Which Disney Projects Might Get Delayed?
The Walt Disney Company had announced countless plans for park improvements for 2020 and 2021. I’ve previously discussed many of the plans for 2020, offering reasons to visit every month this year. And I’d also talked about a bunch of other ambitious projects coming to the parks soon.
Yeah, about that…
The Coronavirus pandemic has thrown many of those plans into chaos. Everyone’s left wondering what happens next. Let’s take a look at some of the most essential Disney park projects and decide the likelihood of delays for each one.
Sometimes, I’ll write about something, and the moment that it publishes, new information comes out that negates a lot of what I just said. That’s the drawback of living in a 24-hour news cycle, and Disney now feels my pain on the subject.
Park officials excitedly confirmed that Avengers Campus would open at Disney California Adventure on July 18th. Disney published this news on March 11th. If that date sounds familiar, it should. That’s when Rudy Gobert ended the NBA season, Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson said they had Coronavirus, and society caught fire.
Disney obviously felt confident about that date when Imagineers were able to work on construction for the Marvel themed land. At this point, I believe that delays are inevitable here with one possible exception.
If park officials gain government consent to work on the project before Disneyland re-opens, the situation would seem different. I don’t rule out this possibility, as Disney still has plenty of friends working for the government in Florida and California. I think it’s wishful thinking more than realistic, though.
Cirque du Soleil Presents Drawn to Life
Out of everything listed here, this one’s the easiest to answer. In some alternate universe, Drawn to Life has already hosted several previews and would debut next week. In our reality, the darkest timeline, Disney’s closed.
Even worse, Cirque du Soleil is in complete disarray as a business. The company has laid off more than 90 percent of its staff and might never return to its former stature. In fact, it’s weighing bankruptcy options.
Many of the recently unemployed workers come from Drawn to Life. The project is on hold for now and may not happen for quite a while. I hope I’m wrong about this.
In a perfect world, life returns to normal immediately, and this show is ready by the summer. But it’s the darkest timeline, so…
The timing on Project Gamma couldn’t have gone worse. Right as Disney wrecked its iconic park, closing popular stores and restaurants, Coronavirus struck. Now, construction is on hold for a project Disney had hoped to prioritize.
Meanwhile, the internet has jumped all over a ShopDisney poster for Moana. The initial version of this poster indicated a 2021 opening for the upcoming Moana water feature at EPCOT. So, people have decided that’s when it will arrive.
We should be realistic, though. The person who published that description doesn’t work at the parks. They likely based their write-up on outdated information, which explains why the applicable text is no longer displaying.
The plans for Project Gamma indicated a completion date in 2022. I would expect that plan to remain, although budgetary constraints could delay/change what Disney does at EPCOT. I think the Moana water feature should still meet a 2021 deadline, albeit three or four months later than intended.
Guardians of the Galaxy Roller Coaster
Thus far, Vekoma, the famous roller coaster manufacturer, has stayed out of the headlines. That’s good news for any company right now. If you’re in the news right now, it’s probably for the wrong reasons.
I mention this because Vekoma is manufacturing the Guardians of the Galaxy roller coaster. However, the logistics of roller coaster construction still require, you know, a construction crew. My understanding is that the Xandar pavilion at EPCOT is in good shape. Since this project wasn’t supposed to debut until 2021 anyway, it may not suffer an extended delay.
Like everything else here, the situation could collapse in the blink of an eye, though. Everything is precarious right now.
This one’s tough to gauge. Disney’s worked behind the scenes on the new stage and mechanics of Harmonious for quite a while now. The LED panels and pyrotechnics should near completion soon.
On the other hand, the floating set pieces will require extensive testing. Rivers of Light famously suffered several setbacks once construction had finished on the floats.
I still think that Disney can launch this show by the end of the year. The question is whether doing so is a high priority at EPCOT right now. Disney could easily run Epcot Forever for the rest of 2020 instead.
Ratatouille the Ride
Like Avengers Campus, Ratatouille will arrive this summer. At least, that was the plan before the world imploded. By all accounts, construction on Ratatouille has gone smoothly. I have no reason to believe that an extended delay will occur.
However, I also must acknowledge the reality at Walt Disney World. Reports suggest that many third-party construction crews got laid off recently. Cast members will receive furloughs on April 19th. And Disney won’t re-open for at least a month.
Again, I only envision one way that Ratatouille can open in June as scheduled. Disney would need to work on the project for at least a couple of weeks before the parks are available to the public. In that scenario, Imagineers could progress quickly as opposed to when park guests are near the area.
I expect Ratatouille to arrive by the end of 2020 and hold out hope that it might still debut in the summer. It’s quite unlikely to happen in June, though.
Okay, even mentioning this one feels mean. Space 220, the outer space restaurant, has missed so many opening dates that it’s the theme park equivalent of vaporware. In early March, the stars had aligned enough that Disney sources suggested an April opening would happen.
Friends, that borders on an actual visit from Santa Claus. It seems that unlikely based on past events. Then, COVID-19 spread rapidly, and its impact has devastated the restaurant industry.
While the Patina Restaurant Group hasn’t publicly confirmed its status, employees at Walt Disney World restaurants state that the company has furloughed them without pay. Frankly, there’s a lot of furious posts on the subject if you want to look for them.
Patina owns and operates five Disney restaurants in Orlando, including Morimoto Asia Restaurant and The Edison. Right now, it’s difficult to imagine them opening a restaurant a month after the parks return. They’d have staffing issues, and there may not be enough demand to justify six of them until the pandemic ends.
Star Wars: Galactic Starcruiser
The Star Wars hotel project has excited people for years now. The mere thought of it sends Star Wars fanatics into a state of euphoria. And Disney had stoked the flames on rumors that the hotel could open this year.
Alas, you’ve probably heard the rumors that Galactic Starcruiser could have its budget cut. Before that, Disney had planned to accept reservations for the hotel this year, earning a lot of easy revenue in the process.
Nobody expected Galactic Starcruiser to open before 2021, but Disney wanted a long line of customers awaiting its arrival. Instead, the company may have no choice but to take resources away from Star Wars Hotel for use on other projects. I think Disney’s pot-committed here, but a delay wouldn’t shock me.
Tron Roller Coaster
The upcoming Tron roller coaster at Tomorrowland goes hand-in-hand with the 50th-anniversary celebration at Walt Disney World. Out of everything listed here, I think this is one spot where Imagineers will draw a line in the sand. If Tron isn’t ready in 2021, something’s gone horribly awry. Well, more than it already has.