Disney Rumors for May 2020 You Really Need to Know
During the second-quarter earnings report, Disney executives were brutally honest. They admitted that many projects will get delayed or possibly even canceled.
So, many of the rumors that Disney had confirmed are suddenly in doubt again. Meanwhile, we’re left wondering how some of these projects look without nearly $1 billion in expected capital expenditures.
This month’s Disney rumors are more about what’s changed than what the future may hold. Let’s look at post-pandemic Disney plans.
Possible Changes in the Short Term
The financial shortfall isn’t a rumor. It comes straight from Christine McCarthy, the CFO for The Walt Disney Company.
McCarthy indicated that Disney has cut $900 million from the parks and resorts budget. So, many of those exciting projects we’ve expected are on shaky ground.
Let’s start with a few projects that were ready to begin/end.
Big Thunder Mountain Railroad at Magic Kingdom had a scheduled closure in May of 2020.
Yes, in an alternate universe, this Frontierland attraction closed from May 4th through May 21st. Then, it returned with new special effects.
Park officials had planned to add the special cave effects that are already in place at Disneyland’s version of the roller coaster.
You can watch the 2:20 mark of this video to get an idea:
Did you notice the sparking cables and fire effects? They create the illusion of a sparking fire, and the later smoke sells the premise. It’s a terrific bit of Imagineering.
Well, we should have that effect at Walt Disney World right now…but we don’t. It’s precisely the kind of thing Disney might cut to save some money.
After all, the current version of the attraction already works well. Disney doesn’t have to invest anything in it right now.
Conversely, this type of upgrade might make more sense now since it’s relatively cheap. If Disney thought they could do it in 17 days, the update wouldn’t require many resources.
Other Potential Changes
The same statement wouldn’t apply to Spaceship Earth. After all, Disney had planned a massive overhaul of its signature EPCOT attraction.
At one point, the attraction seemed likely to close for two years. The thought of going to EPCOT without riding Spaceship Earth bummed out a lot of fans.
In fact, Disney had received a great deal of pushback about this idea. Questions had already arisen about a shorter timeline for modifications.
During the 2019 D-23 Expo, park officials had described an ambitious update for Spaceship Earth. It wasn’t a renovation that sounded like it could get done quickly.
So, cynics were already debating whether Disney would implement a half-measure instead of a massively different version of Spaceship Earth.
Due to the Coronavirus struggles, Disney might not have a choice now. A comprehensive overhaul of this building would require plenty of resources.
Simultaneously, the closure of Spaceship Earth would reduce interest in EPCOT.
This would happen at a time when Disney needs to sell as many tickets as possible.
Due to social distancing requirements, EPCOT will have capacity limits, which leaves Disney in a weird spot.
The company needs to operate at the highest possible traffic for revenue purposes…but as safely as possible.
With such strange parameters, Disney officials might delay the Spaceship Earth project indefinitely.
The ride’s closure was already going to cause operational problems at the park. Why would Disney do that now?
What about Other EPCOT Projects?
You may have just gulped, and I know why. Yes, this same thought process could apply to the massive updates taking place at EPCOT.
Disney does have a track record of throwing out projects due to budget shortfalls. Beastly Kingdom screams to mind.
However, I suspect that the EPCOT overhaul is too vital to Disney. They’ll find the money for it.
Spaceship Earth is a different discussion than an entire EPCOT makeover.
Similarly, some of the other attractions we’ve discussed in the past at MickeyBlog are now in some peril.
At D-23, park officials trumpeted the new Mary Poppins attraction. Disney executives had run hot and cold on the idea for a while before saying yes.
That yes might become a runaway bride’s no now. Disney can always put in a flat ride later when the financials make more sense.
Similarly, the Coco attraction, a reboot of Journey Into Imagination, and the Wonders of Life resurrection could go away for a while, possibly forever in some cases.
Bob Iger and Bob Chapek are making the most difficult choices imaginable right now. They must decide which projects will pay for themselves versus which ones are superfluous in the current climate.
I recognize nobody wants to hear this, but it’s the reality in which we live. Coronavirus wiped out more than 20 percent of American commerce in a matter of weeks.
We all want a better park experience every time we go. That may not be feasible over the next two years, though.
What about Walt Disney World’s 50th Anniversary?
Here’s one way that Disney caught a break. Park officials hadn’t spilled the beans on 50th-anniversary plans.
Everyone knew that Disney had ideas in mind, but nothing concrete ever came out. So, executives have nothing that they must cut, at least not officially.
Some cast members were already saying that Disney fans shouldn’t get their hopes up anyway.
After all, Disney had already announced most of the exciting changes coming to Orlando. We knew about the fundamental restructuring of EPCOT’s layout.
We’ve counted down the days until Ratatouille, Tron, and Guardians of the Galaxy rides get here. And I recently compiled a list of newly opened attractions that you may have forgotten due to the pandemic.
Disney has legitimately expanded more since the summer of 2017 than it did for the entire decade before then.
Iger and Chapek wouldn’t be the least bit unreasonable to shut down a lot of short-term attraction plans once Troy Lightcycle Power Run debuts.
This strategy wouldn’t please hypercritical Disney observers, but it would demonstrate financial wisdom in a time of great need.
Plus, Disney could continue to pad out the Walt Disney World offerings in a different way.
Take Space 220 as an example. This space-themed restaurant can and should pay for itself. I’d say the same of Roundup Rodeo BBQ at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.
Similarly, the impending Mouse Gear project, the one Imagineers began days before the pandemic, justifies its cost.
Everyone will want to engage in lots of retail therapy once this nonsense has ended, and we’re all back on solid financial footing.
So, restaurants and stores with some solid theming represent a way for park officials to fill the void for now. It’s a stopgap measure until Disney can justify nine-figure attractions once again.
I’m afraid the biggest Disney ride rumors over the next few months will involve cancellations and reductions. But at least Disney Springs is back, right?