This happened back in 2018, and it was an accusation that Disney officials denied.
Since that time, the Tomorrowland attraction has never re-opened. In fact, insiders have suggested that Imagineers tore down some of the sets. So, it’s clearly not coming back. Given that Stitch’s Great Escape! routinely scored at the bottom of park satisfaction surveys, it probably shouldn’t anyway…and I say that as someone with every known form of Stitch memorabilia.
Well, we can now confirm that it won’t. Several sites have gotten their hands on an official Notice of Commencement. It’s paperwork that Disney files when the company plans a start date for construction. Only, in this case, park executives have notified Floridian government officials that Imagineers are about to tear stuff down.
Specifically, Disney will perform demo inside the attraction building for Stitch’s Great Escape!, which is a first step toward adding something new. Of course, there’s a problem.
Well, Disney’s Eventually Gonna Wreck It
Unfortunately, Coronavirus has disrupted any number of park plans, both right now and for the future. Like the rest of us, Disney officials have no idea when this situation will end or what society will look like afterward. The current normal hopefully isn’t the new normal for a while, but nobody can say for sure.
Even so, we do know what Disney has planned for the space. I’ve mentioned this rumor multiple times before, most recently in March of 2019. Yes, Disney wants to add a Wreck-It Ralph attraction at Tomorrowland. The targeted timeline was relatively short, too.
Since Disney wouldn’t need to tear down the entire building to replace Stitch’s Great Escape!, a repurposing of the space would take less time than usual. A Wreck-It Ralph attraction could anchor Tomorrowland as soon as 2022, 2023 at the latest. Well, that was the assumed timeline. Recent events have introduced several challenges to this project.
The Proposed Project
Here’s what we know. The show building for Stitch’s Great Escape! is relatively small compared to some others at the park. Disney can’t do anything that it wants here. However, the spatial limitations have forced a great deal of creativity, even by Imagineering standards.
The idea for a Wreck-It Ralph attraction would involve some sort of gaming mechanic. Guests would sit in a similar setup to ExtraTERRORestrial Alien Encounter and the Stitch presentation. The difference is that it would require some kind of theatrical display that everyone in the audience would watch.
Given the presence of controllers, the people in the theater would have some control over the outcome of Ralph’s story during the attraction. Disney has said that it won’t favor virtual reality (VR) simulations for its future projects. So, that leads a bit of mystery as to the show element. We know that this idea has floated around for several years now. Rumored details remain inconsistent, though.
The Problems with the Project
Disney has already introduced a VR Wreck-It Ralph game at The Void. And the new Play! pavilion will feature Vanellope and Ralph, too. By giving the character a new attraction at Tomorrowland, Disney would be committing a lot of resources to a character whose last movie only did okay, at least by the company’s lofty standards.
Then, there’s the gaming component. Right now, the idea of touching a communal gaming controller seems insane. Dozens if not hundreds of people might interact with the same controller every day. If you’ve ever watched kids touch everything on their way to their seats, you know what I mean.
Yes, cast members could keep the various controllers sanitary by cleaning them after each show. Stitch’s Great Escape! and Alien Encounter both hosted 162 guests. Presuming that Wreck-It Ralph follows that pattern, that’s nearly 500 controller cleanings per hour.
The process sounds inefficient, and that’s presuming that guests get past the ick factor. The reality is that Coronavirus might change the way that we all think about germ conduits.
In other words, Disney already had a lot of reasons not to do this ride before Coronavirus shut down the world for a while. With so much in flux and Disney now financially strapped until this whole mess blows other, the potential Wreck-It Ralph attraction might once again get placed on hold.
Really, park officials have run hot and cold on this project for several years now. That may be a sign that it’s not meant to be. Disney desperately wants to add another attraction at Tomorrowland to attract crowds away from the upcoming Tron roller coaster.
So, Disney may stick with this Wreck-It Ralph attraction. It’s starting to feel like a doomed project, though.